Week 20: What’s up?

Hello everyone!

20 weeks. We didn’t forget to post an update Thursday. We’ve just been busy with both the game and life in general. We’ll keep posting on Thursday’s like usual.

This week, we have added lots and lots of content. We’ve decided to add as many of the models as we possibly can and slowly make them intractable over time. This will allow us to have a consistent design theme throughout the game. It also allows us to fill the scene with objects to see what needs to be added to make the facility feel more complete. We’re doing this because we’re starting to conceptualize on the final facility layout and we need to figure out what rooms to add based on the content we have. It’s amazing to see it all finally coming together. People like lists. So here’s a list of some of the things we’ve added.

  • Cryo Chamber – Need Unity pro so we can add the final material
  • Fire Extinguisher – You know. For fires.
  • Exterior Rocks
  • Secret Alien Item
  • Cabinet
  • Security Locker
  • Tables

I think that’s all.

We’ve also spent a lot of time the past couple of weeks focusing on visual effects. Basically, we’re trying to make the game look better visually with post-processing or environmental details. But, as I’ve said many times, we have to make sure we’re allocating our resources right. So we can’t go overboard with the VFX. Unfortunately, with a game like this, where everything is modular, it’s difficult to design awesome looking levels. When you’re dealing with modularity, you need to have the things that are being built all as the same prefabricated object with the same material. Sure you can instance the object and apply a different material based on its location. But, you know, system resources and blah blah blah. Perhaps, in time, we’ll add some small details like that if we have the resources.

Like I said a couple weeks ago, we revamped the start screen. We’ll probably play around with it a bit more before we’re 100% happy, but we’re open to feedback for now.

Untitled-2

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Week 19: Pushing Forward

We’re now 19 weeks in and we’ve  spent the entire week reworking the animations and adding more animations. We’re getting a nice pipeline set up to get things flowing seamlessly from our animation software to Unity’s. We’ve also re-worked the visuals of a couple more models to make them look more sci-fi and less boxy and plain. We’ve also completely revamped the start screen and are quite excited to show it off, but not today as we’re still working on it. Thankfully, we had no set UI style prior to the current start screen so this allowed me to design it however I wanted. We decided that we’re going to take this style and run with it for the rest of the UI elements in game. Finally, and what I think is the most exciting part, we’re working on combat. This means that we should be able to knock each other into ragdoll before long. 

Over the next week, we’ll likely be continuing our work on animations and combat. We’ll be showcasing once we’re at a state where we’re happy with it. For now, we’ve a lot more to do.

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Week 18: A Whole New World.

Hello Everyone!

This week has to be the most productive week we have had this year. We had a set plan for development for the month of January that would help us stay on track and keep moving us forward.. We were matching the plan perfectly up until earlier this week when we decided to gave a good long look at the game and decided that there needs to be a lot of visual changes. First off, the animations need to be finalized and we need to get rid of the filler animation set we had made earlier in development. This wasn’t part of the plan but we really didn’t want to release crap software as a first prototype look. On top of that, a few textures were quickly made so we could get an over all feel for the game before we went back and polished them. That’s exactly what prototyping is but we didn’t want to release these prototype aspects to the public as they don’t reflect the final aesthetic goal of this game. These refinements allowed us to also take another pass at all code and refactor, literally, all of it. Head would know more about that.

So let’s take a look at a few visual improvements.

