As we end October, we close out on one of our most productive months yet. Most of our work this month moved us closer to both getting our game to Beta complete and polishing many of the game’s designs for the enhanced Demo that will be available to backers and pre-order customers in the near future (for the record, the demo will be an extended and more advanced version of the PAX demo). But before we can meet either milestone, levels need to be created, more dialogues need to be scripted/polished, and several GUIs and additional combat features need to be hooked up.
Speaking of levels, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into level creation on the design and art side. Our art team has been busy creating more pre-fab building sets and have created many new models and building types for us to use in level creation. On the design side, we’ve finished up over ten new medium to large levels and are continually speeding up the time it takes to put together new content. There will be plenty of places for your group to loot by the time we release. Take a look at some of the screenshots in the update for a look at some of the new levels.
Programming finished up a dialogue scheduling tool that allows design to fire dialogues from a master event file – basically a file that tracks every possible event and tells the game when to fire dialogues based on conditions and time passed. The file also automates much of the cutscene/music/transition process as dialogues trigger in the player’s shelter. We’ve started fully implementing many of the allies in the shelter and revising their dialogues, including how your decisions affect their mood. It’s a lot to track and set up, but the master event file allows to track all the many interactions and adjust timing of events as needed. The first few allies going in are the starter allies (the allies you begin the game with), followed by some of the new allies you’ll meet in the extended demo and full game. As I’m hooking these up, I’m reminded of just how much dialogue we have in the game and it is a lot – I expect by the time we get to the polish/tester feedback stage, we can expect some ally content to grow by 10-20% as people request more options or interaction with them.
Programming is also wrapping up work on a few other features such as the shelter inventory, party trading interface, thrown weapons, and enhanced pathfinding, including zombie group movement. Many of these features address usability issues that were brought up in the PAX demo. We’ve also implemented a more user-friendly smart cursor that allows scrolling through available options for doors, allies, and enemies with the right cursor. You can now select special attacks within an easily accessible combat menu when attacking an enemy (it makes combat so, so much better). We’ll also be cleaning up the combat GUI to make it easier to read and access the most commonly used options.
The next step for us is hammering on the content that will be featured in the demo and improving anything that won’t reflect the final quality of the game. Much of the work we’re doing now also folds into the Beta version, and indeed some of the work for November will be getting certain elements of the game up to Beta standards (like dialogue scripting and the Area Map Survival/random event functionality). To wrap up, I’d say we’re making good progress and even in a pre-Beta stage the game feels pretty good and very on target for what we promised for the Kickstarter. We can’t wait to get the demo out there for you. In the meantime, you can always reach us on the message boards. Also look for more frequent Radio posts (a new one went up this week). It's getting to be a very exciting time of development, so expect lots of new info in the next two months.