The Story of Digital Extremes (Warframe Doc Part 1)

The Story of Digital Extremes (Warframe Doc Part 1)

I still remember the first time I played Warframe ("Interstellar Warframe"/"Warframe") I usually play PS4 after work to reward myself When playing FIFA, or Killing Zone: Fall of Shadows, or during a break in the game I went to the PS store and just wanted to know what other games are on sale At that time I came across this strange free game To be honest, I didn’t know what kind of game Warframe was I didn’t know that this game was actually made by the studio that created Unreal Tournament-and one of my favorite games.

I don’t know that this game was developed by the developer Digital Extremes for more than ten years to solve the problem. What I don’t even know is that this "looks strange" free game Used to be the last straw for the studio Warframe has been operating on Xbox One, PS4 and PC for five years now In fact, it has long been entrenched in Steam's top 10 most concurrently online games list. But there are still many people who don’t know anything about this game So what game is more worthy of Noclip’s review than introducing the extraordinary story behind Digital Extremes and Warframe? The story starts with Canada thirty years ago… The first part of the war story From the ninth grade until I graduated from college, I always wanted to make a game system in my free time.

I treated this as a hobby. (London, Ontario, Canada) From the ninth grade until I graduated from university, I always wanted to make a game system in my free time. I treated this as a hobby. This has always been a vision in my mind. At that time, I had not found a job related to games (London, Ontario, Canada) This has always been a vision in my mind, and I haven’t found a job related to games at that time. I then gave up this idea, but I have been playing games during my college years. I studied mechanical engineering in a college. (Founder of the studio) I gave up this idea afterwards, but I have been playing games during my college years. I studied mechanical engineering in a college. (Studio founder) And expect to engage in professional related work (studio founder) (Studio founder) A small game I made when I was in college was included in a floppy disk magazine such as "Big Blue Disk" (Floppy Disk Magazine: A monthly magazine "published" in the form of a floppy disk, including games, DOS applications, and some reviews.

The magazine was published by Softdisk during 1986-1998.) A small game I made while in college was included in one " Zhang" in the small floppy disk magazine "Big Blue Disk" You can see it on the magazine shelf, a new issue will be released every month I want to try my luck with the game I just made, it’s pretty cool I sent the game to them, and they paid me $1,200 to purchase the game distribution rights I was surprised that this little game actually helped me earn this money So this has become the first stepping stone to help me become more professional in game production and lay the foundation for me to make more money. (Interviewer): What is the name of that game? Called "Legends Of Murder" (Legends Of Murder) You can search online and you should be able to find it (Interviewer): This title is awesome It’s really not bad.

I played it a few months ago. I downloaded it from somewhere on the Internet. It’s a very interesting game. At the time I also thought that if playing games as a hobby, I can earn a little extra money. This would be great. So when I was about to graduate from college, at that time I liked "Star Trek" and there was a game called "Planet Control" that just came out. I am very keen to combine these two works into one In the end I made a game called "Solar Wind", and I just graduated from college after finishing it.

At that time I knew this game would be bigger, more interesting and easier to make I still remember I played "Hugo's House of Horrors" (DOS game) Still a shareware I wrote a letter by hand. It’s a real letter, not an email. I sent it to David Gray. It’s the name, I should remember correctly. I asked people can make money through shareware? Because people can download it for free He wrote back, citing an example of the CompuServe community. In this excellent online community, people can discuss games, shareware, etc. He said, yes, some people can earn a few dollars, some people can earn millions, I was surprised Since then, I’ve been on CompuServe and learned about Apogee (sound card brand) and Epic Games. I met with Mark Rein (Vice President of Epic).

My first game was also called Epic MegaGames when Epic released it. I think I made $1,200 a month from "Solar Wind", and I continue to make the next game I feel like, oh my god, I will make $2,400 a month. Income can make my life very comfortable, so I have always been very excited about making games at that time. I have a pure love for this job. The next game is "Epic Pinball" (Epic Pinball) I think this game is not bad This game is one of the best games I have ever made and I am very happy to make it I even thought that I might earn more than US$2,400 per month, and it might rush to 3,000 or even 4,000. This way, I can take advantage of my strength and live a luxurious life. Of course, the final result is that this game is super successful in the category of single-player games. I remember the first check I received was worth $50,000.

