Sunday, January 29, 2012

Salvage Youth - A New Semester

It's been a long time since I've gotten to put up a progress report, since we took our long break for the holidays. A week after returning, we were hit by a snow storm that shut down production for a week, but we've gotten back into the swing of things and are in crunch mode to meet some very intimidating deadlines over the next few months.

The last post I made was right before our First Playable presentation, in which we showed off all of the content we had in place at the time. We were able to really get the basics of gameplay and demonstrate all of the basic mechanics, as well as show off how our focused art production pipeline was paying off in terms of our tied-down visuals.

Since that time, we've made a lot of changes - the biggest change has been in terms of our team itself. We've lost two full-time members, but we've added four new ones: Jermz Gallardo is coming on as a full-time animator, Steffani Charano is joining us as a 3D artist, Bobby Simpson is our newest Programmer, and Laura Franke has joined us as a 2D animator to focus on our opening cinematic.

All this new help is already paying off a lot - our production process is speeding up and we're able to really focus on polishing the work we've done and getting new work pushed through the pipeline at record speeds.

We've really focused on filling the world up with content - now we have scripts set up to allow us to literally dump garbage all over the place to give us a bit more of a randomized feel, breaking up some of the inevitable pattern-forming that occurs when everything is hand-placed.

We got a lot of other new assets created before the break and added to the first playable demo, also.

We worked hard to get them incorporated into the environment and tied together for our presentation.

We got a working early version of our main menu in.

Our tiling terrain system is already working well for us.

We've also built multiple levels of detail for the houses, giving us the ability to create lots of depth without costing us too much performance.

After our presentation, we took some time to take a break and step away from the project. It was incredibly therapeutic for the team, giving us a chance to relax and come back with fresh heads. The difference was amazing. We had a long, incredibly energetic meeting when we came back where we looked at what was working, what wasn't and how we wanted to finish our game. The result was thrilling - we've redesigned our opening sequence, are revisiting the puzzle mechanics into more condensed and focused fun gameplay and we've got plans for a terrific boss battle that should be a lot of fun. Even better, this new focusing actually reduces scope and gives us a chance to really focus on good gameplay and incredibly polished assets.

During the break, I played around with AfterEffects and learned how to make this game team splash sequence.

Beau took a lot of time over the break to just have fun and concept up a bunch of great ideas.

He even modelled up a great early version of our Incinerator Bot.

He also made these adorable, only slightly creepy cookies.


Beau finished up the final concept sheets for the BuzzBot so that Zach could begin texturing.

Alexi made a bunch of meshes for our collectibles.

I got the first pass at a walk cycle done for Stu.

Beau concepted up the area for our new tutorial section and game up with some great rocket designs.

Alexi made a first pass at a tiling garbage bag texture, and then took the rocket design and made it a reality. It is almost frightening how fast he is at this stuff.

Zach made a first pass at the textures for the BuzzBot...

...and then took our feedback and went back to finish it, then make two more.

We've gone ahead in-engine and gotten working versions of our tutorial section and our first puzzle in place and will be prepping them for testing early this week. We've got a LOT ahead of us, but with this new, larger team working together stronger then ever, our excitement and confidence are really helping us power through and prepare for our deadlines. We're very excited to get the game in front of people for testing, and expect to do so by the end of our Alpha presentation. Keep an eye out!