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Play as an alien plant and escape from a scientific facility, full of secrets and dangerous experiments. PC/Mac/Linux/Wii U/Ouya
Play as an alien plant and escape from a scientific facility, full of secrets and dangerous experiments.
Play as an alien plant and escape from a scientific facility, full of secrets and dangerous experiments.
5,953 backers pledged $144,960 to help bring this project to life.

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Conundrums ~ AI progress ~ Unity asset ~ Music

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Almost alive

Hello backers of the world! It's been a long time since the previous update (We were recently rapped on the knuckles in the comments for this reason) so the first thing we wanted to do is apologize for not showing signs of life in the last two months. We have been extremely busy with the game and, in addition, both Sigrid and I were forced to present our respective final career projects (it was the last call to submit them) so we used all of our little spare time to make them.

Usually we prepare the Kickstarter posts aside development hours to save as much time as possible, but making an update can take several days between preparing images/animations (export pixel perfect elements requires to scale each picture by a certain factor to maintain a proportional ratio) and the translation of texts from Spanish to English, checking it several times to make sure everything is fine.

Some of you may be bothered about the fact that we spent "extra" hours on those specific tasks, but we really needed that time. Anyway, we’ve always advocated to be completely transparent about our working methods and show all of you the bumps that appear in the road of this development... all we ask for is a little patience while we get things done  ;)

Well, after this brick that probably bored you let’s cut to the chase.

Lost in puzzles

One of the things that we wanted to show you is how we design puzzles for Paradise Lost. This is an intricate process that requires hours of thinking and trial & error testing, in order to obtain gameplay experiences that flex the players mind. To make a problem resolution that is both entertaining and challenging it’s necessary to take into account a number of factors that, correctly aligned, manage to convey an immersive experience within the game universe. The use of the plant skills, the interaction with the environment and the addition of narrative clues are elements that we kept in mind to design these enigmas. Before developing each puzzle, we created an initial diagram with the “key” concepts, situations and mechanics categorized by the type of abilities required to solve them and the way that the player interacts with the environment.

(You can view the scheme on detail by clicking on the image -sorry, it was written in Spanish :/ )

Design every puzzle individually is not feasible because it would require to code each challenge from scratch, increasing its possibility to crash and requiring more time for test and debugging. Using the previous framework as a design guide help us delimit the number of gameplay elements, simplifying its deconstruction and avoiding a more complex development.

Does this mean that all the puzzles are the same? Of course not; the exploration and use of your surrounding area makes every challenge unique. Besides this, some of this conundrums can test different mental skills at the same time, mixing different categories like pattern recognition or sequence solving on a single brainteaser.

To give more complexity without risking the core mechanics we also added variations on each design, expanding and evolving the game experience. For example, imagine a scene with a transport arm that displace boxes where you need to open a path, creating a stairway to advance. The following ideas show how to "improve" the performance of a basic problem with a pair of modifications:

  • one button moves the hoist 2 columns (always to the left till the last column, then return the same number of positions)
  • a second button moves the hoist 3 columns (same performance)
  • the third button of the panel change the polarity of the claw. There are two kind of boxes to interact with, each with a different pole.
  • The arm grabs a box after the movement. If is not of its polarity the hoist doesn't pick it. You can't stack more than 3 boxes vertically.

This way we can make one complex challenge composed from 3 easy principles, suitable to multiple challenges.

Once we decided the type of game mechanic to use, we translate this concept to a Lego play set. Manipulating the physic cubes that represent the puzzle components give us a deeper and more “visual” understanding of the enigma resolution. It also makes the deconstruction process easily.

And voila! Here's the puzzle translated to the game engine (it seems that W has some troubles with the control panel).

AI progress

Good news! the main AI modules are almost done and fully functional; from this point we only need to incorporate new animations to the Mecanim state machine system.

To have a deeper understanding of how it works, take a look at the Security Forces behavior diagram:

Each animation is linked to a state or transition (the rectangular boxes) which, in turn, interacts with other states. This interlaced groups are gathered in submachines (those hexagonal frames) to maintain an organized/understandable workflow. The next picture shows the patterns attached under the Attack state machine.

From this point Carlos started to develop specific scripts that assign those behaviors to  in-game characters within a "easy to use" control panel. This allows us to design the enemy routines in real time without going through the state machine.

Sharing our work with other developers

Last update we posted about the new pixel art rotation technique developed to obtain a smooth/pixelated aiming for the characters. Unity didn’t include any standard tools to represent this effect, so we decided to publish this gadget on the Unity Asset Store, allowing other game designers to use this kind of rotation in their pixel art games and, also, help finance Paradise Lost.

So if you are designing a project with pixel aesthetics too and want to preserve that edgy/pixelated look on motion elements, you can check our asset right here.

Running out of time...

Finally, we leave you with another immersive composition by Pablo J. Garmón for the game. Since we've been talking about puzzle challenges, here you can enjoy a piece representing a dramatic situation that W must solve in a race against the clock.

 (This is a preliminar theme. Some arrangements will be made to the final version):

_______

PS: Next month we’ll contact some of the backers whose tier are related with the design of bosses and scenarios, in order to start with them as soon as possible.

