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Sui Generis is an original open world RPG for the PC featuring dynamic story and physics based gameplay. Read more

London, UK Video Games
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This project was successfully funded on November 29, 2012.

Sui Generis is an original open world RPG for the PC featuring dynamic story and physics based gameplay.

London, UK Video Games
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Prelude Alpha Release

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The first prelude alpha is now available from our website. For those of you who haven't caught on yet, the prelude is named Exanima. If you have alpha access then go grab it and then come to our forum and tell us what you think. You're our first testers so this first release is still under NDA until we've dealt with eventual major issues, please keep this in mind!

So, we've somehow overcome the huge ordeal of developing all the functionality and technology needed for a fairly complete playable experience. It may even appear very complete and polished but don't forget this is only the first alpha, there are many features and improvements to come for both Exanima and Sui Generis. This is happening very quickly now that we've gotten the really big and difficult stuff done. Some of the features we have not completed yet will obviously have a massive effect on the game, such as character advancement and thaumaturgy but we have been focusing on things that we believe present the biggest technical challenges and making sure we get them right. Even so we believe this alpha is very enjoyable and that we've already largely succeeded in providing the kind of atmosphere and experience we're aiming for.

This alpha is fairly short and doesn't have a proper conclusion, that's because it's the earliest part of the prelude. Once we've gone through some initial testing and completed the most urgent features and improvements we'll be opening up more of the prelude and then going into beta. The first full release should be close behind. Don't underestimate the volume of content though, you will have to be quite thorough to discover everything and all doors except the big double metal ones can be unlocked.

Please be sure to consult the control reference in the first run screen or the included readme file, you may have difficulty with certain interactions if you don't know the controls! Customisable controls in the in game settings screen will be included in a future release.

As mentioned before we will continue to add features and improvements to Exanima as we develop them for the full game. This will allow us to get your feedback as we continue with development and improve both the prelude and full game experience. In the near future we plan to release a roadmap of major development goals. This will give you a clear idea of what we're working on and perhaps even allow you to influence how those goals are prioritised.

Some of the more urgent things that didn't make it into this release:

  • More AI behaviours, with some very significant gameplay implications!
  • Greater environment interactivity
  • Walk/step backwards out of combat (with keyboard)
  • Automatic input correction to assist walking very near obstacles
  • Improved performance
  • Saving progress for multiple session playthroughs
  • Customisable controls
  • Various control improvements
  • Doors affecting room visibility system
  • Improved animations, especially for undead

The game is quite uncoventional in many ways but it shouldn't take long to get used to everything. It's fairly limited in scope for now but don't treat it as you would an action RPG, take your time and consider what you do, the most obvious thing is rarely the best.

As usual, to download the alpha access your account page on our website using your backer email address. If you don't have your password just use the forgot password feature.

Here's a few screenshots for those who can't yet see it first hand:

Best,

Bare Mettle

IT LIVES

56 likes


Recently we've been doing weekly updates on our insider forum, the prelude alpha is nearing completion and we've been keeping those waiting for its arrival informed on our progress and what challenges we've faced and overcome each week. It's been a very busy time for us but now we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we thought to do a more summary public update rather than the usual insider update.

We set a lot of extremely ambitious goals for ourselves with Sui Generis, we have to admit some of what we set out to do sounds a bit high-reaching. It's how we imagined future games when we were teenagers and that idea has stuck with us. You might find it a little concerning as a backer but there's quite a bit of what we wanted to do that we just couldn't be sure would really work. It made a lot of sense to us, we certainly thought we could do it but with no one having attempted it before we just couldn't be sure. There have always been moments of "Oh dear, what if this just causes too many problems?" There's also been a few times in development when we've imagined just how much easier our lives would be if we'd have gone for something simpler that's tried and tested!

