For those of you who follow us here or on twitter, you can tell, I’m not particularly active theses days. The reason is that a lot of things are happening right now, first is that I’m sick since a month and that impacts my productivity. Second is that some big changes are coming but I want to be sure I’m heading to the right direction so I’m taking up some time to work on that.
Also there’s holiday and my birthday so again, not much time on my hands to work on the project.
But we’ll get there eventually and I hope I can make some good stuff in January.
Sorry I haven’t got much to show, so enjoy the space worm I’ve done yesterday for some stuff :
Today I’m going to talk about our next circuit, make an announcement and explain what is going on behind the curtains of Unity a little bit.
ICE CIRCUIT (name TBD)
So, as you may have seen in the previous blog post, I showed a scan of a circuit concept that I drew some time ago. We’re gonna talk about it!
First of all a small description:
It’s a circuit on an cold planet, inside caves and over the sea. There are also some pillars and small structures from an ancient civilization.
ALPHA is set in spring, there is a waterfall that leads to a crystal cave that fills with water over time. The Tyranospace kindly build a bridge over the sea for your driving pleasure!
OMEGA is set during a snow storm. Everything but the sea froze, including the waterfall, and pillars have fallen, creating a new path inside the mountain. Ice makes you slip, and careful about the falling stalagtites!
Designing a circuit
Before locking down the semi-final design, we went back and forth on this circuit multiple times.
We started brainstorming about where we could make a circuit that is interesting and easily identifiable. The icy planet didn’t came up first or is not what we wanted the most; it is only one of the few we thought about that was the most worked out.
In the meantime, I was designing new gameplay systems. One of them is directly tied to the circuits: the Health System 2.0, more specifically the ambiant damages: there are zones where you takes some specifics damages, either to your health, stats or even creating some gameplay elements. That new feature motivated us to make the Alpha version a simple and straightforward circuit, and the Omega version more difficult, with a special gameplay mechanic (which is ambiant damage, along with others).
Back to our design: we had a set, we needed tracks! The first version was just a square with some basics ideas: here a cave, there some arches, then why not a huge stone whale before a tunnel? It was moslty ideas thrown at random, but enough for us to really start working on a real functionnal circuit.
A new perspective
Remember when I said that we’d work on a real art direction? Well, during some researches, I came across this. If you’re no developer: it’s a really, really easy and intuitive 3D tool for Unity (our engine). I got some Maya3D courses when I was in programming school, so there is no problem for me to build up some 3D assets. Better: it is actually a total problem solver!
You see, Unity can work either in 3D, or in a special flat version of the engine in 2D. Do you know what this little dude represents?
Of course you do! (If not, it’s an icon representing general directions in a 3D environment. Where were you during math and physics class? :° )
Right now in Unity we work in a 2D environment. This is what our scene looks like, using the 2D editor:
And this is a view of a normal (slightly tilted) 3D perspective using the main 3D editor of Unity:
Notice the perspective gizmo in the top right corner: the greenarrow (y) is UP, red(x) is RIGHT, blue(z) is FORWARD. As it is right now, our circuits are not ground-flat with a falling down camera as you would expect; but actually straight up vertical! The camera is facing forward! Gravity isn’t even real!
I have to admit, I always wanted to make 3D circuits (that’s why during early development, I switched from an full 2D orthographic camera to a perspective one, even adding some jumps and launchpads), but the tools that I had for building up circuits were only designed for a 2D use only (the current circuit, pictured above, use those tools. You can see that there are some limitations!).
That’s why the 3D tool is a relievement: I can finally make those 3D circuits, and a lot more: the perspective camera will have a real purpose, flappy spaceships is over, collisions will be much finer and logical, jumps and hovering will be no more faked, and the elevation! I can finally make a circuit 50 meters tall with propers junctions. You understand why I said it is a problem solver!
Back to the design pls
A couple hours before finding the new 3D tool, I was drawing what was initialy going to be the final concept for Ice Circuit:
I started prototyping the Alpha version of Ice Circuit in semi-3D, and came up with something like this:
But it didn’t felt right. It was not really fun nor long enough. What it needed was… MORE HEIGHTS!
So I scribbled some ideas, and then I thought about you guys: maybe you would like to see more than tacky paper drawings. Maybe you would like to see, I dunno, an INTERACTIVE APP WITH ALL OUR CIRCUITS AND LOTS OF DISPLAY OPTIONS?
Well, it has limited options and only one circuit (obviously). But I will work on it from times to times, and I’ll let you know when there is more options or new circuits added on Twitter.
As you can see, Ice Circuit have a little evolved since the previous concept.
More heights with real slopes and cliffs! In the ALPHA version, water will fill over time inside the caves. In OMEGA, water will froze in the same caves as ALPHA, so the same path will result in different gameplay style!
And it’s now time for the announcement:
Bad and good news
Good news is, it will be AWESOME.
Bad news is, converting our current 2D architecture to a 3D one will takes weeks! Meaning it will push back the release of Alpha 2.0.
But it will be worth it!
Small update: what is everyone working on?
Well, Hillean & Prox are still missing in action (working), Yuubae is continuing work on the scenario and the factions/champions. I started to convert the engine today.
I was so busy thinking about marketing, the current state of the game and new designs stuffs that I completely forgot to make an in depth post about what you can expect for the next major release, and what we have to do to reach it!
But first of all, a general consensus: Planning is the key of a succesfull project.
I can’t think about a good something (game, litterature, architecture, anything) that came out great without the slightest plan. Luck has its limits!
We are not a real company, therefore we are not as structured and meticulous as most Indie companies you would follow. That’s perfectly normal, nobody here had a real video game experience, I started this a couple months after my graduation because I had the time and motivation, but this is a great experience and I learned a lot about everything a video game development needs. That’s why our approach may seems a little weak for now, but as the game grow, things will be much clearer and more organized.
What will be in Alpha 2.0?
Firstly, let’s recap what we have right now:
The first implementation of ship stats and controls
You can assume that everything listed here will drastically change in the near to distant future. I can’t promess that all those changes will be in Alpha 2.0, but most will be done for Alpha 3.0.
_For the next major release, I’ll try to complete all gameplay features, even in basic form. I already started to work on the Health System 2.0 (will be a Design post when it’s finished and showable), which basically have a better health handling, elemental and physical damages, stats modifications etc. What else:
_There will be a total Equipment revamp. The current system works in a short sighted way: In the long term, we wouldn’t be able to balance every equipment pieces, making the gameplay less enjoyable since our goal concerning spaceships is that none is more powerfull than the other; we want you to be able to choose your play style! The new equipment system will fill that gap.
_”New” circuit system, I don’t think we were really clear about how we will handle circuits in our presentations: Circuits will have two versions of the same place: Alpha and Omega. They will share a bit of tracks or environnments, but will be two separate circuits. Alpha being the ‘low tier’ one, more straightforward, and Omega the ‘high tier’ that will have some special gameplay mechanics making the race a little more difficult, like for example extreme heat that will sap your health over time on certains zones, or hacking robots that could disable some stats or controls of your spaceships. We’ll make at least one ‘proof of concept’ circuit with its two versions for Alpha 2.0, and the current one in 1.0 might be scrapped or redesigned.
There’s also an art direction change coming up, we’ll try to create a real graphical identity to the project. Emphasis on try, we’re not professional artists, just to remind you!
_Also, new gameplay mechanics coming along with the new equipment system and the new circuit system, like the Hyperspace announced in previous posts, wind, some scenery & NPC interactions, and other stuffs.
_There might be shops available for you for buying new equipments and spaceships, depending on the state of the menus. At least the back-end should be there. Same thing for player customisation.
