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Evolva Preview

By: Mike Chambers - December 10, 1999



Introduction

Back in early October, when NVIDIA's GeForce 256 was thrust upon the gaming community, I became intrigued by Computer Artworks upcoming game Evolva. Not only does the name of the game spark some interest, but Evolva was selected by NVIDIA as being the premier game to showcase the GeForce 256's capabilities.

Click to enlarge - 188K

Before we begin, let's start off with the following comments from Evolva's development team regarding the GeForce 256:

Not only did NVIDIA provide extensive support for us to implement the major DirectX 7 feature (HW Transform and Lighting), they were also able to provide the fastest GPU - the GeForce256.

The GeForce is the only GPU (graphics processing unit) with enough muscle to make Evolva run at peak performance and image quality. The powerful combination of design flair and technical muscle along with un-erring focus has produced a game which has set the standard for the next generation.

Evolva will come to life with a 3D graphics engine designed from the ground up. Add in an artificial intelligence system provided by A-Life technology and Evolva will immerse the player in a visually stunning 3D world offering a rich gameplaying experience.



Evolva Storyline

The player takes on the role of Evolva, and is to fight against an alien parasite which has infected the planet. The bad news is that the parasite produces eggs that when matured are called upon to infect the next set of planets and ultimately destroy the world. For protection, the parasite can produce armies of guardians.

The good news is that the Evolva are elite commanders and can take control of a team of customisable creatures, or Genohunters. The Genohunter has the ability to absorb enemies and mutate itself to incorporate any useful abilities the enemy may have had.

Click to enlarge - 170K

A rather unique and interesting storyline for a game that's part fast paced shoot-em-up and part strategy.

Evolva will also offer multi-player action over the Internet. The purpose of mutli-player games is to allow players to exchange Genohunters or go head-to-head to find out who has the most effective set of Genohunters.



Technology

Evolva brings with it new technologies in graphics that will set it apart from the crowd:

  • The artwork (terrains, creatures, and models) is modelled to the highest quality achievable for the target platform.
  • Textures are mastered to 512x512 in 32-bit color or better and scaled down to the capabilities of the hardware.
  • The graphics engine was designed from the ground up to work with 3D accelerated hardware. Processing and rendering of triangles is done efficiently to provide maximum throughput.
  • Interesting and realistic looking terrains are created as level designers have no design constraints when building levels.
  • A skinned character animation system that allows multiple animations for different body parts which are blended together.
  • An artifical intelligence system provided by A-Life whereby creatures have a variety of natural behaviors such as fear, agression, memory, and proximity of enemies.
  • Genetic algorithms which allow characters to evolve based on the way you play the game. As characters evolve, their shape and skin colors change, ending up with a unique set of characters with special abilities such as breathing fire, jumping, and shields.


High Definition Models

Using the Graphics Processing Unit on the GeForce 256 to process transformations, Evolva will use more polygons to create higher defined models:

Low Polygon Count

High Polygon Count

Low Polygon Count

High Polygon Count



Conclusion

Since the release of NVIDIA's GeForce 256, there have only been a few applications that were developed with T&L from the ground up. NVIDIA's TLCMark benchmark and The Whole Experiences Dagoth Moor Zoological Gardens demo were written to test the GeForce 256's capabilities.

Benchmarking programs, such as ZDNET's 3DWinBench 2000 and MadOnions 3DMark2000, have jumped on the DirectX 7 bandwagon. We know that T&L works, and works very well. What gamers want now is to see T&L perform the way NVIDIA envisioned it working, and hope that Evolva, among other games, will deliver the goods.

Evolva is expected to be released in the first quarter of 2000. An Evolva preview can also be found at the Adrenalin Vault.



Reader Impressions

Seeing that Evolva Scout was bundled with the Creative Labs Annihilator, I asked readers for input on the demo shortly after I posted the preview. Here are comments sent in by RJR:

When I got my Annihilator I didn't even know that a game demo was being bundled with the card. I installed the Evolva demo and started playing it. The first time I played it I wasn't too impressed.

Then after playing it a few more times and reading the instructions on how to use the thing, I really got into it and began to realize that Computer Artworks had something unique and special on their hands. Bottom line, I think the game is EXCELLENT and a heck of a lot of fun.

The music, sound, gameplay, graphics, and cinematics are all very well done. I'm looking forward to this game coming out more than any other recent or soon to be released game (UT, Q3, Messiah included).

Sharky described the game as a poor man's Dagoth Moor, but I don't think that's a fair assesment. And I get the impression he played the game only once for a brief amount of time. The environment may not be nowhere near as high poly as Dagoth Moor, but then again Dagoth Moor is a demo not an actual playable game.

I suspect that this game may not be to some gamers' liking simply because it is different and not a Quake FPS clone. But I found the difference to be very refreshing and a lot of fun (btw, I am a pretty hardcore FPS player). Oddly, I found this game to be laugh-out-loud funny.

The first time one of my Genohunters mutated and acquired fire breathing capability I found myself laughing hysterically. I'm not sure if CA intended this, but for some reason I just found it really funny. This game will bring new meaning to the term "self-improvement".

The high-poly pic you posted was not high-poly enough. The game allows you to display in wireframe mode and the level of detail that I saw in the demo can be seen in screenshot14 (207K) at www.evolva.com. Did CA lower the poly-count I wonder?

Anyways, I'm glad this game is starting to get more attention. CA should release some of the excellent cinematics included on the demo. There are three of them. The music is especially good in that it sets the sci-fi adventure vibe perfectly.


Last Updated on December 10, 1999

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