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Found 5 results

  1. Update by Brandon Adler, Literal Task Master Welcome to my world... As a producer, one of my jobs is creating and understanding the game's master schedule. It's a never-ending task that requires constant refinement and adjustment. Anything that is added or changed can cause a cascade of unintended consequences which is why as game developers we have a responsibility to vet everything that goes into the game. Today I'd like to give you a glimpse into how we approach game development from a scheduling perspective and what our typical thought processes are when figuring this stuff out. You will be able to see how each part of our area creation fits into the schedule and why changes and modifications can lead to difficult decisions for the team. Hopefully, it will give a bit more insight into the tough decisions that we make each day when crafting Project Eternity. The Schedule One thing to remember is that when we are in the middle of production the schedule has already been created for just about everything in the game. What I mean by this is that we have identified all of the major tasks that will need to be accomplished and allotted time and resources in our budgets to match those tasks. Depending on the team's familiarity with the type of game we are creating, this can mean anywhere from a tiny bit of guesswork to larger amounts of... estimation. With Eternity we are very familiar with what it takes to make an isometric, Western RPG with branching dialogues and reactivity. It's Obsidian's bread and butter. Because of this our initial estimates are good approximations. Since most of our features and assets are budgeted at the start of the project, any changes to those items have to be accounted for in the schedule. This can mean a few different things - anything from reducing time spent on other tasks, to changing previously scheduled items, to outright cuts - and when changes need to happen project leads consult with each other to try and figure out the best option. Keep this in mind when I start talking about changes to features and assets later on in this update. One Small Interior Dungeon Alright, let's stop talking in generalities and get into the meat of what it takes to create a first pass area in Eternity. I'll discuss a generic small interior dungeon area. This area will have the following characteristics and constraints: Uses an existing "tileset." We don't have tiles in Eternity, but we do have sets of areas that share similar assets. Will have one unique visual feature in the area. This visual feature is something that will make the area stand out a bit. It doesn't have to be incorporated into the design, but we may want to do that to get the most bang for the buck. An Average complexity quest uses this area. "Average" is a flavor of quest in Project Eternity. It refers to the overall complexity of the quest. Quest complexity is determined by the amount of dialogue, branching, and steps a quest has. This is a 3x3 interior. A 3x3 interior is the equivalent of a 5760x3240 render. An easier way to think about it is that a 3x3 area is nine 1920x1080 screens worth of content. You can imagine that making an area even a tiny bit larger can actually lead to enormous amounts of work. As an example, a 3x3 is nine screens of work, where a 4x4 is 16 screens of work... almost double the number of screens. To create our small interior dungeon area, the following has to occur: An area designer (Bobby Null, for example) puts together a paper design for the area. This is usually part of a larger paper design, but for this purpose we can say that it is a separate element. For a small area like this, a paper design wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day. Material concepts for a high wealth interior. After the paper design is constructed, it is passed to the area design team for revisions and approval. For the most part, this goes fairly quickly and normally wouldn't take more than a quarter of a day for a small area. A concept artist (Hi, Polina and Kaz) creates a concept for the unique visual element of this area. Let's say for our purposes the unique element is a cool adra pillar that is holding up a portion of the ceiling. This takes half a day to a day, depending on prop complexity. This may seem like a luxury, but making sure that the areas feel cohesive can save lots of revision time down the road. After the concept work is completed, it is reviewed by the Art Director (Rob Nesler) and the Project Director (Josh Sawyer). Any necessary changes are then made before being approved. Overall, it probably takes about a quarter of a day for review and any revisions that need to be done. An initial pass on a blockout before it has had a review. After the paper design and concepts, an area designer creates a 3D blockout of the area in Unity. This allows the designer to walk through the area and make sure it flows well. This also helps to give the environment artist assigned to the area an idea of where the various elements should be laid out. A full blockout of a 3x3 area normally wouldn't take more than half a day. This is an extremely important part of the process. Sometimes an area seems great on paper, but in practice it is clunky or frustrating. Once the blockout is finished it's passed along to the area strike team for review. The area strike team includes people from most disciplines. This is the point where revisions are performed and the layout becomes