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FreeFall 3050 AD - Project background
By Tony Takoushi

I wrote the design over a 3-week period.

A test AVI was made over the course of a week to get a 'feel' for dropping (see concept art) and a very rough 3DFX demo was knocked up over 2 weeks or so.

I set up the studio on March 17th 1999 to do the game with 1 programmer, 1 artist, 1 part time artist, and me as Designer/Producer.

Then in June it was clear we would not be able to get the title finished in time for Christmas 1999 without some help on enemy AI.

Another programmer joined in June on a short-term contract and FF was basically complete by Early December 1999.

TAKS web-site setup in April 2000 (taks.co.uk)

Various tweaks and tidy ups continue to be made through to launch.

Production

There were many issues to resolve with such different cameras and gameplay.

-How do you orientate/cue events through 360 degrees while falling?
We put in 2 camera modes: A 'Normal mode' where the camera flips between a 'top down' (looking down the tunnel) and an 'across the tunnel' view.

An 'Advanced mode' where the camera flips 90 degrees around the players orientation (whatever angle his body is at) which makes for some VERY cinematic, and thoroughly playable, camera views. A text message system warns/cues impending obstacles/items

-If you are looking across a tunnel and zapping an enemy how do you know what is coming up/attacking you from below?
An icon system was developed whereby if a power-up appears down the tunnel an icon appears in the top left of the screen with the distance decrementing to the power-up.

If in 1st person view how do you know your bodies orientation?
When you go from 3rd person to 1st person view an icon of the player's body appears in the top right of the screen. This shows the players orientation as he spins through 360 degrees.

-How do you make it accessible for beginners and challenging enough for hardened gamers?
Two levels of difficulty affecting time to complete a level, enemy difficulty and an option for 'auto airbrakes'.

Players can redefine the pad layout to suit themselves.

How can he move and shoot at the same time in Freefall?
The players weapons are on his backpack, he does not hold any weapons. As he has to move through space it does not make sense for him to orientate to enemies if he has to move through gaps/dangers ahead of him. In fact I can't think of another shoot'em up where the hero doesn't hold any weapons at all!

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