Get The Signal From Tölva Pre-Release Test And Help Us Bugfix!

Hello!

It’s time for us to do a little testing of our new game, The Signal From Tölva.

We’re using itch.io’s clever Refinery system to make a limited run of just 500-keys available. If you want to help us out (both financially and feedbackily) then now is the time! The pre-release price is $15 (the final release will be $20) and we will, of course, provide a Steam key to anyone who purchases this version of the game upon release.

This is a pre-release build and THERE WILL BE BUGS. The absolute minimum spec is Windows 7, 8, or 10 (64-bit only), 8gb RAM, 2gb Graphics card of 600-series Nvidia or equivalent. Please note we are not supporting a 32-bit client. A higher spec graphics card – especially 900-series and higher – will definitely pay off here.

You will need to collect your “Test Certificate” reward on itch.io to download the game. We also recommend using the itch client.

Please get yourselves on the forum over here for Tölva talk.

NOTE: Please don’t post videos from this build, except to illustrate feedback issues on the forums. Thanks!

The Signal From Tölva’s Pretty Things: Aka A Treatise on McQuevian Hand-Painted Texturing Automation (Sort Of)

[This post is by our lead art happener, Olly Skillman-Wilson.]

Firstly, perhaps, watch this video:

What follows is an expanded take on what we touch on in that video. If that sounds good, read on!

Tölva’s world and tone are exciting for a number of reasons – lasers, exploding robots, unfathomable space mystery and the phrase “combat archaeology”, to mention but a few – but here we’re going to talk about how we crafted that rich, screenshot-friendly visual style. We will try and understand the majesty of Mr Ian McQue’s concept art, learn the fundamentals of ‘splattery precision’ and some other made up terminology, as well as comprehending the beauty of a clean normal map bake or efficient UV layout. You know you’re in deep when you can appreciate UVs. We intend to go deep(ish).

So… Defining the look of Tölva was a process of looking at our inspirations and influences and breaking them down into their constituent parts. This way we could take what made a certain look ‘work’, and begin to create a process that we could apply to a variety of assets while maintaining consistency with one another as well as looking appealing in isolation. This meant taking Ian McQue’s sketches and paintings and finding common shapes, colours, types of brush stroke, silhouettes, and starting to form a “McQuevian language”.

Often robots, vehicles, or ships, were chunky with lots of rectangular protrusions breaking up their silhouettes. Layering of details was important, with colour often going from darker to lighter as the layers got closer to the exterior. Angles were often a few degrees off being parallel with each other but still consisting of straight lines, rarely curved. The dumpier a spaceship, the thinner it’s aerials and wires: contrast from form.

We could use these style guidelines to judge how well something would fit in the world, and how close it was to the source. I’d sometimes create reference boards using a tool called Kuadro, a convenient way of laying out image files on the desktop and storing their scale and position in a file. I’d be conferring with Jim at various stages throughout an asset’s creation- he would direct the design, and mine his extensive and tasteful tumblr image library, or doodle thumbnails to illustrate specific requirements. Interpreting sketches from one angle and turning them into 3D geometry has been a particular challenge for me on this project, but following these guidelines, and practicing this approach has enabled me to get better at it through the course of the project.

The first step towards actually making something, once reference was set up, was blocking out a 3D form in Maya using simple primitives and keeping things low detail. Often if this stage went well the geometry could be reused for the final low polygon asset. Then I’d take this base mesh into zBrush and play with the shapes, maybe add things that were more awkward to create in Maya. If I was feeling really fancy, I might do a paintover.



Sculpting, Detailing, Baking

Once something is starting to feel like a strong design I can start to commit to adding details, again referring to the guidelines as I bevel edges, chamfer corners, and smooth any (rare) curved surfaces. Then come surface details that will be baked down into the normal map such as wires, nuts and bolts, screws, handles, cutlines. It’s easy and enjoyable to go overboard at this point and fill every surface with greebly goodness but any artist will tell you that the eye needs space to rest. Not only are you looking for space to rest within this asset, but often you will need to look at the game as a whole and decide whole assets need to act as rest points devoid of any noisy detail, in making up the composition of the world.

At this stage I’m also starting to break up edges with wear and tear and damage where seems appropriate, this is one of the most satisfying parts- chipping away and scratching up clean surfaces requires little moment to moment decision making and I can let this almost therapeutic activity absorb my attention. It’s important to split objects as I go into logical groupings based on their material types, I will use these later to bake a material ID map which is essential to the texturing process.

One of the of the recurring aspects of creating such a mechanical world is designing (relatively) convincing joints, paneling, and other robotic goodness. It was important to spend enough time look at machined parts or engines so that I could start to internalise where a cut line might occur, which panels needed screws, how a curved edge might be carved out of a larger piece. Manufacturing is often about starting with a form and reducing it from there, and the same approach works really well when sculpting.

Then comes a series of steps that are dull but very necessary to getting a clean bake but once that’s done I can move onto texturing. A tight UV layout, good smoothing groups on your low polygon model, and a precise cage mesh all aid in a clean bake.

Generating an Automated McQue Texture process
Or: How to Hand Paint Textures, Without Using Your Hands.

Good modelling is essential and a stunning texture won’t save a bad model, but texturing drives a lot of Tölva’s look and helps distinguish it from other games. It’s also what was most clearly imitable from the concepts. We were fortunate enough to be given access to the list of secret brushes that Mr McQue utilises most frequently and to such effect, and using these able to create an automated process that streamlined the texturing of hundreds of assets. We essentially created a system where I fed in my sculpts and a McQuevian texture was churned out for me to tweak and finesse. This worked by taking the right brushes in Photoshop and creating a tiling pattern with each, attempting to recreate a certain type of stroke or scribble that could be found in any given concept piece. With these ‘master strokes’ I could tile relatively convincing McQuvian patterns across a surface, tinting its colour, and using the pattern to break up the edges of masks in Photoshop. Daub, dash, splatter, speckle, spray, smear, squiggle, strokes, crosshatch, and grainy swirl would become my best friends over the next 2 years. Grainy swirl was great for organic or noisy surfaces like mud or concrete, while crosshatch had a natural galvanized metal flakes look. Each pattern came into its own as I built a library of reusable materials from these tiling patterns.

The tool tying all this together was the Quixel Suite’s dDo, a Photoshop based texturing tool aimed at primarily at creating PBR materials very quickly, which we had employed for our own nefarious aims. Feeding the sculpt data from the bake (tangent and object normals, ambient occlusion, material ID, gradient, sometimes a height map) dDo could tell me where edges were, crevices, what was at the top of the mesh, what was only facing down or upwards. The amount granularity in terms of how you define the masking of a material is very powerful, and once I’ve made decisions about where a material should be confined to I can apply that as a preset to any other asset. “Here’s my paintedMetalC material, it will have chips and scratches on the edges, sunbleach on the top, water damage on the undersides, and some lichen in the crevices.”



Material ID, edge mask, pattern mask.

I found the simplest way to structure a texture was to have a form layer at the top that brightened upward facing surfaces, and conversely darkened downward facing surfaces, with an edge brightening layer to accentuate the objects natural shape. Our ambient light in-engine is a single colour and so baking in some subtle lighting data helped objects have some shape even when in total shadow. Next, a weathering layer that universally affects the asset. Things like dust, stains, and other environmental effects go here. Beneath this all the materials are applied to their corresponding material IDs from the high polygon sculpt bake.

From this point I’ll start to work in overlaid scanned details from the dDo library, these won’t affect the diffuse channel very much (deliberately), but will add some physically based detail and reflectance values. The materials that make up Tölva and it’s inhabitants are 90% diffuse covered and 10% specular, meaning they are largely matte looking surfaces with bits chipped away to reveal the metal beneath. McQue’s style has very little exposed steel, or polished chrome and there is no glossy plastic, so I tried hard to match that. More on the PBR side of things later.

Once materials are assigned to the whole texture there’ll be a lot of tweaking of the tiling pattern’s intensity, colour, size. Material specific details will also go on, like rust that only affects metals. Then in some cases I’ll add bespoke hand painted details like glyphs, diagrams, or bits of weathering that only appear where there’s a pipe or something and that can’t be defined by the automated process. But this is the only part of texturing where I’ll actually paint a specific detail onto a specific part of the texture, everything else is controlled by dDo and my masking.


Bandit, zealot, and scavenger colour schemes

The colours we use are often collections analogous colours making up 60% of an asset, then it might have a darker or more saturated variant covering another 30%, and then remaining 10% has a bright or rich accent colour. Usually the best way to get a decent start with this is to colour pick directly from a concept and go from there, can’t get more accurate than that. As we got further into the project certain palettes would mean different things to me about where they were in the world and who created them, making decisions about colour schemes much easier.

Once all this is done I can save individual materials as presets, or entire documents to be reused on similar assets, this is largely what facilitated us in getting the texturing done as a efficiently as possible.

Implementation: Make Everything Modular

Being able to cannibalise existing assets for reuse is an invaluable tool when you’re trying to squeeze as much variation into the world as possible without burdening your VRAM usage further. The mileage you can get from an asset is often surprising in terms of reimagining it for other purposes. If you model things with discrete watertight intersecting meshes rather than combining everything and deleting interior faces, you can at any point split these out and reassemble them into a new variation of that asset.

This is probably obvious to veteran game artists but was something I was often in two minds about at the start of production, modularity vs bespoke detail. The other thing to bear in mind with this approach is baking with your meshes well exploded so occlusion data doesn’t interfere with neighbouring meshes, preventing you from reusing that one piece in a prominent place because it has a massive shadow across one side of it. Meshes can be merged using boolean operations to merge intersecting meshes and create totally new shapes, which we did to create cliff faces comprising multiple rotated cliffs into one uber cliff.

Creating asset kits is a common technique in games utilised particularly well by the Bethesda teams. Tölva has less of a need for complicated interconnecting architecture but we were still able to get some use out of concrete piece kits that we made to build more industrial areas, and kits of damaged spaceship to decorate the space wreck debris that litters the world. Creating these kits for the environment team (er, Jim) took a sizeable amount of the art dev time. Another example of this kit-based approach are the weapons attachments, all modelled as separate items that could be rearranged and mixed together to create weapon variants.

