BCM500 - Sleeping Grunts room showcase

(6:30) Level 5 ('Assault on the Control Room') on Heroic. 500th movie, woo-hoo! Finally got there. I was mulling over ideas on what to do that might be suitably 'special' for this milestone, but in the end the decision was fated by my recent interest in the sleeping Grunts room battle. After a ton of camera work and editing, what I present here is basically a musical showcase of the unsuspecting covies there, and especially the Grunts of course. That said, I do get things off to a start with a bang!

Released June 21st 2024, gameplay recorded May 23rd - June 18th 2024.


00:02 (Magic plasma use, and Grunt 1) Okay I admit it, that wasn't really a magic plasma I used. When I back away from it, seemingly to get clear of the coming blast, what I'm actually doing is heading for the spawn trigger zone, timing it so I cross the line fractionally after the bang. When the Grunt spawns at the blast spot, he's completely hidden by the plasma cloud, so it looks like he's just appeared by magic, with a bang. Along with his buddies of course, who soon come into view.

How did I get to my initial position for this clip? Simple. I'd flown up to the first of the twin bridges and come down in the lift. Moreover, I'd delayed the checkpoint you get after going through the door at the bottom of the lift, until I was just a step away from the spawn trigger zone.

With a set-up like that, originally I'd been playing around getting a Grunt blasted by a grenade right after he spawned. There's comedy to be had there, and I may well make a movie out of it. But one time I happened to cross the trigger line fractionally late. So instead of the Grunt being blasted, he was unscathed (having been absent when the blast occurred), and it looked like he materialised with a bang. I realised I could make an amusing clip out of that, and thought it might do for one of my 'Freakiness and fun' movies. But when I thought about what captioning to add - namely the captioning I've got here - I realised that a clip like this would better serve as an amusing and playful start to a movie in which I then proceed to observe the covies you get in the room. So that's how this movie came about. And since the magic plasma trick (or illusion rather) was quite amusing, I thought the movie would do for my 500th production, something I wanted to be a bit special in some way.

Incidentally, I've boosted the audio of the bang somewhat, for effect. I wouldn't normally tinker with the game's audio like that, but this was different. It was meant to be a special plasma after all!

Note: in describing locations for some of the clips, I'll be using the term 'avenue' for the four relatively long sections around the outside. The perimeter is essentially octagonal, but the 'diagonals' in between the avenues are shorter; so the room can also be thought of as being roughly square but with diagonal corners.

00:39 (Grunt 2) Avenue 1 start. This is the neighbouring Grunt seen also in the last clip. After the spawning, I recorded multiple takes of this guy, but I liked the camera work on this one best, plus he does a wiggle, making a nice end to the start sequence. The remaining clips are actually all from other spawnings (see my closing remarks later).

00:49 (Grunt 3) Avenue 1 start. This is one of the movie's nine clips from May 31st. I was trying different camera movements with this guy, and hit on the idea of emerging from behind the dark grey thingy at the back and approaching him along it. An engaging shot I thought, and something a bit different from normal.

01:01 (Grunts 4 & 5, drop-down sequence) Avenue 1 start. I had the idea for this drop-down sequence quite early on when concentrating on the area near the door, and recorded some good takes. However, later I re-did things because (a) I wanted the first Grunt to be a red curly instead of a red pointy (of which I had too many in the early part of the movie), and (b) I wanted the second Grunt to do a wiggle, for a cute and more engaging ending.

01:19 (Blue Elite) Having opened with clips from the room's starting area, this Elite clip serves the dual purpose not only of bringing Elites into the proceedings, but also of taking us deeper into the room. Broadening things out, so to speak. For this clip I'd run directly to the inner area entrance after the spawning. As such, this Elite was just starting out on his patrol.

01:35 (Grunt 6) Avenue 1 start. Here's the last of my clips focused on Grunts at the start of avenue 1. Incidentally, this seems to be the only spot in the whole room where a Grunt can spawn in a tunnel.

In an earlier draft of the movie I had a clip like this before the blue Elite. But when I revised the movie to reduce the average clip duration and thus raise the pace, that lead to the Elite clip needing to come earlier in the order (because of the music issue). In the end I also re-did the Grunt clip anyway, to get a wiggle.

