Former modders collective turned dev studio Unknown Worlds seems to be riding out from hobbyist to independent developer with their follow-up title Natural Selection 2, but the transition from Valve’s Half-Life engine to their own internally developed Spark is a little bumpier.
To ensure the new engine is competitive, founder Charlie Cleveland told Hooked Gamers that the team “are constantly loading Natural Selection 1, Team Fortress 2 and other games to compare Natural Selection 2 side-by-side with them.”
Apparently, Spark occasionally has trouble living up to its famous forebears, but Cleveland feels the approach is paying off.
“Often there’s something that feels wrong, but it is unclear if it’s input, performance, script bugs, weapon cones of fire or even enemy player speeds. It is just a complicated process and we’re going to be refining it for a long time and it feels amazing.”
According to Cleveland, Unknown Worlds “took a lot for granted being on the Half-life 1 engine”, the basis for debut title Natural Selection, and progress on the sequel has been slowed by the minutiae of developing an engine.
“The core marine player movement was easier back (during Natural Selection’s development) – it was just tweaking a couple constants and we’re done. Now player movement is a much bigger problem involving general engine performance and smoothness, input tweaks, physics, networking and Lua script work. The aliens are another huge layer on top of that with Skulk wall-walking, Fade “blinking”, etc. We are now at the point where the basic movement is pretty solid but it’s definitely still being worked on.”
Natural Selection 2 went into closed beta in November, and has not yet received a release date, although preorders are available through Steam.