Working in the sizeable world of Tölva meant pushing a lot of geometry onto the screen at any one time. Occlusion culling and culling regions far from the player helped alleviate some of this but ultimately we were going to have to create level of detail meshes for a lot of polygon heavy, or frequently used assets. This is a fairly simple process and its amazing what you can get away with when an object is at distance.

Expanding the look with Shaders

I have no programming skill or experience to speak of, but I found fairly quickly I was being limited by my ability to create simple shaders to achieve effects commonplace in games and desirable within our sci-fi aesthetic. Unity plugin Shader Forge became my go-to tool for solving these problems, it’s a node based shader writing solution that is approachable but still crammed with maths terminology most artists have never heard of. Using this I was able to assemble and visualise shaders that had pulsing lights, tinted a material based on ID maps, did weird things with transparency, or just layered textures based on normal direction. This saved me using up precious programmer time – Tom was full time on the project, and Dan part-time, so their brain cycles were at a premium! – and gave me control over very specific parts of the look. This kind of autonomy is very precious when you work remotely and there isn’t always someone on hand for you to pester with technical queries. Being a visual scripting system it does have the downside that when it breaks, I often had no idea why, or how to fix it. These issues weren’t insurmountable but did lead to a day of debugging from our resident shader expert, Tom Betts.

I would approach materials very differently if I was starting this project from scratch tomorrow. Coming from a CG background pretty much everything is given a specific texture that uses the full UV tile, and that was pretty much my only option to get the look we wanted at the time. As my understanding of Shader Forge evolved I was able to create a sort of shader version of how my textures were set up inside dDo. I was limited to 4 masks (RGBA channels of the ID texture) plus a base layer, and I could tile and tint some of the McQue patterns within those masks. Each McQue pattern had the diffuse pattern stored in the red channel, specular in the green, and gloss in the blue.This allowed me to get good resolution on textures for assets that were 5, 10, 100 metres long. The ID and normal maps were still limited by resolution but the tiling worked very well. It serves well as a halfway house between a 1:1 mapped texture and tiling materials, but lacks the subtlety and detail of a 1:1 or the variation and fidelity of having a library of materials applied to submeshes.

Terrain texturing

Our initial approach to terrain textures was to treat them as purely two dimensional, abstract patterns. As the style developed it became clear we were going to need something a bit fancier to fit the aesthetic, especially given the fact that terrain filled the majority of the frame a lot of the time. I began sculpting tiling terrain materials in zBrush, creating quick sculpts that could be exported to Unity quickly to test tiling, detail, and blending between layers. It was important to use detail meshes like small pebbles and shards of rock that already existed to tie the textures to actual 3D props sitting on the terrain. This was the first organic thing I’d had to sculpt that wasn’t a rock or cliff and the soft shapes weren’t fitting the style at all. The solution ended up being to reduce the polygon count of the sculpt using zBrush’s decimation tool to create a more faceted organic surface. Feeding this through dDo and using existing material presets was pretty straight forward. The height map was used by the RTP terrain setup to cleverly blend layers together based on depth, creating a much more pleasing blend that a simple fade.


Lighting/Rendering/Post Processing

PBR or physically based rendering has become a buzzword and marketing tool as it’s adoption has spread, symbolising a graphical upgrade over traditional game rendering. Mwoar detail mwoar realism mwoar immersion. Much as I love all those things it’s most important contribution from the artist’s perspective is having a controlled environment within which to work where you can create a material and have it react to light in a predictable manner, not only between scenes and lighting setups in the game engine, but also between software packages.

Having this predictability is even more useful when your game has a full day night cycle and is going to appear in all sorts of lighting conditions. Even if your game isn’t crammed with brushed metal and lacquered pine (highly reflective surfaces being a sure sign of a game trying very hard to get the most of its PBR) it can still massively benefit from a physical approach. Having a nice fresnel falloff on a largely diffuse material makes every object lit at a glancing angle look fantastic, materials are energy conserving so nothing washes out in a way that just appears like a white value being clamped.

McQue’s paintings have naturalistic quality to their lighting, this is ideal for PBR. His colour palettes have a fairly limited range, there are few bright whites or really dark blacks, much like real world albedo colour values. This allows a PBR lighting model to really shine without being overpowered or limited by overly saturated or contrasting texture colour values. PBR is not a style, it’s a tool. You can push your look in a number of directions with colour correction, lighting, and post processing- but you are starting from a well calibrated, stable, neutral position that is easy to control. Using PBR also means you can draw on nearly 200 years of photographic knowledge. Exposure, tone-mapping, HDR, colour correction, bloom, lens flare, chromatic aberration, depth of field, vignette: these are all techniques that have either been part of photography and film for a long time, or are simulating things that a lens does naturally. Also use linear colour space everyone, it has been VFX industry standard for forever, there’s no reason not to.

Having this linear colour space PBR setup means we are generating accurate colour values in the render that, after tonemapping, exceed the screen’s full brightness value. They are brighter than white, this is what makes the render high dynamic range. We use these values on our light emitting (emissive) materials particularly to trigger a bloom effect, but also to illuminate any dirt or scratches on the lens you’re viewing the game through.

Nothing says sci-fi like bright blinking lights!

Transmission 2016: A Signal From Big Robot

Hello, you.

Yes, we’ve been quiet for a long, long time. Some people have even asked if Big Robot is even still a thing! Well, it is. And here’s what we’ve been up to.

