NEIL MELVILLE Web Site
I worked on a sequel to the PC game Redline, but it was never finished, due to many various factors. It was shaping up to be a fantastic game, and still could be if there was any interest in bringing it to market by the license holders. You can actually download it and see it for yourself.
After Accolade (ne Infogrammes ne Atari) published Redline, we explored the possibilities of a sequel, and a port of the original to the Dreamcast. For 6 weeks a small team consisting of Joe Hansen, Mike Fletcher, and myself worked on creating an updated Redline (version 1.5 if you will) to make the Dreamcast experience more unique and satisfying. Mike was tasked with documenting the design of the new game, and was our team's liaison with Beyond Games management and Accolade. Joe and I were all about getting the new and improved features working. We made another pass at weapon and vehicle design/balance, and even created a few new vehicles and many new weapons. But there were 2 features in particular that I was not happy with in the shipped version of Redline, and we set out to address them both.
First, the vehicle turn radius did not feel right. It stayed constant at all speeds. This means you could turn more degrees per second at high speed than you could at low speed. I complained about this to the engineers off and on for a year during production of Redline, to no avail. Other, more serious bugs, always had higher priority. Now, Joe and I took matters into our own hands. After isolating the code that controlled the vehicle turn radius, we created a new formula that reacted to the vehicle speed. We even added a variable that let individual vehicles have different performance curves. The end result: The faster the vehicle goes, the more space it needed to turn. The handbrake power-slide negated the arc and allowed the vehicle to turn at this same rate while traveling in a straight line. What wound up feeling right was to have the number of degrees of turning per second stay constant at all speeds. We even verified this same behavior in other popular vehicle combat games.
The second issue was combat AI. We needed to have better interaction with the computer opponents, and create combat intelligence that more closely resembled fighting a human opponent. By reducing the number of on-foot weapons, we could create a more distinct logic for using each. We added to the AI the ability to use the EMP weapon (ejects drivers from their vehicles, locks the car and blinds players) that had previously been deemed too powerful in AI hands. By reducing the available ammo, and creating specific rules about its use, the AI were now being just mean enough to feel like a real threat, without feeling like cheaters.
The other factor of the AI that was improved was evasion tactics. We added more options to their arsenal, and added random delays to simulate human reaction times. This improved yet somewhat random survival instinct was key to making the AI feel human. They were no longer single-minded and reacting with machine-like precision. Even their aim was somewhat randomized. This new AI approach also opened up to the AI access to one of Redlines more interesting (and quite serendipitous) features: Saw flying.
During development of the original Redline, Joe was implementing the behavior of the unlimited ammo short-range personal weapon. It was a giant bone saw. One problem with the weapon was that its ultra-short range effect would typically only hit the target for one frame. Basing its damage on this was problematic for the instances where multiple frames of collision occurred. Joe decided to keep the overall damage per second of the weapon lower, but give it a better frequency of multiple frame contact. He added a blast effect (a force applied to movable objects) with a negative value. The target would actually be sucked in to the spinning blades!
The game testers soon found an unexpected side effect to the Saw's blast. If the saw wielder was in the air, they would be pulled toward the saw. And since they were holding the saw, the saw moved forward with him... and then pulled that saw wielder forward some more. Once a player was in the air, the saw could be activated to achieve controlled flight. This accidental feature proved to be so much fun, that we designed it in to the final game. But the AI had never been given the ability to saw fly, until now.
The PC demo shows this new AI, vehicle physics and weapon balancing. Our internal testing was very positive, and the updated game was incredibly fun. But this game was being targeted for the Dreamcast, not the PC. Eventually, we found that the Dreamcast's networking setup was not in sync with the Redline networking code. Lag and latency were going to be serious buzz-kills. Addressing this incompatibility was going to be a monumental task, and ultimately, the project was dropped. We abandoned development for the Dreamcast, and shifted our focus to the PS2, and a game that would eventually become Motor Mayhem. Early prototypes of Motor Mayhem were built to run in the Redline Arena engine, and would be its best and last innovations.