Thursday, June 01, 2006

An analysis of vaporware.

It's a real shame when talented and energetic individuals are manipulated into following a lost cause. Instead of being a positive learning experience for those involved, its becomes a ordeal of pain fueled by lies and deceit. All this can only lead to bad press and disillusioned team members who may decide to throw in the towel after years of their hard work never materializes into something tangible. This has a negative impact on the modding community, and game development in general. Nuclear Dawn is a prime example of this situation. The following are scans from the magazine "Computer Gaming World" as seen on the nuclear dawn website ( Normally I wouldn't mention anything but after seeing these, I thought enough was enough.

It looks great. It's just a shame it's all imaginary and the mod exists as vaporware, built almost entirely on hype generated from lies. The only truth is the sheer quality of the work of the extremely talented artists. Unfortunately this art does not exist as a game, which you have all been misled to believe exists in any remotely near playable form. And the fact of the matter is a great deal of the art you see was made by team members who have long since realized this truth and left the team long ago. What you are about to read is an analysis of these images which will hopefully pull the wool away from your eyes, and expose the truth about this mod.

To make comparison easier, I've created images containing key parts from the magazine scans and/or other ND screenshots. All the source art for it can be found on the Nuclear Dawn website in news posts or galleries. If you have any suspicion about my comparison images being photoshopped to prove a point, please see their copies as reference.

This first image shows the commander hud featured on page 2 and page 3 of the magazine. As you can see the huds contain the exact same data. The minimap is identical. The player list on the side is identical, the power meter is identical, even though it's supposed to be showing two completely different scenes. This is because it is simply a photoshop overlay on a screenshot.

This second image is the one that really bothered me and compelled me the most to create this. The top image shows a picture taken from a nuclear dawn news post, showing a person shooting at some enemies with a pistol. Even back then I thought there was something a little strange about the 'animations' on the players. The image underneath it is taken from page 3 of the magazine scan and shows the exact same scene except a different angle and a different weapon being fired. The reason for this is those 'players' are simply static props, exported and positioned like figurines, yet you are lead to believe that it is ingame action. Take a very close look, in both screenshots they are in identical poses.

This last screenshot is perhaps the most indisputable one, and unfortunately I had to use private media provided by an unnamed Nuclear Dawn team member, I would have rather done it with just media on their own website. The top left screenshot shows a cutout from page3 of the magazine scan. The top right screenshot shows an image taken from a Nuclear Dawn news update. Notice how they are identical, except one has a hud and the other does not? The bottom screenshot is many months old and shows a completely photoshopped concept for the ND hud. If you take a look at the shot featured in the magazine scan, you will see it is a photoshopped overlay of that very same hud, right down to the chat. The minimap shows positions for things that aren't there, and is identical in both screenshots.

As I've said, all content used to create this can be found on the nuclear dawn website (except the hud concept screenshot) and lastly, I find it very ironic how true this misleading quote from the Nuclear Dawn website is

"The alpha screenshots in these magazine scans are clear evidence of just how far along Nuclear Dawn is in development."

That's all I have to say. Believe what you will, but I for one will not be taken for a fool.