finalized. The changes can be as simple as moving some props around or as complicated as redesigning major portions of the layout. Again, for a small area of this size, we aren't looking at more than half a day for all of the feedback and revisions. With the blockout in place, the area can move to environment art (For example, Hector "Discoteca" Espinoza) for the art pass. This includes putting together existing pieces and creating new assets to make the area. A large portion of time allotted to an area is spent in environment art. A 3x3 area that uses mostly existing assets would typically get three days of environment art work, but, because we want to have a cool, unique piece in the area we will add about a day of environment art time. This gives a total of four days for the initial art pass. Like the blockout, the art pass is usually reviewed by the area strike team. Revisions can vary wildly depending on how everyone feels about the area, but it isn't uncommon for another quarter to half a day to be spent on review and revisions for this size of area. The blockout above with revisions, 2D render, and initial design. Now with the 2D render in place, the area is ready for the real design work to be done. An area designer will typically get about three days to do the first pass on the area. This includes things like a loot pass, encounters, trigger setup, temp dialogs, etc.. Because this area has a quest that is running through it, though, it will get an extra day to work out all of those kinks. That puts us at four days for an initial design pass on the area. Remember the part about this area having a quest? Well, now is when a creative designer (Like Mr. Eric Fenstermaker, for example) comes through to write the dialogs. To be completely honest, this usually comes much later, but it works for our purposes. The narrative designer creates the NPC dialogs, quest dialogs, and companion interjections for the area. Usually an area designer will stub these conversations out and the narrative designer will come in and complete them. Depending on the amount of dialog this should take around a day or two for everything. Finally, a concept artist will take a pass at painting over the final 2D render. This pass is used for "dirtying up" an area and adding in the little details that might be difficult for an environment artist to create. As an example, we can cover up texture seems, add in variation on repeating textures, paint in lighting highlights, and even add things like patina or moss on objects. Due to Photoshop magic from Kaz, we can even propagate those changes into our diffuse maps so they show properly in any dynamic lights. This is a fairly low cost procedure and Kaz can cover a small area like this in about half a day. There are other considerations (Like animation, sound effects and visual effects, for example), but we will stop for now. So, for those keeping count at home, to get a first pass area that is borderline Alpha (as in no bug fixing or polish work) it costs the project about 13 man days. This is little over one half of a man month of time for a small, simple area. Larger areas with more content take significantly longer to develop. Our time estimations used for scheduling are determined in preproduction (prepro) phase. Our vertical slice (the end of prepro) is the culmination of the team identifying what it will take to make the game and then actually doing it. We get these numbers by seeing how long it takes the team to perform those tasks in our prepro, and then we can extrapolate those numbers over the course of the time we have budgeted to understand how much work can get done. Tough Choices A milestone will have 15 to 20 areas of varying complexity going at a time. A minor change in an area can cause a domino effect that starts schedule slippage. Remember that on a small team like Project Eternity we have a limited number of people that can work on any one part of the game so taking someone off of their current task to work on changes can gum up our pipelines and prevent others from completing their tasks. We can get around that by switching up the tasking, but it can quickly get out of hand and lead to inefficiencies. That being said it's the team's responsibility to give our backers what they have paid for. If we are playing though part of the game and something feels off from what we promised to our fans, we need to seriously consider making changes - even if it pushes us off schedule. There have been times where an update leads to some serious discussion on the forums and within the team about a direction change. Ultimately all of that gets added into the equation as well. Taking that into consideration, the team has to make difficult choices every day. Do we go through and do another prop pass on a level? What does that cost us in the long run? Will we lose an entire area in the game? These are questions that the leads struggle with everyday. We are always weighing the cost of assets and features against everything that still needs to get done. Luckily, like I mentioned above, we have a bunch of smart, talented, experienced people working on Eternity. The pitfalls we have experienced in previous games give us a leg up when we are trying to navigate this project's development. I wanted to send out this update to give the fans a little insight into our daily processes and demystify what probably seem like arcane decisions. If you enjoy these types of updates, let me know in the forums and I will try to write more of them for you.
