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Weekly Journal - 2016/01/20 - Improving subtitles, aka, shut the hell up Eric

ClementClement Member, Compulsion Team
Hi everyone!

This week, work continues on building our encounters for the next update. We’ve been working on our production pipeline, as now that we have built our new encounters with the new quest system, we are able to build content much faster.

In the background, work on playstyles and improved AI has continued. Clara has created a quick recap video on our playstyles, for those of you who may have missed this in last week’s journal:

Note, we have made improvements to Sam’s haircut since filming this video on Monday. We had to outsource this work, but we hope you’ll agree that the quality is much improved, is better optimized for warm weather, although it is unlikely to substantially affect gameplay.

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Engineering

Camille

As Unreal Engine 4 licensees, much of our functionality comes from said engine. This saves us a lot of trouble reinventing so many wheels. However, not all functionality from the engine is fully featured, and sometimes we have to put our shoulders to the aforementioned wheel to actually reinvent it.

One such feature is the subtitling system. While functional, it was clearly meant for action games with little simultaneous dialogue. Only one line could ever be displayed at any time, based on a priority system we hadn’t fully harnessed. While we could’ve done so, I felt that a dialogue heavy game such as ours deserves a more thorough treatment.

Being hard of hearing myself, I nearly always play with subtitles on and have therefore gotten to see many different systems in action. One of these is Source engine’s, which you can see in Half-Life, Left4Dead, etc. Instead of only showing one subtitle line at any time, they simply show a scrolling history of subtitle lines colour coded to different voices. When rewriting our own subtitle management and display system, I’ve heavily borrowed from this system, so fans of Source games will feel right at home.

For flexibility’s sake, I’ve retained our subtitle size options and also offer 2 different subtitle display styles that users can choose from. This is the backgrounded style in action:

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Unfortunately, now that subtitles are no longer squandered by Crazy Legs’ chronic lateness, it also underlines how much work we need to do on our underlying data. Most of our data was directly imported from our scripts with little regards to priority or timing. We’ll be working on this over time, but I’m confident that the new display is already going to improve things vastly.



Narrative

Alex

I have an interesting relationship with the designers. They are instinctively concerned with “what does the player want to do?” As the narrative guy, however, it’s my job to ask, “Why does Arthur want to do this?”

For example, let’s suppose Arthur discovers that a delivery boy is late. The player gets an objective to find out why he is late.

However, why should Arthur care whether a delivery boy is late? “Because the player got an objective” is not an answer. Nor is “because it is going to set him off on an adventure”; he doesn’t know that. Most people Arthur knows are forgetful; aren’t people late all the time?

So, I’m the pain in the ass guy who complicates the job of designing levels by asking why the player character wants to do what the player wants to do.

So, first, I thought, maybe this delivery boy is never late. Okay, that’s helpful. But still, why should Arthur care?

I asked David. David said, “Maybe he knows him.”

So I thought, of course. The delivery boy was Arthur’s brother’s only real friend in school. Arthur’s goal in the game is to find Percy because he promised he’d take care of him. If he can help the delivery boy, he can accomplish a shadow of that goal.

Now the mission is personal. Note that it has not changed at all in design, only in meaning. And that changed meaning gave us an interesting way to resolve the encounter, which helps make the encounter even deeper and more personal. But you’ll have to play the encounter to find out how.

When I wrote sonnets back in university, I noticed that fitting a meter and rhyme scheme forced me to be more inventive with my language than writing in free verse did. Necessity is the mother of invention. Because our designers believe in our narrative, they don’t have total freedom. But in return, we discover new things about our world every time design crashes into narrative.

Or, as the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ad went, only not exactly:

“Hey, you got narrative on my design!” “Hey, you got design on my narrative!” “Hmmm, tastes pretty good.”



Art

Marc-André

This week I worked on multiple things.

Bug fixes:

Fixed multiple missing textures throughout the game, as well as deleting old meshes that were spawning in the world
Created an LOD
Material fixes:

Fixed garden district houses brick textures (proper roughness and normals maps)
Level design:

Updated an encounter’s house layout interior and exterior pieces to match the conventional modular set
Assets:

Church pulpit (created entirely from tileable wooden trim texture)
Simple candle w/ holder
Level Art:

Working on the interior level art (layout and lighting) of the Church of Simon Says

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Design

Antoine

Hey there good people !

I’m continuing work on the new shelters for the coming update. Very soon I’ll be in a position to pass those levels on to every other department for the realization phase. Awesome art will be done, sound and dialogue will take shape and 2D art will be made. I’ve also addressed a few bugs that you guys found in the Shibboleth encounter. Those fixes should be in the next update!

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Hayden

This week I finished up the layout and logic block-out for two new encounters, Nick’s Pad & Sad Treasure.

Nick’s Pad features two homes, one of which belongs to Nick Lightbearer and the other belongs to his nosey neighbors. Currently, both homes are being renovated, which explains all the scaffolding around the homes you’ll have to navigate to make entry into Nick’s Pad. Once inside, you’ll find that there’s a lot more to being a celebrity than fans think.

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Next up is a new park for a new encounter called Sad Treasure, it’s built into the center of a roundabout and is currently under observation by a Bobby & Peeper Downer Patrol Unit. There were also many reports of illicit drug use in this park, shady deals everywhere you look… someone is going to need to clean this place up.

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Thanks for tuning in!


Compulsion Team
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