Update #26 - From Dusk Till Dawn
Here is your weekly update!
Hi folks! Looking over this and last week’s update, I felt that it might be useful to describe the current way we’re building the game, to give you context on why we’re working on the things we’re working on week on week.
As you may know, we update the pre-alpha build of We Happy Few approximately once per month. We do this for several reasons. First, it helps us refine our production processes to make sure we can push out regular updates during Early Access and beyond. Secondly, we get great feedback on features as they develop, which means we have much more information throughout development. Secondly, it is a simple way of splitting up our development. Each month we focus on a major area of the game we want to develop or improve - a “theme” if you will.
This month’s theme is night. In the pre-alpha currently, running around at night isn’t particularly threatening, or interesting. There are more Bobbies in the Village, and the Wellies all go to sleep, but otherwise nighttime is actually less threatening than day time. So, this month we’re working on implementing our designs for night, to make the gameplay, ambiance and threats substantially different, which will lead to a big change in how players play the game past the first few hours. Obviously, we’ll continue to improve this over time, but this is the first big push on this subject.
As an example from the design team, one thing we want to do is communicate better what happens in which time periods. We’ve decided to have a more clear three state system - day, dusk and night. This is because we want night to be very threatening, but we don’t want you to be caught out with no way to deal with the situation. So we need to consider what time each state change occurs, what the lighting/ambiance should be, what threats come out to play, how the AIs behave… and hopefully, that’ll help put into context what the team has been working on this week!
This week I whistled a variety of tunes into a mike for the Bobbies to whistle when they’re alone in the dark.
Figured out with G the mechanics for one of our player character’s interactions with a later player character. It’s important that there is narrative “glue” between the scenes; but we don’t want to over determine the player’s choices. So rather than preventing the player from short circuiting a particular sequence, I came up with a way to handle the short circuiting in narrative. Now I’m rewriting the scenes.
Wrote lines for Uncle Jack to urge everyone to get indoors before it gets dark. I’ll record them next week or over the weekend.
Worked on figuring out which Wellie attack lines are not convincing, so we can disconnect them.
Gave notes on the early animation of one of the cutscenes. It was an interesting conversation because I come from film and theatre, and I tend to want the “actors” to move around the “scene” to illuminate their inner turmoil. But the cutscenes are all first person, like the gameplay, and it’s very odd if the player character is turned away from the NPC she’s interacting with; the player is looking at the landscape. So how do you square the circle?
Created a list of extremely English names so that we can name all the Wellies. Edited Alice Kensington’s Wastrellette lines so we can put them in the game (after José, our audio producer, levels them). Came up with ideas for what’s on the inside of a Happy Face.
This week, we are working on bringing a whole new meaning to night time in Wellington Wells.
Simply put, there will be a curfew and all citizens should stay home at night. The Bobbies will be patrolling and making sure everyone is sound "asleep".
For my part, I updated the mounted TVs in the Village so that they will now open and "look" at you when you go near them at night. This will mean the sound and the light might alert a patrolling Bobby.
Also, the Bobbies will have lamps on their helmets at night. They will be able to spot you as well as a giving the player a good indicator as to where not to wander.
I am also working on deadly fog! You heard that right. I did a bit of testing on how I can add moving deathly fog.
We’ve also been working on the broadcasting system. I am removing the loudspeakers on the houses in the Village, and we are adding a new loudspeaker system in the Garden District so that you can listen to Uncle Jack everywhere in Wellington Wells.
Lots of relatively small changes in the past weeks, no major feature, but all these changes do pile up.
Audio: Fixes and improvements to AI barks, as well as adjustments to the player talking. New music in the PA system in the village.
Combat: slight changes in the dodge mechanic so it feels more fair. Improvements to the barks so you get a better idea who is going to attack.
HUD: the global perception indicator has now been simplified, it will only show the current suspicion level (i.e. yellow = someone is suspicious, red = someone is hostile). It was showing the suspicion emitted by the player, but few people got that, it was too confusing. Also the AI suspicion now transforms into a health bar when in combat, we will revisit the art at one point.
AI: I started working on behaviours specific to night time. Citizens will go to bed in the evening, only the bobbies should be left outside during the night, and they will be much more aggressive. Only a Downer would stay out…
One of the big things I did this week was explore the different lighting and atmosphere progressions for our day/night cycle. Here you have what the player might experience for day, dawn, and night, both on your Joy (bottom row) and off your Joy (top row). As you can see, life is much better on Joy! I wanted to make sure each stage has its own distinct color palette and weather effect. This way we can have a special ambiance and tone that should complement the gameplay.
This week I continued working on houses. These may seem a bit out of context but they all have a purpose - they’re part of our new filler building system, the system that fills the gaps between the lootable areas in game. The idea is that we’ll be able to warp each of these buildings to, either in combination or alone, fill in spaces we need to in the world generation. We’ve started implementing these, but it’s not likely to be ready for the next update. However, they are beginning to look really nice, and the world feels substantially different.
This week I have been working on small props, and adapting a high poly car model for our game (retopology and textures). As you can see, we won’t be driving it...
Thanks for tuning in and have a great week-end!