June 23rd Update! Video, VR and More!
Things are steadily moving along with the game; lots to update you on!
One of the biggest hurdles we're faced with is compositing video in the game. While many games have video playing fullscreen or embedded in scenes, what we're doing is a bit unorthodox, considering our videos have transparent portions that show the background of the scene behind them.
Here you can see Tad in the kitchen, in the Unity3D environment. Tad's being projected on the orange outlined plane (before you ask, he moves to the maze door, hence why there's so much whitespace).
The background of the video is transparent, allowing the 3d model of the kitchen toshow through - the pantry, phone, etc. This poses a challenge, as few video codecs support alpha (transparency), and even those that do are natively encoded to Ogg Vorbis in Unity, which doesn't include an alpha layer.
Our solution? We encode our videos double height, with the upper half being the actual video, and the lower half being a mask. Then a custom shader we found and modified does the magic, mapping the matte to the video, and cutting out the transparent portions of the mask. Here's a screenshot of a frame of the video, with Tad and the matte below:
This works quite well, but has some drawbacks, there's twice as much data in the video, and it doesn't perform as well as we want it to - particularly on older machines.
Fortunately, the recently released Unity 5.6 added new tools for better video playback. However, it was a big effort for us to get this new functionality sorted out. We had to find the right codecs to support alpha, encode the video properly, figure out the audio playback, and make code changes - all of which has been revamped in Unity, and their documentation isn't quite current. Fortunately, we got it all figured out, and things are moving along well. The video in game plays smoother, faster, and at higher framerate.
Here's a sneak peek at some game video prior to compositing in game; the Woman in White at the top of the stairs:
Processing and preparing the video for the game is a huge effort. We're fortunate to have Peder's help; he's finishing up the remaining videos, and hopes to have them all edited and composited within a few weeks.
Matt's been attacking the VR with his Oculus Rift, and that's going really well so far. Matt had to modify some core functionality we'd had in place for quite a while to mesh with the VR. Lots of work was involved; and the results are going to be worth all the effort.
Modeling is the current bottleneck with the team. We have some very talented people working on it, but there's a lot to do, and we're a bit overwhelmed.
James has been going through the Library, Kitchen, and Music rooms, optimizing them for better framerate, and potentially future mobile versions. He's now at work updating the bathroom model.
Shane is working on the Asylum, which is very nearly finished.
A new hire to the team, Brandon, is working on Burden's room, which is looking great so far.
All in all, things are going pretty well, but there's a lot of work left to do. We're still aiming for a Halloween release, but unfortunately, that's seems a bit ambitious for us to finish, debug, and promote the game at the level of quality we're looking for.
That said, we are planning to release something playable on or before Halloween - either a demo, or an early access version of the game to tide everyone over till full release.
Thanks for hanging in there with us, and as always, thanks for all of your support!
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