We are at a challenging point in the project as we are about to move from the pre-production and prototyping phase onto settling on finalized mechanics and art style. We decided to build the game in layers, one mechanic at a time; keeping our options open until each previous element is completed. We are moving along a critical path and the process has slowed down until important design decisions have been made. We agreed early on that the first order of business is the movement mechanic, which is what the player is first introduced to and uses throughout the game.
We have been editing the script for the Manta vehicle to alter the specs so it feels more aquatic. We have also attached the camera to the manta for a first person view which has given a different and important change in perspective to the game.
We have made a sand box level with different environments for testing the movement of the Manta. Each environment section has been built into separate modules so they can be arranged in any order or as a linear track.
Finding the right specs for the Manta movement is a matter of testing it over and over again in different terrain.
Once we have the movement nailed we can determine the size and detail of assets and levels. When we have fine-tuned the vehicle we can determine the genre and other gameplay elements to do next. For this reason it is vital that the designers keep play-testing the Manta specs to see what works best for different purposes.
Each artist is currently focusing on a different aspect:
– Ben Armstrong has created a plane wreck and is now doing the modular flat rocks that we use as the base for the level block outs.
– Dan Taylor Jones is creating the playable submarine mesh – It needs to be tested with a camera inside looking out.
– Lee Parkes has already completed a shark and is continuing by creating feature creatures required for the animators and creating in-game shaders to create water materials & see-through creatures.
– Paul Hutchinson is focusing on the underwater atmosphere such as post-process, particles & emissive vegetation.
– Simon Went has completed several concept pieces and is currently creating a ship wreck mesh.
= Artists should test their assets in the default underwater map to see how they appear with all the post process effects etc.
= They should also move around them with the edited Manta to determine a suitable level of detail, contrast and brightness.
= The detail level of the assets should take into account the speeds of and distances from the player.
Since the animators are short of creatures they are doing a variety of jobs:
– Dave Sarkisjan is producing a variety of behaviours and animation loops for the shark.
– Richard Tongeman is focusing on shoals of fish through simple meshes and particle effects.
– Will Harrison will be working on the Stingray once the mesh is done.
= The ambient sea creatures should be created with the 3 distances in mind for mesh, texture, and animation fidelity.
The two programmers have been getting to grasps with Unreal Script:
– Michael Charge is working with the Manta and player movement.
– Sean Chapman is creating the flash-light mechanic and prototyping various gameplay elements like resources and boosts.
= We need to decide whether to create the submarine as a vehicle or a player.
= A Vehicle is more customizable for movement, while a Player seems more suitable for other gameplay elements.