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The Polarity of Outland – Experience it June 14th

Aki Raula's Avatar + Posted by Aki Raula on Jun 05, 2011 // Lead Designer, Outland

As we are now about to release Outland, I thought it would be nice to share some thoughts on developing the game, especially on its main feature, the “Ikaruga” polarity mechanic. Thinking about it almost two years later, it feels like we came about the concept easily and naturally.

opposite_spirits

At the very beginning I had an idea on creating an action adventure platforming game that would give the player similar emotions and encounters I experienced when playing some of my favorite platforming games in the 80’s (Pitfall II, Jumpman Jr., Rick Dangerous etc. – see, I never had a NES). Early versions of Outland had a guy jumping, shooting and sliding around in a jungle environment. We expanded that basic gameplay by adding a special spirit mode that made the character move faster and cause more damage.

Our spirit mode, which we called the “Flow” mode, was one where you turned from a normal guy into a superhero; blue energy surrounded you and you were nearly invincible. We toyed around different variations of the concept, from having an additional boost mode, to having Flow sources/springs in the levels that would activate the spirit. Somehow the one-dimensional approach of the special power didn’t feel like enough. We decided on having some brainstorming sessions to further enhance the concept, but initially nothing caught on. Finally, during a weeklong meeting between Housemarque and Ubisoft, we started discussing applying Ikaruga’s mechanics to our 2D platforming, and Outland’s final concept was born!

jungletwo

Once we set ourselves on changing the spirit power to be binary, we had a very good feeling about it. Even if there hadn’t been many platformers with a similar feature (Silhouette Mirage, we know of you), we knew we could get it working. Just after a few weeks of development we had a prototype running and it confirmed our beliefs. Now the task was to fit this polarity mechanic into our existing concept.

Before coming up with the binary concept, we had had concerns about shooting working with fast, acrobatic movement. Now, on top of that, we had the environment and enemies shooting complex volleys of bullets at you, and you were supposed to make sense of what you were avoiding and where you were going while aiming at enemies. In addition, shooting required us to use the second stick, which made switching between aiming and jumping quite cumbersome. And that wasn’t all. Animating a human character who can jump around walls and point his arm to any and all directions at the same time proved to be especially hard.

The decision to drop the projectile weapons and stick with a melee attack proved to be the right one. Controlling the character became easier and more straight-forward, and now the experience started to be more about player skill than the controls handicapping the game. The final debate we had before going into full production was to decide which way the player’s energies worked against enemies and items.

Outland for PS3 (PSN): UnderWorld

The development team was torn half between the same color hurting enemies versus the opposite color doing so. To me, it felt more natural to use the same color (for everything), but two specific things convinced us decide on the opposite. First, we realized we could get more diversity from players having to switch between modes when fighting enemies, jumping on colored platforms and absorbing bullets; also, all of those items being of alternate color looked better. Second, Ikaruga had also gone the ‘opposite’ route and that was good enough final confirmation for us.

One major thing we did differently from Ikaruga was the inability to hurt enemies of the same color. We tested different damage ratios between half damage and one sixth, but none of them made it clear enough that the player should switch alignments for stronger attacks. Ultimately, going full-on binary clarified gameplay and enabled us to create encounters where the intent was clean. Once we had that final thing settled, we had all of our core mechanics nailed down and moved from prototyping onto full-on production.

The end result you can all judge by yourselves. I and the rest of the team truly hope you enjoy Outland when it hits the PlayStation Store on June 14.

//Add Your Own

94 Comments

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51

+ Beast-vs-Zombie on June 5th, 2011 at 4:14 pm said:

if sony gave us a welcome back package y r they gunna take it back i guess they dont appreciate their customers i waited loyaly but im goin to xbox XBOX XBOX XBOX XBOX


52

+ Assassin_180 on June 5th, 2011 at 4:45 pm said:

There is a punk who stole my account and for anyone who has been duped by this idiot. He promised to do something on my account then changes my password and is being a bi***. I have seen on his messages where he has tried to do this numerous times. He got me but I will get my account back.

here is his address:

screenname is XxKrimeZ-_SkILZZ
his address is 1050 Randolph Street, Charleston WV


53

+ soldiercell on June 5th, 2011 at 4:55 pm said:

Really! June 14th! Wish they would of released this first instead of the crappy games! Where is Gatling Gears also?


