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Tangiers - Stealth gameplay meets the darker avant-garde of the 20th century.
2,072 backers pledged £42,006 to help bring this project to life.

24/11/17

Posted by Alex Harvey (Creator)
75 likes

Been homeless since the last update, with most of my time spent moving between temporary accommodations and trying to fix that situation. The problem has, however, very recently been rectified, so now it’s back on Tangiers full time until release.

Things haven’t been entirely static on the Tangiers front though - a fair bit of progress has been made given the circumstances.

A common feeling is wanting to see more in-game footage on these posts, so I've recorded footage walkthroughs of the two main features.

(Edit just before posting: Kickstarter has drastically reduced the quality of the .gifs that I've used in this post. Not sure whether that's because of file size or something else. Will look into it for future updates. Sorry that it's come out so badly)

Inventory

Some look and feel polish needed, but the introduction of a formal inventory system is now complete. I think I mentioned intentions for this in a past update.

Previously, to keep things sleek, we kept track of everything on an as-needed basis. Mission items, loot, so forth on the objectives screen, health pickups on the main HUD. It worked mechanically, but having everything exist in a wholly passive state felt very shallow and detached from gameplay. To solve this, we have a Dishonored-inspired radial menu.

Accompanying this, I’ve implemented a system for displaying previews of use-x-with-y type interactive items.

 

The new inventory system allowed for the implementation of containers. A small addition that makes the world a whole lot more interactive. Note the little visual assist of having draws staying open once they’ve been emptied - borrowed this from the new Prey.

The interface for reading documents has also been tightened up.

You’ll also see that different interactions display their own cross-hair overlay. This exists not only as an item of flare, but also to give the player advance differentiation between objects that they’re going to pick up (to throw, use as a distraction, etc) and objects that they’re going to collect (store in inventory, use in some way, etc). The player should be able to know what the character is thinking of doing!

Hacking

No changes to CCTV cameras, but they’re as good a place as any for introducing the finished hacking system.

I went up close before throwing the brick because the current aiming system is pretty poor. All physics objects use the same throwing calculation. The calculation feels pretty good on bulky and heavy objects (dynamically scaling force based upon size), but it isn’t particularly suited for targeting projectiles (it’s mainly been configured for moving clutter around, from crates to shelves to boulders). Fixing this issue by currently working on a separate force profile for potential projectiles, as well as a gentle aim assist.

Manually taking down a camera is pretty noisy, and still requires you to get fairly close to it. So, as all immersive-sim type games are want to do, we have a hacking system to allow for stealthy disabling of cameras (and unlocking doors, permanently disabling alarm system, so on).

The hacking system is fairly minimal - wanted to avoid a tonally garish pipe mini game or anything too distracting, fiddly and frustrating. I also wanted to account for the level of technology in the setting - it’s assumed that computers are the size of small rooms, so any answers had to have a very analogue feel to them.

With that in mind, I settled on something loosely inspired by Phreaking. When you hack, you tap into a telephony switchboard, interchange or empty socket. Visualized and heard is a test tone - you have to match that tone with your own waveform for long enough to be granted access to the system.

Quite reductive, but I think that it’s adequate enough to do its job and avoid disrupting the tone & flow of the game. A bit of work needs doing to make the player wave-form more distinct from the system’s, but that’s about it I think.

 Once access has been gained, you can then view and disable any available cameras. 

Other Things

One small (and needed) update has been to our base concrete shader. For bother larger and more generic objects, rather than expend a huge amount of graphics memory on bespoke texture assets, we’ve always used a blended texture. With this, we assign a colour to each vertex on a model, and the shader blends between different base textures. So, we can give large objects shadow, corner erosion and built up areas of dirt using only a small number of reusable textures.

Before, we just did a smooth blend. Acceptable for distant objects, but far less pleasing for anything up close. With the new shader I’ve made, we modulate the blend to get a far more aesthetically pleasing outcome.

I also took advantage of the new shader to add some performance optimizations. Normally, with this form of rendering, there would be numerous textures providing data - the basic image, an image describing the glossiness of the surface, an occlusion map to assist lighting/shading and a height map to provide the more natural blending. This would make for four separate textures per each of the three textures that we’re blending together - twelve in total. Somewhat heavy going! I realized that because all concrete surfaces in Tangiers are grey, we have a lot of unused colour information. A texture consists of red, green, blue and alpha (transparency) channels. For greyscale, we only need one colour channel, allowing us to embed the information on each texture within each of the spare channels. Thus, our twelve textures are now reduced back down to three. For higher quality, 2k textures, that crunches things down from 32.4mb to 8.1mb of graphics memory. 32.4mb isn’t a huge amount in isolation, but things add up quickly and keeping a tight grip here makes all the difference when it comes to lower-end machines. Really want to avoid the poor performance often found in Unity games.

Not too much to talk about with this one, other than that some new, modular assets have been created for old factory areas in various states of decay. Tend to avoid using modular within the level design workflow given how limiting it is, but for brick structures it serves as an ideal base to build upon.

 Misc

A lot of other bits and pieces have been finished off and implemented. Improved memory and task management, the save/load system, editor tools for quickly placing hanging cables that sway in the wind (and guide the player to points of interest such as hacking terminals and fuse boxes), various permutations of the texture blend shader, a tile-set for residential crawlspaces and attics, new assets for residential hallways and a wealth of previously static props that are now handled by either the physics or inventory system.

