SITREP - Week 2, 2014
published Monday, 30 June 2014, 00:00 by ZPSPhyrefli
It's been a busy week as we continue the exciting work of bringing coop to life in Interstellar Marines.
The new SITREP is an ongoing progress report where we publicly talk about what we've recently been working on, and what we're aiming to achieve over the next few weeks.
Work is carrying on at a blistering pace on Project Coop, helped by the addition of 3 interns from The Game Assembly; Marcus, Andre and Nikolas. The rest of the team has also been making huge headway on the update, and at the end of the week we held our first, basic, coop test. Awesome stuff!
An awesome update needs an awesome update video, and Jonas has taken over from myself to do something really special for the Project Coop video. He's created an audio mood board, and has been working on the skeleton of the video. Once that's in place the creative juices flow easily. He is a little impeded as the update is still in full development swing, which makes it tough to get all the footage he needs, so he's also worked on the producer video this week which you can see towards the end of of this SITREP.
Producing a video involves deciding what the format will be, setting up the equipment and doing the recording, ensuring the people involved know what they're doing, providing encouragement, advice and guidance where needed, editing the footage and ensuring the whole package is up to ZPS standards.
Marcus, Nikolas (NikoGrandin) and Andre
This week saw the arrival of three interns from The Game Assembly. The first task we asked them to look at was to create a simple VOIP solution in lieu of the future RTVP. Personally I had not expected to see any progress at all for at least two weeks - I'm very glad to have been proven wrong!
We have two options for VOIP: the first is to use Steam's SDK for a VOIP implementation. That's relatively easy, but requires getting to know Steam's SDK and integrating that into Interstellar Marines in a more advanced way than we already have. The second is a plugin called DFVoice, and we've been kindly allowed to take part in their closed beta.
We've run with DFVoice as the first option for VOIP, and the interns - or Team Gamma as they're now called - created an early test version within only two days. By the end of the week they had a full test version up and running, including the ability to individually mute players, and released a test version for the ITO Test Division to provide feedback on over the weekend. Once the final version is done and integrated with the game, and their code has been properly reviewed by either Miki or Benjamin, we'll release it as a Spearhead test update, and about a week later as an update to the full community.
The community is incredibly important to us - in fact it's the reason I'm sat here writing this SITREP right now - and Carsten has been busy looking after the community and doing post-E3 follow ups. E3 in particular was a great time for meeting the press and making lots of new contacts. Just what ever you do, do not ask Carsten about the flight home!
Most weeks Carsten does a European and US community event which everyone is invited to attend. They're a chance to play with the devs, get to know fellow players and generally socialise around Interstellar Marines. Check the forums for dates and info and please take part if you can.
Normally a very quiet member of the team, Daniel is working with us on a temporary basis for 13 weeks in total until the end of August. Daniel has been working massively hard over the past several weeks creating and texturing environmental assets from scratch for Project Coop, and is now working on importing assets and props from the original publisher demo into Unity. This requires a lot of work, not least of which is setting up a filing system to handle so many assets in a logical way.
The old Unreal assets are in a Maya format. So they have to be converted into fbx files which are then imported into MAX and checked to ensure their coordinates and scale are correct. After that they can then be imported into Unity. As these assets are old, Daniel will likely have to re-touch some of them as well as re-texture in several cases. It's arduous work, but Daniel has been working with 3D for 10 years and has his pipeline working flawlessly.
The fourth member of Team Gamma is Keavon. He has travelled all the way from the US to be with us for 10 days as an intern and is currently assisting Daniel on the asset pipeline to port environmental assets from the old publisher demo to Unity.
Keavon has long been a fan of Interstellar Marines and has an almost eidetic memory, so is able to remember many things that have been mentioned over the years. He's a walking, talking Interstellar Marines wiki and a great source of knowledge on the forums. It's really incredible for us to think someone has travelled such a long way to spend some time with us - so Keavon, thank you for being AWESOME!
Quite often in the middle of large updates the team hits a peak and naturally starts to lose a little momentum. The quick initial progress slows down as the real hard work takes over. This changes as we reach the end of an update and move from development to bug fixing and polishing. At that point we're testing an almost finished update, rather than looking at code or building a level, and things move along speedily.
To keep our energy levels high I organised a small meeting on Tuesday. We all piled into a meeting room for an hour so each team member could spend a few minutes explaining to the team what they had been working on and how that will work in Project Coop.
Ronnie presented his CTR and Defective animations, Benjamin talked about the game mode and scripts he's designed, Miki explained about the AI and how he's adding sensors and behaviour to it, and Jonas demoed his mood boards and talked about the video he's creating. Finally we had Kim, who showed us the work he and Jess have been doing and how that brings together all the various aspects all the team members have been working on. It was great for everyone to get that sense of knowing where their own special contributions are going and to see the overall picture.
Last weekend we also had several clan matches, and we've started a YouTube playlist to record them for the future. If you're a member of a clan with at least 5 regular players, get in touch with me and I'll add you to the competitive list.
On Thursday we had a BBQ at the office to welcome Team Gamma and Keavon to ZPS. Please click here to see all the photos.
That's it for SITREP Week 2. As ever please let me have your feedback and ideas on how things can be improved!
FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME,
Paul (Phyrefli) & the team at Zero Point Software