Weekly Newsletter [#8]

Introduction

Hello, friends! Another development week is over and the time has come for our Weekly Newsletter.

Software

With the complete network and a number of small technical issues, we conducted the first internal test of the open world this week. Identifying the possible flaws in the new architecture as well as determining the further optimization goals was the top priority. The tests showed good network performance and the fact that the network required a number of minor improvements. We also faced no serious optimization issues but there’s a lot of work to be done in order to reduce the CPU load.

This week we continued working on the switching between servers. In addition, the database is being finalized, it’ll be ready soon.

This week our team began putting the final touches to the mechanics on the initial locations. Interactive objects, dialogs, and “Eyes” are being transferred to the new architecture and interface. We carry out tests and fix bugs. Also, we add minor mechanics, such as the one making the picked up item disappear from the world.

The basic NPC capabilities on the Ark are being finalized. These NPCs will later be present in all other locations. The NPC routine system is being tested. In addition, we continue improving the dialogue system eliminating all minor defects.

Our team continues improving the weapon and character movement sounds.

World

We expand the open world and fill it with new basic elements. As the character moves around the world, a gradual biomes shifts take place, from pine undergrowth to snow-capped mountain peaks and deciduous forests. We add some game mechanics and initial buildings of the ancient Gunar race which will be involved in some side quests.

At the current stage, it’s necessary to fill the world foundation in the best possible way within a minimum amount of time. The world will be gradually supplemented with details, buildings, and extraterrestrial flora as the key zones and quests are developed for the global game update. These additions will make the deciduous forests more interesting both visually and in gameplay.

We’re about to complete the Raider research camp dungeon. All the main quest zones have been finalized. There’s still work to do on the filling of some secondary zones and a more detailed design of nature in this location. All this will take no more than one working day.

The work on creating low-polygon objects for the scientific camp has come to an end. In the near future, all these objects will be transferred to the game.

Character

This week, we began working on creating animations for the female character. As we mentioned before, all female character animations will be different from the male character ones, they’ll become more feminine and natural in the updated version of the project.

NPC

This week, our team completed creating all basic animations for non-player characters, i.e. about 90 animations for male and female NPCs. Also, we want to remind you that the player character skeleton is no different from the NPC one, which means that all these animations are technically available for the player character. We will definitely use them and add opportunities for the player character, for example, to carry a box, or to sit down at the table, when the introduced game mechanics will demand it.

More characters from the remaining list of mandatory quest NPCs are added to the engine.

Besides, most of the created characters are skinned immediately, which makes us able to directly add them to the game with all the animations at any time.

This week, we created almost all animations for the Digger Guard  mob, which are necessary for its full introduction into the game and testing its unique mechanics.

Conclusion

An important stage of this week was the internal tests of the open world. It’s one thing to see it within the development, and it’s quite another to test its full-fledged packed game version on servers. These tests confirmed that the network part operates well. At the same time, they showed us the direction for further work on the game optimization.

In addition, completion of the NPCs animations provides an opportunity to finalize all necessary non-player characters mechanics and focus on the player character and opponents, which is an important step in the game development.

We thank everyone who believes in our project and our team. We’re so glad to see your support and desire to help! Your participation in the life of the project and positive emotions motivate us the most, as our main task is to create a high-quality interesting game. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.

We’d also like to remind everyone who suggests buying the game — it’s in the alpha stage at the moment. So, we strongly recommend not buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. Purchasing the game now you support the development and get the opportunity to see its early stages. If you want to enjoy a full game experience with the maximum number of game mechanics and no critical errors, we advise you to wait until the game enters the beta testing stage or even later.

Weekly Newsletter [#7]

Introduction

Hi everyone interested in the Project Genom development! Another week of intensive work is over and the game is now closer to the first major updates.

Software

The most significant event this week was completing the network part of the project. The network has successfully passed the first tests, it works and is stable. Now we’re ready to move on with the longest, most complex and comprehensive work on updating the project is finally complete.

This week, due to successful network tests, we began working on the switching between servers. Each dungeon, each unique location or even one part of a large location will have its own server. In a seamless world and in our case when a character travels from one location to another, in fact, it is a switch between two servers. The better this switch is implemented, the fewer bugs and glitches as well as purely visual problems with sticking animation frames there will be (ones that were present in the old project version).

We started testing the new game database (DB). It contains all the game information beginning with the character’s name and ending with every item’s parameters. This new database will work much faster than the previous one, which will affect the game quality. The faster the database is, the faster the information is exchanged between the client and the DB, and the faster player gets the reaction for the action (opening inventory to browse available items, opponent’s death, loot dropping and so on).

