It is finally the holidays and we are more than ready to take a break and recharge before 2018 kicks in! But no rest for the wicked just yet, we still have a lot of work to do before some the team heads off to visit their families. We wish you all a very happy holidays and may you work your way through your backlog! We asked each team member to write what game they were looking to play over the holidays and we would love to hear yours as well.
We also released some print-outs of We Happy Few paper snowflakes to add a little extra Joy to your holiday decorating!
Narrative Team - Alex and Lisa
This week, Lisa and I gave a talk at MIGS on “Dirty Narrative” in We Happy Few. Dirty narrative is my term for making the game into a bit of an unreliable narrator. There will be inconsistencies. There will be absences. There will be mysteries. There will be translucent lies -- lies that tell you as much about the liar as they do about the truth. Characters will tell you things you need to know only tangentially -- they are not there to serve your story, they are the heroes of their own stories.
Our theory is that pushing information at the player pushes you away; we only want to answer a question after you’ve asked it. That way, you pull yourself into the story and the world.
You may judge for yourself whether we have been successful in this approach.
I’m also writing dialog for the great effort to rework the first two hours of the game. Right now it’s all robo-speech, which is horrifying to listen to, but works for the designers. Probably after the holidays I’ll turn that into recorded temp speech in which I do all the voices, which gives us a more accurate sense of how the encounters play out. And then, once everything is nailed down, I’ll bring our actors back and turn it into recorded final dialog.
Now that we’ve given our talk, things as home have returned to normal (or, normal for us, anyway), so I can get into Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds and Witcher 3: Blood and Wine. There is also a Crusader Kings 2 game that I’ve had on hiatus for months, and if I give in to temptation, I might re-install CK2 and disappear from reality for a week.
Same as above, but over the holidays, I will be playing CUPHEAD!
Design Team - David, Hayden, Antoine, Adam, Ben, Eric, Roxanne and Benji
After a few weeks of restructuring some things, planning, schedules, meetings, chats, bug fixes, design schtuff, and whatever else I was up to I’m back making some new content. I’m making a new bridge that is supposed to be a bit of an event. Think it’ll be cool, and hopefully pretty weird.
I’ve been working on a new transition quest for Arthur’s story. It involves some new areas, and some areas that you may have come across in early access builds. Also, I made a bobby spawner that bobbies actually return to when their alarm is over.
So, if you guys haven’t heard of this game, it’s effing scary. Terrific sound design, and some genuine “oh f*ck” moments:
Hey there good people ! So the level design area is getting a tiny bit invaded. I’ve got two new neighbors (Emmanuel and Marc André) that are both doing a pretty hardcore job of arting up the sections I’ve created for the very first Garden District island. We’ve gone through a lot of iterations on those, trying to route the player into interesting locations, accentuate certain things in the environment. Having them closer made the whole process a lot easier. Trying to make sure the world is creepy enough, I’ve tried to push a little the creation of more “Wastrel art” into our garden district islands. What’s interesting about them is that, they are trying their best to be normal again (words from Alex our narrative director). So that’s why when sometimes they set up tea parties with mannequins it’s just a way for them to do something normal but with the wacky side effect of a brain messed up by Joy (if some of our early access players remember the giant cat with a hat sitting at a table with a bunch of tea cups it’s definitely coming back with more stuff).
Animation Team - JR, Rémi, Vincent, Mike P, Jules, Raph and Franzi
Mike P (Diddy)
Sup folks! So this merry week I have been working on a cutscene that has taken on a bit of a larger scope than I originally intended. It’s one of the first narrative beats so I figured it needed a bit more love. As it turns out, if any of you get the reference: “Pitcher la vache” from Monty Python, then you’ll probably like this shot. Hehehehe… So yeah, I think it’s hilarious and when you guys get around to it I hope you have a chuckle too! That’s it for me for this week, so tune in next week, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel!
Hey everybody! So during this week, I've worked on few different tasks. Like I shared with you last week, we are currently working on a new death reaction. Previously for the NPC’s death, we played the hit reaction animation and we turned on the rag doll at the end of the animation. Now it's a special animation and they finish on rag doll.
My second task was to make some placeholders for stealth. After that I worked on a few reaction variations for our NPCs before they join the fight. Previously we had just one and it was much too repetitive. I finished my week working on a few issues with feet sliding during combat and some animation fixes. We have reached roughly where we want to be on combat and made huge progress over the past couple of months. It is much more fun and more technical to fight the NPCs now. In the new year, it will be time to polish all of those animations.