Flare

New Walls! We took another pass at the walls to make them look more sci-fi. The redesign also helps us combine a lot of objects into one prefab to make construction easier both in game and in development. As seen here, the lights are now part of the wall mesh instead of being a separate entity. Less prefabs = less to render = higher FPS. It’s also prettier than the block of light we had before. Also, we played around with lens flare. Sure its nice to look at; but I assure you that they get annoying really quickly considering the amount of lights that are in the frame at any given time. It also made it hard for the player to interact with a lot of the smaller objects around the scene.

wallnew

For the new materials we even decided to bake normal and specularity maps. These might be temporary considering our camera angle. At first I was adamant about not having the maps because the angle of the camera is too high to really notice them anyways. Since the camera is so high, the impact of the normal and spec maps is minimal to the viewer. I don’t really want to allocate resources to rendering 3 textures per material if it’s not going to be noticeable. We might end up using just a diffuse map again if the final camera angle doesn’t utilize the features. Also, like I said, we’re giving animations another pass.

output_em4Qaq

We’re currently in the process of doing the animations so they’re ported to Unity, yet. We were using a simple rig with automatic weight paint before and the animations were snappy and unrealistic. Over the week we took time to really revamp the rig to use Inverse Kinematics and give us smoother transitions between keyframes. Also, with IK, we’re able to use fewer key frames to make the animations look good. The fewer the keyframes, the better for performance. The .gif animation doesn’t do it justice, though.

 cafeFinally, we added a neon cafè sign because why the heck not? 

So that’s all for this week. Let us know what you think about the new visuals in the forums. A lot of the assets are being remodelled / retextured as well but we have to leave some of it as a surprise. Have a great week, everyone.

 

 

 

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Week 17: Game Jam Weekend

Hello Everyone!

Global Game Jam is this weekend and I (Josh) am partaking in it. For those of you that are also attending, I would love to see what you and your group made. This is my first Global Game Jam event so I’m quite excited. So that means I wont be working on Primulus all weekend. On the positive side, we got a lot done this week. Instead of droning on about the details of every little thing we did, here’s a list because people like lists.

UPDATE

  • Added fire spreading mechanics
  • Added a new wall tile (Service Counter)
  • Added a new locker (Security Locker)
  • Added a wire spool for replacing cut wires
  • Added a Taser
  • Added a Stun Baton
  • Added pistol hold animation to player
  • Added melee swing animation to player
  • Added block animation to player
  • Added sit animation to player
  • Added lay animation to player
  • Revamped UI (AGAIN. And it will likely receive a couple more revamps)
  • Currently taking another pass at animation to make them more smooth
  • Currently creating exterior rock wall tiles
  • And lots and lots and LOTS of optimization

*whew

We have a set list of goals that we would like to complete before we release the Prototype build. Recently, we’ve discussed adding basic combat to the build for you all to play with so you can have more to do. We haven’t came to a conclusion, yet, but if we do do it, it will likely delay the release of the prototype a couple of weeks. Also, the forums are pretty much dead. We’ve tried to keep them alive when we started the website up, but it was taking up a lot of time and there seemed no interest. Considering the forums are for Primulus and only a handful of people have actually played Primulus, it’s understandable. But we encourage you go over there and express your love for cats and what ever makes you happy.

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Week 16: Steam Greenlight

Hello Everyone

What a week it has been. I promise, I’m not going to drone on this week about how hard we worked, how much we got done, and how we … blah blah blah. But we did work hard and we did get a lot done and we did blah blah blah.

We’re on Steam Greenlight now. Mind you, it’s not a voting system of whether or not you would like to see our product on steam like typical Steam Greenlight voting. It’s simply so we can reach out to the largest community of gamers and receive feedback on our game as we develop. We’re making a game that’s quite different than most typical RPG Simulation games in the sense that the players can’t simply sit down and play. It has a bit of a learning curve and each profession will require practice in order to fully understand how to do it. Because of this, we have feared that we have severely limited our target audience to those that really like the role-playing aspect of gaming. We’ve received a lot of feedback and we have worked very hard to try to gear the game to the largest audience possible. Hopefully the honest feedback from Steam Greenlight can help us analyze how we’re doing on this.

