Hey everyone! We admittedly need to do a much better job providing updates on our development progress, so today we’re announcing an improved plan to keep everyone informed. Starting with this update, we plan to provide more regular Kickstarter updates which will showcase our progress and the development leading up to the impending completion of Road Redemption.
For those of you following us on Steam Early Access, you’ll know that we haven’t made any updates since December and may be worried that we’ve stopped working on the game. Quite the opposite is true! Since January we have been focused on improving nearly every aspect of Road Redemption, and this has required us to rebuild a lot of systems before uploading a new build to Steam.
Although we have taken longer than we hoped to complete the game, we are dedicated to making the game that we promised. We've recently added more developers to Road Redemption, and we’re working hard to finish the great game we envisioned in our original Kickstarter pitch. In the next month or two, we should be ready to upload a new build on Steam so you’ll be able to see our progress!
Here’s a list of things we’ve been working on:
Improved bike driving and physics
Revamped enemy AI
Entirely new user interface
New weapon upgrade system
Unlockable bikes and riders
Better missions with greater variety
Updated levels with more routes to drive
Improved visuals of enemies and vehicles
Several new enemy types including challenging late level enemies
Splitscreen co-op improvements
Our current plan is to finish development of the PC version by the end of this summer. As we march toward that goal, we’ll be releasing several new builds on Steam Early Access to show everyone our progress. This will include a beta version of online multiplayer. For console fans, please know that we are also working toward releases on Xbox One and PS4. We’ll make more announcements about console plans as we get closer to release.
Today's kickstarter update features the new improvements we’re making to the user interface. This includes a complete visual overhaul. Check out the screenshots below!
We’ve also vastly improved how our user interface works when playing local co-op. Each player can now choose their own unique bike and rider! We’ve also revamped the store to allow each player to make their own purchases and uniquely gear up. This is especially important with our new weapon upgrade system - each player can now choose which type of weapon they want to focus on. We hope this will improve the local co-op experience for everyone.
Stay tuned next month for another update on our progress featuring more of the latest additions to Road Redemption.
Our friends at King Crow Studios making Quest of Souls
Our friends and fellow Louisiana based game developers, King Crow Studios, have recently launched a Kickstarter project for their 90s inspired shooter RPG called Quest of Souls. Some of our team has been helping with development, and we’ve partnered with Quest of Souls to include a Road Redemption bundle as one of their reward tiers. If you back this tier, you will encounter a unique speed-obsessed character called the “The Stag” and you’ll receive the Quest of Souls biker background! (The main Quest of Souls characters riding cool motorcycles...yes that includes Toki the corgi!)
If you haven't played Road Redemption recently, we've made a lot of improvements to the current Steam version. The game's better in a lot of ways, and I encourage you to check it out.
Road Redemption's Story
The majority of scripted story sequences in videogames suck. I don't think that's a controversial statement.
It's always strange to me to see gamers turn up their noses at lowest-common denominator sitcoms like Two and a Half Men when the majority of humor found in videogames doesn't come close to that low bar.
Similarly, plenty of gamers wouldn't be caught dead watching a CW drama like Beastly, even though the writing, acting, directing, cinematography, and scene composition are far better in those shows than what you typically see in videogames, even those that are story-focused like The Witcher 3 (a game I really enjoyed when it wasn't being dragged down by its boring cutscenes).
Basic filmmaking guides will tell a director to "show, not tell" because movies are a visual medium. At a very basic level, this means you should be very judicious with the amount of information you convey through dialogue, and instead try to convey as much information through body language, facial expressions, lighting and shot composition itself. For an example of this last point, directors will often use an extreme long shot, where your protagonist is barely more than a speck on the screen, to convey the idea that he's insignificant and powerless compared to much larger forces at work. You see a lot of this in There Will Be Blood, specifically in the beginning. Another example is conveying the idea that a character is hiding something by lighting him so that his face is obscured in shadow. Basic stuff.
Further, screen writers attempt to keep the viewer engaged by utilizing conflict between characters to create drama. This is especially important for otherwise-boring exposition scenes that are necessary to tell the viewer basic information about the world. For instance, in Mad Max: Fury Road, when the main antagonist discovers that his concubines have escaped their prison, he doesn't simply receive this information in a report from one of his lackeys. Rather he enters the concubine's prison himself, where he has a dramatic confrontation with their caretaker, who opposes their enslavement. The information that the concubines escaped is conveyed via this dramatic and interesting scene.
