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Alive 3
                               Dark Guardian
                          Episode 1: Unknown Enemy
                          Source: WWW.OMCGAMES.COM

System: Atari Jaguar
Type: Shooter
Release Date: 4th Qtr 2001
Medium: Cartridge
Number of players: 1
Rating: Teen (13+)
Difficulty: Moderate
Genre: Sci-Fi

Plot: You are Clyde Witiker a professor of classical literature, who is
unwillingly caught in a struggle that's larger than he is.


I'm sure the first thing someone is going to ask me is "why this game when
you have The Assassin and Eternal Darkness on the plate?" Well, there's no
easy answer to this question. I toyed with this  question for a long time,
and the only  way I  can  explain it  is to  say  that this  game is space
filler. I was getting tired of  people saying that we weren't going to get
anything done. Especially considering  the amount of work I've done on the
Jag up until this  point. To some  degree I can't blame people. But on the
other hand, I've released bits of work  and code to various people that at
least shows I'm doing what I  need to do on my end. So to calm the masses,
I decided to do something quick so that I can  prove once and for all that
we aren't some fly by night  group who  is only looking for attention. Let
the announcement at Jagfest prove otherwise.

What really inspired me was that I was having a conversation with Kain about
shooters and he was talking about the possibilites  of doing one. At first I
thought it was a kinda neat idea, but  after a few days of stewing the ideas
just started bombarding me. It was a  freaky experience  because things just
started falling  into place. I really owe  it to Kain for that. What I found
really compelling  about the idea was  that it was actually doable. And more
importantly, doable in  a short  amount of time. For  some  reason that very
notion was reason enough to do it.

But the biggest  problem is that  shooters  have  been done  to death  over the
years. They come in all  sizes, so I had to find  something that  was original,
yet had the possibility to keep the player around for many hours. The trick was
to  avoid gimmicks. Kind of  like Mars Matrix. It's a good game and all, but to
unlock (purchase) extras you had to play  an insane amount of games through the
same levels. This is classical  shooter gameplay, and I take  nothing away from
Mars Matrix, because it  does what it's supposed to do. The best model I had to
work with was  Radiant Silvergun on  the Saturn. It's  one of  my  favorites in
recent years and  really has not been  topped, but then  again Treasure are the
masters of the genre. I am sure  some of you  Jagheads have not had a chance to
play that one. I highly recommend it. It's the only classical shooter I know of
that had experience levels. And they were well used.

So that was the idea I started  with. Then it was just a matter of taking that
idea and running with it. I guess my next influence was Escape Velocity on the
Mac. That game is awesome. I still  play  it to  this day. But it's  more of a
slower paced game because you've got trading and  searching for good parts for
your ship and things of that nature. Also, the story can be a little drab, but
some of the story plugins were pretty

After lots of time going  over the  things that  had been  done, I came  to the
conclusion that I would go  for something  that was  a cross   between  mission
based and  action  with an  interesting story  thrown in for  good measure. The
days of brainstorming  produced  what you are  looking at now...Dark  Guardian.
I believe i will be something different, and not just from a Jaguar standpoint,
but from a gaming standpoint. At least that's our goal. I decided to add simple
cinemas that were in the  same vein as  the cinemas in  the NES  classics Ninja
Gaiden and Golgo 13. There was  just something  cool about them. As you can see
from the screenshots we are doing  them  almost the same way, except the cinema
window is a bit larger in Dark  Guardian. I figure it'll be something different
and it'll help advance the  plot visually. The only real question is whether or
not we can do much with only 2MB of cartridge space.

I think I've said enough for the time being. Keep checking back because I'll be
doing updates as we make progress with the game. Hope you guys enjoy it.

