While there haven't been too many games released that use AGEIA's Physx PC game physics processor to its fullest extent, that could change with the release of CellFactor: Revolution. Originally developed as a one level demo to show off the AGEIA processor features, developers Artifical Studios and Immersion Software recently decided to expand and improve on that demo will a more fully feature title. FiringSquad got a chance to chat with Jeremy Stieglitz, the president and lead designer for Artifical Studios, to find out more about their plans for CellFactor: Revolution.
FiringSquad: First, was has the reaction been like to the CellFactor tech demo that has been included in the AEGIA physics card?
Jeremy Stieglitz: The reaction to the CellFactor tech demo has been very positive -- people seemed really intrigued by the concept of an FPS that emphasized physical abilities as much (or even more than) gunplay. Coupled with the massive amount of physics objects and special effects enabled by the PhysX hardware, CellFactor: Combat Training had a pretty unique style of gameplay -- enough that we came to feel a proper game – CellFactor: Revolution, releasing this December is warranted.
FiringSquad: How hard has it been to expand on the concepts of the original demo to work for a full commercial game?
Jeremy Stieglitz: Not difficult at all, because there's still so much untapped potential both in gameplay concepts and on the PhysX hardware side. From a conceptual side, one only need think of the Matrix or Star Wars (and then scale it up a thousand-fold) to see the potential for new character abilities. With Revolution, our goal is to make players feel incredibly powerful in a multiplayer game (while retaining player-vs-player balance), and that extends far beyond the basic mechanics found in the Combat Training demo. From a hardware standpoint, AGEIA's developed new PhysX drivers which provide for a lot more physics objects within the environment, as well as major developments involving object/cloth/fluid interaction and performance. These capabilities have got us very excited about where we can take Revolution's new gameplay and environments.
FiringSquad: What can you tell us about the character classes that you are adding to CellFactor: Revolution?
Jeremy Stieglitz: There are three character classes that you can choose from in most of Revolution's gameplay modes, and they include the Bishop (all psychic ability), Black Ops Soldier (a mix of psychic power and guns), and the Guardian (no psychic power, but dual guns -- any guns -- and brute strength). Each of these characters represents a different approach to the game's combat, and they all have mechanics to make them balanced against each other. For example, the Bishop may seem to be the most powerful at first glance -- she can manipulate thousands of objects simultaneously, for crying out loud. However, you then realize she's also very vulnerable to gunfire, and she's only as powerful as the environment around her -- if she can no longer find or tear-up objects to manipulate, she tends to become rather helpless. In this way, each of the characters has strengths and weaknesses. One of the game's pleasures is to discover the nuances of the character balancing, while becoming proficient with each character's abilities in different situations.
FiringSquad: What kinds of extra weapons will you be adding into the new game?
Jeremy Stieglitz: Some examples of the new hardware you can wield in Revolution:Grappling Hook: This weapon can pull you to any surface, Batman-style, as well as latch onto objects to toss them around (or other player characters).
Sniper Rifle: Pretty standard, but the alternate fire shoots gravity mines which suck in nearby players and objects -- they can even be shot onto players to turn them into a walking black hole.
Rocket Launcher: Also seemingly standard, until you realize that the they can load up to 6 rockets for simultaneous release, and the Guardian can carry two of them! Boom.
Acid Jet: Emits a corrosive acid fluid which can eat through surfaces, and is particularly devastating against metallic objects (such as vehicles).
FiringSquad: How will the psi abilities in the demo be improved and added to the game?
Jeremy Stieglitz: Essentially you now have a total mastery of the environment, in the form of the Bishop character. She can grab many hundreds of objects at once, throw them around as a unit or release them individually one-by-one (making objects into a form of "ammo"). She can also apply such massive forces to the environment that much of the level architecture is naturally ripped apart, also for use as physical weaponry. She can apply a massive pressure to anything she's holding, crushing objects or other players. She can also surround herself with objects & debris, creating a physical shield, as well as split a sea of objects in front of her, biblical style. Needless to say, the Bishop character is sometimes near god-like, but then a sharp-eyed player with a sniper rifle can ping her in the head to quickly end it all. Assuming he gets her in the back, so she doesn't have the opportunity to psychically deflect the bullet ;-)
FiringSquad: What will the new levels be like in CellFactor: Revolution?
Jeremy Stieglitz: Revolution's levels will be much more dynamic than the largely static (though physics-packed) environment in Combat Training. In Revolution, much of the levels' architecture can now be blown up, ripped apart, and otherwise destroyed, as well as the sheer number of interactive objects being about four times greater than in the Combat Training demo. I don't want to reveal all of the new levels just yet (better that we show them to you once they're ready), but I can say that they run the gamut from natural environments to hard-edged military-industrial settings -- all ripe for destruction.