Much of what we're trying to accomplish is far beyond the scope of the prelude and that's partly the idea of the prelude. It's an intermediate goal that is built from the same blocks but doesn't yet need to take advantage of everything they provide. In the end we've invested more in the prelude than we originally planned in an effort to do things right. Core to our game philosophy is that nothing is a static asset or effect, a predefined animation or scripted behaviour. We need to start with such things as placeholders while prototyping but in the end everything must be complex, mutable and reactive. If anything is possible then it should always be possible and be a natural result of the underlying simulation. We're not just talking about physics here but rather how everything has a meaning or purpose, how AI understands what things are and how they may relate to other things. Our event system and AI are aimed at providing an emergent story but we believe the most important and challenging aspect of this is the little things that drive how that story unfolds; the actions and objects that are instrumental to what actually happens and how what happens and happened previously can be perceived by AI. This has always been central to our design.

So far we've been very busy with overcoming the technical challenges of how to run a game where everything is dynamic, interacts and all motion is governed by physical forces; how everything can be described, how information can be accessed, interpreted and exchanged; how things behave in consistent and plausible ways rather than through simple schematic models; how AI can form opinions and make decisions that give them access to potentially unlimited options and roles, and do this in a lifelike and natural way rather than through a rigid set of unscrutable rules.

While on the surface the prelude is quite simple we have always remained true to our goals, it is built on these things and they are functional. It shows that we've already overcome the most serious technical challenges. Really we could not have hoped for better results. SG's physical world works beautifully and it can communicate, beneath the surface it is so much more than the typical series of player activated things, it is bursting with meaning and potential ready to be unlocked.

Now we're less concerned with technical issues and what could go wrong but rather with how to take advantage of everything we've done. Nagging concerns are being replaced by a flood of ideas about what can be done with what we've put in place. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, there's no mistaking it. We have developed models and methods, algorithms and data structures but ultimately it's the data itself that drives the world. We still have to design many of the things themselves, the activites or specific behaviours, the knowledge that governs them. This is an incremental process however where we can gradually expand options, understanding and possibilities.


We realise a lot of this may seem quite abstract but it's difficult to go into detail in a concise manner. Some people might also find knowing how things work breaks the illusion. If you are interested and have access to our insider forum, you will find more information about our AI systems, about how things in the world carry information and many other things besides. We plan to continue making frequent posts with detail of our progress and some of the game's inner workings.


On a more practical note, the prelude alpha is indeed very near completion. We've solved every major issue we're aware of, including those mentioned in our last insider Sunday update. This last week we've stopped to take a breath for the first time in a while and just look at what we're doing which is what inspired this update. It's very satisfying and exciting to see everything working smoothly. This week we'll be finalising some user interaction features and work on an actual release build. Performance on lower end systems is still potentially a concern at the moment (this is not a serious issue and will be solved completely) but we think it may be acceptable for a first alpha release.


Best,

Bare Mettle

Combat Demo Beta Release

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A POSSIBLE MISUNDERSTANDING

Before we move on to the purpose of this update we'd like to clear up some misunderstandings that seem to have resulted from our last update. Some people seem to have understood that we were abandoning our physics intensive combat in favour of something more conventional and even that the combat isn't much fun. Nothing could be further from the truth!

The physics based nature of the game has not changed, only improved. We'd become very used to the combat in its previous state but with the feedback we received from the alpha we started to think about things from a new perspective and this led to some big improvements. Nothing was sacrificed.

We received an overwhelmingly positive response from the combat alpha. Almost everyone is really enthusiastic about the combat and many have spent countless hours enjoying it even though it's just a series of one on one fights. This is something not many combat systems can provide. It is however hugely skill based, tactical and difficult, don't expect to be an instant hero who easily dispatches their opponents! Many people were initially frustrated but then came to love it once they understood its subtleties. It requires a little patience and practice, this is not a game where spamming keys leads to victory, every mistake you make will be brutally punished. The AI is clever and will use every tool at their disposal to beat you, you need to be clever too!

COMBAT FUNDAMENTALS

This is a very unique and highly skill based combat system. Please clear your mind of what you've learned in other games and take the time to read this quick introductory guide. Also pay attention to the tips that appear at the top of the screen after you defeat each opponent.

You might remember that we said "combat situations will be occasional yet meaningful", we meant it. Combat in SG will have to be taken seriously, you will face AIs that are subject to the same exact rules as you and don't particularly want to die. Characters aren't suicidal loot piñatas and XP powerups, they'll quickly teach you to respect them. Combat is supposed to be an intense experience, not a continuous and careless slaughter.