We’ve also received a few questions in regards to the “randomly generated map”. As you may have noticed, we’ve revised this section of the description of the game to better describe this mechanic. Here’s how it’s going to work:

The map will be subdivided into a grid (5×5, 3×3, 10×10 – we don’t know yet). At the start of each round the game will randomly pick and place a pre-built “tile” on each coordinate grid. Think of table top game maps. On top of that, things will randomly spawn in each grid. So, for example, at 1,1 a random surface tile will be placed but within that grid an old crate, a dead explorer or some aliens may appear. The facility tile will ALWAYS be placed somewhere in the map and may change. We may also have the facility always spawn in the middle. The facility, therefore, will always be the same unless we make more facility tiles. This is all conceptual as of now and we have yet to put it into practice. Since we have been asked about it quite a bit recently, we thought we would clarify.

Finally, we’re going to be doing a live stream this weekend. We’ll be playing around in the game and receiving feedback from YOU as we play. We might also delve into development for those that are interested. We’ll be streaming this Saturday at 1pm EST here: http://www.hitbox.tv/Head

So, that’s all for this week. I hope to see you all this Saturday.

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Week 15: The hallway is on fire

Hello everyone!

So last week I babbled about re-evaluating the state of Primulus and talking about it’s future, blah, blah, blah. I also told you all that I would inform you of what we talked about. So here’s the quick synopsis of that.

We have each week planned out of what needs to be wrapped up for the prototype version of the game. From now until February we have set goals for us to reach to make sure the prototype release goes over as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, our Unity Pro trial is about to expire and the dynamic lighting and picture in picture features might not be in the release. We apologize for this but there is simply nothing we can do. We also talked about the scope of this project and re-thought about what we want in the final product. Space Station 13 is a very complex game. We’ve stated that we’re heavily influenced by SS13, but it’s unrealistic for us to plan for a game of that magnitude and depth. We’re compromising gameplay depth for better visuals and more understandable controls. We’ve done our best to optimize to ensure we don’t compromise too much, but it’s unrealistic to have the best of both worlds with today’s technology. On top of that, we’re a two man team taking on a behemoth of a project.

What does this mean for the future of Primulus? Nothing different in terms of what we promised. The core mechanics of the game will still be there but you might not be able to do a lot of the smaller things in Primulus like you can in SS13. For example, you wont be able to strap yourself to a rolling chair and project yourself around the facility with a fire extinguisher like in SS13 (not that we planned to have that, but you get the point). We have to simplify things a bit. At first we considered having multiple steps in the construction process (Pick up the metal -> put it in the metal fabrication machine -> make the construction part -> pull the part out -> activate it -> place the constructed part where you want it -> bolt it down -> place more metal on top to finish off the aesthetic -> bolt it down again). Now we simply click the metal in hand -> choose the part we want to build -> build it where we want it -> bolt it down. It’s still a long process but that’s just an example of how we’re simplifying some things to make the game 1. more enjoyable and 2. less complex. We wanted Primulus to be as 100% realistic as possible. So using the example above, we weren’t pleased with simply turning a sheet of metal into wall with your bare hands so we added a bunch of complicated, unneeded steps to make it realistic.

This reevaluation of Primulus has helped us find a solid balance. We have gave lighting and shadows another pass to improve performance and we ultimately decided to get rid of shadows on all lights except one. Today’s average computer can’t efficiently render all the point the point light shadows casting around the scene dynamically. It’s simply too much. We thought about adding an option for people to disable the shadows to increase performance but that would make the gameplay unbalanced and unfair. In short, we’ve made a lot of changes to the game and, we feel, they’re for the better, but we please encourage you jump on over to the forums and let us know what you think about the reevaluation and changes. Heck, any feedback about this wall of text would be great.

