Epsylon is a game project based on the good old detective stories but taking it a step forward mixing it with an unconventional cast and a new game engine technology. Detective stories are in general static narratives with limited set of interaction and little replay value once the story is done. The player has next to no influence on the way the story unfolds. Here the Epsylon project hooks in and expands the game mechanics to allow the player to conduct investigation his own way. How the player conducts the investigation influences the world and people around him. An AI in the background reacts to the moves of the player potentially altering the course of actions. Besides the basic detective moves the player has access to some "characters" providing some special abilities that can be of help.
You are Georgo Valentino, a private eye. On your way looking to solve one of your longest standing unresolved cases you end up with a hunch leading to the parallel world Alpha-10. In this universe multiple worlds exist next to each other. Very little people know about this though. One of your friends, a scientist, does know. and he most certainly knows more than that. He has a special "friend" himself that he met while researching what is called the "Xendron", the multidimensional space. Arriving at Alpha-10 Georgo is quite surprised finding his "friend" having dropped off his little girl at his side as he has "own business" to take care off. You should learn soon that this little girl (Sean) has some special abilities that can be of help to you. And if that is not enough the organisation you end up with has two special "agents" (Odjin and Bahatos) at their disposal that have their own set of abilities to bring to the table. The interesting part? The little girl and these two special agents are dragons of different kinds. As it looks like they play an important role in the case to unfold.
Will you be able to solve the biggest case you ever had?
All your actions have large influence on the events in the world. It is better to conduct your investigation without force if possible. As you are a stranger in this world people tend to not tell you all they know so you have to find your own ways to gather the informations you need to crack the case. There are multiple ways to solve the case depending on how you approach the investigation and with whom. Be careful though with whome you talk and what you do. The underworld is watching you and will react to your snooping around. Counter measures can range from making "vanish" information you seek all the way to trying to silence you or people you got in contact with. Various features can help you on your way:
One of the key points is that the story is part of the game mechanics. It is not told to the player by hitting NPCs. The story is the main case in the investigation. So to learn the story solve the investigation. Depending on how you solve it you can learn more or less about the story. It is therefore useful to look sometimes deeper than requested. And who knows what influence your choices have on the outcome... or members in your team.
This year everything went somehow different than planed in the first place, for the worse or the better. Besides hardware issues some tasks had been so large and intertwined that making a news post earlier had been tricky. Besides that I also didn't feel like making a news post in the last couple of month. Whatever the reasons out of the work done these tasks had been the most time consuming and important ones.
The main focus had been on reworking the shader system to lift it up to the next level. This had been unfortunately required to get all the bells and whistles done I've planed for this project. This included skin and lighting shaders. This took quite some time since the shader system in the Drag[en]gine is deeply integrated for versatility and performance reasons. Also decal rendering masks have been improved to allow more natural decals (see puddle image).
Another focus had been on optimizing rendering and lighting on various ends to increase performance where possible. This took also longer than expected.
An unfortunate focus had been on upgrading my entire PC leaving me with nearly 2 month of no chance to work on the project. Never before an upgrade went so TARFU. At last the HD7970 is now humming alongside the QuadCore as it should except I'm only running at 75% possible performance but the upcoming driver upgrade should fix this (hopefully).
The last huge task involved redesigning the reflection system. I've evaluated and test-implemented various reflection approaches from simple env-map blending to local reflections to find a good system which actually works with Physically Based Rendering. The system in place now works with a combination of global and local reflections with distance roughness, optional projection boxes and optional mask boxes. This all works across all geometry types in the engine without any additional work by the developer.
Eventually a first version of a weather system has been added to the game to test the reflection system.
This is only the most important part of all the work done. The rest is included as the typical bullet list at the end of the news post to not scare away people with a huge text wall. To counter the text here a few images and some test videos. To not spam only the first of the images in both profiles are linked. Find the rest in the respective gallery going to the left (15 images in total).
Here a small video of the reflection system in action. I think images work better but sometimes people like more something that moves. So here all put together (video-grab messed up the colors).
And here something for the lovers of details. The new weather system also includes cloudy weather code. You all know how lighting conditions change quickly if clouds pass by the sun on a cloudy day. This code uses the Drag[en]gine Sky System to simulate this effect. Since in a detective game locations (sets) are important I would like to add some effects to them like this one here. Watch the entire video to see it. Other weather conditions will be added like foggy or soft/heavy rain to make revisiting locations more interesting.
Although during this year work has been slower than anticipated the number of task tickets left for the first release got less. The end is not far away if nothing else breaks right before the end. With these interwined tasks out of the door news posts will be more frequent than they have been up to now.
Here the very short list of what happened during all this time. You can stop reading here if you don't want to know all the lengthy details.