  2. Hey guys! Because our Fig updates are only emailed to backers from the Fig site, we're going to start posting our updates to the forums when we release a new one. That way, more of you will be up to date with what we're working on. UPDATE #30 - We have an awesome environment art update for you this week, but let's start with our Slacker Backer totals: Slacker Backer Funds Fig Slacker Backers - $112,200 Backer Portal - $143,900 This brings our Slacker Backer total to $256,100 and our grand total to $4.66M. We have one more week to try and reach our $4.75M stretch goal. We believe in you! Spread the word and help us out one last time. Remember to confirm your pledge on the Backer Portal if you haven't already. We need this information linked so we can send you your rewards! You can read through our instructions for confirming your pledge in Update #25. The Environments of Pillars II In the Pillars of Eternity series, we make sure our environments look beautiful. Our area designers and environment artists work hard to ensure every last detail is placed correctly, from rugs and thrones all the way down to tiny bowls of fruit. However, the environments aren't just something nice to look at; each area plays an important role in revealing the storyline and teaching you more about cultures of the people who live in these places. A lot of work goes into making a scene in Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire, and we'll walk you through from start to completion. The scene we'll be showing is part of the Vailian Trading Company's headquarters. In case you missed it, you can read about the VTC in Update #29! Blockout The blockout and design document is the first step to making an environment in Pillars II. An area designer will create a design document and provide all of the following information about an area: Summary and background of the area How large each scene should be Visual descriptions with concepts Creatures and NPCs present in the area Quests that occur Dialogue requests Encounters or Scripted Interactions Blockouts for each area Examinables and loot Specific asset requests for Art, VFX or Audio We'll focus on the art side of things for now. Below is the blockout for the VTC headquarters, created by an Area Designer in Unity: After the blockouts are approved by leads, we have the concept art team sketch out the general feel and style of the scene if needed. We didn't need a concept for this scene, so it was passed directly to environment art to start work in a 3D software package. On this project we are using Maya by Autodesk. Environment Art First Pass Click on an image below to view them at full size. The following are daily renders by our talented Senior Environment Artist, Daniel Keating. Scenes are built in Maya with the blockout as a guide, and are made up of both pre-made and brand new assets. (The pre-made assets were created in Maya and ZBrush by our artists in previous areas and fit with the style and overall feel of other scenes, so they get reused) Day 1: Focusing on flooring, walls, and some basic lighting: Day 2: Getting rugs and large props into the area, making adjustments to lighting: Day 3: Adding medium and small props, adjusting lighting even further: Day 4: Adjusting props, lighting, addressing any lead feedback that comes up: At this point in the development process, the first pass is complete. Basic lighting is laid out, all major props are implemented into the scene, and it is now ready for a basic navigation and collision pass. The Maya render itself is ready to be passed on for lead review. Basic Nav & Collision Pass Basic navigation is laid out for the level in Unity, giving a sense of where the walkable party area is: Collision is set up on walls and other objects to prevent the party from passing through solid parts of the environment or props: While the basic navigation and collision pass is being worked on, the Maya render is being reviewed by leads. Leads Review The first pass render of scenes is sent to our Art Director and Lead Designer for review. They look over the master beauty render and make notes for both VFX and the environment artist to address in the second art pass. When notes are finished, the environment artist begins work on a second pass of the scene. Environment Art Second Pass All of the notes have been taken into consideration, and the artist finishes their second pass: Once the final master beauty render is approved, we begin a 3D object pass, followed by VFX, audio, and paintovers if necessary. 3D Object Pass & VFX Our artists add anchor points, water planes for VFX, and any 3D objects requested to the scene. Anchor points are placed on objects to signify where lighting is needed for this scene: Additionally, our artists create custom meshes that VFX converts into water planes: Anchor points in Unity scene: Area with collision, navigation, and anchor points set up: In-Game After second art passes are completed, the render, VFX and collision are updated in the build so we can have final playthroughs of the area. While this scene looks massive, it appears zoomed in when actually playing the game. Each scene is broken down into a number of 'screens' - When viewing the scene in-game, your view is referred to as one 'screen'. This VTC Headquarters scene is 3x3, meaning that 9 in-game screens will cover the area. This view in the game represents one screen: Update #11 went into detail about new graphics and technology in Pillars II, so be sure to check that out if you missed it! In that update, you can learn more about the rendering process, improved shaders, and new technology you'll be able to experience while running around Eora. Stay tuned for next week's update, when we announce our funding total. Have any comments? Feel free to discuss below, and we'll answer your questions! Thanks for reading.
