Gear Up: Building a Badass Shooter with Unlimited Possibilities

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Gear Up, a multiplayer vehicle shooter from Swedish-based developer Doctor Entertainment, allows gamers to build their own battle tanks and duke it out online. Thanks to massive-scale customization, gamers can build the multifaceted war machines of their dreams. “We made sure you can combine the vehicle parts in Gear Up in 1 million different ways,” lead developers Jesper Rudberg and Anders Pistol explained. “We like putting you in charge – even if that means giving you enough combinations to play 10 new tanks every day during the next 250 years.” Want an RPG-equipped, flying behemoth mounted with spinning razor blades? No problem. Go ahead and add some flamethrowers and a set of .50-caliber machine guns while you’re at it. We took a closer look at Gear Up’s development process to see what went into building this no-holds-barred tank shooter.

Concept

Customization is the basis of Gear Up’s gameplay. “Back in 2011, both Anders and I had worked on several AAA titles before, including the Battlefield series,” Rudberg explained. “We felt that we wanted to do something with vehicles, but more accessible and arcade style with customization, building and using our own game engine.”

Engine

The Doctor Entertainment team developed Gear Up on Traktor, an entirely in-house engine. Taking advantage of Unicode and multi-core CPUs, the engine’s fully multithreaded renderer allows for HDR tone mapping, forward and deferred lighting, and high-quality shadow mapping. An automatic surface cache mechanism allows for maximum detail on close-up terrain and low resolution on more distant areas, all derived from the same surface shader. Traktor also boasts a multithreaded, customizable particle system and a unified physics interface.

Graphics

The game’s charming, cartoonish graphics are reminiscent of Team Fortress 2, and the vibrant, fresh world is funneled through a gritty cel-shaded filter. Artist Rasmus Jensen physically simulated and visualized the vehicles and their components in 3D. The maps, designed by Hans Litgård, provide beautiful, verdant backdrops for tank warfare.

Music and Sound Design

Gear Up’s tunes are a unique blend of epic military drumlines and futuristic, cold industrial beats, which fit well with the game’s combat-oriented design. Designed by Jonas Hellberg, the game’s polished sound effects are spot on, as weapon blasts and tank movements sound believable. The title’s surround sound, which supports full 7.1 with an unlimited number of virtual channels, provides a truly immersive experience.

Gameplay

The game features a Call of Duty: Modern Warfare style deathmatch system. Up to16 players are dropped onto chokepoint-littered maps, ready to engage in ruthless combat and rack up experience points along the way. As players level up and rise through the ranks, they can upgrade their battle vehicles with new parts from the in-game store. Want everything at once? Upgrade to the paid version of the game to unlock parts without leveling up.

Tweaking quickly becomes an obsession. Every part of the tank – from the hull, the turrets and weapons it can hold, down to the type of propulsion – can be altered to best suit each individual’s tastes and preferences. Jetpacks, land mines, submarine hulls, plasma cannons, sniper rifles; nothing is off limits.

The game’s constant opportunities for tinkering and tailoring tend to make combat very tactical. It’s next to impossible to anticipate which weapons opponents may wield, leading to split-second decisions that make or break each battle. In the midst of a skirmish, it’s entirely possible to be blindsided by an enemy tank with spiderlike legs that can stick to any surface, so be ready for anything.

Gamers on the free version are at a distinct disadvantage, as those with the upgraded version will have superior technology at their disposal from the get-go. This shouldn’t deter anyone from giving the game a chance, however – it’s unpredictable, addictive, pick-up-and-play fun.

Gear Up launched January 28, 2015 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Play it now on Steam.

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