Dev Diary #08

Greetings Agents,

We know there have been rumblings on the forums of our lack of communication, so we’d like to start by apologising for that. We’ve been so heads-down, stuck into development, and managing our new members of the team, that we’ve neglected out duties in keeping you all informed. We’ll be making an effort to keep on top of that in future.

Anniversary

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the launch of our Kickstarter campaign! Work on the actual game didn’t start until late August, but we felt it was an important milestone to acknowledge. With that in mind, we’ve decided to close pledging for the game in one month, exactly one year after our Kickstarter project was successfully concluded. So on July 29th we’ll be closing pledging and moving to a pre-order system. So now is your last chance to up your pledges and receive rewards. Once we’ve closed pledging, we’ll start organising the surveys to send out to backers.

Release Plans

So what are our plans for getting the game to you, you ask? We’re aiming for a Steam Early Access release by the end of the year, which will be preceded by the Alpha and Beta releases. Both Alpha and Beta releases will be available DRM free for backers who pledged at their respective tiers. We’ll keep you all informed when we have more exact dates for those releases.

We’re aiming to get the Alpha and Beta releases to you in an earlier state than what you might expect from a normal Alpha or Beta release. We want to get the game in your hands as early as possible so we can start getting feedback to help development. This will allow us time to react and tweak the game based on your feedback. We don’t expect it to be perfect straight out the gate, so your help will be invaluable to us in balancing and improving the game.

Development Update

So what HAVE we been doing you ask? For starters, we’ve had our technical artist extraordinaire Bruno Rime working on all manner of post-effects, shaders and weapon effects. Here’s a peak at some of the effects below as well as a selection of our weapon models by Chris Vera.


Environments

We’ve laid out the foundations for the majority of the city in-game. This is a rather large task for such a small team, so our environment artist Brent is going to give you a rundown of how this is achieved.

With only one environment artist, some of you may wonder how we’re able to build a whole city. The answer to that is modularity. Basically that means components of the city, down to roads, buildings, street signs, walls, fences and cover are all made as individual components, which can be snapped together in an almost infinite variety of ways.

Take the roads for example. Below, you can see a small selection of the modular road pieces used to create the city. These 16×16 metre tiles are pieced together by the designers to lay out the city, and include all of the collision and other components required for it to just work in pretty much any circumstance.

The benefit of this is any of those road pieces can be modified or tweaked at a later date and the changes will propagate throughout the entire city. So, if players are falling through a hole in the collision mesh or the 3D models needs tweaking, it can quickly and easily be done without manually fixing every instance of a piece in the game.

This methodology is carried across to every element of the city. Earlier on, the challenge for us was to find the right balance, exactly how small each modular component was and how that would affect development time. So, for example, if the building pieces are smaller, it allows for a lot more variety in the buildings we could make with them, however the time required to make each building was getting out of hand, especially when you extrapolate that across an entire city.

Modular Building Pieces Example

If the building pieces are too large, the city can be laid out more quickly by the designers, but lacks visual variety, and everything starts looking the same. We eventually settled for something in between. We have large buildings pieces, and some pre-made buildings which snap and plug together, with smaller components like signs and decorative details placed on top to add variety.

The designers can then use those pre-made building parts to lay out the city en masse, which I will then revisit later to do a polish pass on, adding signs, dressing and other unique details to give life to the city.

Below is a brief video panning across a small portion the Downtown district. The Downtown district is the home of the Red Light neighbourhood, one of the 4 main districts in the city, and the first area players will discover when starting the game. This video represents what a district looks like after a designer has laid it out using the modular pieces, but before I’ve done an art pass on it, so it’s lacking things like signs, lights and other dressing elements.

Again apologies for the lack of communication, we’ll be trying to be more active on the forums in future, see you there!

- 5 Lives Team