Ending things with a very rough little work-in-progress.
I’ve had various permutations of a teleporting enemy for quite some time. Enemies that teleport towards you as a combat move, enemies that teleport away from you to get help and various assorted weirdness that never really worked.
The current (and probably final) version teleports from light to light on its patrol route, as well as when engaging in combat. The action is always clearly signalled by flickering and ghosting to give the player chance to respond, though situationally this often acts as a wildcard - an the appearance of an enemy, forcing the player to quickly improvise a response.
Because the enemy is only able to use the teleport ability to move between the brightest areas of lights, it acts as a “strong” variation of the basic bipedal foe - playing off the existing hazard of well lit areas (vs. the lazy route of just throwing more hit points or stronger awareness onto a “strong” variation).

Comments

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    1. Missing avatar

      Michael Johnsen
      Superbacker
      on

      Thank god - was getting really nervous from the last reports I could find - good luck and lets hope you can get past the last hurdles ^^

    2. Psychomorph on

      Glad you're back in the game. Looking forward to try things once time comes.

      Two things I'd like to see in the game, being able to remove the eye icon from the HUD and having a sneak key that is independent from stance (like in good old Thief, where you can sneak crouched or upright).

    3. Shawn Isham on

      I'll just be happy once the game finally comes out... good that your situation is improving.

    4. Jesse Hall on

      OK, I take back what I said earlier in the year, have been through some problems of my own and glad yours are starting to get better. Thanks for the update! It's made me excited to play the game again :)

    5. Amy Hall on

      OMG you're alive. I really wish the best in your situation and sorting everything out, and happy to see game progress as well.

    6. Edward Blodgett on

      Just when I think again this game is DEAD. This game goes up there with HL3, BL3, the next ES as the game I want to play that hasn't be release. You amount of perseverance is admirable. I hope the release of this game gives you massive success. I hope it releases. The amount of stylizing of this game is awesome. I hope the story matches the look, because it really looks special and interesting. Best of Luck, and lets get this out.

    7. Missing avatar

      Anton Heyder on

      I always had faith in you and your work. Very excited by all this!

    8. Missing avatar

      Will2bill
      Superbacker
      on

      This is looking really great! I've been playing the original Thief lately so I'm all primed with love for the stealth genre. This is gonna be an awesome entry to it.

    9. Missing avatar

      treloret on

      Good to hear from you again, given the circumstances. Thanks for the update and continued progress. Do take care, festina lente!

    10. albert on

      This looks great - I'm especially excited about the hacking mini-game, what a good idea. The atmosphere of grey really helps highlight the importance of light in the game (and the grainier gifs compressed for the email almost added to the sense of unease). Keep up the good work, and, as many have said, take care of yourself first, we can wait for the game.

    11. Alexander Dietrich on

      Your determination is impressive, still looking forward to play this.

      Thanks for the update and as others have said, finish the game, but don't let it finish you!

    12. Hamish MacDonald on

      Awesome to see all the update gifs.

      Nice work.

      Look after yourself.

    13. Missing avatar

      David D. on

      I LOVE the dark aesthetics of the environment that you've created in the screenshots and videos, and I'm sure I'll have a blast playing Tangiers. That teleporting enemy is delightfully creepy, and the new inventory and hacking systems looks intuitive. Glad to hear that your situation has improved a bit, too! Thanks for the update.

    14. Missing avatar

      Ian Watters on

      I am feeling like my father when I say it's always good to hear from you, even when there isn't much to say.

      Hooray for the progress, and I hope the not so good bits get better soon.

    15. CheeseGraterSuicide on

      Hey, you're not dead! I was starting to think this game would never see the light of day.

      Sorry to hear about your troubles. The game is looking interesting though.

    16. Missing avatar

      Jennifer Harper
      Superbacker
      on

      This looks amazing - thank you! Take as long as you need - the lower tiers of Mason's hierarchy come first.

    17. Paul Moloney on

      Personally I'm in no rush, just glad there's still progress! Mind yourself.

    18. Thezombiemessia on

      Self care is vastly more important than getting this game out, without you the game doesn't exist, so please take care of yourself.

      I'm happy to see the progress though.

      Keep up the good work.

    19. Mark O'Neill
      Superbacker
      on

      Great stuff, really appreciate your hard work. Make sure you take care of yourself.

    20. ThePinkNinja on

      Was so sure this was dead and so glad it isn't. Sorry to hear about your troubles: Keep going!

    21. Maskinkultur on

      Impressive update! Showing more in-game footage and gameplay mechanics was a good idea, and I got truly excited seeing your progress. Your determination to get this done shows. Take care!

    22. Stian on

      Awesome update, finally! I love the look of the game, shitty gifs or not, doesn't KS allow embedding of small autoplay mp4 clips instead of gifs? Are you thinking about making a small video showing the state of the game as well, little bit of gameplay, audio etc? I think that would be really nice, the last video content I found was 2 years old.

    23. Fred T. on

      I wish I was so determined with any aspect of my life. I hope your problems will just go away.

    24. Arjuna on

      Great update. This is looking really good!!

    25. PK on

      Absolutely wonderful update about the game. Thank you for the insight and for the work, everything looks as it's headed towards a good direction.

      Hope life gets better for you, your effort is admirable.

    26. Watch on

      Seriously thought this game was dead. But I am happy it is not. It has a unique vision I would dearly like to experience.

    27. Christoph Zürcher on

      This looks amazing and I'm delighted to hear from you again. I was worried about your situation, and things must have been rough. Thank you for your perseverance.

    28. John Riesberg on

      Great to hear you are alive and still plugging away! I was beginning to worry. Keep up the great work.

    29. Zebitty
      Superbacker
      on

      Very impressed by your efforts to see the project through. I know it will be worth it in the end. Best of luck.

    30. Missing avatar

      Oliver Romain on

      I'm moved by your ever present determination to make your vision a reality, the game is coming together, and looks amazing as it stands. may life turn for the better to you!

    31. Missing avatar

      Mehmet Krljic on

      Sad to hear about the situation, but still thankful for the updates and the game looking better and better. Stay strong!!!!!!!!!!!!!