Shaders being added to the GZDoom engine opened a completely new dimension of special effects to mods. We have already introduced the power of Post Processing Shaders with noise, flares or motion blur, but this is only one part that can be controlled by the player. Shaders can also be used to enhance the atmosphere and realism of a project, and this is what we took advantage of.
Imagine a long endless street in the desert, it's daylight and the sun is boiling the ground without mercy. If you look closely, you can not only feel the heat, you can see it on the asphalt, and in the distance on the horizon. You can see the heat in the air. This is one example of an effect we've added to various hot places in the game (e.g. lava rivers, hot engines). Another addition is the distorted player view when you are hit by the shockwave of an explosion. Instead of seeing clearly, you need some time to recover from the shock and see clearly again. These changes also affect the gameplay, but it's a very realistic and interesting addition that makes the environment and the battles more intense.
And with some slight tweaks, these shaders can even be applied to textures, which will give you a totally new experience in the briefing room at the HQ. Finally, we have those scratches and flickering light that every diascope has had in the 1940's.
While mapping is a very organic progress, you sometimes lose the objectivity when it comes to size and length. Instead of knowing when it's time to stop adding more, you simply think "Wow, this is something I could add here as well". This is what happened to a lot of maps in Chapter 2, especially Operation Schlangenkopf (C2M3). While we were watching various gameplay videos on Youtube (specifically ZikShadow and MrIcarus), we simply went overboard, putting more and more stuff into one single map. Players needed almost an hour to complete one map. This is simply too much and absolutely not satisfying.
We needed to check all the maps (from the beginning of Tunis up to the Astrostein missions), and find out what areas are needed to keep the tension and gameflow, and what portions of the map could be removed because they do not add to the overall experience. C2M3 was a very good example. As soon as you collect the yellow key, you enter a huge area of containment and underground labs that just doesn't add anything to the story or the gameflow. It's just there. Removing it was the logical consequence, and that's what we did with a lot of places. Instead, we tried to add something in the spirit of the map, or tossed areas around to make the progress more fluid and organic.
Sometimes, if you play your own maps again after a while, you start to think of different approaches, different solutions, different possibilities that will make your original vision more convincing. The second half of Operation Astrostein is a very good example of how a map can still improve, despite it already being finished (Yes, this is a spoiler; I hope you've played Chapter 2 already). When I first created the map, I had a very clean futuristic design in mind, just like the original Astrostein episodes. After visiting New Berlin again however, I thought that this approach wasn't realistic. I imagined this place to be more dirty, more dangerous, something between Coruscant and Los Angeles from the blockbuster movie Blade Runner. And that's what I turned it into - and it's worth a second visit, I promise.
Believe it or not: I actually watched almost every WolfenDoom Let's Play video on Youtube - at least those in a language I know (sorry for skipping the Polish, Czech and Russian ones), and for me this is the most useful feedback you can get on your own maps. You can see and hear how people react in certain situations, what they think and how they approach your creation. We listen closely to the feedback we get and there are hundreds of changes and improvements that we made in order to improve our players' experiences. So thanks a lot to all of you for sharing that - it got noticed!
How terribly insulting it was for us to hear that most of the people playing the second chapter of Blade of Agony hated our friendly NPCs: Douglas and Ryan (well, the latter still for a reason) were a pain for the players. Instead of helping you, giving you cover, and being a new and interesting gameplay feature, they just - well - sucked. It was about time to change something here.
Improvements for friendly NPC followers
AFADoomer took the community's feedback very seriously, and started re-writing most of the code in order to improve sidekicks like Douglas, Ryan and Ascher, so that they were actually useful companions, rather than annoying obstacles that get in your way instead of covering you. They will now try to avoid being in your line of sight, they will try to move away from you if they are in your way, and most importantly, you can interact with them. Just like in Half-Life 2, you can "use" them once to make them hold their position, and then "use" them again to make them follow you. So if you want a sidekick following you, just leave everything as it is, and if you are more of a "James Bond" special agent who doesn't need or want support, simply leave them behind; it's up to you.
In the past releases of Blade of Agony, the compass seemed to be a bit rudimentary - a feature we added for the sake of being added, but not really worth using. We always thought that we should either remove it, or re-work it as to make it worthwhile, and that's what AFADoomer took care of.
The new compass item
The completely reworked compass is now available as an item that can be bought during Chapter 1, and is part of your inventory from the beginning of Chapter 2. It now works very intuitively, and not only shows the locations of the mission objectives (both primary and secondary), but also shows you the location of important objects, such as mission elements that must be collected, as well as the locations of treasure chests and the keys to open them, and even optional stuff that can be gathered.
Objects that are far away will be barely visible on the compass, but as you get closer to such objects, they will fade in and move closer to the center. Now it really makes sense to get a compass and use it, as it will be helpful for finding your way through larger maps. You won't ever get lost again... as long as you have hoarded enough gold to buy the item.
Shaders are something that is already part in modern games for some time now: Motion Blur, Vignette, Lens Flares, Film Grain and many more features. These additions have lately been showcased by Total Chaos, an amazing mod by wad'a'holic which makes you ask yourself: "Am I still playing Doom?". These shaders have been implemented and developed by Nash - and yes, Nash is part of our development team. We only had to see if it enhances the gameplay experience and if it fits our philosophy, or if we only want to add these features for the sake of having them.
Post Processing Shaders
Remember old videos from World War II, most of them have scratches, noise, a vignette and are black and white. Whereas greyscale and scratch effects will not work well in a first-person shooter game (I mean c'mon, where does all the beautiful gore go?), we felt that film grain and a vignette perfectly fits the game design philosophy and makes for a fitting feature. The decision was easy to make.
For the lens flares, it took a while though, same goes to the motion blur. Both effects are aesthetic and visual. In some places, it greatly improves the experience (just take a look at the effect in the screenshot; the fire feels extremely bright and blinding). We were not sure, but considering that all effects can be adjusted or totally turned off to your desire, we have decided to add what we have for those who want it. If you are a purist though you can still deactivate all of it, including the noise and vignette, set your resolution to 320x200, and enjoy the mod in its 1994'ish glory.
First of all, happy new year to all of you out there. Since our last news item, it's been almost a year, and even longer since the release of Chapter 2, so I thought it was about time to let you know: We are still working very hard on Chapter 3. The past 12 months have been a hard time for us developers, since some of us had to struggle with job and family issues. Despite the slower progress, we kept working, not only on the 3rd chapter of Blade of Agony, but we have also been improving what we have already released. Why? We are listening, and we take your feedback seriously.
Shadows of the Reich has received mixed reviews. Some people loved it from the beginning to the end, but there have also been others who had some gripes, and made a good point. Therefore, we wanted to make sure that these issues were sorted out, and with the final release of the game including all three chapters, we wanted to ensure you have the best possible game experience that we are capable of creating.
With the upcoming development blog entries, we will talk about what we have been doing "behind the scenes", giving you an inside scoop on the things we have been working on, and stuff we have improved and added. Hopefully, that will make waiting for the final chapter a bit easier. This is the first entry out of many more that will be posted, so stay tuned and make sure to come back from time to time; It's worth it!
One of the problems we've faced in the past is the AI (artificial intelligence) of the soldiers. The code of every enemy soldier is based on Doom's demons and zombies - no need to be pretty smart, it's simply "walk, aim, shoot/bite, loop", nothing less. We are aware that human beings (even though they are Nazis) should act a bit less predictably, and that's where we started to make improvements. First of all, we gave the AI a few new tricks - now, the enemy soldiers can try to dodge your attacks from time to time (this is what you can see in the screenshot above). In addition, enemy soldiers can now try to take cover or run away if you toss grenades at them, or if they are wounded. Makes sense, doesn't it? Last, but not least, some enemies will not leave their covered zone until you get closer; instead, they stay where they are. It's not much, but it adds new dynamics to the combat, and feels like an appropriate change. Let's see what our coders AFADoomer and Ozymandias come up with over the next few months to make the gunfights even more interesting - stay tuned!
WolfenDoom: Blade of Agony is now available as a snap package for GNU/Linux Distros that support it. Thanks to mcphail, installing and playing WolfenDoom on Linux has never been easier.
For those unfamiliar with snaps, a snap package is a GNU/Linux app in a container. A container is a self-contained environment for running apps. All of the libraries the app needs to run are bundled inside the container with the app. If the app requires a library that is not included in the snap (such as graphics drivers), it is used from the host system. Detailed information about installing and playing the WolfenDoom snap can be found in our F.A.Q.
We did it! After polishing the second chapter of Blade of Agony for the past 3 weeks we are here to proudly present the release of "Shadows of the Reich", an all new episode that directly connects where the thrilling action and plot ended in "The Staff of Kings", which is also included in the release with a lot of improvements and additional surprises. So what's new?
- High-resolution sprites for all actors (monster,npc; not only upscale, real detail) as well as completely new enemies
- A total of 11 new maps (as well as all maps from chapter 1)
- Improved effects and features (dialogue screen, npc ai, doors, cutscenes, skins, models)
- Introducing GZDoom's latest new engine features (ambient occlusion, lense distortion, shadow maps, bloom effect)
- Exciting and interactive plot with a lot of surprises
...and that's only a fraction of all the things to come. Don't waste any more time, get psyched, get "Shadows of the Reich" just now!
