"We want to show you some of the incredible work that goes on under the hood"

This Dev Blog marks a change in the way we’ll be doing our blogs for a while. The whole team is extremely busy as we knuckle down and head for our first deadline, and no-one on the “factory floor” (i.e. artists, coders, designers – the people actually making the game) can afford to take time away to write down what they’re doing: they just need to do it! So for the next wee while, I, your friendly neighbourhood Managing Director, will be writing up our team progress as reported in our fortnightly review and retrospective meetings. That said, if someone has something cool they want to talk about, that will take precedence! So you won’t only be hearing from me. <phew>

I’ll also be starting to post images and (hopefully) gifs which will show you some of our work in progress. Make sure to bear in mind that what you see here in these blogs will not be what you’ll see on the screen when you play our game. We want to show you some of the incredible work that goes on under the hood to make a game seamless and intuitive.

  • Mereana has been our unofficial UI designer for a while now, so we’ve made it official (you can see her new title here!). She and Sam have been working together on making the tutorial functional, so the right things pop up to tell you to do the right things at the right time. 
  • Meanwhile Emily is beavering away at writing the actual content of the tutorial: one of those jobs that’s more difficult than it sounds. Accurate, succinct and flavourful! Helpful but not intrusive! It’s a challenge to balance. 
  • Tom and Isaac, with our contracted 3D artist Rafał, have been working together on making Kewa look AMAZING in game. How does a giant, planet-sized creature have hexagon-scaled skin? Something like this (but BIGGER):
The Organ Pipes basalt columns on Mt Cargill (Kapukataumahaka), Dunedin.
This is what real game art documentation looks like, folks.

Texturing Kewa properly has been a lot of work! Tom described a sudden moment of insight: Kewa is HUGE, so that changes the way he needs to think about the scale of the textures.

Isaac made a tool, a bit like a “brush” in Photoshop, which painted a variety of colours of hexagons in a random-ish pattern. However, while it looked good up close, it wasn’t very satisfying at longer zoom distances. An additional tool “projects” texture onto the surface map and can be scaled depending on distance. This allows layering of multiple textures at different LODs, meaning that it’s a win for both optimisation and aesthetics.

  • Isaac has also been working on the Peeps pathfinding! I’m looking forward to posting videos of the little guys apparently teleporting up cliffs.
We’ve discussed having a little animation where the Peep takes a map out of their pocket and a question mark pops up above their head when you tell them to go somewhere really complicated.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s going through a Peep’s mind when you tell them to go someplace… now you know! This gif shows three peeps pathfinding to demolish a few trees. Each peep checks for the best exit in the direction of the end tile of their current cluster (i.e. all the connected tiles at the same level) then sends a request to the section pathfinder to path within the cluster to calculate the actual path from their current tile to the exit. Then from the tile on the other side of the exit they do that all again until they find the cluster with the end tile. You can see in the gif they get to a few dead ends before ending up going around the hill.

The pathfinding changes Isaac has been making allow peeps to go up single level steps without a ramp or elevator, which we think will be a very exciting innovation to friends of the old game!

  • And finally, Nina has made a start on some external (but still friends & family only) playtesting! Trends are starting to appear, but it’s far too early to report on any of that yet. We need to take the data, and the conclusions, and have a good ol think about it all. 

In the background, Sarah is keeping the ship upright and sailing, with a massive amount of work going into planning the milestones ahead. At the same time she’s been staying on top of Tiktok trends, as always, and finding new amusing ways to embarrass the boss. I’ve been organising an office gathering, where our remote workers will be joining us in Dunedin for the upcoming Festival of Interactive Storytelling over one weekend in May. I’m looking forward to having more to update you all on about that, but in the meantime we’re proud that Emily is one of the guest speakers, along with Lisa from Atawhai Interactive next door. South D represent! 😀 

Catch you all next time. Don’t forget to wishlist the game or sign up for our newsletter for the freshest news!

Kewa says ka kite ano (see you later)!