Green hugs to all of you!,

Enol Martínez

Unity 5 ~ pixel rotation ~ new devblog

48 likes

Hey there! here’s the march dev report! We made great improvements the last month so there's some stuff that we've been working on.

New Unity, new possibilities

We made a great progress in the development and rewriting of the code and also took the opportunity to port the game to Unity 5. This new version of Unity brings a few improvements when using Mecanim and integrating animations into the game.

Another great feature will be the possibility to port the game directly to WiiU, which will make our work much easier when adapting Paradise Lost to the Nintendo platform -our priority after the PC versions-.

Perfectly aligned

One of the things that we have implemented with the new version is pixel perfect. In case someone doesn't know what we are talking about, it means that all pixels are the same size and stay aligned to a grid. Unity by default doesn't work at pixel level but based on textures, so we had to implement this solution by ourselves. This way, the game has a much nicer finish and we don’t see half pixel intersections when the characters are still.

Many pixel art games made in Unity don’t use this technique, but we wanted a top-notch look.

You can't escape the enemy's sight

The other BIG improvement that we have achieved is the rotation of elements within Unity itself, allowing enemies to aim in any direction -which saves us from animate hundreds of frames and also enhance the enemy’s precision-.

In very little time Carlos has managed to implement an algorithm that reads the pixel matrix in every sprite, redrawing them in each position. Thanks to this, you won’t see inclined pixels in a forced way, but squared pixels nicely aligned with the background grid.

Plurality

Another thing that we wanted to share with all of you is the way we design the different characters in the game. To achieve a great variety of enemies we made a basic unisex head, on which we set up different elements (hairstyles, facial hair, accessories) and therefore obtaining diverse results from the same pattern.

Thanks to this all the enemies are unique, adding a lot of variety to the game (and also helping players to recognize certain rooms depending on their looks).

Finally... new website + devblog!

At last we found a bit of time to change our website and make a dev-blog section to post news more often -outside these Kickstarter updates- sharing images and other stuff about the design process of Paradise. We have also added a devkit section so anyone can download different elements such as high-resolution images of the game and logos of both Asthree and Paradise Lost.

Now the store section is better organized too with a new display for the different tiers that you can buy via Humble, so if you know people who want to support us or could be interested in the game, go tell them ;)

PS: Many thanks to our good friend Miguel Esteban for giving us a hand with the workload and help us build the website!

Starr Mazer crossover!

33 likes

Hello everyone! We are back with an express update to announce our new crossover with the incredible Starr Mazer from Imagos Softworks.

There aren’t many projects that show the pixel art detail and animation like this one. But not only the graphics looks good, the original mix of shump + graphic adventure and the attention to detail in the scenes… all in this game looks from other planet. Surely many of you have seen the project, but if you didn’t knew about it go check out their campaign.

We made a quick design about its main character inside the G.E.R. offices playing to Starr Mazer in the sly. Hope you like it  :D

PS: We are hard at work and made some GREAT improvements (don’t worry, they didn’t take us so much extra time haha) so we’ll make an update soon with new stuff :)

Greets!

Nerds, cameos and more

43 likes

Hi everyone! How's your 2015 so far? Taking a look back, last year we experienced a lot of setbacks that forced us to postpone the launch of our video game, but now we're back in shape again, working hard on the engine and implementing all our already designed game mechanics.

Carlos has easily become attuned to our fast pace of work and now he's putting into practice all his previous experience in game development, starting from scratch with a more solid foundation and trying to keep the different elements of the game as structured and defined as possible. He already fought with many of the problems we had so far (adaptation of pixel art to different resolutions, shaders and physics among others). It's been a significant step forward.

In any case, there is still much to do, so I don't dare to say a specific launch date. Being honest, and seeing the enormous amount of work pending, if the game is released by the end of 2015 it will be a miracle  :/

The main graphics of the enemies, their animations and the backgrounds of a large part of the facilities are already done, as well as the level design and many puzzles. Now we have to implement everything in the new level editor in which we are working, edit the cutscenes and test the proper functioning of the animations and their interaction with objects. I know that much of the work was already done but we needed to redo all the core again, so we are investing the necessary time to make everything work as it should.

Smart is the new sexy

We also want to show you some animations and the behaviors of the G.E.R. scientists. We have always showed you the actions undertaken by the armed enemies, but the scientists rely on a different set of routines, focused on their tasks and avoiding direct confrontation.

For those who wish to remain UNSPOILED for the game and don’t want to know anything about the game mechanics, I invite you to scroll down until after the images of the doctors.

Most scientists work on two levels. What does that mean? It means that, concerning their field of vision, they look forward or down, and when they do the latter the player can go unnoticed.

Thanks to these mechanics, we get such characters to look more natural and also giving some room for the players to sneak or create their own strategies.

Doctors are non-violent enemies, but when we enter their field of vision they run away from you, activating the emergency alert system or calling the nearest guard. They can really complicate our escape through the facilities if we don’t keep an eye on their routines and interaction with the scenery.

