Victory! Rezzed Was Pretty Great

The Sir, You Are Being Hunted stand at Rezzed was swamped with people for the entire weekend, and we spoke to hundreds of keen gamers about what we were up to. We even won game of the show, so that was fortuitous.

Tom and James also gave a presentation, which you can see below.

We’re focusing on the early access build for the higher tier Kickstarter backers next, then after that the alpha test begins properly. It’s nearly here!

What Funding Means, And Where Stretch Goals Can Take Us

As you know, the basic result of our being funded is to expand our prototype into a full game.

You’ve already seen the results of our work in the videos and screenshots we’ve released so far. Right now we can generate islands, be hunted by robots, loot buildings, and engage in survival and stealth activities. Kickstarter money gives us time to expand and polish all those basic aspects of the game, and lets us put real time into the things that really matter in play, like how the “feel” of combat comes across, and how the thresholds of detection and activity make the stealth game play out. This are critical design problems that require serious focus. We can now get on with that.

We can also finish work on our cast of NPCs, developing both their general AI behaviours, and – most critically – the animations that bring them to life. Here’s the cast of horrors you’ve already unleashed.

The Hunters

These come in a number of tweedy flavours, but the net result is always that you are hunted across woodland and heath, with shotguns and worse. The hunter is the most common of the killer gentry, and they’re keen on murder and tea. They aren’t always friendly to each other, either. Different robot families have oil feuds that have been going on for years – expect to see them settling their differences while on the hunt.

The Hound

The hunter’s best friend. The razor-jawed beasts chase the player down, pin them down, and let the hunter’s rifle do its work. Learn to deal with these four-legged nasties with haste.

The Poacher

A trap-wielding, near-invisible interloper. Crudely armed with a blunderbuss and bear-traps, the poachers lie in wait, and will kill whatever wanders into their traps, whether it be robot or human…

The Squire

Middle-class mechanical, The Squire, isn’t interested in hunting. He’s not really interested in open hostility at all. You can walk up to a passive Squire without any danger. The huge beasts wander amiably around the villages, humming popular music hall tunes. That is until you try to loot a building. Then there might be trouble.

The Bog Creature

Briefly revealed at the end of our Kickstarter pitch video (admittedly in placeholder form) the bog creature is a mysterious tentacular contraption which lurks beneath the murky surface of the waters surrounding the archipelago. We ‘re going to love crafting that one. (Sorry.)

Oh, and, since a few of you asked about this, the game will, as standard, come in “Sir, You Are Being Hunted” and “Madam, You Are Being Hunted” modes. You will get to choose gender on game-start.

Stretch goals are additional features that we can promise if we hit higher levels of funding, now that the £40,000 goal has been reached. Here’s what we’re planning.

£45,000 – The Landowner UNLOCKED!

At this amount we’ll be expanding our NPC roster with “The Landowner.” This chap is an aberrant mechanical ultra-toff. He’s a leader among hunters, and the nightmare gaze of his glowing monocle means near-certain death, and at the very least lots of peril. With The Landowner in play, the player is truly in trouble – his tracking skills and his riflemanship are peerless. Fear him.

£50,000 – Hunting! UNLOCKED!

This stretch goal will allow us to include additional wildlife-slaying functionality. You will be able to hunt pheasants and rabbits and then cook them for sustenance. This will provide a complementary mode of survival for players aside from scavenging, as well as furnishing the world of Sir with more life. (And death.)

£55,000 – The Castle biome! UNLOCKED!

A completely new island type on which a ruined castle is procedurally generated across the entire island. This will provide the game with both a radically different terrain, and an atmospheric arena in which to be systematically hunted down and shot. (We’re really excited about this one – more proc-gen makes Tom happy.)

£60,000 – Hot Air Balloon Spotter Patrols

This will probably take a little bit of explaining. Basically, the robots will man a hot air balloon which will make passes over the islands. From there they’ll be able to direct hunters on the ground, and take pot-shots at you if and when they spot you. This adds some verticality to think about, especially as balloons are silent most of the time. Keep your eyes on the skies! These balloon patrols might be slow moving, but they will provide platforms for the hunters to spot you over a large area at any one time, and as such should provide serious jeopardy.

£70,000 – ???????????????? TO BE REVEALED

£80,000 – ???????????????? TO BE REVEALED

As for the multiplayer question, well, we are focused on delivering a single player game right now. We do have a plan for multiplayer, but it will take a lot more cash. Therefore we’ll place it very high on stretch-goal targets. That’s all we can say for now.

Love you!

Big Robot’s Tom Betts Releases Procedural Generation Experiment “In Ruins”*

Our lead programmer Tom Betts has been developing procedural generation techniques for our games for quite some time now, and they’ll see their most sophisticated debut in Sir, You Are Being Hunted. But they are also a major part of his PhD research, and one of the experiments that makes up that research is called In Ruins. It’s a game which you can download for Mac and PC below.

Tom explains:

It’s part of a series of games inspired by artistic interpretations of the sublime, in this case the work of Romantic landscape painters (Thomas Cole, Caspar David Friedrich etc). Its also heavily influenced by Fumito Uedas Ico series. The player is deposited on the edge of a procedurally generated island. The island consists of overgrown pathways ruined spires and broken ramparts. A central tower looms above the island beckoning the player towards it.

Basically, you have to get to the tower by collecting the jump-boosting energy streams. And that’s it. You can, however, mess with all the variables of level generation on the menu screen, which allows you to create radically different ruins, according to Tom’s algorithms.

-> Get the PC Version

-> Get the Mac version

*My clever joke headline, there.

On Structuring Things In Unity

Ok, so I’ve been using Unity to make games (and other interactive prototype work) for several years now. I’ve been the main coder on Fallen City (Our 15-month development for Channel4). Our audiovisual puzzler Avseq (which is en-route to Steam) was also rebuilt in Unity, and I’ve also coded a suite of android/iOS mobile games. Alongside these finished projects I spend a lot of time prototyping various procedural tech and other experiments, and of course working on our next game Sir, You Are Being Hunted.
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It’s The Interactive Village Name Generator!

The villages in Sir, will not only be procedurally generated, they’ll be procedurally named. And they’ll have familiar British place name signs, as you can see above. We’ve put together a little name generator toy for you to mess around with and you can suggest new name components in the forums. The names are made from three parts so break your suggestions up accordingly. We want a First Part (verbs and adverbs work well for this, “Poke” or “Lovely” for example), a Second Part (adjectives are good here, “Harping”) and then we have a collection of silly suffixes, “in-the-wold” or “Welcomes Careful Drivers”. Have a play then head to the forums to post your suggestions!

This is not made in the final game engine, it’s just us messing about in Unity. These are game assets, of course, but it’s woefully unoptimised, so older machines might wobble a bit.

Tom Talks Procedural Stuff, Big Robot Games

Tom recently spoke at London Unity Usergroup 10, and you can watch four videos of his presentation here. He talks about a number of Big Robot projects, and some of his own projects which stem from academic research. Worth a watch if you’re interested in our stuff, or in procedural and generative systems in game design, or in some of the work Tom has had to do to get all this stuff working in Unity.

Sir’s Splendid Coverage Bonanza!

The response to the announcement of Sir, You Are Being Hunted has been fantastic, and we’re enormously pleased.

Here’s a list of the articles so far:

Jim being interviewed on Rock, Paper, Shotgun.
Kotaku, and again.
GameSpy, and again.
Indie Games Magazine.
Edge Online.
Strategy Informer.

There are a couple more interviews coming up next week with other outlets, too.

I suppose the pressure is on, now. We’re also keen to stress: we’re just three guys with some art help. A few comments have been imagining we’re a big dev studios with “teams” for stuff. We are just a UK indie, and most of the programming is being done solo by Tom.

Also we don’t have comments on the blog here, so please direct any questions or Big Robot related chatter to the forums.