54

+ TheFunkyPhantom on June 5th, 2011 at 4:55 pm said:

Since Ilari Kuittinen has no confidence in us consumers, I’ve decided to not buy this game simply to make his unnecessary rant a self-fulfilling prophecy.

“My biggest concern is whether people will come back to use the system and browse the Playstation Store. On top of that, the second issue is that everyone now gets games for free (including our Dead Nation and Super Stardust HD), so people might just play the free games for a while. By the time they are ready to buy something, Outland is maybe old news.”

Outland was on my must-buy list until he said this. Now I’ll just be replaying Stardust and Dead Nation.


55

+ mightmagicianz on June 5th, 2011 at 5:03 pm said:

can u guys tell me, when is the mortal kombat 9 demo coming back?


56

+ Number_XV on June 5th, 2011 at 5:08 pm said:

Escalation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1


57

+ BROKENGuN12 on June 5th, 2011 at 6:09 pm said:

CAN SOME 1 TELL ME WHEN ESCALATION MAP PACK 2 COME OUT FOR PS3


58

+ jkuc316 on June 5th, 2011 at 6:09 pm said:

Yeah! Outland finally reaches PSN!


59

+ drupy28 on June 5th, 2011 at 6:10 pm said:

it would be better if it were a 3d game, where you are the person and you can run…. basically like infamous where you can do all theese tricks in spirit mode, but you can still fight in normal mode. also looks sorta fun.. except im 14 now so my view on games has changed.


60

+ Wozman23 on June 5th, 2011 at 6:35 pm said:

This was the main reason I wanted to store back. I don’t know how much longer I can wait. Maybe I’ll dust off my Gamecube for some Ikaruga.


61

+ KenobiEagle on June 5th, 2011 at 6:45 pm said:

I’m sad to see that I’ll have to wait another week and change for this game, but I know it’ll be worth it.


62

+ headronefish on June 5th, 2011 at 6:46 pm said:

oh, come on. I’ve been waiting for this ever since I heard of this game, there’s no reason to keep us waiting. TAKE MY MONEY NOW.


63

+ Spores on June 5th, 2011 at 6:55 pm said:

looks like a win!


64

+ OnTheBus666 on June 5th, 2011 at 7:14 pm said:

Thank you for the update but why do we have to wait until the 14th? The UK’s store has it now, and so does Xbox Live Marketplace.


65

+ jcperry on June 5th, 2011 at 7:19 pm said:

looks great


66

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on June 5th, 2011 at 8:21 pm said:

50

+ Beast-vs-Zombie

Because it’s a welcome back package, it’s not supposed to be up for ever. You get what you want from the package and you keep it, the only thing that you need to renew is the PS+, that’s it. Stop whining if you really want to go to Xbox, go. Don’t stay here and complain like a little baby.

You won’t be missed Bye.


67

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on June 5th, 2011 at 8:24 pm said:

55

+ BROKENGuN12

The 10th. Don’t some of you read the blog? It shows it clearly on the Black Ops Escalation Map Pack on the PS Blog.


68

+ Zoryu_of_Setsuna on June 5th, 2011 at 8:27 pm said:

51

+ Assassin_180

Rule #1 Don’t give out your info to anyone you don’t know or met online. That’s exactly what will happen you deserved it for being too trust worthy with thieves online.


69

+ JBAlex8 on June 5th, 2011 at 8:35 pm said:

The first image look cool!! that gonna be good to the PS Home Avatar, those two character look super cool!!!


70

+ EveofLight on June 5th, 2011 at 11:06 pm said:

Already played this on the Xbox, its a really nice game. Love the graphics and fluidity of the animations. I would recommend getting this game.


71

+ NDubbaYa on June 6th, 2011 at 12:07 am said:

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY


72

+ ShottaWarhawk on June 6th, 2011 at 1:28 am said:

this is awesome I was just about to ask when this was coming out. I can’t win its a great game people trust me.


73

+ ShottaWarhawk on June 6th, 2011 at 1:48 am said:

psn going hard on them now we getting alot of tough titles coming out!!!


75

+ Golwar on June 6th, 2011 at 3:47 am said:

@ TheFunkyPhantom #52
So what you actually say is that his not totally unreasonable fears as an dependant indie, are even outclassed by your reaction to his fears?

Kudos, dear sir. I guess a developer with fans as you, really needs no enemies.


76

+ Kuainu on June 6th, 2011 at 5:19 am said:

I bought it on the EU store, and I can tell I’m not disappointed. This game is just amazing !
One of the best if not the best game available on the PSN. I hope we’ll have more games like this one in the future, because i really love this new gameplay.

The only bad thing about the game, it’s so damn good I think Outland is too short… I wish the game lasted something like 100 hours and more :)


77

+ MaxxAmmo on June 6th, 2011 at 5:53 am said:

The backgrounds/ environments look gorgeous! Can’t wait to see it in action!


78

+ FORMIK on June 6th, 2011 at 6:32 am said:

I’m looking forward to it! Housemarque’s other games still offer a lot of fun.

There must have been at least one meeting concerning release dates and how to prevent the fire hose effect of releasing all the content in one or two bursts. I have no problem enjoying what I bought recently (LA Noire, Under Siege, etc) in the meantime.


79

+ usedtoiletpaper on June 6th, 2011 at 7:07 am said:

So is this a multi platform game because it’s published by ubisoft?


80

+ Chuckbait on June 6th, 2011 at 7:27 am said:

Why post a blog if you will not answer any questions posted?

The game looked interesting, until I read that write up……. You removed shooting because it was too complicated?

So you dumbed down the (controls) game because it was too hard? I’ll pass.


81

+ johnny19951995 on June 6th, 2011 at 7:39 am said:

Damn the graphics look amazing!


82

+ onslaughtree on June 6th, 2011 at 7:44 am said:

Yes. I have been asking about the release date for this game for weeks. Thanks and I will be all over this come 6/14.


83

+ Senjutsu_Dav on June 6th, 2011 at 8:23 am said:

hoping for a demo


84

+ red8ts on June 6th, 2011 at 9:44 am said:

whats going on? why cant i cut or copy?


85

+ Warman62 on June 6th, 2011 at 10:23 am said:

awesome cant wait


86

+ im_a_pterodactyl on June 6th, 2011 at 11:01 am said:

Finally! I’ve been excited about this release for months, and while I’m disappointed in the delay, at least there’s now a solid date. Thanks for the writeup as well, it was an interesting look into the development process.


87

+ hrfuknstuf on June 6th, 2011 at 11:07 am said:

Elvick, if jumping and firing a gun with the shoulder buttons, and aiming the gun with the second stick had been simultaneously implemented in a platformer like this, most people would have quit the game in frustration. That control scheme is great for FPS’s, but I think the face button mechanics prevail when playing a game like this. Also, a sword in a shooter-environment is a lot of fun; playing as Sayuri in Hard Corps: Uprising is proof of that.


88

+ KongWen on June 6th, 2011 at 12:50 pm said:

After Sony announced that they wouldn’t be including me in their Welcome Back package, I went and downloaded it on XBLA. It’s a pretty nice game. It’s not just a straight platformer, even with the polarity, as there’s a lot of poking around done be done.


89

+ MajicManj on June 6th, 2011 at 1:37 pm said:

I can’t wait to play. I have been waiting for this game a long time.
For those wondering why the delay, it is because of five weeks of backlog of content for the PSN.
Aki Raula, any chance of Golf: Tee it up coming out on the PS3?


90

+ Nergil on June 6th, 2011 at 2:30 pm said:

I know you guys didn’t want the flood of new content to affect your sales, so I understand the delay but DAMN i want this game


91

+ BLU-RAY__ on June 6th, 2011 at 3:24 pm said:

Ive been waiting for this and its here!! but i have no money :(


92

+ Nergil on June 6th, 2011 at 3:51 pm said:

@52
I live right down the street from that guy if the address is right…u want me to go knock on his door?


93

+ e4real22 on June 9th, 2011 at 10:11 am said:

i want free full games


94

+ jim2point0 on June 14th, 2011 at 12:57 pm said:

You guys had me fooled. It’s June 14th and GUESS WHAT IT’S NOWHERE TO BE FOUND.

Thanks for nothing.


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