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  • DevDiary 2 - Legacy and Writing

    Legacy and Writing
     
    Hey everyone, my name is Ian Currie and I’m happy to welcome you to another Jagged Alliance 3 DevDiary. I am one of the original creators of the Jagged Alliance series and have been working with THQ Nordic and Haemimont on Jagged Alliance 3 for a couple of years now. I’m excited to share some of my thoughts with you!

    The original Jagged Alliance games

    Jagged Alliance dates back to the latter half of the 1990s where the first game was released somewhat under the radar but was considered a critical success. It was quite ambitious—a strategy game with tactical combat, a large cast of colorful characters, role-playing elements, and a storyline with multiple outcomes. It was unique in allowing players to form a party of characters but using pre-existing individuals who had distinct personalities who had both strengths and weaknesses. It was further unique in that these individuals didn’t always get along with each other and could sometimes, to the surprise of players, act out. Like a lot of entertainment, it also sprinkled in a good dose of humor.

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    While it was followed by a small mission-based sequel that introduced multi-player gameplay (titled ‘Deadly Games’), the original game was preferred for its more open-world feel. This, along with many other aspects, was expanded upon in what became a more appropriate sequel to Jagged Alliance.

    And that brings me to Jagged Alliance 2, which was certainly one of the most ambitious projects I’ve ever worked on and a true labor of love for myself and the team that developed it. It expanded upon the first Jagged Alliance in almost every aspect. Players could employ multiple squads and create their own merc, experience side-quests along with a variable storyline, taunt the main antagonist by sending them flowers.
    They generally experienced a game that played out differently each time, including more in-depth tactical combat and many easter eggs that we delighted in creating. Many of the characters that players grew to love from the previous games returned along with many new characters. One of the goals of the Jagged Alliance series was to create tension between the attachment to characters and the need to acquire more skilled team members.

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    While Jagged Alliance 2 was very successful, the owners of the development studio decided to focus on other business opportunities and the studio closed down. The intellectual property was sold and my teammates and I all moved on to other gaming studios.

    Jagged Alliance 3

    A couple of years ago I was contacted by THQ Nordic to see if I’d be interested in helping a team of developers to create a new Jagged Alliance game. I was initially skeptical as there had been some Jagged Alliance games released over the years and none of them impressed me. Making something I could call a ‘true’ Jagged Alliance game would be a complex and daunting task. THQ Nordic assured me that they were going to take their time and ‘do it right’. I was told that they were boldly calling it Jagged Alliance 3 as it is intended to be the true spiritual successor to Jagged Alliance 2.

    To be honest, while I loved the idea of working on a ‘true’ Jagged Alliance game, I didn’t want to let myself get too excited. It wasn’t until THQ Nordic showed me an early prototype and I read the design documentation that I allowed myself to become somewhat optimistic.  Then I met with the design and production team and was impressed. OK, I was interested; what did they need me to help with?

    The answer was creative writing: the story, the quests, the characters, the mercs, the dialog etc. While I had certainly contributed to the writing, the person who really owned all that work on Jagged Alliance was my partner and good friend, Shaun Lyng, who was no longer available. Hmmm, could I do it? I decided to reach out to a former colleague, Dan McClure, who is a game industry veteran and published author. Luckily, Dan agreed to sign on and the two of us became very good partners.

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    Working with Haemimont Games

    We quickly got to know the developers at Haemimont Games and started working with them on the story and timeline for the game. It was so much fun! It wasn’t long until we were throwing around ideas for quests, discussing which mercs would be ‘back’ and of course, the new mercs – which is always exciting. Many of these personalities are like old friends that I’ve truly missed.

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    One of my favorite features of the game is the conversation system – the part of the game that allows players to interact with various NPCs (non-player characters) in the world. In Jagged Alliance 2, this feature was very limited – you could only choose a general ‘approach’ (e.g. friendly, direct, threatening).
    Jagged Alliance 3 introduces a robust conversation system that allows for a much more engaging role-playing experience and will often include participation from some of your mercs. This can range from simple comments to more helpful observations and plays out differently depending on the situation, adding to the game’s replay-ability. We iterated on the design until we were all happy with it and seeing it all come together was immensely satisfying. I’m very proud of what we’ve done here as it allows for so much more interaction between the player, the NPCs and the mercs, and allows us to tell a much deeper story than in any previous Jagged Alliance game.