MORE NOTES: July 14, 2001 by James Garvin

When I work on stuff, I generally pick a bit of music which gets me in the
mood to write, program, study, etc. Sometimes  the  music I am in the mood
for can dictate what  kind of work I put  out, and for this  game for some
reason I've been listening to  the Secret Of Evermore  soundtrack. It's an
awesome piece of work from Jeremy  Soule. I gotta give my  man some props.
Worked some magic on the SuperNES way back in the day. But it calms me for
the long stints in programming I've been doing these days. The interesting
part is that  this isn't the sound I  want for the game. I did find a nice
piece that works for the title screen, but the rest of the game  is pretty
much up in  the  air. Though,  for cut-scenes  I  would love  to have some
orchestrated work kinda like Secret Of Evermore. If  I could keep the size
down, it would be great.

I've been  on the  lookout for  a musician, because  the task  of creating
music is way over  my  head. I do  have an idea  of what I  want things to
sound like, but finding someone to realize  this is going to be tough as a
certain level of musical diversity is needed. Can't have a musician who is
afraid to "funk it up" when  necessary, or bring  it down to a "classical"

I have to apologize to everyone  about the screenshots, but I haven't been
working on that area  in the  past  couple  of weeks. I  have  really been
focusing on  the gameplay  aspects. What  good are  graphics without great
gameplay? In particular, it's been all about the movement system. I had an
idea of how I was going to pull it off in the beginning, but after running
some tests using an actual Jaguar pad, I realized that it was not going to
work. In the end what I opted for was using the Pro-Pad to its fullest. In
this new scheme  you move  by holding  the R-Trigger. When turning you can
only turn within a 180  degree area  in front  of  the  ship. Which  means
tapping the button won't instantaneously turn you around. The hardest part
to all  of  this  is  instituting  the  24-point  movement instead  of the
traditional 8-point. In  other words, in  8-point  you have  the following
directions:  north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west and
northwest. In 24-point you get a greater degree of precision. It has taken
quite a bit of work to get it functioning the way I wanted it to, and even
now I'm still having some problems, but it does do 4 point correctly.

As the person plays through the game, they will have the  option  of purchasing
different ships. This is why I have tried so hard to provide enough  factors to
make ships  that  you  purchase  differ  from  one  another. But  it  does make
purchasing ships an integral  part of the  game. Because  sometimes power isn't
necessary, maybe you  will  need  a bit  of  speed to  avoid  asteroids. I  had
originally planned  to have  a sliding  scale like  Panzer Dragoon  Saga on the
Saturn, but this would really  make it kind of  worthless to buy  ships, and it
would be hard to store all of those values with the limited space I had to save
games. I am  still  working  on  how  many ships  you will  actually be able to
purchase, but at the moment it's 32.

Whether or not we actually have that many is still up in the air. One bad thing
I had to deal with was when setting up the save file locations, I made an error
in the byte  count  so I  thought  I  was using  less space  than I  was. I had
originally planned on having 3 save slots and the high score, but in the end, I
was only able to have 2 save  slots. Luckily, that's more  than one, not a real
reason to be upset. Especially  since I only  have 128  bytes to  work  with...
Though, if there is a solution for a larger save space, I  might jump  on it if
the price is reasonable enough.

MORE NOTES: July 21, 2001 by James Garvin

Not much going on this week. I have spent more time  than I will  admit to just
trying to get the movement algorithim  working correctly. I am fortunate that I
was able to be successful. There is still a lot of work to be done on it, which
includes adding a strafing button. I've only added four points to the movement,
but after I get the screen syncing finished, I'm going to add the other points.
With adding the other points, I'm going to  have to  add ship rotation. I'm not
looking forward to that. The good thing is after that's completed I can finally
add shooting. Doesn't that sound fun?

I have to admit that working on a shooter is a totally different beast compared
to working on an RPG. In a lot of ways it's easier. I can't remember getting as
far when I was working on The Assassin on a regular basis. There  were a lot of
issues I had to  deal  with, the most  difficult would  be perspective. I don't
have to worry about it as much in  Dark Guardian...or Eternal Darkness for that
matter. This means  that  moving  around  and  graphical  placement  is  pretty
straight forward. Not to  mention that  Story isn't the  forefront of the game.
Not saying that there isn't a story going  on, but you have to worry less about
plot points and things  of that  nature. Honestly, it really makes life easy. I
can spend more time working on the game than anything else.

