Cast your minds back to 2009. I know it’s a long time ago and a lot of mods and games have come and gone. There is one mod, however, which I would consider to be a total conversion, that’s stayed with me; that mod is Out of Hell (OoH). A very ambitious undertaking which I thought would never see the light of day. Thankfully I was proved wrong. OoH is special, it’s grimy, atmospheric, dark and damn right scary. Above all, it’s mainly the creation of one man with soundtrack talent provided by Justin Lassen.
Nominated as Mod DB’s Editor’s Choice of Best Single Player mod of 2009 and winner of Mod DB’s ‘Best Original Art Direction 2009’ award , OoH has proven popular with Survival Horror and gore monger fans alike. Now, after several years, the game is coming back, only this time it’s being expanded on and is harnessing the power of Unreal Engine 4. I managed to track down the creator (Affectionately know on the Internet as Chicken+Ribs_Combo (C+R_C)) and squeeze a short Q&A out of his mushy brain. 🙂
RQ: So, now you’re back to doing what you love. i.e. horror, zombies, guns, melee and awesome looking environments, is this another solo project or have you branched out and hired some help this time around?
C+R_C: In the beginning I hired various help but it just didn’t pan out in the long run either due to the contractor’s availability or suitability for the project. Of course, I am open to hiring help but in the meantime I’m just doing what I can do to keep the project moving along.
RQ: I know you’re utilising Unreal 4 Engine this time. Was it a steep learning curve from the old days of UE 2.xx or have you kind of slipped straight into things?
C+R_C: There was just a bit of a learning curve going from UE 2.xx to the UDK because of the kinds of tools and options that became available but it wasn’t a steep curve. The workflow remained similar in many ways so it was really just a matter of getting accustomed to the new tools.
Migrating from the UDK to UE 4 has been a very smooth transition.
RQ: Are you planning on expanding the maps significantly now you have the muscle power of a different, less limited engine of UE2.xx?
C+R_C: Absolutely! I’m designing the maps in a way that will allow the player more freedom to explore on their own terms. In my old maps, there was a very set and narrow path that the player had to progress through. I’ve now taken the approach of letting the player arrive at the objective from whichever angle they prefer.
So as an example, if there is an objective at the top of a mountain, you can take whatever path you think is best just as long as you get up there. You are no longer confined to a linear, predetermined path up the mountain.
RQ: Is the score going to be the same from classic OoH or are you teaming up with Justin Lassen again to scare the crap out of us with new material?
C+R_C: I want to rely mostly on ambient sound effects to build and maintain the audio atmosphere this time. I knew from the start of this new game that I wanted to have only short music segments for certain scenes and situations instead of a looping background track. Having a soundtrack worked well for classic OoH but I wanted to try something a little different with the new OoH.
RQ: With a new engine, comes more “models” on screen at once, if you get my meaning. Can we expect swarms of zombies? (not Dead Rising 3 swarms, that’s just crazy!)
C+R_C: You can count on swarms of more than just zombies this time! Of course, I will put more thought into how and when I apply these types of scenarios instead of just throwing a handful into a narrow hallway and saying “There, deal with it!”
RQ: Do you still enjoy working on OoH? Has there been a lot of demand for it? I imagine you have to split a lot of time between work, life and developing this beast. Do you sometimes sit back and think “this is tough going”?
C+R_C: I LOVE doing what I do and that is why I’ve stuck with it for as long as I have. It also helps keeps me sane because it is the only creative outlet for me.
Initially there was much demand for it but I would say it has died down because off the lack of consistent updates on my part. As you get older, life pulls you in more directions, you have more responsibilities and less time for creative hobbies but you know, I’m still here building and hammering away at it when I can. I know that when completion draws near, interest will come back as I expose more of the game.
At this point, after dedicating so much time into learning how to build game like this, the only thing that is considered “tough” for me is just finding the time to work on it. I have a clear vision of what I want this to be now, I have the resources and the knowledge to accomplish what I need so building it is no longer the hard part, it’s finding the time.
RQ: How do you plan on animating the world of OoH? Zombie movement and weapon handling/reloading, etc in particular. I hear motion capture at home is very affordable these days. Is this something you’ve considered?
C+R_C: I have not looked into motion capture but I will probably be keyframing it all either way if there was a choice. Not that there is anything wrong with motion capturing but animating by hand is a huge part of what makes this all so fun and fulfilling for me.
RQ: How sophisticated will the blood and gore be in OoH be? Are we talking full dismemberment or just good old fashioned headshots with crimson and chunks flying everywhere? (loved the gore in classic OoH…)
C+R_C: Old-fashioned blood geysers and flying gibs n’ maggots! Dismemberment isn’t an integral mechanic to this game so you won’t be shooting off any fingers or hacking any limbs off and watching them glitch all over the place!
RQ: Early Access/Steam Greenlight. Are these of interest to you? Would you consider releasing OoH on Steam? What do you think of the Early Access Program for game developers? Good or a bad thing?
C+R_C: Steam is definately something I will be looking into. I don’t think it’s the sort of thing an Indie Developer should overlook.
I think that Early Access can be a very good and valuable thing for Indie Developers. I don’t know if I will be adopting that position at this point in development but in the long-run (near the end of the development cycle) that might change as I push through that final stretch.
RQ: Speaking of Early Access. Have you played Killing Floor 2 yet? If so, what do you think of the game so far?
C+R_C: I have not played any of the Killing Floor games outside of the original mod version (of which I have many fond and hilarious memories of) Although I must say that the KF games look fantastic and fun as hell! It really has grown into quite a beast of a game!
And there you have it. Some tidbits of juicy, giblets to chew on while Long plugs away on his baby. For those of you who haven’t tried OoH, you should. Download it from Mod DB.
Here’s some rather disturbing but cool concept art. You can view the entire galley on Long’s OoH Devblog here
A massive thank you to Long Nguyen for taking the time out of his busy life to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing how things progress with the newly invigorated Out of Hell. 🙂