Home / Others / DF Retro: how Turok of N64: Dinosaur Hunter was ahead of its time • Eurogamer.net

DF Retro: how Turok of N64: Dinosaur Hunter was ahead of its time • Eurogamer.net



Bungie's Halo or Rare's GoldenEye are often seen as the first games that were actually delivered to the technologically advanced first-class FPS launchers on console platforms, but from my point of view, Turks: Dinosaur Hunter for N64 of Iguana Entertainment could well have been the first. It's a release that was well received at that time, but the years have passed, its reputation has slowly lost its luster, and many suggest that maybe Turok was never so impressive or important in the first place.

It's hard to miss the hype surrounding Nintendo 64 when it was released in 1996. Unlike everything else, it was an instant hit. This success was due in large part to the unparalleled quality of Super Mario 64, a release that redefined the expectations of what could be a video game. The problem was that very few titles were released to the system in its first year, which resulted in a cycle of recurrent exaggerations, even around the most mediocre releases.

However, Turok was far from mediocre and the hype bordered on insanity, and it's easy to see why. First-person triggers were exploited in popularity on the PC but remained relatively rare on console platforms. Then there's the violence: Turok spends a lot of time and violence on the family-friendly reputation that Nintendo had accumulated over the years. The large selection of weapons and flying blood particles certainly helped raise the profile of the game. And then there's the technology: Turok was a genuine masterpiece with a focus on pyrotechnics and fluid animation very different from anything else on the market, even on PC.

A single example is the construction of the world: Turok has a persistent world that allows it to duplicate and visit older areas, and even the first level offers multiple routes, a radical departure from the established individual level design of Quake, and this is where it enters. at stake our first point about technology. Turok was developed from scratch in Iguana. This is a totally original project with its own approach to visual design.

The key objective was to deliver massive maps to explore a non-linear fashion. The shooters like Quake were based on the partition of the binary space or BSP, whereas Turok adopted a completely different approach, relying entirely on the static meshes. In a way, this feels almost towards the future!

The full analysis of Turok's DF Retro: Dinosaur Hunter, why it is an important version and is compared with all available versions, from the original N64 to the console ports of the excellent remaster 2015.

So what is the difference? With Quake, BSP brushes become the basis of your level: you define shapes and structures through an editor to create your map. However, with Turok, the levels are completely built from static meshes. This means that floors, walls, roof and other objects are predefined polygonal meshes designed in another program, such as 3D Studio Max. These models are used to build the maps as Lego pieces, but this also means that you can not define shapes in real time using the editor as with Quake. If you want a large wall, you will build it by repeating a wall mesh or a combination. Several different types of walls.

This approach is very suitable for creating the massive maps that appear in Turok. You can basically put meshes to build your map. Basically, artists create the parts for the map that designers then use to build it and, sometimes, those parts can be huge: a whole room of bosses, for example, could be a single static mesh.

After that, the level designer defines something known as a navigation mesh or navigation mesh, basically a collection of convex polygons that are used to define where players and other moving characters can move. This is the play area. After that, the designer places decorative objects, power-ups, enemies and more to build the level flow. Within the N64 itself, all this is loaded and downloaded at run time. The game is constantly loading fragments of the level in and out of memory, depending on the player's proximity. The drawing distance is historically a problem with this, which results in the Turok signature file, but the point is that the levels can be quite massive, with smooth transitions between any area of ​​the game and no visible load times. Disadvantages? Well, memory is limited, so only a set of static meshes can be stored in RAM, which means a lot of repetitions at the composition level.

map
The use of Turok's static transmission geometry allowed for an uninterrupted world that could be explored with a radical departure from the concept of "levels" that dominated the FPS titles of the era.

Turok also pushed hard in other technological directions, and the provision of water is a great example of this. The developers combine a smoothly animated surface texture with transparency and, in some cases, a wavy surface mesh. So you can, the soft waves are visible through the surface, a pretty big improvement of what the Quake tastes offered at that moment. The representation of the sky was another outstanding feature, with clouds that use multiple transparent layers of displacement. And what about lens flare? That's in Turok too. The sun is directed to the Z buffer and the data is extracted from the GPU where the system can test which occlusion is the sun. This data is used to determine the transparency value of the lens flare.

Turok is also a particle party. The collision of particles is plotted in two dimensions to ensure that they remain, while many alpha textures combine to create beautiful plumes of smoke, explosions and blood particles. The larger weapons are quite famous for this and it is another example of a clear improvement compared to the particle system that appears in Quake. The N64 hardware itself solved other problems, such as the fine-tuning of the affine texture seen in PS1 games. Everything seemed correct in perspective, and there is also texture filtering.

In short, beyond the oppressive effects, Turok is a truly impressive example of 3D rendering in a relatively restricted system, but it also pushes the barriers in other places, specifically in control. Turok solved one of the key problems with the first-person shooters on the consoles up to this point: the objective. The dual analog model used in modern controllers did not exist yet, so Iguana assigned the free look to the N64's unique analog stick, while mapping the movement of the characters to the C buttons. As a result, you can move freely while adjusting your view independently, enabling things like drawing circles. The return to the game today is a pleasure even in original hardware due to this very advanced control approach.

sky
Turok's layered cloud system, which can see both from above and below, depending on the level, is just one example of the beautiful effects in this game.

That said, when people think of Turok, it's usually to complain about the jump mechanics, and it's a valid complaint, both then and now. The 3D platform was still relatively new at that time and doing it in the first person in this way with a new control scheme is to ask many players in 1997. However, I think the problem here is that the platform asks the player Too many jumps are too far to start with a lot of confidence.

Turok's review shows another key aspect in which he found himself in a class of his own. The animation system really takes things to the next level, providing some of the softest animations we would see in any first-person game on any platform, even years after its launch. Compared with his contemporaries, however, it was a monumental leap. First, the animation data themselves are derived from the motion capture data for human enemies and the manual key advance animation for everything else. The individual characters are constructed from a hierarchy of pieces or model pieces that function as a more modern skeleton system, another way in which the game was ahead of its time. Then, the motor interpolates the results creating a smooth fusion between each frame. Again, even titles like Quake have no interpolation between animation frames, while many games from this era still relied on 2D sprites.

Much of the fluidity in Turok comes from the exceptional work of animation in itself and there is much art here. From the animations of death to the impressive animation in execution, instead of simply turning, for example, there is a defined animation to rotate correctly. You see how the enemies change their weight and change the sowing of their feet when they turn. It is something impressive. Related to that, another additional intelligent feature is the & quot; Quack & # 39; mode, a cheat code that mocks Quake by disabling animation interpolation, particle processing, and texture filtering, key features that distinguish Turok from the power of the id PC software. It's a fun little bonus to showcase Turok's innovations, although, obviously, Quake made its own advances in FPS technology.

perf
The performance on N64 was much better than many other titles at the time, but heavier weaponry could cause the frame rate to drop.

And unlike many console shooters in this difficult transition period from 2D to 3D, the performance was not bad either. N64 is not known for high frame rates, but Turok performs better than most of his contemporaries. With a goal of 30 frames per second, something even in the manual, Turok works reasonably well. Reach your target during normal exploration and light combat, but you can dive into points. However, once you get larger weapons and explosions start to appear all over the place, frame rates can fall near the 10 fps territory. However, at least this is short-lived and, in general, the performance is good. It's a shame that Turok 2 works so badly in comparison.

A PC version followed, with support for the incipient Direct 3D and the Glide API of 3DFX, but although there were higher resolutions and cleaner textures, some features were missing or poorly implemented. Many of the visual effects are rendered quite well, especially anything that involves alpha effects. The fog plane is displayed differently, and the lens layers are correctly displayed and the colors appear somewhat washed.

It is worth taking a look at the remaster Nightdive Studios 2015. Programmed mainly by Samuel & # 39; Kaiser & # 39; Villareal, this enhanced version of the game is driven by the custom KEX engine and offers a lot of new visual features, which complement high resolutions and variable aspect ratios, along with adequate support for modern graphics cards and a full 60 frames per second of game. The console versions followed Xbox One and Switch, both also aimed at 60 fps performance while running at native 1080p. In the case of the switch, this applies to the coupled mode; instead, the portable mode runs at 720p.

Switch
The Turok remaster of Night Dive deserves a visit to PC and Xbox One, while the Switch port points to a game of 60 fps with 1080p coupled and 720p in mobile mode.

The PC and Xbox versions are compatible with twilight rays, which allows sunlight to filter beautifully around the stage, as well as greatly improved water effects with reflection and refraction. It also includes the adjustment of the field of vision and a greater distance of drawing. The final result is a level of fluidity, visibility and quality that goes far beyond what was originally possible. Combined with the improved controls, this is the best way to enjoy Turok today.

However, there are some compromises with the port of the Switch. First, features such as twilight rays are eliminated in Switch due to its high GPU cost. And even eliminated, there is a deceleration in this platform when using the extended drawing distance mode that does not occur in the other platforms. This is due to the inheritance of the motor and the limitations of the low power switch hardware. Basically, the main problem is derived from the design of the Turok maps: the level meshes were created taking into account the short distance of the view and the extraction distance greatly increases the number of extraction calls as a result of their fragmentation. Basically, the engine is not designed to handle efficiently and the distance of traction and the switch is not enough to overcome.

In any case, I think Turok represents a curious nugget of games that combines two things of his time: Quake and Nintendo. It has the fast and skill-driven gameplay and the interesting level design of an ID software game that also offers a more explorative, heavier and more open Nintendo style experience than you can find on Nintendo 64. This strange fusion Their failures, but I would say they still hold, even today, and the remasters are an excellent way to experience and play that I really feel is an important chapter in the history of FPS.

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