Nightwatch is a single player modification (mod) for Valve's incredibly successful 1998 First-Person Shooter release, 'Half-Life'. The mod will take place in a time period over-lapping with the original game but will follow a new character through new unexplored areas of Black Mesa and will have a plot line that starts parallel but moves completely independent of the original Half-Life story. What kind of gameplay can I expect from Nightwatch? The short answer to this would have to be, "Good gameplay". The group of people working on the modification are hell-bent on making this thing fun to play above all else, because at the end of the day this thing is a game and games are meant to be fun.
The gameplay will be much like that of the original Half-Life; being that it's both a First-Person Shooter and that it works on the same principles of story telling. Nightwatch will be a mixture of fast paced combat situations with enemy characters, puzzles (not including jump-puzzles, we swear) and an intriguing story that will take you to the bowels of Black Mesa, an off-site weapons research facility, an entirely re-designed Xen, and beyond.
What enemies are we likely to face in Nightwatch? Will it be the standard Half-Life fare or are there plans for new ones?
NightWatch when completed will feature both new enemies and Non-player Characters (NPCs) as well as the old standards from Half-Life itself. We are still in the same period and world as Half-Life after all, but as the story progresses and we discover more of exactly what those scientists and other folk were up to, we'll find many new faces both friend and foe.
What is Nightwatch?
What? Are you joking? I just answered that!
Yes. Remember, the very first question?
Oh… right. Will there be new weapons?
There will be numerous new weapons found throughout the game, most of which can be found in our arsenal listing. The plan is to have the same blend of realistic weapons and our own experimental weapons that those crazy scientists have come up with. Expect some surprises of alien origin as well.
Don't worry, just because the main weapons will be 'real' doesn't mean that the damage values will be. Most weapon behavior will be comparable to that of Half-Life itself.
Oh, cool, so you're working for Valve/Sierra/Gearbox on this and it's an official mod, right, like they said in the insert site here forums?
Whoever began circulating these rumors should be given a good whack upside the head. Nightwatch has never been officially endorsed, contracted, or bought out by Valve, Sierra, or Gearbox software. Nightwatch is being developed independently by a group of Half-Life editing community members.
I heard that there was going to be an increased poly-limit for Nightwatch, what the heck is this all about?
For the past 3 years people have considered the Half-Life r_speed limit for single-player to be around 800, but with the always-increasing power of modern computers we realise that this limit could be raised to allow a greater quality of visuals while still allowing the majority of people to play the game. Thus, we have made the decision to give ourselves greater space by making this limit higher - to about 1200. This means we can add more detail to the game to create a better experience for the player and to give a greater sense of immersion.
We are aware of the fact that this can and may exclude older systems from being able to experience NightWatch. Do know that this is not a decision we took lightly and that if ways to fulfil the vision to its full potential and expand the potential player base present themselves, we will not hesitate to act upon those options.
Is there any fancy tech-stuff planned for Nightwatch? You know, like the power to morph into magical flying monkeys of death, or stuff...
Uh, since when were magical flying monkeys of death considered tech-stuff?
They're robot magical flying monkeys of death. Now shut up, I'm the one asking the questions.
We have a bunch of "tech-stuff" planned for Nightwatch, including advanced enemy AI and a fancy new particle system that will allow numerous cool gameplay features and visual effects to be created. There's also a load of other stuff that's going to be including that isn't immediately relevant to the general audience, but rest assured the mappers on the team will have a load of neat stuff to play with to make this mod something truly special. Oh, and of course there's all the new weapons, monsters and a couple of other special items to go in there.
Is the team going to be working purely within the Half-Life texture sets or will you guys be creating something new to work with?
We're actually doing a bit of both. You see, we currently have artists working away together to create High-Definition versions of the important Half-Life textures to give the mod a higher quality and fresh feel. Black Mesa will never have looked so good and the progress that has been made on this stuff so far already looks great. Numerous brand new textures will also be created.
Wow, this all sounds swell! What if I were a really fantastic mapping God, texture artist, coder, sound artist, voice artist, concept artist or pet Muppet who wanted to join your team of skilled people to help out or annoy?
We still have a few places left on the team and always like to hear from talented people wanting to help out. If you think you've got the 'mad skillz' required then take a look at our openings in the "Join" section and fire off an e-mail if you see an opening in your area of expertise.
Will there be specific new characters to meet/interact with?
There will be a lot of new unique characters to meet in the game and interact with in some way, however we won't be releasing information about them at this time. Some will trickle into public availability during production, others will make their debut appearance in the game itself.