Anyway, if it doesn’t present an ethical dilemma for you, you can always knock them out. In order to create these impacts, the animation process has been quite complex because we had to make a key position to link the main hit (for the front & the back) and from this position fall to one side or another, depending on their proximity to a wall or an impassable object.

You can also hit them while they are at work, anticipating their future movements through the scene:

PS: that impact on the table is probably a tad too much... but funny anyway  :D

Brain-melting art

I think we didn’t show you this fantastic illustration of Subject W by Rob Cham. It will be one of the 4 postcards designed by different artists to be included in the Exodus tier and onwards.

If you missed the previous one, you can see here the previous illustration by Aitor Burillo.

Indie love ❤

Finally, we want to show you the fantastic cameo made by our friends of Alike studio for their next project, Love you to Bits, for which they have drawn Subject W in the style of the game.

 It's so exciting to see different interpretations of the plant by other artist and developers  :D

Their game is a fantastic point-and-click sci-fi adventure spanning all around the universe. You follow the crazy journey of a tiny human explorer whose robot girlfriend has been destroyed. Its pieces are scattered in dozens of planets full of fantastic aliens, space-time puzzles and hidden objects to collect.

As always, hope you liked all this stuff and thanks for your eternal patience with the game's delay,

Enol Martínez

New player has arrived + designing a scene

46 likes

Greetings from paradise! It’s been a tough month, picking ourselves up since we separated from our previous partner. We’ve been speeding things up and working 24/7 in order to coordinate with our new programmer before coming back to the normal workflow. Many stuff had to be rearranged and the game’s code has been started from scratch... I know it may sound crazy, but it was the only thing we could do at the moment. Luckily, we were able to implement all mechanics very fast and use our previous experience to progress in the development. We don’t want to go over the limit stepping aside from deadlines and repeating the same mistakes we had at the beginning. We are giving priority to make things right and have a better planning to complete PLFC as soon as possible.

Taking on the programming issue, you have to think that making a game is a convoluted process that requires a lot of testing and constantly redo of code. We want to ensure that everything works perfectly before showing you new gameplay material and send a sneak peak of Paradise Lost to all the backers. I know we are putting your temper at test... hope you could forgive us for the damn troubles.

Half man, half machine

We want to introduce you our new team member and the responsible of making the game works, Carlos G. Mangas. Carlos is a big passionate about video games (specially the Nintendo ones), computing and artificial intelligence. He’s taking charge of anything that involves coding and develop of tools for Paradise Lost. The most important thing is that he is excited about the project and is giving the 100% of his effort and time to develop the game you all deserve.

Say hi to our backers, Carlos!

Giving live to the G.E.R. facility

Considering that we’ve been ultra focused recomposing the game, we didn’t have so much time to prepare new stuff (aside spoiler material), so we decided to show you how we build a stage step by step. The example above was one pain in the ass in terms of design and assembling, the stairs section. You know why? check it out:

1 Concepts

First of all we draw quick sketches of the scene, focusing on the overall look and functionality. This is the part where we think about the possible puzzles and different kind of situations you can afford with the minimum elements, in order to keep a balance between variety (for the players) and reusability (for the engine).

Another thing to consider is how we’re going to design platforms and surfaces to move through. Subject W give us a lot of headaches in this matter because its pivot is wider than the human ones, and the sprite looks horrible over corners. We decided to add depth to the stairs so the base doesn't show empty pixels standing in the air.

This kind of things are decided right now, trying to solve all possible complications before the problems appear in the game. At this moment we don’t look at the kind of tiles we can use in order to not restrain our ideas about design.

2 Organization and first steps

Now with the general idea in mind it’s time to go digital and select the elements that will take part of the scene. Before doing the new pieces that are characteristic of this area we look to previous files, searching elements that could be reusable. It is common on the scenes that take part of the same level to share visual parts and have a similar aesthetic in terms of colors and materials. For example, in this case parts of the background like the wall pieces, ceilings or the structure blocks are reused tiles from the main corridors.

3 Design and color

At this point we draw the characteristic elements of the stage. Usually we take on different objects at the same time, using our standard palettes to represent particular materials. For this area we wanted a more industrial feeling, with exposed metal textures for the vertical tiles and stairs.

4 Polishing things and color balance

It’s time to improve the appearance of the different pieces and assemble them together to see if everything fits good. After all things are finished, we apply parallel shadows, gradients, curves and hue layers to have an homogeneous look. Here's the evolution of the scene:

5 Splitting the stage

With everything designed we must separate the different things in layers to add them into the game’s engine. The components are distributed in six groups: foreground, characters, interactive objects, decoration, background and second background (behind-glass rooms and elevators). Some pieces must be slightly modified to obtain perfectly tileable pieces. The stairs zone had to be assembled in vertical, so this element must fit for different heights. In order to elude visual repetitions we add objects from the deco layer, giving a different look to the same tiles.

 6 Done!

This is how a 2 heights stairs area looks like:

Well, that’s all folks! Don’t forget to make a little push to other interesting projects right now on Kickstarter like the emotive That Dragon Cancer or the fantastic Crossing Souls, an old-school adventure with original 80’s like cutscenes.