Hello again, you’ll notice our last official update on the site was July. Had we been twiddling our thumbs since then? given up and silently closed up shop? of course not!
We’ve been working hard, and posting occasional tidbits on twitter and facebook in the mean time. We’re aware there’s a number of people that only check the front page occasionally, and that’s okay. So what have we been up to? and what are we working on now?
Animation is one of the many improvements we can make to the game, now that we’ve switched engines. If you recall an earlier news update, we’ve opted for building our player as a 3D model and rendering out the sprites in 2D.
This technique allows all the advantages of 3D while remaining consistent with our more traditional drawn pixel art.
We’ve written a custom tool to render all of the player animations from eight directions, using point sampling and shaders to preserve sharpness and achieve a pixelation effect. Each rendered frame of animation is automatically exported out as a sprite. Modders will be able to model additional items or tweak textures to create new clothing items, which can easily be exported for use in game.
Below you’ll be able to see examples of the exported sprites, and a short video test of them running in game:
This is still a work in progress, and we expect the results to be improved as development continues.
We’ve finally replaced our placeholder Lobby, and instead of having all the information on screen at once, we’ve divided it into a few tabs. The Job Selection screen now allows you to pick between four departments: Command, Research, Engineering and Civilian. Choosing one of these will bring up all the available jobs in that department, along with a short description:
We’ve added a particle system to the game, and with it, a nifty little particle system editor. This will let us compile particle system presets and reference them in our game objects. With this, we can make effects like fire, explosions, gibs, lasers, crazy weapons effects, reactor cores (and reactor core meltdowns), and anything else imaginable that involves particle-based animation.
Work is progressing on a new interface design that we hope will make the game intuitive and easy to learn. We approached a lot of new players, and asked them for specific feedback on the BYOND interface. What doesn’t make sense to a new player? Can we make it intuitive without removing complexity? We wanted to retain the hands and the intents system, but give the player much better feedback when they use them:
Intents are now limited to two modes, Harm and Help – which can be toggled between at the press of a key. Previous intents such as Disarm and Grab are now reintroduced as Actions, and will appear on the action bar contextually depending on whether you have Help or Harm mode active.
An example would be the Carry action. This appears on the Action bar when you have Help mode active, and will allow you to carry a fallen player on your back and [potentially] move him or her to safety, You’ll be able to use both hands with a player on your back, but at the cost of movement speed.
Alternatively, if you had Harm mode active – the carry action would be replaced with the more traditional Grab action. Which you’ll remember being much more aggressive, allowing you to grab hold of players and escalate it into a choke hold.
Actions like Disarm may appear in both Help and Harm mode, as this action can be considered both passive and aggressive in nature.
Over the last few months we’ve been working on replacing our website and logo with something more informative, polished and professional. Our current website was thrown up rapidly in 2011, and while the game has changed and evolved during development, the site hasn’t changed since it launched!
Those that follow us on socal media will know we have a new logo, designed by the talented Mike Levos. You’ll notice the old logo remains on our site and forum, but that’ll be changing once the new site goes live. We have a shot below to show you guys how it’s going to look.
Our biggest improvement is getting the twitter on the front page, so those of you that primarily check the site can see we’re active and working hard!