Last month Robert Yang from the Radiator fame tweeted about us and as a result we got a bunch of applications for both writers and level designers. I have been happy with the new people joining the team including Anne Toole as writer.
Currently I am myself busy with my day job (which is sadly not gaming industry releated), so I can't spend as much time on From Earth as I would like to. I try to spend time on the project every evening, but I only have so much energy and time. On top of that, a lot of my time goes into programming, animating, and modelling. I find myself a lot better at these tasks than in Level Design.
We are looking for more Level Designers to help build more puzzles for the game. Right now we are still in the stage where we try to come up with a lot of good puzzle ideas that we can later put together into whole maps. We don't have a specific structure for the game yet. We kind of want to design a "pool of puzzles" that we can then apply to levels once we have the whole story of the game figured out and the game structure planned.
We have different types of puzzles and gameplay, and we are looking for people to work on any one of them.
Items and Interactive Machines
This is the main feature of the game. The gameplay revolves around trying to figure out the alien technology. With Items you have to start the Examine mode to see the different buttons it has (three maximum). Interactive Machines can have as many buttons as the designer wants, as well as slots where you can place Items into (to power the machines or other functions).
Currently most Interactive Machines are quite simple and are meant to be as intuitive as possible. The problem is that they can sometimes end up feeling just like tutorials. Which they often are in cases when the player is meant to use them more often for certain purposes. We want to design a bunch of bigger, more complex machines that would be their own set pieces.
New Items and Interactive Machines can be more difficult to design though as they need a lot more planning and need coordination of concept art, modelling, animating, and programming.
General Logic Puzzles
These would be closer to your Portal puzzles where you have different already previously established Items and Machines that you need to use to pass through an area or to finish a task. These are probably the easiest for new level designers to design, but the challenge is to learn and familiarize all the existing machines and elements and to figure out how to make interesting puzzles out of them.
Part of the process would be to figure out what machines and elements of the game create the most interesting puzzles and discard the ones that do not work.
We are also going to have some more open areas with several tasks that you need do before you can continue to the next level. These areas would be heavy on the NPC Interaction and would also feature the NPC's themselves as puzzles (learning their language and what their different gestures mean). These type of area would need a lot more planning and probably some kind of coordination with our writer. However, as most puzzles are designed gameplay first and aesthetics later, they can sometimes end up looking quite boring as levels. Making levels that are for example, complete alien towns, and figuring out what the NPC interactions and puzzles in that area are going to be later on might be an interesting approach and might improve the visual quality and feel of functionality of the level design.
The climbing system is another big part of From Earth. We are still testing puzzles with this gameplay element. While we have incorporated tutorials into these abilities into the first part of the game, we haven't playtested a lot of the more complex platforming puzzles. The platforming puzzles we have designed tend to be difficult for new players specially since the movement system is still going through a lot of changes and we are planning to simplify the controls based on the feedback.
We are both interested in doing puzzles where you need to do a quick combination of different movements to escape, for example, a hostile force, as well as simple puzzles of figuring out the way to get from A to B. The latter would be more prominent in the first part of the game when the players are still learning the movement system, while the later part of the game would be more fast paced.
Both types of platforming puzzles would be need to have a proper difficulty curve and be properly tutorialized.
We haven't talked a lot about the Fighting System, mostly because for the longest time we weren't entirely sure if we should include it. To be honest, we are not still entirely sure, but we are sure we want to have some kind of conflict in the game. We are going to talk about the system more probably in our next month's post, but right now I can tell you it includes first person melee combat with and without weapons.
We don't have any levels designed specifically for conflict in mind right now, and we are interested in people who have a mind for designing good combat arenas.
A Voice Actress for the Aliens
James Rossi joined in as a voice actor for the male aliens and has been doing a great job. It has been great finally hearing the alien dialogue in-game. We are now looking for a voice actress for the female aliens. The aliens speak their own language that is not in any part of the game translated English. The voice needs to be expressive and the actress should be able to portray a wide range of emotions from anger to fear. The voices are for the generic alien citizens so the voice would have to be pretty normal sounding (just talk like you normally do). Think the citizens in Half-Life 2.
To apply try recording these two lines:
Terasa-si vavi Pagrattu (should be shouted in anger).
Mos zas Zaduccha vi (should be spoken in great fear).
In the first one it is important that you really go all the way with the shouting. Nothing is worse than hearing fake shouting in-game. On top of that, in both lines show that you can record audio with enough volume as well as without any extra background noise. Once we are ready to start recording, you would be provided with full vocabulary of the alien language, as well as a list of all the lines that are ready for recording, and what they mean in English. You would also be provided with the male voice samples to help you with pronunciation.
Please give us a few weeks to consider all applications.
About the team
We have a very small team. Currently it is Dennis "Entru" Yaremov as sound designer and composer, Daniel "CzechDeath" Tejnicky as concept artist, Anne Toole as our writer, and myself as programmer, modeller, lead designer. We have also had some help from Henri "Leon_Kilean" Tervapuro for our foliage prop models. We have some level designers that have been interested in working for us, but with my current day job the communication tends to be slow. We have an internal wiki for all our custom entities and such, but as we have no private forums, the communication can be a bit lacking.
If you are interested, we would have to either agree on some weekly schedule when we take the time to chat, or e-mail each other frequently. I try to be on Skype and Steam chat as much as I can, but with time zones it might be difficult to catch each other. Training people to know all the different systems in From Earth, and how they work with each other also takes time, so we want to be careful who we get in the team. From Earth is our most ambitious project so far so we want to get the best people we can get.
Looking for help
We are looking for two different types of Level Designers. Firstly, we need people that can bring existing levels an aesthetic quality, and are experienced with lighting, texturing, and the general make up in Hammer. Screenshots and/or example maps are required.
We are also looking for puzzle designers, such as anyone who has a lot of experience designing different types of puzzles for games like Portal 2. Source engine or Hammer experience is not necessary.
Most of the concept work will revolve around the industrial era Alien technology and architecture. Samples of previous work required. We already have a strong set of existing concept art for you to draw on.
Voice actors and actresses
We are currently looking for the voice actress of the female citizens and workers.
The aliens will be speaking an alien language specifically designed for this mod. Their dialogue is partly already written and ready for recording. Examples will be provided if you are interested.
We are interested on getting any help we can get, especially world texture creators and prop modellers.