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 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 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 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.
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.
This week we continued the work of replacing old animations with the new ones which add a lot more personality to the game. Walking on quicksand and the visual feedback of that action, for example, was something we needed to improve, in terms of animation and also in shader work. We’re currently working on that, but it isn’t finished yet. In the meantime, we are also doing some experiments with stylized water shaders to use in small lakes or shallow streams, for example.
On a different note, the cutscene system was fine tuned, and now there is an option to skip forward those events.
Knock,Knock, who’s there?
The new areas are developing smoothly, and although there are many assets to create, concepts like the one below help us to establish the mood we’re trying to achieve in advance. In this case, the image depicts the stage of a bloody battle.
Previously, we’ve shown the concept for an armor used by a new kind of enemy the player will be facing. The “game ready” model of this equipment is already finished: