I apologize for the delayed update as I was out with the flu last week. It is good to feel alive again! Getting back on topic, our engine team is cranking away on the Eternus engine and tools. Our gameplay team is improving our building methods, islands and more. Art team has been hard at work creating new assets for TUG. You can some images and video examples below.
Meanwhile, @x_nekochu_x is hiding away in the sound booth working on sound production stuff. I have been nagging him a lot to let me help out with sound effects. There’s just something extremely fun about making sound effects. For example, breaking things… many things.
We also updated our website and relocated our blog to the main site. You may find a few older posts with broken links and images but there is not much we can do to fix them.
The community questions have been finalized and we hope to have more details in the future. If you missed out, don’t worry! We can do another in the near future. We apologize for some of the TBD answers as those are still in discussion.
With regards to the game’s business model:
F2P was mentioned, although you last stated you were leaning away from this idea, are we any closer to a definitive business model and where is the “grey areas” currently?
What is TUG likely to cost (if F2P, how will you be making the money you need)
You mentioned the core engine was to be made available for developers to make their own games from, can you expand on that?
Our goal initially is to provide access to the tools, documentation, tutorials and examples for devs to tie into our engine and develop their own mods and games.
What is the plan for the kickstarter rewards? (Pets, mounts, wisps, etc…)
How do you plan to deal with the negative reviews and discussions on steam? Have you thought about removing the old steam page?
We have had discussions about that, but at this point we are waiting to move the product further along before we make any adjustments to community discussions
If you remain on Steam, but remove the original game listing, will you be handing out keys to all original players?
What are your current plans to draw in and maintain a large user base?
The game we are developing we hope to be fun and engaging for users to play and as important is the platform we are creating for modders and developers to be a part of. A combination of both a great game and tools we believe will draw in and maintain users in large numbers.
Do you have a community manager / QA member at NK? Do you have plans to get one on the timeline?
As we are beginning to make efforts to refocus on our community we have moved resources to fill the roles for managing the community. They will be providing updates 2 times a week and participating in the forums as well.
In regards to PR, stop saying “early next year” or “soon,” etc. Either give a timeframe or don’t talk about it yet/in that way.
How many people currently work at NK?
How many are from the original kickstart team?
Our original team size was about 10 developers. From then till now we have grown a lot and 8 of the original guys are still here on the team, or actively collaborating from other projects they have joined.
Do you have multiple development teams? What are they working on?
Our full focus is on our single product and the development of the technologies to support it. The teams working towards this effort encompass
Infrastructure / Tools / Engine / Gameplay / Data Sciences and Art
What kind of data is going to be gathered?
Our focus on data is about how players play. We are looking at when and where do players go in the world, what things do they gather, etc.
What will the data be used for?
Gathering this data enables us to improve the experience for players based on a more scientific approach
Will the data be anonymous.?
Who will have access to view this data? (Eg.. all, devs, or sold)
Nerd Kingdom and developers will have access, as well as modders, and various academic institutions that are open to publishing findings publicly, but never without consent of players.
Regarding inter-player activities and conflicts:
What’s the plan for managing Griefing and the Kill-on-Sight attitude many have in survival games?
What’s the plan for managing harassment and other illegal activity?
If you’re running servers open to minors, will you have any special rules dealing with age differences among players?
What kind of in-game communication options/resources will players have?
Hey all! This is Northman from Nerd Kingdom here to share some AI bytes with you. Specifically I’d like to talk about Pathfinding and how it relates to TUG and our characters.
Pathfinding is the act of finding the best path between two points in the world. The key word there is “best”. The definition of best depends on the type of game you are making and the type of character you are trying to find a path for. I think a small thought experiment helps to clarify the set of problems pathfinding tries to solve:
Imagine a mountain goat and a human facing a mountain that extends as far to their left and right as their eyes can see. Directly in front of them is a door. On the door is a sign that reads: “Tunnel to the Other Side”. The human does not have any climbing gear and the mountain is far too steep to for the human to scale it without proper equipment. If both the human and the goat want to get to the other side of the mountain what do they do? The goat does not have hands to open doors nor the ability to read. However, the goat is a sure-footed climber and does not have any problem scaling the mountain so it goes on its goaty way over the top of the mountain. Conversely, the human does have hands and can read so they take the tunnel. The path the goat and the human found are both the best path they can muster by their definition of best even if they are both very different.
So now that we have defined Pathfinding and talked about what “best” means we can look at what tools we have for finding paths. Most pathfinding techniques break up the world into spatial subsections (nodes) and store information about how those nodes are connected (edges). In Computer Science we call a set of nodes and edges a “graph”. Graphs are cool because they have been studied by mathematicians since the 18th century (check out the Seven Bridges of Königsberg). What this means to us is there are well known techniques, also known as algorithms, for dealing with graphs and finding best paths on them (see Pathfinding on Wikipedia). One of the most common algorithms used in games for pathfinding is A*. I won’t get into the details of A* in this post because it gets technical very quickly but the image below provides a good visual representation of a typical A* search.
An illustration of an A* search. The initial red node indicates the starting position and the green node indicates the goal position. The gray polygon represents an obstacle. The goal is to find the shortest distance path from the starting node to the goal node while avoiding the obstacle.The path found is highlighted in green at the end of the animation.
