Share this project

Done

Share this project

Done
Dreamfall Chapters is the long-awaited sequel to acclaimed PC adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Dreamfall Chapters is the long-awaited sequel to acclaimed PC adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
Dreamfall Chapters is the long-awaited sequel to acclaimed PC adventure games The Longest Journey and Dreamfall: The Longest Journey
21,858 backers pledged $1,538,425 to help bring this project to life.

Unity 5, Book Four & delays — an update from Ragnar

86 likes

Hi guys,

Ragnar here with an important update.

For the past couple of months, the Dreamfall team has divided their time between two tasks: working on Book Four, and porting previous episodes from an older version of Unity (our game engine) to the newest version of Unity.

The port was necessary for a number of reasons, including performance and stability. We decided back in June to upgrade from Unity 4.6 to Unity 5 before releasing Book Four, and we were reasonably confident that this wouldn't cause any delays.

Our internal (and unannounced) release date for Book Four was yesterday, October 21st.

So what's going on?

Unity 5 has introduced a huge number of new bugs to the game and to our production pipeline, including, but not limited to:

  • Missing and faulty lighting and shadows. (The lighting system has also seen fundamental changes. This will eventually make things look better, but it’s not working as intended yet.)
  • Missing and faulty collision. (Due to fundamental changes to the collision system, Propast pavements have become insurmountable obstacles, while walls often offer no resistance whatsoever.)
  • Random game logic hiccups. (We're testing and trying to figure out what's broken.)
  • Random crashes on load. (We're trying to figure this one out as well.)
  • Crazy, exploding scenery!
  • (And many, many other issues — too numerous to get into here.)

We’ve spent a lot of time dealing with these fundamental engine changes, updating scripts, lighting and shaders, finding workarounds to editor and build bugs, testing and re-testing all previous episodes — along with wrapping up Book Four.

This situation has become unsustainable, so today I made the difficult decision to temporarily halt work on Book Four in order to focus completely on finishing the port.

The reason for this is simple: without the first three episodes and core game engine working with Unity 5.2, we can't release episode four. Our episodes don’t stand alone: they’re part of one growing and evolving game, sharing assets and code.

Switching engine versions is always risky, but our tests back in August were positive. We remained cautiously optimistic about our deadlines through September. Unfortunately, as of today, Unity 5.2.2 remains buggy and the expected fixes have not arrived, leading to our current predicament. Since we can’t wait for Unity to release version 5.3, we have to muddle through with what we currently have.

We hope to have a beta version of Books 1-3 on Steam within the next week — fingers crossed. As soon as that happens, we’ll post the information on our official forum and ask for volunteers to help us with field testing the updated engine. When we’ve weeded out and fixed all critical bugs, we'll publish the update and the team will return to Book Four.

We don’t have a new release date yet, but it will be in November. Luckily, Book Four was produced from the get-go using Unity 5, so there'll be fewer surprises going forward. We don’t foresee any additional delays finishing up the final two episodes. Fingers crossed.

My sincerest apologies for the delay. There’s not a lot we can do about third-party engine bugs, but the responsibility for our game, our deadlines and our customers lies with us, and we don’t like letting anyone down — least of all our backers. We’ll keep you updated on how things are progressing, and I hope and trust the update (and upgrade) will be worth the wait.

Key learnings? If you can avoid it, never do major upgrades of your game engine in the middle of production. We didn’t have much choice, but we’re certainly going to refrain from further updates in the future.

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. I can safely say that Book Four (Revelations! All the Revelations!) is my favourite episode so far, and, when the new engine is working, we’re seeing improved performance and shinier graphics across the board. We'll post some evidence soon. In the meantime, here's your first look at the new key art:

We’ve started a new forum thread to allow you guys to post comments and ask questions, and we’ll do our very best to answer — when we’re not busy working on the game!

Thanks for reading.

Ragnar

Comments

Only backers can post comments. Log In
    1. Stefean Cox on October 28, 2015

      I can see why you would wish to port DC into a better optimized engine version. Even with my GTX 980 the game performed inconsistently - though that didn't prevent my wife and I from loving it!
      I've always found you very likable, Mr. Tørnquist, and your transparency and honesty is a significant reason for that.
      Do what you need to do in the time you need to do it in.
      Also - PLEASE don't crunch too hard. I don't want you and the other developers skipping meals, sleep and family time for the sake of my entertainment.
      Best of luck.

