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Weekly Journal - The Refactoring Continues

Hi everyone,  

This week we are getting much closer to completing the “refactoring” of all of our encounter content, using the new Quest, Conversation and Puppet systems. It’s a big job, as refactoring these quests have made it necessary to create a lot of new supporting content (eg animations and VO).  

You may recall that last week we posted a survey asking you for feedback on our new Crafting Menu screen. We received well over 1000 responses before closing the survey, so thank you for participating!  

Almost 90% of you picked the correct answer (basic lock pick), and most of the remaining 10% picked the next likely choice (advanced lock pick).  

You might have thought that the answer was obvious, but this highlights how it’s very hard to design even a very simple screen to work for 100% of players. However, it is important that we ask these kinds of questions, as they help us know that we’re going in the right direction (and sometimes they even show us questions we didn’t know we needed answers to).

Narrative Team  

Alex (Narrative Director)  

I drove down to New York for the Future of Storytelling Festival, where Dan Pinchbeck (Everyone’s Gone to the Rapture), Sam Barlow (Her Story), Lance Weiler (Columbia University’s Experiential Learning program) and I pontificated for Chris Grant (editor-in-chief of Polygon).

I guess my spiel was that the future of storytelling is much like the past of storytelling; stories are stories. However, stories used to be oral, and used to change all the time. “Tell us again of how the hero Beowulf slew the monster Grendel and his mum,” the jarl would say, and the bard would tell the story, always slightly differently, with different kennings, making sure to dwell most on the parts of the story that had the most to do with the raid they went on last month.  

Then some time after 1750, stories got locked down by printing. Each time someone stages Shakespeare play, it’s different, but Sense & Sensibility is the same every time you read it. Casablanca is the same every time you watch it.  

Now we’re making games, and behold: we tell the story, you experience it, and then we add things and sometimes subtract things, and it’s different. And you play it and experience something different each time, we hope. “Tell us again of how the anti-hero Arthur Hastings GTFO of Wellington Wells.”  

There was a lot of VR there. It might seem easy to generate a version of We Happy Few for VR goggles. However, making it playable on a full stomach, that would be quite a chore, and I hope the damn things don’t catch on.  

Oh, and I met some very nice bobbies at New York ComicCon.

Back in the saddle on Tuesday, we recorded another hundred or so NPC lines with the lovely Hannah Melbourn. (I’m actually just assuming she’s lovely. I’ve never seen her, I’ve just heard her voice over Skype.) I came up with a list of 40 extremely English place names for a map, a list of 8 books to find in the Garden District, and a bunch of encounter dialog. I’m also hoping to wrap up the re-edit of the very last cutscene of Arthur’s playthrough, after a rewrite and a re-recording session for a fellow who is responsible for a sort of gate.

Lisa (new writer)  

I joined Compulsion a few weeks ago as a junior writer. So far, I’m mostly writing dialog for bobbies and barks for [REDACTED] -- the girl with the thigh-high boots and hypodermic needle. She’s the most delicious, complex character I’ve ever had a chance to write for.  

It’s both thrilling and intimidating to come onboard a game that already has such a rich world and distinctive voice. I’m cribbing from every “useless” course I took in university: English poetry, military history, the film aesthetics class that made us watch Blow-Up frame by frame. The story is blowing my mind, especially the part where [REDACTED].

Design Team  

Adam  

I finished the major pass on Faraday’s Encounter. And it’s in the testing phase currently. There is always a bit more I could do to add flavor… so I think I will :)

Hayden  

For the last few weeks I’ve been working on a level for story mode, something that is sure to bring you much joy. But this week… refactoring old encounters was on the menu, and I was able to complete four of my encounters with more to come over the weekend. There were a few bumps along the way, but all in all, the new Quest, Puppet and Conversation systems are providing us with everything we need to create some really cool game experiences.