Our team began work implementing the possibility of expanded customization at the game start. We are also setting the possibility for changing some of the appearance parameters directly during the game after the character’s created (for example, changing the hairstyle, underwear or makeup).

This week we updated the character animation blueprint, which is responsible for all character animations. In the previous version, male and female characters had the same animations. In the current version, we want to introduce the differences between two types of animations and that required modernization.

We conducted several closed tests during the week. They aimed at testing the Spitters, Miners and their lair. These tests revealed a number of flaws that were quickly corrected: we fixed the bug with the Linux game server packing and the restart service and authorization service bug. The team fixed the physical materials bugs. We corrected the inventory flaw which allowed equipping objects by dropping them in the wrong slot and cracking the inventory over encumbrance client. We also fixed the exchange between objects and the sticking context menu inside the inventory.

World

The Raider research camp dungeon is 70% complete. This large area up to one square mile will be filled with both peaceful and hostile NPCs, as well as many side quests. We try to give players the opportunity to choose between different gameplay styles and add various options for interaction with the environment, which adds some special game mechanics. For example, the possibility of infiltrating the enemy base will add a special type of opponents who will mistake the player for one of their kind and will only attack after a specific action is done (enemy is shot, sabotage, attempt to enter the restricted territory, and so on).

The open world began to expand towards the Dump site. The Dump surroundings are a unique biome and stand out with their dry desolate terrain and special characteristics.

Some visual improvements were made inside the Dump dungeon. Now the location has more detailed and characteristic garbage heaps, updated and optimized stone materials as well as slightly more details at some quest points.

Designing the scientific camp, we work on adding the mesh decals. In fact, it’s an inexpensive option for detailing a low-poly model, for example, when an additional polygon with a texture is superimposed over the finished surface. Thus, using just one detail card and one material you can improve the visual component for numbers of game objects. No need to create unique texture maps for each individual unique object.

Character

We updated some types of sound for the player character. For example, we added new sounds for steps and jumps over different types of surfaces. Also, there are different sounds for characters in shoes and walking barefoot. In addition, we changed and improved the shooting and recharging sounds for various types of weapons.

NPC

This week, 18 new animations for non-player characters have been added.

Several updated models of NPCs used in the main quest have been added into the engine.

We’ve done the work on skinning for most of new NPCs, including face skinning for facial expressions.

The team added a small visual improvement for the NPCs’ eyes. An additional model with transparent texture was added to the eyeball, imitating a shadow from the upper eyelid. Without this shadow, characters’ eyes are enlarged making them look crazy.

Storyline

We began writing the quest-related dialogues. These dialogues should help players to get a deeper insight of the events, tasks, certain circumstances and incidents taking place on Avalon.

Conclusion

No doubt, the completion of the game network code was the main event of the week. We are glad to see the optimistic primary testing figures as it means that we chose the right direction. In addition, with the network being ready we have the possibility for further processing of the remaining base code parts. It pushes the project closer to open testing, which is planned for the first half of 2017.

We’d also like to remind everyone who suggests buying the game that it’s in the alpha stage. So, we strongly recommend not buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. We advise you to wait until the game enters the beta testing stage or even later if you want a full game experience.

Weekly Newsletter [#6]

Introduction

Greetings, friends! We’re ready to share our progress over the last week on the Project Genom development with you.

Software

We’re working nonstop to improve project’s network part and the game base. This week we fixed a serious issue that didn’t allow localization to work at all (we debugged the localization dashboard that duplicated targets every time the path was changed or engine was restarted).

The team fixed the controller bug when the character’s legs were bent at angles far beyond reason and law of physics not to mention physiology. Another fixed bug allowed air walking. We also fixed the issue with shooting sounds heard by the whole server regardless of the distance between the player and the sound source.

We continued working on and testing the functional points of interest (“Eyes”). Our programmers rewrote the mechanism of interaction with them and introduced the timer mechanics (progress bar filling for complex interactions).

The dialogues and NPC mechanics are being improved. This week we added the gender-based mechanics division for NPC points of interaction. Despite the differences in anatomy and animations it allows us to fully introduce  NPCs of both sexes that can use the same point of interaction (for example, sit on a sofa).

This week, we created the basic set of surface physical properties (Physical Material). It is essential for interaction with different materials in the game. For example, different sounds of walking on metal and concrete, unique traces and effects from shots fired at glass or water. Physical properties were assigned for 2500 materials.

World

This week, we started the creation of a major plot dungeon for the fourth chapter. Raider research camp, developed under the Almer auspices, whose technologies we can see and even test directly at the location. The camp located is high in the mountains side by side with the Almer territories. In future, they will be very difficult to reach.

