Dream Team Part IV

Hello again dear readers, and welcome to another installment of my TMNT character countdown!  We’re almost to the very top of the list, and these guys are the cream of the crop.  Starting us off today is one of the creepiest of Turtles villains, and the star of a not insignificant number of children’s nightmares.  He’s one of only a few characters on my list that were never part of the Playmates toyline, everyone’s favorite maurading killing machine:

6) Armaggon: This mutant shark is undoubtedly one of the most visually striking of all the Turtles’ villains.  He just looks so darn evil and scary!  He, of course, hails from the aforementioned “Future Shark Trilogy,” and I would love a chance to pit him against the Green Machine.  It would be a dream come true to get, not only Armaggon himself, but also his warmachine.  However, that would almost be overkill, as the ghastly gray one is a walking arsenal as is.  If you look at the image above, you’ll notice those weird lumps on either side of his face.  Yep, those are rocket launchers in his SKIN.  While this may seem almost Liefield-like, I thought it was pretty neat as a kid, and I have to say that he’d make one heck of a foe in FF.  Likelihood: Almost Impossible. This would be an extremely difficult skope, if it would be possible at all, and I doubt Armaggon is popular enough to elicit that kind of effort.

5) Wingnut and Screwloose: A deranged bat-like alien and his overgrown mosquito sidekick, these two anti-heroes would make for a really great addition to the Turtles’ allies, as well as providing a fun mission or two.  Wingnut was another of my favorite Turtles toys once upon a time, though at the time I didn’t get the joke of a paranoid mutant bat in a blue and gray outfit, complete with utility belt.  I have quite a good idea about how to build them into the game, and I think the addition of a flying character would give the players some nice options.  Given Wingnut’s…issues…he’d certainly have to have the “Mad” attribute, and these guys would definitely need “Charged Pair.”  I suppose I’d create Screwloose as a sidekick that always came along with Wingnut.  It would make them pretty unique, which is something I’m going for in my designs.  Likelihood: Very Slim. While I think Wingnut would be possible to skope, it would be pretty complicated, and Screwloose would be tough as well, though he could probably use parts of Gren’s Beetle.

4) Leatherhead: This mutated alligator is an enemy of the Turtles in the cartoon and an ally in the comics.  I’ve always loved him a s a villain, and the dynamic between him and the Punk Frogs is great fun.  How can you not like the idea of a back swamp trapper turned real life leatherhead?  As part of the Mutanimals he kind of gets lost in the shuffle.  As a good guy he’s just not as interesting as Mondo Gecko, Man Ray, or Wingnut, at least not to me.  He’s another one I’ve already given some thought to in terms of FF build.  What with an alligator’s physical power, and a variety of traps and weapons, I think he’d make a nice opponent, especially in some missions dealing with the Frogs.  Likelihood:  Fair. I don’t think he’d be too hard to skope, and Leatherhead is a pretty popular character.

Well, thanks for reading folks.  Come back tomorrow as we reach number one!

Dream Team Part III

Howdy folks, it is time for part three of my Ninja Turtles character countdown.  Now we’re getting into those toys and stories that really had an impact on me as a kid.  It’s telling of how deeply the Turtles are ingrained in the psyche of the children of the 80’s that many of us, without having seen, spoken about, or thought of a single one of the toys or comics from which these characters are drawn, immediately recognizes them a decade later.  We may not remember their names, but we certainly remember them.  And the first candidate today is one of the most memorable for me:

9) Mondo Gecko: One of the Mighty Mutanimals and one of my all time favorite toys when I was a kid, this mutant gecko is certainly a visually interesting character.  The idea of a skateboarding lizard was just about the height of awesome to my childhood self, and I have to say, it still makes me smile today.  However, Mondo provides some pretty unique challenges for Freedom Force.  I’ve got only the vaguest idea of how he’d work in game.  He’d obviously be extremely mobile because of the skateboard, but he was never exactly a whole lot of good in a fight, even in the comics.  Likelihood:  Very Slim. A skateboarding lizard may very well need a new mesh, which isn’t likely to happen.

