Link-Dead Public Alpha

By: Derek Yu

On: November 13th, 2010

A public alpha of Michał Marcinkowski’s team-based multiplayer shooter, Link-Dead, was released a few days ago, as donationware. You can pay any price for access to the alpha, although the payment only counts towards alpha builds (beta and final releases will use a different payment system). Currently, the game comes with one map and the game’s map editor.

I’ve never played Soldat, Michał’s previous title, but the combat in Link-Dead appears to bemuch more methodical, with higher priority given to stealth and positioning. There are two teams that you can choose from: Ubermen rely on their heavy firepower and tech gadgets like heartbeat monitors to hunt down the Mutants, who are much weaker but can use cloaking devices and speed to get the edge on their opponents. In “Chemical Factory”, which comes with the alpha, the Mutants will favor the sewers in the lower part of the map, where they can hide easily in the dark crawlspaces and steamy tunnels.

The alpha is buggy and underpopulated, but a lot of fun. Given the slower pacing of the game, combat tends to alternate between periods of tense cat-and-mouse games and explosive firefights. I’m particularly impressed with how important audio is in the game – many times you’ll have to listen to the footsteps of your opponent to determine their location (this is especially true if you’re hunting a cloaked Mutant). Switching the speed of your character using the Shift key will change how loud your steps are. Really cool stuff.

Each match supports up to 32 players, but the biggest group I saw today was 4. Perhaps not surprising, considering the stability of this early build – server disconnections were regular and some players are experiencing graphical issues (older ATI video cards, in particular, seem to have problems displaying the game correctly). That said, Michał seems intent on getting these issues fixed as quickly as possible, and they probably won’t keep me from playing in the meantime. Hope to see you in-game!

  • Host

    Looks very nice. I know it's just me, but hi-resolution realistic 2D graphics always look weird to me. For some reason stylized lo-res looks more natural in my eyes.

  • Sigvatr

    I was right.

  • anon

    This looks sweet. Soldat's multiplayer was pretty frantic and fun, but this game does look like it's going to be something completely different.

    I'm a little bit disappointed that a mutant didn't attack in the video. I was nervously waiting for it the whole time.

    I want to buy it but I wish it were a one time, pay what you want, for the alpha and the full version, and not a subscription system after the release. Or do something like what Wolfire Games is doing with Overgrowth, and have a flat fee for the alpha versions and the eventual full game.

  • Anonymoose

    What happened to Sigvatr?

  • Ezuku

    I found that map kinda painful visually, it's entirely too hard to see what's in the foreground and what's in the background, especially in the buildings. The very bright background didn't really help either.

  • Frabble

    He's making his own game now. Theres a thread on Tigs about it.

  • Guest

    I don't want to be tricked into paying.. Sorry, donating.. to or for a game that might be subscription-based. Screw that.

  • Theon

    Did anyone buy the alpha? Is it worth it?
    It says it's “pay what you want”, but shipping & handling has a 1$ price-tag. I'm really not sure if I want to pay anything at all for a broken alpha of a game that's not going to be supported in the future. I also don't support games that are based on subscription fees, so I'll never get the final version.

  • Hyudra

    I was thinking the same thing as I watched, and was wondering if anyone else would say the same, as I reached for the comment section. In some places, it's clear enough, but in others, it was jarring. At 0:28 in the video, for example, the rust blur on the walls makes the walkable section blend into the background. At 0:52, there's no indication you can walk to the right. It's rather jarring.

    The hyperluminescent background gives good cause for a light based indication for platforms. Simple enough – you just outline the platforms with a lighter color. Wish I could find the Gamasutra article that covers it; it's common, subtle and very effective. I liked Soldat well enough, but this video does little to convince me to play Link-Dead, as far as environment (or pacing, for that matter – can the soldier not run?)

  • Michał Marcinkowski

    What happened Siggy? Did I ride your candy ass too hard?

    Don't take it too personally.

  • Michał Marcinkowski

    This is a bug unfortunately. It is prevalent on ATI cards.

  • Justanotherguest

    Let me try it first, then I'll consider donating.

    Like for example minecraft. I tried it and wanted more so I bought it = Good business model.

  • Theon

    Also, Minecraft is non-subscription, continously updated and delicious.

  • guest1

    Never played Soldat? It's great, give it a try

  • Turtle

    Aye, if nothing else you should use this as a reminder that Soldat is an incredible game.

