BCM282 - Body merging trick

(7:54) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Normal. So, here's the trick I used to create the 'freaky graveyard' in the teaser BCM281. I've been sitting on this for almost two years, since discovering it when messing around with my freakily obtained 'harlequin Grunt' (see BCM192). It's comically simple yet gives very striking results, which you can then play around with. In this tutorial I use a tightly angled corner just beyond the underpass in AOTCR - an excellent place - but I'll show some other usable places later, as well as more mergings and fun. There's a lot to explore!

Released May 1st 2018, gameplay recorded April 27th-30th 2018.


00:02 (Comedy intro) This clip is actually the last thing I added to the movie. I felt it needed some sort of brief intro to give it a kick and to set up the merging demo. Of course, there was already a whole teaser movie, but I wanted a quick bit of teaser here to make things self-contained. I tried out a few ideas for what to do and settled on this one, in which a plasma mysteriously falls out of the sky and tags the multi-Grunt, revealing the constituent Grunts - and I play-act surprise at the tag.

To get this clip I checkpointed a situation where I was standing a good way back from the Grunt, almost ready to throw a plasma as high as possible (though I first needed to precision-aim in his direction and then move back a bit, before raising my elevation to the max). I'd throw, then quickly move up close, crouch, and get the comedy footage. I made a load of attempts at this. Targeting a particular part of the Grunt was pretty easy, but often my camerawork wasn't good enough or the bodies didn't settle in convenient places. Crucially, I wanted to get the slow-panning camera work going as quickly as possible, to try and maximize the duration before the tag occured (the most I could get was about four seconds). But I got plenty of good takes and this was my favourite. The way the bodies settled was pretty unique - both at the same angle like that. That made for a striking sight and added a little to the comedy.

00:15 (Super-merging demo) In this core segment I demo super-merging the same two Grunts you saw in the intro. It's pretty self-explanatory, but there's more I can add. As a summary though, I deliver six blasts in the corner - surface blasts that send the bodies towards the corner - then I change to a high position to get the multi-Grunt out with two blasts. Getting into and out of the corner area is easy if you angle right.

There are a few positions you can take for safely blasting. Originally I was hovering up high, much like the position used for getting him out. But in the course of making the movie, I came to prefer this ground-level position, for its easier control work.

The comment "There's a converging effect" needs some elaboration. There's a strong converging effect with this corner, because of the unusually sharp angling. Each blast is liable to increase the bodily alignment, because of how they ricochet. There's a bit of randomness, so they may sometimes actually diverge, but overall they quickly converge. But the less sharp a corner is, the weaker the converging effect, and the more reliant you become upon randomness (i.e. getting lucky bouncing so the alignment gets very close). Consequently it can take many more blasts to get a super-merging. I expect to show examples of other places in a later movie.

From experience with this corner, I came to use the following plan: keep blasting until there's been no visible separation (in settled appearance) for six blasts in a row, as seen from the Banshee. At that point it's pretty likely that you've got a super-merging. If you want to be more sure you can go a bit further, but for the movie I wanted to keep things brief, so I stopped at six.

01:16 (Playing with the result) Taking a first look at the multi-Grunt out in the open, it looks every bit like a single Grunt, with not the slighest flickering visible. That's indicates a probable super-merging, but you need to do some blasting to be more sure (it may not quite be there). This guy's still fine after a total of 8 blasts (including the two used to get him out of the corner), so I'm confident he was super-merged.

In regard to the nature of the resilience against blasts, I'm talking about non-tag blasts going off when he's settled. This reslience is something originally seen (and commented on) in BCM193. But I may have more to say about this later, after more investigating.

When I twice frag him, I deliberately try to give a good view of the in-flight separation. It's pretty evident (and very obvious if you freeze-frame), but is more easily seen later in the movie with differently coloured Grunts. The bodies appear to realign when they contact a surface.

I'd checkpointed this situation, for doing multiple plays. In most of my plays I was rocketing the multi-Grunt around in the sunken area, but it very often went poorly because there are a lot of places he could get caught up or obscured, and it was hard to control. Partly due to frustration with that, I later tried some plays in which I rocketed him to the battlefield instead, and I decided I preferred that. Much less prone to trouble, it also had more movement in it, and graphically emphasized how you can move a merging to a whole new place. Plus, it bridged the two areas used in the other parts of the movie.

02:08 (Other body types) These four clips show mergings of other body types (all super-mergings I think). There's a multi-Elite, a multi-Jackal, a multi-Hunter and a multi-Marine. With the Marine I show separation via mid-flight blast instead of a tag, partly for variety but also to give a first indication that you can do that (there are two more later).

02:56 (Super-merged red and orange) So far the movie has kept to merging bodies of the same appearance (except that the Marines had different faces, not that you'd notice without a closer look). But you can also merge differing appearances (of the same species). Of course, this aspect already made a showing in my harlequin Grunt movie BCM192 and its two sequels. With these super-merged red and orange Grunts you can see the in-flight separation rather clearly. I try to give a good close view, while not getting myself fragged.

03:25 (Harlequin Grunt) Super-mergings aren't the only payoff of this trick. You can also also create harlequin Grunts, like the one seen in BCM192 (obtained freakily when two sniped Shade gunners happened to fall in almost exactly the same position). Here I've used five blasts (only the last three are shown) then take a look. Satisfied, I use two frags to get him out into the open (note: he passes through the Banshee; it's not solid to bodies). That alters the alignment a bit and changes the nature of the jazzy harlequin effect, but he's still looking like a single Grunt (varied colouring notwithstanding) - so you've still got a harlequin.

