Safe Vs Unsafe - posted 15/10/02

Rhama is the main character of Galleon. He is tougher, faster and more agile than any normal human could ever hope to be.

This means that he spends much of his time performing incredible jumps, leaps and other breathtaking acrobatics. When faced with obstacles he can climb, vault, jump, back-flip, and roll to make his way past, grabbing ledges or walls if he slips or falls. In fact, many surfaces offer enough grip to allow Rhama to climb hand over hand across the ceiling or even run along the walls.

Rhama's stock of moves is quite considerable, outnumbering any other character in a game of this sort. Rhama is hardly ever standing still, he will almost constantly be charging through some environment, leaping huge gaps and traversing decidedly dangerous surroundings.

Underneath these varied moves there is a complex physics simulation that often makes Rhama's movement seem more akin to a racing game than a normal Action Adventure game. Each type of surface Rhama encounters, such as grass, rock and sand have friction values associated with them so on low friction surfaces characters will start to slip and slide. The result is that you need to judge camber and surface properties while you are moving around the world at high speeds. Inertia is also tracked; this means that leaping or falling off moving objects results in physically correct trajectories. Air currents effect leaning and slipping so a strong wind can literally blow you off an edge or drastically change your trajectory while falling through the air. Water also works in a similar fashion with currents effecting movement.

Despite this seemingly overwhelming complexity, controlling Rhama could not be simpler. This is due to a system that divides Rhama's movement into Safe and Unsafe movements, which you select between by either pushing strongly or lightly on the control stick.

By using smooth, careful commands on the analog controller Rhama will stay in 'safe mode'. What this means is that he will intelligently read his surroundings and react accordingly. In this mode Rhama will not fall or step into a dangerous position. This is demonstrated in the Walking Video in which Rhama is standing above a pit full of unfriendly beasts with just a few poles above it to traverse.

By using "safe mode" even if you are not too precise with the direction you are pointing Rhama in, you can be confident we will not fall off as he will gracefully step between the poles and find his footing every time. Another example of this intelligent control system is when Rhama comes across a low tunnel - instead of having to press some combination of buttons to make Rhama duck, simply because you pushed forwards on the control stick in that direction he will realise there is a low gap in front of him, duck and roll into it. This all contributes towards a very fluid and easy to learn control system.

Naturally it is possible to override this automatic 'safe' control if you want by making more drastic commands with the control stick. By pushing the Analogue controller out to its extremes, you are commanding Rhama to move quickly and 'Unsafely.' When Rhama moves much faster he can perform his more athletic and amazing moves. Even running becomes an exhilarating experience since Rhama could out-sprint a cheetah as can be seen in the Running Video.

Unsafe mode allows you to recklessly bound around decidedly dangerous environments like narrow ledges with terrifying drops and lava filled tunnels in style and speed. Rhama can do great and crazy tricks like leaping onto a pole that is so high you can only just grab it, pull yourself up the immediately jump against a nearby wall, jump off of that and back flip onto a higher ledge to land on your feet with ease!

The greatest thing about Rhama's 'unsafe' movement is that you are never really out of control - there is nearly always some way to recover from a reckless move, for example by rebounding off a wall, sticking out and arm and grabbing a ledge or sliding to a stop on a cliff face.

To sum up: There are always two ways to play through any given section in Galleon. You can chose to tear around the levels performing outrageous feats and tricks at breathtaking speeds or if you fancy taking it easy, you can chose to approach the situation slowly and carefully, confident that you will be able to survive. A welcome addition we're sure you'll agree.

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