27 June 2008

Paradise Found

Inveramsay is working on a tropic map for FAS. Little is known about it and it is still an early work in progress. The map is quite tropical, with a lot of water, palm trees, and ferns. The layout is unknown, but Inveramsay says it would most likely become a territorial control map, as it would be capped to easily as a push map.

You can see more screen shots here.

Legend of the Hidden Temple

Waisted menkey is currently working on a temple map, currently titled ps_templecanyon for FAS. WM is an "official third party mapper" as well as an Alpha Tester. His earlier work, an alpine map which resembled sd_octoberfest was lost after a hard drive failure. The lost, unreleased map represents his second work and shows good technique for someone who has just really started mapping.

His newest work, ps_templecanyon, is in the very early development stage, but the current brush work is interesting, as well as the layout. WM doesn't talk much about the map, but the Aztech like temples would make it look well as a jungle map. Lush tropics with old temples full of Soviet area weapons and communications equipment would make a fun combat environment.

This type of map emphasize that FAS is very open ended when considering its theme. While the map features specific items that are static, how the players perceive the items change. Players can play it as counter terrorist fighting drug lords in South America, or French forces trying to route out a hostile force poised to attack French assets in Western Africa.

See more screen shots of wasited menkeys newest map in the FAS Mapping Forum FAS Mapping Forum.

Sitting On A Park Bench

GBXchuck is recreating Hoboken for FAS. GBXchuck created the original ps_hoboken and ps_hoboken2. In his recreation of this classic thrid party map, GBXchuck is recreating the theme and layout. The map will be transition from a city to an industrial park as a different aesthetic from your traditional urban maps and will play to GBXchuck's strengths of mapping industrial areas.

The current layout of the entire map is currently unknown. GBXchuck states that in earlier versions, he felt the players were boxed in, so is going for a more open feel to hoboken this time around with a combination of indoor and outdoor areas. The attention to detail put into it and quality so far are impressive. The map combines open areas with narrow alleys, seeming to allow various styles of play. It is still early, but the lighting is pretty good. This new ps_hoboken is darker, so should make good use of night vision goggles. Perhaps this can be the FAS version ps_nightstalkers, but playable!

Don't worry if the screen shots look barren, cover and more detailed items will be added in once the layout is solid. Check out his thread in the FAS Mapping Forum for more info and full sized screen shots.

Will the Force Be With Us?

Inveramsay is remaking sd_force.


To that note, it may not be released with the initial RC.


Roland Sings His Song

Hitman reveals some info in his Developer's Journal Developer's Journal .

The screenshots on the map page are mostly the final product for the initial RC. Layout, texturing and HDR is pretty much complete on those maps.

SD_durandal has been play tested as a push map, but its most likely that it will remain a SD map for the initial RC. Durandal has been in circulation since 2000 and has undergone numerous revisions, the most notable the change between 2.5 and 2.7 and its evening/night reincarnations.

Issa is still an active part of the FAS team, working on code - the man behind the curtain, so to speak. The specifics of his actual coding will be reserved for a future news post. Cross your fingers for parachutes!

The FAS web page has been recoded. It is now XHTML compliant, written entirely in notepad and has near perfect W3C compliance. Use Firefox 3.0 for the best experience, because it sure doesn't work well on IE.

It's not Orange Juice, it's Tang.

FAS uses a 90 degree Field of view (FOV) by default, even though it's not on the Orange Box Engine. FOV is more realistic than the default 75 degree FOV that is standard in HL2.


25 June 2008

FAS On Planet Half Life (25 June 2008)

The 24 June 2008 FAS News update is featured on PHL. PHL mentions the updated visuals and added team members. No comments about the PHL post at this time.

24 June 2008

FA:S News (24 Jun 2008)

FAS has taken on two new team members. The first is U4, whom we all ready know, is the FAS Public Relations direction and military advisor. U4 has been working hard with the introduction of the FAS Alpha Tester's Journal where Alpha Testers post info and screen shots about the game.

