Load/Save has taken longer than expected to develop. Were this a shoot-em-up game it'd be fairly easy to write, but with complex relationships between objects and some with animation states that change over time ( wheat, saw benches etc ), that creates a lot of areas where bugs can be introduced, and a lot of scenarios that need testing. Load/Save definitely isn't a feature that we can release half-assed. It needs to be robust or it will result in a lot of support posts in the forums.
In the video above you'll see that we are very close to being finished. There is one minor corner we can cut to get the patch out sooner: to load a game you'll currently have to start the tutorial, and then load a saved game. In time we'll add the option to the main menu screen as you would expect.
Location Editor / Tower Defense Mini-Game
In parallel to Load/Save, we've been progressing the Location Editor by developing the City Walls System. It's the precursor to players being able to quickly plot out where they want Villagers to construct walls in the Sandbox Tower Defense Mini-Game.
We've added edge docking to the UI windows, and new icons for kit pieces. The previous icons were renders of world tiles, and the textures made them visually hard to identify, causing us to pause before choosing the correct tiles ( see the Before and After images in the top right of the image below ).
To help readability ( being able to identify not only shape, but height changes ), we've swapped from renders to illustrations and included additional visual information. Height Guides help identify whether a piece will height-match with other pieces you are working with, or when a slope changes from half-height to full-height.
The thumbs look blocky as currently do the real-world terrain tiles. Given time the real-world tiles will evolve to be smoother, allowing us to recreate much of the look of the Tutorial. We're considering introducing a quarter-height set of tiles for more gradual inclines. The only issue is that with every set of height tiles ( full, half, quarter ), the number of permutations expands exponentially. Thankfully a lot of tiles can be re-textured for snow/lava/grass/desert/swamp variations, cutting down production time.
Following up on Dev Blog 10 we've made some fantastic progress with character customization. The character system is now capable of customizing appearances in real-time, and transferring over a character's appearance as you train them in different occupations. The time of bald beardless male villagers magically transforming into bearded woodcutter's with a full head of hair are nearing an end.
What's not quite ready for sharing is the incredible work our Animator has done on real-time deformation of head geometry. In a nutshell this brings a huge amount of customization to just a single head. Fat face, thin face, heavy brow, fat/thin/long/short/pig noses, high/low cheek bones, broad/narrow chin. It's all in there, and all part of our Universal Skeleton system meaning we can play any human animation on any human character. Hopefully I'll be able to share the entire system in a few blogs time once load/save is shipped.
Art Assets: Butchery
I shared the concept art for the Butchery back in Dev Blog 10, and it spurred community debate on whether the meat cleaver wedged into the roof was a step too far. The reasoning behind the styling is that much like the antlers in the Hunting Lodge, the cleaver helps players quickly identify a building's function. Understandably, the illustrative style of the pre-production sketches does make it look very cartoony, but when realized in 3D some of that cartoony feel gets lost. If you've been following the dev blogs, how do you feel now we've finished making a few of the buildings? Please share your thoughts with us over in the Forum.
I've been keenly following the development of the quadruped animations through pure excitement. Back in Dev Blog 11 I shared an early wireframe visual in of the horse. The same skeleton that drives the horse is re-targeted to the deer, which has it's own set of animations. The deer is stalked by the crossbow-wielding Hunter specialist. Here I've simulated a likely scene where the deer becomes alert, starts to flee, and then is hit by the Hunter's bolt.
Our Concept Artist has taken a breather from pre-production visuals to illustrate more inventory icons. We've got a selection of Witch/Warlock items ( Voodoo Doll, Hex Bag, Crooked Wand ), crafting recipes ( Enchanting, Workshop, Blacksmith, Apothecary ), Fishing ( Fish, Cast Net, Fishing Pole, Salmon Steak ), Natural Resources ( Grapes, Wine, Cotton, Bolt, Straw, Lizard Patty, Steak, Sausages, Manure, Night Water ) and Potions ( Nerve Toxin, Deadly Nightshade as well Small / Medium / Large variations of Goo Potions for the Goo Traps ).
Thanks to a continued influx of new players, at the start of the month we were able to start the search for two new artists to join the team. After evaluating applications, we're pleased to have Devin join us as an Environment Artist, and Allan as a Character Artist.
Devin will be developing the existing biomes from the tutorial and creating new ones not yet seen. His first task will be to expand the lava area of The Old Forge into an Editor Kit ( required to migrate the Tutorial across to Sandbox Tech ), and then build the lava caverns and Dwarven city found beneath.
Allan will predominantly focus on monsters. We've started a new topic in the forum asking for your favorite cannon-fodder type creatures, and ultimate end-level style bosses. If you have five minutes to spare, we'd really appreciate your input. We'll be collating all the feedback and creating the favorites.