Another technique film-makers will use to make these information dump scenes more interesting is to present the viewer with compelling visuals and action. There will often be multiple things happening in the image simultaneously (foreground, midground, and background). Actors will be moving around, interacting with objects as they talk, rather than just standing still. You can see this in the scene in Back To The Future where Doc explains the basics of time travel to the audience, and sets up the 88mph requirement that the viewer needs to know for the movie's climax.
Doc could have simply told these rules to Marty over coffee, but instead, we get a dramatic scene with Doc's dog in the time machine, and both characters almost getting run over.
So how does this compare to videogames?
The vast majority of videogame cutscenes get all of this stuff wrong.
Your average videogame cutscene involves two actors standing completely still. The camera frames them in the most efficient manner possible, and goes back and forth between characters in a standard shot, reverse shot sequence. The player is given nothing interesting to look at. The dialogue generally involves the non-player character conveying information to the player. There's virtually no conflict or drama in the scene. There is often very little information conveyed compared to the number of words used (I'm looking at you Metal Gear Solid series).
The best thing that people can say about these types of cutscenes is that they aren't laughably bad or that the acting was competent. In other words, the cutscenes helped reinforce the idea that the player was in a real place, rather than take him out of the world, as really bad acting or writing will do (I'm looking at you, Resident Evil).
But if that's all these cutscenes are accomplishing, creating a better sense of place, then they're truly a waste of the player's time. You don't need long-winded, boring, drama-free cutscenes to make a world feel real. Going back to Mad Max: Fury Road, the movie itself has very little dialogue, but the world feels like a real place. Same with our introduction to the Hobbit's shire in The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Rings. Same with the Mos Eisley Cantina in Star Wars.
It's up to us as gamers to hold these videogame cutscenes to the same standard we hold our movies and TV shows. We can't let game creators hide great gameplay under mountains of tedious and boring story telling.
Thankfully, to a large extent, I think we're doing just that with our purchasing habits. If you look at the big successful hits in the last 5 years of gaming, you see games that eschew these scripted story segments entirely. Games like Minecraft, Rust, Ark, WarZ, The Forest, and Space Engineers let the players construct their own stories rather than simply follow along someone else's poorly-written script. More than any other genre, games like this seem to represent the future of gaming. Instead of trying to mimic movies, they're trying to simulate experiences (struggling to survive on a deserted island, creating a space station, etc).
So where does this leave Road Redemption?
Well, we're not trying to do something like Minecraft, but we aren't planning to bog you down in cutscenes either.
Road Redemption's story will provide the player with a larger context as to why he's moving from one section of the map to another, who he's fighting, and how the game's various biker gangs relate to one another. There will be strong, well-defined characters, and interpersonal relationships between them.
We're taking our story presentation very seriously, and we plan to do it in a way that's always compelling to the player. Since we don't think it's wise to spend development funds on cutscenes that would rival Spielberg or Abrams, or Zemeckis, we're going to present most of the story to the player during gameplay. We think that's what most Road Redemption players would want anyway.
We think doing it this way is how you guys would prefer to spend your time. We know that you have a lot of entertainment options. We don't want to present you with a 5 minute cutscene with the quality of a high school-play, when you could be spending that 5 minutes watching Nightcrawler on Netflix, or ideally spending that 5 minutes enjoying intense balls-to-the-wall action combat motorcycle racing gameplay that you can't get anywhere else.
So in conclusion, Road Redemption will have a strong story with interesting characters. It will motivate you to want to finish the game's campaign. But we plan to deliver it in a minimalist style with a focus on sharp conscise writing that elevates the experience rather than dragging it down.
Hey guys. So Road Redemption's PC version hasn't been updated since July. While this isn't a very long time to go between updates for an average game, we try to update more frequently.
So why no updates for over a month?
Basically, there was a problem in the Unity 5.0 engine that's causing (infrequent) crashes. We didn't want to release another update until the issue was fixed, because whenever we release an update, it inevitably leads to an uptick in new players and an uptick in existing players. We didn't want to expose more people to the crash.
This Unity 5.0 crash is a well-documented problem, as you can see here. It only affects games that use Unity's wheel colliders, and the more wheels a vehicle has, it seems, the less likely it is to happen. To my knowledge, we're the only Unity PC game that features motorcycles, meaning this crash is not likely to happen at all in games that aren't Road Redemption, and even we only very rarely see it. After dozens of hours of testing, we've only been able to get it to happen once in our office, but multiplied over tens of thousands of players, that's a lot of crashes.
I want to emphasize the fact that we're not trying to denigrate the Unity team here. Compared to literally every other game engine I've ever used (4-5), Unity's engine upgrades have been the smoothest and bug-free. Unity 5.0 was a huge physics overhaul, and the wheel colliders underwent the biggest transformation of all the physics objects. The Unity team has been very responsive since we brought this issue to their attention, and we've worked together to fix it.
It looks as if the crash has been fixed in the latest unity patch, so we're planning to roll out another update very soon.
Planned features for the next Road Redemption update:
Better animations for driving while holding a gun
Animations for drawing and holstering weapons
Overhauled AI to make enemies more aggressive
Overhauled difficulty balancing
A new system to encourage players to attempt to beat every single mission, rather than just crawl to the finish line.
A new "quick race" mode, where you can choose from individual race missions outside of the main campaign
Vastly improved crash physics
...and much more!
What about online multiplayer?
We're working on it! In fact, we've beefed up our dedicated multiplayer staff last month, so progress is happening at twice the speed it has been.
What about console versions?
We're working on these too. The biggest issues with consoles right now are performance optimizations. Consoles are cheaper than PC's for good reason, and what runs well on a mid-range gaming PC, can run very poorly on a console, especially things that are CPU-heavy, like physics. Road Redemption has a lot of physics.
What about the Linux version?
A linux/SteamOS version is coming very soon. Maybe in the next update.
What are your thoughts on Virtual Reality?
Kindof a tangent, but ok. I think motion sickness issues will make this a very limited technology. You simply can't make a FPS in VR without making a large part of your audience want to throw up. Look up the vestibular system and its connection to the occiptal lobe of your brain if you want to understand why.
Sure you can make 3rd person games with limited camera movement. You can make games where you sit still and control a turret. You can make any type of game that doesn't require you to move much, really. But based on the lack of success of 3d TVs and the 3DS, I'd say that the average consumer isn't willing to strap on a headset just to make his gaming experience more immersive, if it means he's unable to play the genres he actually likes.
But maybe first person melee combat games could be the thing that makes VR a success. With VR's stereoscopic effect and wide field of view, this genre could finally take off. These types of games also don't necessarily require quick linear or angular acceleration, so motion sickness will be minimized. If VR has a chance of becoming mainstream, I think it's first person melee combat games that are gonna make it happen.
What are your thoughts on gaming today?
Not really Road Redemption related, but ok.
I'd like more games to offer you the ability to skip the on-rails scripted story mode entirely. I want to be able to play through Far Cry 4, get all the upgrades, and just play the base invasion missions. I want to be able to play through all of the Witcher 3's monster hunts without having to have 3 billion inane conversations first.
With very very rare exception, videogame linear story segments suck. Videogame writing sucks. Videogame cutscene direction and blocking sucks, and quite often videogame acting sucks too. Does it suck compared to a highschool play? No. It's competent. But it sucks relative to most TV and movies, which is the standard it ought to be held to.
In this age of unlimited entertainment options at our fingertips, watching a videogame cutscene means that I'm not watching Rick and Morty or Whiplash or Birdman or reading The Martian on your kindle, or enjoying one of the thousands of great movies, tv shows, and books that this world has to offer. So when a game like The Witcher 3 makes me watch a boring cutscene just to get to the thing it does well (its gameplay), it's detracting from my entertainment and wasting my time.
What's the solution to this problem? I'd say cut down on noninteractive cutscenes, because no one is ever going to make them a real priority: not game developers, not publishers, and not even game reviewers. Unless your game is entirely story driven (like a TellTale game), reviewers will always forgive lackluster cutscenes if the gameplay is good.
In December 2014, we decided to upgrade Road Redemption's game engine from Unity 4 to Unity 5, assuming it would be a rocky road, and it certainly has been. But we're nearing the light at the end of the tunnel (the tunnel is at the end of the rocky road, naturally). We should have a major update out in the next 2 weeks.
Why did we upgrade to Unity 5.0, if it was such a clusterfrack?
Performance, for one thing. Unity 4 used a very old version of Physx for its physics calculations. It didn't make use of multi-threading for physics, meaning all physics calculations happened on a single CPU core. This is the main reason Road Redemption had much better performance on Intel CPUs than on AMD CPU's. Intel chips are much better at single-threaded processes.
