September Development Update 4

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Greetings Pioneers!

So here it comes! We’re going to start pushing out invites to our experimental branch as of today! Check your friend requests for an add from Flix Interactive and accept it so that we can message you.

Don’t worry if you don’t get an invite from us straight away, we’ll progressively be issuing details on how to access the new builds over the coming week. This is a big step for the game as it begins to expand in size. So for now only single player will be accessible from our experimental build branch.

The stability testing and optimisation that has gone into getting the game running how we want it has been quite the test. Due to the vastness of destruction and physics interactions in Eden Star this process has been more drawn out than we would’ve liked it to be, mainly due to our incessant desire to make sure it’s playable for you wonderful people that support us! 

Thank you all once again for your patience.

Here’s what we’ve been up to this week in preparation for our aforementioned release (some of these fixes and features may not be included in our first experimental branch release)

John – Lead Designer

This week I have been redesigning the materials and crafted items of the game and what you can build from them. We want to introduce more of a real-world feel for the items you see in the world, so that they make more sense as to what they might do at face value. I have also been designing the introduction sequence to the game with Matt so that we can introduce new players to the game systems and set the scene as to initial objectives.

Matt – Art Director

Working towards our experimental branch release, I’ve been adding some old looking worn and trodden track visuals for roads which indicate earth colonies once thrived on the island. These are helpful as guides and pointers to players who wish to search and discover what is left of colony outposts around the area.

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The outposts are going to be under progressive development and will be vastly improved in further builds with such features as patrolling creatures that spawn within the buildings and corrupted and worn looking visuals around the outposts to show the islands attempt to consume them over time.

Lee – Technical Director

This week has involved a lot of bug fixes, and a lot of testing. There are still a few minor bugs and some bugs which can’t be fixed due to needing more systems being put in place. Which is what I’ve being doing the latter part of this week, planning features I need implementing to fix some of these issues.

Tristan – Senior Developer

This week I have been fixing up that last load of critical and major issues as well as some minor ones that have been hanging around for a good while like mantling actually animating on clients. I have also been working with John, Marcin and Yves on a system design for how we can make multiplayer building more efficient and still give you the freedom you have now. I think we have finally got a solution 🙂

Joe – Environment Artist

Another good healthy mix of tweaks, fixes and new tasks this week. I’ve created icons for all the new Decorator building blocks and started work on the mammoth task of populating the new level with small bases and their connecting roads and pathways. My goal with placing these roads is to provide consistently enjoyable exploration, drive player choice and give players a starting experience that guides them towards objective gameplay (that will be fleshed out in the future).

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Outside of those tasks I’ve made quite a few tweaks and improvements. The distance landscape is now much more detailed, I’ve added new HUD damage visuals for your shield being hit, and I’ve gone over Loot placement in all of the prefab bases.

Yves – Senior Developer

The CPU on the server takes a massive hit when it reaches so many replicated actors, it has to check to the properties of each one to see if anything has changed, as we’ve seen with the Chicago server when our players make massive bases, that can be lots of properties to check. Unfortunately techniques like net dormancy won’t help us in our circumstance.

So I’ve been working on optimizing structure replication. We’re going to take it out of the engine’s hands for the most part and handle it ourselves by clustering areas of blocks and using fast net arrays to broadcast changes.

Lauren – Animator

This week I have mostly been working on bug fixes and tweaks for the AI. I have also been addressing the audio in the level and making note of where we are missing sounds, tweaking volume and attenuation and adding placeholders where I can.

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Ricky – Developer

Bugs were trodden upon. I then worked on; the functionality to allow armour repairing, loading screen, deploy ui modular buttonry (like weaponry but 20% more pressing involved), HUD health and shield damage effects, transfer and drop button disability fixes and finishing off the week with some hardcore prototyping of a new design for the HUD scanner, we feel ye old text just wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore and we like our mustard cut right dammit!

Marcin – Designer

Another week, another set of bugs sorted out. Nothing particularly major, I’m afraid, just hundreds of tiny little tweaks and changes – mostly to AI, and buildings. Aside from those I am working on a few designs as well.

There was a very technical design for a new system of replication of buildings over network, as we’ve hitting the point where there is so many buildings, the current system cannot cope quickly enough, as well as designs for future customisation options for personal servers and single-player gamer.

