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

January 5, 2018
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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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