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    Working with Haemimont has been very rewarding. They’re not only a team that has worked together for a long time, but their expertise is evident in everything they do.  Watching the game take shape over the past couple of years has been amazing.
    Graphically there is so much detail in the game, from how all the mercs in the game have custom avatars, to the carefully crafted environments and of course the combat system is equally rich and rewarding. Jagged Alliance 3 truly is bigger and better. Sometimes it’s just so hard to believe that after all this time, I’m working on another Jagged Alliance game. I consider myself very lucky and can’t wait for you to experience the game.

    Thanks for reading!

     

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    Ian Currie

    Director of Jagged Alliance 1 & 2
    Writer of Jagged Alliance 3


    PS: You might also enjoy the new trailer about my involvement: 

     


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    THQN Roger



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    Now I am really excited.  Mr. Currie, I played Jagged Alliance, Deadly Games, Jagged Alliance 2, and Unfinished Business around their original release dates and really enjoyed all of them.  Jagged Alliance 2 remains on my list of my favorite games that I have ever played.  Thank you for everything you did on those games to provide me so much entertainment.  The new conversation system looks excellent.

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    Oh my god I am so excited that Ian is also involved. Overall the game looks amazing and I can not wait to see all characters come back to life. The maps look very beautiful and well crafted. I wish you the best luck and hope you take your time to create the best JA3 you can make. 

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    What a surprise! Ian Currie as a writer for JA3?! Now, that's an accomplishment THQ & Haemimont, congratulations!
    This is very promising for the game, both the early project he agreed to work and, and the result after his involvement.
    I wish you a great success for this third installment of the franchise!

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    Mr. Currie, from the bottom of my heart, I would like to thank you and your fellow colleagues for Jagged Alliance 2.

    I was able to buy it in late 1999 during a difficult stint in my life and the enjoyment and relief that game gave me will follow me trough the rest of my life.

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    2 hours ago, Kordanor said:

    And Nails has far less and his darkbrown hair turned to black/grey. Wasn't it mentioned that between JA2 and JA3 barely any time passed? ^^

    Giving up his leather jacket took some years off his life.

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    • Developers

    I want to add my voice to the choir here. Working together with Ian on JA3 is a rare privilege! He is a really cool colleague and a tremendous creative asset for the project!

    Not to mention that his creations inspired me and gave me many pleasant hours of gameplay just like with the others commenting in this thread.

    Edited by Haemimont_Boian
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    When your mercenary dies, will it leave a marker where they fell? so if you come back to that area, you can see where one of your old mercs died.

     

    Good to hear Ian Currie is working on the game. 🙂

    Edited by Acid
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    So I went through the trailer again, looking for interesting snippets.

     

    Bolt-action rifles used by Grunty, Livewire and probably Buns look like Kar98k to me, although it's hard to tell from the image. Buns and Livewire look like they're using some kind of crudely made muzzle brake/suppressor made from a can.

    Weapon condition affects the accuracy, which is good.

    Ivan starts with ushanka instead of helmet as actual gear (not just picture). He's supposed to be pro, is it lined with kevlar? And is he attached to it like Nails to his jacket?

    Buns starts with Dragunov and what appears to be quite a solid gear. She should pack some more ammo though, like Ivan.

    There are overwatch style interrupts where you set up the merc's zone of control beforehand.

    Barry's shotgun looks like Browning Auto-5 or Winchester 1911. But I'm no expert.

    Edited by Sarin
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    Very exciting to see Ian Currie is involved with the project. I've got a ton of respect for him considering he was one of the main guys behind the original JA games.

    I really hope the final game manages to live up to expectations. I've almost lost hope of ever seeing a good successor to JA1/JA2 after we've seen the countless attempts over the years. A few of the games were competent but none of them were even remotely as good as JA2.

    Seeing Steroid's full design is funny. Getting some strong Duke Nukem vibes off him!

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    @Haemimont_Boian: Great to see that you implemented different aiming crosshairs for all the different weapons. I hope when you choose the body part the crosshair will also move directly to the part you target. Maybe I am wrong but right now I only see that the crosshair stays on the same position no matter which part you choose.

     

    The merc portraits are still not animated and I guess it is maybe a conscious decision or they are not finished but I would love to see that the mercs move their eyes, mouths and body also in the conversations. I know this is a lot of work but this was one big reason why I love JA2 so much. The animated portraits on the battlefield and in the flickering hire screen had so much charm and atmosphere.

     

    But thank you for all your hard work. I appreciate that you guys put so much effort in that project.

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    Glad to see Ian Currie onboard, gives me hope that this will be a worthy successor.  JA2 is a hard act to follow, for any game, really.  It had so much going on in a very unique, quirky, immersive design.

     

    I, too, still play JA2 once or twice a year for the past 20-odd years, usually with one mod or another.  I've played hundreds of hours of JA:BiA, too, and although the combat/tactical game is decent the JA2 soul just isn't in there.  It is close, but no cigar.

     

    Really looking forward to a new, more worthy successor.  Please make it at least somewhat easy to mod so that we can enjoy this new addition for years to come, too.

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    Welcome back Curry !!! 

     

    Its really a honour to see you, the lil in game footages looks pretty promising, the tactical map and all, really love it but the characters looking a bit cartoonish to me, would be personally happy if they could made a bit more realistic with battlefield outfits. Hoping and praying you are still working on the animated, lively portraits, its really very important for most of us, it brings extra atmosphere to the game.

     

    Cant wait for the next Combat DevDiary 👊🏽💀

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    This Raider guy looks like a aggressive rocker, Hells Angels vybes 😎🏍️. Really interested to see this character, hope its not Raider instead of Reaper. I assume in Legendary there is Gus, Scully & Reaper & perhaps 1 or 2 new mercs? What you guys think?

    Jagged Alliance 3 - Raider.jpg

    Jagged Alliance 3 - AIM Elite Mercs.jpg

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    On 1/19/2023 at 11:42 PM, Wigen said:

    In case anyone hasn't noticed the new trailer yet - there will be I.M.P.

     

     

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    Hope the selection to edit our character will be wide, lots of different portraits & voices, or if we can even edit our own like editing the face, eyes, nose, mouth, skin colour, body type etc.....

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    I like the way the creators imagined Blood the most. It reminds me most of the tough guy in American action movies. Blood went to AIM veterans instead.

    Sorry for the quality. 🙂

    Blood.jpg

    AIM.jpg

    Edited by Wigen
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    58 minutes ago, LoboNocturno said:

    I assume in Legendary there is Gus, Scully & Reaper & perhaps 1 or 2 new mercs? What you guys think?

    Well there would be several candidates. Shadow, Len, Magic, Lynx, Scope to mention a few.

    Edited by Hendrix
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    That was a fantastic post, Ian! It is genuinely pleasing to read that you are involved in JA3. There are so many of us in these forums that speak so fondly of JA2. I consider it one of my all-time favourite games and a true landmark in the strategy genre of computer games. I knew from playing the demo of it, that I had to buy the game as soon as it was possible. The game impressed me from start to finish with its attention to detail in so many ways, whether it was the graphics, sounds, environment, gunplay, role-play elements, character progression or storyline.

    Part of my enthusiasm for it was the story and the characters. Whether it was your mercs or the villains, there was so much personality with each of them, it added immensely to the gameplay and made you care about the progression of the campaign. Arulco wasn't just the location for various battles to take place. It felt like a war-torn nation that needed to be liberated, piece by piece, exactly as the writing intended it to be. As fondly as I will always think about the original three X-COM games, Jagged Alliance 2 really gave true personality to the genre, with proper characters. They didn't feel simply like units to control, like some blank collective. It felt like you were choosing them for their skills and abilities. It is thanks to that writing, that they also felt like they were individuals with careers, almost as if they could somehow carry out the whole campaign without your control, once you hired them and continued to pay them enough.

    The Developer Diaries that have so far been posted, have been a pleasure to read! It gives me great hope for Jagged Alliance 3.

    Edited by Solaris_Wave
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    2 hours ago, Wigen said:

    I like the way the creators imagined Blood the most. It reminds me most of the tough guy in American action movies. Blood went to AIM veterans instead.

    Sorry for the quality. 🙂

    Blood.jpg

    AIM.jpg

    Yes I like the look of Blood also very much. Besides Grizzly, Meltdown, Raven and Wolf he looks really gritty and serious. That is what I like and how I remember JA2. Mostly it is a serious and gritty, tough world JA takes place but with nuances of humor.

     

    Most of the other mercs in JA3 look too cartoony for my taste. JA2 had the perfect balance between humor and dead serious. Some mercs were really crazy and many had a dark humor but it was never really cartoony or too colorful. You could always take the mercs serious even if they were crazy badass action figures.

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