The first miles of the open world are coming closer to the final base version. We’re working on final technical improvements. Several load levels are created for all objects for the purpose of optimization. Collisions for complex objects are also being corrected.

We’re getting closer to the final stage of modeling objects for the scientific camp.

Character

The concept of a new type of high-level armored suit with an active protection system is complete.

NPC

We continued working on unique plot non-player characters. Bodies are being fixed and remodeled according to new proportions and animations. We’re improving faces and materials.

This week, we added several new NPC animations.

We also corrected the male character posture (fixed what looked like the hump and embarrassed players for a long time).

Opponents

Digger mobs were transferred into the engine; there are major changes in comparison with the previous game version. We assigned special behavior and combat tactics for different types of Diggers. The team incorporated the functional for interactive points located on mobs and allowing to benefit from their weaknesses. For example, now you can shoot off the Female Digger’s abdomen  causing severe damage and depriving it of some abilities. In addition, enemy’s visual model also changes (Female Digger is still alive but continues fighting without a part of the body).

This week, some opponents received physical properties. It allows to improve visual impact in combat and add behavioral features in the future. For example, when a shot hits Digger, its body reacts to the hit twitching in accordance with physics.

Conclusion

By the end of the week, we can certainly say that we’ve done the major part of the work on creation of main large dungeons as well as the basic set of objects for most locations. In addition, the initial pack of animations for non-player characters is almost ready. It’ll allow us to move on to the female character animation.

There’s still work to be done on the network and the basic game mechanics; this task is our priority.

We’d also like to remind everyone who suggests buying the game that it’s in the alpha stage. So we strongly recommend not buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. We advise you to wait until the game enters the beta testing stage or even later if you want a full game experience.

Weekly Newsletter [#5]

Introduction

Neuronhaze team welcomes everyone on the pages of our weekly report. Many of you asked for some information on different mechanics, robots, skills and other game features.  We’d also like to share this with you but in these reports, we primarily write about what we did last week. If working on the skills wasn’t our task, we can’t promise anything or describe something like that in our Weekly Newsletter. When the work on the code processing will include these mechanics, it will necessarily be reflected in our reports. Until then you can always find our plans for specific mechanics at various official game sources.

Software

Last week, the project moved to version 4.15.1, this led to a number of small fixes to the engine. Anyone interested can always read on the official Epic Games resources.

We continue working on the network. Now we’re stabilizing interaction with Linux servers. Our main task is the network stability at high loads and maximum optimization.

A full-fledged dialogue system was introduced in the game. Earlier there was an opportunity to give only one of two answers to a question. Now the communication with NPCs goes to a completely different level. Full-scaled branched dialogues with different answers and different reactions to them should make the game process even more interesting. It also clears the way for more complex and interesting communication mechanics, for example, special answers at different times of the day, different reactions depending on the relationship with the character, unique answers due to some world events and so on.

In connection with communication system improvement, the quest system has been reworked, because dialogues directly affect the quests. Various complications, branchings, and additional mechanics allow creating more elaborated quests. Finally, we begin to see the variability of quest completing and the non-linearity that we’ve been looking for.

World

This week we completed the Dump dungeon. We added various new zones, an arena for the boss battle created with due regard to the enemy characteristics, as well as two settlements with enemies and civilians. The total area of the updated dungeon amounted to approximately half a square mile. We’ll make the final touches as the mechanic and quests are introduced into the dungeon.

The creation of basic alien vegetation was our main work on the open world.

First, we created the necessary texture maps based on the concept you saw in the previous report.

The next step was the generation of high-quality grass, bushes, and trees assets in SpeedTree with the use of created textures.

After that, ready-made assets were thoroughly implemented into the existing nature of the world. To do so, we had to update the landscape shader, adding a few additional layers of alien grass generation, adjusting the presets for this generation, and adding large trees. In addition, we applied the method of vegetation colorization when working with the landscape. This method was corrected for the alien flora.

For colorization, we create a special texture color map that plants use to correct their own color scheme. For example, as the grass surface smoothly mixes with the drier earth, the growing green grass will gently turn yellow as the earth dries out. The same thing has become relevant for the smooth transition of greenery into the extraterrestrial grass of violet shades.

We continue creating the scientific camp game models, which are necessary for the final assembly of some locations.

Character

We started working on the concept art with the next type of high-level armor.

This week, we completed the female heads skinning, now they are fully integrated into the game.

We also did lots of work on the character’s hairstyles and beards skinning. Skinning the beards was especially tedious. There’s a big difference in facial proportions and shapes of different races and character types, so it’s impossible to use one universal beard model. It was necessary to manually adjust beards for each face creating unique models. Eventually, we created over 50 beard types.