  3. Update by Rose Gomez, Associate Producer Greetings backers! In today's update, we've got some great new character, and area art for you to check out. Our artists have been hard at work creating beautiful new areas and lots of new armor for the game. Our next update will be the next chapter in the class series, all about chanters and priests, by Josh Sawyer. Characters Recently our character artists have been hard at work crafting as many armor types as possible. All of our armor types have a variety of quality levels: normal, fine, and exquisite. JD Cerince recently finished up the plate armor designs for the game, which you can see here. Plate Armor. James Chea worked on the scale armor for the game. Below you can see a few varieties for female player characters. Cloth pieces for our armor sets can be tinted as in Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale. Scale Armor. AreasIt's not all dungeons and darkness in Pillars of Eternity. Sean Dunny finished up the beautiful beachy area of Anslog's Compass. Wave effects and details are courtesy of John Lewis. Named for a rocky stretch of land which theoretically resembles a sundial, this lagoon provides decent fishing for both brave Dyrwoodans and a local contingent of xaurips. More than one ship has met its end upon the nearby reef, and debris occasionally washes ashore from the wreckage. Anslog's Compass. Here you can see the Hall of Warriors done by April Giron. This large wooden structure is used as a meeting place for visiting warriors within Twin Elms. It is here that the Glanfathan hunters gather and tell stories of past deeds, discuss upcoming events and hunts, and conduct friendly contests of physical prowess (arm wrestling, tests of endurance, etc.). Sometimes, a visiting anamfath will take residence in the hall when visiting the city. Hall of Warriors. Here we have a section of a much larger dungeon by Sean Dunny. This is from Clîaban Rilag, an Engwithan ruin. Clîaban Rilag Entrance. That's it for this week. We hope you enjoyed this quick art update! Come back next week for a thorough update on chanters and priests by Josh Sawyer.
  4. Update by Brandon Adler, Producer Hey, everyone. We decided against releasing the Backer Portal right before the holiday break. We wanted to make sure that we had a full staff on board to solve any technical issues that might arise on the site during its launch. We are just as excited as you are for the Backer Portal and we want to make sure it has a smooth release. To keep you sated in Project Eternity goodness we decided to show off some of the artwork we have been putting together this milestone. We are pretty proud of it. Hope you enjoy. Areas Last week on the forums Sensuki, Tagomika, and coffeetable brought up questions about areas we were outsourcing. I figured it would be better to show you the areas instead of talking about them. Take a look. A shrine to the god of the hunt. A drake skeleton amid thick overgrowth. Both of these images come from the same wilderness area. While this area appears thick with foliage now, it was previously the site to horrific fires caused by drakes. Large swaths of ground were burned and only now has the land started to recover. Concepts Kaz and Polina have been hard at work getting concepts prepared for our current milestone and the next. Polina has been focusing on creating the look and feel for our next big city - Twin Elms. Twin Elms is a unique mixture of ruined architecture from an ancient civilization with a layer of Viking-inspired Glanfathan buildings built into it. Glanfathan buildings built into ancient ruins. Line work for environments in Twin Elms. While Polina has been helping to plan the future, Kaz is firmly entrenched in our mega dungeon, The Endless Paths of Od Nua. Take a look at some of the prop work that Kaz is doing for one of the Engwithan-inspired areas. Engwithan props for use in Od Nua. Creatures One of the creatures that has gone in recently is the troll. You can see a few of them in the area below. A group of trolls in-game. That's it for this week, folks. Have a great Thanksgiving.
  5. Update by Rob Nesler, Art Director and Brandon Adler, Producer We showed you this concept that Polina Hristova had developed, back in Update #55: And here is the in-game level--about to get violent--as developed by environment artist Sean Dunny: We think it looks pretty good. Thoughts? -R Arcanum Playthrough This week, we have the second part of Avellone's two hour playthrough. Chris explores the Shrouded Hills Mines and dies to bandits along the road... multiple times. Obsidian Jobs Obsidian is putting the call out to enthusiastic game developers who are interested in working on Project Eternity. To be eligible, you must be in the Southern California area willing to make the daily trek to Irvine, California. If you or anyone you know fits the description and would be interested in joining the Project Eternity team, follow the links below. QA Lead The Lead QA Tester position requires managing a team of testers, delegating testing tasks, tracking tester performance, providing guidance as well as coordinating with department leads and owners to ensure all aspects of the project are bug free. The Lead QA Tester position requires a strong knowledge of QA methodologies and practices, as well as an ability to handle and act upon high volumes of information and responsibilities. Contract VFX Artist Obsidian Entertainment is looking for a talented self-motivated VFX Artist to create a range of 3D effects and animations for a 3D world. This artist will be responsible for creating both ambient effects (such as smoke, fire, and lightning) and more detailed prop animation (a tree limb breaking, a glass shattering, etc.). These effects will be created using Maya, but experience with comparable programs is acceptable. Stop by our forums and let us know what you think. See you in a couple of weeks.
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