We feel like we could leave at it that, but we know some of you will want to know more. So let’s explain what this is all about, and a little about how we got to where we are now.

So What Is It?

We’re making an open-world shooter in a science-fiction setting of our own devising. That’s The Signal From Tölva. If you enjoy rich sci-fi atmospherics and free-roaming game worlds then we think you’ll understand what we’re doing here. It’s a dynamic game of exploration, territory control and robo-combat, with an open-ended story running through the whole thing.

The signal of the title is a mysterious emanation from the planet you are exploring – Tölva itself – and uncovering exactly where it has come from, and why, is at the heart of the game. That said, there’s a modern sci-fi twist in our fiction, because you (whatever you may be) aren’t actually there on the surface of the planet. You’ve remotely hijacked a Surveyor, a humanoid drone already on the planet’s surface, and when that chassis inevitably meets a violent end, you’ll simply connect to another. Remote control, via an interplanetary network. That has implications for both how the game plays, and what the story says.

Anyway, science-fictional acrobatics aside, we think you’ll enjoy both the intense firefights and just standing on a hillside watching alien birds glide by. You’ll be investigating anomalous signals from glitchy abandoned bunkers and scavenging materials from mysteriously wrecked spacecraft. We’ve talked in the past about making a game out of those old sci-fi paperback covers or prog rock album covers, and this is that, only with all the open-world autonomy stuff we’ve always been so interested in. We’ll talk more about the development process that got us to this point in a later blog post.

That World…

Isn’t procedurally generated this time, nope. We employed a few procedural and generative elements in the creation of the environment, but this time we built the world itself by hand. So many hours of work! But, ultimately, this hand-crafted approach delivers a quite a different feel and end result from the procedural fields of Sir, You Are Being Hunted, /and/ gave us a seamless map four times the size of a Sir island. We’re enormously pleased with the change of pace.

What To Expect

The Signal From Tölva is an open-ended shooter, an action game, and a canvas for exploration. The two big things are: Exploration and Combat. We’ve sunk all our resources into making those two things come alive. The game world is driven by Ai activity that decides where our robots will go, and what they will decide to do. Bots will head out from bunkers to survey crash sites or attack neighbouring bunkers or guard locations. Territory control battles kick off dynamically, with patrolling AI squads skirmishing against each other and taking control of a series of brutalist locations across the planet’s craggy valleys. Battles erupt with or without the player’s intervention, and their consequences can change the course of play by clearing ambushes and capturing or losing vital bunkers that allow for respawning and re-equipping as you play.

This time, though, you’re not hiding in the long grass as those automatons rumble past, and instead will find yourself going in with lasers blazing (even though you will pick and choose your battles, scouting possible encounters from a distance with your binocular-vision). There are hi-tech assault rifles, concussion fields, electronic countermeasures, robot-commanding modules, and defensive plasma shields.. You unlock all these by performing a series of missions for the faction you are hacked into: and these missions, as much as the territory control, drive you across that alien landscape to explore further and fight harder.

What We Can Say About The Story

The Signal From Tölva is set in a future where AI factions have abandoned humankind and set out on obsessive quest to uncover the secrets of a long-dead civilisation. There are starships, there is an interplanetary internet, and there is something very, very wrong with the planet called Tölva.

We’ve been careful to tread lightly and default to minimalism for the story-telling in the game itself. There’s little in the way of direct exposition because we want you to figure out the puzzle for yourselves, if you want to. However, we’ve still poured plenty of of brain into fiction. We’re keenly excited to say that we’re working with the awesome Cassandra Khaw to develop a (free, to you) prologue novella, as well as to help us flesh out some background lore that we’ll be publishing alongside the game. Yeah, we’re sort of going all out on this one, and we’re thrilled about the wider backstory and game universe that we’re building. We’re just not going to swamp you in it during the game. If you want to delve, it’ll be there. And you’ll be able to delve deeply.

And A Quick Bit About That Art Style

We want to go into detail about that journey into pixels at a later date, but it’s important for us to highlight that we’ve been working with two new people to make the game look as good as it does. The first of these is an artist named Ian McQue. Some of you might have heard of the fella. He’s quite good.

Having finished up a long tenure at the mighty Rockstar (since-the-first-GTA sort of long) McQue had been doodling sci-fi stuff. In fact, it turns out that he’s one of the finest sci-fi doodlers we’ve ever encountered. We asked if he’d be interested in a collaboration that would result in some some doodling for us. To our delight and amazement he said yes.

The challenge, of course, was for us to integrate McQue’s vision with our game concept. We had been more than happy with Sir’s low-fi charms and atmospheric consistency back in 2013, but this time things had to be shinier for the sake of the sci-fi, and we couldn’t do that without some formidable full-time arting. It was appropriate and good, therefore, when former-Aardman Animation CGI cleverclogs Olly Skillman-Wilson came aboard to make the 3D stuff. He uses real fancy 3D tools, knows about AO maps and has strong opinions about different modes of anti-aliasing. He uses the word “fresnel” in general conversation. What we’re saying is that he’s basically a sorcerer. And now he’s *our* sorcerer. It’s thanks to Olly’s interpretation of McQue’s work that we developed a beautiful and consistent hand-painted art style for the game.