8.) Future Turtles: A long time ago I read the Archie “Future Shark Trilogy,” and it had a pretty profound impact on me.  That story elevated the Turtles above the goofier side of the cartoon for me.  Suddenly they were characters that deserved compelling stories, characters who could have adventures that meant something.  Looking back on those issues now, they seem so much weaker than they once did, but the heart of this story is still gripping.  It was my first encounter with a dystopian future, and it was a story of loss, about coming to grips with growing old.  In a world of cartoons that never touched the concept of death or aging, these stories stood out.  After all, how can you not love a series that gives you Raphael punching Hitler?  As for the Future Turtles themselves, I’d only really want them to be able to adapt this story.  Differentiating all of them from their normal counterparts would be a bit of a pain, but it could also turn out with some good gameplay.  Likelihood: Very Slim. They’d be easy enough to skope, but I doubt they’re popular enough to catch an artist’s interest.

7) Ray Fillet: The Manray!  This marine biologist turned aquatic mutant powerhouse was one of my favorite toys as a kid, one of my favorite characters from the comics, and remains one of my all-around favorites.  I suppose it’s the coastal boy in me, but I just have a thing for aquatic heroes.  I still remember the first story about him in the Archie comics, and I was thrilled to discover that he was in the Mighty Mutanimals as well.  Anyway, I always thought Ray had a great look, and his super strength based powerset would provide a nice addition to the roster of heroes available.  Plus, with him onboard I’d be one step closer to bringing the Mutanimals to life.  Likelihood:  Slim. I don’t think he’d necessarily be hard to skope (though his “wings” might be trouble), but poor Ray is likely too obscure to bag an artist.

Alright, that’s it for this batch, but come back tomorrow for another step closer to the top three!  Also, please remember that I’d love to hear about your favorite characters and who you’d like to see in the mod.

Dream Team Part II

Here we go with numbers 12 through 10 of my countdown!  These TMNT characters are the ones whom I’d really like to see, but they couldn’t quite make the cut of the top contenders.  Up first, everyone’s favorite ronin bunny….

12) Usagi Yojimbo: The samuari rabbit…just how cool of a concept is that?  I’ve always loved Usagi, and though he technically doesn’t fit in with the TMNT’s world, in a setting like theirs it isn’t hard to find a way to plug him into a story.  My only real concern with Usagi would be the difficulty in differentiating him from Leonardo in his build.  How many ways can you represent a sword swing?  I’m thinking I would make him stronger and slower than Leo, but it is a question I’d have to consider carefully.  Still, he’s a neat character, and it would be fun to see him taking Shredder and co. on in FF.   I’d almost have to arrange a one-on-one fight between him and Leo.  Likelihood:  Fair. Usagi is very popular, but he’s going to require a pretty complex skope.

11) Merdude: Ahh, the inexplicably French merman of the TMNT set…he’s a very strange character, but as a kid he was one of my absolute favorite figures.  In reading through the Archie comics I’ve come to realize that Merdude is the Submariner to Ray Fillet’s Aquaman.  These characters are, in many ways, parodies of their mainstream aquatic counterparts.  Still, despite these oddities, I have to say that I still have a soft spot for this ocean dwelling mutantLikelihood: Almost Impossible.  He’d require a really tough skope, if it were possible at all, and he’d only really be usable in aquatic missions.  That adds a whole new set of headaches.

10) Metalhead: This robotic turtle would be a great change of pace in terms of villains.  I’ve already got the mission he’d premiere in dreamed up, and I think he’d make for some really interesting gameplay.  I’d probably make him actually metal material type, and then the Turtles’ weapons would be relatively ineffective against him.  Defeating him would require some creative thinking on the player’s part.  I remember him from both the show and the classic games…plus, I had his toy at one point in time.  I’d love a chance to unleash him on the players!  Likelihood: Fair. He’s another one who might be able to use the existing Turtle mesh, but some type of skope and skin are necessary.

Alright folks, I hope this is proving interesting to someone out there!  Tune in tomorrow for the next step on the countdown!

The Dream Team

I’ve been thinking a lot about Ninja Turtles lately.  I got a volume of the classic ‘toon for my birthday, so that probably has something to do with it.  Whatever the reason, my reflections have naturally drifted toward just how to do the Turtles and their world justice in Freedom Force.  I haven’t been able to get much work done lately because of several real real life things that have been keeping me quite busy.  As a result, I don’t have a release ready for this post, but I thought that some of you out there in the ether might be interested in the subject of my ruminations these last few days.

The Turtles’ cast has always been one of the strongest aspects of the original cartoon, the Archie comics, and almost all of the other incarnations of the franchise.  One of the things that has always disappointed me about the Turtles games that have come out over the years is the limited representation of that very asset.  There have been some notable exceptions, but even great games like Turtles in Time, which had a strong representation of Turtles villains, included only the four half-shelled heroes as playable characters.  Thus, one of the things that I most want to do in my mod is pack in as many of my favorite TMNT characters as I can manage, and the great thing about Freedom Force is that, even if you don’t get to play as, say, The Fly, during the campaign, you’ll be able to use him in the Rumble Room.

I’ve put quite a bit of thought into just which characters I’d most like to see make an appearance.  While I’ll obviously be limited by who I can get skinned/skoped/meshed, these are my top choices:

15) Dirtbag and Groundchuck: These two would make a great villainous pair and some interesting foes for the Turtles.  A mutant mole and bull provide a nice dichotomy in terms of powers, and they would lend themselves nicely to FF herofiles.  You’ve got one who would naturally be a tank with a solid variety of ranged attacks, and then you’ve got another who could take a more support role, burrowing from spot to spot for some close in attacks.  These guys aren’t characters that I’ve got a huge nostalgic connection to, but they are neat nonetheless.  I actually like the idea of Dirtbag as something of villain specifically for Splinter, rodent against rodent.  Likelihood: Slim. Both characters would require meshes or complicated skopes, and they are pretty obscure.

14) Wyrm and Scumbug:  Here we’ve got another, but much more disgusting, pair of possible villains for the Turtles.  These two characters would practically write their own mission.  They both showed up in the Archie comics, and their origins were suitably tragic as to stick in my memory.  The mutations of this garbageman and exterminator were not nearly as fortunate as those of the Turtles, and the resulting monstrosities battled each other, as well as everyone’s favorite green teens.  Wyrm and Scumbug could form the core of a pretty entertaining mission or two, and the nature of the characters lends itself to them showing up unlooked for later on.  Likelihood: Very slim. Whereas Dirtbag and Groundchuck have something of a following, these guys are pretty unloved.

13) Slash:  Another Turtle, but with a decidedly more violent outlook, Slash is a character with some neat potential.  Either a mutant snapping turtle or a turtle-like alien, either way Slash is a simple-minded killing machine.  He could certainly serve as yet another of the Shredder’s weapons against the Turtles, but the Archie series also illustrates the heroic side of the character, so perhaps he’d eventually make a nice addition to the player’s roster.  In terms of his build in the game, I imagine he’d be all damage and no defense.  Also, he’d simply have to have the “Berzerker” attribute.  It is the comics version that has stuck with me all these years.  He’s tragically heroic, and his final stand really endeared this psychotic amphibian to the young Mr. Grey.  Likelihood: Fair. Skoping him would be pretty easy since we’ve already got the other Turtles, and Slash is pretty well known.

Check back soon for the next batch of picks in the countdown!

More Ninja Turtle Action!

Howdy everyone, it has been quite a long time since I updated the blog here.  I imagine many of you thought that I had given up on my modding pursuits.  Such is not the case!  I have been quite busy this summer, and for most of my projects I have also been waiting for the incredibly talented artists at Freedom Reborn to complete this or that piece of the puzzle.  However, I finally have everything I need for the second episode of the TMNT mod.

Continue the search for April, but you had better be wary, who knows what you can expect to find when you finally discover what the mysterious Shredder has done with your charming new friend.  The mystery deepens…if you are strong enough to survive what awaits!

