"The evolution of first person 3D gaming"
Watch the FMV intro to begin, complete with an excellent voice over by Sir Richard Attenborough.
It all begins with a plane crash. You are Anne, an average American woman with a prominent bust whose flight crashes over Site B, the location of the infamous Jurassic Park incident. You must survive the many dangers of the island and find a way back home.
"Welcome to Jurassic Park"
Physics, Ragdolls and Realism
Physics in action
Forget Half-Life, Trespasser did crate physics first. The player could lift an object, and drop it and watch as gravity took effect. You could reach areas by stacking boxes, or make a pass by tossing them out of the way. Pushing one object into another would cause a reaction, and you could stack them and watch as they toppled over. Environment objects like baseball bats and hammers could be used to bludgeon dinos, with the amount of damage caused dependent on how hard the object was swung. This may not be much now, but in 1998 it was mind blowing. The ragdoll physics were remarkable as well, it was pretty awesome to kill a raptor and watch as it's body flops over and rolls down a hill.
In addition to the realistic physics and ragdolls, it was also one of the first FPS games to put you in the body of a person, rather than just being a floating cam. At any time, you could look down and see your breasts/body. Instead of just clicking on an item and picking it up, like a floating cam would, you had to extend your arm and grab it. It also featured HUD-free gameplay, your health was displayed on your breast and the remaining ammo on your clip was called out by Anne. All of this contributed towards a very immersive experience.
Trespasser relied on AI systems over scripted behavior for it's dinosaurs. Their behavior may not have always been intelligent, but it was unpredictable and even believable at times. Sometimes they would aggressively attack you, sometimes they would run in fear or even attack each other. Trespasser had no traditional levels or missions to restrict the player, it was what we would now call an open world or sandbox game, and there was an exciting unpredictability to it. In some situations, you could improvise an escape by entering a building and blocking off the doorway, or defeating a dino by taking advantage of the physics engine and crushing them with a heavy object. The world felt 'alive' and was spontaneous and memorable moments driven by the player's actions, one scenario could play out in many different ways.
As troubled as the final product may have been, Trespasser has the greatest concept for any Dino-based game to date. A vast, unscripted jungle island populated by the scaly monsters we grew up fascinated by. It features all the classics: T-Rex, Raptors, Stegosaurus, Brontosaurs - basically all the top dinosaurs, ready and willing to make you their lunch. And it was excellent fan service for a Jurassic Park fan like myself. You get to explore site B, where it all went down. It was a joy to explore sites like Hammond's mansion as you listen to his memoirs.
"That is one big pile of shit"
Fucking bonkers physics
Check out the Flying house or the Rubber Bronto .
Tresspasser was released in an unfinished state, and it showed. Dead dinos would often end up in bizarre, contorted positions. You could make a trailer home fly through the air by shooting it with an uzi. Physics based objects like doors and boxes would often just freak out for no reason. The janky physics were only made worse when contrasted against the the focus on realistic physics that the game strives for.
Immersion breaking (but hilarious) glitches
^ That is not supposed to happen...
A gallery of WTF moments
Flying Dinosaur fun
Death by 2 by 4
T-Rex stuck in a car
Broken, sloppy gameplay
Trespasser received a very harsh reception. It was given a 4.7/10 by IGN, a 3.9/10 by Gamespot and CVG gave it a 1/10, saying that "like John Hammond, they blew it.". The controls may have been innovative and ambitious, but in practice they were an exercise in patience as you struggled to simply pick up a weapon only to have it knocked out of your hand by grazing a nearby object. The arm mechanic was an interesting concept, but it's execution was too sloppy was too frustrating to be considered anything but a failure. .
The brain dead enemy AI made encounters a joke, as dinos would often get stuck in an object or find a way to commit suicide before they could even within mauling range of the player. And on top of all that, the plethora of glitches and the lack of polish led to many situations where the player would become stuck in the geometry or in between objects and be forced to reset. So, with all that in mind, how did I enjoy this game so much?
Despite all of it's flaws, I loved this game. It came to me when I was young, naive, and willing to forgive design flaws, bugs and general wonkiness for the greatness that was buried beneath it all. It almost hurts to look back on this game and see the potential it had. It could have been something truly amazing if the final product could have even come close to the ambitious ideas behind it. For now, I can only dream of what a classic this game would be with the right developer, modern tech and an appropriate development cycle.
For further reading, check out Gamasutra's post-mortem with Richard Wyckoff, one of the designers from Dreamworks Int.