Vince  

What’s up! Finally finished with re-fracktoring all encounters, this week it was time to implement all the nice conversations the animators made for us and add all those barks Alex recorded! Of course, the new conversation and puppet show system still have their little quirks, so we have to wait for fixes from programmers or work around them to see the results and thus making sure all the hard work the animators put in actually works well without any weird glitching or popping. It does add a lot to the game and to the lore because now you can actually listen to what the NPCs are saying without having to worry about crazy Wastrels sputtering nonsense or equally crazy Wellies being always paranoid you’re a bloody Downer! Lovely day for it!  

Oh and we are also adding some little changes and additions to some encounters too, so you’ll have some surprises playing encounters you’ve played before. Beware!

Mike  

Hey this week I made a polish pass on the levels that revolve around character interactions. People are now animated and feel more alive!

Antoine  

Hello ! Gosh it’s been a while. I’ve been in the depths of Arthur’s story missions for some time. Let me tell you that designing those are quite an interesting challenge, especially since most of the game is built on survival mechanics. We were joking amongst level designers thinking about missions that would harness the core mechanics of the game. Here’s one: a long corridor with a ton of beds and food and the corridor makes you sleepy and hungry really quickly (I repeat this is a joke). Expect a blend of traversal and puzzles featuring a strange device.  

I’ve also tweaked a bit how the spankers and Joy detection beams work. Previously we made a clear distinction between player and NPC in regards to polarity. If you reversed the polarity it would strictly get NPCs who are on Joy. A little too permissive and much too powerful in favor of the player. So I went for a more systemic approach. Spankers and beams now don’t make a distinction between players and NPCs. Quick scenario : If you are on Joy (as you should), the polarity is not reversed and you pass through Joy detection beams, you won’t ring the alarm. Nothing really special unless if you reversed the polarity, are on Joy and pass through beams you will activate the alarm! The reversed polarity security system will think that anything on Joy is hostile. Meaning that those crash syringes, crash darts and crash bombs will become a lot more useful (especially when you reach Village 2). You can clear an NPC of Joy and push them in a non reversed security beam and they will ring the alarm (since they are not on Joy). That also means that Spanker TVs found in Faraday’s House shouldn’t be a problem if you are conforming and taking your Joy.

Art Team  

Marc-André  

This week, I have been working on the Village house's interiors. There is some exciting stuff this week! We now have a vanity, a wardrobe variant, storage shelves, tiki bar, glasses (sherry, martini, champagne, wine), towels, a coffee table and toilet paper (well, SOMEONE HAS TO DO IT...)

I am now making new bed variants (single and queen sized) to replace the very-old-&-low-quality mesh we currently have in the engine. These are currently still in progress.

In addition, I have focused on the interior lighting and composition of the houses. I have been improving on what I had done a few weeks ago, integrating the new props I made and starting to work on some old rooms that had yet to be retouched.  

Through all of that, I also implemented a script that automatically syncs my source control workspace before I arrive in the mornings, which will save me a very cherished and productive five minutes every day of the week... forever!

Animation Team  

J.R.  

Hi everyone! This week I mostly worked on Faraday's House of the Inventor! Yes, that one. I'm working closely with Adam to help him make this encounter playable once and for all! But it's too soon for me to show anything of value. Instead, while I was affected by a little bit of the plague myself I thought "might as well work on some plague animations"!

See you next week.

Michael  

What’s up everyone!  

It’s awesome to write about your work for all of the community to see. I have joined Compulsion this week and I am the new animator on the team. With no time to lose, I jumped on NPC dialog. I started working on the “Lilies Of The Field” quest line and did some animation retargeting on the Crier, using animations from our other characters.

Retargeting is a great solution for sharing animations on multiple different characters. We basically take an already done animation from one character, and put it on another with different body proportions. All that is left to do is to adjust the body poses in order to avoid clipping in the 3D mesh.  

As the intro dialog for the quest progressed, I noticed we needed some gestures for the player character when he talks. So I did a first person animation that we can also re-use elsewhere in the game if needed. Those are fun to do, so I hope to do more later.  

Thank you for tuning in!  

Compulsion Team

 

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