Actually, QA came early during the week, and we’ve been doing some extensive sessions which led us to implement some additional tools and on-screen information for assisting with the playtesting and debugging of the game!
On-screen debugging info.
The new streaming logic we mentioned last week is still being tweaked and optimized, and we’re pretty happy with the results we’re getting!
Streaming chunk visualizer.
A new animation for the masked youths is also nearing completion, as you can watch see below.
Canyon kid evade animation.
We felt the need to add a little more variety to the game’s enemy pool, and we thought it would be cool to have less “area specific” creatures the player could fight with. Most of the ones we have so far are basically bound to the chapters they first appear in, and there’s no way around that because of the lore. So we are coming up with new ideas for creatures that can spawn anywhere throughout the whole adventure. The first one is a monster that inhabits barrels, and it will keep you on your toes anytime you’re about to destroy these wooden containers in hopes of finding random items.
Producing the assets for this enemy also forced us to remake the basic barrel and crate props, for the sake of coherence, especially because the ones we had previously were recycled placeholders.
This week, a lot of structural scenes were changed and re-arranged, all to accommodate the new streaming logic that finally supports fluid streaming even in very slow hard drives (like the HDD of the Xbox One).
The boss featured in the sneak-peak below is basically ready, we are finishing and implementing the cutscenes that will show off this hard and intricate boss.
The art team is making decent progress regarding the development of the new enemies for Chapter 3. The model for the boss you’ll be facing at that point is almost done, and the masked youth we’ve previously shown is finally game-ready, prepared to be animated! And on that subject, our animator has joined us once again in our offices, so we are having nice discussions about the challenges that await the team.
Let’s take this chance to show a little teaser of the boss battle everyone has been working on. We’ve filtered out the details so the experience of the fight won’t be spoiled for you!
Jump back animation of silhouette boss.
Some weapons were also made and improved, all usable by the player and game-ready.
New weapons, new movesets.
We reworked an older enemy to create a new mini boss. The player will only encounter it in dungeons so beware when you wander in the ruins!
This week we’ve discussed some new ideas and concepts for the next chapter of the game. It will take place in the bottom of the canyon, bordering the windmills zone which you might be familiar with.
We already have some concepts of the new characters and a lot of references, so the ideas are getting close to a conclusion.
For the previous chapters, André had already made some blocking, level design and testing. This final zone is currently drafted on paper, so the next devblogs may be focused on its level design and the details we would like to add.
The boss of the previous chapter is nearly done and currently being worked on by our animator. Here’s a small WIP preview of his weapon in action:
Steam weapon shooting animation WIP.
This zone has a steam theme, which is noticeable due to the mechanisms that are clearly inspired by it. The player will be searching for valves to activate and new paths to unlock. Although the steam particles are an early work-in-progress, they have already been implemented to set the mood for this theme.
Interacting with the valve.
Examining the valve.
For the next week part of team will be working on the new characters and level design of the next chapter of the game. Stay tuned if you are into level building!
This week while the art team was working hard adding props and populating the battlefield zone, some logic/code was improved, like the responsiveness of the dodge after an attack animation and also the time after a big hit attack from an enemy. After these tweaks, the Girl won’t take so much time getting up to resume the fight, making it possible to avoid possible follow-up attacks. We are also adapting the prototype logic to the new props added, for example, the logic of this enormous gate is ready to go.
Surprise encounters and a puzzle awaits.
Animation wise, Iuri has joined us in the office (he usually works remotely) and is producing new animations and polishing some others. Afterwards he will tackle this chapter’s boss!
Remember the Water temple concept? Here is watermill in action (still WIP).
The low poly model for the new boss is pretty much complete, and we’ve started to work on the retopo of the weapons. Next, we’ll do all the texturing and fine-tuning. Regarding the environments, we have been busy putting together the largest ruin in the game (so far), a very tall tower. As soon as it is ready, we’ll be sure to show some screenshots.
Undead Soldier new attack example.
This chapter has a lot of small ruins and dungeons to explore, set loose your explorer’s instinct!
This week we were working on the animations and logic of the Ancestor undead soldier, making him alive but also balance his attacks with the others small soldiers is something that needs some extra work. This is a slow enemy, but careful with the range of the mace!
We also re-worked the logic behind the dodge when in combat, if you have stamina you can dodge immediately after an attack ( before, we waited for the complete end of the attack animation ). This was a feature much asked 🙂
Regarding the small lakes, we are finalizing the final details, like dynamic and static ripples. There’s a sneak peak below. When it’s ready, we will show it in a dedicated devblog post the workflow used.
Things are coming together nicely in the art department, specially concerning the environments of Chapter 2. Since the terrain meshes and textures have finally been completed using our new workflow, the team was able to focus on polishing each area to make them feel unique. On that topic, here is a sneak peek of one of the core locations of this part of the game. For this interior we are having fun experimenting with water pools and other cool details to enhance its mysterious mood.
This week we have finished the AI behavior of the Undead Soldier with the new animations, and started testing the group control with various enemies of this type, as well as with the big Ancestor Soldiers. The game model for the latter is already completed, as you can see in the GIF below. While exploring the battlefield area, if the player isn’t aware of the surroundings, several enemies can be triggered to attack. Mind the bodies lying around!
As always, various small bug fixes and small details were added to the code; a feature that was planned a long time ago was finally implemented – the dual weapon logic for the enemies. To put it simply, the enemies equipped with bows will now draw their swords for close combat situations, for example. Lastly, we’ve also added the Ancestor Soldier’s Mace and helmet to the game as wearable player items.
The Ancestor Soldier.
For the larger terrains we’re currently working on, the team has been trying out quick ways to achieve good results. The image below shows our simple pipeline to produce that kind of content, static environment parts. We first come up with a basic blockout of the scene, then we take it to Zbrush and refine the shapes and silhouettes, while keeping the model rough (since most details will be lost in the following step). Afterwards, the resulting mesh gets decimated, using Decimation Master. A little cleanup is often required, but after the UV’s are ready we bring the whole thing into Unity and start giving it life with Vertex Painting.
The artists have been fully focusing on character design and production these past few days. The Ancestor warrior we’ve shown before is pretty much done and will be game-ready as soon as the finishing touches on the textures are complete. Meanwhile, the final boss of this chapter is currently in the concepting phase, and we are confident this character will turn out to be a very fun and challenging obstacle for the player, due to the unusual weaponry that will be used during the fight.
A simple (yet important) prop has also been added to the game – elevators of Ancestor origin. These will be linked to a puzzle that links some areas of this chapter, and will allow the player to access otherwise unreachable places.
Testing the ancestor lift.
Gameplay-wise, the combat polishing is almost on point. We are really committed to making the “undead soldier” enemy feel like a threatening and convincing foe. He’s got some cool moves like the one shown below. The logic behind the “surprise spawn system” is ready to go, so it’s only a matter of time before we show you guys a humongous battlefield filled with bodies and a couple of unexpected encounters.
If you are too close, beware the smashing shields!
This week we worked on getting the new undead soldier ready for in-game logic and AI behaviors. Our animator is giving life to this undead soldier (no pun intended) and we can already show off a simple idle animation and the dynamic armor system in the gif below.
Undead Soldier turntable.
With this new enemy comes a new armor set and weapons. The player can farm this armor set by killing only these type of enemies, or by finding hidden chests with core armor pieces and weapons. With each full armor set the player has a small bonus in defense, so keep looking!
Lock-On Camera behavior and improved hit detection is something that we can now say is much better than in the PAX build. Sword/shield logic has been improved, much less bug prone, it’s really starting to feel on point.
Parry all the way.
We also added some audio details, for example if Ada has a full helmet armor, her voice is muffled. We love this type of small details, when possible/fast to implement, we add them right away.
In order to make it possible for us to develop interesting environmental puzzles more freely, a simple new feature was added to the Elk. Basically, the player can now command the Elk to stay in a precise location, which will be useful to overcome certain obstacles. After telling the Elk to stay put, it will start following the Girl again if she gets too far.
GET OVER HERE!!!
Meanwhile, another Ancestor Ruin has been placed in the game. This Gate marks the entrance to a very special area in this chapter, but going through it won’t be as straightforward as it might appear.
The high poly model for the Ancestor Warrior is ready, and we’re sure these guys will prove to be quite a challenge. His weapon of choice is very menacing, and we’ll most likely show it in the next update.
High poly Undead Ancestor warrior.
We’ve also added specific idle and running animations that play whenever the Girl is adventuring with lowered stats, something that happens if she gets killed repeatedly. It was our intention to visually convey that the Girl is actually hurt and having more trouble fighting than when she is rested, and we thought a simple message prompt wouldn’t be clear enough. This is meant to work as a reminder of our “stats penalization” mechanic, so players understand why they are taking more damage from enemies and, in turn, dealing less damage to them.
During this week, we’ve done some tests with stylized water and interactions, like splash particles and spume. Once it is more eye-catching we will show it off. The inspirations for it are Windwaker and the upcoming Rime. In this area and the next area, there will be some small lake zones so a proper, simple and fast water shader is in the works.
We also prepared a “fake interior” for the house we’ve shown in a previous update. In the “central village hub” there will be more similar houses and as the player progresses in the game, people who used to live there will return to their abandoned homes. By then, the player will be able to knock on the doors and talk with the people inside, adding another layer to the story lore.
Always knock on the house doors.
In the new area we are working on, the player can find a great Ancestor ruin, a Water Temple, that shows signs of having been repurposed… Now it functions as a steam powerhouse, but who is harnessing all this energy?