Blasts tend to gradually separate the Grunts though, as subsequently demonstrated (and as also seen in that old harlequin Grunt movie). Indeed, after only one blast he's already gone practially half-and-half; red one side, orange the other. And after two more, separation is very clear.

04:53 (Separating a 5-Grunt with tagging) The movie now progresses to the merging of more than two bodies. The operation itself isn't shown as its just the same as with two bodies, but I show separating them via tagging. Each tag separates one body out; namely the one which got tagged. How come? The body which is tagged gets a randomized shunt, hence tends to go its own way, while the other bodies all get a deterministic shunt and hence stay together. Here we've got five super-merged Grunts; two red, three orange. It's a '5-Grunt'.

Something rather amusing and striking with the first tag: looks like a red Grunt turns into two orange Grunts! That's a nice trick in its own right; you could really baffle someone with that, if they didn't know about this merging business. It's also very interesting to see that although I appeared to be tagging a red surface, it must've been an orange guy who got tagged, because no red was separated out. That alters a previous assumption I'd made when exploring my old harlequin Grunt. I thought that if you tagged a particular colour, that would be the Grunt who indeed got tagged. Apparently that doesn't follow.

05:26 (And now a mid-flight blast) Same 5-Grunt (I'd checkpointed this situation, for doing multiple separation plays), but this time I hit it with a rocket while it's in flight. The in-flight separation of bodies is amplified by the blast, disrupting the configuration. In this example the bodies don't totally separate, but with a frag I get them further apart.

05:52 (Using a launcher) Instead of using a Banshee you can use a rocket launcher, potentially drop reloading for unlimited ammo (see BCM279), as demonstrated here with the last few blasts in merging two orange Grunts. I didn't bother to take a close look before extracting them, but obviously you can do that if you want. The Grunts are of different type, resulting in a novel hybrid appearance; I thought I'd briefly include that in the movie. Hey grunty, that's some kinda freaky back-pack you've got!

06:29 (Using grenades) Grenades are another option, though they're limited of course. This clip showns the full creation of a curly harlequin Grunt. The zoomed sniper rifle views also let you see the Grunts progressively merging. After four blasts I take a closer look and we've already got a harlequin. It's pretty random though, and could easily take you more.

07:23 (5-Grunt separation finale) Here's that 5-Grunt again. I wanted a spectacular separation trick on which to end the movie, and this is a pretty good one. Took quite a lot of takes though! I get him onto a rock to help me achieve a near-vertical launch, and I combine a frag with a rocket to get good height, enabling a glorious medium-range rocket strike. And hey presto! It's raining Grunts.

Closing remarks I cottoned on to this trick back in July 2016, a few days before putting out my harlequin Grunt movie movie BCM192. When the bodies separated, I realized I could re-merge them in the nearby corner to again get a harlequin, or to get the super-merged state I'd sometimes seen the harlequin acquire. And naturally, I realized that the technique could just as well be used to merge other bodies. Being such a good find, I was thinking to cover it quite soon after my harlequin Grunt movies, but it felt like a dauntingly big topic to get into, so it ended up getting put off. Finally though, I've made an effort to tackle it, partly because I kept worrying someone else would discover it, and then I'd really be kicking myself! Not that there are many people active with H1 these days, but you never know.

This tutorial gets the basics out at last, but there's a lot more to explore and show, so I'm far from done yet. Expect a bunch more movies, and probably a big article. I'm very pleased with the tutorial though. Put a ton of work into it, and it came out very nicely.

For the gameplay I made use of an old twin bridges megabattle save, originally used for BCM90, though a Hunterless derivation of it was also used for BCM235. It gave me a convenient large selection of covies to use for merging. I formed various other saves from it, each devoted to producing one or more segments of the movie. As for the two Marines I merged, those were bodies placed in that corner area by the game (along with the ammo). In the movie you never see them there though, because in all cases I'd blasted them clear so they didn't distract or get caught up in my merging work.

That old save also formed the basis for the teaser BCM281, which I can now talk about. As part of the mocked-up battle aftermath I placed a suitable weapon near each of the mergings, for realism. I did a lot of plays of the resulting save and selected what I thought was the best, in terms of how the bodies separated and whatnot. Actually, my original long-held idea for a teaser was that I'd be blasting a multi-Grunt along with a rocket launcher (viewers would assume it to be a single Grunt), and then eventually I'd launch it and give it a mid-flight blast, causing the constituents to shower down. But when it came to doing the teaser, I decided that it would be hard to stretch to two minutes (a decently sized teaser). Most of it would be blasting the multi-Grunt along, and that could quickly get repetitive. So I came up with the graveyard idea instead, which would have more variety. In fact, getting through my six mergings took way more than the planned two minutes, so I aimed for around three minutes instead, so I could say "three-minute teaser". As for getting a shower of Grunts, that's instead made a nice finale to this tutorial. So, that all turned out fine.

Incidentally, you can merge combat Flood as well (implicit from my caption "Can use other body types"). I didn't show any here as I was sticking to AOTCR, but I'll show some later no doubt.

For more on the super-merged state, see BCM193 and BCM194 and their written commentaries. That all related to my harlequin Grunt, but it now has a wider context.