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August 10, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

Trespasser, a hugely ambitious 1998 first-person shooter based on the Jurassic Park franchise, is widely regarded as a disappointing failure, remembered mainly for its pioneering physics system and innovative boob-tattoo-based health bar. With his bourbon-smooth voice and an encyclopedic knowledge of the game's history, bugs, and quirks, "Research Indicates" leads us on a fascinating tour through one of the buggiest games ever commercially released.

The entire set of videos:

History of Trespasser (3:55)
Intro (1:00)
Level 1: The Beach (17:30) and recap
Level 2: The Jungle Road (28:45) and recap
Level 3: The Industrial Jungle (25:34) and recap
Level 4: The Town (35:20) and recap
Level 5: The Lab (26:41) and recap
Level 6: The Ascent, Part 1 (25:27) and recap
Level 7: The Ascent, Part 2 (19:59) and recap
Level 8: The Summit (15:03)
Recap of entire game (2:11)
posted by theodolite (33 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
No, it didn't work but I applaud them for trying.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 12:32 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I never bought Trespasser, or played it, but I was under the impression that most gamers at the time found one specific feature memorable: you could look down, and see your own tits.

Not that anyone thought this made it a good game, but that feature was omnipresent in conversations about it. All conversations about Trespasser included commentary about breasts.

Apparently, that still holds true, since I've just done it again.
posted by Malor at 12:32 PM on August 10, 2012


Ooh, this sounds fascinating. Thanks!
posted by brundlefly at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2012


...based on the Jurassic Park franchise, is widely regarded as a disappointing failure...

Just so no one gets confused, this statement can apply to almost any video game in the Jurassic Park franchise.
posted by griphus at 12:33 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


I actually forget about the boobs thing until it was mentioned here.

What I remember is that it was called an "arm simulator" by some reviewer or other, and that you did everything with one stiff, poorly animated, poorly modeled arm because the other was broken. And yet, shotgun.
posted by Foosnark at 12:34 PM on August 10, 2012


Wow, as something of a connoisseur of LPs , this guy is like the Ken Burns of LPers. Thanks, I got my whole friday night planned now.

Seriously Netflix, add LPs to your streaming content, you could probably pick them up practically free and I could spend weeks watching nothing but Ocarina of Time LPs
posted by Ad hominem at 12:36 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look if you can't fire a shotgun one-armed then I'm sorry you shouldn't be responsible for dinosaurs. It's just common sense.
posted by griphus at 12:37 PM on August 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


Look if you can't fire a shotgun one-armed then I'm sorry you shouldn't be responsible for dinosaurs. It's just common sense.

Life finds a way.
posted by Fizz at 12:40 PM on August 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


There goes my afternoon.
posted by phaedon at 12:48 PM on August 10, 2012


Anne can move her arm in any direction, allowing the player to get a different feel of use for each weapon. However, this feature is extremely cumbersome, as it requires up to five buttons (maximum) to be pressed to fully manipulate the arm (picking up, dropping, moving, swinging, and rotating)
JURASSIC QWOP
posted by zamboni at 12:51 PM on August 10, 2012 [24 favorites]


griphus: "Just so no one gets confused, this statement can apply to almost any video game in the Jurassic Park franchise."

My cousin had the Sega Genesis game as a kid and I loved playing as the the Velociraptor. It may have been a bad game (I was rather uncritical at the time) but you can play as a Velociraptor.
posted by brundlefly at 12:54 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


A review of Trespasser, contrasting the game with the hype from the developers, was one of the the first substantial articles at the Old Man Murray website, launching the careers of Chet Faliszek and Erik Wolpaw, who went on to be lead writers at Valve for games such as Episode 2, Portal, and Left4Dead.
posted by straight at 1:01 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


They had talent from Looking Glass Studios! No wonder their physics and sound design were good.

(The physics and sound in Thief totally wowed me at the time, btw.)
posted by dunkadunc at 1:02 PM on August 10, 2012


I remember this game (unfortunately). I bought it because they promised a living, breathing world with dynamic and persistent dinosaur AI and realistic physics, allowing for puzzles that leveraged player creativity rather than pre-planned solutions.

My first disappointment came when I spotted two dinosaurs standing absolutely still. They didn't start interacting until I got close enough. I expected a dinosaur ecosystem operating independent of my actions. I got glorified animatronics (which, when you think about it, is exactly the opposite of the purpose Jurassic Park in the movie).

The physics were interesting for that time though.

To be honest, Half-Life eventually did everything I wanted this game to do.
posted by ChipT at 1:04 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kinnect remake!
posted by Artw at 1:09 PM on August 10, 2012


The Red Letter Media guy has replaced Ze Frank as The Guy Everyone Subconsciously Impersonates When Telling Jokes on the Internet.
posted by roll truck roll at 1:13 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I never bought Trespasser, or played it, but I was under the impression that most gamers at the time found one specific feature memorable: you could look down, and see your own tits... All conversations about Trespasser included commentary about breasts

First Person Hooter

I'll see myself out
posted by hal9k at 1:20 PM on August 10, 2012 [17 favorites]


Kinnect remake!

