Bringing Back The Isometric Mech Shooter With META4

By Chris Priestman . August 31, 2015 . 5:30pm

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After a worrying hiatus, META4 is back in development and looking stronger than ever. Good job, too, as it seems to be the best candidate to bring back the detailed pixel art and isometric view of classic mech shooters. And who doesn’t miss games like Front Mission?

 

META4 has been in development for a few years and has actually been entirely recoded four times. The reason for this is due to the ambition that its two-man team is chasing. They want to create a mech shooter that lets you assemble your own mechs and maps. It’s also meant to be an online multiplayer game that lets you collect parts from the fallen mechs of other players to outfit your own.

 

It’s a lot of work but it seems to be coming along well. And recent updates from the creators are encouraging. And so, with that, Siliconera caught up with them to find out the current status of META4, the reason for the recent hiatus, and what the game’s future is looking like at the moment.

 

It seems that you recently went on a bit of a hiatus from working on META4. Is that right? And are you now able to commit to getting the game finished?

Leendert Oomen, designer: In reality, we never had the intention of discontinuing the game. The main reason we couldn’t work on it for a while has been that our spare time got consumed by other important things in our personal lives that had priority on the META4 project. Next to our busy lives filled with our actual career and job we’ve had another problem: the engine.

We where unable to create an engine as powerful as META4 needed. Right now we have found more room and spare time in our lives to work on the project as well as a new solution to our problem in the past. Sam is currently working on our 3D engine. Although the game will be released in a completely isometric view the engine is a workhorse like no other. We’re super excited there are new ways to Rome in the world of coding that suit our needs!

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You say that META4 is based on old-school ’90s arcade games. Which ones in particular and how have they influenced the game? Are you aiming for a game that feels old-school?

We are super fan of pixel art games in general. Metal Slug is probably one of our favorites. We’ve kind of mixed this all up with today’s online gaming experiences where social interaction in gaming is almost unthinkable to not be in existence. One of the main reasons why we’re focusing META4‘s gameplay to contain a lot of teamwork elements. You literally can’t play on your own if players get creative with their homemade maps.

 

Of course, one of the main features of META4 is the mechs. How can players customize their mech and make it feel like their own?

The beauty of our mechs is the fact that you can swap out all the separate parts. The mechs are split down into seven parts. You can have up to four guns. Two different ones on each side. Then it has the cockpit, legs, and shoulders (rocket packs).

We’ve also implemented a gameplay role for these separate parts. If one of the parts break down it is unusable. Just imagine your legs break. All you can do now is rotate and shoot. Pretty embarrassing if you can still shut down one or multiple players as you cannot walk. We’re convinced there will be players able to do so. Even if its just by luck. The same goes for all other parts of course. A defect gun will not be able to shoot so your mech will do less damage to the enemy from the opposite team.

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You mentioned in your devlog that META4 has a "unique social aspect." What do you refer to here? 

As mentioned, there are game elements that make it impossible to move over maps on your own. You will need a team player to open an electric gate or move up an elevator. It all comes down to how one constructs the map in the end. We allow this kind of freedom and love the sandbox type of gameplay. Hence we implanted this all into our own creation.

 

As you say, another big aspect of META4 is allowing players to create their own maps. How does the map editor work and how much freedom are you giving players with it?

 

The map construction consists out of construction blocks. This limits the user in some way by being of a certain shape. That’s all the limitation there is to it. You can move into all directions with the blocks including up and down. Meaning you can create levels, bridges to floating "islands" that are only to be reached with that one user constructed bridge. For instance, it can make a king of the hill match really interesting when fighting for the spot. 

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When it gets down to the battles, what various factors affects how well a player does – is it more skill-based or how strong their mech is, for example?

 

We are not completely done and satisfied with the ideas for skills and/or leveling a character. Right now we are arguing to either create stronger gear that you will earn one way or another, or to create a certain skill leveling system where your character will grow and affect the gear you apply to your mech. Think of legs that move faster or guns that do more damage. 

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How are you ensuring that the online aspects of META4 all hold up without any hitches? What tech are you using and how confident are you with it at the moment?

 

Sam has found a new way to code our engine working with Javascript. It allows us to do everything we want to as far as we’ve got so far it seems that it will not cause any problems in the near future. It does everything we want it to do. So we are very confident with this new 3D technology. A lot better then expected also!

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What features are you currently working on and which are you most looking forward to add to META4?

Currently our focus is on the map creator. The mech generation is close to finished. After the map creator is fully functional we are going to focus on the gameplay elements such as walking, shooting, getting hit, being destroyed, and so forth.

 

If people want to keep up to date with your progress on META4 where can they go? And will you be having a closed beta or anything like that in the future?

 

We are going to have a live alpha and beta. Everyone can follow us at:

 

And of course our devlog on TIGsource: http://forums.tigsource.com/index.php?topic=32409.0


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