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๐Ÿš€ Selaco - An Indie Retro Sci-Fi First Person Shooter


This is When You Mix FEAR and Doom Together in a Cyberpunk Sci-fi setting.

Selaco is a standalone retro first-person shooter game that runs on the GZDoom Engine developed by Altered Orbit Studios. The game draws heavy inspiration from F.E.A.R in terms of action set pieces, while mixing traditional retro-FPS elements from Quake and Doom, along with some more modern features. Selaco is one of those "Boomer Shooters".

According to the official statement from the developer:

All Together with professional artists who work in the industry, several having worked on successful FPS games in the past, Selaco is a fully fleshed out world full of character, action, and mystery. 

The story takes place during a violent invasion of Selaco, the underground facility that's home to the surviving refugees after the fall of Earth. You play as Dawn, an ACE Security Captain who, with her recent promotion and high-level security clearances, is digging deep into the truth behind Selaco's murky history. Before she can finish her investigation, Selaco is rocked by explosions and armed invaders. While Selaco may take place in a large-scale conflict, much of it will be the personal story of Dawn, the centerpiece of the game.

According to the developer, Selaco originally began as a free Total Conversion mod for Doom called “Ominous” and was done by a single developer. This was meant to turn Doom into something that resembled F.E.A.R. a little more. Think ‘Brutal Doom’ except for special effects where, instead of blood, you end up with destruction, particle effects and debris instead. While a great idea on paper, the execution was really hard to do using the base campaign of Doom, so the decision was made to, instead, turn it into a custom campaign. The scope of the project evolved a lot, so much so that one of the developers was considering spending a large amount of their savings into hiring a team of artists, composers and a writer. 

The quality went up greatly, but they felt they were holding themselves back because it was still based on the original foundation of Ominous, which got outdated now that there was more talent on board. It is here where they decided to restart the project, and instead turn it into a commercial project with a higher budget. Ominous got scrapped completely, their writer wrote an entirely new story, and shortly after, Selaco was born! 

They developed it for roughly 2 years before announcing it on Twitter. The tweet gained a fair amount of traction, and it did not take long until crowdfunding on Patreon took place which allowed them to expand further. Selaco is now being made by 8 developers so far, mostly artists, and the motivation and passion that is put into the project has never been higher.

This is really impressive looking game developed by a small team.

According to the Steam page, this is what the game will have:

A lengthy story-driven campaign

Selaco is a story-driven experience, and we don't say that lightly. A dedicated writer has been brought on board to assist with creating an engaging and believable sci-fi story and world.

Intense Action set pieces

Turn the entire world into confetti with the destructive power of your weapons. Every single bullet will react properly with any materials or objects you hit. Our artists have created many different variations for each (voxel)object to ensure that the aftermath of each encounter is palpable. That once lavish office space now nothing but a pile of rubble with broken paintings, smashed tables, screen, chairs, smoke, and chunks of debris.

Custom AI

With our FEAR influence, writing proper AI was a goal from the get-go. The enemy is fully aware of each other's presence and work together to take you down. They will keep their distance if you apply constant pressure on them, will rush you if you hide or run out of bullets, toss grenades if you use the same cover for too long, and much more. Hundreds of custom lines have been written and acted out, providing hints to the player about their current plans and tactics.

Full soundtrack

Selaco is accompanied by a full-length original soundtrack composed by an experienced musician who has worked on many games in the past.

Professional voice acting.

To help immerse players in the story and atmosphere of Selaco, professional voice actors have been brought on board. Dawn will be voiced by the incredibly talented Melissa Medina, with other casting choices revealed at a later date.

Extra Game modes

Completing levels allows you to replay that level in Incursion Mode, an expanded version of that map where your skills will be tested against a near endless onslaught of enemies. Win incursion maps to gain bonuses to aid you throughout the campaign. New exclusive Incursion Levels and new mutators will also be unlocked as the campaign progresses.

Full open-source modding support

You can create new campaign experiences, modify or create your own content, port your favorite GZDoom mods.

Like a said before, Selaco uses the GZDoom Engine, an open-source retro gaming engine based on the original Doom Engine. It is very popular with the modding community and indie developers because of its advance modern features, simplicity and ease-of-use. Unlike other game engines, GZDoom uses the old-school technique of using 2D sprite models in a 3D environment, instead of using complex-polygonal 3D models.

