Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Hey everyone, merry Christmas, it's time for another update! For starters a lot has happened since GDC last spring and you may recall us saying something about a “planetary rings” video. This video was originally meant to be the last video we release before launching our Kickstarter (KS). Previously we were hoping to release that video and launch our Kickstarter before the end of the summer and, well, things didn’t quite work out that way. That’s primarily due to the usual culprit: most of us are working in our spare time which makes it difficult to estimate timelines because things come up with health, jobs, and other general life type things.

Recently we’ve had a lot of internal discussion about publicly providing timelines. We frequently miss them and people get angry and call us vaporware. Thus we’ve decided we will no longer provide exact timelines for the release of new content. From now on you will just hear “it’s done when it’s done”. To that end we are obviously not going to be launching our Kickstarter this year. While I’m not going to provide a new timeline I can tell you we will continue to work diligently to release it as soon as possible and as of this exact moment in time everything is really starting to come together.
What does “coming together” mean? For starters we have all of the animations and shots for our Kickstarter video mocked up in-engine. Accomplishing this was dependent on numerous art assets, engine features, and of course the creation of the actual animation curves. Most of our materials are finished and half of our art team has moved on to fun things like lighting and particles/effects. We still have a tremendous amount of polishing left to do however all of this stuff we’ve been talking about for months is finally starting to come alive.

On the engine side we’re wrapping up the last of the major features we wanted to get done for the KS campaign. Early in the year we had another programmer, Kimmo Kotajarvi, join the team and we’ve spent a significant amount of time working on tools, art pipeline, particles, cross platform support, optimization, and HDR. You may be surprised to see HDR on that list as I wrote a blog post about our HDR solution a couple of years ago. Previously we were doing what most games do with regard to lighting by using realistic “ratios” of light instead of realistic “quantities”. Late last spring we decided to finally switch our lighting pipeline over to realistic quantities of light so we could really show the impact that stars of various intensities have on objects in space.

So, without providing a timeline, where does that leave us? The team is beginning to move over to the polish phase. There will be a lot of tweaking things such as animation, lighting, and post-processing. We still need to record the audio, write the script for the live-action portion of our Kickstarter campaign video, nail down all of our stretch goals, launch the Battlescape website, and put together our marketing materials for the month that our KS will be running. In other words there’s still a lot to do but the good news is that most of it has to do with running a good KS campaign.

While we’re still committed to our plan of keeping most of our new content under wraps until we launch our KS campaign we will be releasing new content mostly in the form of art and/or screenshots. If you’ve been following us on Twitter, G+, or Facebook, you should have already seen some of this content coming out already. Overall we’re very excited as we move into 2015, while launching this KS has taken a bit longer than we originally hoped we’re confident most of you will be pleased with the results!

Here are some fresh screen shots including a few teasers of the new content you will see in our final Kickstarter campaign video: