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Denton in the great outdoors?

Ion Storm Austin talk about "Deus Ex 2" and outdoor terrain

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Image credit: Eurogamer

Arguably the best game of last year and a big hit on this side of the pond, even if the Americans didn't seem to appreciate it, "Deus Ex" predictably enough spawned a sequel which is now under construction at Warren Spector's Ion Storm Austin studio. Although we still don't know for sure whether the sequel will follow in the footsteps of the first game by using the latest Unreal technology from Epic, or whether it will switch to id's new Doom engine or Monolith's Lithtech, one feature which all of the leading 3D game engines now have in common is the ability to handle huge outdoors areas.

"Outdoor terrain is definitely something we want to take advantage of. Also, from an outdoor simulation standpoint, we plan on [CENSORED BY THE ANGRY GODS OF PR], which should be really cool", proclaimed lead designer Harvey Smith (aka Witchboy), the big tease. But simply dropping in vast open spaces without thinking it through first is a recipe for disaster, as id Software recently proved with "Quake III : Team Arena", whose terrain maps were simply too big for the pace of the game and the number of people playing on them most of the time.

"One of the things, in general, I'd watch for when using terrain in a game like ours is creating wide, empty landscapes with little density of interest", according to Witchboy. "Games like Ultima VII did an okay job of providing something interesting every few hundred yards in the Great Forest, but other role-playing games have provided all this wilderness space and allowed the player to walk forever without providing for anything interesting, and often the player has to backtrack out of some cul-de-sac. Powerful outdoor terrain features have to be thought through, like everything else - they affect lots of things like the optimum player movement speed, which is also tied to other aspects of the game, like the pacing of play. It's not like you can just throw a switch and generate miles of terrain..."

Source - Planet Deus Ex

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