We have a short announcement today concerning the November update! As you know the November update will be a big one, and we are finally done (bar some final QA and cert!). We are currently working with Valve and Microsoft on timing, and it looks like we’ll be pushing it out on or around December 8. We appreciate everyone’s patience; we know it’s been a long wait. And, more good news, as the update itself is now in QA, the the team will be able to get back to normal next week.
In other news, this week was the Montreal International Game Summit and 4 of our team members gave talks. Whitney’s talk was about “ Art Direction of We Happy Few: depth and style in a procedural world”, Matt’s on “Building Wellington Wells: How we procedurally generate the world of We Happy Few”, Sam was on a panel about “Demystifying music: Music as an opportunity for digital projects” and Guillaume was on a panel was titled “ Why the F$#K are you making games?” We also had a small booth, with Red Barrels (the creators of Outlast, check their hilarious Kickstarter here), where we showcased art from some of the indie teams here in Montreal.
Whitney will talk a little bit about her talk in her section of the weekly. Here are some pictures of the event!
I haven't really had the opportunity to work on new features recently, so this won’t be about that. But even if programming work isn’t always immediately apparent to you guys, sometimes it’s fun to share a bit of what’s happening behind the scenes. So today I’d like to give a quick peek at what it’s like to optimize the game, specifically for Xbox.
As some of my colleagues might’ve mentioned in earlier updates, we recently went through an engine update, where we pull the latest code from Epic’s Unreal Engine and integrate it to our own. This usually means exciting new tools and features to work with, but it also means new bugs and, occasionally, new performance issues. In this case, the Xbox felt unacceptably slower after the integration, despite all the effort we had previously put in to optimize it. So I rolled up my sleeves and started looking at profilers.
This is one of the many views of the Xbox performance investigation tool (PIX). It’s what I’ve been staring at for the better part of the last 2-3 weeks. The big spaghetti muddle of a graph that you see allows me to see at a glance what is taking up the most performance at that particular moment in a captured frame. By comparing captures from before the update to captures after the update, I can see how these bottlenecks have shifted around and try to adjust optimizations in consequence. PIX has lots of other views which allow me to essentially dissect a frame down to the calculations done for every single pixel.
Thanks to these tools and views, I’ve been able to push our framerate back down to where it was before the update. But now I’m looking to see how I can push further…! And, once all is said and done, I can see if any Xbox-specific optimizations would be a win to port back to PC.
Hi everyone! This week was a big one! It was MIGS here in Montreal, and Monday Sarah and I had the privilege of taking a day long master class with renowned art director Viktor Antonov (Half-Life, Dishonored), where we learned a ton about using historic references to design unique worlds. Tuesday I gave an hour lecture about how we developed the art director for WHF, and how we apply this direction to our procedural system. Creating my presentation was a lot of fun! I went back over original references and inspiration, and also found old builds from the start of the project to document our progress. Here are some images from those old builds.
Here was our test build where we tested Matt's early system. There isn't any lighting, and the buildings were fast and temporary, but this was an exciting moment for us because this was when we realized the procedural system would actually work and we could create an English village with it.
This was when we implemented our first set of filler buildings and interactive buildings. Our filler buildings were so flat and boring! The filler buildings were also causing arbitrary gaps between buildings which was very unnatural. We knew something needed to be done about this, and this was when we came up with our "squishy building" solution, where we created another set of (less boring) fillers with a high texture resolution that would stretch between buildings and fill the gaps.
Sometime mid 2015
Here's the first attempt with the new "filler building system". It's working! More interesting buildings and no ugly gaps! Lighting was very gloomy though.
And here we are today. We've filled out the streets, adjusted the lighting to have a purplish hue, and created arches and different assets that block the line of site and give the streets a sense of composition.
It's cool to look back and see how far we've come :)
This week, I started working on the pub for the Village. I started by blocking out what I could with the pieces we have, to get a better sense of scale and space. After that, I started working on elements such as the floor material and a modular set for the bar counters. On the side, I also worked on a new clock model that we can adapt to pretty much any color palette. It'll come in handy.
Well, I have some good news and some bad news. The good news is, I've been working on more top secret lady character stuff that I think you're going to like. The bad news is, I cannot share it with you just yet. Sorry bunnies, but I absolutely refuse to spoil any story for you. What I CAN show you are some book sleeves I designed for her nightstand, to give you a little taste of her special interests (hint, it's space. She likes space.)
There’s been lots of testing the game this week, on top of the two days of MIGS! Pulling hair because some long gone bugs are back, you know, the usual.
But we’re also going back in business on the cinematic front! As we are giving shape to the main storylines, some rewriting has occurred, and Whitney’s crew starts to art up the old temp levels… so we need to go back to some old animations to fit all that. Which means I’ve been starting to review how to do that.
MIGS was this week, so that took a couple of days off our schedule. However, we have been testing the game heavily to make sure encounters can be completed, and map markers are in their right places.
Thanks for tuning in!
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