We're busy prepping everything for launch and our dear community has been helping us a lot in playtesting all the new features. Here's is some encouraging feedback we recently got for our secretive inner circle build:
"I looked at the regular build [again] and was really surprised with the changes in the inner circle build! You guys did amazing!"
If you'd like to help us playtesting the new features, you can still become a part of the inner circle yourself. More info can be here: Join The Inner Circle
I had to take a short break from the trailer to incorporate our new shader, it's always a bad idea to implement new things just days before release, so a few weeks earlier is better! You can here see me playing around with the new shader. It's usually hard to control specular (or the shininess) with uniform low poly artstyles without textures (like most games). But with Johannes' new magical shader I can control that for separate objects, for instance make the gems more shiny than the rock it's attached to!
This week, I've been helping out with the lighting of the scenes in the trailer. It was a real challenge, especially for someone still not completely comfortable with Blender yet. Turns out that it's pretty difficult to get some decent lighting in space! After that, I've been doing some UI work, like updating graphics for the information panels.
I've had full focus on the save system.
I've worked on a tool to verify that saves are working properly. The tool works by saving all states in the game to a text file, then it saves the game, loads that save, and then saves all states again to a second text file. Then I load both text files into a diff tool and see if something is different. That tool has allowed me to find a few subtle save errors that I've now fixed.
This week has been all about polishing and fixing the features we have. Just to give you a taste of what I've done, I have added sfx to a lot of the interface buttons. The voice in the intro is now updated with a remastered version of the audio, and some background ambience has been added. The Word Tree is now more consistent, with words having designated spots in the UI window.
I have continued to fine tune the stamina for the different follower tasks.
Influence is now gained in a slow trickle with a bonus amount added every half cycle for faithful cities, instead of faithful followers as it previously was. This change hopefully reduces some of the frustration that could occur when you were missing just a one or two points to make a commandment.
I have fixed bugs and made some improvements and optimization with how followers find new locations when building new cities. It was an issue before with how it worked and how the performance was. Often when a world had a lot of cities it became noticeable how the game became slow because many followers tried to find new locations and not always finding anything.
The old implementation was done through randomly checking tiles all over the island until a valid place was found. This was very unpredictable and a better solution had to be made. The way it is implemented now is to search outwards from the home city in circles until a good location is found. This felt like an obvious way to do it and it improved the performance a lot. The algorithm checks not every single tile outward but checks them with a bit of spacing just to lower the performance cost a bit. This fix will be available on the Crest release.
I have tweaked the last things with the tutorial together with Emelie. We have playtested it internally and there are only some minor finishing touches left, then it will be all complete.
The tutorial is also incorporated into the save system now, so loading a game will no longer reset it to the beginning.
The update to the tutorial has taken the entire week for me, and will probably take a few more days as well. It's coming along nicely, but I wonder if I have in my haste forgotten about something important, the pacing and the time it takes to finish it. We had a playtest this week as we do every week now and we focused on the tutorial so I got valuable feedback and will do my best to make it better. Other than the tutorial, I have been dabbling wherever I have been needed and I am guessing that's what I'll be doing everyday until release.
Our release is slowly creeping upon us, so this week has seen a lot of playtesting in order to fix final balancing issues and bugs. Beyond that I am also continually busy with getting stuff ready for GDC amongst other company related stuff. So there is never a dull moment.
Have a nice week!