1. SiN: Retribution? What is it, another episode, a new game, a mod?
It is in fact a combination of the three. SiN: Retribution continues the original SiN story from 1998, a story that was never resolved in the SiN add-on Wages of SiN and SiN Episodes: Emergence. Since no more episodes will be made for quite a while (possibly forever) by Ritual Entertainment, the original creators of the SiN franchise, modding is the only way to present fans with more SiN story and gameplay. So yes, Retribution is a mod of sorts since it is not made by Ritual, it is the work of a fan for other fans. Still, Retribution will not be based on SiN Episodes (for a variety of reasons), but instead uses the current Unreal engine to provide its content on technology that is both impressive and accessible to anyone, as the UDK is free for non-commercial use. In that regard, it's going to be a whole new game.
While SiN Episodes certainly aimed to continue and maybe even conclude the plot around Blade, JC, and Elexis, it went complete new ways to achieve this. Ritual certainly had their picture of the story laid out and it probably would have unfolded in a great way in future episodes, but Emergence (the first and only episode) established facts and characters that were not received well with every SiN fan. Plus, there was a huge mystery around everything that was new: no background info on Jessica, no explanation where Elexis came back from, no information about Radek and his relation to Jessica, and certainly no plot detailing the changes of Freeport. Players were thrown into events without a clue of what had happened, and while Ritual obviously planned to explain this in later episodes, I always had a much different story buildup in mind for "SiN II", something I dreamed about before SiN Episodes was even announced. Characters like Jessica need to come in slowly, not boss the player around telling him to "go there" and "do that". New characters will enter the world of SiN: Retribution, but they will be different from the ones in Episodes.
With SiN: Retribution I want to get back into the spirit of SiN 1 while also introducing new concepts and moving the story along as if there were indeed five years between the two games.
None at all! Although it really depends on how many assets I will have to reuse from Sin Episodes. In case there will be more than just a few, I'd guess that Ritual (MumboJumbo) wouldn't mind if you already owned that game (and really - you do, don't ya? ;-)
I went through some games, Source-based Orange box games and F.E.A.R. (LithTech engine) included. I thought I could use their assets so making my game would go faster. But in the end, none of these games offered character models or weapons from SiN, even though they did have lots of great textures, meshes and other stuff to work with. But the technology is just too ancient, and I don't mean that I'm aiming to make a next-gen AAA title. I can't pull that off alone obviously, but when it comes to work speed, using modern tools is very important, which is something I never realized before. For example, Source might have a huge community and tons of content, and you don't need to learn a lot of new skills. But you're hampered by the old tech because it doesn't allow you to use a modern workflow. By now, I'd rather learn a few things and get work done faster (and better) later on. That's why I ultimately chose UDK, the Unreal Development Kit, to make this game, and you won't need to worry about anything when it's done!
Gameplay-wise, I have the story and the levels fully thought through. Expect at least 15 levels that will not only bring you back to places you may have seen in SiN or SiN Episodes, but they will throw you in the middle of action, suspense, chaos and speed in all kinds of places that you've come to expect from the SiN universe, be they old or brand new. The story will include new characters, dialogue that resembles SiN 1 much more than what Episodes did, and a real treat for SiN fans who have always wanted to find out more about their beloved favorite heroes or villain.
As for the story... well, the only glimpse you'll get for now is Blade's Journal.
Also, you can bet that you will see some well-known weapons back in Retribution, maybe some with upgrades attached, and of course some new stuff as well. This will be SiN in a new outfit, yet as true to itself as possible.
When it's done. I have no exact timeframe in mind in which I will complete the game, and because of this, I may or may not release some parts earlier. I want SiNners to play this mod before SiN is completely forgotten, so yes, you can expect something playable after a reasonable amount of active development time. Keep in mind that I am doing most if not all of this game alone, and I have other things happening in RealLife™ that might keep me from working. Plus, I am totally enjoying the creation of this game, but I want to keep enjoying it without putting pressure on myself. Therefore you will just have to be patient and check back for news, even if it's been months since I last updated - this project is never going to stop, ever - just hang on, it will be done!
Yes, indeed. The only other talent I included in this project is a very good and recent game artist who is also a long netfriend of mine, Rachel Asakawa. She will do some concept art for the characters and maybe some other things later on, and you will see her work on this site! Except for that, I'm doing all the work that goes into this game alone. The reason for this is that I have led a game project before and it never went anywhere because for one, there were no technical talents on board (and it is hard to find any) and secondly, the commitment of different people to one project must always remain constant to achieve something in reasonable time. If anyone loses interest, it delays the whole process and things never work out.
Even though I have not taken classes in all of the departments of game creation, I have tried and learned lots of stuff in my life that goes about the topic, mostly mapping, but also scripting, programming, texturing and a little modelling. And although I'm not a professional level designer (or modeller!), I have a huge determination to improve my existing skills, learn new stuff as I go along, and goddammit, someone's got to do a decent SiN mod after all! And if nobody is there to help me or to share my vision, well, I'm doing the best I can, it will just take a little longer.
Actually I am quite confident that I can pull this off alone; as I said, it will only take more time. Of course time is an important factor in game creation, but I have a thousand pictures of the whole game in my mind that I want to bring on screen exactly as I see them. That means I'm going to design all the maps, come up with the characters, write dialogue and plot, etc. Anyone else involved with this project might bring some input I never would have considered before, but the thing is that I have this vision that I want to keep intact, and the ideas of other SiN fans and how they would make "their own SiN", if they could, may be vastly different from mine. So yes, technically I could use some help to speed up the development process, but all the creative stuff comes from me and I don't want anyone to join just to carry out my orders.
Bottom line is, if anybody is a good modeller AND a SiN fan or at least dedicated to creating characters based on an existing story and modelling updated versions of weapons and props as needed, then I could use your help quite a bit and you can contact me and tell me what you have to offer. It would help a lot if you knew something about modelling for games with the limitations and features considering models, and in the best case you have already modelled for games and you know what you are doing. And you must like SiN! If you have never heard of this game before... well, you would probably not be here in the first place. =P
I'm a young adult German SiN fan. SiN was my premiere experience of a first person shooter when I was still adolescent and it paved the way for so many more PC games I would play (and mod for!) later in my life. My favorites include Descent, Half-Life 1 and 2, the old Need for Speed games and NFS Most Wanted as well as SHIFT, Unreal Tournament (classic UT and UT3), Deus Ex, and more recently, BioShock, Mirror's Edge, true racing sims and even silly games like Bionic Commando!
Besides games I also love to take apart computers and construct new ones, mess with system settings, explore the possibilities of computing and use computers for media design. I really like Windows 7, but who doesn't? ;-) Have some Mac experience too from my SAE days, where I studied audio engineering. I produced my band's debut album all by myself, including recording and mixing. And speaking of my band, I've been a drummer for more than fifteen years and this is a very good time to plug our website: www.szanaterria.de - and before you ask, it's bilingual, so there is no reason not to go there...