Weekly Newsletter [#53]

Introduction

Hello, friends! Before we traditionally report on the work we’ve done over the last week, we’d like to mention that today we’ve got the PTS servers updated. This update is a major overhaul of the previous version. We’ve changed literally everything; therefore, literally, everything requires testing. Our testers spent a lot of time and gave us an exhaustive feedback on the previous PTS version. They encountered a wide variety of errors from minor visual flaws to critical game crashes. We took all information into account, did a lot of work, remastered the entire network part of the project, integrated a new database, added new mechanics and disabled some completely inoperative ones, got rid of all the old bugs and surely added new ones. We’d like to emphasize that this update is still an early alpha and a testing ground that lacks a lot of mechanics and may include critical errors. This update shouldn’t be seen as a reason for purchasing the game but as a reason for all who love testing to enter the PTS and help us fix all possible flaws. Once it is done, we’ll upload this version to the main game servers. We thank you in advance!

We’d also like to mention that at the moment the current PTS version features no English localization. We apologize to our English-speaking players, for it’s very difficult to test the game in Russian. Localization is currently not available due to some technical issues as well as constant editing and proofreading that in-game texts go through as the fact that we’ve changed some features of the game. We’ll add the English localization for the PTS version as soon as possible.

Software

This week our main focus was updating the PTS game version. The previous version was completely removed from the servers and replaced with a new one. As mentioned above, all aspects of the game that you have tested and mentioned in your excellent bug reports have been improved, worked on, modified or remade from scratch. In this regard, we ask everyone who wants to take part in the PTS testing to pay attention to all kinds of flaws.

We’ve launched the new authorization service. When you first start the game, you will see the window with two fields for the alternative name and password used in the game. Entering this data will allow you to access the project regardless of your Steam status. Even if the Steam service is unavailable for some reason, you will always have access to the game. Your game login and password can match your Steam login and password if it’s not already occupied by some other user, but we strongly advise you to create new login and password specially for the game and write it down somewhere in case you forget them. Alternative username and password that differ from the ones you use for your Steam account authorization reduce the risk of losing access to Steam accounts if the game servers ever get hacked.

This week we’ve added a new database which is integrated into the updated PTS version’s network and is designed to make the game more stable. When testing, please pay special attention to how items are saved and loaded, for example, picked up items shouldn’t disappear; items stored in inventory should work correctly, they shouldn’t change or be deleted from inventory when you close or open the Project or when the servers are switched.

Our team has completed work on the initial quests that weren’t present in the previous version. When testing quests, please pay attention to the dialogs; check if tags are displayed correctly both in the game world and on the map; tasks should be displayed in the game log and on the HUD located in the right part of your screen; all quest stages should work correctly and follow each other in logical order.

A special button that transfers your character to the Ark has been added to the main menu. It appears on the character selection stage and is a more efficient version of the /unstuck command that wasn’t helping and didn’t work if a player encountered some serious bug.

We’ve completed and set up the map for the open world.

The project’s damage reduction system has been changed and replaced by the health and shield reduction system.

At the moment, transport of all kinds was removed from the PTS game version due to total inoperability. Quad bike caused critical errors, behaved incorrectly and consequently got punished. Soon we plan to completely rewrite its logic for the network.

You may also notice that all non-player characters not related to the quests have disappeared. It’s not a bug. The optimization has led to some major changes to the NPC system. A little later we’ll add all non-player characters to make the environment more alive.

The testing arena has become unnecessary and was removed. At the moment, our project requires testing in conditions close to the real game ones, featuring the character progression system, quests, trading terminals, and opponents.

World

Another aspect of our current work is optimization of the location with the entrance to the Ark. This week we’ve been optimizing a large number of small buildings as well the largest objects in the area — the wreckage of the Harbinger. Due to the Ark’s enormous size, debris and fragments are difficult to optimize without damaging their visual appearance. Our team has conducted several experiments, tried different approaches and decided to make four types of LODs with one baked material and create a special material with a unique texture for every LOD. This approach requires more video memory, but at the same time, it allows to significantly reduce the polygon number with minimal visual losses.

Enemies

This week, our team has begun creating high-poly models for the Slider mobs.