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You can find more pictures here!

You’ll find a full download of the mod here.

If you downloaded the mod before 8:00 on 7/11/10, you’ll need these two patches.

You’ll need to play through the first level again if you have already tried the first release, as I’ve improved things a good bit and added a base transition that will allow you to level your characters up.

Turtle Power!

That’s right, one of the other side projects of mine is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles mini-mod!  I’ve been wanting to do a Turtles mod for a good while, as I mentioned in one of my earlier “Ether” posts, and I have had this sitting on my hardrive for a while now, waiting on just a few little things to be finished.  If you are a child of the 80’s, then you almost certainly have a deep and abiding love of the Turtles.  Take a walk down memory lane, and see if you can keep from smiling when you load this mod and hear a familiar song on the main menu.  Take some time to remember why you loved the Turtles way back when, and why you should definitely still love them now.  Join them as they begin their adventures and face the deadly might of the once honorable Foot Clan!

Check out more screenshots!

Download the TMNT mod now!

Unfortunately, I don’t exaggerate when I say “mini,” as this is only a one mission adventure, but it is set to be the beginning of something a good deal larger, with the Turtles fully built-in and prepped for leveling.  I’m actually rather proud of the job I did creating these four in FF, and I am really happy with their builds.  Why then is it only one mission?  Unlike some of my other projects, it actually has nothing to do with my burnt-out state of mind.  Instead, it is all about a lack of resources!

You see, I’ve decided to engage in a little bit of friendly blackmailing!  I know how incredibly talented the FF community is, and if any among them decide to turn their talents to the Turtles, giving me the tools I need to continue telling their stories, then continue I will, but I’m pretty limited in what I can do without more art assets.  I’ll be posting a wish-list on Freedom Reborn, so be sure to take a look and see if there are any characters you’d like to bring to Freedom Force!

Doing More with EZScript

We’ve talked a bit about how to do fairly simple things with EZScript, so I thought I’d take some time tonight to talk about getting just a bit more fancy.  There are a few fairly common types of missions whose creation in EZScript may seem a little difficult to figure out when you’re just beginning.  One of the things that I wanted to do when I was first getting started on the DCUG was figure out how to create a mission where success or failure depended largely on the player’s ability to be stealthy.  Do y’all remember the stealth mission from the original FF campaign, the one where Minute Man had to sneak past a bunch of thugs who would trigger an alarm if they saw him?  Well, that gave me the idea, and since I was working on a Batman campaign, it seemed like a perfect fit!

But, how should I go about it?  Well, thanks to M25’s pointers, I finally worked out what I needed to do, and it is a system I’ve used for several missions since then.  To illustrate it, I’ll create part of  a Ninja Turtles mission in which the Heroes in a Half Shell have to slip past the police without being seen, while at the same time searching the city for clues.  We begin with a simple cutscene, and take advantage of the “Next:” field to spawn several encounters at the same time.

#——————————————————————————-

Encounter: Intro1
Type: Cutscene
Next: Punk1, Punk2, Punk3, Guard1, Guard2, Guard3

Start Cutscene:
narrator says, “After rescuing a plucky reporter from a gang of thugs out to ‘send her a message,’ the Turtles joined April O’Neil in pursuit of a story that would prove that they had not been behind a number of recent robberies around New York.”
narrator says, “While the boys stopped for a pizza, April continued her investigation, following her nose right into a trap!”
Cinematic camera on leonardo to raphael
leonardo says, “April’s disappeared, dudes!”
raphael turns to leonardo
raphael says, “Don’t worry Leo, she’s a big girl. I’m sure she can take care of herself.”
Camera on donatello
donatello says, “I’m not so sure guys. I mean, those creeps are probably still looking for her. What if they found her again?”
Cinematic camera on micaelangelo to leonardo
michaelangelo plays animation melee
michaelangelo says, “Well dudes, we gave those losers a pounding once, we can do it again!”
leonardo says, “Right Mikey, let’s hit the streets and see if any of the local riff-raff know anything. But remember, let’s act like ninjas and stay out of sight!”

#——————————————————————————-

Now, there are two things I want to point out about this.  First, you’ll see that I’m calling for six encounters to begin, but they are all encounters that won’t actually start RUNNING until you move characters close to them.  The characters in them will spawn, but they won’t take up too much juice just sitting there.  Something like this gets a lot more demanding when you are triggering encounters that start immediately, and that is something to keep in mind if your machine is a little on the older side.  Second, I forgot to talk about the difference between “Camera on” and “Cinematic camera on” commands in my last EZScript post.  Camera on points the camera more or less straight down at a single character, at a moderate height that will include a good deal of background.  Cinematic gets you in a little closer, and can be good for dramatic moments.  It is also good for FOLLOWING moving characters.  I tend to alternate the two, so there aren’t any jerky camera transitions.  Also, you can tell the game to stretch a shot from one character to another with the Cinematic camera, and that can be good for creating the illusion of a conversation or a face-off.

What’s next?  Well, the three encounters where the Turtles are looking for clues are all just variations on the same theme, stop a mugging, catch a thief, etc.  I’m going to make one of them an interrogation, though, so that our heroes can get some information pointing them to the final encounter.  I COULD make this clue encounter both an interrogation AND something else using a Custom Encounter, but we’ll talk about those another day.  Punks 1-3 won’t have a marker specified, so they’ll be random.  The player will have to search for them.  Guard 1-3, however, have to be tied to a specific location if we want them to look right.  Let me show you what I mean:

#——————————————————————————-

Encounter: Guard1
Type: Flee The Scene
Villains: cop, cop
Marker: post1
Next: If All Escaped: Alarm1
Next: If Some Escaped: Alarm1
Next: If None Escaped: None

Alert Cutscene:
Camera on leonardo
leonardo turns to Villain1
leonardo says, “Uh-oh brothers, we’d better stick to the shadows. We can’t afford to be seen, but I’d really rather not hurt innocent policemen.”

Start Cutscene:
Cinematic camera on raphael
raphael says, “They’ve spotted us! Let’s take ’em!”
donatello says, “But…they’re the good guys!”
raphael says, “Better that they wake up with a headache than we end up in a lab somewhere!”

Villains Escapes Cutscene:
Camera on donatello
donatello says, “This can’t be good…”

None Escaped Cutscene:
leonardo says, “That was too close…we must be more careful. Remember the lessons Master Splinter has taught us.”

#——————————————————————————-

You see, the base for this kind of stealth mission is simply a “Flee the Scene” encounter, and you could technically do that without calling for a marker, but if you want it to look like that Minute Man mission, where your flunkies trigger an alarm, you’ll need to do a little extra work.  See, having a specific marker, in this case “post1” allows you to place another marker “post1_end1” which will tell the villains where to run.  That may not really seem that helpful, but if you were to place the alarm bell from the Nazi base map over that marker, then you’d see these cops run for that alarm, rather than for a particular edge of the map.  Now, you’ve got a few options as to what to do once the alarm is tripped.  If you want stealth to be absolutely vital to the mission, you can simply put “lose” after the next entries for characters getting away.  What I like to do, however, is force the player to face a boatload of reinforcements if they can’t slip past the guards.  The next step is the key, though, as getting the right look is only part of the issue.

#——————————————————————————-

Encounter: Alarm1
Type: Hunt
Villains: cop
Minions: cop
Marker: post4

Start Cutscene:
michaelangelo says, “Look out, here comes the cavalry!”

#——————————————————————————-

You now have to tell the game to summon reinforcements for the shocked cops.  Here, we place a “post4” marker next to a doorway nearby, and use a hunt encounter so that these policemen will chase after the Turtles.  Thus, if the alarm is tripped, it will seem like the cops have called for backup.  You can even add in more dialog to indicate exactly what is going on.

And there you have it.  It is really simple in the execution, but it took me quite a while to figure out.  I like to think that the result in game is actually pretty neat, and a nice variation from the standard fare of “punch this guy.”  I hope that was useful to someone out there!