There would be no improvement in the controls at all.
posted by griphus at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2012


Look if you can't fire a shotgun one-armed then I'm sorry you shouldn't be responsible for dinosaurs. It's just common sense.

Life finds a way.


Clever girl.
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


This ResearchIndicates dude has a GREAT voice. He should do voicework if he doesn't already.
posted by mochapickle at 1:30 PM on August 10, 2012


Ad hominem: " as something of a connoisseur of LPs"

"Bring me your finest taco bell", Ad hominem said.
posted by boo_radley at 1:41 PM on August 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


I watched this complete LP last year! I even still have the game design notes I jotted down while watching somewhere on my desktop. I love the way Research Indicates will fill a dull stretch with random poems.
posted by Peevish at 1:42 PM on August 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


JURASSIC QWOP

Aw jeez that would have been such a great thread title
posted by theodolite at 1:46 PM on August 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


This ResearchIndicates dude has a GREAT voice. He should do voicework if he doesn't already.

It is like Sam Elliot doing a LP. I don't normally like LPs that aren't blind and live, people usually have nothing to say or just blither when they narrate a recorded play through. In this case I think it is great, it is like he is narrating archival footage and clearly but some thought into his narration.

Bring me your finest taco bell", Ad hominem said.

Man a few soft tacos supreme and a Baja Blast mountain dew would be great right about now.
posted by Ad hominem at 2:12 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I was so very hyped for this game. I went so far as to download a leaked beta on dialup. I became a lot more cynical after that about games and well, life really. It was super ambitious though - I'll still occasionally see stuff in new games (most recently for instance, Amnesia: Dark Descent has a kind of similar manipulate-object-with-mouse-and-bang-it-against-shit mechanic going on) where I'm like "oh, like Tresspasser, but as part of a functional game! Delightful!"
posted by passerby at 2:42 PM on August 10, 2012


The original thread is here.
posted by nmiell at 4:19 PM on August 10, 2012


His Crimson Skies LP.
posted by Ad hominem at 5:31 PM on August 10, 2012


The Red Letter Media guy has replaced Ze Frank as The Guy Everyone Subconsciously Impersonates When Telling Jokes on the Internet.

Possibly, yes, but ResearchIndicates completed this Let's Play before rlm released his review.
posted by graventy at 9:09 PM on August 10, 2012


There's this one bit in one of the sequels to "When Gravity Fails", Effinger's books of an Arab-dominated future. The hard-boiled protagonist has been betrayed, dumped in the desert, nearly died of exposure, and rescued by nomads. He's in a delirium, being nursed back to health. And at one point, there's this line.

"I just wanted to lay there in the dark and play with my floppy arm."
posted by egypturnash at 1:27 AM on August 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Man, so much wasted potential. That is an amazing physics engine for that time; that game came out around the time of Half-Life 1 but in a lot of ways the physics engine is more like Half-Life 2's. I know it's buggy, so it's hard to tell, but that game looks far closer to a modern FPS engine than anything else was for years. It's anyone's guess if such a thing could have been programmed to run decently on computers of the time, but still.

However, it really looked like the developers really had no idea what kind of game they were trying to make. They wanted a complex AI system with intricate dinosaur moods and behaviors, but ultimately how much of that will ever matter to the player? The only things they'll observe will be 'dinosaur trying to murder me' and 'dinosaur not trying to murder me'. A simple hostile/peaceful system would have been enough. They put in that amazing physics engine and the weird arm thing, but then used it for box-stacking puzzles the game would have been better without and to manipulate things normally handled fine by a 'use' key. The put tons of energy into animating and coding dinosaurs that basically do nothing for gameplay (the Brachiosaur, the Stegosaur, the Tricerotops) but left the player with essentially only one type of enemy to fight for the entire game (raptor and palette-swapped raptor, with an occasional T-Rex as an unkillable hazard). How about you forget that Brachiosaur and put in those vicious little pack-hunters or the things that spit poison?

It feels like they wanted to make The Lost World dinosaur simulator and had to throw in some FPS when they realized that the game actually needed gameplay.
posted by Mitrovarr at 1:11 AM on August 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


Totally agree. I've watched way too much of this so far, some on fast-forward, and it just seems like the game they ended up with is just not that compelling. A good 95% of the game is running around and shooting occasional velociraptors. There are really no other enemies to speak of, and large parts of the game are just walking up a road for 15 minutes. And this vid is from a player who has mastered the control scheme so that huge issue is not even a factor.
posted by smackfu at 8:53 AM on August 13, 2012


boob-tattoo-based health bar.

Could be worse (nsfw).
posted by homunculus at 4:28 PM on August 14, 2012


DEUCE DEUCES.

Jesus, just pour quicklime over the whole world and be done with it.
posted by boo_radley at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2012


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