Conclusion

Last week was an extremely important stage of our work towards updating the project. We hope that the updated PTS version testing will turn out to be quite successful, and we’ll be able to fix every possible critical flaw as soon as possible. Once this stage is over, some missing mechanics should be added to the PTS version, as well as most of the quests in Russian and English, allowing us to upload this PTS version to the main game servers. Our team would like to thank our testers in advance. Your help with finding bugs and uncovering flaws of the current PTS version will be crucial.

We’d also like to remind you that at the moment the main work on the project is done on the PTS servers. We’ll transfer the updated project to the main server only after we finish and successfully test the quest system. Now all players who want to see that the project is moving forward have an opportunity to take part in PTS testing. To take part in the test, you must have an activated copy of the game and follow the registration as described on this page:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/pgenom/announcements/detail/1448322996834571608

And, once again, we want to remind everyone considering purchasing the game that it’s still in its Alpha stage, and we don’t recommend buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. By purchasing the game now, you support the development and have an 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 project enters the beta testing phase or even later.

Important Notice for Testers

To prepare the major update of the PTS version, the PTS servers will be brought down from 1 March to 5 March.

Unless faced with unforeseen circumstances, we plan to make the new version available for the mass player testing on 5 March not earlier than 6:00 p.m. CET / 12:00 noon EST / 9:00 a.m. PST.

Weekly Newsletter [#52]

Introduction

Hello, friends! Our team is engaged in developing at large and the major PTS update in particular. We’d like to remind everyone who missed any of the previous reports, that at the moment we’re working on improving the PTS game version on the basis of numerous tests results that were acquired with the help of all the public testing participants. This updated version is planned to be soon launched on the PTS servers as a major update. If the testing will show that it’s stable, it’ll also be the first update of the main game servers over a long period of development.

Software

We’re actively developing the major PTS update.

This week, we finished working on the system of level-ups and experience gain for dealing with enemies. We’ve created the system for obtaining points of different progression system branches and skills when doing certain actions in the game (for example, firing a pistol gives Weapon and Pistol points, and taking damage adds Armor points and points for the equipped Armored Suit type).

The quest reward system has also been worked on and improved.

We’ve added a new item type – shield generator. It has the following parameters: absorption, power, quantity, recharge speed, and shield recovery speed. The armor no longer has its own shield parameter, it just enhances the generator parameters.

Our team has created the leveling up system for the weapon and armor nodes, added the Pistol Mastery branch and three Armor Mastery branches. Nodes have acquired the pop-up descriptions (tooltips).

We’ve added the level and the node requirements to the item requirements system.

We’ve improved the system of completing quests connected with the enemy lairs demolishing.

All initial quests were completely reworked due to some major code changes and the newly added features.

World

We are still engaged in the in-game world optimization process. At the moment, we’re working on one of the most extensive zones with a huge number of buildings, namely the entrance to the Ark. You may remember our early Weekly Newsletter reposts featuring info about how we engaged in the game world creation and started with this exact location. It also was the first location for the updated design creation and first steps into developing the open-world game design. We wanted our players to witness the majestic landscape once they exit the Ark. It goes without saying that such view resulted in a large number of draw calls per frame. This issue became particularly significant now that we’ve created many buildings in the area. So now our team combines the existing elements as if in the constructor set, creates the LODs, adjusts the clipping for small objects, interiors, decals, lighting sources, and effects.

Character

Our team started working on animations for the female character skills and abilities.

Enemies

This week, we’ve completely created all low-poly models for the Brawler mobs. We worked on the models as well as textures, and also added the fur.

Conclusion

Our team is actively working on the project and aims at finalizing it. We’d very much like to name the date of the major PTS update, but we don’t want to delude and disappoint you in case some significant technical issue occurs. We definitely will name the date of the new PTS version launch beforehand, but most likely we’ll do it right before the update, so check out the latest news and feel free to torment Bagamut, our community manager, with your questions in Discord! 🙂

We’d also like to remind you that at the moment the main work on the project is done on the PTS servers. We’ll transfer the updated project to the main server only after we finish and successfully test the quest system. Now all players who want to see that the project is moving forward have an opportunity to take part in PTS testing. To take part in the test, you must have an activated copy of the game and follow the registration as described on this page:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/pgenom/announcements/detail/1448322996834571608

And, once again, we want to remind everyone considering purchasing the game that it’s still in its Alpha stage, and we don’t recommend buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. By purchasing the game now, you support the development and have an 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 project enters the beta testing phase or even later.