Finally, don't forget that Sui Generis is an open world RPG, not a beat-em-up. There are many other aspects to the game and ways to approach things, even combat. The close quarters combat itself is also not complete, we will continue to add features and make improvements but we are currently focusing on other aspects of the game. This combat demo will give you a taste of SG's original combat system and give you something to play around with before the prelude release, you should not consider it indicative of the actual game experience.


SPEED × HEAVY = WELLY

In English mister scientist! Physics in Sui Generis doesn't mean accurate hitboxes, it means physical forces are driving everything. Moving and turning your character can have a huge effect on the force of your blows and each weapon behaves differently and requires different play. This concerns the weight and balance of weapons and even their shape. A sword will deal damage along its entire edge and its end can slice through your opponent but a hammer is not very effective if you hit someone with the haft, you need to hit with the head and put some force behind the blow. So, don't just press the attack button but move your whole body with the swing, augment and direct every blow.


MY TURN, STAND STILL!

Timing is everything. To land an attack and succesfully bypass your opponent's defences you need to time it well. Just pressing the attack button does not accomplish anything, you need land blows in the right place and at the right time to actually do damage. Your opponents are most vulnerable when they are themselves attacking or recovering from an attack. Even then you need to hit them where they are exposed and vulnerable. The same goes for you, a badly timed attack will leave you vulnerable and can lead to a very swift demise.


PLEASE DON'T HIT ME

Blocking and parrying in Sui Generis is an organic process, you can't just press a button for magical invunerability. As long as you are facing your attacker and not doing anything else you will try to defend against incoming blows, however you must position and turn your character in such a way as to intercept the blow. Careful positioning can make your defences impenetrable but even if you don't successfully block an attack you will take less damage when you are braced to defend against it, defending is always important. You can cancel an attack to defend at any time by letting go of the attack button, however it can take a moment for you character to fully prepare their guard.


WEEEE... I CAN'T FLY!

Trying to move constantly (left-right-left-right) is a good tactic in many games but in Sui Generis, like in real life, this will only make you look silly and throw you off balance. Step when and where it matters! You're not trying to dodge bullets.

You can't lunge forward and change your mind mid lunge to then lunge back, your character's feet need to be on the ground and you need to lose that momentum. This doesn't mean you need to be aware of your character's feet, there's a rhythm to your movements that you can transform into an elegant and deadly dance. You can also learn and predict your opponent's movements and use it against them.


PLEASE REMEMBER THE NDA

Because we don't want people who don't know much about the game to get a completely wrong idea of what it is, the combat demo is under a Non Disclosure Agreement. This means you should keep it to yourself but you are free and indeed encouraged to use our insider forum to discuss it and share anything including videos. The NDA will be lifted with the release of the prelude which will be more representative of the game in its entirety.


HOW TO GET IT

You should receive an email with instructions and log in details, you can however access your account page at any time on our website http://www.baremettle.com/sg/login/ . Use your backer email and if you don't have a password yet or lost it use the forgot password feature.

WARNING TO SOUND BLASTER USERS

Some older Sound Blaster drivers will blue screen your system when using OpenAL. This is in fact a problem common to many games. If you own a Sound Blaster sound card and have not upgraded your drivers in some time we recommend that you do so.

Best,

Bare Mettle

Update #28: Update #28.

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So it's now June and some of you were expecting a prelude release. We've been communicating our progress on our forums but we haven't done a Kickstarter update in some time. We're not quite ready for a prelude release yet but we have been hard at work!

We know many of you have high expectations and you've encouraged us to take the time to make a great game rather than rush to release something mediocre. We are putting a lot of care into those things that will make Sui Generis a truly unique game. Of all the games we've played it's those that pay attention to detail and have layers of subtlety that have really engaged us. While we can't satisfy your every request we do understand the importance of making something good, not just "good enough".

THE UNDERWORLD

Until recently we focused mostly on outdoor environments which in many ways are the most technically challenging. Because we're such a small team with one programmer we generally have to focus on one thing at a time and the underworld had taken a back seat. Developing the prelude we found ourselves confronted with some issues that had been neglected and reviewing things that we weren't satisfied with.