    2. Matthew Whitehead on October 27, 2015

      @Luis: That comment where RTG refer to not having much choice refers to the editing tool and how big the game is getting when you combine all the assets. Unity needs to load those assets into memory, and version 4.6 is only 32 bit. (thus only supporting the first 4gb of memory on any machine) Thus if you need more than 4gb of memory to get the editor to function properly for your product, you're forced to upgrade to version 5+ which has a 64 bit version and can fix the slowdowns for projects with large amounts of assets that require loading into memory in the editor.

    3. Luis Bermudez on October 27, 2015

      @Creator Thanks for adding in some details. That makes sense, and best of luck. Hope you're getting the support you need from Unity.

    4. Missing avatar

      Greenfr0G on October 24, 2015

      Hello Ragnar & RTG,

      I have expected it might come to this and I think it is a wise decision and i fully support it - I have always took Dreamfall Chapters as one, coherent game, being released in a batches because of the publishing realities, which Kickstarter mitigates. So ironing out bugs and porting first three episodes is definitely a only proper way to move forward.

      Supporting you all way, I don´t mind the delay, as long as the game is optimized, stable and good :)

      Looking forward to future updates from you.

    5. Heimdall - DreamT-WoOS-ShadRun-KC:D-DOoD on October 23, 2015

      Thanks for being honest with us RTG! For me personally, I'd rather wait to get a well working game that is amazing, than a rushed game with faults. Take your time to make it as good as you can, I have faith in you.

      The engine update will be worth it for all the episodes in the end, better graphics, lighting, special effects with better performance? Yes please! So yeah it is easily worth waiting for.

      Thanks for being awesome RTG. I wish you luck and I'll be waiting for the new book and updated books when you are certain they are ready for release.

    6. Missing avatar

      Adam Minder on October 22, 2015

      Disappointing but i understand the realities of development as i deal with this crap daily, so um just make sure it works real good and stuff

    7. Jeremie Lariviere
      Superbacker
      on October 22, 2015

      Thanks for the update, I'm looking forward to the final product (I still am working through the earlier chapters - life is really busy for me at the moment)

    8. Missing avatar

      Marcin Baran on October 22, 2015

      Thanks for the update and keeping us in the loop. Good luck with solving all the issues. Take your time:)

    9. Sophie Houlden on October 22, 2015

      I'm totally cool with this, and I've been in similar situations so I respect the choice too. I'm looking forward to book 4, but also to all the benefits that unity 5 opens up for all books :)

    10. Hanway on October 22, 2015

      Oh god, that sounds really dire. Best of luck to you guys, thanks for being to open and informative regardless!

    11. Sam Keshavarz on October 22, 2015

      Ragnar and friends, take your time. This is a much needed update and just another excuse for me to replay the whole series when Book 4 is ready. xo

    12. Engler Bracho on October 22, 2015

      take the time you need, the released chapters have been awesome and i have total confidence in your vision. I've been waiting years for this, i can wait some more time.

    13. James Clayton on October 22, 2015

      Thanks for keeping us in the loop. While it's obviously sad to have it delayed, maybe this'll give me the time to fit in that alternate route playthough of books two and three I've been meaning to do.

      On the subject of which, question that hopefully doesn't really need to be asked, but, you know, engine change an' all: presumably this won't break save games?

    14. Red Thread Games Creator on October 22, 2015

      @Victor: TOO MANY GAMES

    15. Victor "Dream Traveller" Buttaro on October 22, 2015

      Not a problem. Take how ever long it takes to get it right. Looking forward to getting the game on a newer version of the Unity engine. Besides, it's not like I'm lacking other games that need to be played anyway :)

    16. Red Thread Games Creator on October 22, 2015

      @Paul & @Erika: What Erika said is correct. Unless Funcom hires us to do a remake, we're not allowed to do one. It's their game. Also, we don't think TLJ needs a remake. It's still playable, both on PC and iOS! :)

    17. Erika Eby on October 22, 2015

      @ Paul Marzagalli - I'm not Ragnar (though I am a moderator on the official forums, for what it's worth). Last time Ragnar discussed that topic on the forums, he made it clear they had no intention of remaking TLJ. It would be nearly impossible as a lot of original assets are lost and Funcom owns the rights, so that would be on them. Funcom did release a "Remastered" version for iOS, but I don't know of anything else on the table as far as that goes.

