Update #48 - Deadly Update
Before we dive right into the weekly update, we would love it if you could take this anonymous survey, even if you’ve never played the game! (we will close the survey on monday). This is important to us as it helps us know if we are going in the right direction :)
Working on death and dying for the next update is fine and dandy, but before we even start communicating about the player’s death, we have to make it clear what’s keeping them alive and what’s killing them. For a while, gameplay was simple enough that we could communicate a lot with HUD icons and minimal feedback, but this hasn’t been the case for a while now. We’re finally addressing this by implementing a status screen, something that is arguably essential to any survival game. Here is its first version:
It’s nothing too glamorous, but it’s important for the player to have a central location to get information about anything that’s currently affecting them. There isn’t much information to show right now besides status effects and the player’s current needs.
But that is bound to change as we start tracking more information and stats about the player’s experience for the update. For instance, wouldn’t you like to know how many mean old grannies you’ve whacked? Or perhaps how much damage you’ve dealt in total? Since this isn’t an RPG, statistics like these are mostly cosmetic, but it remains fun to have some random tidbits to consult.
Narrative Army of One
I feel like I’ve had a productive day when I do something that results in big hunks of content. For example, the other day we had a recording session for a soldier. We got 180 lines recorded in an hour. Since we’d scheduled two hours, I had to scramble to come up with some other stuff for our actor to record.
However, I’m also responsible for lore. On Monday, Whitney asked me for some ideas for posters and things to flesh out the Garden District. The easy way to do this would be to repeat something you already know: a poster promoting Joy, for example, or another war poster. The harder and better thing to do is to show you something you didn’t know. In this case, it was, “What is it like for the Wastrels to come off Joy?” Now there’ll be a painting that tells you something about that. And a painting that’s the flip side of that: what proper decent Wellies do when they’re confronted with the awkward past. Sarah and I had fun coming up with that one.
And, I wrote three editorial cartoons from some sort of samizdat dissident paper. Who knew there were ever dissidents?
I sometimes wonder where my day goes. Something like “think of five ideas for the art team” can take an hour or more. We are also coming up with a new game mode. But what to call it? The names of the modes have to communicate what they’re like while being of the game world -- for example Wakey Wakey for the mode where you wake up after death, and We’ve Come to the End of Our Time for permadeath mode. See if you can guess what the middle mode is from the following rejected trios of game mode names:
Die Another Day
You Only Live Twice
As the World Turns
One Life to Live
I Am the Resurrection
A Man Named Lazarus
The Angel of Death
But Soft, What Light from Yonder Window Breaks
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
To Be, Or Not to Be
This sort of thing can also take an hour or more: a lot of thinking, and not very much writing. The best way to do it is to write down all the ideas you have, not just the good ones; a probably bad idea (Please Sir, Can I Have Another mode anyone?) can be a “bridge” to a good idea.
These things take up a lot of time, but they’re the difference between feeling that the world is deep and rich and strange, and would exist even in Arthur’s absence, or feeling that it is merely there to support gameplay.
This week for me I’ve been spending a lot of time on gameplay and encounter animations. First goal was to provide some animations to the Level designers for them to be able to create their encounters. That usually means unique animations that will be seen only a few times in the Game, but since we are a small team of animators, we have to think ahead about it. How could we reuse them? Or how could we animate them in order to be re-usable somewhere else in the game?
For gameplay animations, most of them were made in order to give feedback to the player. For example: When the NPCs see you in their house, what’s their reaction? That reaction needs to tell the player that they have been spotted. How would the player know that they are in trouble? Quite simple: NPCs now take a moment to draw out their weapon before bashing it on your head! These animations make it so much easier for the player to understand what the hell is going on! So without going too much in detail, here are some of the animations that I have completed this week.
I’ve been revisiting all the characters’ masks. I'm happy I finally got the mask material to look soft and pliable :)
This week I've been working on kitbashing buildings for the garden district. Kitbashing refers to creating new assets (in this case, buildings) from pieces we already have. It's a very efficient workflow. I've also been creating and tweaking props for the houses' back gardens, which I'll showcase next week.
Making entrances and windows frame look simple but when you’re crazy and you want every single pieces to be modular, it’s a puzzle. But the final result is a really fun kitbashing set! Also I'm really satisfied with my fancy tileable wall padding mesh (it was surprisingly hard to make).
Hi there! I’ve been talking to a bunch of people on the team about the role of cars in the game and we decided to tweak it a little. You can now hide in trunks! Especially useful when skulking about in the village streets at night. You can also dispose of bodies inside them. Please enjoy some really unpolished shots of the corpse poses made by a level designer…
Thank you for tuning in!