New Year, New Animations!

Hello everybody! We hope that 2013 is treating you well.

It’s already been a busy month at Big Robot, as you can see. We’ve also had a tricky holiday period, with the phone company keeping Jim without internet for a numbing 37 days! Anyway, we’re back to regular updates, and below we’ve posted a new video showcasing some of the new animations for the Hunter character.

They’re being worked on by the very talented James Benson who’s work some of you may have seen in this Team Fortress machinima. We’re really pleased with the work James is doing on the anims, they have a great deal of life and energy as well as capturing exactly the right feeling of mechanical menace we were after.

But we haven’t just been waiting on anims from Benson!

This month we’ve been hard at work on important housekeeping tasks, but some cool stuff too. Housekeeping making sure the save system correctly stores all the island information, so that everything we need is recorded and can be recreated. Yes, saving the game is utterly crucial, and it’s a big task for Tom to program.

Until now we haven’t been able to save all the island data between sessions. Every time we’ve played or tested we’ve had to generate new worlds – a rapid process, but not one that is representative of the finished game. Finally this week we’ve got the save system sorted and it’s now possible to generate a world comprised of a group of five 1x1km islands, save this data off, play for a while and save any changes we’ve made through our actions.

On the face of it that doesn’t sound that interesting or difficult, but when you think that all the buildings in each village on each island have their own contents inventories – which can be changed by the player adding to or removing items from those inventories – as well as storing all the actual procedurally generated island structure data you can see that our save files are actually quite a task! Okay, okay, it’s a mundane thing. But still essential!

Less mundane is our brand new island generation front end. Until now we’ve been using the IDE of Unity to set the parameters of and generate the islands, but this month we’ve completed a first pass of the end-user front end for this. The stuff you will actually be using to generate the islands yourselves. Players will use this front end to dictate the physical make up of each individual island in the world.

Using a set of sliders and toggles players can now create unique bespoke islands. So you might decide you want one island to be covered in just hills and forests while another is just lakes and villages. Or maybe you want a large open fields and hedges, or just tiny stone walled enclosures like parts of Ireland and Wales. With these new tools you can really create the world you want to play in. We actually see this as a huge step forward because it’s one more step away from using the dev tools and one step closer to the game being a self-contained system. The more stuff like this we do, the closer we are to ‘game’ rather than being chained to Unity IDE.

At the moment this new world gen front end is using ‘programmer art’ UI textures and text so it looks horrible, but it works.

That’s progress that is!

More soon.

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