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jooni

Development Diary #3

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Development Diary #3

Hi there everyone!

 

I’ve got some changes that we’ve got from October wrapped up into a devblog. We’ll be trying out a new Devblog style and we’ll also be doing them every two weeks rather than every month. We’re also going to be hopefully shifting towards a weekly development update with either a vlog or a blog.

 

 

Gameplay Overhaul

I’ve been rewriting huge portions of the game that were originally protoyped in Blueprint into C++ this started with the Inventory a few months ago but has now evolved into every system being completely rewritten. It is much faster to write code in C++, file organization and logic flow is overall a lot easier to comprehend, it’s also much harder to break.

I’ve also introduced a new headbob that is a lot smoother than our previous one. It also feels a lot better, a lot of things we put focus into in Dead Matter is the general feel of things. We would rather have movement based off a first-person perspective then build up realistic and good feeling elements rather than slam a first-person camera onto a third person pawn.

I’m also working on adding new features to our procedural generation system. Currently we read a lot of real world data and our game makes decisions on where to place stuff based on that, we then control individual modules and then add in additional details afterwards to add additional atmosphere to the world. I’ve also begun the process of completely overhauling the building generation, this is a rather tricky one to tackle but I wanted to make sure that it was better than the primitive generation we initially used for the buildings shown in the Kickstarter videos.

The largest benefit to placing our roads, suburban neighborhoods and even entire hamlets almost entirely automatically is that we can very easily re-use the placement data for the metagame system.

 

 

Faction Concepts

One of the features we haven’t discussed in too much detail is the factions portion of the metagame. Loads of the metagame could be easily equated to numbers on an excel spreadsheet but the way that the data flows and how the player witnesses it flowing, and how players can impact it is where the meat and potatoes of the complexity lie.

I’ve asked for some generic factions to be conceptualized and I’ve got some information from @vitka regarding that.

Before getting into the meat and bones of this part of the update, I'd like to take a brief moment to discuss what preproduction artwork is and isn't.

Preproduction work is meant to be fast, loose, and messy, as it is the ideation period before a concept is set in stone and finalized. The goal during preproduction is to end up with a product that communicates a clear visual idea, or evokes a certain feeling. Typically, there is not a lot of time dedicated to rendering these pieces. More complicated details are worked into pieces during the production stage, or for promotional art, which (unfortunately) is typically what one would think of when thinking about concept art.

 

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Personally, the most important thing to me as an artist is communicating a very clear shape in a design. Threat identification from a distance is a crucial aspect of an enemy AI's design, because of how the identification can alter the player's response. Does the player engage the enemy, or run away? Giving the player forewarning about a particular enemy or even causing an emotional response, such as fear, are the hallmarks of a good enemy design.



For these bandits, three candidates for further development have been chosen. I wanted to maintain an overall bulky sort of look to their figures, as they would be scavengers roaming from area to area hauling things. In further development of these designs, the plan is to add a lot of asymmetrical details to emphasize their scavenging nature.

 

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As for the cannibals, this is a small snapshot of their current design direction. This enemy type has been particularly difficult for me to work with, despite the clear direction they've taken: adding too much bulk to their frame weighs them down too much in an unattractive fashion, but adding too little bulk makes them look unfit for their role.

 

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In the upcoming month, I hope to show off some more completed character sheets alongside environment art.

 

There’s also more concept work that was done by @Kurisil

 

When working on rough concepts for the cannibals I like to do quick blockouts to establish a silhouette and play around with different designs but keeping a common functionality between all of them. Such as gloves to keep the blood off the NPC’s hands and bulky tool belts to carry around tools for on the fly dismantling. The idea is to nail down a decent design that carries a good silhouette before moving on to more polished rendering for modeling later down the line.

 

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With designing the props the main idea is to have a few identifiable assets that would be associated with a specific factions so that you knew which faction’s hideout you were in. As such you probably wouldn’t find bloodied coolers in a Bandit’s hideout or storage units in a Cannibal’s hideout.

 

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For the actual environment I wanted it to be a very small hideout for the cannibals, almost claustrophobic with run down shacks and a general dirty living space.

 

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Doing concept art helps establish stepping stones for promotional art later down the line which will eventually be turned into in game assets.

 

Weapons

We’ve now gotten some more weapons in the game and will be removing all placeholder weapons currently left in the files. This is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time and thanks to the Kickstarter and your continued support we will now be able to do so. Here’s a look at some of the weapon variants that’s been worked on over October, if you love the M14 this is definitely up your alley.

 

 

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We also didn’t forget about the attachments, you can get a glimpse of the M14 Attachments here (besides the alternate body styles, of course.)

 

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Weather Effects

@Yad

will be giving us some information on updates he did to the materials/weather system.

 

A lot more work was done to refine the weather effects on materials. Translucent materials such as glass now change values based on the snowiness or wetness factor. Now, the water droplets are static, and likely will remain that way. However, an animated version is in the works for vehicle windshields.

 

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As @jooniimproved the spline mesh actor to place clutter props, I spent some time creating much needed road wear decals. These can be placed procedurally if specified, and give the roadway a more degraded look. There's more work to be done but a few of the things we already have are potholes, steel road plates, and crack sealant.

 

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On top of this, I've also been busy on overhauling the materials for sidewalks, curbs, and roadways. I went over our existing materials for sidewalks and noticed that they could use some work so I went ahead and ramped up the material for our sidewalk mesh set and made some additions where we felt were necessary.

 

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As I mentioned on our Discord, a lot of our core visual foundation has been finalized, we are now focusing on delivering more content-heavy updates. This is where we continue to take the groundwork laid out through our weather effects and master materials and maximize their potential.

 

 

Firewatch Tower

One of our new artists @Nomad has taken up the task of creating a firewatch tower. These will be one of the few buildings in Dead Matter to have a static mesh and not be driven by procedural generation algorithms. He’s gotten quite a bit of work done but keep in mind some of the Materials aren’t fully realized and will be replaced soon. (He also had roughly a week so don't bully him too much.)

 

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Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed our third development update, we’ll be having these come by a bit more often as mentioned before. We hope to have our first development vlog soon on YouTube.

We unfortunately did hit a few roadblocks this month and we’re still looking at a Q1 Closed Alpha however this may become subject to change. We want to do things right, we understand the scale and what the Closed Alpha will be containing however we need to ensure we're not creating more work for ourselves in the future even if that means we have to spend more time now.

Also another thing to mention is that we’re currently working on a system for people to support us and get into the stages of testing that will come after the Closed Alpha test. We will announce more information on this in the future.

I would like to extend a thank you to all of our backers and our community, on behalf of everyone working on Dead Matter, all of us extremely grateful for all of the support thus far.

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Very Nice and very exciting! Great job! Can't wait to see what else is to come if its already looking this good! I can already see how the fire watch tower will be a great look out but also everyone you don't see might see you.

 

P.S. First! :D

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Great update, can’t wait for some Vlogs also That gas station looks awesome gets me very excited to see what’s to come. 

Edited by Amerak

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Development Diary #3

 

The more you post the more I can't wait to play, I like the weapon design and the environment details. That gas station looks beautiful, and the weather effects incredible. 

 

Looking forward to more, great work @jooni. and the developers. 

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Hells yea, looking amazing. I'm honestly surprised at how far things have come along in such a short time. Man when I told the devs "you got this" cheering them on I was trying to be a bit inspirational. Today they blew me away with the progress update, they definitely got this <3  Keep up the amazing work everyone. Are those pot leaves on the smaller signs on the gas stations? ;) Definitely don't look as maple as the others hehe:P

Edited by Pooter

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I just want to reply about the cannibals looks, I personally think those are great iterations of what you guys are trying to do. BUT, I wouldn't worry about them having TOO much armor and such. Personally I like when cannibals are less clothed and seem almost homeless. Lower grade weapons and a strong capability of taking out people with guns using their strength and speed. Somewhat like " The Forest ". The cannibals could be more like this with a bit of bone armor and pants, but be more ragged.Related image

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Everything is looking amazing. I seriously thought the gas station pics were of a real gas station for a second. It's absolutely beautiful. Keep up the good work. 

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