In the last six weeks we've completed the assets for all the playable zones in the demo map and in doing so reached the point at which momentum begins to grow exponentially. The final tasks on the to do list can now be started, all of which run in parallel. So from here on in, it's the big push before testing.
Goblin SwampAn early version of the swamp featured in screenshots some 18 months ago as the first exploration zone to be built outside of the human village. As the months progressed, the Art Team worked their way around the entire map, modelling and hand-painting five more zones. Welcoming in 2013 having completed the enormous task of designing 7 zones for demo, we arrived full circle back with the swamp, which now looked dated and artistically inconsistent. We could have left it for demo, but that didn't feel right, so we made the decision to completely rebuild it:
The swamp is the final zone in the mini-campaign designed specifically for the demo, where Slavemaster Urzal and his bodyguards hold your villagers captive in the ruins of an ancient civilization. The goblin nation is developing along a path that will see them become an AI-driven enemy nation, with the eventual goal to make them a playable race, most probably as DLC. As such, we've expanded the goblin character roster beyond the military, and introduced occupational characters to help bring the zone to life.
Cut ScenesWith the completion of the swamp art assets, we've ticked off the largest task on the project, and the Art Team are now polishing and optimizing what we have. For example, in a push to improve the visual quality of the cut scenes, the goblins featuring in close-ups are having their now quite old textures over-painted and at a higher resolution. We are also stripping cutout alpha from the character shader, so previously transparent areas such as the tips of feathers need to be painted out. The cut scene animations have been complete for a few months now waiting on the swamp zone and Slavemaster Urzal's base in the Temple Ruins to be finished before going through their next iteration of refinement.
Throughout development we've been doing all the cut scenes in the engine. Now we're into the polishing phase, we're adding a number of post-effects including color correction and depth of field. The downside is that to achieve some of these enhanced visuals at a smooth frame rate in 1080p requires a decent gaming PC, turning them off on slower machines. So we're considering recording out the cut scenes using a top end gaming PC on ultra graphics settings, enabling everyone to enjoy the cut scenes looking their best. It's unlikely, but it is an option we are exploring.