We've had a super busy 2 week period.
Demo, Trailer and PSX:
In the week commencing Monday 28th November - we were heads down desperately trying to complete a new trailer to show at the PlayStation Experience in Anaheim, Los Angeles and polish up the first playable presentation of Boundless for PS4. Sounds easy? It wasn't. The effort it takes to shine a working game into a polished game is significant (bordering on insane).
Simply fitting Boundless with multiple open portals and hence loaded worlds in the fixed memory of a PS4 (which is shared between the CPU and GPU) is an example of the issues we needed to resolve.
We attempted to make the trailer and demo share the same presentation. The aim was to allow people at PSX to play the trailer live on PS4. We wanted to make sure it wasn't possible to claim that the trailer didn't reflect the status of the game. Whilst people were waiting for a spare machine to play on, they could watch others play or watch the trailer and get a similar experience.
The entire trailer was captured in game.
The original ambition was to actually have the PS4 demo connect to the live Boundless worlds and invite everyone in the community to experience the live demo together. "Come and inhabit the worlds we've put online for the trailer." After all it's an online game - and it should be presented as an online game. But we needed to abandon this idea once we started learning about the connection performance available to us at the event. (And it's a good thing we did!) In the end it was safer to simply connect the 4x PS4s to a mini-clone of the Boundless universe running locally. Players loved bumping into each other in the game - and obviously instantly started trying to grief each other.
We took our 2x designers @olliepurkiss and @luke-turbulenz to present the game, 1x hero programmer @dave to make sure it actually ran (and present), and myself to carry the bags.
The schedule was:
- Thursday - fly from London Gatwick to LAX.
- Friday - setup the booth, setup the PS4s, and demo.
- Saturday - present the demo all day.
- Sunday - present the demo all day.
- Monday - flyback to London Gatwick landing Tuesday lunch time.
The entire team contributed to creating the trailer and demo - and I'm super proud of it and them. Whilst neither were perfect and littered with little issues - I think they did the game justice.
We shared some pictures of the booth before the event started in this news item.
Everyone we presented the game to seemed to be genuinely impressed. For me the standard conversation was: "So what is Boundless", and my stock initial answer was "Boundless is an epic sandbox, where everyone players in a single online universe." At this point the standard response was "wow". The players we met: loved the visual presentation, the real time portals, the variation between the worlds, the beacons and regen system, travelling between worlds by the planets, and the thought that everything they saw was created by another player. The booth was continuously busy and the 4x PS4 were always occupied with people waiting to play.
Here are some pictures that we took during the event.
Some final checks before the hoard arrived.
We had new Boundless Oortlets and some fetching headpieces for players to wear. (And they did wear them!!)
Even more players.
In case you missed it - here is the latest Boundless trailer - (comment on the news thread):
The trailer includes a load of new features, assets and polish.
In the week commencing Monday 5th December, whilst we were traveling home, the team has been preparing the demo version for release on Steam. The majority of features shown in the trailer will be included or modified to make them more suitable for the game. For example, we had a shortened tutorial for the demo, we stocked your inventory with a collection of basic equipment, and we also made sure that when players entered the first world from the sanctum that they warped in close to each other. We think this stuff was necessary to give players an experience of Boundless in minutes rather than hours.
The Hunter and Basher will not make it into this release. Unfortunately, their AI and navigation are still a bit premature to release them in the wild. However, there is a long list of new and improved things that you can check out in next week’s release.
Come New Year, we will be focusing our efforts on the following:
- Completing the GUI overhaul
- Combat system improvements including addition of the Lance and creature balance.
- Add creature variants and new creatures.
- Add the sign, donation box, ladder, etc.
- Add more VFX / SFX
- Complete the overhaul of the smart staking / inventory system.
- More sophisticated progression system including achievements.
- Add Guilds system
- ... and many more tweaks and improvements!
Mainly cleaning up the code that we implemented for the trailer and demo to prepare for the release next week. However, we have been adding new things such as:
- VFX for the roadrunner and cuttletrunk
- New News feed in the HUD (level up and world information)
- You always leave and restart the game from the Sanctum.
- New animations for the Hopper and Cuttletrunk.
- New impact and hitting VFX.
- Other than that, we are all bug fixing.
Much of last week was taken up with PSX, with Luke and Ollie both flying to Anaheim and doing the show, and Rob working long hours with Jim preparing key artwork to go with the trailer.
This week was mainly about recovering from that experience, and fixing and polishing the work we’ve done so it can be released:
- Luke has been polishing up the Sanctum and the tutorial so that new players will have a nice introduction to the game.
- Ollie has been looking at some balance work, especially to do with creatures.
- Rob has been working on the areas of the HUD and GUI that didn’t make it into the demo, but that we want to get in soon.
After working on the trailer over the last few weeks the art team is now getting ready for our next release. We’re very excited to bring you the playable version of the Boundless trailer!
We’re creating progression models of the creatures.
- Here’s the Hopper from Jess:
- The standard and elemental Cuttletrunk from Jess:
- More Wildstock tiers from Claudio:
- Dom has been re-working our block breaking effect. Here’s a work in progress proof of concept using flipbook textures replacing the current block break effect:
For the end solution we plan to use a 3D shader that we can use for breaking both voxel blocks and polygonal meshes for props, plants etc. We’ll be developing this in the New Year.
For future release Amanda is concepting the block parasite and worms. More of this to come in a separate post very soon.
Also for release in the New Year we’ve completed the progression models for our new grapple.
Here’s a sneak peek of the gem version (again from Jess) :
So an extremely busy couple of weeks.