As some of you have figured out (from our teaser image) we're moving, to Game Maker.jk, Unreal Engine it is. Due to that we of course need to (sadly) change the direction of our game again.
The recently announced Star Wars: BattleCry: Jar Jar Binks: The Adventure will be renamed to Unreal Star Wars: Battle Tournament 2014. The direction will be updated to 50-Shades-of-Brown Simulator with QTE elements and big men with big guns.
Our goals are just as true as ever, we just have better tools to achieve them.
Now, why did we switch to UE4?
The two biggest points which made us decide are workflow and support. A full .FBX pipeline for 3D assets of all kind - both ways, importing into the engine and exporting back to the 3D package - is such an improvement over CE's semi-proprietary format with only two supported applications (Max and Maya).
Sometimes I rather edited the source .xml files directly than use the corresponding editor in CE. UE's editors all feel polished, more advanced and are at the same time just as easy - if not easier - to use.
Something which isn't really what you normally think of when evaluating engines is the information and support the developers provide. With UE that's frequent blog posts, expansive and ever-growing documentation (also not out of date), several active developers communicating with the users and a big and helpful community.
The full engine access is probably not anything we'll ever seriously use, but just for debugging purposes it already proved helpful several times.
Now onto the main topic, progress. We decided quite a time ago to switch to UE4, but for several reasons, like important people travelling and other things, we didn't get to start "full production" until about a week ago. We still had/have to get used to the different workflows and ways of living but we have not been idle. In these 7 days we have come further in some parts of development than we have ever been in 1.5 years in CE. In itself that doesn't mean much, really, but UE's pipeline and architecture enabled us to make good progress without a lot of knowledge in those specific fields.
In the current state we have a game that mostly consists of placeholders or not yet fully integrated assets. The important thing is that it is playable, and it actually feels like Star Wars. No SCAR, but an E-11. No guy-with-leather-jacket but an Imperial Scout. No Hoth, but Cloud City.
Wait... Cloud City?
As you have maybe seen in the teaser image, Cloud City will play some part in the time to come, whereas Hoth will be put on hold for now. Again there are several factors which lead to that decision.
UE4 (and CE 3.6, whenever that'll be out, so this does not just apply to UE) are using Physically Based Shading, which means if we want to take advantage of that, we will have to go over all of our textures again before getting them into UE. We also need to just do the legwork of re-exporting all of our assets for UE4 and re-build the map.
Now, this will require time and after we have done all that, where are we? Well, definitely not close to being finished with Hoth, especially because Hoth also needs quite a lot of vehicles to actually be Hoth. Most of the space on the map wouldn't be usable without those vehicles.
So we decided we'd rather do a smaller map, one which would work with only infantry. We chose Cloud City because it contains a lot of tiled and modular pieces, so we can get a lot out of a small amount of work. It's relatively small, but it can still be extended to include dogfighting so we have testing grounds for infantry and aircraft but we don't need the vehicles to have a nicely playable map.
In the time it would require to rebuild what we have for Hoth we can get a big chunk of work done on something that will pay off a lot sooner.
The future, uncertain it is. But it always was. The Alpha release should not be negatively affected by this move in any way, but who knows.
Also, we needed a bit of a motivational push and for that something new is always good. Engine and map.
After all that text, let's get to the actual stuff.The planning (concept, layouts etc) for Cloud City have been in the works for a few weeks now, 90% of the actual content we have now was created in the last few days though. This is heavy WIP and just a small part of the map. More and prettier stuff to come soon.
Richard and Austin (Altureus) have been hard at work creating loads and loads of great Sound FX just waiting to be used in-game. Bathe your ears in chocolatey engine sounds and smokey cannons.
And last but not least, our long awaited new web site will launch in the next days! As an appetizer feast upon these.
Note that you will need to create a new account if you had one on the old forums. The new ones will be cleaner, active-er, better, donger.
Until next time, maybe moving pictures will have been invented until then, who knows. May the 4th be with you, airways.
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