In addition to U4, FAS has added a new modeler into their fold, Schmung. According to Hitman, Schmung is has all ready completed three models for FAS and is working on more. Schmung's joined the FAS Forums (and presumably the FAS Team) 1 April 2008, so has been averaging out a complete, game ready model every month; a very impressive time to turn out a model, especially with FAS's high standards.

In addition to U4 and Schmung, Hitman states, "we've also hired four new modelers and skinners to serve on our affiliated development crew. They've been hard at work replacing some of our older and less aesthetically pleasing weapons." Hitman goes on to state that these new models and skins will be shown in upcoming news post.

In addition to the new team members, four new screen shots of FAS maps are shown as well: sd_durandal, tc_asylum, tc_rubble, and sd_mine. These maps have been in production for a long time and the time and attention to detail put in them is amazing.

Hitman also invites everyone to check out the forums. Hitman specifically points to "Back In The Day" which is a nostalgia trip for FA Veterans and gives in site to new players of what Firearms, the game and community, was about. Hitman also points out "What Do You Expect?" that is a informal address to the FAS Team in what you want to get out of FAS.

22 June 2008

Banana Phone

In the FAS General Forum , PFS announces a FAS Ventrilo Server. Here you can ask the team and alpha testers about the game or just exchange some friendly banter. Be sure to read the message of the day so you know the rules of the channel.

Ventrilo Information
Server: va1.progamerhosting.com
Port: 3030

Don't have Ventrilo? Download it at

The server is public, so stop in anytime.

13 June 2008

Everything You Know is Wrong

In PorkFriedSquirl's thread in the FAS ATF, PFS mentions the use of the M84 Flashbang. This weapon however conflicts when official FAS weapon list on the main page. When this is brought up, U4 said "Hah. Yeah...about that...we've made quite a few changes from that list...most of them being additions. The only time we take a weapon out is when someone--usually a 3rd party--doesn't want us using their content anymore."

So the official weapon list on the main page is out of date. What other weapons could there be? Possibly a new knife as mentioned earlier. There is also a
thread in the FAS Input Forum that hints to the addition of a semi-auto sniper rifle in line with the SVD in FAS. DsyPatch said "Well, all he is saying is that it [the SVD] may not be in the first release, but we would like to include as many weapons as possible. But in the mean time, there is a similar sniper rifle in its place as of right now."

The M82 is not at all similar to the SVD and the M24 is a bolt action rifle, while the SVD is semi-auto. Perhaps the PSG1 is making a return, or the talked about WA2000 that was planed for FA 2.6? It's hard to say. DsyPatch could just be commenting on the usefulness of the current sniper rifles in FAS, but the way in which he said it points more to a separate sniper rifle than what is currently featured.

12 June 2008

Lock and Load

The FAS Alpha Tester's Journal on the FAS Forums has a lot of information about the upcoming release of FAS that isn't posted anywhere else. Some of the most insightful comments about the game comes from U4.

I asked how the old weapons compare to the old favorites. U4 responded "The weapons of le olde FA that we've included in FA:S, in my opinion, have been drastically improved, while still maintaining the "feel" they had. The source engine opened doors for us that were previously welded shut inasfar as balance goes."

He uses the FAMAS as an example, the notorious popular AR of old versions of FA. U4 says that the FAMAS of FAS fills like the FAMAS of the older FA, but "it's hard to pull off a 25-round burst with a face full of buckshot."

U4 also added, "One thing we've noticed in testing is that each map has it's own set of weapons that get used the most...but all it takes is one person to push through and hold out for a little bit, and the whole server ends up having to change up their configs to best suit the new contested territory. It's kind of hard to explain, so I'll just let you await with bated breath."

While this is open to interpretation, it seems that maps could work like this:

Areas of the map are suited for some weapons more than others. Some areas would favor long range weapons, other explosives, other CQC weapons. Players who can keep an area will undoubtedly have other players to switch to that preferred weapon style to counter the player in that area.

For example, one player is sniping a larger open area and other players without long range weapons can't do much against him. So they get different weapons and take them out and hold the area. The next area they get to is very CQC friendly, and their long range weapons aren't as powerful, so switching to CQC weapons would be prudent. In this way, all weapons have a use in many maps.