Science fiction has many allures, and it captures our attention with the thrill of starships and beam weapons, but it really resonates with us as developers because it offers so much freedom to create a distinct and exciting palette of ideas and scenes. Being able to reference McQue’s extraordinary visual imagination and eclectic style has given that process life that we might otherwise have struggled to bring to it. It has been both immensely challenging and deeply fulfilling to engage with top-grade concept artwork, and try and build a look and feel around it. Given the size and experience of our team, I think we’ve made a decent go of that. And Olly has played a blinder. I mean, look:

But yeah. If there’s something to say in conclusion, it’s this: we’re building you a bloody great slab of sci-fi escapism.

We think you’re going to like it.

More soon.

The Signal From Tölva – Announcement Press Release

BIG ROBOT LTD ANNOUNCES THE SIGNAL FROM TÖLVA FOR WINDOWS AND OSX, AVAILABLE 2017

INTERSTELLAR OUTPOST, AUGUST 2016 – UK developers Big Robot Ltd today announce their bold new science fiction action title, The Signal From Tölva. The single-player first-person exploration and combat game will be made available for Windows and OSX in early 2017.

Big Robot’s Jim Rossignol explains: “Tölva is our ode to classic pulp science fiction, with all its weirdness and drama. We’ve long wanted to explore a world of starships floating over hazy valleys, and robots battling amid pulsing ruins. This is that game.”

THE SIGNAL FROM TÖLVA

In the distant future, star-faring robotic factions sift through the ruins of an ancient civilisation. On the highlands of Tölva, beneath the shadow of abandoned war machines, they found something.

Was it the source of the signal you were so interested in? And will the trail lead to enlightenment, or something more sinister? You hijack a drone and you begin the search for yourself.

The Signal From Tölva is a journey into a wild science fiction landscape, filled with danger and beauty: you must survive terrible hazards, navigate through impossible spaces, and fight an ongoing battle to control this haunted, blighted world. You will make use of a range of powerful tools to overcome your enemies and uncover secrets: hack robots to battle alongside you, equip powerful weapons, and detonate savage defence systems.

Fight, explore, and solve the mystery of The Signal From Tölva!

FEATURES

– Explore a single-player shooter set in a sprawling, hand-crafted landscape.
– Delve into science fiction mystery as you explore the haunting highlands.
– Fight a war of territory control against dynamic and ferocious AI.
– Recruit robots to fight alongside you.
– Equip electronic countermeasures, plasma shields, and savage beam weapons for intense skirmishing.

DEVELOPMENT

The Signal From Tölva has been in development for two years and Big Robot have been privileged to work with the legendary Ian McQue (Bully, Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto IV/V) in formulating the game’s visual style. The game’s rich science fiction universe will be further developed in a lore book and prologue novella authored by Cassandra Khaw (Hammers On Bone).

CONTACT

Please contact jim@big-robot.com if you’d like to know more.

www.thesignalfrom.com

Sir, You Are Being Hunted Welcomes All Ladies & Gentlemen To The Hunt With Multiplayer v1.0

THE SPOOKY COUNTRYSIDE, OCTOBER 2015 – Ladies & Gentlemen, it’s time to find yourselves hand-in-hand under the shadow of a fearsome robot: resplendent survival masterpiece Sir, You Are Being Hunted has now reached v1.0 multiplayer! You no longer have to die alone.

Over three-hundred thousand Sir, You Are Being Hunted players can now enjoy the company of friends and enemies whilst being hunted to death by robots, thanks to a multiplayer client and the ability to launch dedicated servers. Multiplayer mishap was a feature promised way back in the mists of the 2012 Kickstarter, and marks the end of a splendid journey for the Big Robot team.

Lead designer James Carey explains: “Sir has always felt like a Multiplayer game in-waiting for us so it’s great to have finally made that a reality. It’s an interesting mix of coop and PvP: it might make sense to collaborate at the start of a game, but because only one person can escape at the end those alliances soon break down. It’s been fantastic to see players respond to that ambiguity during the beta test and it’s a real thrill to put those choices in the hands of the wider player base now.”

It’s important to mention that Sir, You Are Being Hunted is one of the few games to feature a networked playable trombone. So that’s cool.

Sir, You Are Being Hunted is available on Steam, Humble Store, and Gog.com.

Here’s a lovely video of multiplayer in action.

A guide to setting up and playing multiplayer can be found here.

How To Set Up A Multiplayer Game Of Sir, You Are Being Hunted

Once Sir Multiplayer launches – it’s a new executable launched from the launcher, or from the folder – you’ll be presented with a menu screen similar to the Singleplayer game but with some exciting new options.

Multiplayer Main Menu

Start Server
Will open a dialogue with some server options. N.B. We recommend an upload speed of 200Kb/sec if you intend to run a server. Slower connections may be viable for fewer than four players.

Ports and trickery

Sir Multiplayer uses various shenanigans behind the scenes to hopefully make your server hosting experience as simple as possible. In most cases you will not need to forward ports or change router settings to make a server work. If you’re hosting a server that appears in the browser list and other players can’t connect, the most likely cause is the firewall on your computer is not set up to allow Sir through.

If you’re sure the firewall is not the culprit then the default port for the server is 44466, which can be forwarded at your router if necessary.

Once you’ve given your server a name, a password (optional) and set the number of players and pieces you’d like click Start to launch a Server hosted on your machine. You’ll see a window briefly open then minimise. This is the Server. You can use this window to admin your Server or alternatively you can use in-game commands from the Client.

Connect
Will open a server browser showing all Servers currently registered with the master server. If you are running a Server it should be listed here. You can also access your Player Settings from here and Direct Connect to an IP if you wish rather than browse.

Go ahead and hit Join next to your server of choice. The list will show the status of the game you are joining. Either:
1) InLobby (waiting to start a game)
2) InGame (the game has already begun, you can still join)
3) WorldGeneration (the world is being created, connecting may be slower)

If you get into a Lobby you have another chance to tailor you character (in case you want to make sure all players involved in the game look different). There is also a chat window you can use here before the game starts.

Doing Admin
If you are currently the Admin for this server (indicated by [A] before your playername) you have various commands available to you. Simply type these into the chat window:
#new – Starts new map. This will work from the lobby even if players are not readied.
#restart – Restarts current map (when you’re already in-game)
#kick playername – Kicks playername
#makeadmin playername – makes playername the admin.
#lobby – returns to the lobby (when you are already in-game).

If you are Not Admin
If you are NOT currently the admin you can either:
#admin password – Logs in as admin if an admin password is set up on the server (note that admins logged in in this way override voted-in admins).

Or use the prefix #callvote to start a vote on any of the other commands. For example #callvote kick playername to kick someone or #callvote new to start a new map. Other Clients then use #vote yes or #vote no to vote on this request.

Bear in mind that the server operator will have ultimate control of the server via the server window itself, even if you are logged in as a Client Admin.

Gameplay Settings
From the Lobby, server Admins can alter the settings for this particular game of SYABH. You can change Gameplay, World and Robots. Within these sub settings you can substantially alter the feel of any given game.

Gameplay settings lets you adjust things like PvP damage factor, the number of pieces required to activate the teleporter, the number of pieces on the island in total and the timer settings for the Stone Circle.

World settings allows an admin to radically alter the make-up of the island you will play on. You can choose from templates which will be familiar to Singleplayer users or create entirely custom biomes. All islands will be procedurally generated from these settings but you can save the seed numbers to replay islands you liked or share them with friends.

Robots settings will let you change what enemies you’ll face, when they’ll turn up and in what numbers. You can even have Robot-free islands if you like!

Ready
Once the server admin is happy with the settings everyone should hit the Ready button in the Lobby and the game will begin.

OK, we’re all in, now what?
Mutiplayer games of Sir take place on a Single Island. Only one person can escape and win the game. You must return the set number of Device Fragments to the Stone Circle as per the Singleplayer game but in Multiplayer the Stones are usually only active for certain periods of time (depending on server settings) In other words you can only return Fragments during this active period. You will get a warning when the Stones are about to become active, they will then remain active for x time (depending on server setting) before deactivating again. This cycle will continue until enough pieces have been returned to let one player escape. The player who drops off the last required piece will win. Remember that you can carry more than one piece at a time (if you find small pieces!)
You can find a running count of the number of Fragments returned and required in your Inventory window.

Useful Multiplayer-Only controls
There are a couple of actions available to players that are unique to the Multiplayer side of SYABH.

Trade
You can open your inventory for Trade with other players by holding down “o” (by default). Other players will see a White Hand icon above your head when you are doing this. While open, other players may begin a Trade with you. During a Trade players can only give items, not take them from the other player. This prevents anyone stealing your rifle when all you wanted to give them was a bandage…

Reveal Location
You can show other players where you are by pressing the “y” key (by default). This will place a [P] marker on everyone else’s compass showing them your direction. It will also display your name above your character’s head if players are close enough. Both the [P] icon and your name will fade after a few seconds.

In Game Voting
All of the #commands are still available during play. For example you could use #callvote kick playername to begin a vote to kick a troublesome player or #callvote makeadmin playername to make someone else admin.

Chat
Press “t” (by default) to chat to other players in-game. PageUp/PageDown (by default) allow you to scroll back through chat history.

Command Line Servers

If you want to run a server without launching the game through the menus, you can run the multiplayer executable directly from the command-line, with the following arguments:

-batchmode
Runs the game headless (with no visible interface). This is useful for dedicated servers on machines with no GPU.

-server
Starts a server without going through any menus.

-port NN
Specifies a specific port for a server to run on. Useful when running multiple servers, or when using port-forwarding through a router.

-numpieces NN
The number of pieces on the island (by default; this can be overridden by an admin).

-piecestowin NN
The number of pieces required to win (by default; this can be overridden by an admin).

-minplayers NN
The minimum number of players required for the game to start.

-maxplayers NN
The maximum capacity of the server.

-password ABCDE
A password for the server. Omitting this means anyone can join. Cannot contain spaces.

-adminpassword ABCDE
A password that allows someone to make themselves an admin (using #admin ABCDE in chat). Omitting this means admins can only be voted.

-allownoadmin
By default, the server will always ensure that one player is admin (by promoting the first player to join, or a random player when the admin leaves). Adding this flag disables this behaviour.

