What's old is new again. FPS games have come full circle, and where cinematic hallway shootouts were once the standard for first person action, a surprising amount of games these days are taking a step towards guns-blazing mayhem. Wolfenstein: The New Order and Shadow Warrior have made people interested in grabbing health kits and carrying as many weapons as possible again, and Doom is finally making its triumphant return to the FPS arena. However, there's still something missing from shooters: a severe lack of balls to the wall insanity. GIBHARD looks to change that, being a procedurally generated FPS that's drenched in enough gore and gibs to make a cacodemon blush. I got in contact with Bram Eulaers, developer of GIBHARD, to discuss the game's roguelike flavor as well as the weapons, enemies, and little touches that make GIBHARD stand out from the pack.
TechRaptor: GIBHARD has a decidedly old school feel to it. What games serve as your main inspiration?
Bram: There are many inspirations for various parts of GIBHARD. I referenced Doom, Quake and Quake 3 a lot for the movement feeling. There's a procedural level generator tool for Doom called Oblige which was a big inspiration for the procedural generation in GIBHARD. Art style wise I found myself looking a lot at old bitmap brothers games, more specifically The Chaos Engine and Z. Spelunky was a huge inspiration as well for the overall way GIBHARD is structured.
More recent inspirations are Devil Daggers and Megasphere, there's a lot of little things those games do very well!
TechRaptor: Your website says GIBHARD is a procedurally generated FPS. How will the procedural generation work?
Bram: GIBHARD levels are fully procedurally generated, which means there are no pre-made rooms or hallways. In simple terms the level generator will "grow" rooms and hallways with similar designs and setups as for example a Doom level. Various parameters control what items and enemies get placed, what shape a room has and many other things. Having designed a lot of FPS levels in the past, I tried to create a level generator that would generally put together a level the way I would do myself.
TechRaptor: Why go for procedural generation over standard level design?
Bram: When I started GIBHARD it was originally purely out of interest and as a programming challenge. The levels I was generating turned out pretty fun and I figured it would be interesting to turn it into a bigger game. Procedural generation is not something I have seen done very well in other games, so I really wanted to break the mold here. There's also a lot of interesting gameplay challenges to procedural generation that I think make for a pretty unique FPS setup. Another thing that it allows me to do is setup daily challenges where you get to play through the same level "seed" as other players.
TechRaptor: To go along with the procedural generation, will there be any other roguelike elements such as perma death?
Bram: Perma death is currently a feature, as one of the more interesting aspects of procedural generation is that you never play the same level twice. Other rogue elements are NPC's you can interact and trade with, treasures you can find and the occasional rare item that only spawns on some play troughs.
TechRaptor: The website also mentions environmental manipulation, can you give any specifics?
Bram: Every object with physics you encounter can be used as a weapon! There's also plenty of traps that can easily kill you or be used to lure enemies into them. I'm also currently planning to have plenty of destructible walls that open up secret passages and there's a lot of destructible objects that can trigger chain reactions of explosions!
TechRaptor: What will weapon variety be like? Roughly how many weapons can we expect to see in GIBHARD?
Bram: GIBHARD currently has 10 different weapons. You default weapon is the warpgun, which is sort of a physics manipulation weapon that doesn't use any ammo. The other weapons are divided over 3 different ammo types: blue for bullet/shell based guns, green for energy weapons and red for explosives. Some weapons you'll only find in certain playthroughs, other's you can buy from NPC's.
TechRaptor: You've shown off some footage of the Warpgun, what was the inspiration for it? How versatile will it be?
Bram: The warpgun originally started out as a debugging tool, as I needed something to move around and spawn objects for testing purposes. This turned out to be quite fun to do, especially with enemies :), so I decided to turn it into an actual weapon. It's pretty versatile, as you can pretty much pick up and shoot or throw any interactive object. You can pick up enemies and throw them into toxic goo, or grind them up in a fan, then use their gibs as projectiles to kill other enemies. The warpgun basically turns anything into a deadly weapon!
TechRaptor: What about enemies? Can we expect a lot of different foes to take on?
Bram: Yes! Right now GIBHARD features 10 different enemies and 3 boss fights. I'm still hard at work on tweaking their attacks and abilities. Some enemies will group around larger "leader" types, others will give enemies around them energy shields making them invulnerable, so you have to take out the "shield givers" first. Others move around fast, dodging your bullets or fly around with jetpacks. I'm still playing around with a lot of ideas! I really want to make a sniper enemy for example.
TechRaptor: What will the music for GIBHARD be like?
Bram: This is a part of GIBHARD that's still taking shape, and one of the main reasons I haven't put together a trailer yet. There's currently a few tracks that work pretty well, it's kind of a minimal electronica thing with some Bobby Prince flavorings :). There's also a procedural aspect to the music in that the tracks are layered and get more intense depending on how much combat you are experiencing!
TechRaptor: Will GIBHARD have any story to speak of?
Bram: Currently the story is pretty vague, and mostly implied through snippets of dialogue from NPC's. It's not a very big focal point of the game. It's mostly a self aware FPS universe that's all about running and gunning and respawning, with the enemies definitely looking like they belong to some kind of larger ecosystem, but what is actually happening outside of the game world is up to the imagination :).
TechRaptor: Finally, when do you think we can expect to play GIBHARD?
Bram: GIBHARD is currently in closed alpha, with the game being fully playable start to finish. How soon the release will be I haven't decided yet, it depends on what features I still want to add and whether or not I do early access, but I'm definitely aiming for sometime this year! I hope to have more news on this as soon as I put it on steam greenlight!
TechRaptor: Thank you for your time.