Unity 5.0 uses a much newer version of Physx that takes advantage of multiple cores, meaning physics calculations are much faster for everyone.
As you may know, Road Redemption is one of the most physics-intensive Unity games in existence. All cars, bikes, ragdolls, etc, that you see are physics objects. We set out to make races that were filled to the brim with cars and riders, and we weren't willing to compromise.
Yes we have plenty of optimizations in our code to reduce the physics load (cars and ragdolls that are offscreen essentially shut down and their physics are "estimated" by much simpler code, for example), but when you have 20 bikes weaving through a sea of bouncing vehicles, there's no getting around the need for raw physics performance.
So PC, Mac and Linux (coming soon) versions will see big physics improvements, and for consoles, the increased physics performance was basically a necessity. One of the reasons that consoles are so cheap, compared to PC's, is they tend to skimp in the CPU department (Who needs complicated AI and physics when your game can look pretty instead, right?) So in order to get this thing to run on PS4 and Xbox One, upgrading to to Unity 5.0 was the only option.
Another reason for the Unity 5 upgrade is graphics. I'm not an art expert, but the game looks a lot better now. With Unity 4, we used multiple different "shaders" for different types of objects. The terrain had a shader, the bikes had a different shader, the riders had a different shader, etc. The problem was that they all responded to light a little bit differently. We could tweak them all so they'd look good together for a certain lighting condition, but the moment we tried to change to sunset, or nighttime, it started to look very strange. Our band-aid was to actually swap out certain textures when we changed lighting conditions, but even that still looked pretty bad.
Unity 5 does a lot of nice graphics stuff that I'm not totally knowledgeable on, but one thing in particular that it has is "one shader to rule them all" called the "standard shader". This one shader can mimic skin, glass, metal, wood, etc. So now every object in the game uses this same shader, and when we tweak the lighting, they all respond in the same way.
Basically the game looks better than it ever could on Unity 4.
So what went wrong?
The main thing that's caused so much headaches is that Unity 5's fancy multi-core physics engine does a lot of things differently from Unity 4. Basically anything with wheels needs to be completely rethought.
So we spent weeks getting bikes and cars back to where they were previously. The new version of Physx was never made with motorcycles in mind, meaning we came across strange Physx bugs that no one had ever thought to test for. Here's an example:
Also, to make use of Unity 5's magnificent "standard shader", our art team had to tweak every 3d model in the game. So that wasn't exactly a quick process.
So where are we at?
We're currently about 2 weeks away from a brand new build. In addition to the performance and graphical upgrades, expect to see new environments, enhanced versions of old environments (way more shortcuts), new weapons (stun baton!), improved AI, a better system for dealing with newly-acquired weapons, better stability, and more.
One thing I want to thank you guys for is all of the feedback we've received. Kickstarter (and Early Access, to an extent) has completely changed game development. When I hear things like "we want you to tell us what you want to see in our game" I tend to roll my eyes, but it's no exaggeration to say that Road Redemption has been almost completely shaped by your feedback.
I've worked for gaming studios big and small, and, in general playtesters are brought in somewhat late in the process, and the groups tend to be fewer than a dozen people. Since we developers are usually in the room with them, their experience can't help but be unduly influenced by us looking over their shoulders. We didn't really know how people would respond to the game once it was out in the world (teams tend to know if their game is great or sucks, but the inbetween area is harder to predict). Basically we'd just cross our fingers and hope that people liked it.
Being able to get the feedback from thousands of people, many of it brutally, maliciously honest has been incredibly valuable. Had we just let Road Redemption cook in our studio for a couple years and then released the final product, the game would be entirely different (worse) than what it is now. We'd end up going to the comments sections of the negative web reviews and writing stuff like "you people just don't understand!"
So having you guys helping mold the game into what it is (and what it will be) has been immeasurably valuable. All of your feedback has made a better Road Rash successor for the thousands (millions hopefully) of people who will eventually commit their time to playing Road Redemption. Just wanted to say thanks.
If you haven't played the Steam version of Road Redemption in awhile, we recommend giving it another go.
We improve it more and more each month, and we think it's at a point where it's living up to our original vision.
We're now working on expanding the single player game, porting to consoles, and adding online multiplayer.
To that end, here's our high-level internal design document for the online multiplayer portion of Road Redemption. We've been working on this mode for a while now, but there's still a good amount of flexibility in what the end product could look like.
Everything in this document is tentative and subject to change: