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Old 08-02-2006, 10:55 PM   2 links from elsewhere to this Post. Click to view. #1 (permalink)
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Default Infomation On Huxley & Lots of It

World-Exclusive Screens and Details

A Fire-In-The-Sky cataclysm sparks a new era of shared existence between surviving Sapiens and their swifter, sturdier, stronger offshoots, a species of genetically gifted Alternatives. Confined to separate city-states (read: servers), each species? citizens buy and sell, swap and barter. They swagger and chat on street corners, scheme and build alliances in back alleys. And?their eyes on a limited source of a new, near-limitless energy?each species leaves its sprawling sanctuary to wage war in the wilds. Welcome to the brave new genre-bending world of massively multiplayer online first-person shooter Huxley.

Now Entering Nostalonia: Population 5,000

It all begins in the big city, a busy hub to everything Huxley has to offer. From here your one-of-a-kind character colludes with friends and conspires against foes, settles in and sets off to war.


Today, the Sapien City of Nostalonia?s streets and squares and transfer stations are still. (Korean developer Webzen?s urban planners won?t zone their metropolis of tomorrow for residency until sometime in ?06.) And yet it all looks lived in, as if citizens have only just shuttered their windows and caged their shops under curfew. A hot evening glow bathes upper stories and roofs in light, balconies and cornices contrasting sharply with the drab facades beneath. It?s a mash-up of modern science and old-timey steamworks, of Western symmetry and Eastern neon.

Lead designer Sang Hun Kim asks us to picture stragglers leaning against streetlamps on the edges of sidewalks, to imagine sharing the space with 5,000-some other occupants and scores of nonplayable characters (NPCs), much as MMORPG players in World of WarCraft and Guild Wars do. To the first-person aficionado whose worlds often exist largely to wage war in, day one is disorienting. Tolls and limited transportation prevent recent arrivals from losing their way in the city?s 50 labyrinthine square blocks, but its densely developed boroughs are daunting. Accommodating NPCs offer tourist-safe itineraries, but this is your home, and it?s only other human inhabitants who have the street smarts you?ll need to survive.

Covet Thy Neighbor

Citizens in the streets of this Sapien city-to-be (pick the Alternative path and you?ll live in that species? capital, ?a cyberpunk answer to the Sapiens? steampunk aesthetics,? says Kim) traffic in small talk. Snippets of chitchat hint at conspiracies in conspiracies?often involving Huxley, a behind-the-curtain scientist?and violent run-ins with so-called Hybrids (see box). Often, we imagine, an object-obsessed citizenry asks, ?Where?d he get that?? and ?How can I get one??

?Koreans and Chinese don?t demand a lot of diversity in their characters? appearances,? says Kim, ?but North Americans?who we?re designing Huxley for?are different, which is why we?re letting you customize your character?s facial features, hairstyle, and fashion.? When a tall-walking clan of champions swaggers by in tailor-made helmets and armor, you tend to talk. And when you see that the group has its own hall of heroes, clan flag flying overhead, it?s settled: You have to be one of the kids who?s doing his own thing.

In the meantime, however, affluence accumulates incrementally. No longer tethered just to the places your feet can take you, you begin taking trains to new sections of the buyosphere, and soon after, you find your own set of wheels. Your apartment (a virtual space accessed via menu, unlike the top-ranking clans? actual command centers) fills with boots, gloves, guns, and war booty. But first you?ve got to make money....


Nostalonia?s unemployment rate is nil. Sort through the hubbub (Huxley?s hobnobbing citizens lounge and gesture on command like MMORPG idlers), make your name known among NPC brokers and mercs and middlemen, and your e-mail inbox begins to bulge with assignments.

Often, entry-level wet work has to do with hunting Hybrids?morlock-like misfits who venture to the surface in smash-and-grab gangs. ?Say that Hybrids swipe a weapons cache from a supplier,? Kim says. ?You?ll then need to either put together a party or hire [computer-controlled] mercenaries to track them down and get the guns back.? Players collaborate closely, but combat is the priority, not puzzles. ?Design by numbers says all 10 players in a party need to stand on pressure plates to open a door or disarm a trap. We do it differently. One goal might be to get everyone in a group across a bridge while staving off hordes of Hybrids. You can?t all go at once?success requires strategy, communication, and coordination. It takes fast trigger fingers and faster thinking.?

?Striking action, speed, and stability are at the heart of Huxley,? Kim continues. ?We prefer Unreal Tournament?s twitch play to the slower, more plodding pace of some military shooters. And that, of course, calls for sure-fire stability, which is why we?re wedding Unreal Engine 3 with Webzen?s own networking and server technology. At the same time, we want more. We want players to start living new lives in the postapocalyptic world we?re creating, a world of continuous change in which characters grow and form the communities you get in other MMOs.?

Building Character

After Hybrid hunts or other knottier capers, you?ll find yourself flush with cash and no shortage of outlets in which to spend it. Brick-and-mortar shopping, impromptu person-to-person transactions, and supervised, taxable trading all figure into Huxley?s consumer economy.

Commodities include single-use articles (e.g., amplified radar) and guns?gobs and gobs of guns. ?One of our babies?call it the delayed-action sniper rifle?shoots time-bomb bullets,? Kim says. ?Get hit, and you?ll hear a beeping sound for five seconds and then blow up. Plus, when one player takes a slug, other party members can hear the countdown, too?it puts ?em into a panic as they try to sort out who bit the bullet and get clear before it goes boom.?

While purchasing power gets you gear, it?s all-important experience points?also acquired in combat?that let you equip it. According to Kim, ?Huxley?s level system isn?t the same as those in most MMOs. First, we?re setting the initial level cap at 50. Then every 10 levels comprise a class (the first class is levels 1 though 10, second class is levels 11 through 20, etc.).? It?s when you change classes that you gain the licenses that let you use additional guns, gear, and gadgets. Still, even slight differences in damage and defense can upset a hyperactive shooter like Huxley, so you won?t see a dramatic disparity between lower- and higher-level players. ?Regular RPG growth systems make no sense in FPSes,? Kim says. ?You know, why should someone do more damage because he?s ?stronger? than an opponent using the same weapon??


In the wilds beyond the city?s walls, war-battered trees stand like scarecrows in saw grass. Beneath, mining stations extract the rare, energy-yielding Lunarite resource; above, armies amass here and there?at first in high-flying fast-attack craft and then in dropship-deposited armored personnel carriers.

While cooperative campaigning earns experience and cash, 120-player army-versus-army clashes (Huxley?s PVP solution) buy bragging rights and rank. ?Communication and coordination are crucial,? Kim says, and the best way to assure you?ll have both is to organize yourselves in fighting outfits, ?to create?and recruit for?your own clans. If most members arrive at a war zone wielding rocket launchers and wearing heavy armor, they?ll only have a small chance at winning in close-quarters combat. On the other hand, a group of guys with a wide range of rifles and armor?a clan in which each member contributes a small part in a planned approach?will have the advantage.?

Chest-thumping matters, but the benefits of soldier-tested, Patton-approved battle plans are material, too. According to Kim, ?Successful clans control whole city sections back home [in Nostalonia].? Certain buildings become theirs to decorate with emblems and banners, and even neighboring businesses begin offering members-only discounts to their warrior society?s celebrated class. More important, your heroism keeps the current flowing in Huxley?s power-parched cities.

To War!

Look at the power-transfer stations and processing plants?links in an electrically engineered chain crisscrossing the planet?s barren ridges?as capture points in Battlefield 2. As with the bunkers and mud-brick blocks in Electronic Arts? jack-of-all-trades game, your goal is to seize and secure them, except events at one node here affect the entire network. ?Every action in the battlefield alters other areas in real time,? Kim says. ?For example, let?s say we have battle area A and battle area B, where energy from the mines in A supports a nearby base in B. So, if enemies capture A, B then loses power and its defense systems go down.?

A case study in convergence?splicing first-person shooting with roleplaying, and Epic?s Unreal Engine 3 with Webzen?s own networking code?Huxley also saves space for mano a mano melees within its world at war. ?Four players from each faction can descend into the Lunarite mines and fight for the energy source in the middle of massive engagements,? Kim says. ?It?s Quake Arena?like close-quarters combat.?

Standing on the Shoulders of Gas Giants

Didn?t PlanetSide patent the supersized, persistent-world shooter? Not so, says Huxley?s lead designer Sang Hun Kim: ?We?re making the first true MMOFPS. Sony?s game was good?we hold its strategy and innovation in the highest regard and have spent long hours in it?but it lacked the intensity and twitch factor of stuff like Unreal Tournament or Quake. Huxley?s PVP is fast and powerful. We?re placing more weight on players? skill than on their characters? stats so that a talented player can prevail over a better-armed enemy, even with a basic rifle. Plus, we?re offering compelling single-player and cooperative components along with extensive community support. Huxley is huge, a persistent world where players own individual housing, interact with NPCs, and build relationships with other users. Its narrative and gameplay connect naturally to each player?s growth. You won?t find these features in PlanetSide.?

Transpacific Titan

Where?d newcomer publisher Webzen get the chops?and cash?to pull off an undertaking as hugely daunting as Huxley? Think: Korea?s MMO-crazed masses and China?s one-thousand-million-man market. The company claims its Asia-only MMO Mu has wrangled more than 56 million registered users worldwide. Now $150 million richer, Webzen?s eight studios are working on as many new titles, including the North America?bound Huxley, All Points Bulletin, and Soul of the Ultimate Nation.

Class Actions

Status matters, but as Kim has it, Huxley?s not a stratified society of entitled haves and envious have-nots: ?We encourage cross-class party play. Higher-level players get experience points for helping out lower-level players, and the bigger the level gap, the bigger the bonus.?

Copyright ? 2005 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in Computer Gaming World.

Compliments to dyin a fellow member who found this article on so compliments to them also
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