Weekly Newsletter [#51]

Introduction

Hi everyone! The development has gained momentum: we’ve done a lot of work, and if nothing unpredictable happens, soon we’ll announce testing of the global PTS version update. In the meantime, here’s another traditional weekly report on the work done over the last week.

Software

Our team continues working on the PTS project version and prepares it to be transferred to the main game servers.

This week, we’ve finished working on the non-player characters mechanics. In particular, our team has significantly reduced the load increasing because of the NPCs and also revised how the NPCs are implemented after we revised a number of tester reports.

This week, we’ve completed the trading system and optimized the interaction between the database and the server with the client trading window (as the result, we’ve significantly increased the speed of the movement when an item is purchased or sold, there are also no freezes and additional loads during this process). Our team has also completed the trading interface for merchants. We’ve added the ability to display the merchant model or vending machine model in the trading window with the minimum load.

We’ve improved the pop-up descriptions (tooltips) that appear when the cursor is over a particular item. Our team has also completed the item requirements. Now all items are adequately displayed in the inventory.

The character progression system has also been improved, namely the processes of experience and skill points gain. We’ve also completed the connection between the progression system with the server and the database, as well as saving and loading, and the effect that leveling up has on the game items and requirements for them.

As we’ve improved the character progression system, we also completed the character parameters window. More specifically, we made various visual improvements (aligned all elements, improved the bars and numerical parameters performance, improved the background, made sure that all elements are stabilized and perform adequately when the cursor is over them). Our team has improved the leveling up logic based on the test results that we received (for example, we’ve separated the bars and the skill buttons, and added tooltips for each bar instead of descriptions for all bars being showed at once). In addition, we’ve set up the connection between the window and all its bars, elements, and values with the actual character stats that are saved in the database.

The skill windows mechanics and visual components have been revised and configured. We decided that it’s better to hide the entire lower part of the window. All skill descriptions are shown as tooltips only. The connections between the nodes are drawn automatically and are fully set up. We’ve also begun working on the creation of the first skill trees. This work will be carried out gradually, as and when necessary.

World

This week our team has focused on the optimization. We started from the most resource-intensive location area, namely the Scientific Camp, and used it to test the work pattern. Initially, we assemble such locations with structures as if in the construction set: each wall, floor, ceiling, window or sofa is a separate object. We don’t use baked color maps or normal maps for such objects, and all materials are divided into logical groups by physical material or color (metal, plastic, white paint, orange paint, etc.) overlaying necessary parts of a model (ID). It significantly speeds up the process of creating models, as well as the level design, but eventually creates an issue due to a large number of draw calls per frame. Each material used on the object creates an additional draw call, and each object itself also creates a draw call. As a result, one small house made of 30 objects may result in up to 400 draw calls, which is incredibly expensive.

Overcoming some technical difficulties with the objects merge, we’ve reduced the number of draw calls by tenfold. Each house, consisting of separate objects, is being merged into one object, and the same materials are no longer duplicated.

For each object, models with a lower level of detail (LOD) are created. These models have only one overlaying material with a baked card acquired from the original model, which makes the LOD non-heavy and reduces the number of draw calls on remote objects to one.

Also, we adjust the object clipping and all interiors are no longer shown even at a small distance from a building.

We still have some tests to conduct, as well as other optimization possibilities to implement, but even now we can say with the work we’ve done brings very good results and we’ll continue the same working pattern on other parts of the in-game world.

Character

This week, we’ve finished working on the Imp organic cover animation. We’ve created and set up the controller, as well as all the basic animations of movement, attacks, skills, and transformation for both male and female version of the cover.

Enemies

This week, we’ve created all high-poly models for the Brawler mobs and also started working on the low-poly in-game models.

Conclusion

Our team is as busy as ever, we enjoy the good spirits and are full of energy, as the project is getting closer to new major testing and the main servers update. We’re incredibly grateful that you stay with us and help the project to develop, and we hope that the release we’re preparing will happen very soon.