  • Raigan

    Yeah, I can't believe you never played Soldat Derek! Sadly I haven't been able to find a good server in years, these days there are just too many maps and mods :(

  • Valzi

    It's weird that you've played Knytt and made Aquaria + Spelunky but haven't played Soldat. Those are the best indie games I can think of off the top of my head – oh, and uh……… Cave Story. *blink*

  • Kvalsternacka

    Really liking the look and feel of this. Could be the video but it sometimes seemed pretty hard to tell what you could walk on and not.

  • allen

    I would hope the final game isn't subscription based. That is the problem I had with Love. I paid 15 bucks for a month and only got to sit down and play it a few times.

  • Guest

    “Don’t wait cause this won’t be forever. The full version of Link-Dead once its out will be probably subscription based or costing a fixed amount.”

    Just him mentioning the word “subscription” on the website has stopped me from donating. Because let's face it, a subscription fee is a dealbreaker. And because of that I have no interest at all to support him since the game won't be something I will play in it's final version. Way to shoot yourself in the foot.

    Even if it ends up being non-subscription, he won't have my donation to work with until then.

  • Christian Knudsen

    Man, there's a lot of hostility towards a subscription based game in these comments. I wouldn't personally play a subscription based game, but I don't harbor any knee-jerk resentment towards that particular business plan…

  • Guest

    Are you going to donate any sum of money, knowing that you won't be personally playing the final product?

  • Wnnz

    Notch has taught me never to trust some jackass with paid Alpha

  • allen

    This is a donation, you are confusing it with a purchase. You are not purchasing anything. You are donating to support future development and help him put food on the table. As an incentive for donating, he is providing limited access to the alpha version of his game. Nothing more, nothing less. He is upfront about what you are getting, and at the ridiculously low price of pay what-you-want, I don't see the big deal about it.

    He's an independent developer, he doesn't have the luxury of publishers to fund development. This is probably the best he could do. No reason to harbor such ill will towards him.

  • Guest

    And by that you mean half-price pre-order.

  • Guest

    And you are confusing my comment with something else.

    I have no illusions about what this is. I would love to donate to him, but I won't because I know I won't reap any benefits from him continuing the project because of the end result. Because of that I don't care if he can keep it up or not since won't be playing it.

    Otherwise, I would donate a decent amount of money. See what I'm getting at here?

  • allen

    Ah, yes. I should have payed more attention, I get what you mean now.

  • Guest

    Happens to the best of us, sorry if I seemed overly aggressive on the issue. It's just because I'm upset I can't play the game because it looks like something I'd love. It just comes down to a matter of principal =[

  • Greyantonyo
  • Christian Knudsen

    I'm not donating. But not because I “won't be personally playing the final product”. I'm not donating because it's not my kind of game. If it was, I might very well donate. I donate to projects that I find interesting, regardless of their planned future business model.

  • Roo

    Soldat was the best. Loving the ambience here.

  • Sigvatr

    Man you haven't changed at all.

  • rivon

    To all of you who are not sure whether it is worth it: go and donate. The game is awesome and there are no more any big bugs (a new version is out). You can donate $0.1 and if $1.1 is too much for a great looking game with fun gameplay, then you shouldn't call yourself an indie…

    Today, I will maybe put a video on Youtube with gameplay (if Fraps cooperates).

  • Mwb

    Been playing it, it's good. Almost no players and buggy, but pretty solid. Worth a 0.1 (+ 1 dollar handling fee) donation to try it out and then consider donating more later.

    The main problem is lack of people.

  • fishyboy

    I really recommend it, guys! The game definitely could use more players! The loadout customization offers some really interesting options, and the atmosphere is superb. It's always really cool to be hiding in the corner watching some scared Uberman fire off a few hesitant shots into darkness before pouncing on him with an enormous drill.

  • Bas Wijers

    Derek, you really have to play Soldat!

    This game though, doesn't appeal to me. It seems stiff. Soldat had a similar problem, but overcoming these with a combination of jumping and jetpacking was part of the fun. It doesn't seem to be like that with this one. The thing I thought that made Soldat good was the fast-paced fragging you knew from games like Quake and Unreal and translate that to 2D. It was refreshing and I preferred it over 3D. Worms seemed boring after that and it beat Liero because of the online play and the mouse controls.
    The 'realistic mode' of Soldat did not do it for me, though. And this seems to take it even further. I don't see the fun. For me Lind-Dead lacks creativity overall.

    (Sorry to be an ass, MM, it just my opinion, but I don't understand your vision. Especially comparing your output to your talks / philosophical blog posts)