DEV DIARY #11: SH*T IS GETTIN’ REAL
Probably some of the best news we have to share, is that we were lucky to have recently received prototype funding from the Film und Media Stiftung NRW.
The Film- und Medienstiftung NRW is one of the leading funding institutions in Germany and Europe with an average annual funding volume of more than 3o million Euros. It supports films for cinema and television at all stages of production and distribution as well as the development of innovative audiovisual content and formats for other forms of exploitation.
Presently we have three 3D Character Artists working on our brand-spankin’ new modular AI system. We want to make sure that players don’t see the same AI over and over again; this repetition would clearly break the 4th wall, and effectively ruin the immersive experience.
Our goal is to make a completely modular system, where the body parts are randomized. Right now, those parts are separated into different categories, which are: head wear/hair, head, torso, pants/bottoms.
It seems simple enough, but each part needs to fit exactly with each other part, so it’s essential that we follow a certain workflow. To complicate matters- each AI has basically two states- living and dead. So for instance if a Survivor AI is bitten by an infected rat they will eventually turn into a zombie (dead). This means that each body part needs to have the proper grunge and “zombified” elements as well.
We’ll be putting together a full-blown post regarding the modular AI system soon!
It’s been a busy year so far for Gamma Minus in terms of attending various gaming events. We’ve been to Switzerland for the Ludicious Game Festival, to the GDC in San Francisco, Quo Vadis in Berlin, Reboot in Croatia, and hopefully we’ll be attending the Nordic Game Conference in Sweden next month, if everything works out.
Every time we pitch the concept to potential investors and publishers, it helps us to get a better understanding of what we’re actually pitching, and it helps us to hone our pitching craft. It can sometimes be somewhat of a sobering experience. As passionate and highly motivated developers, we are quite often “arms deep” in code, or animation blueprints, and we can sometimes forget the overarching goal. Being reminded of this in an “elevator pitch” setting gives us a chance to reflect, recalculate and re-calibrate.
We are in fact at a slight disadvantage at our preset stage of development. A fitting analogy is if we were baking a cake. We can tell you how amazing the ingredients are, and you can take a look at it in the oven, and even smell it- but you can’t taste it yet. Making a prototype, especially a multiplayer asymmetrical is a daunting task, and one fraught with peril. Conveying what Cold Comfort can be, even with a prototype requires not only our undivided attention, but the imagination and by proxy, the faith of a potential business partner.
At the end of the day, we’re not professional pitchers- but at the same time, if you do it hundreds of times, you eventually start to realize what works, and what doesn’t. It all boils down to the ability to sell the idea of Cold Comfort. We aren’t just wheelin’ and dealin’ for just anybody either. Agreeing to any deal at this point is agreeing to a long term relationship, and any relationship needs to have rules, mutual respect and a common goal.
It is important that players have multiple options in Cold Comfort, and “levolution”(level evolution) is one key aspect of the core gameplay mechanics.
Levolution is a feature that was first introduced in Battlefield 4 and later in Battlefield Hardline. It allowed players to dramatically change the environment and gameplay on maps through player actions, with the name being changed to reflect that.
In the Battlefield series, levolution ranges from raising bollards, setting off car alarms, and cutting power to bringing down entire buildings, destroying ceilings of underground areas, and destroying a dam to consequently flood the map.
Cold Comfort is devised with a number of levolutionary mechanics. The drawbridge (on the left) is one of those examples. Initially the drawbridge is down, and can easily be traversed. The Gamma Primes spawn as infected rats on the far side of the bridge, are able to quickly cross the bridge and get to where the action is. However, if the Survivors insert a few fuses, and flip the lever, the bridge moves up- effectively negating this particular path.
Therefore, when Gamma Primes respawn, they can no longer cross the bridge and are forced to jump into the canal, swim to the sewer entrance, go through the sewers and eventually exit from a sewer grate. This tacks on an additional 45 seconds to a minute before the Gamma Primes are basically back in the heat of the battle.
Our 3D props team has been moving full steam ahead recently. On the right, you’ll see the initial block out of our “vaccine gun”. When Survivors are in a downed state, and are infected, they can utilize this device to slow, or sometimes even reverse the infection. One of the many valuable gadgets in the Survivor repertoire.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
The indie-game scene is HUGE, but at the same time, it’s not. As the newcomers to the scene we’ve been welcomed with open arms into the indie-development scene, and met so many amazingly talented individuals that encourage us throughout our journey.
Here’s a picture of Jeremiah Costello, CEO of Gamma Minus, together with some other indie-devs at the 10th “Gametreff NRW” where they reported on their experiences attending GDC in San Francisco in March 2019.
The Gamma Minus team is presently a remote one, and we do all of our collaboration together on discord. There are definitely pros and cons to this particular arrangement, for sure. A few team members that are based in Germany got together recently at a local gaming event, and many of us actually got a chance to meet face to face for the first time, which was great!
These are people that you work with day in and day out and they have silly monikers and funky avatar pictures, so it’s good to put an actual face to them.