01:44 (Grunt 7, hump) Now the first Grunt clip from the inner area. This orange curly seems to've taken a liking to the hump, as a napping spot. Maybe that lighting strip gives off a bit of warmth?

01:56 (Grunt 8, shelf) Not far away, here's a red curly on the shelf. Bit tricky to do my camera work here; had to be right on the edge to get past him. A couple of times I fell off!

02:05 (Red Elite) Tailing a red Elite, he heads down the centre of the inner area then off towards the back left corner. A later clip focuses on a Grunt in that spot.

02:15 (Grunt 9, green glass) Avenue 3 start. A nice picturesque location this, with the Grunt sitting on the green glass, and with one of those weird cut-out wall panels in the background.

02:21 (Grunt 10, entry perch) This novel spawn location only actually made it into the movie quite late. Initially I'd thought I wouldn't be able to get a decent view of a Grunt up there, but later I realised I could get something acceptable by coming up behind him and moving around, ending up teetering on the edge of the block. It was relatively difficult to do the camera work though. This final clip improved on an earlier take I was using. I get a good wiggle, and also there's a background Grunt in shot at the end, briefly making a nice pairing.

02:33 (Grunt 11) Avenue 3. As I recall, this guy was somewhat isolated, with no buddies nearby. But at least he has those windows he can look through to see what's going on. No wait, he's not tall enough. Oh well. He's getting some good sleep anyway.

02:41 (Grunt 12, cubby-hole) For such a unique spot, it's perhaps surprising that I didn't have it featured in my first draft. But after revising things to have shorter average clip length, I was able to cram it in, along with some other places. An essential addition really.

02:50 (Grunt 13, green glass) Avenue 4 end. This guy made it into the movie very late on, replacing a Grunt I'd had in a darker and less picturesque area. The situation here is essentially a mirror-image version of the Grunt 9 clip, but the locations are different and we have different Grunt types (yellow pointy last time, red curly here).

02:58 (Grunts 14 & 15, with wake-up mishap) Avenue 2 start. While most of my Grunt clips were going to be of individuals, I was also interested in pairings, which could add some variation. These two orange curlys looked like they might give me some interesting camera work, transitioning from one to the other, so that's what I was trying for. During this take however, I got too close to the first Grunt and he woke up. As you can see, I smacked him down fast and no alert was raised. Luckily he was orange, so it only took one whack. The incident made for some good comedy and was something different, so the clip made it into the movie despite its unusually long duration.

03:26 (Red Elite, hump) We're back to a red Elite now, and the clip starts with me closing in behind. He takes me on an amusing adventure up and down the hump and I manage to stay undetected. If you have sharp eyes, you can catch a glimpse of a blue Elite's body at the inner area's entrance. I'd whacked him from behind so he wouldn't be raising the alarm while I was tailing his buddy.

03:42 (Grunt 16) Avenue 2 start. This orange curly really has a nice cosy spot eh? Ample protection on three sides too. Slightly open on the front though. A marauding cyborg could probably creep up on him from that direction.

03:50 (Grunt 17, lookout perch) Another short clip, this Grunt was to the right of the inner area's entrance as seen from the inside. As with quite a few Grunt spots, I revised what had been my original clip, to get one in which the Grunt gave a wiggle. I recall doing a lot of tries for this one.

03:57 (Grunt 18, end of the hump) A nice high spot for this grunty fellow. He should have a good line of fire on any troublesome cyborg eh? If he actually wakes up that is.

04:09 (Grunt 19) Avenue 3 start. Another perched Grunt, and with a buddy of the same type in the background, at a lookout spot for the inner area. I remember that when I got this clip, I'd been looking for places where I could do some camera work a bit different from normal. This fitted the bill nicely, giving an appealing view of the pairing.

04:17 (Grunt 20) Avenue 1. We're back near the entrance door here, and again it's a case of ending up with two Grunts in shot, albeit with the focus on the closer one. Another bit of novel camera work too, coming up on the first Grunt from behind to get the shot.

