The future of the TimeSplitters series remains uncertain, but a few dedicated fans are putting their skills to use after obtaining permission from Crytek for a fan made game. We put your questions to Project Manager Michael Hubicka in an exclusive interview.
Back in November 2012 100,000 Strong for TimeSplitters 4 got permission to create a fan-made TimeSplitters game. In an informal Facebook conversation Crytek authorised fans to work with the TimeSplitters assets and create a game by the fans, for the fans. Four months later and the first details of this project are coming to light.
What we know so far…
TimeSplitters Rewind aims to take the best bits of all 3 TimeSplitters games and combine them into a shiny new *free* CryEngine powered game. There will be no need to download or buy any other supporting software as the game will run independently.
“…we are taking the best elements of all three games (multiplayer and challenges) and creating a whole new game. We are taking full advantage of the CryEngine 3 SDK, so while it looks great and runs extremely well – it will still *feel* like a TimeSplitters game. While it’s not a reboot, remake or sequel – we’re simply working hard to capture everything that made the original games awesome and giving it the HD touch.” – Project Manager Michael Hubicka
Although the development team received permission to use the original TimeSplitters assets they’ll be recreating everything from the ground up using the original models for reference. That means all the best characters, maps and weapons will be faithfully realised in CryEngine 3!
TimeSplitters Rewind is focusing on the multiplayer and challenges from TimeSplitters. Currently it will feature online play with 8-16 players and although that may change during development, the team hope to increase the player count further.
The much loved TimeSplitters bots will also be included. Bots will be an option for player admins in LAN/Solo games and for server admins on dedicated servers. The game will also support mods and custom content allowing players to fully customise their TimeSplitters experience like never before.
Split-screen will be one feature that won’t be making an appearance however. Project Manager Michael Hubicka told fans “CryEngine 3 SDK just doesn’t support split screen and it doesn’t seem like there is any way for us to implement that functionality. If Crytek decides to implement it into the SDK then we will definitely include it at that point”.
Whilst many will be dissapointed to hear a console release seems unlikely without investment from Crytek, the team plan on including Xbox 360 and PS3 controller support for those who prefer the use of a controller with their PC.
Whilst the specifications for TimeSplitters Rewind remain uncertain, the team insist they will be doing all they can to make the game as accessible to as many players and PC’s as possible.
What features from the original games will be included?
We’re trying to come up with a way to give players and server admins a choice so that we can include most if not all of the features from the past games. Whether it’s as simple as an option in the menu or server admins having the choice when setting up the configuration for their server. When it comes to the gametypes and challenges – we plan to have them all in. If not by the (hopeful) December demo, then definitely by the official release.
When it comes to level editors, will you be including one or will fans have to use other resources to mod the game?
Since we use CryEngine 3 and have access to a powerful toolset, I think it’s only fair the fans have access to it too! Sandbox, the world editor that we use and is included with CryEngine 3 SDK, will be available at the time of the demo’s release.
TS2 and TS:FP have their own feel to them, is TimeSplitters Rewind more of one or the other or will it have its own unique TimeSplitter style?
We’re working on a way to give players and/or server admins a way to choose the play style. Classic (TS2) or Standard (TS:FP). If it’s something the server admins choose, then it will be made very clear in the server browser so players have that choice as well. So in short, we’re working on ways to give everyone a choice between Classic and Standard gameplay.
You already said the game will focus on multiplayer. Will it include all modes from the series and can we expect some extra surprises? Every body is asking about Virus mode! Will there be any kind of story mode?
The initial release of TimeSplitters Rewind will be multiplayer only. Though we have been talking about slowly working on remaking all three of the original games one at a time. That is only if Crytek lets us. But hopefully you will see TimeSplitters Rewind go from being multiplayer only to including all the storylines (singleplayer and co-op) of the original games. But yes, Virus will come back!
Will you stick to the core ethos of the Timesplitters series, action packed, fast paced gun play with lots of humour or do you plan to introduce new elements such as leveling up and perks?
Definitely the core experience with *extremely* little to no additions.
You’re introducing new modes, how many are you planning to implement and can you tell us about any of them?
We have talked about new modes but whether or not they actually make it into the demo or final release is all based on if it feels right. It will definitely boil down to what fans think of it. “Not Kart Racing” is one of them. Players would be on foot racing to objectives and trying to sabotage each other from getting there first.
