You Are Empty is a FPS for PC with excellent level design and atmosphere, there are various beautiful locations, memorable enemies and great music. The action takes place in the Soviet Union. The scientists ran an experiment which was aimed to create perfect people, builders of the communism. Something went wrong, and the city became infected with monsters and zombies. The player is not affected by the scientists’ field, and has to find a way out of the situation. The game uses DS2 Engine, which was created by Digital Spray Studios. The game was developed by Mandel ArtPlains.
The game contains unused beta weapons (Maxim chaingun, grenades, unfinished flamethrower), features (ability to run, ability to pick up things and throw them at enemies, health regeneration), skies, scenes (uncut Kolhoz intro, scene where the player wakes up on a bed), NPC (bumper, pig, exploding pig, butcher, sniper, statue of woman with an oar which came to life), unused part of the Kolhoz level. Also, at one point what’s reflected in the water is different from what’s on the shore, so the reflection may be a glimpse into the earlier version of the level.
The unused beta NPC can be accessed by editing the entities on the levels (.ds2edf files), the quickest way is to change the classname of existing NPC. Unused skies can be seen by replacing used ones, weapons can be taken with “give” console command, features can be accessed through console commands or editing game scripts. Thankfully, the game’s files contain all data from the early uncut version of the Kolhoz level intro, so it’s possible to restore and watch it.
Below you can find videos which demonstrate the unused content. If you want to find out more, check the video descriptions (click the YouTube logo when the video is playing) for thorough information, including the process of getting it to work in the game.
You Are Empty\gameres\textures\textures.pak\$dds\ folder contains textures from the game. Some of them are unused, for example, funi_plaque.dds – loading screen for a level that was cut from the game, sample.dds is an early screenshot of the main menu. work01.dds and work02.dds are work-in-progress shots of the main menu, with criticism on how to improve the design, 800x600vid.dds is an early screenshot of the game with early version of HUD. Among other textures, there you can find skins of cut characters, for example, scientist.dds, pioner_01.dds, wod.dds.
There is an interview with Yaroslav “Cray” Singaevskiy. It tells about the game development, and what happened to the team after the game was finished.
Computer And Video Games preview tells about some planned features that didn’t make it into the game:
“The twist is that from time to time, your character can turn into a mutant and has to find an antidote to halt the process temporarily,” says Anatoly Subbotin, PR manager of publisher 1C Company. “But the advantage is that when you turn into a mutant, you get superpowers such as mega-strength, or enhanced vision. You have to strike a balance to progress through the story-driven missions.”
Enemies include a pack of Pavlov’s Dogs, a mutant diver, who crawls out of the water to attack you, and an insane Russian boxer, complete with flabby frame and tatty boxing gloves. Oh yes, and the largest chicken ever seen in a videogame, which Digital Spray is promising will hunt you down through the levels using its sophisticated AI – presuming that a real ten-foot egg-layer would actually have a sophisticated AI routine.
Here’s an interview with Paul Muzok from Digital Spray Studios. It contains some plans about the game. Most notable of them are:
HomeLAN – What types of weapons and items will be used in the game?
Paul Muzok – There are some guns of old style Soviet arsenal. Nagan revolver or Maxim machine-gun (player can use it stationary, in this case firepower and accuracy increase). And of course, there will be some futuristic stuff. Ball lightning gun, for example. They are also supported items like power-up pills and injections, upgradeable electric armor and more.
HomeLAN – Will the game have any multiplayer support?
Paul Muzok – For now we are concentrated on the single player part. Multiplayer requires other balance and design. We don’t want the quality of this part of the game to be poor. But this doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to try some Soviet style deathmatch. We’ll keep you informed.
HomeLAN – Will the game be mod friendly in any way?
Paul Muzok – Yes. We are planning a kit of editor tools. It will be released soon after the game.
The released game does not contain multiplayer. Although the game is mod friendly, there are no editor tools to create mods with, so it’s only possible to modify the game scripts, entities on the levels and material definition files, because they’re in the text format. It’s also possible to modify the textures and sounds, because they are in the .dds, .wav and .ogg formats. The game’s .pak archives are just renamed .zip.