I spent quite a bit of time this  week working on some of the visual aspects of
the game. After looking  at the  same  screens  over and  over, I felt  like it
needed a change. I have  even decided  to change the character  set because the
one I'm using now  didn't  turn  out  like  I wanted  it to. But  in all  of my
experimenting I wasn't  able to do  the game  justice. It's hard  to say, but I
lack  any  type  of  computer graphics  talent. It's depressing... So because I
screwed everything up, there will be no screens this week. Maybe Andrew will be
able to correct  most of  it. But  because of  it  there  have been a couple of
decisions about things that we  were able to make. The big one is the fact that
the player will be able to toggle  the radar  window on  or off. Because of the
size of it, there have been some issues about whether or not it gets in the way
of gameplay. To solve this problem I felt like it would be a good move to allow
the player to turn it off as they  saw fit. This means the game will look a bit
different the next  time I  post screens, which will  be either this weekend or
early next week.

MORE NOTES: July 29, 2001 by James Garvin

Another week has gone by and though I made some accomplishments, I still have a
long way to go. I've spent a lot  of time searching  for the right MODs to use,
or tweeking the movement. I still  haven't gotten  shots working correctly, and
there are still a lot of movement  issues that  need to be fixed. I had prepped
myself for adding character rotation, but I'm a bit hesitant for some reason. I
think the biggest  issue is  that the  rotation routine  I have does some weird
things to the sprite when in it's normal position. I'm not sure if I can handle
it since the ship is already  ugly, and adding more  warping to it (due to size
more than anything else) would just make  matters worse. I have to come to some
conclusion this week for  sure, but  right now I'm not sure about it. This just
adds to the list of things that I need to do and  up until this point I've been
rather unorganized about it. I'm going to start keeping a task chart for myself
to keep me a little more focused.

I spent a good portion of Satuday trying to fix this  stuttering in the cinema
sequence. I'm not really sure why  it's there to  be honest. I think I'm gonna
re-write the whole thing. I don't want  to do it, but it's better than sifting
through it trying to find out why it happens to  begin with. The funny part is
that this is the only section where it happens. No  other scrolling section of
the game suffers from the same  issue. Luckily, I can turn it off while I work
on other parts of the game. I think I'll look into it fully after I settle the
rotation problem, and get the  player actually shooting. I guess the best part
was that I added a  little filler  music piece to  the sequence. It's not bad,
actually, but I would like something a little less dramatic.

One thing I think I'm going to do with the game is add a language option to it.
So far the other languages I'm considering  are Japanese and  German. German is
relatively easy  as it  can use  basically the same  character set  as English.
Can't say the same for Japanese. But it should be easy enough to get working. I
might work on it as I get tired  of looking  at the  same code. Heh, heh. I had
originally decided  only to  go with Japanese, but after some thought I figured
German would be good to  try also. Heh, the  only problem is  that I don't know
any German. It's  times  like  this  that I  wish my  fiancee  was still around
considering her Major in College  was German Literature. Still, it's  something
that should please those who don't speak English very well.

I was having dinner with a friend of mine tonight and we were talking about how
some new SNK game is going to be numbered because  there were  only going to be
50 copies made. I  thought that was  such a cool idea that  I have decided that
Dark Guardian will be done the same way. The first few copies will be numbered.
And this number will  be present  in the game  somewhere. I'm not sure where at
the moment, but I'm thinking on the title screen, and possibly a sticker on the
box or manual. So when I  open pre-orders for the  game, it's going  to be on a
first come-first serve basis. I'll let everyone know how this "Special Edition"
will be handled in the next few weeks.

Alive 3