Last but not least, I am looking into designs for populating how we want to populate the infected bases with AI to make them alive and challenging.

Simone – Concept Artist

This week I’ve been just finishing up on the armours so that next week I can start new tasks that are in the pipeline!

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Andy – Lead QA

This week we have been gearing up to releasing our new map into the experimental branch so I’ve spent my week pestering the team to get lots of little tweaks and fixes done for me so we can roll this build out to you guys.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix

September Development Update 3

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Greetings Pioneers!

We thank you for your patience so far, this week many more bugs have been fixed and we are ever closer to a release into the experimental branch! From there, those taking part can give us some much needed balancing feedback for the upcoming gameplay expansion. We hope to start this testing process next week.

Please note that this will not be a full public release to start with, only to those who have registered their interest in helping us out at this stage and opt into the experimental branch. If everything goes to plan we will roll it out to everyone soon after.

This week the new 4km2 map has been populated with more outpost bases and feature buildings to explore and loot, weapon stats and effects have been tweaked and debugged, more critical issues have been sorted… PROGRESS!

John – Lead Designer

This week has been filled with exciting meetings for me. You’ll be glad to know we’ve been planning the final details for our experimental release build as well!

Matt – Art Director

I’ve been back at creating props for existing locations within the world. Specifically for a communication relay station and observatory. These locations can be found and inhabited or raided by players currently if they can capture that locations Eden Kit. I’ll be moving onto creating assets for a more fleshed out game tutorial that will better help introduce the basic elements of the game.

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Lee – Technical Director

This week I have continued with the debugging of AI. I’ve also had to make a few engine changes to get the group behaviours working the way I want. You may not notice much difference at first but once it is fully functional we can start to do some cool stuff with groups of AI.

Tristan – Senior Developer

Bug, Balance and Polish pretty much sums up this week for all the devs me included. We have been fixing crashes, game breaking bugs, save breaking bugs, ai breaking bugs and any bugs in between. On a non-bugs note I have been planning out the tasks for replication optimisation with Yves for our structures. It should give us a BUILDING (because no boats are featured in this game) load of frames back 🙂

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Yves – Senior Developer

Yves is not available to write this for himself as he is feeling under the weather today. There’s only so many bugs anyone can absorbed into one’s body before illness ensues. That’s right, this is Yves’s prefered method for bug fixing.

Marcin – Designer

Bits and bobs mostly for me this week. I was working on AI bugs, mostly technical stuff like lost references and feet placement, a bit on the decorators and doors, some on the navmesh, and a tiny bit on the balancing. But I did spend a day prototyping the way an Area of Effect Blast would work.

It’s a challenging mechanic especially due to how many different thing it can hit in a single frame, so there is a very delicate balance to strike between accuracy and performance there. In any case, even in its current rough state, it’s already pretty fun to play with, so it definitely feels like the right direction to go.

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Joe – Environment Artist

This week has mainly been full of polishing and tweaking in anticipation for our biggest release yet. Seeing it all come together over the past few weeks is super exciting and I hope you guys feel that it’s worth the wait once it arrives.

Specifically this week I’ve been tweaking PFX for the new weapons and balancing weapon stats and tidying up various parts of the UI (including new visuals for player damage).

The highlight of this week has definitely been getting to work on some new outposts and colonies to help populate the new map – a mining facility and an abandoned, overgrown lookout post.

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Lauren – Animator

This week I have been working on more bug fixes and tweaks as well as improving the interactions between AI so that wolves perform kill moves against small critters if they manage to catch them. I have also been continuing animating some “dragon/vulture-like” aerial attacks and a couple of small fish for underwater shoals.

Ricky – Developer

Is not here right now but if he was he would tell you that bugs are exhausting so I’m going on holiday

Simone – Concept Artist

I was away at the beginning of this week and have been catching up on what needs to do be done and continuing work on the female armour sets.

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Andy – Lead QA

This week I’ve been mostly focusing on the balancing of the new modular weapons, AI spawning and general tweaking of the game.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix

September Development Update 2

devupdatesept2headerGreetings Pioneers!

