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Weekly Update - Items, Encounters and Shocks, oh my!

Hey everyone, 

We hope that you have had a good week! This week we have been preparing for the next pre-alpha update, which is focusing on introducing the full list of “regular” useable items into the game. Aka all the food, items, weapons, etc, that we need to create a full play through. We have a bunch of surprises coming in, and are very looking forward to your experimentation and feedback. If you do not have access to the pre-alpha but are curious about how the players respond, you can always join the conversation in our forum!

Before we get onto our weekly update we wanted to let you know that The Flame in the Floodwas released this week! The Flame in the Flood was a game that got funded on Kickstarter (and some of you guys asked us to check out) and is now fully released on Steam. It is a beautiful survival game made by ex Irrational devs and it has a killer soundtrack by Chuck Ragan.

Narrative Team

Alex

I’ve been continuing to search for a voice for some revelatory audio. There’s a character in game who’s autistic. Good actors are hard enough to find; actors who can play autistic with emotional truthfulness are rarer still. And, the role has another characteristic I can’t tell you yet. Few people can handle a speech impediment without the impediment becoming the whole performance. And, we want charisma in our voices.

(My daughter is autistic, so autism is something I think about a lot. It’s nice to be able to put it in the game. And by “nice,” I mean that it’s going to take us to a seriously effed-up place.)

Meanwhile, I’m continuing to work on dialog for encounters. Writing encounter dialog is tricky because sound eats memory, and we need the game to be a reasonable size on your computer or console. So I need to suggest as much as possible in as little dialog as possible. Also, any time Arthur talks, that means our other player characters will eventually have to have something to say, too. On the other hand, we’re long past the point in video games where we can get away with throwing text on the screen. And a voice performance adds so much, anyway.

I’ve also been having a bash at tooltips. The designers have written very “gamey” tooltips, e.g. “does .2 shock damage + .4 blunt damage.” I feel that takes you out of the game, so the tooltip will now read something clever-ish like, “this weapon is really smashing, and a bit shocking too.”

And there’s the usual ongoing support. What brand gin do people drink? What do Wellies say after they are no longer distracted by Rick the Stunt Duck? What do Bobbies say? Each one of these is not a lot of work, but they add up, and there’s a fair amount of bookkeeping necessary as well, to make sure that everything gets recorded and shepherded into the game.

Programming Team  

Marc

I have been doing lots of small gameplay tasks in the past weeks. Our overall game design is shaping up nicely and we are in the process of adding a lot of weapons, gadgets and tools. As you can or will see it requires new art, new sounds, and new animations, but all this stuff needs to be integrated, we need new behaviours for AI, and modifications to our gameplay framework.

For instance we added quite a few throwable bombs with various effects in the game: the sick bomb makes the characters vomit, the tear gas make them cough, etc. We also added some "distraction" devices whose purpose is to attract the AI in one specific place while you go around them, to reinforce the stealth gameplay.

There are new melee weapons that can "shock" the enemy, giving you a pretty extended stun, darts that exhaust an enemy, serving a similar purpose, and more.

All these must be taken into account for the AI to make sure the behaviour always make sense. It's pretty hard to anticipate all the situations, and I expect we will have our share of bugs as in any systemic game, but we constantly expand the variety of behaviours so that the player understand intuitively what's happening.

On the animation side I changed the walk system a bit, to easily add more variations to the way the NPCs walk and to simplify special cases (e.g. they run away when they're on fire), but the major improvement coming soon will be the integration of facial animations generated with FaceFX. I added a simple system that automatically chooses and plays the correct facial animation whenever a bark (NPC talking) is triggered. Remi generates the animations from the audio files using FaceFX, he puts them in, and it will just work. Because of course it always does. It does change quite a bit the interaction with NPCs, you now know who's talking to you and it feels a lot more real. The animations are not perfect (not as good as hand crafted ones) but it's pretty good, enough to read on the lips of the character in some cases.

And of course I also did the usual sound fixes, general bugs (NPCs should not appear anymore on top of benches, hopefully...), and general support for designers (e.g. extending the patrol system to simplify scripting NPCs in specific situations).

Art Team  

Marc-André

This week, I had a tremendous amount of fun modeling and texturing interesting props like the Elite Hammer Tool, the music box, the gas masks and a bunch of other small props.

Emmanuel 

I did a lot of props this week; some are more fun than others to make. A vinegar bottle is not something intellectually challenging but it has to be done. But I have to say, I love making pies!

Design Team

Vince

Lots of different tasks this week, I don’t really know where to start!

I did some tweaks to the encounters I’m working on, and started new ones. The Altar of Yam is getting even more epic, but I’m keeping that a surprise for next week.

We are releasing a build to all our pre-alpha backers soon, so I did a little bit of work that will go in that build, notably: added a whole bunch of descriptions to pickups and a lot of updates to existing ones. Level designers usually put placeholder objects in the game real quick when we need them and write a bunch of silly stuff in their description. But now, Alex wrote even more funny stuff for them, so try to collect and read them all!

Antoine

Hi there! This week was a lot of preparation work, talking to people on the team, and adjusting workflows so everything goes smoothly for everybody. I’ve sent a document to the art team explaining how all the current traps work. I believe they should start to art them up soon-ish (very excited). This means in the future I’ll be able to unveil some of them in the weekly updates (we’ll definitely keep a couple secret for maximum surprise when you get your hands on new updates). Been having talks with the artists since I’m entering the realm of Village encounters. We’ve talked about a workflow that is going to allow the design team to tweak Village houses geometry, encounters and so on. By the end you should be able to see more variety in the Village. I’ve also been working on a new trap which is definitely going to spice up house gameplay and two other encounters (including a house where people have very strange ways of passing time… leaving it there as a tease).

Hayden

Hello Folks! This week had me working on my first encounter for the game, Faraday’s Workshop, which is located in the Village. It’s an interesting space filled with many shocking surprises, literally and figuratively. Working on this encounter was a real gas; I was able to block-out the physical space, add all the cool surprises and stubbed in the first part of the quest. I’m sure when you play it, it’ll be an electrifying experience!

Thank you for tuning and have a great weekend everyone!  

Compulsion

 

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