So I opened a whole new world and it was also the beginning of my ascent in the field of game development After James completed the long development work of "Epic Pinball", he became tired of developing pinball games But the publisher of the game, Epic MegaGames, feels that developing a sequel can make a fortune James refused, saying that he didn’t have the ability to make another innovative pinball game. So Epic suggested that he could hire some people to work for him This also laid the foundation for the establishment of DE company And the team’s first game, "Ultimate Marble", was another success James himself began to enter the field of 3D game design when the new team led by James was making marbles.

And his test of the water is also the beginning of his ten-year cooperation with Epic Now we often associate this series with Epic, but the original game is actually the result of the uninterrupted cooperation between the two studios. There are about 16 people from the two studios working together on this project During the development of Unreal Tournament, the Epic team sent members to London, Ontario, Canada to assist in the production of the game The DE team also went to where Epic has always been, Raleigh, North Carolina, USA to assist in the production of Unreal Tournament 1999 The previous game production conditions were very difficult, and I worked hard to make the game.

Unreal Tournament is more creative and the production pressure is less, but this will make us better At that time I finished the programming work, and I focused more on the art link I can proudly say that most of the weapon designs are done by me What is your favorite weapon Of course it’s the Flak Cannon. It’s always been I am quite satisfied with the final performance of this weapon Did you add a smiley face to the shell at the end? I’m not sure if I’ve told this story: our team had just returned from lunch somewhere else when we were in North Carolina.

We passed by a church called "The Redeemer" and I said, hey, this name is a good name for the big guy in the game. So nuclear weapons are named after a church I know that Cliff.B, the former creative director of Epic Studios, has also put a lot of effort into weapon design, but we want more elements, not just basic shooting elements. The combination of sub-fire mode adds a layer of skill. We are always looking for ways to make the game more skillful. For example, it’s not bad if you just use the main fire mode suddenly, but you can also combine the main and sub-modes. Skills will go to the next level The skill of the weapon is the goal we try our best to achieve Is there a map you like in the 1999 version of the original Unreal Tournament? This picture of Facing Worlds was designed by former Epic employee Cedric. It is one of our favorite pictures.

We will also make this picture in the office. Actually there are many good pictures, such as Deck 16 picture This is a picture made by Elliot'Myscha' Cannon, which is quite impressive In "Unreal Tournament" (Xbox exclusive) I am responsible for weapons and game progression (progression) (Warframe game producer) In "Unreal Tournament" (Xbox exclusive) I am responsible for weapons and game progression (progression) I was originally a programmer and came here to work in this capacity (Warframe game producer) I was originally a programmer and came here to work in this capacity So I write weapon programs, game mode programs, game bot programs, Bombing run programs, etc. I still remember one time after we moved to the office, an electrician came and he was late. I was the only one in the office at the time. I let him in and he asked: Are you making games here? I said yes, and he admired: Wow, have you done any games that I might have heard of? I just said: We made Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2003, have you heard of it? He just said: Oh, do you know? I always wanted to play Unreal Tournament 2003, but you replaced the (first generation) sniper rifle with the rotten lightning gun, right? Then I said: yes, it is under (replaced) After the development of Unreal Tournament in 1999, the two teams continued to work together to produce the Xbox exclusive "Unreal Tournament" and Unreal Tournament 2003 But when Unreal Tournament 2004 was about to launch, remote cooperation became more difficult because the scale of the two studios had grown too much.

At this time, Epic and DE were about to merge, but this plan fell through because they realized that the Canadian government would first collect a large amount of tax. So at this time, it’s like the roommates of the former university classmates who have to go to separate ends for their livelihoods after the last day of class. DE and Epic Games only scored points After the release of Unreal Tournament 3, Epic and Microsoft Studios partnered to create the "Gears of War" series And DE agency has a big idea, they want to make a sci-fi action MMO, they call it "Dark Sector" (Dark Sector) They have devoted their entire lives to learning this project and look forward to this project as the key to the studio to open a new era. In fact, they did However, this project not only fails to allow them to set foot on a new series of demos of the Broad Avenue project of their own, but instead plunges them into working for others and looking at their faces.

Having said that…I worked with Epic to make some cool Unreal Tournament games when I was working in the old DE. Then comes the game idea promotion and display session (for big publishers) This is our idea for the new game. We want to make this unique sci-fi game called "Dark Zone", which of course is different from the final product. I still remember that period of time I spent more than six months traveling every day to Europe and the west coast of the United States, carrying a technical DEMO and a mini computer with me. You walk into the (meeting room) and show the technical demo, they will say, wow, that’s great So how are you going to make a sequel to the game (how to continue to squeeze the value of this IP) Right? It annoys us, it kills our creativity a bit…destroys our souls Because you have spent a lot of effort on this project, but we still have to see that other people’s face publishers have their own brand series, and they want to use their own series as the basis We have no choice but to follow suit.

We call this work for hire (work for hire) Duty job means we want to give you a lot of money To squeeze all your abilities as much as possible You have to take care of these employees at the same time. They have families, mortgages, and ideals. But we will only give you enough money to support the end of the project You'd better pray that the money is not enough so that you can get back the royalties (that belong to you) Looking back on my entire career, I think the biggest mistake I personally made is You know, we also made a lot of money. The scale is not very big, it's quite successful. But we are too ambitious, always want to make a super masterpiece because at that time the game became bigger and bigger And we want to do that kind of 3A super masterpiece, this idea makes us all beaten up So we came up with a DEMO and sold this idea to publishers hoping to use their money to do these big productions The challenge of finding projects that rely on our capabilities has been with us for many years.

Maybe the better decision at that time is to use your own money to make your own mini games and be completely self-sufficient, so that you don’t have to hit the swollen face to fill up the fat, and strive to make the so-called super masterpiece But this is using your own money, so the risk will be greater There is a greater risk, but the control of the project is completely in your hands.

If you want to make wedding dresses for others, you use their money, and you can only let them at their mercy. Maybe you never know what they want to do, maybe they themselves are confused And if you have studied our history, and the history of most independent studios, you will find that when they have complete control over what they produce and are completely responsible for their own profits and losses Things made will be better For more than 10 years, DE Company has been dominant in unfair "employment work" In this case, many studios usually expand the scale of the project and lay off a large number of employees after the project is completed. But James is from this area, DE is the only game studio in town His employees grew up here, with families, friends, mortgage loans, so he and his team did their best to pick up work.

It means that when their "Dark Zone" idea has not been realized, the team will work hard to make the project still have a glimmer of hope They cooperated with Groove Games located in Toronto to produce a shooting game using Unreal Engine, "Devil's Counterattack" And the "Warpath" which is barely called the sequel They also assisted in the production of the PS3 version of BioShock And they have not forgotten "Dark Zone" from beginning to end We thought, what if the story of Metal Gear Solid and The Dark Crystal combined Of course, there will be "energy tentacles" like the "energy tentacles" in anime that grow out of human heads, there will also be cool robots, and metals will also be organic and change We have a lot of ideas, science fiction is not just James Cameron’s world We also want science fiction like Frank Herbert (Masterpiece: "Dune") So we have these ideas, so I wrote a lot about character settings and painters. For example, Mike Brennan designed these beautiful and interesting enemies.

director of Epic Studios

And Jeff designed the prototype of the Excalibur suit When we were selling this game concept everywhere, Halo just started to show up But every publisher I met said: No one likes science fiction, they won’t sell it for us It's like this every time The original "Dark Zone" promotion video premiered at E3 2005 So… Tenno is a good guy, he is Hayden Tenno when he comes on stage (The publisher of "Dark Zone" recommends DEMO) So…Tenno is also a good guy, he is Hayden Tenno when he comes on stage Looks very handsome in ancient holy sword costume As you can see, this is the player’s perspective Over-the-shoulder viewing angle mixed with first-person key position control The left stick can turn around, just like a halo The right joystick can turn the angle of view and aim So you can see the suit anytime But we also matched the first-person control setting At that time you are obliged to obey the publisher to make your game available for sale (Vice President of Publishing) At that time, you are obliged to obey the publisher to let your game go on sale.

(Vice President of Publishing) At that time, there was no digital distribution platform (Steam, etc.), so you had to put your game on the retail shelf (VP of Publishing) At that time there was no digital distribution platform (Steam, etc.) so you had to put your game on the retail shelf And the cost of listing is extremely high For independent developers, there is no way for them to afford this cost You have to produce a batch (game disc) and put it on the shelves, and you have to pay in advance And the subsequent software volume licensing fees Until 5-7 years ago, it is really difficult to be an independent game developer If you chat with any medium-sized developer, whether it is now or in the past, developing a game is a great challenge to it Because the game is getting bigger and bigger And middle-scale games are often unsuccessful.

