Origin Story Dev Blog 005: Getting back to Development

Aannnndddd I’m back. Did you miss me? I know its been a couple months since I’ve written an update, but to be dead honest with you its because I’ve been slacking. I have not been working on Origin Story lately. Instead I’ve been playing World of Warcraft and worrying about my day job stuff.

Last night I came to the conclusion that I need to get back focused on development now. This game will never be developed if I’m slacking. So I cancelled my WoW account, and started scheduling hours in my Google Calendar. I’m also having a hard time keeping up with my laundry due to my laziness so I added that to my calendar too.

My life is scheduled all day Mon-Friday, it would make sense to schedule time for Game Development and stick to it. I Scheduled for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. I’ll most likely do some development on the weekends too, but I’ll play that by ear.

ANYWAY

So the only “real” new updates to the game is that I’ve been working with a few others to hash out some of the “spells” that our classes will use. I’ve also got my brother helping model things now. I’m still not “finished” with the natural environment. I’m adding tiny details to the game here and there to really refine the feel that I’m going for, but I should be able to get through that fairly quickly and get to the humanoid type stuff soon.

I’m working on an “evil” type material called Doku for now that is engulfing everything in its path.

Its a small part of the story line so I can’t give too much information away about it. Once I get systems in I’ll put out a trailer or something on the story line. That may be months from now though.

I’ve been having my doubts about making this a massive multiplayer. Its definitely doable. I have a good grasp on what this project entails, however is it doable in a reasonable amount of time? I have a small handful of people who do help me a little here and there (and I am very grateful for them), but is it going to be enough? How do you go about getting people involved in your project? I need to do some more research. In the next blog I hope to have some more significant updates as this one was pretty weak. I am going to do better. I will complete development of this game.

 

Origin Story Dev Blog 004: Environment Upgrades and Utilizing Space!

Hey there! Zac here with another Origin Story development update! The last one was at the end of November so it’s been a little bit. I’ve been really busy with the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been working on the game.

First up, I’ve been really focused on utilizing what space I have to use on the continent of Adagio. There were many mountainous areas that I felt could be places where the player could quest or run around, so I went through and added more foliage, as well as painted some textures so that they matched the zones.

Kotra Canyon is one of the smallest zones in the game when looking at it from above, but its actually a fairly big zone when you dive into it, as most of it is underground. I modeled an absolutely massive cave system so that there would be more content, even tying it into other zones like Modrogul ( lava / volcanic zone), by having lava flows from above seep through the crust and pool inside the cave. I now need to focus a bit and get more of tiny details in like stalagmites, rocks, bats etc.

I’m not really going to show a screenshot of this either, but I also added around 20 more caves to the continent. By the time I’m done adding caves, there should be 50+, I just need to model a few more variations of the caves as I’ve made them modular for customization.

Enough with caves! I also went back through, updated the water in the game to match the environment (more cartoony / animation to it) and I also updated the waterfalls. The previous waterfalls didn’t have the level of detail I was looking for, so I found some that are beautiful from the unreal marketplace that worked perfectly.

Last but not least: I figured out level streaming. Yes, to most this is quite simple, but for an open world MMO, it can be tricky. There are certain aspects that you want the player to view 100% of the time, and then there are things that don’t need to be loaded to save memory. Finding that balance can be hard when the player has the ability to openly move through the world. It’s not 100% perfect in terms of loading things for the player to see, but at least it works 100% for now.

I would say that I’m about 2-3 months away from completing the “natural” environment. I cannot wait to be done because once the humanoid aspect (houses, fences, etc) is in place, the game will truly start coming together (this is next on my list). I’ve already hashed out a fast travel system, hang gliding system, fishing system, inventory system and more, but it will be months if not a full year before I start refining that part of the game. If you are a close friend of mine, you will get invites to help me Alpha test in the near future. It will be a closed alpha to start, but once I get some of the bigger kinks worked out, I will be opening it up to the public.