Of course that is just speculation.

When asked about when the amount of weapons start producing redundancies, U4 said, "I think redundancies aren't really an issue with the amount of flexibility we have...although we can only have so many 5.56 assault rifles with a 30 round magazine and a ROF between 600 and 750 rounds per minute."

U4 also says that they are reaching the limit of weapons that would fit into the "feel" of FAS. He explains this by stating, "I even had to start making weapon tweaking recommendations based off of stuff like weapon weight, barrel length, and even chamber pressures of particular weapons based off of the rounds it would be firing in it's native region."

10 June 2008

Location, Location, Location!

FAS will feature map specific locations.

As you can see from the picture, StandingCow is in "[ BlueSpawn ]". More than likely, this will be Incorporated in every map; you will see areas, besides "[ BlueSpawn ]". Using sd_durandal for example, you could see "[ Bridge ]", "[ RedSewerEntrance ]", "[ Blue Apartment ]", ext. Hopefully, these locations will be associated with a "%" command to allow for useful key bindings like "I need a medic at %L".

Why FA:S Will Be Great!

FA:S is poised to be one of the greatest FPS of all time. This is not just temporary fanaticism, or some other fleeting idea, but cold hard facts. FA:S combines the best features of some of the most popular games today into one complete package. The most notable two it combines are that of Counter-Strike: Source and Call of Duty 4. While FA:S predates CoD4, and is equal to age of CS:S, it is easy to show newer players the potential of FA:S using these two games.

CS:S is CS, but on the HL2 - soon to be Orange Box - engine. For a moment, lets see what makes CS and CS:S popular. Semi-realistic weapons. CSS offers players to use some of the worlds most popular weapons in the world: M4, AUG, AK47, MP5, P90, Desert Eagle, M249, ext. Second, it presents the weapons in a fun, engaging environment. You can use the weapons as a good guy, or a bad guy. You can use them in semi-realistic environments from the middle east, to an office complex. The two sides, terrorist and counter-terrorist, mimic real world forces. Lastly, the game rewards skill; better players get more money, and thus, more options in weapons.

Now lets look at the downsides of the game. Weapons are linked to what side you play. Terrorist can't buy an M4, counter-terrorist can't buy a G3. This makes little since, as you'd think terrorist to a black market could buy any weapon they want, and counter-terrorist could buy them legally. Poor players, or players just starting out, are limited in what options they have. New players who die every round will not have easy access to some of the flashier weapons. The games default system is round based, so players who die early on often have nothing to do but watch others play a game. The games accuracy system has a high skill ceiling, in that a new player with no knowledge of CSS can use efficiently. Lastly, the game offers only two options of play outside third party mods: hostage rescue, which in most public play no one tries, and defusal maps, which often boil down to pure death match.

So why is FA:S, better than CS:S. Lets see what CS:S dose good. Semi-realistic weapons? FA:S has semi-realistic weapons and more of them. CSS offers a fun, engaging environment? So dose FA:S, but again, takes it to another level. The basis of FA:S is "guns, and lots of them" meaning more options for maps and environments. FA:S offers search and destroy maps, similar to CSS's defusal, but both teams have the option to attack or defend; there is also push, similar to DoDS, and territorial control, similar to TF2s CP system, but less linear. CSS offers you to play as terrorist or counter-terrorist. FA:S offers you Red or Blue. The advantage of FA:S is that Red or Blue is what you want them to be. Your side doesn't determine your play style. That being said, Red and Blue are two distinct sides. As TF2 Red and Blue are separate, so they are in FA:S. CSS rewards skill via money for new weapons? FA:S rewards skill via new skills. Players who excell in the game can round out their skills with marksmanship, artillery, medical, and stealth. New players who struggle to get by have to make due with their one or two skills.

