SITREP - Week 5, 2014
published Tuesday, 19 Aug. 2014, 00:00 by ZPSPhyrefli
Just one short month left until we release Project Coop, and the team is working furiously to start to tie everything together.
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.
Briefing - week ending August 22nd, 2014
The pressure is building as we approach the release of Project Coop during the second half of September. It's a fine balancing act between being pumped up for what is probably going to be the biggest release we do for at least a year, and being realistic and understanding this is a first step and an early iteration of coop.
Added to that is the decision to create a special PAX Prime early coop demo to show to players and also the press. Bozar will be travelling to PAX to demo the, errr, demo and also to meet the press, so if you are visiting PAX please make sure to pass by the Alienware booth and say hi to him. All of this is creating a very exciting buzz around the office, but it's also a lot of different balls to juggle at one time.
(Kim and Jonas with an early version of the PAX Prime teaser.)
I've deliberately not posted too much about what Kim's been up to recently as he's neck-deep in the creation of Project Coop, and we want to keep as much of that a surprise as possible! This week though he's taken a little time out to start work on a teaser we're going to be releasing for PAX Prime (you can see Kim and Jonas in the picture working on an early version).
The overall level design for Project Coop is now almost complete, and most of the level design team have moved on to propping, lighting and the myriad other things that need to be done to flesh out a level. To give you a reference, Project Coop will take place in an area roughly 6 times the size of our largest multiplayer map, Evacuation. It's a huge area, and it's a lot of work to build that from scratch using almost all totally new modules and props.
Marcus is the only TGA intern so far who's not been interviewed, so I took this pic of him earlier this week to introduce him to you.
(Marcus hard at work on VOIP)
Unfortunately both Niko and Andre have been ill recently, so Marcus has had to take over the work they were doing. He's already completed our first step in dealing with hackers, and that will be brought out when we introduce Update 13. He's also added the ability to log game scores - a great addition for the competitive scene, and a very useful tool for Bozar.
Right now Marcus is busy finishing off the work Niko was doing on VOIP, so we can hopefully also introduce that into Update 13 as well. The basic functionality works, so now he is working to enhance that as much as possible as well as fixing a number of bugs. The final implementation of VOIP will not only help multiplayer, but will be critical for the success of Coop.
Thordis is our brand new, Icelandic, Marketing Manager. She joined us a couple of weeks ago and was put through some quite brutal "trade tests" to make sure she was the kind of action-oriented, initiative-taking person we were looking for. Thordis flew through those tests, and is now gradually taking the marketing reigns over on the run up to Project Coop's release. The recent Get Ready For Coop Facebook competition was run by her, and there will be a lot more like that coming in the future.
As Project Coop is such a large release for us, everything Thordis is doing focuses around that. It's no secret that all indie development companies have to watch their finances, and we're no different. A successful Project Coop launch will allow us to expand and bring in more people - so although she is still new to the company, and the industry, Thordis has a lot of weight on her shoulders to help make this a success.
(Hold on, how'd Jonas get into this picture as well???)
Working hard behind the scenes, Benjamin has had two primary responsibilities during this sprint. The first is to create all the scripts which power the coop mission. That means everything from simply opening a door, to being able to connect together a relatively intricate series of power boxes and related electrical items. This has all had to be done in such a way that level builders can drop them into a scene and immediately hook them together without any further coding. It's a lot harder than it sounds!
Benjamin's second responsibility is the coop gameplay loop i.e. the coding behind actually playing coop. That's also an intricate task as we've never created a coop gamemode before so there are a lot of things that need to be created from scratch.
It takes several iterations to be able to create scripts that marry to what level designers need, especially when the needs of level designers can change from time to time ;) What were originally going to be very simple have grown to be quite complex, and that's one of the things that has taken a lot of Benjamin's time.
The last thing Benjamin has been working on is a new mechanic which we're hopefully going to be demo'ing at PAX. Fingers crossed that will be ready in time!
(Benjamin deciding it's about time someone dealt with Jonas photobombing every pic!)
When Project Coop goes out we will have spent 4 months on it. That's a long, long time to spend on an update especially as we've averaged 4-6 weeks for earlier updates. But what we get - and in turn what the community will benefit from - out of this update is immeasurable.
All that coding Benjamin has done provides the building blocks for level builders to build interesting, creative, coop-based levels from now on. And not only that, it means we can relatively easily transfer that across to the multiplayer.
Miki's work on AI provides us with two types of AI (one for the guards and one for the afflicted). Miki's work also means we can take that AI and do different things with it; for example we could make it static and turn it into AI turrets, or enhance it and use it as a basis for Titan Walkers.
This update gives us such a large additional toolset to work with we're only now starting to realise just how much power it puts in our hands. Additional coop content will not require such massive lead times, because the tools are already constructed, so it becomes relatively easy for our level designers to release new levels. The big question then becomes - what should we release? ;)
Hope you enjoyed this SITREP - please let me know what you think!
FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME,
Paul (Phyrefli) & the team at Zero Point Software