Lots to share this week even though the team is knee deep in work and in story related content. Enjoy!
As we near the end of content complete, we come a bit closer to understanding our estimates, and what we can/can’t accomplish in the time we scheduled. The level design schedule is looking tighter than we’d like for the final week, as it has taken a bit longer to record VO than anticipated, so rather than ask everyone to work super crazy hours we’ve made the call to extend content complete by an extra week. This won’t affect street date as we had built in time to the schedule for exactly this kind of situation. So, still roughly 2 weeks to go until we can say “this is the content we’re shipping with”.
In the meantime, the team continues integrating content and getting us to the point where we’re ready to submit to ratings. One area of interest right now is the Parade District. Some of you may remember that we had planned to add this in the last Early Access update, but we removed it because we felt it was too intertwined with the story (aka, there was really only story content there, and much less systemic gameplay). Once we made that call, we were also able to make another one: we are creating this area by hand, rather than using the procedural system. This should give the Parade District a very distinct feeling, and provide an experience that is a bit more hand crafted. However, that means a lot of art team time, so almost the entire art team will be working on this for the next two weeks.
Narrative Team - Alex and Lisa
Wednesday I flew down to Texas for a motion capture shoot for a key scene in the Mad Scotsman’s story, that will also be the backbone of an upcoming trailer!
This is the first time I’ve ever directed mo-cap. As with most motion capture shoots, we already had edited audio — I recorded one actor in London, and another in Toronto. Now we needed to give arms and legs to those voices.
So motion capture is a bit like dance. My job was choreographing the movements and gestures that are supposed to sell the emotions in the voices. I had a general idea of where the actors could move in the imaginary space we’d already built. On the mo-cap stage, I worked with the actors to express the characters they were there to inhabit. The mad Scotsman is big in all senses of the word. The other person in the scene is a British aristocrat who measures her every move.
But it’s not just gestures. As I was working with the actors, at a couple of points we’d rehearsed a scene to the point where they were getting everything right; but I wasn’t feeling it yet.
In one case I realized that the other party was just sort of hanging out with our mad Scotsman; I needed to tell her mo-cap actress that she had somewhere else to be, and something urgent she needed to do there. Suddenly the scene woke up. It’s funny, because exactly none of her gestures changed. But now, I felt it.
In the other case, I hadn’t given the actress her intention. She was saying stuff to the mad Scotsman; but she wasn’t trying to convince him. The actress didn’t know what the character’s “verb” was. And again, not a gesture changed; but as soon as I gave her an intention for her character, the whole scene came alive.
I find the two most powerful questions I can ask about a scene, whether it’s written, or recorded, or edited, or mo-capped are: do I believe it? And, do I care? If I can get both answers to yes, I think we end up with something pretty neat.
This week has been a bit nuts. My to-do list was tantalizingly short at the beginning of the week, but as we get closer to content lock, we notice that some things I wrote a year ago need tweaking because levels have changed slightly in the meantime. It’s now a race to get everything done before time’s up! But it’s also fun and exciting.
Alex went to Texas for a mo-cap session, so I got to use the Big Desk and drink all his diet colas. (Caffeine is pretty necessary at this point, as you can imagine.)
Design Team - David, Hayden, Antoine, Adam, Ben, Eric, Roxanne and Benji
Worked a lot on weapons and outfits. We are making them so we will have a proper tiering of specialisation. We will also identify them to indicate their rarity. We are getting close to having our definitive list. Stay tuned.
In the following weeks, I will also make big adjustments on the loot lists for all containers (NPCs, lootable furniture and so on). We are also modifying our crafting system a bit. Our recipes will no longer unlock by finding ingredients. You’ll find them in the world, mostly on crafting tables and be able to buy most of them at the shop keepers. Hopefully, I will contribute to improve balance and make the game more exciting to explore! Your help is precious for this part, so do not hesitate to give us constructive feedback!
This week has been purely bug fixing for Arthur’s story. When I’ve not been doing that, I’ve been integrating the vast amounts of VO Alex recorded that has not been put into the game. I might be mistaken, but I think this is the game with the most VO I’ve ever worked on in 10 years.