Our friend Michael Lyndon, a Houdini extraordinaire from the film world, has contributed his talents towards one particular effect in the game (which happens quite late in the game, so don't watch if you prefer to be surprised.) He presented a talk about his process and techniques at the Houdini SideFX booth. You can check out a version of that talk here or below.
We’ve been working hard since the new year and Alpha is now officially complete! We are sending it out to our extended team and a healthy dose of trusted companions to help us gather feedback. Now we move on to the Beta build, which we plan to release to our Kickstarter backers.
What's in the Alpha Build?
The game is great fun from start to finish - nine distinct and colorful areas to discover and explore. We’ve added a ton of assets to populate the world. It’s bursting with plants, animals, monuments and a few surprises along the way. There are lot of practical, non-glamorous features too: menus, settings, save points, etc. Our talented artist Brent Silk has composed an incredible, dynamic soundtrack throughout, and he’s currently making it even more responsive.
Onward to Beta!
We will update you all when we have an estimated date for Beta. Until then, we will leave you with a few screenshots. Be sure to follow @shapeoftheworld on Twitter, where we’ve been posting lots of little animated snippets of the game as it progresses.
Thanks for following along on our Dev Blog.
We've been chosen as one of the Digital Selects for IndieCade 2016 in Los Angeles on October 14-16. Tickets are on sale now. We'll be showing off our latest build - the Alpha version of the first half of the game. Can't wait to see you there! Or you can follow along at @shapeoftheworld throughout the weekend.
As part of Unwinnable's series on the Unreal Dev Grant recipients, we were pleased to chat with Stu Horvath about the development of our game. Stu chats about what it takes to drive a player to explore in this issue.
To read more, the current weekly issue - Volume 3, Issue 9 - is available as a digital download from their website. Enjoy!
A few screenshots that we had tucked away and forgot to post.
A quick shot of some in progress creatures. Jelly fish, normal fish, squids and other squishy and spiky creatures. Shown her as a comparison study for relative scale.
We thought we'd share some excepts from our latest Kickstarter update - the portions that don't exclusively apply to our awesome backers. But, if you are curious, you can read the entire public Campaign Update here.
Campaign Update #18: May 1st
Hello from Stu:
Hi everyone from around the world who has discovered this strange little project I’ve been building! I’m so delighted to have a curious audience wondering what exactly I’m making here. A few of you have played the Pre-Alpha build we released to gather feedback at a critical juncture, and I want to sincerely thank you for your feedback. To the rest of you, thanks for holding on as we craft this project! It’s continually improving and I won’t release it has become something truly spectacular.
In March I sent out a Pre-Alpha build to some of our close friends and industry allies. Since then we’ve been collecting and reviewing feedback. In response to this feedback, the team and I are implementing changes, driven by the inspiration that comes when you have time to reflect.
Some of the areas we’re concepting now:
- Interacting with a full range of inhabitants. More creatures, and more ways to engage with them. Have you been following the sneak previews on Twitter?
- Ensuring there is always something new and unexpected to discover.
- Balancing the feel of the open world with landmarks to help you find your way
- Finding those special moments for secret surprises for those who venture really far off the path.
Switching Gears: Life & Responsibilities
One of the realities of indie games is that they are often our side passion projects that happen after our nine to five lives. And sometimes nine to five turns into nine to ten or eleven, which leaves little time for development. It’s an unfortunate reality. For the next couple months I will be scaling back my hours on Shape of the World to fulfil my responsibilities at my day job. I will always be present to provide direction, but I will be creating less content. This is only a temporary situation.
Since the start of the Kickstarter campaign, our team of 3 has grown to several people which ensures development can continue even if one team member needs to temporarily scale down. The rest of the team is still hard at work and I’m always there for support. It’s hard for me to take a step back from the thing I feel so passionate about but sometimes responsibility calls.
What Comes After Pre-Alpha? Alpha!
The next step is to complete the Alpha that we can send to fans and industry pros for feedback and further testing. Do you have experience testing video games? Are you interested in literally shaping the game with your feedback via a short survey? If you’d like to take part in our Alpha test group send us an email to email@example.com with the subject line “Alpha” and we’ll be in touch.
So How is the Game Progressing?
Great! I’m really excited where the game is headed. Part of this is directly due to the Pre-Alpha feedback. It’s helping me prioritize what to add and how to refine the game mechanics and landscape. I know now which moments are surprising and captivating, and where I can put the next set of moments which can take your breath away.
Here’s a little look at what things look like behind the scenes. I’m carving out a large forest of huge gullies. But without a player running around, nothing has grown. Instead, you can see all the points where you can change the growth and color recipe.
The fine folks at Forerunner magazine paid us a visit a few months back. It was in the dead of winter, so we didn't get to show them Vancouver in its best light. but I think they still liked it. We sent them out on an excursion into Stanley Park and they only lost their way once or twice.
Their first debut issue is a stunning publication. You can get your hands on it now. We got to chat to them about getting lost and finding your way in indie games.
A few shots from our spread.
A few shots of rainy Vancouver made it into their teaser videofor their first issue.
We JUST found out the way maybe a lot of others did - by watching the previously recorded GDC Twitch stream from earlier today - but we are the recipients of an Unreal Dev Grant! Woot! And that's ALL we know at this point. But we're stoked!
Re-watch the Unreal Engine "Live from GDC!" on their channel here. Fast-forward to 2:32: to see Chance Ivey talk about Stuart and Shape of the World.
That's literally all the details we know. There has been some coverage on VR Focus but that's all we know for the moment. We'll keep you updated!
We aren't able to personally attend GDC this year but we will be there in spirit. Shape of the World was featured as part of Houdini's Demo Reel this year, highlighting the ways Houdini can be used to make procedural models on reduce schedules and budgets. A good thing indeed for indies.
Our friend Stephen Tucker at Allegro Digital made all the procedural models for the seeds you collect in the game, making it quick to do multiple variations on each one. You can read a little bit about his process on his blog here.
Check out the Houdini folk at GDC if you are there and say hi for us!
We posted another campaign update here for our backers (and our fans), including some new in-progress screenshots. Some of screens seem to reflect the cold, wet and darkness of Vancouver these days. Luckily the game is never stuck in one palette for too long.