gamesread | Staying on track – Friday, May 18, 2018

Folks,

Progress continues at a solid pace on our march to the start of Beta 1 on July 4th. We’re still on track as we continue to churn out features, assets, and fixes! Ben, Max, and I (Tyler) enjoyed our usual weekly wrap-up this afternoon. If you missed that livestream, you can catch it HERE. There were a lot of great questions during our Q&A section of the stream, especially because Ben was there to field all sorts of interesting design questions.

We spent much of this week testing fixes on our current testing build, leading up to another weekend of testing! We said we had our Beta 1 level Backers in mind, and we’ve been wanting to get you into a more stable test for a while! So, this weekend, we have an opportunity to find out how stable this build actually is! 

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 19th and 20th, 2018
12-2PM EDT (18:00-20:00 CEST)

If you’re confused about the times, you can go HERE (https://www.worldtimebuddy.com/?qm=1&lid=5,8,100,14&h=5&date=2018-5-19&sln=12-14)

Where: Nuada

Who: IT, Alpha, Beta 1

We will send out a separate test email later with more details.

For the rest of the week’s highlights, including art from our talented team, read on!

Top Tenish:

  1. Testing: This week, Colin focused on improvements to the physics server crashes we have been experiencing. Compared to the previous fix, this one does not significantly impact performance with large scale battles, tested at 3k A.R.C.S. (When we say large scale, we mean it!) We tested these changes from Tuesday through Friday with IT and Alpha, and toward the end of the day today, Beta 1 Backers! We’ll be testing again this weekend on Saturday and Sunday.

  2. Tech – Audio – Audio Objects: Dave continues his adventures into sound this week with his completion of audio objects. This work removes the “leak” of audio assets in the scene, and gives us more control over defining the proper events for ending looping sounds. Now, during big battles, you should not experience “extra” sounds that should not have been there.

  3. Tech – Item Permissions and Equip Restrictions: This week, AJ committed code that will allow us to do things like add restrictions on who can use certain types of gear or set permissions for containers, such as a guild stash.

  4. WIP – Tech – cross server scenario: After working on the physics server issue, Colin found time to get back to his original task, allowing players to queue for scenarios from different zones. This week, he’s working on finishing up the zone transition part of the the task, and is beginning work on the logic to determine which server a scenario should start on.

  5. Tech – Server Startup and Collision: Earlier this week, Rob improved our server startup process, which helps with stability overall. He also fixed some collision issues that were causing an object’s collision to not match the visual if it was scaled and rotated.

  6. WIP – Branching Content System: Bull began work on this system earlier in the week. It will allow us to have different content on different servers. This will make it easier for us to have more timely bug fixes and in some cases, hotfixes. Additionally, it will allow for fine-tuned control over backing up and removing changes to the game, which should reduce the overall bug count.

  7. Tech – Terrain Editor Fix: We don’t always put bug fixes in the highlights, unless they are of special significance. In this case, the environment artists have been dealing with a long-standing bug that caused assigned terrain mods to be invisible in the terrain editor. Matt found and fixed this bug, which he theorized has been in there for a long time and only now found as our environments become more complex.

  8. WIP – Tech – Crafting: Christina has been neck-deep in crafting. Now, the flow of generating a Vox from a Vox token should be working end-to-end, with the help of AJ and Matt. Players can right-click on their Vox token in their UI, choose deploy, choose the spot they want to place their Vox in the world, and pack it back into their Vox when done. Christina has also been creating mock-ups for the crafting process, which will be the next step for the upcoming crafting UI.

  9. WIP – Art _ Environment Art: Dionne is currently working through several new variations of spruce pines, while Tyler has begun work on more variation for our beaches. Andrew provided some great reference from his trip to Ireland, including many pictures of a really great bog he visited.

  10. WIP – Art – Scenario 2 Concept Art: Michelle and Tyler are brainstorming changes we want to make to the scenario 2 environment art. This phase was planned ahead of time, knowing we’d want to take a step back from the first pass and look for ways to make it better. Check out the concept art below! To quote Michelle, it’s “Pulling away from the desert quarry vibe to a lusher highland vibe.”

  11. WIP – Art – Updated Character Creation Renders: Joe has moved through the female armor variations for our renders quickly, and is on track to wrap them up around the middle of next week and then hand off to Jon and Michelle. Jon finished the render of the Arthurian Male Physician and the body of the Male Stonehealer. Next, he needs to render out the rocks that will fill out the scene.

  12. Art – SFX: This week, dB created a track for our pub buildings, and is moving onto some Realm-specific ambient tracks.

  13. Design – Home Islands: Ben began work on a new template for the home islands. This initial blockout, once approved, will then get an art pass on the environment, and testing on creating the buildings.

  14. WIP – Art – Mjölnir Animations: Scott moved quickly through much of the Mjölnir’s animations this week. He completed an updated class-specific idle, right and left crushing attacks and deflects, as well as the flinch and cast. If you missed it, you can see his livestream HEREwhere he finished up the new special ability “Crushing Annihilation.” Next week, he’ll wrap up all the movement animations, and then get back to working on the Empath.

A very solid week from our hard-working team. Remember, these are just the highlights! Let’s move on to some of the art-in-progress this week, starting off with an image of the Mjölnir’s Crushing Annihilation ability.
gamesread | Staying on track – Friday, May 18, 2018

Next, we have the previously-mentioned paintover of the scenario 2 map from Michelle. I (Tyler) have particularly enjoyed this opportunity to work with Michelle on ways to improve the look of the map. We both have a similar aesthetic sense, so our conversations are typically short, as we quickly come to agreement on what we want to address.
gamesread | Staying on track – Friday, May 18, 2018

I made sure to plan out how the terrain mods were assigned around the map, so we could easily make sweeping changes later. (It’s rare that we artists are happy with the first pass

Tech Blog #8 — Mobile Porting on gamesread

The Banner Saga Now Available on Xbox One and PlayStation®4

By Myll_Erik|January 12th, 2016|Releases|Comments Off on The Banner Saga Now Available on Xbox One and PlayStation®4|

 

Stoic, an independent game development company, and Versus Evil, one of the leading independent video game publishers, today announced that the epic Viking RPG strategy game The Banner Saga launches on PlayStation®4 computer entertainment system and to the Xbox One via the [email protected] self-publishing program today for a SRP of $19.99 / €19.99 /£15.99.

The Banner Saga, which launched to much critical acclaim on both PC and mobile devices has received several awards and nominations, including winner of the 2014 Geekie Awards for “Best Video Game,” winner of 2014 Game Developers Choice: “Best Debut” award, finalist placement for “Excellence in Visual Arts” category at the Independent Game Festival, 3 BAFTA Award Nominations, and winner of Pocket Gamer’s 2015 Best Adventure/RPG Game and Best Android Game of the Year.

“Merging the story and gameplay of Banner Saga with a refined controller interface makes it a very enjoyable console gaming experience. Despite the technical challenges we initially faced in porting the game, we’re extremely happy with the end result of many months of hard work to deliver a worthy console version,” said John Watson, founder and technical director at Stoic.

The Banner Saga is a single player driven Viking saga, where a player’s choice in travel, conversation and combat determines the outcome of their own personal story as well as the survival of an entire civilization. The game also features stunning 2D animation and art, a unique tactical combat system and a cast of unforgettable characters, all of which drive this epic journey forward. Players will enjoy a beautiful and haunting original score by Grammy nominated, two-time BAFTA winning composer Austin Wintory conducting The Dallas Winds orchestra, as well as a powerhouse trio of acclaimed YouTube sensations: Peter Hollens, Malukah and […]

gamesread | Everything is going to be OK expands, feels less OK

gamesread | Everything is going to be OK expands, feels less OK

Everything is going to be OK, the interactive zine/digital fever-dream from Tetrageddon creator Nathalie Lawhead always felt deeply personal to me. Its manic humour and wild imagination filtered through computer interfaces of yesteryear always felt underpinned by a very specific breed of frustration and sadness. Today, it grew just a little bit more, adding three new ‘pages’ set within hazy, unreal PC desktops packed dense with strange little minigames, offbeat humour and some very emotionally heavy prose.

If you’ve never experienced Everything is going to be OK before, buckle up and enjoy the ride. Come for the flashing lights, the offbeat jokes, the silly voices and the mesmerising soundscape, stay for the growing sense of ennui-tinged unease that drives you to introspection, bouncing its many pithy, pointed questions off yourself and seeing what sticks.

Lawhead talks about her decision to take these new pages in this especially heartfelt direction in this pulsating purple development blog here. While it’s definitely better if you read it yourself, the abridged version is that these new pages are a response to a recent outpouring of unpleasantness and general wrongheadedness directed at EIGTBOK (that’s a rather nice acronym) and its creator from the traditionalist ‘games are meant to be fun’ crowd. So much so, that one of the new pages contains a scathingly satirical questionnaire to gauge whether you’re an ‘intelligent’ enough gamer to be granted access to your own Games folder.

gamesread | Everything is going to be OK expands, feels less OK

The new update appears in the form of three Missing Pages, which you can see in the screenshot above. Each one progressively dives a little deeper into the fractured interactive dreamscape. In amidst the jokes, the glitch detritus and the gnawing sense of unease hidden behind a faintly twitching smile lies a lengthy personal piece of prose on each page, unfiltered and direct from the author. It’s sobering stuff, and a fitting, long-form epilogue to what was previously a relatively light and easy-to-digest series of vignettes.

Lawhead reckons that with this update, EIGTBOK feels complete now, and this will most likely be the end of the road for this particular project. She’s already drawing up tentative plans for her next big thing, although is considering doing some smaller, more overtly silly projects to help recharge in the interim. Whatever she chooses to do, I wish her all the luck in the world. Games need more works of art like this; if not unafraid, then at least courageous enough to confront those fears head-on, with a thousand-yard stare and an ear-to-ear grin.

You can grab Everything is going to be OK on Itch.io and Gamejolt. It’s free, but consider donating a few dollars if you enjoy it and want to see more stuff like this made in future.

gamesread | Swashbuckling action-roguelike City of Brass is out now

gamesread | Swashbuckling action-roguelike City of Brass is out now

We must be living in a golden age of videogames, because in no other era would I have let something as immediately enticing as City of Brass escape my grasp. While I’ve been aware of the Arabian-themed first-person Spelunky-like’s presence since its debut in early access, I’ve just not found the time to give it a try. Perhaps the time is finally right, as the game just left early access today.

For those late to the party, City of Thieves is the debut from Uppercut Games, a team that largely cut their teeth working on the Bioshock series. The polish and sheen even in early builds of the game makes the family resemblance clear. It’s a fast-paced first-person action roguelike, with you playing as a sword-swinging, whip-cracking adventurer after treasure and glory in a cursed city full of scimitar-swinging skellingtons, hard-bargaining Djinn and other such creatures of middle-eastern myth.

After a relatively short trip through early access (less than a year, which is practically a blink of an eye when it comes to modern game development), Uppercut Games reckon that the time is right to sand off the sharp edges and buff up the game to a mirror sheen. John took a look at the game during its first few months in public testing and was initially caught off-guard by how fast and arcadey it was. Thief Of Persia this is not, but rather a hell-for-leather dash through the undead, grabbing treasure as you go. Still, reviews from those who played it over early access are very positive on the whole.

The release version of the game includes a few new features and some extra content over the early access build. Most importantly, the final boss fight is now in the game. This key little extension to the campaign necessitates a complete wipe of the leaderboards, although that was only to be expected with the game coming out of early access.

Less vitally (although still amusing) is Twitch/Mixer integration, introduced in this final update. As with a few other games such as Clustertruck, this lets Twitch audiences vote on tweaks to be made to the game when played and broadcast live, either to torment or support their streamer of choice. I’ve even seen mods for The Binding Of Isaac to do similar things, so it’s a nice feature to have, especially in a game as inherently random as this.

City of Brass is out now via Steam for £15.49/16.79€/$20. Those who picked it up in early access get the soundtrack free, as well as a unique sword skin.

gamesread – Build a kingdom in the sky in puzzle/sim blend Volantia

gamesread - Build a kingdom in the sky in puzzle/sim blend Volantia

One of the great things about games is that you really can just take two disparate concepts, mash them together and come away with something genuinely good. Volantia: Kingdom In The Sky from Tangled Mess Games (featuring some of the talent behind the lovely micro-roguelike Desktop Dungeons) is a blend of city-building management and block-tessellation puzzle, and it launched today.

While I strenuously object to the genre descriptor ‘Greenpunk’ (where’s the punk part?), there is definitely a lot of lush and verdant grass to be seen in Volantia. The game promises a relatively low-pressure experience, giving players the time and resources they need to build, expand and refine their floating island kingdom.

While the heart of the game does seem to be in managing the minutia of your kingdom, you’ve also got to continually expand your territory and reinforce land so that it doesn’t go falling into the sea of clouds below. You do this by attaching additional chunks of land in block-rotating puzzle style as neatly as you can. Ideally, you want a landmass rich in resources, without huge gaps and ravines that’ll make it difficult to build on.

For those who immediately thought of early online RTS Netstorm, I had exactly the same thought. While there’s definitely some similarity with Volantia’s land-expanding mechanics, fans of that might be better served by Stratus: Battle For The Sky, an unofficial remake currently in early access.

While Volantia’s game sessions may be longer than Netstorm’s frenzied puzzle-strategising, it does sound like a relatively slight game, with not much in the way of story and a given session completable in under two hours. Good for an afternoon chill-out session, but unlikely to devour entire nights the way a good game of Civilization can. Whether that’s something to be held for or against the game is down to personal preference.

Volantia is out now on Steam for £10.29/10.79€/$13.