You might remember we promised a vast and sprawling underworld, it's all interconnected rather than being many distinct environments. It's also very deep and it changes as you go deeper. The concept remains the same but our early design now seems too basic and not to the standards that the game is shaping up to.

Our first goal was to introduce more variation in the common structural graphics. We improved the modular system through which the environment is constructed and developed a tool that allows us to create these environments extremely quickly and interactively while providing an intuitive workflow, this means that we can focus on and experiment with design rather than getting bogged down in the work itself. We've improved and adapted our existing assets to this new system and we're developing new ones with fresh insights.

 

Unlike the terrain the underworld is not a single streaming environment and there are some very different travel mechanics. The underworld regions are quite large and complex, the first "level" of the prelude contains almost 10000 meshes, 100 shadow casting dynamic lights and many characters so we need some important engine features to be in a very much finalised state to drive all this. A lot of this work is done now but there are still a few important issues to resolve, especially for lower end systems.

One really important issue we struggled with for this type of environment and the isometric style view is visibility. Being able to see past walls is very immersion breaking, it removes depth from the environment and also causes difficult problems with balancing line of sight for the player and AI. This is especially true when AI has complex behaviours and may be interacting with the environment. The approaches we've seen used in other games would either not work or be visually disturbing.

Finally we had a promising idea, prototyped it and instantly loved it. What we're doing is dividing up the environment based on doorways and only allowing you to see the room you're currently in or any room that you're on the threshold of. The rooms fade in in such a way that as you move around you barely even notice it happening, the visual impact of the environment and exploration are much more immersive.

AIs can be subjected to the same exact visibility rules as players putting them on a level playing field. As a byproduct we've achieved a sort of old-school encounter mechanic which we really like. As you approach a room you are able to see what's inside and what's inside is able to see you.

This just naturally ties in with other mechanics and how AI understands and navigates environments. For example if you were being pursued we can accurately determine where AIs see you go and where they might search if they lost sight of you.

 

THE DEAD

One of the things we care about most is persistence, we want everything in the game to feel substantial and real. Everything can be interacted with and the results of every interaction are lasting. To support this the bodies of the dead must not just dissapear but remain in place until someone moves them. These bodies must therefore slowly decay. Necromancers must also find real bodies to raise, they can't just will them out of thin air.

We're leveraging the power of our recently improved procedural character system to make bodies gradually decompose, that of our procedural animation to make their movements uncoordinated by various degrees. Combine this with some great voice effects and unusual AI and you've got some pretty compelling undead.

 

DAMAGE AND EQUIPMENT MECHANICS

All the mechanics for armour and weapons are now in place and working as we wanted and better. There are four basic damage types: slash, pierce, crush and impact. All of these behave differently in terms of how the forces of collision translate to damage, for example slashing damage is effective when cutting and even with weaker forces whereas crushing damage requires significant impacts. Base weapon stats include these damage types and also various properties which control how they behave physically. Weapons are not just more or less powerful but each weapon feels and behaves differently in combat having a huge effect on how you play.

Armour has mitigations for the four basic damage types and also other properties. We are going for very realistic behaviour for armour, plate armour is effectively proof against bladed weapons and extremely resilient to all damage types, chain offers great protection against some damage types but not others, common leather apparel is pretty useless as armour. There are various other types of armour each with distinct qualities and things get interesting when you realise they complement eachother. It is entirely possible to wear chain under plate, or a gambeson to absorb some impact and effectively reduce the force of blows to a point where the plate can mitigate them completely. When you equip some armour you really get a sense of being armoured and protected, you will even hear the plates sliding over each other, the chain jingling and the leather creaking as you move.

 

We've extended our inventory system to support 8 layers and over a thousand slots, we don't use them all but they give us the flexibility to model the complex interactions of our growing repertoire of wearable items. All armour is locational, it covers different parts of the body and with different efficiencies, layers of armour interact locally on what they cover. Each part of the body also has varying base vulnerabilities to damage types with different effects. Head blows can disorient you, leg blows can throw you off balance, vital organs, bleeding etc. are all taken into account.

