A busy week with a final sprint to finish the steam themed chapter we have been showing off lately, while also performing some final touches and working on logic testing.
The streaming world logic is undergoing some changes for the best. We’re hacking at optimizing the loading of new areas while also removing the stuttering that sometimes happens, which is noticeable on slower hard drives.
The new cutscene system we are using, that was also mentioned it in the last post, is looking great! This tool will be crucial for our emotional cutscenes.
These particles steam a bit out of place.
Don’t just stained there looking at all that cool glass!
For this past week, our artists have been fully focused on producing the 3D models of various enemies, including the new chapter’s boss. The high-poly version of the orphan kid character we’ve shown in the last update is pretty much complete, so here’s a sneak peek!
High Poly of the masked youths, featuring Blanka cosplay.
Hope you all have a great weekend, stay tuned for more updates!
This week we continued working on the current chapter’s end boss, nearly all of its move-sets are complete, while the AI polish and behavior are currently in the works. This boss has a lot of extra moving parts and we experienced some problems managing several of its animations simultaneously, but we’ve solved this in the end.
A fully functional jetpack!
We also finished populating the environment of this chapter while also adding the logic to support it, now it’s time for testing and to finish balancing! Here are some combat encounter screenshots:
Two’s a company…
…three’s a crowd!
Unity 2017 released an awesome new tool for cinematics, so we’ll have to port our existing ones and create the future ones with it for a more cinematic and professional feeling.
Regarding the next chapter, players will mostly be facing a new threat, the masked youths that dwell in the depths of the Rift! Their visual concept was inspired by a Portuguese tradition, the “caretos”, as well as Princess Mononoke’s battle costume. Their motives for attacking the girl on sight will have to remain a mystery, for now…
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 the team was grinding intensively, as we’re slowly but steadily approaching the completion of Chapter 2.
Since our animator has been with us in the office these past days, we spent plenty of time developing, polishing and implementing animations. In particular, the Elk has received quite a lot of attention, and it is feeling more alive than ever.
The artists are busy tackling the arena where the Girl will battle this Chapter’s Boss, as well as painting the texture maps for that character.
As promised before, we’re sharing our current workflow to produce the bodies of water we’ve been featuring lately in this blog.
It’s quite simple, as you can see in the following breakdown:
Small lake mesh workflow.
Shout-out to Paulo from our tech team for coming up with it in the first place. As mentioned in point f), both the ripple effect and the water surface require materials with shader work developed using Amplify Shader Editor. Here are the nodes needed for the water surface (we’ll show the ones for the ripples on a later date, since we’re still perfecting the effect!):
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 added more animations to NPCs to accommodate the later encounters with them. As the game flows, the mood of the NPC’s change so extra animations were needed. We also made some progress regarding the in-game water, it’s still not finished for a complete step by step devblog post, maybe next week!
A small lake for relax.
Some “dungeon modules” were added too, for a more dense and labyrinthic experience when player wanders through them. We believe that every small place to explore must have some reward, so keep looking!
A Dungeon entry, beware what lurks inside!
We also changed the impact particle that shows up when the Girl’s feet hit the ground (dirt) so it looks more stylized. We will continue with this approach for the rest of the VFXs, like fire and smoke.
Populating some new zones with props and creating the mood is also in the works. On the art department things are also progressing nicely, even though this new enemy is probably the most complex character we have developed so far, especially due to the arsenal used…
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 continued working on polishing the combat system, this time on the feeling of the combo attacks. We tweaked once again the window between the consecutive attacks that could form a small combo. We also added a slope detection so the player cannot climb to places that he/she is not meant to. In this case, the character will decelerate when the player tries to climb something with a slope greater that 45 degrees.
One thing that was asked of us at PAX East was an option to auto hide the HUD, so the player could have a more immersive experience. This was easily added, although, every time the player gets hit, changes weapon/potion, has low stamina or the current weapon durability is changed it appears again for a few seconds.
Beyond that, it has been quite a grind to populate and wrap up the environments. Getting the mood of each location just right is a big challenge. Here are some shots of the game that showcase what we are going for in a couple of areas, but keep in mind all of this is still very much work in progress.
One of the dynamics of the area we are currently developing is the constant surprise of combat. While walking among the corpses of soldiers who have fallen on this battlefield, the player will never know which might turn out to be a threat. This mechanic has a threshold, so hopefully the player will never feel overwhelmed by the amount of enemies at any given time.
Careful where you step.
This week we have captured some gameplay footage to pinpoint some collision problems, add additional particles and polish some combat behaviors. We tested this approach so that the gameplay wouldn’t be filtered by the usual editing workflow, allowing us to really observe how things are coming together. We also added new stylized particles, but this is an ongoing process and it’s still not ready to be shown.
Art-wise, the creation of the new boss character we’ve mentioned before is progressing nicely. The concept phase is basically over and production has already started. We want the design to remain a surprise for now, but we decided to show a small teaser – the concept of the boss’ weapon. The team is committed to making this battle a pretty epic moment, so the weapon just had to be somewhat over the top!
Boss’ weapon concept.
We’re also doing some water tests like we said some time ago. There’ll be no ocean in this game, but small lakes or big puddles. Paulo (working on Amplify Shader Editor) has been lending the DoL team a hand by doing some ripple effect experiments. These will be used in some specific zones throughout the game.
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.