Personally, I think GZDoom is an excellent choice for this kind project.  The engine is very capable and depending on the configuration, it can have a classic retro DOOM look and fee and many gamers like that retro aesthetic as it's becoming more popular with indie developers.

According to the head developer, a single enemy type has over 700 sprites and they're not going to voxelize each and every animation because "that's an insane workload and would take a decade to complete. Also a file size nightmare." And also said that "Paperthin" enemy sprites "are a huge part of the appeal, and don't think that's going to change anytime soon." 

When we tried the preview demo, the game play is fun as hell, its defiantly got FEAR influence which is one of my favorite games of all time. The developer said that there are no horror and supernatural elements of the game, but only suspense here and there. When they meant by FEAR influence, is gameplay only as they believed the horror stuff was too cringey for Selaco.

You gotta appreciate the attention to detail not only the impressive visuals but also the interactivity as well, there's also hidden secrets and easter eggs. I really like the cute Chibi style art on the heads-up-display when it shows you tutorials and hints; it's nothing corny and it really stands out. For the levels, there's a lot of sense of exploration and you can explore every nook and cranny.

The things people have done with the GZDoom engine are amazing. When we first saw the teaser and we were like there's no way this is GZDoom. It's a very impressive shit and we're hungry for more.

GZDoom is fantastic as a retro-style game engine, but it does have some issues maintaining full compatibility with the original DOS games that uses the original Doom Engine.  So, as a purist who only plays Doom on software mode on DOS & Windows PC, I prefer to use GZDoom only for content that really takes advantage of it (Open GL/Vulkan) and Selaco is definitely the one that looks like it will take full advantage of it.

With FEAR influence, being on par with FEAR is the original goal, but as the developers realized that GOAP (Goal Oriented Action Planning) is nearly impossible to achieve with the GZDoom engine.

Goal Oriented Action Planning (or GOAP for short) adapts STRIPS planning, the Stanford Research Institute Problem Solver planning system from 1971 – for use in games. Leading development on this project was Dr. Jeff Orkin, the AI lead for Monolith Productions on both 2002’s No One Lives Forever 2 and FEAR, where GOAP was first implemented.

Goal Oriented Action Planning is an artificial intelligence system for agents that allows them to plan a sequence of actions to satisfy a particular goal. The particular sequence of actions depends not only on the goal but also on the current state of the world and the agent. This means that if the same goal is supplied for different agents or world states, you can get a completely different sequence of actions., which makes the AI more dynamic and realistic. 

As FEAR’s use of Goal Oriented Action Planning is still held to this day as its one of the most exciting and fun enemy opponents to come across in modern video games. And while it’s now been over 15 years since the games release, GOAP has continued to have a lasting impact within the video games industry. So, with the GZDoom engine, they are trying to get the FEAR gameplay element as close as possible.

Most importantly for low-budget gamers, according to the main developer, Selaco is designed to be customizable to a point that it should run on slower computers. You can turn off most of the effects and the segmented level system keeps things small enough to keep performance high. 

F & Q

Will Selaco be open sourced?

Absolutely. I believe it's even encouraged with GZDoom's license. A special directory will be added to the game's root where the source files can be found.

Can GZDoom handle such amount of detail though? Doom maps often have performance issues.

Performance is taken into consideration with every decision we make, no worries! Levels are broken up into smaller segments just like Ion Fury and Half Life, where a short-tiny loading screen pops up when you enter a hallway that loads the contents at the other side. Secrets are shared across each segment until you complete the level. Effects are also handled cleverly where multiple alpha effects (like smoke) merge together when in close proximity to become a single thicker smoke cloud rather than having everything be an individual object.

On top of that, we have many settings to change. Besides GZDoom's default options, we also have particle count and lifespan, smoke quantity, voxel detail (which removes less ''important'' voxels from the game world like teacups and paperstacks), reflections and Game Detail.

I think a GZDoom game should be able to run on a lower-end machine.

How is Selaco pronounced?

It is pronounced ‘Se-lah-co’. When in doubt, the name is dropped in the first couple of seconds of our Realms Deep 2021 YouTube video, or numerous times in the coverage from JarekTheGamingDragon and GmanLives.

