Bubblegum Crisis Online
Project Information Site


Introduction: About Bubblegum Crisis Online
What is Bubblegum Crisis?
Planned Features for Bubblegum Crisis Online
Game Content
Important: Talents We Look For
The Team & BGCO's Location
The Design Document

Introduction: About Bubblegum Crisis Online

What you see here is an outdated page. The BGCO project is, for all intents and purposes, long dead and gone. I am providing the only (internal) release we ever created solely for testing on this page so fans can play what's there. You can contact me with feedback or suggestions here.

Download the internal release (classic Unreal Tournament mod, requires base game)

Welcome to the Bubblegum Crisis Online project information site! I created this little page in a subfolder of my pinball website, www.silverball-magic.com (just in case you're wondering why this site is located at that URL). The purpose of this site is to inform the public about our Unreal Tournament 2004 total conversion Bubblegum Crisis Online and seeking talents that we absolutely need to make this game. If you're interested in learning what Bubblegum Crisis Online is and how you can help, read on.

Bubblegum Crisis Online (hereafter referred to as BGCO) is the idea of a game technically based on the Unreal Tournament 2004 engine, and thematically based on the classic anime series Bubblegum Crisis. The people working on this game are all Bubblegum Crisis (BGC) fans and we want to see our favourite Japanese animated series being played on the PC in a game that is as exciting and spectacular as the series itself. In the past, there have been numerous BGC games available to the public, starting with official games like Crime Wave (an RPG for an old computer system) and ending with the well-known Duke Nukem 3D modification series Bubblegum Crisis Nukem where you could play any of the four main characters on Duke Nukem, Shadow Warrior, and Redneck Rampage, and experience the original games as new BGC-related adventures with changed story, animations, textures, weapons and sound.
However, none of these games is up to date anymore and our goal is to make a full game with a complete recreation of BGC's anime world, characters, tech and action. And since this game is supposed to be an online action adventure, using UT2004's engine as the base for development was the ideal choice.

We have made a little demo to test our own capabilities since none of the team members are professionals. I'm leading the project since I came up with the idea and I've always dreamed of making my own PC game, however my experience with programming and mapping is not terrific (quite good, but not professional either) and we do have a lot of artists in our team, but people with the technical understanding of the Unreal engine and especially UnrealScript programmers are still missing. This is why we didn't get any further than the demo, which was still based on classic UT (before we switched to the UT2004 engine because it made programming easier), and we need some talents to help us doing ground work for the full game. You can look at "Talents We Look For" to see what people we currently need. But first, let's see what the game is all about!

What is Bubblegum Crisis?

the Knight Sabers in their hardsuitsBubblegum Crisis is a classic Japanese animated (anime) series from the late 80s to early 90s. It centers around the classic cyberpunk theme and features a lot of science fiction, robotics, and action scenes. BGC was a smash hit when it came out and the eight episodes that were produced took years to be completed (first episode was released in 1987 whereas the last could be acquired in Japan in 1991). Once the series reached the western world (first America, then Europe), it had an even larger impact and is fondly remembered even today for its classic cult status. BGC is one of the series any anime fan should see, and most have done so. And of those who saw it, the majority has fallen in love with it!
BGC does not follow a single hero at all times, but a group of four young women who are the stars of the show: Priss, Sylia, Linna and Nene are normal girls in day-to-day life, but they form a secret battle group called the Knight Sabers who battle so-called Boomers, intelligent androids/cyborgs in mechanical or human shape causing trouble in the futuristic MegaTokyo of the year 2032. The city is practically ruled by a greedy company called the Genom Corporation who are the lead developer and producer of Boomers. Originally Boomers were intended to help people with all kinds of industrial and office work, much like we try to develop intelligent machines nowadays to aid us in everyday life. But lately more and more Boomers go berserk and destroy whole parts of the city, killing innocents in the process. MegaTokyo's special anti-Boomer police unit, the A.D. Police, is often helpless with their underpowered equipment and the Knight Sabers take the job of defeating rogue Boomers themselves, but nobody knows who they really are.
BGC features a few single-episode stories as well as an overall story arc which deals with the question so many sci-fi movies already brought up: can intelligent machines take over humanity, where is the difference between artificial and natural intelligence and can it be blurred, and is the way the world in BGC develops the right one we should choose? The series shows the Knight Sabers in their normal life where they are something like best friends (at most times) and try to manage their work and privacy with the secret job of being Knight Sabers. Once a Boomer crime is commited, they gather and suit up in their skin-tight powered metal armor which is a lot more effective than traditional weapons since it can be used to attack Boomers directly with martial arts, advanced weaponry and limited flight capabilities. If you see one of these hardsuits on an anime-related picture, you know it's Bubblegum Crisis.

the Knight Sabers in casual clotheshardsuits in action
Everyday life versus secret operation: the Knight Sabers suit up for action.