Now taking CSS's downsides, lets see how FA:S address them. CS:S has weapon limitations. FA:S's weapons are not linked to sides. Red isn't limited to the AK47 and Blue isn't limited to the M4. If you want to be Red, and use all US weapons, you can! There is no arability weapon limitations placed on either side. In CSS, skilled players can rake in the cash, increasing the options they have for options. FA:S, everyone is given every option in terms of weapon choice. The first round of the game, and every round after, everyone can chose any weapon they want. Additionally, there is no limit to weapons. You are not restricted to one pistol, and one main weapon. If you wish to use all pistols, or two Assault Rifles, you can. FA:S gives the player the option to chose. CSS by default is round based, leaving new players hung and dry when they die early on. FA:S has no rounds, and players can jump back in almost instantly. That being said, FA:S reinforcement system doesn't cater to those who die often. CSS has a high skill ceiling for accuracy. FA:S, accuracy is only effected by your stance. Weapons in FA:S have little recoil. The person who is the better shot wins, not the player who gets a random head shot. Finally, CSS offers only two game types by default, hostage rescue, and defausal. FA:S offers a minimum of four: SD, PS, TC, and TP (though no official TP maps are mentioned at time of publication). In essence, FA:S can accomplish any style of game play, from TF2's capture the flag, to CSS's defusal maps.

FAS trumps CSS in terms of options. However, how dose it compare to to CoD4, the other semi-realistic shooter?

CoD offers players the option to upgrade weapons. They can slap on a M203 to their M16, or maybe an aim point. In short, weapons are customizable. CoD4 also offers players skills the higher rank they get. Some skills improve accuracy, or bullet penetration of weapons. CoD4 also greatly rewards those who are skilled in the game. Weapon and skill upgrades only come from playing the game and mastering it, allowing you to have more options and advantages than a player just starting out.

So whats the downside of CoD4? The same benefit of rewarding skilled players hurts new players. A skilled player who has played almost a year will have almost every weapon and skilled option unlocked. New players facing off older players, regardless of skill of the two party's, is at a disadvantage to the older player, even if the old player has less skill. This permeates to every aspect of CoD4. Not only do older players have the option to more weapon choices, but also to more skill choices. Anyone who has played CoD4 at any length will cringe at the notion regaining all their skills. In essence, the game becomes a chore. You can't play on equal ground until you invest a lot of time unlocking every option to be on equal footing as everyone else.

Now lets go back to FAS. FAS offers weapon upgrades the same as CoD4. The difference is FAS gives you the upgrades immediately. There is no need to kill 100 enemies with the 93FS to unlock the suppressor. You have it. You'll always have it. New players have it, old players have it. It's a part of the weapon. FAS also offers skills similar to CoD4. However, FAS's skills are not as game altering as CoD4's. There is no "Martyr" or "Last Stand" skill. There is no skill that gives you a quantifiable advantage over another player. Players who pick Marksmanship and players who pick Battle Field Agility both have their own benefits and draw backs.

So how dose FAS improve on CoD4? The most notable one is the skill system. In CoD4, skills and weapon unlocks are kept with you from server to server. In FAS, they last only as long as the map dose. When you join a map, late it its game play, some players may have every skill. Even if you are great at FPS, you are at a disadvantage because they have every option available to them. Once the map changes though, all the skills they have are washed away, and you are on equal footing. This is the most notable feature of FAS: skills only last as long as the map. New and old players are put on equal footing as soon as the map changes. This allows new players some time to acquaint themselves with the mechanics before the gap between the skilled and novice wides. It also allows new players who are new to FAS, but FPS veterans, stand out by their quick climb up the skill system. This is in sharp contrast to CoD4 where the skilled just become more skilled, and new players struggle to keep up. In essence FAS is a fairer game than CoD4. FAS weapons upgrades are available to every player, and the skills, while they reward better players, are reset every new map, allowing newer players a chance to climb to the top.

FA:S is poised to be one of the greatest FPS of all time. This is not just temporary fanaticism, or some other fleeting idea, but cold hard facts. FA:S combines the best features of some of the most popular games today into one complete package. The most notable two it combines are that of Counter-Strike: Source and Call of Duty 4. While FA:S predates CoD4, and is equal to age of CS:S, it is easy to show newer players the potential of FA:S using these two games. FAS takes all the good out of CSS and CoD4: semi-realistic weapons, real world environments, semi-realistic sides, fun game play. FA:S also takes out all the bad of the two games: limited weapon selection based on team, round based game play, high skill ceiling, over compensation for skilled players and intimidation to new players to unlock everything.

Thank you for playing Firearms: Source!

Ma'ma Mia!

DsyPatch has posted some new information on his latest map, ps_avellino, in his developer's journal.

"Avellino is based in a mediterranean city that blends together the feeling of both urban and suburban environments. You will be fighting through buildings, sewers, streets, and gardens to push the enemy out of the city and be able to gain complete control of Avellino." said DysPatch.

He goes on to say that the map is not mirroring any real location, but his own idea of the area. Personally, this makes for a better game play experience, as real locations hardly make ideal FPS environments.
Going by the screenshot it looks promising and resembles sd_force at a passing glance.

06 June 2008

Alpha Tester Forum Explained

Maggie said on the FA:S Alpha Tester Forum, "All posts in this forum will be MODERATED. That means that your post WILL NOT APPEAR until it has been read and APPROVED by the moderator assigned to this forum (in this case, our PR rep theUltra4sshole)."

She continues with, "PLEASE ALLOW 24 HOURS BEFORE ASSUMING THAT YOUR POST HAS BEEN UNAPPROVED. U4 can't be online all the time."

All post in the Alpha Tester Forum need to be approved by U4 before they actually show up for others to read and respond to. If you posted recently and your post hasn't shown up, that is why.

05 June 2008

The Iron Curtain Starts to Fall

U4, FA:S newly appointed PR rep has opened a new forum within the FA:S Forums: The Alpha Tester's Journal . In the AT Forum, only testers are allowed to make threads, but anyone can reply.

U4 explains that this forum is to allow the Alpha Testers to talk about the game: how weapons behave, their likes/dislikes, skills they use ext. This is not to say they can talk about everything to their hearts content; U4 will screen each testers' post to ensure that it doesn't reveal to much. U4 states, "If you're wondering what "too much" might be, don't worry yourself about it." He goes on to explain that in the testing process, features are tweaked and/or cut. U4 doesn't believe it would be fair to reveal an incomplete feature or mechanic of FA:S, only for it to be cut or radically altered from its original state upon release.

04 June 2008

It's Bigger Than Big

StandingCow said in the Planet Half-Life comment section about the 2 June 2008 news update they had on FA:S, "I believe there is a large update very close too." So stay tuned to the offical FA:S website and forums for a big update in the upcomming weeks.

03 June 2008

FA:S on Planet Half Life (2 June 2008)

FA:S is featured on Planet Half-Life in a June 2 news post. Most comments are positive, especially about the special stealth ability to hide kills.

02 June 2008

More Than One Knife

Consider the following:

Hitman said in the FA:S Forums on the 1 June 2008 News thread "Yes. If you kill someone with a melee weapon or a silenced weapon, and you have stealth, the kill notice is "hidden". The person who died only sees that an enemy killed them (their name shows up as [stealth]), but they can't tell who it was. Nobody else on their team will see the message at all." (Bold is mine).

Hitman eludes to more than one melee weapon by not specifically stating knife in his post. If the knife was the only melee weapon, wouldn't it be more logical to say "with the knife or silenced weapons"? And "a melee weapon" applies more than one instead of "the melee weapon" if the knife was the only melee weapon.

StandingCow said in a thread in the General Section of the FA:S Forums "... and I am sitting here wondering if he will catch that hitman didn't say knife".

StandingCow confirms that we are supposed to realize that Hitman specifically chosen to say "melee weapon" not "knife".

Naota said in a thread in the FA:S Idea forum suggesting more than one knife "Mere words cannot describe how much I support this idea. I follow after it with a will. A terrible, sadistic will. Even if I have to model the larger, meaner knife myself, I will see that such a beautiful tool of murder falls into your hands, good sir!"