THE HALLWAY IS ON fire!

hallwayisonfire

Yes! There’s now fire. No, it doesn’t hurt you, yet. It needs some work but we’re quite satisfied with our immediate results. Also, here’s a look at the revamped shadows. That one light I was talking about earlier is the sun. Well, technically it’s not THE sun but it’s a burning star much like the sun. It kinda just sits in one spot right now but we hope to do more with it later.

shadow

 Once again, thanks for taking the time to read our developer blog. We’re just around the corner to the prototype release and we’re getting quite excited. One final thing I want to ask the dedicated members of the community, is please tell your friends about us. Follow and share our twitter, join us on reddit or facebook and help us spread the word. We appreciate it more than we can express. Thank you.

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Week 14: Happy 2014

Hello Everyone!

We hope you had a wonderful break from the stresses of reality and stuffed yourself far past the boundaries of reasonable holiday food consumption. But, like every year, it’s time to get back to work.

We’re quite excited with what 2014 has to offer. As many of you know, this is our first game project and we’re hoping to have it out, at least in alpha, late this year. Better yet, the prototype release is just around the corner. After the prototype release, we’ll be starting the kick starter to help us fund the development of the game. This leads me to my first topic for the day:

I’m part of a lot of independent communities and read a lot of news and articles that are geared toward this market. In short, I’ve noticed that, generally speaking, people are getting sick of paying for early-release games. Justifiably so, in fact. Without bring out any title specifically, I’ve noticed that developers seem to decline in the amount of updates they release once the money starts rolling in. I call this the Alpha pit. I’ve noticed a lot of games with tons of potential and lots of market will push minor updates with long periods of time between the updates. Their reasons are irrelevant when the community invests their money into seeing this project come alive. This is exactly why we’re releasing the free prototype version of Primulus before we do our kick starter. It’s a prototype version that doesn’t have much to do. However, it gives you, the player, enough to evaluate the mechanics of the game and potential use of the mechanics in later development. In reality, who wants to pay for that?

Over our break, we had a chance to step back from the game. This allowed us to step back into it with a clear mind. So for the next week we are going to be re-evaluating the direction of Primulus and forming solid goals and steps to achieve the goals. We’ll likely share this re-evaluation with everyone once it’s complete. It’s really going to help us solidify our plans and ideas for the game and make implementing new features a lot easier.

With that said, we thank you for sticking with us this far. Let’s make 2014 a great year.

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Week 13: Vacation!

Hey everyone!

Spend some time with your friends and family. Enjoy yourselves and take it easy. That’s what we’re doing and you know you’ve earned it. We’ll see you all when we return at the start of 2014 (next week). Happy Holidays from ALL two of us at Indigni.

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Week 12: Merry Christmas

Hey Everyone!

We’ve got quite a bit of an update for you all today and we hope you’re all as excited as we are. I’m going to be honest in saying it’s been a bit of a wasteland around here as of late. We’ve been persistent on showing updates and active on social media, though. We assume it’s because the holidays are drawing near and people are getting busy and we’re hoping to have people back at the start of the new year. People have asked me what the hardest part of developing a game is. To be honest, it’s generating and keeping a community. As for Primulus…

Some of you may know how the Unity licensing works but for those of you that don’t, Unity is free for anyone to play with but the free version is missing a lot of features that the pro version has. For the pro version, it’s $75 a month or $1500 for a permanent license. OR you can try the pro version for a month. Since we lack the funds to invest in the engine, we went ahead and did the trial version so we can start to refine the game around the pro features and optimize accordingly because we plan on compiling and distributing the game from the pro version. Now that we’re all caught up, that’s what we have been doing for the past week.

 

shadows1

First and foremost, we now have dynamic lighting and shadows. Also, we decided to make the floors purple because of aesthetic reasons. It’s supposed to brighten the mood and make the employees work better. We’re contemplating a neon orange wall alternative in the near future, too. This will keep them alert and awake… hopefully. In all seriousness, the floor is purple because there is a zone test script attached to it and I forgot to disable it for the screenshots. And now I’m too committed to my aesthetic story to go back and take new screenshots. Shadows…

We spent most of our time optimizing the shadows. At first we had every object in the scene cast and receive shadows. Basically, it looked pretty good but at the cost of serious frame rate loss. In all honesty, I still think it looks good now. We’re open to feedback, though. Our second form of optimization and our second utilized pro feature is occlusion. Basically, we lost a lot of frames from the game calculating every light in scene regardless of if they were in the camera’s view or not. We dipped down to about 75fps on a mid-grade computer. With occlusion we can disable the rendering of the lights outside of the camera’s view.