The best thing is that you can see, hear and basically feel all of this happening as you play the game. Weapons have realistically distributed mass, swings make swooshing sound based on the weapon and its current velocities, there are dynamic collision and other sounds, procedural animation behaviours, different cries of pain and sprays of blood which all accurately reflect what is happening. All these things are possible because there are measurable physical forces and interactions behind everything. They're not just effects on top of some simple mechanical system but a result of the simulation.

REVISITING COMBAT

The combat and animations have been evolving constantly, they are the thing the game has been most praised and criticised for. Making notable improvements has been extremely challenging, it's a hugely experimental and difficult technology and we're often shooting in the dark, sometimes missing and wasting time.

Originally we designed the combat with a big focus on the physics, the force of blows and movements of your character being very dependent on the fluidity and timing of inputs. We'd had a lot of practice with this but when we released the combat alpha we saw it wasn't always well received. Many people perceived it as somewhat unresponsive and clumsy, watching videos of others playing the game we saw that even skilled players weren't easily achieving the same harmony with the physics, their character's motions often looked ungainly. Elegance and effectiveness didn't necessarily go hand in hand. We quickly made changes to improve the responsiveness of the controls based on feedback but these hurried changes came at the price of some unrealistic behaviour.

So, having received a lot of feedback on the combat and prototyping various suggestions in several rapid releases, we then went back and revised some of the earliest and most fundamental aspects of the animation system. We shifted the balance away from pure physics towards player control, completely redeveloped the input system and fixed numerous issues that were present in the combat alpha. We also made improvements to the AI which was still incomplete, giving the AI more tactical and human similar behaviour and trying to counter potential exploits. Our redesigned AI proved extremely difficult to beat which is what we were aiming for when considering the best possible AI opponents.

 

This took some time but as it all came together we finally found ourselves before what feels like a new game. The many changes to animation systems and a new asynchronous processing of inputs led to very responsive character control, characters move fluidly and remain balanced even under the most extreme conditions, allowing for precise control over new attack combinations and very fast dodges. Our almost unbeatable AI became easy to defeat and we had to add a whole new layer of cleverness and precision to it, finally making it challenging again and then introducing skill levels to reduce and control it's effectiveness.

 

The final result is fantastic, it looks great and it's incredibly good fun. The foundation is now more solid allowing us to do more, we see ways to improve it further but already we've achieved better results than we initially thought possible. Looking back and seeing how far we've come since the early animation we wonder at what the future could hold!

 


These are just some of the most important things we've been working on, we have been consistently achieving our goals and the results keep exceeding our own expectations. The prelude is still in the works but we're very close to a first alpha release, we need to solve a few issues but further releases should be close behind. We're extremely pleased with the core combat in general now so after a quick final alpha test we plan on also releasing a beta combat demo. This kind of gameplay will also feature in the prelude in the form of an arena mode.

Best,

Bare Mettle

Combat Alpha Release

44 likes

Yesterday evening we released a first version of the combat alpha. Over 1200 people now have access to it. This very early release is under NDA but it will be lifted soon, we just want to get some early feedback and solve any major issues before it goes public. Anyone with access to the insider forum can view discussions where people have also posted screenshots and videos.

So far the feedback has been very positive. Some people are finding the controls tricky but they seem to be quickly getting used to them, it is a very unique control system. The combat system in general seems to be greatly appreciated. We've had really excellent feedback on graphics, sound, music and various features.

Performance and compatibility are better than we expected, very few people have had compatibility issues and we're getting amazing performance on even very low end systems. This being a first ever alpha release of both game and engine there are of course a few issues but we're quickly solving them as well as making major gameplay adjustments based on the feedback we're receiving. We've already released an updated version with numerous fixes and changes.

This is a huge milestone for us, we've actually shipped a working game even if it is very limited for now and the whole thing has gone very smoothly. The amount of work required to get so many things to this complete state has been staggering and overall we've really made some fantastic progress. Our workflow and tools have greatly improved as a result of this too. Now we can work on adding important features while also receiving continuous feedback (and testing!) and generally having a more meaningful interaction with our backers.

Finally we'd like to thank our community for their patience (we were almost a week late!), support and just generally amazing level of maturity. It's a truly humbling and rewarding experience. Thank you!


Best,

Bare Mettle