Dev Blog
A progress update for the New Year

January 29, 2012

   We can begin with publishing news… we have me with a few publishers who showed early interest in CoS, but we have others scheduled, with even more to follow. We are looking for the right fit for the game. We can tell you that we have had a high level of interest in the few that have learned about the game, but due to continued negotiations, we cannot mention who, or the details of those discussions. Next up are a couple more publishers, and then GDC, followed by E3. Our goal is to get this sold this year, and we are working hard to make that happen. The game demo is ready, and based on our first showings, the publishers who take a look will be impressed.

Now, on to game development.

With every day of sunshine comes a little rain, and in the last two months… it rained. We had a bad memory leak that required a complete rework of the memory management system and load priority. The T3D engine streams everything in the back ground, what this means to you (the player) is that you do not sit on load screens. However, while you are madly running from dungeon to castle to battle to village across vast distances and into many structures, and never waiting, the game is very busy keeping track of what you need, and what you might need, and getting it all into memory before you get there. This… is not easy. So new load priority systems were designed and implemented to solve the problem, and yes, the sun came out and the leaks have stopped. No more memory crashes, problem solved.

Until… we added several trillion leaves grown on our trees (which were also grown). Not to mention trillions of blades of grass, all grown. This was not a memory leak issue, but a level of detail issue. Our systems were not adequate to handle this extraordinary level of objects in the world (though we thought they were). Hence, more new code. That has been the focus of this month, and now we are starting to see decent frame rates with a lot of grass and trees in the forest, all grown. However, this system needs some further tweaks, and the engine programming team is hard at work on that… making our game development team do what we do not want to do… wait. We hate to wait, but there are many other things to do, so we are off doing those.

In Level Design we have been working with the NPC Subject tool, setting up however NPC talks to Players (and each other), mentioned in the previous progress report. This is a lot of work, not just to get all the data into the NPC system, but to iron out any issues and additions needed to the system. We are working on it!

In addition, we are working with a new tool added to the Enact Tool Set for Events. We have Phase 1 of the Events tool, so it is partially working, with Phase 2 coming this week (there are several phases of development on this tool). Each phase adds new options to the system. This is the primary tool for the unique types of game play offered by CoS, and is the tool that allows us to build just about anything our writers can dream up. There were many other tools that had to come first, but this one is the most important to the game play, so the Level Design team is very excited to start working with the next phase of the Event Tool.

The Art Department has been dividing time between making new items, and improving prototype models that you may have seen in old screenshots. The original art was put in to test the new engine, to make sure the streaming system worked, that we could handle 10s of millions of polygons in a local scene, that textures and models would LOD properly, etc. They were not meant to look good. Now we are working on improving looks, and that will be ongoing for some time to come.

Writing… well, there was a lot of work done recently on the NPC conversations (still ongoing), since we started them all talking. This meant taking some writers off of Quests and League Actions, etc, and onto dialogue. Work on all of these areas continues.

In game design we are concentrating on filling out small details of many different subjects. Right now we are working on the Uber Ability system (we have not released much information on that, we will just say that these are super powers that Players can get that they can only use occasionally, in the most dire moments). Other design work has been done on Phase 2 of the Event tool, solving some issues with cascading Events, reworking the Effects of Events system, things like that. We have also been working on the beginning tutorials for teaching players how to survive in this new game, we are breaking a lot of molds with CoS, so we need to show players how the new game play options work. We want these tutorial s to be swift, easy to understand, yet teach you everything you need to know without being boring. We wanted them to be part of the game story as well, and tie into the game rather than be like a text book.

Programming, as mentioned above, has been dealing with a couple replacements systems for memory and LODs, but they are also furthering the foliage systems, with the new ground foliage and medium size foliage systems coming available. These grow all our plants, from grasses to ferns and flowers, and bushes and trees, all types. Still more work to go in generating more varieties, but we have the systems finished and working well. We will post some screenshots of this in the near future (not sure exactly when, but soon).

So that is where we are, still working hard, with one step back and two steps forward in the past two months… but positive progress. You may join the CoS Forums if you want to get more current information daily, we respond to most posts, if not all.


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