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Friday, January 25, 2008

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Penumbra: Black Plague Dev Diary, Screenshots
6:00 AM | Cord Kruse | 12 comments

A new developer diary for Penumbra: Black Plague is now available at Worthplaying. The sequel to Penumbra: Overture, the game will wrap up the storyline to the horror themed adventure series. The diary focuses on Frictional Games' efforts in implementing the game's physics engine.

The best and worse thing with physics puzzles is that you can never plan for every event. There are endless of ways in which the physics can be used and this means that you can never be sure that you have tested every single way in which the player can approach a puzzle. The good thing with this is that the player can solve puzzles in ways, we as designers, never planned. The bad thing is that the puzzle might be broken in unexpected ways too. For example if you need to cross a rift using boards, it is hard to prevent the player from simply throwing down all the boards into the rift, making the puzzle unsolvable. During the development of the game we tried hard to minimize these sorts of things, however we also didn't want to be overprotective either. Because of this we made the decision to leave a way to destroy the puzzle, if it made the way to solve it the more open. As long as it was very obvious when the player destroyed a puzzle we figured this approach would be a lot better than holding a player’s hand every step of the way, making the game much more linear.

Another grim feature of a physics system is its chaotic nature. By chaotic we mean that the slightest change in starting conditions might lead to vast changes in the result. For example, at one point in the game we wanted a corpse to fall down, but the physics would never behave the way we wanted it to. Every time we thought we had it in the right starting pose, it would still fall completely wrong on a later occasion. This forced us to add several correctional forces to make sure the corpses landed where it should and a task we at first thought would be simple, turned out to consume over a day’s worth of job.
Click over to the site below to read the rest of the diary and check out some new screenshots from the upcoming game.

Worthplaying: Penumbra Black Plague Dev Diary
Penumbra: Black Plague
Penumbra: Overture
Frictional Games

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