    18. Pirateguybrush on October 22, 2015

      Seems like a very sensible decision. No complaints here.

    19. Saodhar
      Superbacker
      on October 22, 2015

      Stuff like this happens. Good luck with porting to Unity 5.

    20. Paul Marzagalli on October 22, 2015

      Ragnar, when DC is complete, is it possible that you would go back and remake The Longest Journey? I have been wanting to replay it, but have held off because I know a remake was on the table a while ago.

    21. Randy on October 22, 2015

      This is a rational and reasonable reason to delay book 4. No complaints from me!

    22. Tanash on October 22, 2015

      Fine by me, I'm sure you're doing a great job and we will all be happy in the end!

      Best of luck!

    23. Andrew Latham on October 22, 2015

      Don't worry, take your time. But, I'd kind of like to see screenshots of the crazy exploding scenery. ;)

    24. Alfred Lui on October 22, 2015

      Yes it's always uncharted territory when dealing with something new, i.e. new game engine. Not too happy about the delay but I see you are a good guy and manage the time well. So I still have faith in the game. If the new engine can make Book 1-3 look better then go for it!

    25. Paul Zagieboylo on October 22, 2015

      I'm pretty upset about this, but I'm upset with the Unity team, not RTG. You guys are clearly making the best of a bad situation. It's not your fault support for Unity 4.6 is being discontinued despite Unity 5 not really being ready for prime time. I've used it as well, and it is a mess. But you HAD to upgrade. Dreamfall Chapters is just too awesome to fit in 4.6 anymore. It's just too bad that Unity 5 is such a mess. I'm with all the others in begging for a good game, not a fast game.

    26. Missing avatar

      AstralWanderer on October 22, 2015

      @mark: "has the game rolled out yet? it's just that not got a copy and am concerned that i may of missed the email telling how to get it."

      See http://redthreadgames.com/forum/topic/696-dreamfall-chapters-faq-known-issues-please-read-before-posting/ for information on obtaining your copy from the Humble Store (the first question: "I don't know how to get the game."). You will have the choice of direct download from HumbleStore themselves or getting a key to use on Steam (and possibly a key option for GOG too).

      @RTG: Thanks for having the courtesy to keep us informed. But don't get rid of *all* that exploding scenery - a pyrotechnic rubber ducky could make a great Easter Egg. :)

    27. Missing avatar

      Somatik on October 22, 2015

      As I'm not even halfway I'm looking forward to the updated version :-)

    28. Tomimt on October 22, 2015

      Well, porting from an engine verison to an another is always a bit risky,especially on a heavily scripted game like this. While my own little tests on U4 to 5 have been much smaller, almost all of them have had some script issues that the newer engine has done its best to fix, as U4 has some stuff in it that U5 doesn't support any more. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.

      But anyway, the way I see it, changing to U5 is a smart move, as U4 didn't do Chapters any favours.

    29. TrentJaspar on October 22, 2015

      Keep up the good work, guys! We trust your judgment as developers and game designers.

    30. Valeriy on October 22, 2015

      @Red Thread Games
      Yeah... Wasteland 2 DC was released recently (using Unity 5.2).

      It is complete disaster on Linux:
      -- shadows cause insane memory leaks
      -- the game does not close files after reading them during save-state loading (resulting in ~1900 open files after load) which bumps into maximum allowed number of open files and results in hanging/crashes
      -- etc

      So, please, don't rush things. Just make it clear for Unity development team that they need to fix their mistakes ASAP. Lots of excellent games are waiting for these fixes.

    31. Missing avatar

      mark on October 22, 2015

      has the game rolled out yet? it's just that not got a copy and am concerned that i may of missed the email telling how to get it.

    32. Teppic on October 22, 2015

      Have no problem with this.

    33. guruka on October 22, 2015

      Absolutely the right decision! Really appreciate your proactive communication.

      Hey... anticipation is half the fun :-) Meals are always better when you're really hungry.

