Half of the team members are enjoying their much deserved vacations, and our programmer and game designer is back and working on the blocking of the final zones of the game! Most of the ideas are in paper and sketches including the puzzles, encounters, cutscenes and events. Blocking the final zone of the game provides an opportunity to look at the game as whole, while also considering its pacing and mood building and performing small tweaks here and there.
Right now we are blocking the Bottom of the Rift Windmills, the area inhabited by the previously revealed canyon kids. We’re aiming at a spicing up the place with a lot of exploration opportunities while taking advantage of the topology of the terrain to include plenty of vertical exploration as well. Here’s a small preview below.
Bottom Rift Windmills blocking preview.
Like we mentioned above, small tweaks and polish passes were made in the previous zones in order to achieve the intended mood. Below you will find two pictures, the first one being of the Old Woman’s House, and the second one an encounter with two cursed soldiers that are into jogging.
Old Woman’s House in the woods.
Survival rule #1: Cardio.
Hope you’ve enjoyed our devblog update, have a great weekend!
This is our 40th devblog entry! We want to thank everyone who has been following us in this journey.
During this week of work, a boss battle was born. There is still a lot of balancing and small tweaks to be done in each combat phase, but it’s getting there. We are targeting for an intense battle with various phases, different attacks and transformations. Some of us are hardcore Dark Souls players, so the difficulty is being calibrated in favor of everyone.
We will show some parts of this boss battle in the upcoming trailer we are also working on.
The Rift Windmills
Meanwhile, the work on the new Canyon area continues to keep our artists busy. Most of the props have already been laid out, and the big Windmill that punctuates the landscape is also practically finished.
We are currently focusing on the task of texturing very wide surfaces, and to make that process easier, we asked our colleagues from the R&D team to lend us a hand. After some discussion, we decided to add the Amplify Shader Editor to our toolkit, so now we have a much easier time blending maps.
Once again, this week André was improving and fixing some stuff following the feedback we got from Lisbon Games Week. Some UI changes and rearrangement were done for a more readable inventory, for example. Two handed swords will also start to behave like one handed ones, since various testers sheathed the weapon by mistake in the middle of the combat. Also the Elk control and camera were improved, and probably a change in the controls will be made at a later stage. Since the prototype that the inspiration for the Elk control was Shadow of the Colossus, but maybe it is time to test a new control system, more similar to the Girl control. We will have the chance to test these changes at Comic Con Portugal.
We also revamped the area with the cave tunnels in order to achieve a more immersive ambiance.
Close encounters of the slime kind.
One last thing, we are having a lot of fun doing some promotion captures with the cinematic camera 😛
Wandering in the swamp.
It has been a very tough work week for everyone. We are closing a new area of the game that will be shown in Lisboa Games Week in 17-20 of November. A lot was added or improved, from characters, props to polished code. We are also doing some playtesting.
The swamp area is practically complete, and now we are tweaking the overall colors and exploring ways of adding details that enhance the mood, like thick fog and small water puddles. Here is a shot showing how the whole thing is coming together.
In the previous blog update we’ve shown the concept for the Lumberjack’s twin brother, and now that we’ve wrapped up the production for that character we can show how it turned out.
We also added a few minor details to the UV maps of the first Lumberjack, including a placeholder “hand-painted” fur texture to his shoulder pad which we plan to eventually change into “hair cards” further down the road (similar to the system we’ve used for the Elk model).
You can see in the image below the Lumberjack siblings chilling together.
You walked into the wrong neighborhood.
Here’s a sneak peak of the Wanderer’s idle animation. Remember to go talk to him!
The Wanderer, idle animation WIP.
This week we all invested some time in the first portion of the game, making a lot of tweaks and populating every space with the assets we produced so far. The shots below show how much more alive the game feels now following this collective effort.
Lumberjack hut area and companion.
The old Temple
One of the things that is still in a clear “wip” state is the texture of the hills and cliffs that limit the areas of the game. There was actually an unfortunate setback in our process – Pichel had made a lot of progress in texturing when suddenly Mari crashed and a lot of work was lost, since it somehow corrupted the backup files. But nevertheless we are back on track.
André worked on improving a bunch of mechanics, improving the “ambush” feature, the enemies’ awareness system, and updated the HUD alongside Tomé, using new graphic elements they designed together.
New UI elements
We also got a lot of new elk animations from Iuri that really help making it look livelier. Ricardo also jumped in to assist the team with the general lighting of the game.
This week Tomé and André reworked and tweaked some interiors of the game using many brand new assets. Some color calibrations were done to improve the atmosphere of each space and create distinct areas.
Secret areas are easy to be missed.
Some hidden lore in this wooden house.
Another pass in populating this interior.
André did some bug fixing and polished some mechanics. He’s preparing a new test build. Also, a first new version of streaming scenes was implemented with a great performance improvement and also an easier way to edit scenes for everyone.
Meanwhile, Pichel finished the player’s companion and is working on the other characters and NPC’s and doing a more detailed version of the painted terrain.
The outdoors are really coming along, the new areas are almost complete.
Another pass in populating this interior.
Next week we intend to redo the HUD (replacing placeholders) and make some minor functionality changes in the inventory.
Our exterior and interior 3D modules are finally ready and we are assembling the buildings that were simple place holders a few weeks ago. We are still experimenting with the overall distribution and lighting of the area.
Modular props are very useful since they can be reused in other buildings, even on later chapters. They can be used as ruins too (with simple painting or decal variations). In the next couple of weeks, Level building will become much faster and fun.
You can use stairs to reach higher places, they will also offer you clues to possible passages.
Some cracks, rubble and wood planks will be added later for added effect.
Temporary lightning, this shot uses a very simple preview light setup.
We plan to have smooth and immersive interior/exterior transitions, visually and auditory. Duck volumes (exterior sounds like birds will be clamped when you are inside), eye adaptation and reverb zones combined will create an unforgettable experience.
Next week André will tackle dynamic spine IKs for biped and quadruped, and Pichel will be working in a new NPC.
Pichel and Tomé are doing some progress in the texturing department, painting maps for all the modular props. You can see below most of the wooden assets, all game-ready.
Various finished wooden props.
This week André implemented deferred decals, they will be used for blood splats on surfaces and for details in walls/floors, like cracks for example, or other numerous applications in static objects.
Some improvements have been made in the way enemies respond to hits, like if the player swings the sword in one direction and hits the enemy, he will stagger in the opposite way he was hit. The direction of the blood particle and blood splat in floor respect the hit direction too.
Here you can see some blood on the ground with the new deferred decal system.
We did some tests with interior lighting too, still very WIP (no final textures nor materials), but now we know that we can achieve cool ambient interiors.
You can see some light coming from the cracked ceiling in the far end.