|The First 100% QuickBasic Game Review Magazine
Updated November 20, 2004
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Nebula Engine: Capture
"Unreal Reigns Supreme in QB!"
3D first-person shooters were supposed
to be one of those urban myths that was never meant to happen in QBasic.
But as the years went by, technology improved and research on the subject
Now the Nebula Engine, an evolution based
on Enhanced Creation's much-talked about RTEngine, makes the dream of first-person
shooting in QB a reality! Arm yourself with up to nine different weapons
as you try to outsmart a team of enemy bots, then work with your own team
of bots to make your way to capture the enemy's flag!
use of animation and visual effects to stimulate the senses
the main programmer behind Nebula Engine: Capture the Flag, set a very
clear goal inspired by Enhanced Creation members Angelo Mottola and Peter
Holmberg's RTEngine, to "achieve 3D in QBasic."
To make this feat
possible while allowing sound effects and music to occur within the game,
Roel combined several packages (including DS4QB and the Future Library)
with a raycast engine he built based on the humble beginnings of the RTEngine.
The result is unbelievable.
3D maps, with floors, ceilings, and wall tiles are drawn out with a choppy
but very playable framerate. The Nebula Engine features absolutely no flicker,
and even with many enemy bots on screen, looking upward or downward, or
during turns, the game shows no sign of slowdown, poor controls, or bad
sound synchronization. In terms of this versatility, the Nebula Engine
There is, however,
a lack of detail when it comes to the in-game graphics. For example, there
are no bullets that can be seen flying out of the weapon regardless of
which one is used. This is fine for pistols and machine-guns, but some
weapons, like the Razor or the Rocket Launcher, look kind of silly without
any projectile flying out of them. A more original and flavored group of
graphics tiles and other nifty-looking effects like lighting or explosions
would also help boost the graphics score, but that's just being really
ambitious for a game that's only meant to be a demo of the engine.
smooth blend of atmospheric sounds and original harmonies
|There was no real
attempt to be original here-- those who have played Unreal will get a serious
feeling of dejavu with the game's music and sound effects, which only add
the familiarity factor triggered by the Unreal-like maps, graphics, and
weapons. It's this lack of originality that prevents Nebula Engine: CTF
from gathering more than three sound/music points.
In terms of execution
though, the sound and music were implemented into the game very well. Weapon
fire can disrupt the game's music at any point, causing waves of shock
if it's unexpected. It's also nice to see "Roel Tempelaar" implement some
of the teammate-related exclamations from the Unreal Tournament game, including
popular lines like "I need some back-up" and "I'm hit! I'm hit!"
precision of control and involvement of character within its universe
|In the Nebula Engine
variation of the "Capture the Flag" FPS game, the goal is to reach for
the enemy team's flag before they get to yours. To help you get to the
enemy flag without being shot, you're given nine pre-set and pre-loaded
weapons, and a few teammate bots who can either back up your attempts to
get the enemy flag, defend your team's flag, or make an attempt to get
the enemy flag themselves.
All nine weapons
have their applications, but because of the nature of the game and the
lack of multi-player support, only three of the weapons can really be considered
practical in Capture the Flag-type of play. Surpisingly, the easiest and
most effective weapon to use is the Enforcer, which works with high accuracy,
packs plenty of ammunition and can be fatal at just the right distance.
The Sniper Rifle also deserves some respect, since it can cover a greater
distance while making head shots really easy.
What really impressed
me the most about Nebula Engine: CTF is the keyboard/mouse support. Once
you experience a first-person shooter by combining the keyboard/mouse,
it's difficult to go back to using a keyboard or gamepad. The Nebula Engine
reaps the benefits of this technology, allowing for analog movement and
aiming that is incredibly precise.
creativity and presentation of the game's critical plot
|Nebula Engine: Capture
the Flag's levels are based on Unreal Tournament, so that alone doesn't
warrant any story points. The reason there is a story point here is because
Roel Tempelaar included an "Intro" section to the game, explaining the
evolution of QBasic in 3D and how he got interested in making the Nebula
Engine. Perhaps this is the best way to make a story for a game engine
whose main character is the engine itself.
|Replay Value (n.)
timelessness of the gamer's delight, such that the experience can be repeated
again and again
|Average. With only
two actual game levels and one tutorial level, there simply aren't enough
rooms in Nebula Engine: Capture the Flag to keep the game fresh, especially
once a good strategy is found for each level. However, the keyboard/mouse
controls are done so well that that alone allows the Nebula Engine to compete
with some commercial FPSes that offer a less friendly scheme.
strike the mental nerve in such a way as to stimulate human thought and
|The key is to let
your CPU teammates do the work for you. Because the enemy bots prefer to
shoot only when close enough, it doesn't take more than one to three shots
from such a distance for them to land a kill against you. But to compensate
for that, enemy bots almost never try to shoot you from a certain area
just inside your shooting range. This makes camping and playing the role
of back-up during each game of Capture the Flag most effective, and it
also makes wide open spaces very easy to manage.
|Fun Factor (n.)
overall entertainment value as maintained throughout the adventure
|While the three
levels in Nebula Engine: CTF do a great job of showcasing all the things
that the Nebula Engine can do, none of the levels in the game actually
use all those features simultaneously. Only the tutorial level utilizes
all of the Nebula Engine's features, including picking up weapons, opening
doors, and using teleporters.
But even with the
limited use of the engine's resources, Roel Tempelaar managed to make a
game that's fun to play. Of course, some credit has to go to the guys at
Epic Games and GT Interactive for coming up with the level design showcased
by the Nebula Engine, but at the same time it's not everyday some QB programmer
says "I'm going to make a QB game that uses the levels from Unreal Tournament"
and actually goes out and does it.
It's this rendition
of the Unreal Tournament levels that makes me look forward to the future
version of the Nebula Engine promised, which will include source code and
documentation. The purpose of this future version of the Nebula Engine
is to provide other QB programmers with the capability to customize and
ultimately make their own first-person shooters. That's when the potential
of Roel's hard work will really pay off, and when all QB gamers win.
Capture the Flag Reviewed by Vance Velez
Arcade/First Person Shooter
||To solve: 30 min Final Rating:
download Nebula Engine: Capture the Flag (1.29MB), click here.
you're unzipping this program in DOS, you may have to use the -d option.
game is mouse-compatible. Make sure it is hooked up when playing this game.
play Nebula Engine: Capture the Flag, unzip the file and run "RUN.BAT".
Back to Arcade
out of 35 points
Highs: Great Unreal-style controls implement
the keyboard and mouse for realistic and highly immersive gameplay.
Lows: With only two game levels and one
game mode, the Nebula Engine needs to be put under a more rigorous test
before becoming really enjoyable.
V Planet! Archive
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