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Nearing the End of Pre-Production

During pre-production, which we are in the middle of wrapping up, we get to have a lot of deep discussions about everything from power sets to something so common as walking. In the course of building a game, you have to pick and choose your battles. Some systems are included with Unreal, while others need to be built. There even are ones where you want to do things differently, but in the fight for expedience, you chose the included system as your foundation.

This week during discussions we actually hit upon one of these common elements. Included with the Unreal Engine is a system for respawning. While we had many ideas for how to create a novel new system for respawning, such as checkpoints within missions or in-place timed downtime, we had to take a hard look at the amount of work compared to the payoff and made the decision to not deviate much from the included system.

And development is full of these kinds of choices. Is the novelty worth the time needed to include at launch. We may come back to them later on, but until the core system is in place and running, we will be relying upon an existing system, or a tweaked version of the existing system.

This sadly means some of the more fun ideas, like alternate rezzing options, will likely not wind up in the game at launch. I know the classic MMO model of the hearthstone, wakie or graveyard/hospital is well established, so it will not be anything different for us, but we wanted to be a little more interesting. A slight disappointment to us.

But, since we are hitting the end of pre-production, it is time to start giving a glimpse at our work, or rather, a comparison.

For those of you who remember, we were building a demonstration zone called Learner's Cove. We even shared a few screenshots of this early work last year.

Yesterday I had the idea pop into my head to reimport Learner's Cove into Unreal Engine 4. Two hours later, here we are.

Named after noted pirate Captain James Edward Learner, Learner's Cove sheltered him after his growing body count had his commission as a privateer stripped and all friendly ports, including the bustling new shipping hub of Clarkestown closed to him. There persist rumors of buried treasure hidden away in the network of caves on the island, but most chalk those up to tall tales and ghost stories.

This is just a straight import, but already the improved level of detail handling and shaders are clear as day. Expect more of Learner's Cove over the next few months as we build it out into our full test zone once more.


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Written by: Nate "Doctor Tyche"