WARNING THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH IS BORING TECHNICAL STUFF!

In the long run, we might end up implementing our own form of occlusion to make it even more optimized. Instead of occlusion not rendering everything outside of the camera’s view, we really just need it to stop rendering and calculating the lights that are not within a certain radius of the edge of the camera’s view port. This can be done already by adding the lights to a different layer and having occlusion only affect objects within that layer, but, in reality, it’s just more for the game to calculate versus just writing our own bit of code. Also, let’s say the lights emits in a gradient with the radius of x. We have to detect that the light is outside of the view port and an added distance of x in order to make sure the lights are disabled. If they’re a distance of < x, then when the lights are disabled there might be a visible disable of light being emitted from the source.

pip1

Finally, we have picture in picture display. This is another Unity Pro feature. Basically we can output the capture of a camera to a material of an object. I.e., security cameras. We just added them yesterday and still need to put more work into them to make them look good and functional. But as they stand now, it works pretty well. Also, I’m currently re-designing a lot of the assets in game to make them look a tiny bit more futuristic. We are keen on having the grunge style as it suits the realism genre we’re aiming for. However, I feel having them slightly more modernized will create a good aesthetic (there’s that word again) balance between sci-fi and grunge.

So that’s all for this week. Unfortunately, the dynamic shadows and picture in picture are temporary things as of now. We have them implemented and will have to disable them as we continue development and return back to the free version of Unity. Once we start to raise funds, though, we can invest in Unity Pro and and re-add the features. The free version of Primulus should be coming in Q1 2014 and the kick starter will start shortly after.

Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

 

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Week 11: Primulus for Free?

Hello everyone!

In the past we’ve stated that we likely wouldn’t release the game in any early stages. However, after careful consideration, we changed our minds. Even better, we’re planning on releasing it very soon and completely for free. That means within the next couple months you should be able to come right here to our website and download and play an early version of our game. We plan on having only the construction state completely implemented in this early version of Primulus. So you’ll be able to start a local server and join other people’s servers and build and destroy the facility as you see fit. Atmospheric calculation and power grid maintenance will be included as well. We’re going to strip the other features out of the release that are only half way implemented or need polishing. There’s not going to be too much for people to do which is why we are releasing it for free. We’ll also be adding a forum section for general feedback so we can get an idea of how the community feels about the direction the game is heading and plan out future accordingly.

We chose to take this course of action because, as you know, there are only the two of us working day and night on this game. When people focus on one thing for too long of a time, they become desensitized to whether something looks good or bad or if something feels odd. So, again, this will (hopefully) help us in this regard. We hope you’re all as excited about this as we are.

In other news, we’ve progressed quite a ways on construction. Player’s can now build and destroy all the modular pieces that makes up the facility.

Uraniumshow

We’ve also progressed on the nuclear power generation. We added uranium and cooling cells. Basically, the players will have to set up the uranium cells at the start of the round and start the nuclear generator. Throughout the round, the cooling cells need to be monitored and changed to ensure the facility doesn’t undergo a nuclear meltdown and kill everyone. Unless that’s your goal, of course.

solarpanelshow We’ve also started the implementation of  an alternate source of energy. At first we weren’t going to do solar power generation (and still might not). But we thought it would be a cool addition and maybe even lead to a dynamic day/night cycle. This isn’t set in stone yet and we might change our minds depending on any complications we might come across. We’ve added a lot more assets and spent a lot of time tweaking what we have so far.

And that’s all for this week!

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