What about new characters? Will you be introducing us to any new faces and what design criteria will you focus on to make sure they fit in with the feel of the game?
We’re not planning on adding any new characters at this time. The reason behind this is because we do have over 300+ to work on – some of which won’t be available in the demo or at release just because there are so many of them. We plan to release as many as we can at the time of demo, then as many more as we can at release and then the rest will come in content updates.
How will the online work, presumably you don’t have the resources for dedicated servers?
Dedicated server tools will be available for fans at some point in development. This is after the demo and definitely before the official release. We hope to have them ready before the demo, but with the size of our team and the amount of work we have.. I just wouldn’t want to release something to the public I knew just wasn’t ready.
However, LAN will be available either way – and we are fully prepared to help people set up the same tools we use to play together across the world.
Will there be hit scan or ballistic physics for the weapons?
The original TimeSplitters games utilized a mixture of both. Our goal is to do the same.
How involved with the project are Crytek? Do you plan to talk to them about console releases or a kickstarter project to bring TimeSplitters Rewind to consoles?
We collaborate with Crytek as often as possible. We’re both very busy working on our respective projects. Crytek UK (Free Radical) for example is working on Homefront 2 and the recently released Crysis 3. As for a console release – we shall see later on in development. I can’t guarantee anything but maybe, just maybe we will see a console release.
Are any of the original TimeSplitters staff involved at all? Have you contacted the original voice actors for help with the project?
Some are, but as for the voice actors – that’s something that we are going to discuss with Crytek later on in development.
You plan on adding controller support, will you be trying to introduce any kind of feature that will level the field between mouse/keyboard players and controller players?
I don’t like the idea of ‘isolating’ those who play with controllers from those who play with mouse and keyboard. I’m also not too terribly fond of something like autoaim either. The only thing I can possibly stress is we will see what comes back from playtesting and what the fans say.
You expect to have a working demo out for Christmas, will this be a beta test or more of a 1 level and few characters to play with? If this isn’t a beta, will there be one? Who will have access to it?
The demo will be more or less a beta. We plan to release patches to fix glitches/bugs/exploits/performance issues and Content Updates to add maps and characters.
When do you expect to have a finished game and how do you plan to distribute it?
No ETA on a ‘finished’ game or even Official Release 1.0. Though when we are ready to distribute the demo or even the official release, I will do everything to make sure we are prepared. Mirrors, torrents, all of that because I know somewhere a site will go offline due to the sheer volume of fans trying to get ahold of it.
It’s going to be 100% free but would you consider an optional donation to help fund updates and the time you have already spent or perhaps even to charities such as EFF?
If fans absolutely want to donate, I don’t see why not. I would personally prefer it if fans donated to Child’s Play Charity or the EFF, but it’s honestly their call.
How are you managing the resources now, in terms of time on the game and your regular job?
Every member of the team is required to put in a minimum of 5 hours per week, but most of us work on it at least 10 – 15 hours a week. It’s just 5 hours is our minimum so we don’t slow down to a crawl.
There’s going to be monkeys, right? Lots of monkeys!?
I have a team of monkeys working on the monkeys so that the monkeys are monkeys. So yes, lots of monkeys!
That regular job, you’re developing your own game too aren’t you?
Yes, we are actually! We decided that in order to raise the funds to help us focus on TimeSplitters Rewind full time is to work on a project that we can legally raise money for. That project is Loki’s Playground and is being developed on the UDK. This in no way has slowed down the development of TimeSplitters Rewind, if anything it has helped pick up the pace.
What would you like to tell us about that?
Loki’s Playground is a 3D isometric arena-based shooter set in a stylish world where almost anything is possible. We are focusing the game on intense but wacky fun in a highly detailed cartoonish world. If the idea of a ‘catlauncher’ in which you shoot out a cat that claws the face off of you enemies sounds appealing, this is the game that we think you may want to check out.
If you have experience in CryEngine 3, or just think you can lend a hand you can contact Michael Hubicka on Skype – MichaelBHG
For the latest news on everything TimeSplitters join 100,000 Strong for TimeSplitters 4 on Facebook or follow the campaign on Twitter
You can also sign this petition calling for the original trilogy to be remade in HD. It currently has over 75,000 signatures.
So what are your thoughts on TimeSplitters Rewind? Still got some questions you want answering? Comment in the space below to share your thoughts.