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Weekly Journal - 19/05/2017 - Travelling Fast
Nothing major to announce this week except that the team is working hard towards the next update. We also had a call with [REDACTED] for the soundtrack for We Happy Few and we couldn’t be more excited! Any guesses?
This week, I have been doing a bunch of fixes here and there. Visual gameplay issues, material tweaks, etc.
I am in the process of improving the first two garden district islands, adding variation to the building shapes and materials. The goal is to make them feel less repetitive and uniform.
I have also started to tweak the buildings that will later appear in a new biome - the often rumoured Parade District! I added decorators to them and fixed the most glaring material issues.
Near the end of the week, I did a sign integration pass for the two underground construction levels. I also fixed footstep sound issues for the majority of the next update's encounters.
This week was all about fixing things, so the first task was to add some Joy booths in some parks and art them up. I also created the material for the buttons of the Jubilator, and made some bug fixing in the bridges, again. After all that I had some time to start on my first location! But this I will show next week (:
Every now and then we tear ourselves away from the day-to-day of building encounters to tear down and rebuild one of the playthroughs. These past few weeks, it’s been Miss Thigh Highs.
I think it’s fair to say our cutscenes are fairly complex and cinematic for video game cutscenes. I don’t know how much carnage other teams have, but I suspect most dev teams don’t iterate as much on the cutscenes as they do on gameplay. We’re iterating on both.
So I’m rewriting almost every single script in the playthrough.
Naturally this means a flock of new recording sessions coming up. We also felt that one of our character voices wasn’t as charismatic or as menacing as we wanted. So I proposed recasting. That meant looking at about 200 submissions from Britain, listening to 70 demos, sending 15 actors an audition text to record, doing a directed callback with seven actors, all in order to pick the guy we thought was the best.
I’m pretty sure most dev teams don’t recast. It’s expensive. But why not take advantage of the iterative nature of videogame development in the story as well as the gameplay? If someone’s not bringing it, why leave the results in the game?
Every game teaches you how to make that game. If we ever have to make exactly this game again, it will be super easy.
As soon as I’ve re-recorded and re-cut all these scenes, it will be up to the animators to block (and in some cases re-block) the scenes. It’s a lot of extra work, but I hope you’ll be pleased with the results.
This week my focus was on realization for two of our encounters (and a third to follow next week!); though most of the work fell onto our animators, artists and programmers—who have done such an awesome job at complementing our design vision.
To explain it a little better; let’s assume we already have the idea for the encounter squared away, the narrative is in place and the level is built, all the basics are there (I won’t speak for everyone, as a lot of folks here can nail their shit down on the first attempt; for me, it’s a totally iterative process—sweet, sweet layers of “cool, that works!” and fixed mistakes).
During this realization phase, we lean on the animators and artists to help bring in the bells and whistles, the sparkly bits and bedazzle beads that help create a cohesive vision.
In this case, I’m fortunate to be working with these guys; as they not only have these amazing artistic chops, but they also bring a lot of technical mumbo-jumbo to the table—totally helpful. Let’s put it this way, there is no doubt in the world, the combined ability of this outfit can construct anything your video game brains can think of – it’s just a matter of time.
With that said… A lot of my week was talking with artists and animators, prepping and repairing script for placement of matinees and conversations, fixing bugs here and there, reworking previous ideas that fell short, and to put it simply, keeping my head above water and completing these levels—as a friend of mine from Beijing once said when asked how his day was going, “Work is many!”. It’s true, work on this project is many… But so fucking worth it.
Long week. But a good one: I started on the final character's playthrough!
Ditto’ Adam’s long week comment. Getting near finished on the underground level I am working on, and making a pretty crazy playable sequence that I’m sure we’ll show something from it soon. Making it work has been easy, making it work and look perfect has been a strange challenge. It should be pretty wicked when it’s done though. I’m pretty happy with it so far. Next week should start back on some fixes for some of the old encounters to sneak in a few more fixes for the next update.
I have started working on a new gameplay system, Fast Travel.
Now that our procedural worlds are getting so big it makes sense to give the players a way to cut down the amount of playtime they spend traversing across the islands when they are heading somewhere specific. The fast travel in the game will make sense within the world, and will even explain more about the functioning of Wellington Wells.
To start I have built on top of the current respawn code, which already moves the player to certain points in the world. I have also added a little interface on top of the map menu which lists out the locations that the player can currently travel to.
It won't be possible to just open a menu and move anywhere in the world; Fast travel will be possible only between a discrete locations that the designers have placed in the world.
It’s early stages, but it should be very cool and add a lot when it’s finished.
Thanks for tuning in!
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