    34. Neal Tambe on October 22, 2015

      It's OK, keep up the good work! The previous two games were great, the screenshots look pretty, and I can't wait to play this one!

      I'm not a fan of episodic releases, so I don't consider the game finished till all the episodes are out. Use all the time you need!

    35. Missing avatar

      Michael Kelly on October 22, 2015

      You guys have earned a ton of respect from me over this KS. As much as I would've loved to have the game already, I completely understand the issues, and I appreciate you all being so forthright about it. It shows that Red Thread is really committed to creating something great.

    36. Fitheach on October 22, 2015

      Have never looked at the development side of Unity but haven't ever thought much good of it as a gamer, though I do play on Linux and that certainly doesn't help.

      I recall seeing compiler signatures in games for VC6 long after it should have been committed to a dark place with pitchfork wielding custodians. So please take your time and I hope things straighten out quickly for you.

    37. Tom Brückner on October 22, 2015

      No problem, take your time. For me it is more important that you include the German voice overs right from the beginning. Book Three was a bit disappointing due to the voice over delays. I prefer getting the game "when it's done" and no minute earlier. So don't rush, just make it good! :-)

    38. Jose Lopez on October 22, 2015

      No problemo! Stuff happens. I also received and e-mail about the game Obduction in which they didn't get their publisher deal. :( But they are still working on the game. Happy they didn't give up and that you aren't too.

    39. Jakob Uhd Jepsen on October 22, 2015

      If you need a break from chasing bugs, please consider recording some of the weirder bugs and uploading them, if that is possible. I for one, would like to see insurmountable pavements and crazy exploding scenery.

      Happy bug squashing.

    40. Chris Shaeffer on October 22, 2015

      I think I speak for most fans when I say that I'd rather have the game done right than done quickly, and that the transparency is appreciated and shows how much respect you have for us.

      It's okay Raggy-poo. You know we love you. <3

    41. Alex Selck on October 22, 2015

      Thanks for your clarifying words, Ragnar. If upgrading to Unity 5 means that perhaps one day there'll be an xbox one Version of Dreamfall Chapters, then I'm totally ok with that. :-)

    42. Red Thread Games Creator on October 22, 2015

      @Luis: No, it wasn't simply a question of believing it would go smoothly (although we never thought we'd struggle this much). It was a much more pragmatic decision: we didn't feel we had much of a choice, given the size of our game and the issues we've had with Unity 4.x.

    43. Red Thread Games Creator on October 22, 2015

      @Luis: Unity is discontinuing support for Unity 4.x. The 32-bit editor could no longer support our ever-growing game; Unity 5 has 64-bit support, which was absolutely necessary. We needed to move to Unity 5 to improve performance, memory usage, stability and to prepare for ports to other platforms. Plus a bunch of other reasons. We'll get into that in a future blog post.

    44. Luis Bermudez on October 22, 2015

      I also understand we decided to update months ago, and didn't realize it would be this much bugs introduced. By that point, you're too far in to revert. I've been there. Live and learn. Is this more accurate?

    45. Chris McGee on October 22, 2015

      Please take your time. I am way behind and still need some major catching up to do, which could take quite a while. ;~)

    46. Missing avatar

      Antonio Valdez on October 22, 2015

      No worries, guys. Take your time and it'll be worth the wait! :)

    47. Luis Bermudez on October 22, 2015

      I understand production problems. I don't understand "we didn't have much choice". Why did you need to upgrade? Were they discontinuing support for Unity 4? That would make sense, like Apple UID support was discontinued, and your app would be removed from App Store if using UID. Something like this?

    48. Sander Romeijn on October 22, 2015

      I can wait. Thanks for the update!

    49. Red Thread Games Creator on October 22, 2015

      @Brendan: You're right, delays are better than the alternative. And thanks for the encouraging words! Best of luck with your own transition :)

    50. Brendan Ragan on October 22, 2015

      Ouch. Yeah, we're going through moving a project from Unity 4.6 to 5 and it's a non-trivial change... Pretty sure Wasteland 2 spent 6 or so months just upgrading from 4.6 to 5 for the director's cut (but hey, new shiny!) plus easier console releases :D

      Good luck! Remember "A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad" :D