Over the years of working on Alien Arena, some releases really got me excited.  3.0 in 2004 with the inclusion of Capture the Flag.  4.01 in 2005 with the Linux port.  5.0 in 2005(Alien Arena 2006).  7.0 with a major content shift.  7.30 with it’s full per-pixel lighting effects and OpenAL sound.  7.45 with skeletal model format, and 7.50 with ragdoll physics.

In 2009, a map known as dm-deimos2k9 was released, which set a new standard for the quality of level design we were going for.  Subsequently, much of the content has been revamped to reflect that new standard.  With Alien Arena’s latest release(Reloaded Edition) not only have we supplied users with a dozen new or revamped maps, two new player characters, and a new weapon, but we may have set a new bar that we may aspire to in the future with dm-extermination.  This level was inspired partly after playing hours of Rage, probably the most beautiful game I have ever seen in my life.  The gory theme, heavy detail, and post apocalyptic atmosphere was very well suited for Alien Arena.  But…Extermination was more than just a visual demonstration of the CRX engine.  A large amount of attention was paid to laying out what I considered the ultimate style of Deathmatch gaming.  Multiple routes, vertical vantage points, dynamic game flow all factored in to making this map.  It’s one thing to create a beautiful environment, it’s quite another to make a good Deathmatch arena.  Extermination is my best attempt at both.  I think you will enjoy it!

The amazing thing about this release to me, is the shear volume of new content.  Thanks to Rigel and Freaky, two very dedicated Alien Arena followers, we added a number of CTF and TCA(Team Core Assault) levels based on DM levels I had created before.  Ctf-goregrinder and ctf-purgatory are amazing ports that continue to raise the bar of our CTF levels.  Ctf-extermination might be the best CTF level in the game, with it’s complex layout guaranteed to fool even the people who designed the levels at times.  A quad of classic Alien Arena maps received makeovers(Leviathan, Bloodfactory, Crucible, and Dynamo).  In the case of the first two, the changes were very dramatic.  We didn’t stop with adding arenas to frag in…we dished out some characters in which to do the fragging with.  The Martian Overlord was created, based on a concept from years ago.  It was basically meant to be the new “brainlet”, but it evolved to be a more full-sized character.  The Martian Warrior was a last minute inspiration in which a “heavy” version of the Martian was introduced.  Along with this new content, we also added a number of rendering features, many not found in other free games of this type.  God rays cast from sun objects, dripping normalmapped water from player POV, as well as on walls.  Trash blowing around on some levels.  Subsurface light scattering and rim lighting.  But…again…we didn’t stop there.

One of the things we hear lately is how stale arena style FPS games are.  It’s all the same game, with just a different wrapper.  Some of those statements are coming out of ignorance(usually by non-fans of the genre), but there is some truth to it.  Rocket launcher?  Check.  Chaingun?  Check.  Railgun?  Check.  You get the point.  With Alien Arena we have always tried to deviate from the Quake style of gameplay a bit.  Don’t get me wrong, Quake III in it’s pure form, and it’s day, was the greatest arena FPS game of all time.  Alien Arena originally strived to emulate that style of game and play, with a few twists.  We added the Smartgun.  A spammy grenade launcher type weapon that had projectiles that would electrocute you.  We also added the flamethrower, a weapon type which no other game of this type seems to have(but fits in very well with the theme of THIS game).  The beamgun and vaporizer were also very deviant and unique to Alien Arena.  Eventually Alien Arena also began adopting ideas from Unreal Tournament, such as alternate firing modes, dodging, and a reward system.  For the last several years, Alien Arena’s gameplay has been a cautious, calculated marriage between aspects of Quake 3 and UT.  But, no more…

In Reloaded Edition, we introduce a brand new weapon, one who’s very concept will rock the Deathmatch world.  The Minderaser…a superweapon that spawns every two minutes, replacing a standard weapon after it has been picked up from it’s pad.  When the weapon spawns, a klaxxon sounds, and the mad scramble to find it begins!  Like all Alien Arena weapons, it has two firing modes, both devastating and sinister in their own ways.  Mode one fires a slow moving projectile, called a “seeker”.  The seeker will scan the area slowly, lock onto a player, and make a beeline right to them, zapping them dead instantly.  Once done, it resumes scanning, until either a player shoots it from the air, or it crashes.  The secondary mode is even more frightening.  A metal spider is released, which then proceeds to track down other players and rack up points for the firer of it until it is destroyed.  Oh, and to cap it off, each weapon mode erases it’s victims reward points…hence…the Mind Eraser.

All in all, I personally feel that this release is going to inject some innovation and style into Alien Arena, and the arena FPS genre.  The excitement meter is on high…

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