Turok the dinosaur hunter has been and enhanced by Night Dive Studios, JMMREVIEW caught up with lead developer Sam Villarreal.
Improved level design
JMMREVIEW: I was really shocked when I turned a corner on the first level to find an area had changed! Can you please settle a debate, did the first area change so you could remove the auto-shotgun or was there a different reason?
Sam Villarreal: The reason was because players who are new to the game will almost be guaranteed to miss the 2nd key, which is hidden in such a obscured area. Also most keys in Turok are usually placed in grand-scale areas protected by enemies and whatnot. The location of that 2nd key just felt really underwhelming so I wanted to revamp that section and make it more of a grand entrance, as if that key is really well protected.
Also the shotgun secret is still there. Just keep looking around 😉
Q: There are parts of level 3 where the platforms are extended which makes jumping the gaps much easier, was that the general idea behind improving the level design, to make it more accessible?
A: Yeah, a lot of the level design in Turok is actually built around the fact that the user understands that strafe-running would boost their speed when making long jumps, but its never explained anywhere in the training session. Again, players who are new to Turok will never even realize that it’s possible, so that area was tweaked to make it possible to jump to those platforms without requiring strafe-running.
Removal of the 30 FPS cap
Q: I am not sure if the game runs at 60fps because I haven’t tested it but I can tell the frame rate has dramatically improved. Can you confirm the game is 60fps, if so was it difficult to achieve this?
A: The original game actually ran on two threads, one thread ran the game logic at 15 fps while the rendering thread ran at 24 fps (it could of been 30, I am not sure). The challenge with the new engine was making all of it work well with a single thread that ran 60 fps across the board. That meant that things had to be tweaked and reworked like the delay time for enemy respawning (which continued to cause problems after the initial launch of the game). Movement speeds for particle effects were the biggest annoyance because it had to be perfect in terms of timing so it ended up being a lot of trial and error in tweaking the speeds and time factor.
Q: The original Turok had a controller with only one analog stick but we now have the ability to freely remap all keyboard, mouse, and gamepad inputs. How important was it to modernised these controls
A: Very important. As a FPS game being built for the PC, it was mandatory to get those controls right.
Clearing the way
Q: Removing the fog is another huge improvement that alone mixed with the support for high resolutions and widescreen makes it feel like a different game…
You are working on Turok 2: Seeds of Evil, the fog doesn’t seem as intense in that game and I think the graphics are slightly better because it used an expansion pack. Are you finding any major differences or challenges with Turok 2 compared to Turok 1?
A: Some of the biggest changes in Turok 2 is skinned models and dynamic lights. Levels in the first game were built with static meshes and rendering a scene was very quick and straight forward due to redrawing the instanced meshes over and over. Turok 2 on the other hand will have lights that will affect per mesh and dynamic meshes. This will complicate things a lot more since now rendering meshes won’t be simple and direct anymore but this will go well with some of the ideas I have for the enhanced renderer.
N64 vs PC
Q: From what I understand the enhanced version uses elements of the N64 version and the PC version, what was the reason for this?
A: N64 version has way superior sounds compared to the original PC port. The initial launch got a lot of negative feedback regarding to the sounds since it initially was using the sounds from the 1997 PC port. The 2nd patch introduced sounds taken directly from the N64 version. The minigun sounds in particular are way better than before now.
Dynamic lighting, bloom, FXAA, enhanced water effects, lights shafts
Q: I am assuming these kind of effects couldn’t be achieved using the hardware at the time, with things like the water effects did you somehow reprogram the existing water or did you pretty much start from scratch on most of these effects?
A: The water refraction/reflection effects were very easy to implement. All post process features that were implemented had very minimal risk and did not require any change to the core scene renderer. Though I did have to create a material system which allowed me to specify what textures should be treated as ‘water’, but that data were created separately and didn’t require modification of the original assets.
During rendering, all water surfaces were added to a list which was used to mask out the stencil buffer and rendered the reflected scene as well as the refraction scene. All of this was completely independent of the core scene renderer.
The future at Night Dive
Q: So we know Turok 2: Seeds of Evil is on the way and I know a lot of people are really happy about that, myself include but will the lesser known N64 game, Turok 3: Shadow of Oblivion ever get an enhancement?
A: Our team has really been focused on delivering the best re-mastered experience of Turok and Turok 2, and we’re ecstatic about the positive feedback we’ve gotten so far. Personally, I’d love to see that happen, and if this keeps up, Turok 3 could definitely be something we consider and discuss for the future.