If you want to see Bubblegum Crisis in action, you can either look for it in a comic/anime store or order it from AnimEigo. They are the official distributor and western world licenser of Bubblegum Crisis and have recently re-released the series in an updated remaster DVD collection box. Since BGC features eight episodes, it has an approximate running time of five hours and therefore doesn't span more than three DVDs. It comes with an English dub which is acceptable to me (actually it has good qualities with many voices), but for originality value and to watch the really good stuff, you can and should watch the full series subtitled with the orgiinal Japanese audio, which has been remastered and features more than 20 amazing j-pop/rock songs sung by voice actresses and professional singers, and these songs (like all of BGC's music) have become a legend. In general, if you're not into anime at all, BGC might not be the best start, but it has made many people anime fans, so it just depends on who you are. If you are only slightly interested in anime, you can probably do nothing wrong by watching BGC.

Planned Features for Bubblegum Crisis Online

a mechanical BoomerOur game is planned to give players control over the main characters of the series, but not only from the Knight Sabers, but also the A.D. Police and the enemy Genom. However, players don't just play a normal first-person shooter in BGCO, but an action game with advanced techniques, weapons and tactics from the series. For example, the Knight Sabers will be able to use their hardsuits for rapid movement, high jumps, punches and kicks, laser and bombing weaponry, and a set of automatic lock and information systems that make them the prime battle machine. On the other hand, the Genom players will have control over various Boomers from the series (and new ones we come up with), be they huge and bulky with massive weaponry, or human-looking with an artificial skin and special hidden features. The A.D. Police will be there for massive ground and air attacks and will probably have some larger influence than in the series so that ADP players will have an equal challenge to the others. You can see that BGCO is planned to be a game involving three teams, and these teams play online through missions that determine how the story will go on.

Story? Yes, there's a story in BGCO which is similar to the anime but retells the series under game conditions (it just works better for gameplay). We plan to include cinematics with custom speech to keep the story rolling after a mission. In-game, the maps will recreate MegaTokyo's key locations or totally new places you have never seen before. The mission objectives could be anything like a standard battle between the teams, infiltration of buildings, chases, data acquiring, destruction, and anything you can think of where the teams work against each other. Of course, the A.D. Police are friendly towards the Knight Sabers and they can team up with each other to battle the even larger Genom Corporation.

Features we definitely want in the game:

- recreation of BGC as a 3D action game
- maps and missions featuring known and new places of MegaTokyo
- characters from the series with their special abilities
- key story points from the series included in our story
- known and new weapons specific to each team
- music and sound effects from the series
- custom speech

Features that are considered:

- basic martial arts
- unknown mystery characters
- "clan system" for the teams so players stick with the same team in every mission for consistency
- dynamic storyline with different outcomes
- upgradable weapon systems based on experience points you gather in combat, inspired by online RPGs
- vehicles (motorcycles, motoslaves, trucks, helicopters)

Game Content

The internal demo we created last year is based on classic UT's engine (not UT2003 or UT2004). The reason was that I felt designing maps and models was easier on this engine, and that an anime-inspired game wouldn't need the photorealistic power of the Unreal Warfare engine. Later when it came to programming the teams and game logic, the new engine turned out to be much easier to code for and in general UT2004's new mapping style (as compared to the gothic UT2003 style) inspired me to change engines. The full game is based on UT2004, not classic UT. Still, to play the demo, you need to have classic UT version 436 installed!

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In-game screenshots of a botmatch in the demo.

Go to this forum thread at The Bubblegum Crisis Center, where BGCO's development is centered (see below), to acquire the demo and look at some old screenshots. Notice that the demo includes a custom texture package and a player model file you have to set for your player and the bots you play against. Also note that this demo is a simple deathmatch and a far cry from what BGCO is supposed to become.

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You can see the similarity of the ADP tower in the anime and the game.

I continued to program the demo after this release to include a Boomer team and make the game automatically set the player models according to the team they are on. The result was impressive since the team management worked, and it made the whole game much more interesting since now Knight Sabers were fighting Boomers, and they even had the correct names. I stopped when I faced a problem I couldn't solve, namely forcing a model with an accurate skin onto the player depending on his/her team choice (bots were no problem). Instead of continuing to break my head about this, I moved on to the engine change and started working out the theory of the full game.

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I used UT's standard models with machine skins for Boomers.