This clip was a late upgrade on the earlier version I had. An upgrade in the sense that it eliminated the undesirable footstep sound in that version, caused by momentarily walking too fast. I tried to avoid footstep sounds in all my crouched camera work, not wanting to distract from the subject. The footstep bugged me and it was the only one in the movie apart from one in my opening clip, so eventually I decided on a redo. Took a while, but I eventually got this nice replacement which also has some good Grunt wiggling like the original had featured. That was done on June 18th, the only late recording I did. All the other footage is from May 23rd - June 6th.

04:25 (Blue Elite) Patrolling across the start of the inner area, this blue chappy does an about-face but I'm ready for it and manage to stay behind him, undetected, like I did with the red Elite on the hump.

04:34 (Grunt 21, by an arrow) An unusual case here, in that I'm doing camera work on a Grunt while Elites are patrolling nearby, something which is typically going to lead to being very quickly spotted (which is why I was generally killing the Elites before working with Grunts in the inner area or nearby).

As I recall, this bit of camera work was a spontaneous thing. I just saw the Grunt and decided to go for it despite the Elites. I can't remember if I did multiple takes of this guy, or whether this was the only one. I may've indeed tried for more, but been quickly spotted. In any event this was the only clip I got, and fortunately it was fine, so into the movie it went! It's nice to have an Elite visibly patrolling in the background. That's the only such clip in the movie.

04:43 (Grunt 22) Avenue 3 end. This was the final Grunt location added to the movie. Originally I had a relatively long clip for the location coming up next, but by instead using a shorter clip for that, I was able to give this fellow about seven seconds of screen time. Congratulations grunty, you made it to the big time!

04:50 (Grunt 23, exit) Avenue 4. This clip starts with a rather appealing view of the exit area I think, the orangey lighting making quite a nice visual change to most of the other clips.

04:57 (Grunt 24 plus red Elite) During one spell of work, I noticed that a red Elite had stopped moving. It seemed like he'd got stuck because of a Grunt in his way (I've seen Elites spend ages trying to get around them). I came up behind this perched Grunt to get a novel view of both. About five seconds later the Elite actually turned around and spotted me, but let's not go into that.

05:03 (Grunt 25, inner area corner) This is the back left corner of the inner area. A fine place for a Grunt to take a nap.

05:13 (Grunt 26) Avenue 4 end. Bringing the movie's middle part to an end, here's a short clip of a red Grunt up on the final raised walkway, with an orange Grunt in the background below, by a tunnel exit. And there's just time for one last wiggle.

05:20 (Rumbled) Quite early on, I decided that a good way to end the movie would be to get spotted so I could then make an amusing hasty escape from the room. Hence this closing sequence, into which I also worked some comedy involving a few bodies which for some reason the red Elite isn't alarmed about. Incidentally, I've cut about 16 seconds from this gameplay. That was where I had to wait for the Elite to get moving again before I crept up behind him. He briefly got a bit glitched at the end of the hump.

Closing remarks I've already given quite a bit of information above, and in particular I've described what was actually going on with the plasma grenade at the start, and how the movie originated. I'll now talk about the movie's development as a whole.

Early on, I considered the question of whether the clips should all be from one particular spawning (thus giving total room consistency), or whether to freely use clips from multiple spawnings. Well, the former would've limited me to only the particular Grunt spawn locations randomly selected by the game, as well as the particular state and evolution of the patrolling Elites. Because of that, and also reasons of practicality and convenience, I decided on freely using clips from multiple spawnings. I'd have much more freedom. So although the movie may give the appearance of me looking around the room after the initial spawning, you're actually seeing shots from many spawnings.

The ensuing production work was quite lengthy and complicated, making this one of the most labour-intensive movies I've created, in terms of both the gameplay and the editing. If you're interested in the details, read on!

First I worked on getting a fully satisfactory initial 'magic plasma' clip. For starters I needed to act like I'd just approached the room and was looking around, observing the lack of Grunts. Then when it came to the grenade, it needed to land in just the right spot (and incidentally, I decided on bouncing it off the ceiling for show, and to give the tension longer to build). Then, most critically, I'd need ideal timing with my backing off, so the Grunt's spawning would be completely hidden and his appearance was 'clean'. If things were fractionally off and the Grunt could actually be seen amid the explosion, it could greatly weaken the intended illusion. Also I wanted him to have a neighbour, and ideally one of a different colour for variation, all of which was just down to chance. Thereafter, I needed to act in a manner suggestive of surprise with the magical appearance of the Grunts, and I needed to do good camera work in observing the first Grunt (I could do multiple takes on the second one afterwards, separately).