One side note concerning the general development: Making menus and adding FX (graphical & sounds effects) is really time consuming for something that might be scrapped at the end (like the current menus). There is a chance, if the menus are not locked down for that release, that there will be some ugly placeholder. Sorry for that!
How do we plan stuffs?
Back at school I created a rather peculiar To do list document that tracked accurately the % of completion of big milestones. It helped us keep a good pace on our development and we knew who was working on what and what were the last thing done.
It isn’t really advanced of professionnal, but since we have nothing better, well, we’ll stick to that, as long as it works :p
I’ll make a Roadmap page on this website for you to track where we are in term of general completion, keep an eye on twitter, we’ll keep you on touch!
Yuubae, when he’s not working or trying to graduate his Master degree, is currently working on the concepts and backgrounds of each races/factions, then we’ll give all that to our only real artist here Hillean for some sweet concept art (and general amelioration of designs because Yuubae have ideas, not a graduation in drawing :° ). He’s also working on a general scenario for the campain that will be our guideline for every chapter of each campain. Not an easy task, given that we have six factions with two endings each!
Alghouth this work will not be in Alpha 2.0, it will be the foundations of the next milestone.
Hillean is in some sort of pause for now: got an urgent freelance job for VR stuffs. I can’t say it’s unfortunate since the factions designs and lore is taking more time than planned. When he’s back you’ll be able to finally give some official faces to our faction descriptions!
Prox is, well, in the same state as Hillean. Work on the next circuit has actually not started yet; I am not pleased with the circuit design so we have some more work to do before starting, considering the health system 2.0 and equipment revamp are tied to the circuits.
And me? I’m handling the code for new gameplay features, I have to clean up and change lots of scripts, working on making the game design better and more fun and balanced, I try to plan everything (but let’s face it: even a ‘small’ game like our is a nightmare to organize, there’s so much to do! I didn’t even talked about persistance, localisation, assets creation, campain, cinematics, dialogues, etc!), I’m also working on the next circuit, I have to manage the marketing and I’m trying to find interesting stuffs to show you each weeks. A handfull lots of things to do and so little time!
That’s why there is currently no ETA for the alpha 2.0. It will be out when it’s ready! I’ll post our progression here and there each week or month, depending on the progress.
Well, I’m done with all that text! I hope you enjoyed that bit of tasty informations!
We woudn’t open this site without some eye candy to show you all, that’s why we waited for the first true alpha iteration to be complete! That was not an easy task, but here it is: the 1.0 Alpha Build, intended for testing™!
You can read the development changelog, updated at least once a week, for in depth informations about this build.
Now be aware, as stated almost everywhere here, it’s an Alphabuild, meaning it is full of bugs. It is 100% normal in a video game development. You would be surprised how nearly every AAA games looks like at an unpolished alpha state!
What is the near and far future for this game? As Alpha 1.0 rolls out, we have started working on Alpha 2.0. It will contain more contents (new spaceships and circuits), some gameplay features (hyperspace, scenery interactions, NPCs) and a lot of bugfixes and reworks (espetially new AIs behaviors). Player customisation, shops and competitors conversation system should be in as the development of the campain starts.
Then: Alpha 3.0. It will have a lot more content and bugfixe. We will focus on the campain and work on a test campain path (for spoilers reasons). It should be feature complete and have a lot of unpolished contents.
We will then roll out to Beta 1.0 where bugs are smashed and things polished, producing cutscenes, final graphics, audio and scenario lines.
Beta 2.0 will be near completion state. Then GOLD.
Greenligh entry should start in the near future. Stay tuned!
About this blog: we aim at a weekly blog post. We will show you some sneak peek, new footages and build updates concerning the game, and some design, tutorials, articles and more about general development for those who are interested! We want to be crystal clear about the development of this game, every non-spoiler question deserves its answer! And there is a forum just for that! (and also for feedback).
Follow us on Twitter for constant updates on this project !