Furthermore, Naota detailed the benefit of a second knife (or melee weapon) in the same thread, "A second knife would definitely be an asset to Stealth players, seeing as our current knife has a very short range and isn't reliable at stealth-killing because it takes two hits even with all the trimmings, which usually equates to at least a full clip of ammo dumped into your face (maybe half if you crept up from behind a moving player). Something slow and large or just longer that complimented the double knife damage from Stealth would be perfect because its secondary swing would take something like 1-2.5 seconds to lift up before the (stealth only) killing blow, though the range would be much longer to guarantee that the attack could actually hit through buggy interp or lag. That would make CQC instagibs really difficult while making stealthy kills from behind worth a player's while and filling up that infamous leftover credit or two."

Lastly, in the same thread, thisismyname09 edits a post concerning two knifes, to which DsyPatch replies, "lol lemme guess, you that this was in one of the sekrat forums."

The thread in the Idea forum tells us that Naota thinks idea of a second knife would be a welcomed addition. He even goes so far to outline how it would function, its benefits to the stealth ability and game play as a whole. This is followed by thisismyname09's edited post, to which DsyPatch comments that thisismyname09's post was intended for the Testing/Developer Forum. This could only mean that the idea has all ready been talked about.

The thread in the Idea forum is two months old. If thisismyname09 was going to talk about it in the Testing/Developer forum it would be safe to say they have all ready talked about adding in a second melee weapon before the thread in the Idea forum was posted. This would give the FA:S Team over two months to create and implement a second knife - or melee weapon - for FA:S.

It is important to note that even with the above, melee weapon could actually be something besides a knife. A rifle butt, pistol whip, or bayonet would also be considered melee weapons as well. However, if you consider the above, it would be a safe bet that FA:S has a second knife in its arsenal by the time it is released.

New FA:S Team Member

FA:S welcomes TheUltra4sshole on to the FA:S Team. U4 is the teams military advisor, providing his military experience to help with the small details of weapons skins and animations for FA:S's arsenal.

Hitman said in a FA:S Forum post, "We're bringing him on board as both our official military adviser and PR representative. If you have questions about the game or wish to communicate with the team in any way, U4 will be your point of contact. He'll also be working with and organizing the testers to provide tester-based news and media content underneath the main-site updates we've been doing recently."

So not only will U4 be the military advisor, but also act as the official public relations representative; anyone who wishes to help or is currently helping with PR should now route all their work though U4. Hopefully, we'll see him in full force as the mod nears closer its release date with more media and insight into game play features.

01 June 2008

FA:S News (1 Jun 2008)

FA:S Team has released a new update showcasing the 92FS. The post details the mechanics of the pistol; a three credit weapon with a 15+1 magazine size. Additionally, the pistol can be suppressed. This is a slight change from the older versions of FA where the 92FS was either four credits and permanently suppressed, or required Stealth to attach the suppressor.

That is not to say that the stealth ability will not have any effect on the weapon. As speculated earlier, the stealth ability will play in the use of weapons that are suppressed. Kills while the pistol is suppressed and the player has the stealth ability will not show up in the "who killed who" area of the HUD.

When asked if this feature applies to other suppressed weapons as well as the knife, Hitman responds, "Yes. If you kill someone with a melee weapon or a silenced weapon, and you have stealth, the kill notice is "hidden". The person who died only sees that an enemy killed them (their name shows up as [stealth]), but they can't tell who it was. Nobody else on their team will see the message at all." (Source: http://forums.firearms-source.com/showpost.php?p=175003&postcount=7)

This is a huge upgrade to the stealth ability! Not only do stealth kills with the knife and suppressed weapons not show up on the enemy's HUD, but the player who you killed doesn't even know your name! It is also interesting to note Hitman says, "melee weapon" not specifically "the knife".

Hitman also says in the post, "we don't believe in tying weapons to abilities, as the divide between those concepts is what helps to separate Firearms from most other class-based shooters." So expect other weapons with secondary abilities to take this same approach.

The video accompanying the update shows some other aspects of FA:S besides the 92FS. Probably the most notable is the use of the night vision goggles. They seem to work well, but there appears to be a one second delay between turning them on and off. There is no mention if they come free with stealth, or cost credits. The video also shows use of the claymore and it works exactly as you would expect.