Feature: 'Postmortem: Fizz Factor's The Incredible Hulk'

In this postmortem, Fizz Factor, the developer behind The Incredible Hulk for Nintendo DS, discusses the 'fully destructible environment' title for handhelds,
In this postmortem, Fizz Factor, the developer behind The Incredible Hulk for Nintendo DS, discusses the 'fully destructible environment' title for handhelds, from GameMaker prototyping to 'Rage' button removal. Throughout the game's development, Fizz Factor worked towards making the Hulk feel like "an engine of destruction" with every player action, supplying an atmosphere and adding special abilities that would make the half-inch tall character feel like a powerhouse: "Just about every element of the game lends to that sense of Hulk's power. Sound effects were a huge bonus on this front, from footsteps that boomed with every step to powerful impact sounds from smashed objects. The fact that Hulk could destroy everything he could touch went a long way -- as did his abilities to knock enemies into each other, smash vehicles then hurl them at foes, and to turn giant boulders, tree trunks, and cars into weapons. We also implemented two special features to add to Hulk's sense of power. One was a feature called 'Gamma Boost'; while utilizing this feature Hulk essentially emitted a field of destruction that killed or destroyed everything near him, encouraging the player to run through the level with reckless abandon. The more Hulk destroyed, the longer his destructive state would last; however, if he took one hit, the Gamma Boost would deactivate. The other feature was a series of 'Rage Vaults.' By grabbing onto a flagpole or a floating gamma detection satellite, Hulk could hurl himself through the world on a set path, destroying everything in his way. This feature not only added to Hulk's power, but also gave the designers some unique opportunities to create platforming puzzles by which the player could navigate the levels." The team also sough to provide a fully-destructible environment to showcase what the Hulk is capable of -- a goal which Fizz Factor proved was possible to achieve with the Nintendo DS, but not without consequence: "No stealth, no wimpy Bruce Banner. 24/7 breaking stuff, period. Fully destructible environments -- on a console title this may be an old hat, but on the DS, it's an impressive novelty. As far as we knew at the time, fully destructible environments had not been tackled before on the DS. Due to cart space and hardware limitations, it's always a big challenge for the platform. However, with some clever programming solutions and rearrangement of budgeted art resources, we conquered the problem, which thrilled us. To our publisher and the public, however, the innovation did not resonate as we expected. While fully destructible environments are technically impressive and a first for the platform, in hindsight we probably would have been better served to take a more conventional approach that required less engineering and focused more on rich, not-all-that-destructible environments." You can read Fizz Factor's full postmortem on The Incredible Hulk for Nintendo DS, which includes more examples of the studio's accomplishments during the game's development, as well as its challenges, such as control configuration indecision and limited time to polish the title (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from other websites).

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