We have been waiting for this day since November 12th last years so the least thing I can tell is, that we are as disappointed as you might be now that we have to say: There will be no release of Blade of Agony's Chapter 2 this saturday. After discussing this internally for more than a week, we had to decide that we want Shadows of the Reich and the original chapter The Staff of Kings to be the best possible experience for players. But currently we are struggeling with issues our beta testers reported as well as problems with the performance on large maps and special effects with weaker or older computers.
Sure, we could have said "If it runs too slow, deactivate the effects or buy a new machine" but this is not our philosophy. We want to reach as many persons as possible, who are interested in this project and try to give everyone the same experience when playing (without reducing settings just to make it run with a few fps faster). We really hope you understand this and we already want to thank you for your patience during this delay, as we promise to prepare the best sequel that can possibly be made. Stay tuned - stay psyched!
You are imprisoned, the Reich continues to develop their technological advantage and the Allied forces are being pushed back on all fronts. Time for your escape, William.
After another 6 months of development we actually can't wait for the release of the final trailer for Chapter 2 from Blade of Agony in just about one week. If you feel the same, we have prepared a short trailer for you about "Shadows of the Reich" which can be considered - just the way George Lucas would like it - as the dark part of the trilogy. Expect the unexpected, watch the trailer now and get psyched!
After another half-year since the release of the first chapter of WolfenDoom: Blade of Agony Chapter 1: The Staff of Kings, we are proud to announce the date you have all been waiting for.
WolfenDoom: Blade of Agony Chapter 2: Shadows of the Reich will be released on May 20th, which also marks the 17th anniversary of Realm667.
And with this announcement, there will also be a few improvements that come with Shadows of the Reich, including a near-complete overhaul of The Staff of Kings (replaying that is a "must"), new models, new and reworked textures, and improved game mechanics. Shadows of the Reich continues from the point The Staff of Kings left off, with you in a Gestapo prison in eastern Europe. You will encounter new enemies, new weapons and new locations through 8 different missions -- even 2 more as a reward if you are attentive enough.
There is one thing that is new in Shadows of the Reich that we are most proud of - something that has taken an unimaginable amount of effort, dedication and work: High-resolution sprites for all enemies and NPCs throughout the mod -- not only upscaled, but highly detailed artwork similar to the Wolfenstein 3D Mac version - something that hasn't been seen in a comparable project yet. Check out the new screenshots in our media page for a proof of concept, and stay tuned for more information soon.
"You are B.J. Blazkowicz, the greatest spy and biggest risk-taker the Allied forces have ever known. Take on the might and fury of the Third Reich as you blast your way to victory!" After a development time of exactly 21 months, we are proud to finally announce the release of the first chapter of Blade of Agony titled "The Staff of Kings". With a total of 7 maps, orchestrated music, combined low-poly models and pixelated 90's style beauty, armament from the battlefields of WWII, interactive NPCs and many more amazing features never seen in a Doom mod before, this is one of the largest releases the community has ever seen - at least in terms of digital size and scale. Join historical battles, relieve the action from the Second World War from a new perspective and battle the diabolical Adolf Hitler, who is twisting science and the occult in his pathological mission to conquer the world. The fate of all free peoples hangs in the balance - failure is not an option. Get the first chapter of Blade of Agony now from our Download area, make sure to read the info pages while it's loading to not get lost too easily.
Almost two years have gone now and we are proud to finally announce the release date for chapter 1 of our WolfenDoom project Blade of Agony. On the 13th of November, we will unleash the first 7 maps that are part of "The Staff of Kings". Expect a story-driven and action-packed experience, based in the european battlefield of 1940. There are so many things to discover that I strongly recommend watching the trailer. And for a good knowledge of situation, characters and story, it makes definitely sense to read the rest of the webpage's content to be ready to start with chapter 1 in about two weeks. We are totally excited and can't wait for the day as we are looking forward to your feedback and your thoughts. Get ready to get psyched - watch the trailer now!
After a development of 16 months, mostly in private and inside the community of its base game engine ZDoom, it was about time to start getting the attention of the whole Doom community! Working as a media designer and developer for print- and web-based marketing products, I felt responsible for doing more to promote the project. To cut a long story short: Welcome to the official page of our project Blade of Agony, a mod based on the classics Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, with influences from Return to Castle Wolfenstein and Medal of Honor. Here you will find in-depth and detailed information about the project, its features and also the releases — as soon as there are some! Bookmark the page, like our social pages and stay tuned.