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Update 80: State of the Project - From Alpha to Beta

Update 80 Project Update Alpha Beta

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#1
BAdler

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Update by Brandon Adler, Lead Producer

 

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Hey, everyone. Due to E3 crunch we are going to push off Josh's next class update for a couple of weeks. Instead, I will give an update about the general state of affairs for each department on the project now that we are getting ready to head into our Beta period. The next update will feature Josh's final class update along with info from the Eternity E3 presentation. Let's get into it.

 

Status

 

Area Design

 

All of the areas have been in the game for about a month now, and the area designers have been revisiting each area to make sure everything is in order. They're using specially crafted Alpha checklists to make sure that none of the major items are missed. For example, designers are checking that the area has a proper navigation mesh, ambient sound effects are placed, and scene transitions are working as intended.

 

Josh (Project Director) and Bobby (Area Design Lead) are heading up meetings to review all of the quests in the game. Each quest is played through by the team and analyzed. We ask basic questions like "Why is this quest fun?", "Does the player care about this quest?", and "What hooks the player into starting the quest?" If anything is lacking, the design team spruces the quest up to make it a memorable one.

 

Over the Beta period the designers will continue fixing bugs and polishing content.

 

Environment Art

 

Much like our area designers, our environment artists have been revisiting all of the areas of the game and performing their Alpha checklists to make sure all of the areas pass art Alpha. In addition to the checklists, they are performing polish work that had been identified previously by Bobby and Rob (Art Director) on areas.

 

Currently, the environment artists have done a pass on all of our critical path areas and they will be moving onto our side content once we enter Beta.

Take a look at one of the areas that has gone through Alpha polish without a paint-over pass:

 

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Systems Design

 

Now that our systems are all in place, Josh has been focused on balance and polish bugs that have piled up over the course of the project. For me, this is one of the more exciting times in the project because the game really starts to take shape and become fun.

 

Game balance will continue throughout our Beta period, right up to our release.

 

UI

 

Kaz (Concept and UI Artist) has been finishing up the last remaining UI screens. He is now working on Scripted Interaction images, icons, area paint-overs, and portraits and will be doing so for the foreseeable future.

 

Animation

 

The animation team has been wrapping up the last B priority items and will moving into full-time polish until the end of the project. B priority animations are things like special creature attacks, class-specific spell casts, or animations for minor creatures (animal critters, for example).

 

Once the animation team has finished up creating the animations, they will be focused on animation polish.

 

Character Art

 

Our character artists have completed all of the creatures and creature variants we planned for the game (and even a few that we hadn't planned on). They have also created all of the base weapon and armor variants, and now character art is focused on finishing up all of the unique armors and weapons.

 

Once they complete the last bit of gear, they will move onto creating a few additional head and hair variants for each race. Like the rest of the team, they will also be polishing content for the remainder of the project.

Have a peek at one of our unique armors:

 

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Narrative

 

The narrative team finished up the critical path a few weeks ago and now they have their focus on completing side content in our various regions. Eric (Lead Narrative Designer) has been tweaking and polishing the E3 demo areas, while Carrie (Narrative Designer) has been hard at work finishing up some of our companions. Narrative is also polishing up the areas that will be used in for our Backer Beta.

 

Over the next few months narrative will finish our companions, and we are going to start finalizing and locking down on the writing to prepare for localization and voice over.

 

Programming

 

At this point, the project is completely feature locked. The programmers are fully focused on fixing the mountain of bugs that have built up over the course of the project. There are still some items that need to be finished (installers, for example), but the majority of the work will be put towards fixing and polishing existing systems. This is where the build (that may have been unstable throughout development) really starts to come together.

 

VFX

 

The team is continuing to crank away at VFX. It is one of the areas of the game (along with narrative and audio) that are not at an Alpha level, which is intentional. The later on the project that you can bring the VFX team on, the lower the amount of rework that they will have to do on assets that may get changed.

 

We have added VFX on a little less than half of the spells and abilities, on all of our VFX creatures (creatures that are VFX driven instead of our normal creature pipeline), and on all of the critical path areas. We are scheduled to be finished with VFX in a couple of months.

 

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Audio

 

Much like VFX, audio usually comes onto our projects a bit later than other departments. Many of our areas have had an ambience pass and are sounding really good. Same goes for our creatures - more and more of their SFX are being hooked up every day. We have also completed our initial pass on things like UI sounds, and very shortly, our audio team will create sounds for our spells and abilities.

 

Justin (Audio Director) has been working on finishing all of the music tracks for the game. In fact, he just finished composing our main theme.

 

Much like VFX, this audio team is scheduled to finish in a couple of months.