Is a Console release planned?

A console release is currently not planned. The GPL-license makes it really hard to make it available on a closed system and the most probable solution would be to port the game to Unity. If the game ends up successful, we are willing to team up with a porting company to get this done.

Why was it made on the Doom Engine (GZDoom) and not on a more modern engine?

This happened organically. As mentioned earlier, we began working on this as a Total Conversion Doom mod because modding for Doom is fun and the modding community has been thriving for decades. We also think the engine is great to work with, despite being a massive pain at times!

Is "Selaco" supposed to be an Aliens reference?

Aliens is so good that, when we were thinking of a name for our game, it coincidentally ended up sounding a lot like a certain spaceship in Aliens. We didn't figure that out until we've been using it for a while

We were honestly just jumbling a bunch of letters around to find a name that sounds fun and catchy. ''Sulaco'' was probably in my subconscious, and it unintentionally slipped its way into the game. Which is surprising, given that we are all massive fans of the Alien movies, and it took a damn long time for someone to pick up on that.

I personally don't think it's a problem. In fact, I always chuckle when someone actually manages to pick up on that :P Hopefully it won't bother anyone, so a name change won't be necessary. 

For me, I already knew it was a reference, and I kind-of like it since I'm an Alien fan too!

I also forgot to mention that the game has a fully animated third person sprite, allowing Selaco to be played from a third person perspective. 

The lead developer claims that when they chose the female gender for the protagonist, Dawn, it got some criticism from male gamers.

According to one of the developers via Doomworld Forum:

"If you google Selaco, you might come across a forum that really dislikes the project because it has a female protag. Claiming it's a ''cash grab'' while being very hostile around Selaco for that sole reason. It truly baffles me how this is such a big deal to some people, especially since there are so many good male shooter protagonists already. I want to be very clear to everyone here that Dawn is not a checkbox, she's a well written flawed character who isn't anything like the other FPS heroes out there.

Truth is, we wrote a character document without taking gender into consideration, we just wanted a kickass character. We did auditions for both male and female actors and simply went with the one we thought did the best job delivering the lines. We went with an actress with a background in animation who crushed the audition. From there, Dawn was created, and some changes were made to the character's profile to fit her gender more. That's it, very not-exciting." ๐Ÿ˜‹

 It's because of the bad reputation of female protagonists from "recent" mainstream Hollywood movies and video games like Ghostbusters (2016), Captain Marvel, and The Last of Us Part 2, because of their sexist-misogynistic virtue signaling messages towards Indo-Euro Caucasian men. Ellie from The Last of US Part 2, and Captain Marvel are both horrible and unlikable female protagonists and negative role-models that virtue signals with a prejudicial-negative attitude on why their strong masculine "waman" and why men are bad. Female protagonist like Samus from the Metroid franchise and Ripley from Alien franchise, are both good and likeable protagonists and positive role-models that doesn't assault the viewer. That's clearly night and day.

You see, male gamers and movie goers like female protagonists, and they mostly have for many decades, but in this day and age, men have a very good reason to be suspicious toward recent titles with female leads. Why would men want to watch and play something with sexist messages that's really offensive and assaulting towards the male gender that's not even funny. We men want to be entertained, not to be lectured!

But so far, I like Selaco, it looks and feels like a normal and fun first-person shooter like it was released in the 90's and 2000's and the game's female protagonist, Dawn, looks like a normal sexy and attractive female character. (And that's a good thing). As long as the full game doesn't have unnecessary "woke" political messages and just make a fun game like a normal developer, then it should be successful. Because if they do add that bullshit, then they're no better than the mainstream AAA publishers like EA and Activision. 

The game is a truly a breath of fresh air that I haven't seen a retro-style FPS like this in awhile and most importantly it's very original (something that mainstream publishers rarely do) and doesn't use those overused FPS tropes. 

Selaco will be a commercial product that will be exclusively available on Steam for the time being. The developer says they hope GOG will get back to them someday, so they can get the game on there too. You play the demo right now on Steam and you can also contribute and provide feedback to the game at Steam community hub, Doomworld, Discord, or Email. The game will be released in 2255.

Article by Joe Bloggs

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