-servername ABC DEF GHI
Sets the name of the server in the server browser. Note that this has to be the last argument in the list, and will treat the remainder of the commandline as the server name.

Love you!

An Update To The Sir, You Are Being Hunted Multiplayer Test

IMPORTANT NOTE: Instructions to get started in the test are here.

We’re here with the first of a (hopefully) weekly series of updates to the Sir Multiplayer Test. The new version is v0.1.45. If you’ve opted into the Multiplayer Branch on Steam you should get the new update automatically.

The first week of testing went smoother than we could have hoped for with our official servers more or less constantly populated and only one short outage all week. It’s all been remarkably stable and we’re very pleased. It’s also been fantastic to see so many of you hosting your own servers for friends and the general public, and to that end we’ve spent a good deal of this week adding some more controls for server operators. The full release notes are below but the long and short of it is there’s now a proper voting system for electing and replacing admins, kicking grumpy ne’er-do-wells, voting to start maps if someone is idle in the lobby and won’t ready up…

There are of course a number of bugs found and squashed – thanks to your feedback – so keep those reports coming in. We’ve been listening to feature feedback too and have added a new system for locating and identifying other players. You can now ‘ping’ your location onto the compass with a keypress (default “Y”) so friends can find each other or mark areas of interest like good loot. This marker will last for 10 seconds and for the duration the player’s name will also appear above their head if you are within a certain distance. It’s essentially the visual equivalent of shouting “Oi! I’m over here!”

Thanks from the whole team for your enthusiastic uptake of Multiplayer Sir, it’s been fantastic to watch your streams and videos, and even better to play alongside you

More to come!

Patch Notes:

Server Controls.

1. Server operators can now optionally add an Admin Password during set up.

Use #admin password to log in as admin with this password.

2. Admins can make other players the admin with #makeadmin playername

3. You can now vote to use admin commands even if there is no admin.

Use #callvote command to start the vote (e.g #callvote kick playername to kick someone or #callvote new to start a new map. Clients then use #vote yes or #vote no to vote on this request.

Command list:

#new – starts new map

#restart – restarts current map

#kick playername – kicks playername

#admin password – logs in as admin if an admin password is set up on the server (note that admins logged in in this way override voted admins).

#makeadmin playername – makes playername the admin.

#lobby – returns players to the lobby

Fixes & Additions

– Improvements to server browser (including auto-refresh, summary, and an alphabetised list)

– No more smashing/exploding sounds when joining lobbys

– Reveal your name & position to other players by pressing a key (“Y” by default)

– Miscellaneous small bugfixes (rider volume, UI tweaks, similar sundries)

How To Play Sir, You Are Being Hunted Multiplayer, And How To Run A Sir, You Are Being Hunted Server

Hello you!

Welcome to the SYABH Multiplayer test. Here’s your guide to getting started.

It’s important to understand that this is a work in progress version of the multiplayer aspect of Sir and as such there are plenty of bugs and missing features in the current build. As before with the single player, we’ll be updating and improving as we go. OK, you know that, on to the guide:

Step 1.
Firstly, you’ll need to opt-in to a beta branch of the game. To do this you need to locate Sir, You Are Being Hunted in your Steam Library and right click for a drop down menu. Select “Properties” at the bottom of the drop down and in the window that pops up, and then select the BETAS tab. There is a drop down for opting-in to Betas for the game here. Select “multiplayer” from the drop down. You may need to restart Steam to prompt it to begin the download of this new beta branch. Once the game has updated move on to step 2.

Step 2.
The Multiplayer Test build isn’t yet directly launchable from Steam itself. Instead you’ll have to find a “multiplayer” folder inside Sir’s Root directory and launch the executable from there. There are both 64bit and 32bit versions. Here are some ways to find those:

By path
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\SirYouAreBeingHunted\x64\multiplayer
C:\Program Files (x86)\Steam\steamapps\common\SirYouAreBeingHunted\x86\multiplayer

or
Alternatively you can right click on the Sir listing in your Library and select the Local Files tab, then click Browse Local Files and drill down into the x64/x86 folders there.

Once Sir Multiplayer launches you’ll be presented with a menu screen similar to the Singleplayer game but with some exciting new options.

Start Server
Will open a dialogue with some server options. These are limited at the moment but will become more fleshed out in a later update. N.B. We recommend an upload speed of 200Kb/sec if you intend to run a server. Slower connections may be viable for fewer than four players.

Once you’ve given your server a name, a password (optional) and set the number of players and pieces you’d like click Start to launch a Server hosted on your machine. You’ll see a window briefly open then minimise. This is the Server. You can use this window to admin your Server or alternatively you can use in-game commands from the Client.

Connect
Will open a server browser showing all Servers currently registered with the master server. If you are running a Server it should be listed here. You can also access your Player Settings from here and Direct Connect to an IP if you wish rather than browse.

Go ahead and hit Join next to your server of choice, one of two things will happen:

– You will arrive in a Lobby for a game about to start.
– You will see the map generation screen because you are joining a game already in progress.

We’ll be making it clear in the browser whether a game is in progress of not soon but for now it’s potluck (unless you’re connecting to your own ofc!)

If you’re in a Lobby you have another chance to tailor you character (in case you want to make sure all players involved in the game look different). There is also a chat window you can use here before the game starts. Hit Ready when you’re… er… ready… When all players are Ready the game will begin.