 

Overall

 

Overall, the project is coming together nicely. We have a ton of work that still needs to be done, but the team is starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There are no major roadblocks ahead of us at this point and now it's a focus on getting as much polish done as we can before our final release candidate.

 

That's it for this update. Let us know what you think in our forums.

 

Kickin' It Forward - Witchmarsh

 

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From time to time we like to spread the word about interesting Kickstarter Projects that catch our eye. This time around, it's a project called Witchmarsh - a story-driven action RPG set in 1920s Massachusetts with a supernatural flair. Here is a quick summary taken from their Kickstarter page:

 

"It's the Roaring Twenties! Join an unlikely team of detectives as they charge headlong into the darkest corners of rural America. Their mission: find and return twelve missing townsfolk who vanished under mysterious circumstances. A handsome reward is in store should they succeed, but with the supernatural lurking around every corner, will any of them live long enough to collect it?"

 

Take a look and if you like what you see, show them your support! There's only a short time left before their campaign ends.


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#2
C2B

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:)=



#3
Labadal

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A wild update appears!

 

Very happy to see that the progress of the project is on track. Keep up the good work, ladies and gents.



#4
Sensuki

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Woohoo

 

Good update. Dat water! (and seaweed to boot)


Edited by Sensuki, 11 June 2014 - 09:16 AM.

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#5
Doppelschwert

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Nice work altogether!

May we have a peek at the UI now that its finished?

Pretty please?


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#6
Thundercat710

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You gangstas.  Much respec'



#7
BAdler

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Nice work altogether!

May we have a peek at the UI now that its finished?

Pretty please?

 

I am not sure if it will make sense for the next update, but I can see if we can get a UI screen for the one after that.


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#8
Gyges

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Excellent.



#9
Sensuki

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Btw what is the VFX art direction for spells in this game? I made a thread about this in the GD after the Priest spells were shown but it looks like you guys have gone for a more modern approach to the look of spells ?



#10
Crooked Bee

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What about all the backer content, including locations and NPCs? Are you already done implementing all of it by now?


Edited by Crooked Bee, 11 June 2014 - 09:25 AM.


#11
J.E. Sawyer

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What about all the backer content, including locations and NPCs? Are you already done implementing all of it by now?

 

I think we still have to enter the data for the backer memorials and some of the unique items, but otherwise, yes.  All of the locations, NPCs, items, etc. are built and all (except for a few of the items) are placed in the world.


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#12
Arsene Lupin

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Isn't it too soon for beta?

 

My understanding is that for a game to be in beta, it has to have all of the main features/functionality implemented... yet so far we haven't really seen anything of the UI, and very little of the actual "game" -- mostly I feel like we've just seen music and animated backgrounds.


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#13
Odarbi

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Looking great, guys! So much hype. That screenshot of the hut is just amazing.

The VFX video looks pretty great too, so neat to see the environmental effects like that. There is a "spray" effect on the right side that feels a little over exaggerated to me given how fast the water appears to be moving, though.

Any chance that there will be more videos like this to show off things like... grass blowing in the wind, or possibly things directly relating to weather effects?



#14
SunBroSolaire

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The water looks great  :biggrin:

 

How much of the game is the press going to see? Just wondering if we'll be seeing any gameplay impressions this week.


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#15
curryinahurry

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Nice Update.

 

Grass roof for Twin Elms looks remarkable, as does the wave action in the VFX video.  I'm not as thrilled about the armour and the proportions seem a bit off, but it may look fine with some context.

 

Since you folks mentioned the Backer Beta, I'd be interested in knowing how far along in the process will we have to wait for that; at the very end of Beta, or a bit before?

 

Cheers



#16
J.E. Sawyer

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Isn't it too soon for beta?

 

My understanding is that for a game to be in beta, it has to have all of the main features/functionality implemented.

 

They are.  Just because features are implemented and functional doesn't mean they're polished enough to show.


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#17
Labadal

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Btw, next update is in two weeks, like usual, right?



#18
IndiraLightfoot

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Yay! Something was in motion, namely that wonderful surf VFX, including sea weed and sea gull cries. Great work there! :)

 

I'm also happy to see that you chug along so very nicely. Perhaps we'll get to see a release before X-mas, which would be absolutely lovely.


Edited by IndiraLightfoot, 11 June 2014 - 09:46 AM.


#19
Greensleeve

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Great update. Really cool stuff you guys are showing. I'm very sad that the class update is being pushed away though. It's the class update that I've been looking forward to the most, by far, and I'm sad to see it left for last :(



#20
BAdler

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The water looks great  :biggrin:

 

How much of the game is the press going to see? Just wondering if we'll be seeing any gameplay impressions this week.

 

They get to see a few areas of the game. They should be putting information out about the demo next week.


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