Detailed shots of the work-in-progress models can be seen here. The first model is the hardsuit of lead fighter Priss that we included in the demo with standard UT animations (converted to skeletal animations by using a small mod for UT). The second model is Priss' included multifunctional weapon gauntlet which can be used as a punching device (with a knuckle bomb attached to detonate upon impact with a Boomer), a railgun shooting needles, a fast-firing machine gun and some upgrades later in the series.
You can also watch this short video (849 KB) to see a preset animation rendered onto the hardsuit model in 3D Studio MAX.

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The last shot shows Priss' gauntlet in action.

And finally, for representation of the full game on this site, I started making this map of the Ladies 633 building where Sylia's lingerie shop (the Silky Doll) and penthouse are located. It doesn't look all that spectacular from the outside since I never finished it (it was sad to make a map that cannot be played because of missing game logic!), but you can see the intention of recreating the anime's location. A similar approach is planned for the full game.
Also, look at the hand-drawn art that our modeller Maverick made. He is planning to model these items soon.

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Again, the anime's building was used for reference.

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Sketches of upcoming models.

Important: Talents We Look For

this poster was hand-drawn by our former texture artistAs you can see, we didn't create all that much content yet, but all of us (those who are still in) want to get up and produce serious stuff. If we had a platform you could play simple missions on as a Knight Saber or Boomer, I'd be all over mapping for the next couple of months. Modelling also requires that the models be animated (we have a modeller but no animator) and converted and tested in UT2004. Weapons need scripts so they work like they should. A third team is missing in UT2004's native scripts. And so on and on; you get the idea: we need people who can help us with the technical stuff of UT2004. I do have some experience with all Unreal engine versions since I attempted mapping and scripting for Unreal earlier, but I'm not that much of a programmer anymore I used to be years ago, and I simply cannot figure out how to do it in UnrealScript 3.0. The fact that not a lot of tutorials for UT2004 scripting are around makes it all the more harder to learn it, so what we want in the very first place is a coder, somebody who has made a mod or participated in making one, and who wants to write the core system for BGCO.
Of course a second modeller would be very nice as well since our current modeller Maverick has a tight time schedule and although he did a terrific job with the Priss hardsuit, he is a beginner and hiring a more experienced modeller would greatly increase work speed. We also need someone who can animate the models since especially the Knight Sabers don't just shoot with a gun.

And finally, we need more than one mapper, texture artist, and 3D artist. We need a bunch of them or else the game will take ages to complete. I'm willing to make every map myself, but I'd love to get support from other mappers, be they experienced or casual. This game is not created by professionals and we don't look for Red Orchestra class talents here. Of course, if you are an experienced mod author and want to make this game really great and shiny, don't hesitate to contact us! I just want to emphasize that as big as our motivation may be, work takes more time and the results won't be world-moving. Still, we hope that BGCO can become a great game even without hundred-thousands of polygons and environment mapping, simply because of its unusual gameplay, online basis, and anime influence. Come help us make this come true and become a part of the BGCO development team today!

The Team & BGCO's Location

Currently, the team is much smaller than it used to be. I (MadMax) am leading the project as my co-lead Rachel has dropped out on her own choice (she is just not around the computer enough). I tried to program the game, so I have some picture in my mind of how it could be constructed. I also created the map you see in the internal demo, and while it took me a few weeks, I greatly profited from this since I learned so much about UnrealED that I didn't know before, and now I think I can work on maps with greater speed and efficiency. I also have experience with video and audio editing, so this would be a part I'd be willing to take.

We also have:

- our only modeller Maverick who has created the Priss hardsuit model
- Rachel "Rach" Asakawa - now responsible for casual character artwork and concept art
- Lynk Former from The Bubblegum Crisis Center for promotion, web hosting and 2D design

We had a texture artist who made the textures for the demo map, but she dropped out on her own choice. Also, the story was supposed to be written by BGC fanfiction writer Chris Turley, but he never got around to doing what he promised, so he's officially out. He did create some very interesting drafts though and with his permission those drafts could be used.

Bubblegum Crisis Online is officially located at The Bubblegum Crisis Center, a website created by Lynk Former which discusses all the BGC series (there have been remakes and spin-offs), features in-depth information, artwork, screenshots and media. The forum hosted by this site is relatively sparely populated by not more than roughly 20 active members (237 registered members as of 10th February 2005), but this makes it all the more familiar and we welcome new members at all times. This forum has a subcategory called Bubblegum Crisis Online where you can find the very first post when the idea was born as well as current project discussion, status reports, screenshots, artwork and links.

If you want to apply for a job or recommend anything to us, contact me via my e-mail address or register in the forum and start posting in the respective threads. Note: a basic interest in anime would be very helpful should you choose to become a forum member! ;-)

The Design Document