Art Team - Whitney, Emmanuel, Tito, Marc-André, Sarah, Guillaume, Cary and PH
I’ve done a second art pass for the Garden District fillers. I’m really happy with the early results because we are getting something more and more organic. It takes time, though. I have to go through every filler and every encounter to check if everything is pretty and navigable for the player. Collisions are often working against me and I have to do lots of back and forth to make sure that the walking experience in the Garden District is as smooth as possible.
Concerning video games, I’m still motivated to finish The Witcher 3. I’m getting near the 100 hours and still enjoying everything about it. A masterpiece I can't leave unfinished for sure!
I got the worst cough of the year, but I’m back. I have been working on some maps helping Emmanuel with the refactoring of the Village. I have been doing a lot of tests to make sure everything spawns the way it should. It’s really impressive to see the improvements in the world and see how the work of everyone is finally coming together and showing up in the maps! So I have not much to tell but that. Since this is the last weekly of the year, that means that next time it will be a year since I began working here, which is pretty awesome! And that also means that I'll have some time to play some video games during the Christmas break so I'm looking forward on finally finishing Outlast and probably going through the Witcher if I don't lose the motivation.
Engineering Team - Matt, Serge, Michael, Lionel, Rob, Evan, Maarten, Céline and Guillaume (sometimes)
We are upgrading our foliage system and it means upgrading two things, the big and the small (or automatic) parts. The big part is the stuff the player will be interested in, like a ring of trees with a chest in the center. The small/automatic part is everything else: the grass, the bushes even the trees, all the vegetation that have no role in the game but would be missed if it wasn’t there (actually some bushes have a role gameplay wise but bear with me there).
I am working on the big part. To make the patterns more easily defined and more diverse, I built a tool to visualize them and to allow real-time editing. You define a shape (circle or diamond for example), choose an object, the number of times it should appears, and add some perturbation to the placement and you can create some very natural looking patterns, which you can then edit in real time. In the capture below, you can see the basic shape in blue, the candidate positions in red and the preview for the final placements, that includes some pushing.
Real time editing is very useful for procedural systems as it reduces the number of iterations to get what we want. In a word : nice.
That brings me to the end of my part for this last 2017 weekly. I wish you a very happy Xmas. On my end, I will now start sleuthing to see who is my secret santa in the team. See you in 2018 for new procedural explorations and crazy contraptions.
Hi ! I've got some updates on stealth. We now have stealthy high bushes in the game! When crouched while in them, you're basically invisible if no hostile NPCs noticed you before. That offers new stealth options for the Level Designers, and being hidden so close to the enemy is very enjoyable.
Next we're trying to figure out if adding more UI feedback will help you guys more to know if/why you're detected. It is a big discussion at the office as the UI can break the immersion and make the players ignore the other audio/visual cues we worked on. We’re also considering adding a Lean mechanism, but this is under discussion as well.
On another note, I wish you a great Christmas and a happy New Year celebration ! One week of holiday might allow me to finish Xenoblade Chronicles 2 and start Dishonored: Death of the Outsider. Maybe.
It’s my last working week of the year and I’ve been continuing to look at combat primarily, but it’s also the season of goodwill so I’ve been handling some requests from the other team members, and fixing up some bugs. For combat I’ve been hooking in some more animations and I did a quick prototype of a feature we discussed last week for a quick throw that could be used in combat, without having to unequip and swap weapons. It worked but it’s not necessarily solving any problems that are very big, so it’s still under consideration. Next week I’ll be heading back home to England, to relax, see family and play games. I enjoy playing with the PlayStation VR with my family, and there’s been quite a few new games and experiences to try out since the last time I saw them; looking forward to meeting Trico from Last Guardian in (virtual) real life.
QA Team - Lee, Stephanie, JP and Alexina
This week has been spent vetting and regressing many issues. A few developer support tasks were also completed in order to help them evaluate specific areas of the game. Christmas Holiday is coming up fast and I am looking forward to spending some time with friends and family. Throughout my Christmas Break I’ll most likely be gibbing it up in Quake Champions, exploding things in Space Engineers and playing some Terratech in my spare time.
Thank you for tuning in everyone and see you soon!
PS: We swear this weekly was not sponsored by CD Projekt RED
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