We’d also like to remind you that at the moment the main work on the project is done on the PTS servers. We’ll transfer the updated project to the main server only after we finish and successfully test the quest system. Now all players who want to see that the project is moving forward have an opportunity to take part in PTS testing. To take part in the test, you must have an activated copy of the game and follow the registration as described on this page:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/pgenom/announcements/detail/1448322996834571608

And, once again, we want to remind everyone considering purchasing the game that it’s still in its Alpha stage, and we don’t recommend buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. By purchasing the game now, you support the development and have an 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 project enters the beta testing phase or even later.

Weekly Newsletter [#50]

Introduction

Hello, friends! The game development goes on and we’re coming even closer to the main server update.  While we prepare the project for this major event and try to fix all the found flaws, here’s another traditional weekly report on the work done over the last week.

Software

Our team is still preparing the major PTS version update. At the current time, work is being done in all areas tested by the players. We’re finalizing the network, transitions between servers, and the database. We’ve completed our work on the interface improvements, refined all in-game windows, and added little bonuses such as a special label for pointing out the newly acquired items in the inventory or different frame designs for items of different quality.

The dialogues system has been completed, and we’ve expanded the system functionality to correctly add the branched quests. We’ve improved the NPC’s possible reaction to dialogues (NPCs now turn to face the player and stops if the player interacts with a walking NPC)

We’ve improved the quest reward functionality and redesigned the window that now correctly displays any reward number. In addition, our team added new tabs for various completed tasks.

We’ve added the function that allows tracking player’s path to the set point on the map. The number of simultaneously tracked quests has been expanded to 10. Our team has also worked on the quest area displaying function — now quest areas can come in all shapes.

Our team has worked on the tags and pointers for the minimap and added the path tracing for the large map as well.

We’ve improved the chat and the channels.

Ammo boxes are added to the game.

Our team has improved the objects interaction system that works via special form and not via standard dialogue window. We’ve also improved the Eyes.

World

We’ve finished working on a large Raider camp. The main decor elements are now arranged, lighting and effects are adjusted.

This week, we’ve added the morgue on the initial location.

This week, our team has begun an extensive work to optimize the game world. We need to improve gaming performance by graphics to update PTS and, we hope, the main servers as soon as possible. At this stage, it’s necessary to reduce the number of draw calls in frame (object drawing command for the graphic API), configure LOD for all objects, check and configure vegetation generation in some particularly heavy-loaded biomes, adjust lights and shadows, set up rendering distance for numbers of small objects in the environment and their subsequent fading out from the frame. This work requires a certain amount of time, but it’s extremely important, especially for mid-range computers.

 

Character

This week, we came to the final stages of our work on the Imp organic cover animation. We’ve set up the controller and all the basic animations of movement and skills. All we’ve got to do is add more skills and begin working on the female version of the cover.

Enemies

This week, we’ve begun working on the high-poly models of Brawler mobs. So far, our team has created models for three Brawler species that can be found in the woodland area of Avalon.

Our team has created concepts for various types of Sliders: common, desert, wild, and alpine ancestor of modern Sliders. As usual, all Slider species will differ in behavior, habitats, attacks, and reward for killing them.

Conclusion

We’re sure that the most important development stage of the last month was the work our team has done on the major PTS servers update, that should significantly improve the project and lay a sound basis for a quick update on the main game servers. We work on the software issues but also improve the game appearance, expand its functionality and make the gameplay more convenient. We’re grateful to all players who tell us about their wishes or leave comprehensive feedbacks that help us a lot.

We’d also like to remind you that at the moment the main work on the project is done on the PTS servers. We’ll transfer the updated project to the main server only after we finish and successfully test the quest system. Now all players who want to see that the project is moving forward have an opportunity to take part in PTS testing. To take part in the test, you must have an activated copy of the game and follow the registration as described on this page:

http://steamcommunity.com/games/pgenom/announcements/detail/1448322996834571608

And, once again, we want to remind everyone considering purchasing the game that it’s still in its Alpha stage, and we don’t recommend buying it if you expect a full-fledged finished project. By purchasing the game now, you support the development and have an 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 project enters the beta testing phase or even later.