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Subject: FORSAKEN DEMO: Full Report (sheesh!)
From: watSup (zonk@albany.net)
Date: 4th November 1997
Newsgroups: alt.games.descent

Well the Tri State LAN Fest is over and Acclaim was there to show
us a working networked copy of their upcoming Descent like game
Forsaken. Of all the games that have come over the past few years
this is the only one that Descent players (based on a non playable
demo we saw about a month ago) all seemed to be really exited
about. As soon as we saw the demo we knew this was most likely
the game we've been waiting for: the next generation 3D space
combat game with 360 degrees of freedom. So as soon as we saw
the demo a bunch of us invited them to come to show us the goods
and get some feedback.

First of all the graphics are stunning: with a 3DFX Voodoo card
the visuals blew us away. There is a much higher level of detail
to all of the textures and objects. You are flying one of 16 different
"space bikes" and they're all really cool looking; you can see the
different characters riding on the bikes (one has a beard and
a bandanna!!). The same basic theme of being indoors in a mine
like structure is there, the structures of the buildings you're in are
a lot more detailed and immersive looking however. There are a
lot more curve structures and even carvings and paintings on the
walls. The whole game has an inner lighting that makes everything
glow. Overall its amazing to look at: your eyes are just glued to
the screen checking it out.

The demo they brought had no joystick or orb support; only mouse
and keyboard. Of course they promised this was temporary and
the final version would have support for both. (BTW: some of
the mouse keyboard players hardly played Descent all weekend!!
They took to it right away) The flight engine is almost identical
to Descent / Descent 2, with the notable absence of triple chording
ability (see below). Overall the bikes were very responsive to
fly and with the right controller support anyone that can fly a Pyro
will be flying these with no problem as soon as they jump in.

This game is probably going to be the biggest thing for Descenters
until D3. So we wanted to make sure our opinions were heard before
they ship this thing sometime early next year; after all, we're their
biggest market! The Acclaim guys were really great and couldn't
get enough feedback from us at the fest. They really wanted to know
what we thought, so we told them. Below I've put a copy of a summary
I sent to Acclaim of the major things that we saw right away.

I know there were alot of other points that were raised, but these are
the ones that most people generally agreed on. If anyone out there that
was at the fest can add to this, please do: I know there's some more things,
but I had a lot of gaming to do while I was there!

GAMEPLAY

Visibility

Most of the people that had negative comments about Forsaken immediately
thought the visibility was a big problem. The bright colored weapon fire
is spectacular but fights against the purpose of the game: to be able
to see and hit your opponent before they hit you. Cutting back on the
luminosity of the weapons will go a long way toward correcting this. Some
of the weapons were worse than others. The pink phoenix cannon like
weapon was the worst.

The bikes and powerups have incredible detail and are really nicely done.
However the at a certain distance a bike is indistinguishable from
a powerup. This distance is only about 5 shiplengths or so away, so
you can be looking at a pile of spew and suddenly you realize its
an enemy! This is not good...the bikes need to be a little larger,
and the powerups a little smaller, and/or the 3D perspective of the
game needs to be adjusted to account for this. The combination of
the bright flashing weapons and the perspective problem really take
away from the gameplay.

Shot Confirmation

There was no distinctive "clang" sound that confirms a hit in Descent.
This is essential for you to know how to adjust your shots, particularly
in lagged conditions.

Triple Chording

The Descent games allow an additive velocity to the ship when you move in
more than one direction at once. This is commonly known as "triple chording"
and allows certain types of control setups to move faster, get a wider weapons
spray at their opponents, and dodge incoming fire faster. Forsaken doesn't do this.
This whole topic has been discussed alot and is a matter of controversy
among Descent players. Controllers like the Spaceorb 360 cant take
advantage of this, in exchange for more manoeuvrability and the ability
to spin around on your opponent faster. Either allowing triple chording in
Forsaken or leaving it out would put one side or the other at a disadvantage.
The suggestion was made to include a toggle switch to switch this on or off.

THEME / MARKETING

Unlike Descent, Forsaken is an extremely violent game. When you get a kill,
blood and body parts fly everywhere and you hear falling meat splat sounds.
Its kind of twisted and "cool" for some players, and a big turn off for
others. One of the attractions about Descent for a lot of people (especially
the women pilots that I know) is that it's not violent. "Kills" are strategic in
nature, not an aggressive bloody thing. This could really hurt the sales
of the game if its not dealt with. If it's not possible to take the more
extreme violence, there should be a toggle to turn it off. The consensus
seemed to be that the game is better off without it.

There were some proposed cover art and promotional posters on display at the
LAN fest. They featured a barren space wasteland and a gorgeous half naked
woman on most of them. This has nothing to do with the game and a lot of
people thought it was a sexist and cheap way to sell a great game; some even
felt like their intelligence was being insulted by that kind of appeal.
However these were just proposals and not the final word; Acclaim wanted
to know our opinion and that's what a lot of people said.

LEVEL EDITOR

Acclaim has no plans to release an editor or the specs to create an editor at
this point. A lot of us pointed out that almost all of our multiplayer games
are held in home brew levels. The ability to have new mines to fly in for
different combat modes and for just plain varieties sake is one of the main
things that keeps the game alive: after all, how many of us would play
online as much as we do if the only mines we had to play in were the Parallax
ones? Level creation and distribution gives us a whole new aspect to the
hobby that keeps us involved, and keeps the game alive.

COMMUNITY

The guys from Acclaim were somewhat surprised to find out about Kali
and Kahn and this newsgroup, and how well we know each other.
They didn't seem to realize how involved the whole thing is and how
much of a Descent community there really is. We pointed out that single
player games only last as long as it takes for you to beat the game, and
then maybe you'll play it on higher difficulties for a while to increase your skill.
This lasts until you get bored with it.

Its been a long time since Descent 2 was released, but we're still playing
it because of the fact that we're involved in a community of people that
are fully into playing each other for competition and fun, chatting and
trading files, and travelling to LAN fests. We suggested that they form a
USENET group alt.games.forsaken, and look into ways of optimizing support
for internet play, anti cheating measures, and better ways of measuring lag
and loss to each of your opponents in the game itself.

That's about what I can remember offhand. There was something said about
Forsaken supporting both IPX and IP games as well: they have plans to have
a "Quakespy" like system for gaming but I didn't get all the details on that...maybe
someone else that heard can fill in.

Overall almost everyone there was foaming at the mouth to get a copy of the
demo. Alas, it was not to be! But the general feeling at the fest was that
pretty soon we're all going to be playing this. Parallax definitely has their work
cut out for them to top this one, that's for sure...

--watSup

DESCENT II Pro Level Showcase: http://www.albany.net/~zonk