We created two basic facial and body tattoo styles for male and female characters. It’s essential for us so that we’ll be able to implement the full customization in the game and test it as soon as possible.

And, by the way, we want to remind you that we really appreciate your activity in groups and forums. Your ideas and comments help us have the better understanding of what you’d like to have in the game. This applies to both the main mechanics and such trifles as tattoos. What types of body marks you prefer, what would you like to see, what style of tattoos, in your opinion, is most appropriate in the future — all such questions form the basis for our further work, and we’re always glad to hear your opinion on any such topics.

Conclusion

The network is still our priority. We can’t proceed with various game mechanics without a full-fledged and well-functioning network part of the project. The game world also requires lots of attention, as its size makes our artists literally work without a break.

For the time being, we don’t mention the ongoing work on the game design in our Newsletter, as at the current moment, most mechanics are created and repeatedly tested. Now we’re at the stage of continuous improving and balancing of each individual component.

Overall, evaluating this week we can say that development goes as planned and the first updated Project Genom tests are scheduled for the first half of the year.

We’d also like to remind everyone who suggests buying the game, that it’s in the alpha stage. So we strongly recommend not buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. We advise you to wait until the game enters the beta testing stage or even later if you want a full game experience.

Weekly Newsletter [#4]

Introduction

Hello, friends! It’s been a week since the last Newsletter, so it’s time for another one. But before we start, we’d like to remind everyone who missed or paid no attention to our news about updates. At this moment no game updates are possible for technical reasons. We understand that updates are far better than news, but we won’t be able to update the current version of the project until the code is processed.

Software

Leading programmers of the project continue working. They spent most of this week improving it and fixing the flaws revealed by the recent testing. There is no point in tackling with new tasks and expanding functionality over existing errors until the game stability reaches the proper level.

There also were numerous improvements done to the NPCs and artificial intelligence this week. Non-player characters and opponents should be paid special attention, as they are important elements of the gameplay.

Some minor changes were done to the interface. We improved the tooltips with enemy info and added HUD elements for logs.

World

We continue developing the large Dump dungeon. This level is gradually expanding with new unique details, interesting story events, and mechanics. To date, our progress on this level is over 70%, so its completion will require a few more days of work.

This week, we almost finished working on the first several miles of the game world, but it’ll take a couple of stages before the final design variant is agreed upon.

Up to date, we’ve done the work on the selective filling of the main interest points.

We’ve completed the stage of detailing improvement and creating smooth transitions between the earth and other surfaces by decals overlapping.

Another small yet important step was the work we’ve done creating rivers. Crossing the rivers will diversify possibilities of moving around the world and open up opportunities to introduce some mechanics.

This week, we completed creating and generating the basic vegetation in the landscape. It’ll help us do the further level work much faster.

The game takes place on open spaces of Avalon, a terrestrial planet yet not totally Earth-like. Although the conditions are very similar to our native planet, but there are some significant differences in evolution, and the basic vegetation now lacks some characteristic alien features. In this regard, we began creation of a layer with unique Avalonian plant species.

Avalonian plants, like the ones on the Earth, are suited to absorb red and blue sunlight spectra due to chlorophyll. That’s the reason for the green vegetation predominance. The chlorophyll-free photosynthesis is being gradually forced out of this world because of its extremely low efficiency. At the same time, there are small differences in Avalonian evolution, as a special radioactive mineral — arcanium — is present on the planet, and it helps some forms of vegetation to survive. High levels of anthocyanins add the characteristic violet and red color to the chlorophyll-free plant, and the arcanium molecules add bright pink color and even phosphorescence to a number of species.

Character

This week, we’ve created the concept of high-level armor for male and female characters. In addition to the increased stats, the new armor set will be distinguished by a unique feature — active protection complex. Thanks to a number of low-range antigravs, small armored plates will be levitating at a low distance from the main suit, thus making the character look more handsome, at the same time providing cover from blows and critical hits in the back.

This week, we’ve added basic male character heads for different races with full skinning.

For customization, we’ve introduced ten initial beards and mustaches for the male character.

NPC

18 new animations for six different actions were added for non-player characters.

Storyline

At the moment, five story chapters have been reviewed and improved, now they’re waiting for partial proofreading and translation. This week, we continue working on some side quests making them more interesting. New quests are also being written.

Conclusion

There were no memorable or very specific moments this week, just the usual development. Neuronhaze Team works hard to make the project better, greater, and deeper than ever. We thank everyone for your feedback, discussions, suggestions, and criticism. It really does help us!

We’d also like to remind everyone who suggests buying the game, that it’s in the alpha stage. So we strongly recommend not buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. We advise you to wait until the game enters the beta testing stage or even later if you want a full game with all possible experience.