Bulletproof 2: Games That Weren’t Prt. IV


THE PITCH

Open World Action Game with Dynamic, Advanced AI

Theme: URBAN MILITARY; A STREET FABLE

Multiplayer / Co-Op

3rd Person Action

Year: 2005

Company: Genuine Games

Publisher: N/A

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After the huge success of Bulletproof (1.8m+ units), it seemed inevitable that another urban based game would be a good route to go. In the early stages of development we called the project BULLETPROOF 2: URBAN MILITARY, even though it was in no way connected to the first game. We weren’t sure if 50 Cent would be back, or involved in any way so, we just began to brainstorm and layout what we’d like to do. Plus, I wasn’t happy at all with how Bulletproof turned out, so I wanted to make amends…

I was a huge hip-hop fan growing up, so mixing hip-hop clothing with stylized artwork and blending it with a heavy action/military style game got me excited. We kept questioning how we could blend the two together, both visually, and in gameplay terms.

The game was still in its very early stages, so all the images I’ve included here are in the “thumbnail” phase. This is when myself and the artist (in this case, it was my good buddy Han Randhawa) would sit down and we’d throw ideas out as Han sketched. This is also the easiest stage to change, tweak, re-do or re-think everything about the visuals. Han used this stage to think about silhouettes, basic rules of the characters visuals (later to be used in the art bible) etc. while I thought about how we’d incorporate all the design elements we wanted.

The idea of the game was that a catastrophe had hit the world, and it was global chaos. Within the madness, the gangs grew in power, causing everyone else to flee the big cities. This left the gangs and a scattering of the military to wrestle for control of neighborhoods. This is what fuelled the purpose behind the game.

AI was to be the game’s USP (unique selling point). Our AI guy at the time; Petar Kotevski had worked out a way for enemies to traverse the environment with little to no design input (node placement/hard scripting), now this in itself isn’t anything new (AI’s use navmash; collision data in a lot of titles) but, these NPC’s would run/flip/crawl over environment pieces that had been dynamically thrown into the scene via explosives/destruction (which was also a major point of the game). This way, we could have a large world with destroyable elements that would cause AI’s to react organically in front of the player. Even early on, his work looked amazing. Once things looked bleak on landing the project, Petar left for Bungie and helped out on Halo 3 and Reach (a proper fine chap).

BP2 was based in an open world, with player’s attempting to gain control of an entire city. The player never died, but a big part of the game was that the game dynamically changed based on your actions. So, if you attempted to storm the stronghold of a high-end boss and failed, when you returned, he would’ve doubled his guards and made it harder for anyone else to try and take what was his; Success or Failure always had a set of consequences that tweaked the game. Sometimes the outcome would be obvious for the player, other times not, because the game was going to be very heavily AI & data driven (behind the standard action stuffs) so things could be developing under-the-hood so it was not apparent to players until they came into contact with these ripple effects.

Let’s take the same instance; Failure to Defeat a Boss and what things could happen as a consequence in-game, the function we called Retaliation:

Retaliation Guidelines

Location Defenses

Each boss location had node data placed around their hideout/location. These nodes would be the orientation and positional data for dynamic objects to be placed for escalation. Based on the level/influence of the player, the game would generate the type of element to be placed in the level and, where appropriate, the boss’ NPC’s would use them as options:

–          Walls (used for cover and protection)

–          Landmines

–          Spotlights

–          Motion detectors

–          Watch/sniper towers

–          Remote or manned sentry weapons

Bodyguard Level Increase

Each boss had bodyguards, they’d start at a standard level (higher than other base NPCs) and be well armed. This is how they could develop:

–          Better body armor (more health)

–          Better weaponry (higher damage, higher dps etc)

–          More intelligent (prolonged tracking, decrease reaction time, increased vision/sight/hearing stats, attempts to use cover and defensive tactics, would call for reinforcements etc.)

Assassins

At the higher levels, Bosses wouldn’t turn to buffing their defenses, instead they’d hire Assassins. These are incredibly dangerous, singular enemies who would come after the player using data such as; recent kills, last known location, recently purchased items and so on. Assassins would have a % chance to gleam a “breacrumb” each time the player triggered certain data flags.

–          Incredibly intelligent AI NPC

–          Tracked player based on their actions (over the entire city)

–          Highly acrobatic (could jump and do a form of la pakour to negotiate on-foot quicker than any other NPC type, this movement was unique to them)

–          Chose ambush points based on the player’s orientation, speed and backup (no. of gang members)

–          Dynamic battles/skirmishes (based on above info)

–          Use of vehicles; cars, jeeps, trucks, boats, planes and helicopters

–          Use of explosive, so would take advantage of the destruction element of the game (short cut through a wall anyone?)

There’s a ton more stuff to cover, but this is already turning into a larger post than I’d expected to do. So please, enjoy the concepts and contemplate what could’ve been.

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About Haydn Dalton

Creative Lead 30 Years Developing Games

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