We’ve fixed a number of critical issues this week and have been continuing with polishing AI behaviours and animations. We’ve added in a new fish that poops explosive pink eggs (why not?) as well as glass walls and purely decorative buildables. We have also been optimising the construction assets for better frame rates and faster load times and have been discussing how to group them into managers for less strain on the server with replication.

John – Lead Designer

I am currently reworking the building elements and materials into something that resembles real world items in order for players to be able to draw upon familiar real-world references when building or crafting. This includes copper deposits, aluminium ore, titanium ore, quartz and more. This is feeding into a new design for the start of the game where the player will possibly mine differently to how they do currently – it’s still in limbo and so your feedback is appreciated! Either way, we will be starting to get the prototype for the start-game established this week coming so it’s an exciting step forward to getting this next release out to you!

Matt – Art Director

I have been working on merging mesh components within our build primitives to optimise performance. It has already lowered the load time for the game and given us a few frames back to play with so definitely worth doing. I have also been working on destruction meshes for our decorator items so they can be destroyed in a satisfying way, smashy smashy! I am currently in ‘murica meeting up with an online friend who I hope is a real person.

Lee – Technical Director

So I think we are getting to the point where a lot of the major bugs have been caught and dealt with now. This week I’ve been concentrating on a number of minor AI bugs and working closely with Lauren to see if we can try to make the animation runs smoother with a number of AI, which in itself is quite time consuming. One aspect has been to make creatures come to a stop gracefully instead of a dead stop, and also how we can integrate the animation system and AI system closer together.

Marcin – Designer

By the looks of things, everything is shaping up nicely and after the next release there is only a few major components of the game missing. That means the full picture is much clearer than ever before and so we can focus on those parts of the game that need the most attention. This week we’ve had a good push on the quality of our neutral AI, and also John and I have been looking at the future of the Pioneer’s non-combat interaction – mainly mining and building. We believe we can make these processes much more interesting and understandable to new player, while at the same time making them less grindy.

Joe – Environment Artist

All sorts of different bits this week! Tom kindly provided me with some awesome high poly fish models which I’ve given a slick new paint job and finished all the game-ready artwork for. I’ve also been helping Ricky with designs and art for the new loading screen as well as materials for Armour integrity display. The bug-squashing has continued and I’ve also fixed a load of (mainly level-related) issues this week, including highlights like Fish spawning in Forest biomes. Towards the end of the week I’ve been looking at adding additional Outpost bases for players to explore in the new map.

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Tom – Character Artist

This week I’ve created a bunch of different smaller fish in high resolution form ready to be worked up into in-game models. Glub glub.

Tristan – Senior Developer

This week the whole team has been working on squashing as many bugs as possible to get things stable and finally fixed up the last remaining issues stopping us progressing with multiplayer. There are still more left so I am currently working on some mantling issues to prevent pioneers ending up inside rocks. I mean if you’re stuck you should at least have the option of a hard place as well.

Yves – Senior Developer

I’ve spent most of the week fixing crashes, some caused by memory stomps. @PabloZurita (Twitter) contributed a memory stomp allocator to the UE4 engine, which has helped massively in tracking down some very difficult bugs.

Ricky – Developer

Implementing a shiny loading screen – that may sound a simple task but it’s been riddled with bugs and crashes along the way. No pain, no game right? Also added some extra handy features to the UI so Armour and Modular Weapons will display armour integrity and attachment icons respectively on their slots so you can tell at a glance what’s going on without having to hover over or select them.

Also bugs.

Lauren – Animator

Polishing and debugging has been the agenda for this week, we’ve been trying out a new implementation for fast AI turning which looks to be working and looking a lot better than the last. Alongside this I had a couple of days to work on a new big fish including prototyping its toxic egg attack which was pretty fun. Here’s some work in progress with the underwater creatures below:

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Simone – Concept Artist

This week I’ve been continuing work on the female armour sets for the game – making sure that the sets have a back view and the armour piece that need to be separated out for the modelling/equipment system for orthographics. Still a lot to do but getting there!

Andy – Lead QA

This week has been business as usual. The entire team has been working really hard on debugging the latest build. We’ve had new creatures implemented, AI tweaks and balancing of the stats and new modular weapons. All of which has kept me busy.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix

 

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Eden Star is a product of the GamesLab West Midlands programme, developed by Creative England and supported by the Regional Growth Fund.

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