A lot of requirements then! But suffice to say, I ended up getting a handful of decent examples. With each such spawning, I also spent a while getting extensive footage of the other Grunts in the start area, thinking I might want it. Ultimately I decided on using the spawning take you see here, as being the best. Together with a follow-up clip focused on the neighbouring Grunt, that gave me the start sequence for the movie. As it turned out, none of the other Grunts from that spawning made it into the movie by the way. For the rest of the movie you're seeing covies from other spawnings.

After also deciding how to end the movie, and obtaining a good escape sequence quite early on (which I never did feel the need to improve on), that just left the main swathe of the movie to build up. The 'middle' part. A slightly daunting prospect at first!

A key requirement, and complication, was that the music in successive clips needed to match up to give a seamless whole, like I'd tried to do in BCM179 (more Grunt-watching). I actually spent some time examining the structure of the music - which is partly randomized - to try and understand it, but in the end I took some liberties for ease of production. As such, the music structure isn't fully 'correct', but it should sound convincing.

Another difficulty was in deciding on how to try and structure the middle part in terms of visual content. What I eventually settled on was (more or less) to initially feature clips of Grunts at the start of the room, after which I'd have fairly random Grunt clips from other locations, with occasional Elite clips along the way. As it turned out, the first Elite clip (one I got quite early on) also did a nice job of indicating progression into the room, signalling a broadening of scope.

A further aspect of the structure was the issue of variation. As things went along, I wanted the Grunts to vary in type (red/orange, and pointy/curled backpack variants), and the camera dynamics to keep varying too, sometimes circling left, sometimes right, sometimes moving in, and so on. You may also notice that clips often start at particular 'natural' times in the music. That's indeed something I was going for, and actually the majority of clips are like that.

The Elites were actually quite a pain to work with as they're pretty good at spotting you tailing them. I must've tried tailing them hundreds of times, hoping to get suitably good footage. But on the majority of occasions I was spotted before getting anything useful.

Building things up and producing successive drafts of the movie, a key change I had to make was to do with pace. In my early draft of about 6:30 duration, the middle part comprised 18 clips in about 4:30 but I decided the pace was too slow, and besides, there were still quite a few other Grunt locations I wanted to include. So I set about some major revision, making clips shorter on average; and I've ended up with 26 in that same time period.

Along the way, but particularly once I'd got to the point of being largely happy with the overall movie structure, there were many times when I worked to improve some clip or other. For example I might want to have better camera work, or to tweak the camera movement timing a bit (in relation to the music, that is), or maybe I wanted a different Grunt type for the sake of variation, or maybe I wanted the Grunt to do a bit of wiggling to make things more engaging.

Many of the desired clip upgrades involved hours of gameplay to try and get things just how I wanted them. One universal requirement was good smooth camera work, which isn't as easy as you might think, especially when you're crouched as I was with all the Grunt shots. And with each take I had to wait for the appropriate music cue of course, so my camera work would span the right stretch of music. In some cases, such as wanting a Grunt to wiggle, that was down to chance. They don't wiggle very often, so it would usually take many tries before I happened to get a wiggle in the right time frame.

It took a whole lot of time and effort then, and there were some late tweaks in these last few days before release, but I can say it was worth it and the movie matches up to the vision I'd had for it.

Across the six and a half minutes, 26 Grunts get the spotlight treatment and it's an even split between red and orange. Not that I was keeping a tally as I went along, but I was trying (loosely) to keep the colours varying. There's a slight bias towards curly backpacks though, which I always found the most amusing and cute. 15 of those, and only 11 of the pointy variety.

So, with 500 movies now done, maybe I can continue on to 600? Stay tuned and we'll see how things go! I should be okay for reaching 501 at least. I've got an idea for that one. If you want to help keep me going long-term though, make a point of leaving comments, to give me some sense that there's still an interested audience.