Even if there is nothing wrong with the sales At that time our business was in trouble, I was desperate and the publishers were haunting us A publisher said that we don’t like the protagonist. Is it too feminine to put a blindfold on him? Like this crazy suggestion I was almost about to sign a cooperation contract, but I didn’t sign it, and it has been delayed.

Let’s take a step back and say: Okay, no sci-fi elements, more like "Resident Evil" than "Magic Crystal" in space We made a compromise, the purpose was to make a business, and finally we did it "Dark Zone" is finally released, but it’s not the same as the original promotional video They took off the mask of the protagonist, the protagonist is not a space soldier, and becoming a member of the CIA does not look like Metal Gear, more like Resident Evil 4 or War Machine But they kept the protagonist’s name, Hayden Tenno This name can be used in the future When "Dark Zone" was released in March 2008, the reviews were mostly favorable But the market competition was fierce, because at that time the best third-person action games appeared endlessly. For a while we were very confused, always trying to find a foothold for the game (features) to figure out how to do the gameplay, how do we combine the sword and the firearms And the bunker system.

Although the bunker system in Gears of War has also inspired us, we want to do better things and a smoother experience. This is the embodiment of the huge difference between the dream game and reality of the publishers at that time. They want a thicker and more complete gameplay, and a more realistic setting so that players can feel the same… DE's "Dark Zone" project did not develop in the direction they wanted But at least, this game is very competitive in the market.

In addition, another game of the team is also ready to appear. They continued to work for other projects, developed the multiplayer mode of "BioShock 2" and assisted in the development of "Homeland Defense" They helped 2K develop "Darkness 2" and signed a contract to develop a game of the same name for the upcoming "Star Trek" movie But medium-sized games are putting more and more pressure on publishers The increase in development costs means that the profits required for these games to reach the "selling" level are increasing year by year DE agency finds itself in a dilemma I think many publishers make staff changes internally And mid-sized developers will have to face bad things sooner or later…

We also foresee bad omens at the time Those proposals and goals to be achieved are becoming more and more difficult to achieve, and publishers have higher and higher thresholds for project quality, and they are less and less willing to take risks So we thought, okay, we have to find another way out The funding of "Star Trek" is actually lower than before, and will not receive the "critical payment" that can support our vision in a short time (can not find any big projects to support our vision) We also started another project.

This project is about to go on track. The issuer’s financial situation in that quarter was not good, so we had to take all the work back (cut the outsourcing project expenses) These things happened It was very difficult during that period. It was difficult to cooperate with publishers for high-quality works with potential, and it was difficult to get enough investment because of the great risks. Because you want to be competitive, you have to burn money At that time, we were looking at the field of free games and heard some amazing examples such as "World of Tanks" is the best example. They made this game a phenomenal level. I don’t know what their budget for the game is, but it’s obviously not like a million-dollar giant project. We appreciate this idea: at the beginning, you can sell smaller games. With the increase in income, the scale of the game will gradually grow.

There are also several examples to prove this. So this is very appealing to us: you can first make the concept into a game to see if the fans like it or not, and then make the game bigger according to your needs The inspiration for us is whether we can make smaller-scale games first Just like the Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) game more than two years ago (no physical disk, exclusive to the Xbox Live store, mostly small-scale games) But XBLA games don’t say that we will release some high-budget masterpieces and independent game developers like us don’t really want to do it. So another option is also in front of you I’m not really interested in free games, I don’t want to deceive players I am interested in XBLA-scale games. We can do it with existing resources. It's better to make it, because there is only one road to Huashan Are you afraid of this kind of adventure Of course, this is our last straw (Hail Mary) How far were you from bankruptcy or bankruptcy at that time? Very very close I can tell the story in detail, it’s really super close.

We know this is our last chance. We only have a few million dollars to make this game We studied all the games at that time, such as a game called "Drakensang" (Drakensang) which I like to play, and "World of Tanks" And "Battlefield Heroes" which I think is doing well We studied games that seemed to have a good life at that time I told Steve and a class of colleagues: You only have 12 months, that’s all, only 12 months We tried to make a version of "Dark Zone" and tried to do it many times: We tried to do this kind of weird MMO, and we also prototyped it, using Unreal Engine We have also designed a server that can seamlessly jump (no region restrictions).

It feels like the predecessor of the original "Planetary Edge". We were all shocked when it came out, and "World War II Online", it seems that people are starting to make this kind of action game with MMO elements. We are also very interested Steve has always thought of a sequel to "Dark Zone" (Art Director) Steve has always had the idea of ​​a sequel to "Dark Zone" (Artistic Director) I want to talk back to the space ninja demo (art director) we did (Artistic Director) He has an idea… For example, a copy of a small space pirate raid (raid). We made some randomly generated spaceships. You have to rob the spaceship, loot the loot, and go home (art director) He has an idea… For example, a copy of a small space pirate raid (raid).

We made some randomly generated spaceships. You have to rob the spaceship, loot the loot, and go home. And from his first thoughts, you will know that he wants to make a small-scale game that may be PSN or XBLA-scale. We have never had the opportunity to do this kind of game. When we consider entering the field of free games, this DEMO looks like a small sparrow and we can make it. In fact, as far as we are concerned, although we did not do this project, we also like this idea Some of us approached James and said: We are confident that we can make it soon, if the scale is such a small We feel that Co-op games give us the opportunity to not compete directly with those masterpieces The team has gone through a round of layoffs, but there are still as many as 250 people Steve leads a small team of about 12 people to make this new free game DEMO together Find inspiration in the original MMO version "Dark Zone" that was conceived as early as 2000.

In 2005, the proposal was not favored in "Dark Zone" to learn the experience of gameplay and graphics. They combined the experience of these two versions of "Dark Zone" and made a copy of the spaceship DEMO in just 2 months. Then Steve and Meredith re-embarked on the promotion journey and tried to sell the game to free-to-play publishers, looking for any possible capital injection. Help them light up the direction of the project We have invited the world’s largest and richest free game publishers. I don’t even need to list them all. You just need to search and it will come out They filed in, admiring one after another: Wow, that's great, I can't believe how exciting this meeting is, I'm too…high…xing… ….. They didn’t speak at the end, time seemed to freeze because they saw it was a science fiction game They left one after another As soon as they see this is a PVE game, this is a science fiction game, they just…

We are speechless At the same time, I still remember that a team came to the studio and inspected what we were doing. It was quite interesting to have a personal reaction. He said this is the best free game I have ever seen You will stumble Dave and I looked at each other, speechless. —Why should we fail? —Because the final game cannot be as good as it is now In order to grow the game community, the frequency of updates is unimaginable Of course, these problems are also accompanied by frequent and rapid updates. How do we achieve this? So many early technologies in Warframe, such as procedurally generated levels, are completely for frequent updates in the future. Those publishers weren’t fooled (invested in us), so we thought, can we make money before the end of the year Then I thought, there are still 9 months to play games, come on When they tried to make the original "Dark Zone" they had to need a publisher to greatly promote the game development process But this time, DE did not have time to adjust the game to suit the publisher’s taste Frankly speaking, they don’t want to be like this either They knew what type of game they wanted to be.

It was a free game based on space ninja, which was also called Lotus at the time. But what they don’t know is whether this game can save the company from the fire. This project is like a thunder in the dark night Not only because this team has never made free games before And this game needs to take on the important task of supporting a 250-person studio.

At that time, they were still trying their best to find more opportunities to work for others. And what happened in the end not only shocked the DE company, but also surprised them by surprise to the entire video game world. In the next episode, we will focus on the extraordinary story of Warframe See or leave! (This series of documentaries was produced by crowdfunding by 4,367 people of insight, including…) (Steve:) Okay, I will come to this place and press LT This is an area related to the plot, I can hang, jump up (specific terrain), or jump down from a high place To attack the enemy, go to a better strategic location, or hide These are also areas related to the plot Press the LT button to jump up It’s better to get closer and press RT Killed him Wonderful assassination The RT button is used for sneak attacks Can kill guards who don't notice us Of course, if he finds me, the situation is completely different Now show you the Focus function, which is to press the LT and RT keys at the same time Each stance has its own specialization, which is triggered by pressing those two keys at the same time (PS: the person in the video said it was LT+RT, and the information I checked was LB+RB, which may have been changed) Depending on the posture, the effect is different.

In this example… Can give us an X-ray-like vision You can scan during a sneak attack, just like the vision of the protagonist in "Dareful" We can see those sparkling red dots, those are the enemy. The red dot duration is based on the duration of the specialization. They sent a Sentient drone to look for me Because their accomplice disappeared So the situation is a bit suspicious What makes Hayden special is that he has the talent to control these machines. He can have "mind fusion" or "spiritual communication" with them. We just name it. This is also one of the stances we can use in the game.

As found on YouTube

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