Monthly Archives: October 2017

October Development Feature – AI System

Greetings Pioneers!

Looks like all you wonderful people will be getting two updates this week! As this update is a few days overdue (technical difficulties 😉 ).

So we’re shaking things up a bit with an AI feature! As you may have heard in previous blogs our AI has been getting major work to add some variations in behaviours, decreasing their zombie-like *move towards player in a straight line and attack* and making that move towards a little more interesting, introducing some flanking behaviour into the mix and generally giving them a bit more life.

Now to pass on to Marcin and Lee for more information:

There are a number of changes we made to the way AI work, some for optimisation and some to make the design process easier.

Spawning optimisations

We are in the process of creating all the AI we need in the game at the very start and not actually destroying creatures anymore because of the hits we were getting on the garbage collector. We will have a pool of creatures ready to be used and returned to the pool once they are no longer needed.

Faster Iteration

The underlying code for the AI has been streamlined so we can have a base AI blueprint which then allows designers to change and tweaks settings to create any type of AI they require in the game from flying and walking to swimming creatures. Entire families of creatures can now be created where different specimen inherit the basic functionality of the archetype, but are able to add their own flavour, such as different visual, different attacks, different animations and reactions.

AI Perception

The perception component has had some improvements and tweaks to the way it detects objects within its field of view to make it feel more real. An addition which has been added to this is to allow the designers to place points of interest within the level or on objects which will pique the interest of any passing AI. The AI can investigate sounds and look for nearby food. We have also re-designed and streamlined how the AI picks its targets and what it does when it cannot reach it.

Modular code

The planners which govern the decision making of the AI have had an overhaul which makes designers’ lives a lot easier to modify and reuse the AI code across multiple creatures. Characteristics of behaviours can be tweaked or changes to the way a behaviour works per creature can now be made from the planner blueprint. This allows us to add a lot more variety to behaviours very quickly and easily.

A side effect of the work to do with planners has enabled us to create a mini planner which we can use for one-off scripted events or in situations where we want AI to run a few set tasks with minimal overhead and processing.

Fun Combat

The most important thing of course about all this AI work is to make sure killing them is fun. Dealing damage is only one aspect of it. We want to make sure the full experience is engaging and rewarding. The combat we’ve had so far was just so relentless and repetitive it got old very quickly. There was no room to breathe, no sense of control, no reward for doing well, and no depth. We have tried very hard to make sure the player has more options and more control.

Combat improvements

You are no longer immediately attacked the instant the creature spots you. The creature will now try to scare you off first. You can back off and leave it at that, or you show them who’s boss.

Creatures now take some time to respite after attacking giving you both an opportunity to consider your next move.

You can block with melee weapons. If the combat feels overwhelming, you can stop swinging your weapon wildly and block instead. You will have the room to breathe and assess your situation.

You can parry with melee weapons. If you time your blocking just right, you can parry the creature attack. Not only does that interrupt the creature’s attack but also makes them vulnerable for a time. We are still sorting out the details of what exactly that means, but killing a vulnerable creature should be easy and rewarding.

You can run. Sometimes you don’t want to fight, either because you don’t feel you can win or because ain’t nobody got time for that. You can now run away and the creatures will eventually leave you alone.

Stability. AI creatures now have a secondary stat, called stability. It appears as a blue bar below their health bar. Being able to send creatures flying with the Blast module was fun but overpowered. Now you need to deprive the creature of its stability for it to ragdoll, which is a little harder than a single click of a button, although not by much in most cases. Some creature are easier killed than staggered, some the exact opposite. You as a player should consider the right tool for the job.

Hit reactions. Your melee attacks are now able to interrupt the attack of the creature if it’s weaker than you. Wildly flailing your melee weapon at a bunch of enemies is no longer suicidal but sometimes just what the doctor ordered.

Overall these improvements should allow us to keep AI interactions fun and rewarding while keeping it easy for us to manage and put together different behaviours for a variety of circumstances. When we’re done AI should feel more reactive to what you are doing and feel smarter without it being overwhelming.

As for when you will see these in game, it is a matter of getting it up to a level of polish that we are satisfied with and making sure we iron out the remaining bugs!
We would also be looking to deliver these changes as part of the wider feature release.
In short… when it’s ready… 😉

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix

October Development Update 3

Greetings Pioneers!

Progress is developing nicely as always! We’ve made a choice to move to a new sky system that allows us to be more dynamic with weather and atmospherics. Vehicles and AI and still at the top of the list, and we’ve been testing our new modular behavior structures, where we have created three variants of the ‘mite’, each of which with a different attack type, more about that below…

John – Lead Designer

This has been another hectic week of balancing the materials and crafting with Mr. Whittemore, hashing out the finer details of the multiplayer designs with Tristan and Andy, and looking longly out of the window waiting for Matts return.

Matt – Art Director

Back in action, mainly catching up with the team and getting focused on the additional vehicle design work that has been done, a lot of which is focused around getting a scale that feels good set in stone.

Lee – Technical Director

This week I have continued to work with identifying bugs we have with the new version of the engine. I’ve also been working on some designs for controlling AI so you can command them to work for you.

Tristan – Lead Developer

This week I have been working on tweaking the interaction systems with Eden star to make it so that we can interact with the world easier. I have also been fixing up some multiplayer interaction issues as well as helping to design our new multiplayer experiences and systems.

Ricky – Senior Developer

Continuing fixing bugs from the engine update. I’ve potentially found a network replication mismatch and a problem with getting stuck on the loading screen which looks so far like we have to optimise the game to fix it fully, though I found a temporary fix for the time being so the rest of our fair and growing team can continue unhindered.

Olly – Junior programmer

With the help of Tristan and Tom I have continued my work on the vehicle system. More specifically moving our initial prototype into code.

