Steam GreenlightWhat a difference a few months make. Let's kick off with some great news that thanks to an awesome community, Folk Tale made the second round of Steam Greenlight selections and was officially greenlit on October 15th. Folk Tale received over 160,000 unique visitors and was added to over 5,000 favourites. The whole experience has been wonderfully engrossing for the team and we look forward to working with Valve over the next year.
Voice ActingThroughout September we received a number of comments regarding the use of a single actor for all the voice roles in WIP Update 5. With the message heard loud and clear we responded by auditioning 22 voice actors, selecting 11 kind and talented individuals to work with on a collaboration basis. The voice script at the time covered cut scenes and tutorials, and each character needed expanding to include all the in-game commentary. Some of the one-liners that came back could well become memorable catchphrases.
Administering, editing, mastering, slicing, importing and integrating all those phrases nearly drove me insane, but what it adds to Folk Tale makes it all worth while.
Tom has been hard at work moving the cut scene animations forward. We knew for a small indie team including cut scenes was a huge ask which is why you usually don't see cut scenes in small indie titles, and to no surprise it is incredibly time consuming. Once the demo is released, chances are we'll de-prioritize them and focus exclusively on game play elements such as multiplayer, returning to cut scenes towards the end of development. Ben completed the Dwarven forge around the lava zone, which we finished with a couple of Dwarven ghosts, massacred by a crazed Golem that whirs around the area channeling arcs of electrical energy from its fists.
Fog Of WarFog Of War is finally in. We still need to fog over the minimap, but the visual effect in the game world is complete and blends nicely as the player moves through the different ambient lighting zones. We achieved the look through desaturation and color tinting, with the tint driven by the Ambience Zone Manager.
Programming and OptimizationFor eighteen months we've been using a single large terrain with something like 28 textures for level featured in the demo. Unfortunately every 4 textures requires the entire terrain to be drawn once, plus a shadow pass. Given the terrain often fills the entire screen, that's the entire screen needlessly drawn 7 times just for textures. The solution is of course to break it into smaller chunks using 8 textures per chunk. This will have a huge impact on fill rate which we started to be bound by. Provisional tests identified a 150% frame rate improvement on older GPUs. We've also introduced lighting quality which at lower levels prevents point lights from lighting the terrain, further reducing the burden. Real-time shadows on point lights are reserved only for those with super-fast gaming PCs. We continue to stick to our design goal of making Folk Tale run on lower spec machines, while giving those at the higher end a visually awesome experience.
We took a peak at the Unity 4.0 beta to run a test migration from our 3.5.6 project. A few minor code tweaks and we were up and running, so hopefully we'll soon be able to add internal Linux builds.
As for actual coding, many areas of the code have been rewritten including the audio manager to better manage streaming and voice acting. Essential game play elements such as combat continue to receive a lot of attention because the shear complexity results in more bugs. A global compendium and taxonomy has introduced shared enum classification across all game objects improving code quality, and the class pool manager picks up where the scope of the object pool ends to work around the annoyingly crap garbage collection in Mono 2.6 that in our opinion continues to be Unity's Achilles Heel.
UIIn WIP Update 5 we revealed an early prototype of the heavier UI. That wasn't the big hit we had hoped for, so being the responsive indie team that we are, that's booted out, and we're working on a lightweight UI. UI continues to be boring gray placeholders for testing layout. At some point it will receive a paint job.
AudioThanks to an introduction from our previous sound designer Roland, we've welcomed Joe to the fold. Joe has been hard at work visiting local gyms and junk yards with his microphone sourcing weapon impact sounds. The first batch of impacts were delivered shortly before the video was made, but you can hear a number in action during the combat scenes.
Oskari has started work on the tavern and human monastery ambient music tracks. Early versions of both are used in the video, and give Folk Tale a touch of the medieval.