Aftershock is a big-budget Hollywood disaster epic set in the Pacific Northwest. It focuses upon an isolated small town, perched high in the mountains, near the cone of a long-dormant volcano. Ominous rumblings quickly give way to outright disaster as the volcano erupts dealing massive damage to the nearby town. Streams of lava flow through the streets, massive flaming boulders crash down from the sky, fissures open in the ground and the town is torn apart. The movie does not focus upon a single character, instead it tells the story of a group of townsfolk, who struggle to survive amidst the Chaos.
Aftershock is our shot at grabbing the player's attention from the beginning of the game, hitting him with something visually compelling and dramatic from the very start. Often in game development there is a tendency to save the good stuff for last, sometimes this is part of the plan, other times it occurs naturally as the team gets a better understanding of what exactly makes the game fun. In this case we were determined to present the player with one of our more compelling environments right away as well as demonstrate what makes Stuntman: Ignition different from the typical "driving game". Aftershock, with its extremely active environment and over the top stunts was ideally suited to this purpose. Instead of driving around a relatively static track, Stuntman: Ignition provides the player with the unique opportunity to navigate through the ruins of the doomed town, as the destruction is taking place. Players will dodge falling lava boulders, leap enormous chasms, and smash through burning buildings.
Aftershock's active environment also proved one of the tougher challenges for the project as a whole. The numerous particle effects, breakables and complex environmental animations were a challenge to both construct and to fit into even the Xbox 360's considerable memory. We began with a "blue-box" phase that roughed out the basic gameplay of the levels with rudimentary geometry and simplistic version of the environmental animations created by "lerping" objects from one position to another. This let us establish the timing of the animations and also to test out the gameplay before we expended the resources to build the animations. The levels actually changed significantly during this phase as certain stunts proved more compelling than others. Once we were satisfied with the pacing and layout the art team built over the "blue-box" creating the finished art, animation and effects necessary to bring the doomed town to life.
Overall, we feel that Aftershock does an excellent job providing the player with an initial exposure to the spectacular environments and over the top stunts found within Stuntman: Ignition.