Server Admins
The first person to connect to a Server is automatically made the Admin. Admins have certain commands available to them (which you can find below). If you are running the Server yourself the Server window can also be used to issue commands even if you yourself are not the Admin.

Admin Commands
Admins have the following commands available to them from within the game. Simply type these into the chat window (default “T” to open) to issue the command.

#New
Starts a new world

#Restart
Restarts the current world

#Lobby
Returns all players to the Lobby

#Kick Playername
Kicks Playername from the server

OK, we’re all in, now what?
Mutiplayer Test games of Sir take place on a single island with a random biome. Only one person can escape and win the game. You must return a number of Device Fragments to the Stone Circle as per the Singleplayer game but in Multiplayer the Stones are only active for certain periods of time. In other words you can only return Fragments during this active period. The stones flare like this at random intervals. You will get a warning when the Stones are about to become active, they will then remain active for 3 minutes before deactivating again. This cycle will continue until enough pieces have been returned to let one player escape. The player who drops off the last required piece will win. Remember that you can carry more than one piece at a time (if you find small pieces) so when there only a few pieces remaining it might be time to get ruthless…

You can find a running count of the number of Fragments returned and required in your Inventory window.

New Features for Multiplayer
Some things behave differently in Multiplayer compared to the Singleplayer game. Here are a few things to be aware of:

* The Stone Circle now operates on a timer (see above).
* The Scanner can now detect Fragments stashed in houses or other loot containers.
* Players Respawn on death.
* Fragments that are on Player corpses will return to their original positions when the corpse despawns.
* The Loot tables have been substantially altered for MP. Expect to find more gear than you do in SP.
* The Robot Spawn tables have been altered. At the moment there are only 3 NPC types in the MP game: Hunters, Riders and the Balloon. We are planning to add some more in future updates (though probably not the full SP compliment for reasons of balance and population).

Notes on the WIP nature of the Multiplayer Test and Known Issues (Or “What To Do If You See Something Odd.”)

The Multiplayer Test of Sir, You Are Being Hunted is a Work In Progress and as such there are many bugs left to iron out or features that are just plain missing. We would like you – our dear testers – to investigate and report these and any other bugs or issues you encounter. Here is a list of things to be aware of, it’s not at all complete…

* UI Issues – A full UI pass is needed, clashing player inventories, overlapping text and offset buttons are to be expected, as is general UI untidiness 🙂
* Rider issues – There are some outstanding issues with Rider behaviour.
* Balloon light – Although the Light can be shot out on Clients, the server does not recognise this action and will not pass it on to the other Clients. In short, don’t waste your ammo…
* Some flora and fauna are missing including rabbits, pheasants and wild mushrooms.
* Although functional, there are currently no visual effects for the Talismans. The invisibility talisman will make you invisible to bots but not to players, the invulnerability talisman will make you invulnerable to all but have no visual effect.
* There are no visual effects for the trombone, the binoculars or the scanner. You can still play the trombone and robots will react, but other Clients will not see it (for now! We can’t wait to have multiplayer brass bands either…).
* There is no sea beast in MP at this time. So yeah, this means you can swim off the edge of the world at the moment. It’s not at all big or clever to do this and post about it.
* Some sound issues, specifically robot beep-boops not always being played. CONFIRMED cases of this with video evidence extremely welcome.. which brings us to the next point…

BUG Reports
We want bug reports! Please post any bugs or oddities you discover in the Main Big Robot forums. We’re especially hungry for your output_logs.txt which you can find in the “sir_Data” folder inside the root Sir directory on Windows or in “~/Library/Logs/Unity/Player.log” on mac. Screenshots and video footage of bugs is especially welcome.

We look forward to seeing you all on the servers! Oh, and do be careful…

Coming This July: The Sir, You Are Being Hunted Multiplayer Test

Hello there. Long time! How’ve you been?

This is a quick update to say that the Sir, You Are Being Hunted multiplayer test will start on July 1st. It’s been a long and difficult road to get to this point, but thanks to the hard work of Dan and James we’re now able to open up a test client to everyone who owns the game at the start of next month. We’ll collecting feedback bug reports as usual for this work-in-progress aspect of the game.

We’ll provide information on how to get hold of the client – as well as some other details about what we’re up to – on the day.

Hope to see some of you online in July.

-BR

An Update On Sir’s Multiplayer

Hello! It’s been a bit quiet on here since 1.1, but we thought we should update regarding multiplayer now that we know a bit more. In short: it’s been delayed pretty significantly. We’re now planning to get it done for some time in early 2015.

While initially we’d made great progress, things ground to a halt as we disappeared down a rabbit-hole of networking issues and we ultimately didn’t get to where we’d hoped to be in the weeks and then months after launch. Consequently we’re going to bring in another developer to help get it across the finish line, and that’s going to take some additional time and resources to do.

Obviously this is deeply frustrating, and it’s particularly vexing in light of the speedy progress of the rest of the project. We apologise sincerely to everyone who has been waiting for this aspect of the game, We can only say that we share your frustration. We’ll keep going, though, and we should be able to update again soon with some images of our player characters in action.

Thanks for your support and patience.

– BR