I spent most of this weekend testing out Rasterwerks Phosphor Beta. A really cool multi player (using a server or network), 3D first-person shooter that runs right in your web browser.
Phosphor is developed with Shockwave and what appears to be elements of Macromedia Director. Because of the specially enhanced Xtras used for the mouselook and fullscreen modes.
And no, even if you never use these features, you still have to download them every time you fire up the game. I’ve played the game using Opera 9 Beta, Firefox 1.5.x and Internet Explorer 6 SP1. But web scuttle butt has it that the game works with Safari 2.0 for Mac as well.
Actually I was under the (now) mistaken impression that once I downloaded the files into my browser’s cache I could continue to play the game at my convenience. Not so. The 5 MB or so of local files are only streamed to your computer for the played session. Closing then reopening the browser will cause the entire game to download afresh.
The story board is quite conventional. The Beta only supports the Deathmatch option. And since I couldn’t luck into any public hosted servers. I had to play against the computer personified by its self-generated ‘bots. Who come in three flavors: MaleA, MaleB and FemaleA. The A types wear the same golden battle suits and die the same way. MaleB seems to be the player cloned. Each player can be fragged up to 9 times. With each session running from 5 to 30 minutes. There are 5 game levels from Recruit thru Champion (also game default). With a choice of battle suits and gamer types identical to ‘bot type.
Of course I may have got it wrong as I usually played the game late in the evenings when bandwidth was good. And the world quiet around me with no disturbances or interruptions. Plus this report may be a might inaccurate as I’m writing it the morning after my last match when I committed involuntary suicide.
Do remember the pulse weapon is slow and reasonably accurate. Great if you ambush your quarry. Although the sniper rifle is better. And the rocket launcher is tops. But never fire either the pulse gun or rocket launcher in closed spaces. Like tunnels and rooms. Or your own shrapnel will be the death of you. As I found out the hard way.
The only other weapon is a chain (machine) gun. This offers a high rate of fire. But I found it quite inaccurate at longer distances. You will get your opponent eventually. But watch out as when wounded they become quite suicidal. Also stay alert for dark holes where one mis-step and you fall off a cliff to die.
I haven’t played too many FPS since the early Doom on DOS demo. But in Phosphor the sound effects are awesome. Run through water (in the sewers) accompanied by splashing noises. Clomp across terrain. You can walk quite a bit quieter but its a tradeoff with speed.
And make sure to pickup the various treasures scattered around. There are machine gun packs, rocket rounds, pulse gun recharges. And copies of the 4 main weapon types. As with other games, if you have the weapon then you get an ammo recharge up to the maximum allowed (rocket launcher / pulse gun: 60 rounds; machine gun: 200 rounds; sniper rifle: 50 rounds). There are red crosses signifying health power-ups with each giving you 20 points (max is 100). There was also a (coat of) armor but I still need to figure out a way to get it. And for those times when you are really low on something, protect your back and stick around where you last collected that power-up. A new one will appear every 30 seconds or so. And don’t bother running over dead opponents as it don’t recharge your power-ups. The dead eventually fade into blood smears on the ground.
This is a beta. And there are strange transients. And odd triangular overlays that appear if you move the mouselook violently. I also found the heads-up display (HUD) target pointer quite inaccurate. In most FPS, rapid fire will cause the aiming point to rise. But in Phosphor rounds don’t strike exactly where the pipper indicates!
In every instance, including shorter ranges, firing above the pipper resulted in a better strike rate. Even with the (supposedly) more accurate sniper rifle which the bots seem to love. Aiming at an opponent’s head resulted in body strikes. While aiming at torsos often caused most rounds to strike around the lower legs.
I’d write more if only I could stay awake. I’m off too catch a bit of shut eye and rechange my cells so I’m bright and bushy-tailed come Monday, March 20, 2006, to play some more. Besides which the game will be online again by then.
So if you are looking for a great way to spend time working off some extra rage. Phosphor is a de-lite solution. Perhaps we can soon stage a friendly death match (if there ever was an oxymoron) across the web.
And if you need to check how fast that connection of yours receives and sends data. Do try SpeakEasy’s Speedtest. This neat Flash applet uses a two analog meter view to track the average bandwidth and the data packet completion rate. Looks neat. And runs easy. With a choice of test locations from across the US of A. I noticed that New York seemed the slowest. And Chicago the fastest. Although Washington DC wasn’t bad either. Maybe because many of India larger ISPs have routers close by.
See you the next time.