I found an interesting post on the gameru.net forum: gameru.net/forum/index.php?showtopic=3329&view=findpost&p=1174126. Here’s my translation of it to English:
Internet is a great thing :-)
I contacted two developers of this game: Denis Volchenko and Yaroslav Singaevskiy. Thanks to them, I found out a lot of interesting things about the game :-)
Here’s what Yaroslav told, big thanks to him for this invaluable information.
The idea of the game belongs to Denis Volchenko. He thought up that the action will take place in strange Soviet Union, where usual people mutated into some monsters. And the player fights these monsters. Denis needed someone who would write the script, make the concept-document. In general, expand the idea and document it.
At that time I didn’t have the industry experience, but I was interested in games for a long time.
And at that moment I was participating in the short story contest about S.T.A.L.K.E.R. – my opus was called “Choosing Self”. stalker-portal.ru/page.php?id=973
Admittedly, I shamelessly copied the Strugatsky style from “Picnic…”, but overall, Denis liked the story – the story got to him through our mutual acquaintance.
We met, Denis told me about the idea, I started to “expand” it. Meanwhile, a small demo was built, with which Denis went to Game Developers Conference, where he was awarded “Best Game Without Publisher” prize. To say that we were surprised is to say nothing. Also, the publisher was instantly found – 1C. We signed the contract and started the work.
We picked ideas for levels from the environment. Denis is very attentive to small things, so he found a lot of ideas by simply walking around Kiev. As a matter of fact, a lot of the levels were based on real locations, or we just took some buildings and put them in the game (for example, the Kolhoz elevator, the same evelator exists in Kiev, on embankment, near the bread-baking plant). A couple of times the guys went to Moscow, because the architecture is stronger there. They photographed Stalin’s high-rise buildings, subway. Of course we downloaded from the Internet everything we could. Photos, drawings, illustrations. We took some ideas from the archive materials.
Initially, the game contained more locations:
. Small location, where we opened the wicket and boarded the boat (later we ride forward on it, shooting enemies like in shooting gallery)
. We arrived there, went up from the pier, went to the riverside station. From it we exited to the square, entered the cog railway and went up to the city in it
Botanical garden, which was planned to be one of the last locations. It really contained an underground river, on which we rode in the boat. Bot garden was supposed to be filled with different statues (woman with an oar and others), which would come to life when the player approaches.
Due to various reasons, we rejected these locations. For example, Bot Garden not only was HUGE, but also we couldn’t build the gameplay there (the engine’s game system was very limited and worked with problems). The Embankment was very beautiful, but boring – because from the start it was modelled not for the gameplay, but just… To look showy. Well, in general, for every cut location some quite important reasons were found, due to which we rejected the level. The overall development took longer than planned, and it also strongly affected. So in the final we cut everything we could to prevent more delays.
With weaponry and monsters – same story as with the locations. We hadn’t enough time to tune, prepare them. And even when we had the time – then we suddenly noticed that the weapon don’t work for the game. That’s what happened with the Maxim chaingun, which had to be put on fries before using. Long, dreary and – what’s above all – the game didn’t give real need to use this chaingun. We couldn’t – once again due to technical limitations – let out the player against the big crowd of monsters and say “Shoot!”
And the diver was supposed to be practically invincible – he could be killed only by destroying the tank on his back. Then the diver would be blown out by the pressure inside and blown up. We had the animations prepared, but – once again difficulties with the engine arose. He turned up to be very clumsy. In the end, a lot of ideas were buried because of this.
You Are Empty Trailer #1 shows some locations that didn’t make it into the final game. It also shows cut enemy, the Pioneer. He was supposed to keep distance from the player and blow the horn, alerting the nearby monsters.
There is a documentary about the game development. The journalists came to developers’ office and developers shown them levels and characters from the game. You can see early versions of the levels, and cut levels, for example, the level where the player was supposed to ride a boat. You can also see some character animations which did not make it into the final version of the game.
Many beta screenshots can be found on various sites about computer games. Thanks to these screenshots, we can see locations which were cut from the game. As you can see, the developers had to cut some very beautiful locations, and it’s really sad that it came to this. Also, you can see two cut enemies on these screenshots – the Pioneer and the Police Officer.
A lot of interesting things were cut from the game. This forum post says that Denis Volchenko has an idea of re-releasing the game on a new engine, including, among other things, the cut levels. So there is hope that some day we will be able to experience the cut content.
Post by EmoLevelDesigner