How much emphasis will be put on the story compared to action?
Bearing in mind that this is a First-Person Shooter there will be a lot of action throughout the entire mod. At the same time though, we've worked hard to put together a story that we can effectively tell throughout the game using methods created in games such as Half-Life and our own new ideas. The idea is to create the perfect balance between the two, but it should be noted that Nightwatch's story should play a bigger part than the story in most other modifications to date.
What are the approximate system requirements?
That's a tough one. The plan is to have a higher level of detail than Half-Life did. If you take into account the higher polygon count for weapons, NPCs and geometry and extra strain for things like the particle system along with the extra memory needed for the higher level of texture detail and things will be at least slightly higher than Half-Life.Where does the name come from?
Details about the needed spec will be released at a later time as we begin to get a more solid idea of how the enhanced visual effects will affect playability.
Nightwatch, due to the increased poly limits, particle system, and now changes to the -subdivide parameter in Merl's ZHLT build 1.7, will require some form of 3D acceleration.
Isn't the name 'William Archer' a composite of two Star Trek characters?
Actually, our main character's name was decided upon quite a while before the newest series came into production. We only noticed this odd coincidence when a visitor to the web page brought it up.
Is Andrew really a squirrel?
Yup, he certainly is. He's the product of years of government research.
Will the focus of the technology lean more towards 'realism' or towards that funky Black Mesa future-tech?
Keeping in mind that the modification is situated in Black Mesa, we'll be sticking more closely to the latter. In fact, towards the end of the game things should get particularly funky, more so than regular Half-Life or the expansion packs. On the other hand, as in Half-Life, the facility is designed to be as believable a setting as possible given gameplay considerations, so it's a bit difficult to give an either-or answer to this question.
Will Xen play a large role?
Xen will be included in the mod, but fear not young ones, for we shall be approaching it entirely differently than it has been in the past. More info will be made public at a later date.
How many hostages will you need to rescue?
Only one, and that's right at the end. And when I say that, I mean right at the end. The very super-duper-secret end. Unfortunately this is another thing I can't go into right now. Also, for the record, if anyone happens to call us a Counter-Strike clone then we shall kill them. We're a frickin' Single Player mod!
Will there be drivable vehicles?
Original plans included the possibility for a small segment during the canyon chase segment, but the logistics of coding and implementing the feature for such a small segment was completely unreasonable. Drivable vehicles will add nothing to the quality of Nightwatch gameplay, and all considerations for them have been dropped.
How long do you expect Nightwatch playtime to last?
While maps are still in development at the moment, given the number of bsps assigned to our level design staff, it seems to be a safe bet to assume that Nightwatch playtime may span considerably longer than that of Opposing Force. We'll offer better estimates as development progresses further.
Will there be many puzzle-based segments?
There will be areas in the game where you have to use your brain to progress, but we're doing our best to avoid jumping puzzles with giant pits o' doom™. However, there may be a couple of jumping puzzles with pits o' mild aggravation™. We'll have to wait and see.
Who really ate all the donuts?
Andy Goram. Oh, wait, that was the pies and no one but Gonnas will get that joke. A special meeting of the executive committee was called to determine who exactly was responsible for the donut heist but findings were inconclusive. I believe chips, the team's mascot, probably ate all the donuts - but I could be wrong.
Will there be many Easter Eggs?
There will be a number of Easter Eggs and hidden things around each of the levels, all you have to do is look and find them. On the other hand, you may have to look pretty hard; they have to be rather subtle or the environment's believability could suffer.
Will there be any DM maps or multiplayer modes?
Currently there are no formal plans for the modification to include a multiplayer mode, however, some possibilities have been considered.
No, seriously, is he really a squirrel?
Well, no. Sorry to disappoint.
How large will the Nightwatch download be?
It's far too early to say at this point, but assume "Quite large."
Will Nightwatch use any features from that nifty mod, Spirit of Half-Life?
Not directly. Any features shared with Spirit will be Nightwatch-specific code, and not implemented from Spirit source.
Hey, I don't ever remember seeing Feature X in Half-Life, and you got Feature Y wrong! What's the deal?
Nightwatch is not an exact continuation of the Half-Life universe -- probably even less so than Blue Shift and Opposing Force were; we're recreating a number of models and modifying a few base concepts to make the gameplay and the ambient environment more interesting. It's still Black Mesa, the basic premises have been kept, and the background story is still the same, but there will be numerous changes to "detail" elements and the addition of a few new things to spruce things up to best fit our overall vision.