Tom – Designer

I hate sand, it’s coarse and rough and gets everywhere. It’s also been a lot of fun working on some lovely new sand dunes for our more arid sections of landscape. The next stage is working on nice, natural looking transitions between the areas, which should be an exciting challenge! Really looking to showing you guys the final results!

Marcin – Designer

I’ve spent the week fixing bugs with the new AI behaviours and attacks, such as:

  • an attack would immediately get performed again after it was interrupted. The interrupt, it does nothing.
  • If an attack was performed that allows another attack to be performed immediately after, all future attacks would be performed without delay. Rapidfire mode.
  • some attacks would cause the creature to float, sometimes far into the distance. Super-disengage.
  • Some behaviours had the creature suddenly turn away from the target and stay that way, looking very upset but claiming everything was fine.

Additionally, I’ve started working on the stalker creature, reworking it to fit the new system. Right now I am expanding how we are manipulating the Ai speed for various behaviours and how more complex attacks, such as ones involving custom movement can have additional conditions between phases. For example, a running attack can skip a telegraph phase if the creature is already running, but include it if it’s not.

Lauren – Lead Animator

This week I have been helping Marcin out with some of the AI locomotion animations and their native speeds. I have also been continuing with the finishing moves and 3rd person animations for the Axe.

Andy – Lead QA

I’ve been continuing with the multiplayer design documentation, making sure that all aspects have been considered and accounted for.
We also got a new merge for the updated version of the engine so myself and Jamie managed to get into a multiplayer game and test and report issues that we found with Multiplayer.

Sam Russell – Concept Artist

A single seater vehicle is pretty much a must for an exploration survival game, this is where I’m at with some of the basic shapes.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix

October Development Update 2!

Greetings Pioneers!

This week we have some shiny concepts for our new vehicle designs for you to feast your eyes on, It’s looking good! The first vehicles we are working on is a single person hovering speeder and a much heavier transport with 6 large wheels. You are welcome to suggest some names for these! Bring on ‘Wheely-Mc-Wheelface’ 😛 In other news, we are making good progress on the environment work and the AI. Check it out below:

John – Lead Designer

This week we have been working through the first vehicle designs and refining the details for progression within crafting for both single and multiplayer. It’s a LONG back and forth, but I think we finally have a curve that includes “Makeshift Items” as the craftables on the player and the basic materials that you need to craft the “Replacement Build CPU”, “Makeshift Optical Laser Array”, a Makeshift Spear (I know… bear with me – it makes sense when you see it…) and a Shiv! 😛 In time this will all make sense, and yes, you can still build the Anti Grav Module (Smash!).

Matt – Art Director

With my holiday looming ever closer I spent the start of the week on a slow down, the middle of the week on a complete stop and now I’m actually on holiday. I wish I was there in gloomy old England to see all your wonderful faces, but…well….ok I’m lying! Later peeps!

Lee – Technical Director

This week I have been working to resolve issues with the new version of the engine which were preventing us from building and running the game. I’ve also been helping with the discussion about new AI we would like to introduce to the game.

Tristan – Lead Developer

This week I have been fixing up some multiplayer bugs, engine bugs and also ironing out our updated multiplayer design with Andy and John.

Yves – Senior Developer

Working with the other devs to help fix an issue we have been having with traces that enable the player to interact with items in the world. Before it was using the same trace that the weapons and the RMD Tool modules used, but as we are changing what the player starts with we’re having to alter this.

Ricky – Senior Developer

I’ve looked into various crashes and issues from the QA Team – specifically ones to do with changes to weapons and what’s come along with engine updates.

Marcin – Designer

I am continuing with the AI combat work, but more specifically on all the parameters that make each behaviour unique and yet part of the same system. Examples of that would be: whether the attack can be executed while moving or does the AI have to stop to do it. Another one would, how closely in front of the AI do you have to be for the behaviour to trigger, or does the behaviour even care about that? Or when we request a new move, how fast should the AI be going, should it slow down before it reaches the destination, if we are already moving, which one should take priority? Rules and options, all of it. At the end of it the “leaf” tasks of the “behaviour tree” should have enough variety that each creature should have its own character even if they follow the same “trunk” behaviour behind the scenes.

 

Tom – Designer

Landscapes have taken a back-seat this week, with most of my focus being on our brand new vehicle prototypes, working towards optimum bounciness. We’ve got some really great variants up and running now, so can’t wait to show you guys our progress in the coming weeks!

Once we’ve updated our engine version I should be able to start adding some really cool new features to our environments.

Alex – Designer

I’ve been a busy little beaver, working my fluffy tail off at getting the inside of our new interiors textured and up to scratch!

Lauren – Lead Animator

This week I have been continuing with the third person animations and the Axe. It’s coming together. There are some tweaks still to come, still blocking animations and various pared actions such as finishing moves left to do but it’s getting there.

Olly – Developer

Vehicle prototyping has been the order of the day/week! Mostly working on getting physics to feel right and sorting bugs with wheels not behaving how they should.

Carlos – Developer

I’ve been looking into co-op bugs with not being able to equip modules after our system changes to separate the modules from weapons. I also found a few issues with our use and interact systems that I’ve been beating into submission (using the ancient power of code).

Jamie – QA

This week I have been testing the new engine version and checking what works and what doesn’t work in the latest build. I’ve encountered a few bugs that I’ve been working with the team to sort out 🙂

Sam – Concept Artist

Bring on the vehicles!

Andy – Lead QA

I’ve spent the week testing the new version of the engine with Jamie to ensure that it is all working correctly and there are no huge problems before we merge it with our main branch. I’ve also been in design meetings with John and Trist working on our new plan for multiplayer which, after discussing with the rest of the team we are all really excited about.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix