THE MYRIAD OF ASHEN

devlog II title 1.jpg

▲▼▲ CURRENT STATE ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Since our last update, some time has passed. The last weeks were going well for us and we have made steady progress. Since the last weeks were not as difficult as the first devlog, we kept in mind that we still have to overcome many milestones. The horizon is still far and we wish the time would pass more slowly. Because our planned release date is fast approaching. 

So besides to the development of ESSENCE, we have prepared us in advance for the Release in the future by building up the storefronts of Steam and Humble. In this way, we already have some things ready, in case that the end of development will become a little bit hastily. Of course, we will change all video footage, pictures and other assets with newer ones, when we nearing the release.

Here you can visit the storefronts and add ESSENCE to your wish list, share it, and even discuss in the steam forums. Also, you can give us feedback if we have missed something important or should change something. 

▼▲▼

▲▼▲ PREPARING ALPHA TEST PHASE ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Of course, we have a certain delay observed in the development and try to adapt and compromise our upcoming milestones a little bit. The planned Alpha version of ESSENCE is imminent. Nevertheless, we will not let us bring down. We will try to work harder and more efficiently on the alpha demo in order to avoid more delaying. We are aiming to have the Alpha version ready to play in this September. 

According to our current working schedule, the alpha version will feature 2 bigger open world areas to roam and explore, some new basic puzzles, reworked items, and new characters.

▼▲▼

▲▼▲ BREATHING OF THE WORLD ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Since we have implemented our own modular event system a couple of months ago it has become much easier to work on the back-end of ESSENCE and to bring our worlds to live. The new event system is not only comfortable to work with but it is also very easy to add more features and therefore to bring more diversity - which we are continuously doing. Using our system we have been working on several new story, speech and interaction possibilities in the game. Also, we are reworking our Items with the new system. 

▼▲▼
                                                                      [ left a new message item, right the reworked shard-key item ]

                                                                      [ left a new message item, right the reworked shard-key item ]

▲▼▲▼▲

For example, we have also been working on smaller animated creatures like rabbits, lizards, and crabs which will be living in several Levels. They can operate as natural groups/swarms and will bring vibrancy and movement to the atmosphere. All the different creatures will have their own behaviors and personality. Most of them can even react to you and for example, run away if you come too close.

▼▲▼
                                                                                    [ a roaming group of rabbits in a test level ]

                                                                                    [ a roaming group of rabbits in a test level ]


▲▼▲ FORGING WORLDS ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Since our basic Terrain was very limited and too similar in most Levels, we've got a new and custom Terrain system, which will fit more to the aimed level of quality and workflow. Not only are we are capable of creating wider terrains, we can sculpt them just with 2d height maps by a masking system and even place different props like trees, grass, and stones by adjusting different parameters. This will save time because we don't have to sculpt all the terrain by hand.

Also, we no longer have to paint textures manually on the terrain, this can be also done by height based parameters for example. On the other side, this system is very demanding and slows the works with lags and the masks and to adjust the parameters is still consuming quite some time. Nevertheless, we are convinced that the new terrains are more lively and vibrant than before.

▼▲▼
                                               [ building a huge basic Terrain with height based rock textures and randomly placed grass ]

                                               [ building a huge basic Terrain with height based rock textures and randomly placed grass ]

▲▼▲▼▲

Also, we aimed to have more variety and differences in the vegetation and to adapt some of them to a more surreal style to fit better to the world of ESSENCE. So we have tried to work with unity's built-in tree creator, to provide some more custom trees to the other premade ones. Unfortunately, the creator is very limited, so we are still looking for a better solution. But the first attempts are still good. What do you think?

▲▼▲ 
                                                                                       [small dead like trees for marshy areas ]

                                                                                       [small dead like trees for marshy areas ]

▲▼▲▼▲

Besides this, we have discovered a little new technique to place objects like stones with a 3d-brush, with this we can sculpt very fast interesting and surreal formations and other things. This could become handy when we will build some more details to the world 

▲▼▲

▲▼▲ THE CHILDREN OF ASHES ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Here we introduce our new type of characters, that will come the world of ESSENCE. The children of ashes are statue-like beings, that have once enlivened the world but now their energy has vanished. The children's will be all over the levels of ESSENCE and they are a part of the story. And some of them will have messages for you to figure out more about the world.

▲▼▲
                                                                                             [ a child holding a message item ]

                                                                                             [ a child holding a message item ]

▲▼▲▼▲

We have built the children in an optional way in wich the player can experience them as an enhanced part of the story, searching for all of them and puzzling out their messages or ignoring them if they prefer less text and just the main story and exploration. 

In this way, we hope to enhance the general feel of the game as well to shape the experience a little towards the different playstyles of the players.

▼▲▼
                                                                          [ a newer iteration of the child with more added visuals ]

                                                                          [ a newer iteration of the child with more added visuals ]


▲▼▲ TEXTURED FLOW ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

Since many of our textures we have used in the Prototype and in the current build, we have observed that some are too realistic or even to gritty for the visual approach of the game. So we have figured out a general workflow to not stylize the textures completely but to give them a more unique and softer appearance with surreal touches. Because too stylized and flat textures will loose much details and depth and we still see ESSENCE as a game with many details. Of course, this is not an urgent problem, but we think it's better to have this already solved while developing towards the alpha and beta to get more helpful feedback. 

▼▲▼
                                                    [ first, try for detailed textures and elimination of gritty stretching on big models ]

                                                    [ first, try for detailed textures and elimination of gritty stretching on big models ]

                                                                                    [ left original texture, right the new texture ]

                                                                                    [ left original texture, right the new texture ]

                                                        [ the right side shows the new texture and a softer and cleaner appearance ]

                                                        [ the right side shows the new texture and a softer and cleaner appearance ]


▲▼▲ ONE STEP FURTHER INTO VR ▲▼▲


▲▼▲▼▲

After quite some research and testing with the HTC Vive, we have decided to also get an Oculus Rift. This way we want to make sure that the game experience is going to be great no matter if you play Essence with the different VR devices or without VR. Now we are looking forward to testing and developing the Oculus support for Essence as well. After the Alpha test, we will try to show some footage of the game within VR.

▼▲▼

 

▲▼▲▼▲

And now a few concluding words. We hope that you enjoyed this entry and that we could give you once more some further insights of the development of ESSENCE and the current state. 

As you might suggest, some things we currently show seems to be not contiguous to all the other elements of the game or are very rough. But we can reassure you once again, that these features like the animals, for example, were developed separately by us and they will be set into the main build afterward. These and many other things will be of course more polished along the alpha, beta, and final release. It will give us more control of the development when we iterate on all these pieces, tight them together and are finally completing the puzzle.

Besides this, we will try to increase the frequency of updates, even if the completion of the Alpha and the following beta is currently our high priority. For example, we are considering to make a small public roadmap update with all features and exciting stuff we want to build further and what we still have to do. Tell us what you wish to see within this roadmap. 

So, until the next major update, we will see each other for the upcoming alpha test again. Let us know what else you would like to see next and as always thank you for your patience!

▼▲▼

 

ONEVISION