Pine DevBlog #36 - Lances and Luminescence

Posted in Weekly Development Blogs

This week we started the process of defining the range of weapons and gear we'll have in the game. It's something we definitely don't want to spoil through devblogs - but we can't help it to show at least one bit of weaponry that we've been developing.

As with more than just these weapons, we notice sometimes the weekly blogs need to be careful to not spoil anything - so we'd rather tell you in those cases. Among this week's progress:

  • We worked a lot on the Dry Bay Tower vault, making a full first layout playthrough of it. It's not too tall, but it's one big intricate puzzle tower where you'll need to arrange the space to reach the top.

  • We started concepting the second Vault, laid inside a mountain

  • We've continued with the bigger world simulation, a very intricate system of tasks, quests and populations. Super exciting stuff!

Something we are excited to show things about is the further concepting of the swamps! We wanted to try out an idea with bio-luminescence we'd been having - at day, the mushrooms in the swamps gather the sunlight that they then unleash at night, forming a guiding path through the maze-like morass.

The game design document is now at version 0.4.0, having filled in pretty much all of the features completely. One of those points is the species affinity system - how do you appeal to species and how do you antagonize them?

Of course, part of this mechanic is the communication to players - how do we show their level of affinity? We're prototyping something we call the evaluation shimmer, a quick shimmer outline around an organism to show their stance against you. We're currently testing when, how and where this is all useful.

Until next time!

Pine DevBlog #35 - Smooth-LODs and Storyboards

Posted in Weekly Development Blogs

Lots of technological advancements this week! Important work was done on a large part of the island - caves (and therefore subterrains).

As with anything in the game, we want the caves to load seamlessly and in an instant. With our previous terrain, it wasn't even possible to draw a second terrain - but we separated some code and we can now create new, smaller terrain under the bigger terrain surface.

An intricate 'problem' with these caves was creating continuous logic for AI, so we looked into navmesh stitching for this. This means that we can additively load in caves and species will understand the newly added cave as a space they can move to. Next step, of course, is to actually make it a cave, and add holes and more geometry in these areas.

We've also smoothened out the rendering of the terrain LODs, now fading instead of popping! This adds a nice layer of polish, as you'll be constantly looking at the terrain during your playthrough. We do this by adding the vertices on the old LOD position and then lerping the vertices to their new position, rather than adding them in their final locations.

For villages and environment, we've been doing a lot of LOD work to optimize the rendering of the villages - not much to show in that area.

Last week we talked about story, and we're working on some very rough storyboard thumbnails to test out some moods for scenes. We're getting really excited about the story!

Lastly, we've shown the new Cariblin before, but he's now ready to be put back into the game. We're very happy with his new and upgraded look!

That's it for this week. Until next time!

Pine DevBlog #34 - Sliding and Subterrains

Posted in Weekly Development Blogs

In light of enlarging Hue's animation library, the state of our whiteboxed island inspired us to move forward with a proper sliding animation! For kinder slopes Hue can stand on two feet, but for steeper slopes he'll fall on his side a bit. We're gonna try to get proper in-engine IK involved in this so that his hands and feet nicely match the slope he's on.

We're also starting to revamp some of the VFX with Unity's new Standard Particle Shader. We have a plan of making a slash+hit effect, explosion and big water splash first - with those three VFX defined, we should be able to tweak those to perfection and define the style of the rest of the VFX. We're currently working on dissolve functionality of the VFX shader, so that we can have cool smoke and water effects. Stay tuned!

A big overhaul was done on the terrain rendering - it's now in screen space! That's right, in screen space - but this allows us to actually sample the terrain splatmap at any given point on screen and play around with the splatmap textures on other objects too. The blending and normal-based texture masks we did before can now be done extremely cheaply on anything. We're excited!

A whole lot more was done this week on the game design document and story of the game - we now have a good idea of the game's quests from start to finish and how Hue progresses on his way to find a new home.

Lastly, our freelance art support Robin de Jong spent some time concepting one of Albamare's Vaults, and we couldn't be happier with the result of that - we can't wait to make this area come to life.

Until next time!

Pine DevBlog #33 - Barrels and Brows

Posted in Weekly Development Blogs

As part of blocking out much of the needed art for later, we focused on making blockouts for another species - the Fexel! We're excited about this village - Fexel-flaps make up their doors, while their barrels, pipes and flagons serve them their bomb resources. Their architecture is loosely based on the work of Anton Pieck, one of the main artists of Dutch amusement park the Efteling - a park you have got to see if you're in the area!

We can't wait to make these functional for the Fexels and fill up their barrels with liquids for that extra touch.

After whiteboxing large parts of the island we've also started working on Hue's sprint, which will come in handy when trying to move between villages. Lots of players had been asking about this since early demos too, so we've started prototyping to make traversal even more fun.

Another important effort this week went into finalizing the sculpt of the new and improved Cariblin! We've been working hard to make him more unique and fit with the style of the newer species, a treatment similar to the one the Litter received.

The Cariblin is more hairy now and their clothing is more original and unique to them. They now fit the style of their new villages properly. Also, eyebrows!

Lastly, a lot of work was done on the game design document and story - we're filling in as many details as we can as quickly as we can; after all, iterating is easier than creating. Exciting work!

Until next time!