Things I will be working on next:

  • Tiny details in caves – plenty of caves, just need to put in the work to make each as unique as possible.
  • Fixing all foliage errors – I still have rocks, trees and grass patches that hover in the air, this is a matter of manually finding them all and moving them, easier said than done when you have 50,000+ on your continent.
  • Making the ocean seem infinite – I’m not exactly sure how to achieve this just yet, but I have a few good idea’s to do so. This will be very important as players will be able to reach fairly high elevations during their journeys and I need the player to really feel like that are stuck in the middle of an ocean on this continent.
  • Environment audio – This is going to be quite the task, but its also the reason I figured out level streaming first. I don’t want the game to try to load every single audio sample in the game at once, just one zone at a time. Ambient audio and natural environment audio will be in the game soon.
  • Player footprints in the dirt, sand, water etc – This one is tricky, but I have a good idea on how to tackle it. This will really tie the whole environment together, especially in the Tjaard Sand Dunes, because right now it feels like you are walking through snow, instead of a desert.

Anyway, that’s it for now! Do you have any questions about Origin Story? Or do you have any constructive criticism? Comment below!

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Origin Story Dev Blog 003: All The Zones!

Hi everyone! I know, its been a hot minute since I given everyone a sneak peak of Origin Story so we figured for this update, we would do a quick video preview of each zone.

Many updates have been added to the game. Since our last update we’ve added 7 new zones! We decided that overall, there wasn’t enough diversity in the world as a whole, so we included new zones, but also expanded some of the already existing zones.

On top of this, all weather has been implemented. The next step will be to set the weather patterns to be more randomized, and less consistent. I still need to go through and add overhangs, caves, and other “underground” related content. I am hoping to do that sometime this week, because after I get all of that handled, I can start working on the “Humanoid” type objects ( fences, houses, towers, etc).  You can expect 5 races ( 3 playable) and because of this, I need to design 5 different types of houses, shops, and such so that may take a while. I am mostly excited for that step because I really feel thats when the game will start to get its character.

I live streamed a couple of times on Twitch this last week as a test, but I should be doing it more often now that I’ve figured it out, so expect streams to happen more frequently in the coming months.

Slowly but surely it is coming together. What zone was your favorite? Comment below!

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Origin Story Dev Blog 002: Oh the Foliage

Ferns, oaks, sticks, grass, logs, bushes, you name it! This last week the continent of Adagio started getting plant life.

For reference, the first continent in the game is named “Adagio”.

Now what you’re not seeing is that I also added 2 new zones to the map, why? BECAUSE MOAR IS BETTER…or something. I want to bring a full and diverse world to you the players, and to do that I needed to add a little extra land.

Back to plant life. I was able to get the first two zones (newb island, and the next zone to it) populated with all sorts of plant life, but what really brought the world to life so far was animating it, having the plant life flow in the wind has really helped bring the world a bit of life. I also added in random rocks and debris.  8 flowing, majestic waterfalls were also introduced to the world and I fixed the lakes/streams feeding them to flow appropriately as well.

Waterfall implementation before foliage!

This week I will be populating the rest of the world with foliage (only 13 more zones to go!). It may take me longer than a week to get it all in (currently working 5-6 hours a day on this AFTER my day job), but even so I’ll still write an update / post screenshots of the progress next week.

I have 14 different kinds of trees, 12 different kinds of grass, 10 different kinds of flowers, 8 different kinds of mushrooms and 12 different kinds of bushes to create a bunch of unique environments.  I think the man made items  are what will really set this world apart from the rest. I have to hand create all of those things in Blender still which will take some time, but most of it is buildings, they are just squares right? Whats so hard about them *rolls eyes*. Until the next update! I may end up doing a GB live Dev stream this week as well.

I’ll keep you posted!

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Origin Story Dev Blog 001: The Beginning!

We here at Game Borough are more than just a site for tutorials and the latest news in indie games. We actually develop our own games as well! Our first title release (currently in very early development) is Origin Story. Origin Story will be an MMO, but not your typical WoW clone.

Origin Story? Tell Us More!

To start, this game will be brutal. Have you played Dark Souls? That’s how hard we want enemy encounters to be. Why? Because we want our player base to hate us! Just kidding, it’s actually because we want there to be more sense of accomplishment within MMO’s.

Most MMO’s that are out on the market currently focus on one important concept, the level grind. Day in, day out, slaying of mobs in order to level up to max, so that you can get into the “end game” content. We want to do away with that, and create a world where adventuring out into the unknown, is just as important as honing your skills. We want to implement a different kind of leveling, one in which is not a grind and isn’t a prerequisite to end game content.

Another thing that a lot of MMO’s do is simple targeting. You can click on a mob, hit your frost bolt spell, and no matter what, the frost bolt will hit its target. THIS IS LAZY. We feel that if you are truly skilled, then you should have to aim that spell. This is where the skill cap is getting raised.

Most MMO’s are currently moving towards a structure where you grind out the same piece of gear, over and over, just to get better stats on it. This is also extremely lazy on the development end and makes owning a specific set of armor seem meaningless. I understand that creating hundreds, if not thousands of armors and weapons is tedious and takes a lot of resources, but it’s an integral part of developing a diverse world. For that, we want the armor you are wearing to mean something. Do you remember vanilla World of Warcraft? You’d waltz into Stormwind, or any other major city and see that one guy, who had all the Naxx (level 60 Naxx was VERY hard) gear and just be in awe of how awesome they were. Gear meant something, not just the stats, but in social status. We want that again.

How Did Development Start?

The game itself started in humble beginnings, much like we are now with Game Borough. Development started in the Construct 2 engine. It was HTML based so that we could release it through browser, allowing us to widen the demographic that would be able to play the game.

2D development is tedious, every animation has to be done frame by frame, pixel by pixel. I put together an entire zone that took about 10 minutes to run through and featured castle ruins, 2 towns, random spawning birds and bugs, a day/night system and more, all on the HTML platform. Things were looking great. We were very satisfied with how the game was turning out, but we started to hit a wall.

This wall was the limitations of the engine we were using. For starters, It was extremely difficult to set up server-side systems. Implementing “instances” for multiple people to play on at once was definitely doable, but hard to achieve correctly. Somehow, we were also running into a game speed issue. The code in the game was getting so complex that the game itself started running SUPER slow. This was due to the fact that “on every tick” the system had to account for the position of every 2D object. When you have 2k+ objects in one level, this starts to get increasingly difficult for the engine to keep up with. Sure, there are ways that you can low the memory usage by making it so that things only spawn when you are close to them, but that limits the multiplayer capability quite a bit.

Now don’t get me wrong, Construct is a great engine if you are looking to create 2D mobile games or simple HTML browser games. It’s very powerful for projects that are more simple in design. However, because of the wall we were hitting, we decided to drop 2D development, and move to 3D. That’s when we started working in the Unreal 4 Engine.

The Unreal 4 Engine

Now you may be asking yourself “but why? You were so far in the 2D development process, why give up on it now?”. To clarify, we only gave up on the 2D engine itself. The game, the items, and concepts behind it, are some of the easier parts to code in. We knew that if we were ever going to make the jump to a 3D platform, it should be now. You see, none of us have ever developed a game in 3D, or Unreal for that matter. So this is a big step. We chose the Unreal Engine because of its capability for a beginner learning the engine.

The first couple of weeks were tedious and downright frustrating. The difference between developing 2D and 3D are night and day different (obviously visually, but I mean in the process). Once I got through those first weeks, I got to a point where I was able to sculpt out an island in the middle of an ocean with crappy premade textures that came with the engine. The poly count was so high that it looked semi-realistic, but hey, I had an atmosphere, I had a basic concept of lighting, and I understood how to add foliage, trees, as well as other objects. This is when I made the leap to start pushing towards the development of what I envisioned Origin Story to be. I felt comfortable.

Even though I do not have the technical know how to really push as hard as I want on this game, I have one trick up my sleeve that will allow me to complete it. My overall will to learn and create. I’ve been learning and developing games since I was around 14 years old, and lack of knowledge or understanding is not something that will stop me.

I’m nearly 60 Hours into the 3D environment development and have so much more to go. But, progress is progress and I plan to share all of that with you guys as I go along. I’ve managed to develop a day/night cycle, and sculpt out an entire continent, most of which is textured.

Whats Next?

After I complete the overall texturing of the continent, I am getting all of the water elements in place (lakes, waterfalls, rivers and more). After that, I will be moving on to grass, trees, bushes, buildings, fences, and whatever else you can find in Adagio (The name of the continent).

What’s in Store for the Future of Origin Story?

Moving forward these dev blogs probably won’t be this long or as thought out, but I still plan on writing one, once a week. This is both to inform you guys of where we are at with development, as well as keep me in check. If I have a goal to show you where I am at weekly, then I will be driven to deliver.

Here are some of the things we will be focusing on:

  • Unique Character Development – We are bringing a new concept to MMOs in the character development side that we really haven’t seen. We will dive more into it later, but Origin Story will not have your typical class creation system for your character (I.E. Choice between warrior, druid, mage, etc). On top of that, there will be 3 races to choose from, these are the 3 races that inhabit the continent of Adagio.
  • Unique Questing System – We feel that questing systems in modern day MMO’s hold your hands too much. Where is the sense of exploration? Where is the communication? We want people to really have a sense of their surroundings in order to complete tasks, no more watching the minimap to know where EXACTLY to go.
  • 5-man Dungeons – At launch, we want 6-8 unique dungeons for your team to explore and conquer.
  • 10-man Raids – We feel that 10 people is “the sweet spot” from our experiences raiding in the past, in several different games. Communication will be vital for your success in the raids we implement, there will be 2 to start.
  • World Bosses – We want world bosses to always be on the move. They will not be in one location and have a chance to spawn in any zone (excluding the starting zone). On top of that, you’ll need much more than a 10 man group to take them down. Because of this, you won’t need to be in a raid to benefit from killing the world bosses. Everyone will be able to participate, regardless.
  • Player Vs. Player – We will be launching with 3 unique battlegrounds for you to cue up and play against each other. You’ll be able to earn armor that is better for PvP than raiding (on the flip side, raid gear won’t be worthless in PvP but you’ll be much better off developing your PvP set. Raid gear will still be vital for progression in the PvE environments).
  • Plus much more to come!

It may seem like we are alienating our player base by making the game too difficult for all to play, but that’s not the case at all. It won’t be impossible, we just want real skill to come into play, and not just how much free time someone has.

One thing you’ll also never have to worry about: Pay to win. We promise this game will never be pay to win. Every time we come across a game that was clearly made for profit, we cringe and then die a little inside. We may end up putting up an item store for things that do not affect gameplay (mounts, pets etc) but never for armor, weapons or extra spells that make your character overpowered.

Moving Forward

We want you all along for the ride. The ups, downs and everything in between. Because of this, we will be posting about Origin Story weekly, ever new implementation, where we are at, and what to expect from it. We don’t want to delve into the storyline too much or the class system, though you’ll get a sneak

We want you all along for the ride. The ups, downs and everything in between. Because of this, we will be posting about Origin Story weekly, every new implementation, where we are at, and what to expect from it. We don’t want to delve into the storyline too much or the class system, though you’ll get a sneak peek from time to time (gotta keep some things secret!).

If you took the time to read this, thank you. I hope you are looking forward to Origin Story as much as we are! More to come next week.

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