We are currently exploring algorithms and graph representations for our world in TUG but so far we have implemented a navigational grid. In graph terms the grid is made up of nodes that all represent the same amount of space (one square meter) and each node has edges to its immediate neighboring nodes (grid cells): top left, top, top right, right, bottom right, bottom, bottom left, and left. These cells can be blocked by obstacles (shown in the image below in red) or open (shown in the image below in blue). This allows us to run A* searches to find best paths for our characters that avoid obstacles.
Blue Cells: Areas a character can navigate in.
Red Cells: Areas blocked by an object.
I hope you have enjoyed this introduction to pathfinding. Pathfinding is a large topic with many different techniques available depending on the pathfinding problem at hand. If you have any questions please feel free to email me at “northman at nerdkingdom dot com”. We are working hard to refine our pathfinding approaches for our characters and look forward to sharing more with you soon!
Hey everyone! I hope everyone is having splendid week.
We are still hammering away on the engine and tools so there are not many visuals to show yet. However, we do want to keep you all updated with more goods so I will be sharing videos from our tech demo Fridays. Until then, here are a few WIP shots of some of our new tools.
[Biome Tool Graph]
[Biome Generated #1]
[Biome Generated #2]
[Early rough video of our floating island with sample of edges]
[8 blend target]
In a previous blog, we answered many of the planning and lore questions from the community. Today, we’ll focus on the TUGv2 and engine remake questions.
Can you give an overview of the new TUG in a couple of short paragraphs, as if to new potential customers? What’s the “elevator pitch” description of the game?
The game takes place in procedurally generated worlds filled with floating islands that are enriched with resources, populated with diverse cultures and held together by a deeply rooted narrative.
Players slowly discover the beginnings of their universe through interactions and relationships developed within the game as well as uncovering the history of their own purpose for being.
Through a series of relationships and a string of choices our players determine their friends, their enemies and their eventual place with their creators.
With regards to features:
Will we see any of the Kickstarter stretch goals being developed?
Yes, without question, however timing is subject to the most impact it will have in early development for the community to experience.
It’s been mentioned that manipulation of voxels in v2 will differ from that of v1? How much so, and what will the new system be like?
Voxel manipulation will be available in our creative mode. During gameplay the focus shifts more to surviving within the world and building up a home world using prefab objects. Though, this may change to be more robust, once we have fully developed the game, and advanced some concepts of usability. Still, this is largely TBD
What other features are likely to change from v1 (crafting, combat, building etc.)?
Generally speaking, each feature has undergone revisions to create a more simplified / optimized approach to how they worked and to improve the user experience. We have done our best to keep the player in the game and not in the menus.
What are the initial focuses of TUGs use of AI?
AI plays a vital role in the experience players will have. Our focus on AI is one that feels alive with respect to how creatures behave in the wild, how companions seek to help the player as they build their worlds, and how enemies respond to our actions during combat. At each interaction we a setting a goal that keeps the player immersed in the world and the event that they are a part of.
Are there any features which investors have decided on?
Investors have played a supportive role in our goals and vision. They have allowed us the freedom to design and develop the game based on our recommendation for what works best for the world of TUG.
How much input will the community get on new and current features? How will Nerd Kingdom receive this input?
TBD, we will be leveraging a lot of contribution from the community from our exposed tools, as a medium to allow us to understand real insights from play, and reward those that assist in experimentation. This is a large motivational factor in why we have been pushing harder on ease of use for tools, and platform.
With regards to modding:
Can we add more complicated custom models to build with, e.g., a statue/non-voxel based?
You will have the ability to add custom models of all shapes and sizes. Though to work best with the game there will be a list of guidelines for those that want to add their own custom content.
This Update showed off lots of what NK has been working on over the last year; is there anything you’d like to give an extra highlight or detail on?
As excited as we are about the game we’re building on top of a great set of technologies, we are super excited about being able to develop the tools and pipeline that will empower our users with the ability to quickly and easily mod everything that we do.
Are there any plans to help push community driven development?
Along with the tools to support and broaden community development we also have in the works a platform that simplifies and organizes everything for a community to be built around.
Are weekly or monthly builds planned? (like minecraft snapshots)
Will there be documentation/tutorials/guidance for new players, or will that mostly be left to player-made tutorials/wikis?
Could you please get into specifics i.e. how the engine handles voxels, networking, memory management, mesh and collision mesh construction etc.
TBD, can be addressed with engine writeup
If possible some statistics on before and after measures.
TBD, can share this information with sentiment of community in a write-up on our data and research, with a post-mortem on what we have learned, and will be applying as we develop the game further.
At a time when updates were starting to become a regular thing (0.8.9), a decision was made to remake the engine. Why?
During development of TUG we reached a point where there were several opportunities to create a new game engine which could be supported by a full suite of tools for modding and game development. Recognizing the scope of our plans for providing a platform for players and creators we took the chance and are now beginning to use the tools and tech that drove us to depart from the old and get started with the new. It was a big decision then and one that will continue to be what supports all of our adventures moving forward.
With regards to hardware specs:
What are the expected hardware requirements of TUG at release?
TBD, actively testing and working towards lowest specs possible, but as we have stated for years, it’s a balancing act
What are the new capabilities of the engine, that the old one could not do?
TBD, but can offer a write-up from tech team in an upcoming update with some samples of work, and capabilities.
How easy will it be to modify the engine going forwards, both from a developer and a modders perspective?
TBD, with recent implementations of the development pipeline, we have made modding and development significantly faster. Which impacts our ability to create content, and the ability of others within the community.
I’ll go ahead and update everyone since Ino is lost in the world of Zelda today. The team has been very busy the past month working on our engine tools and gameplay features, and core experiences. I will personally be working on having more frequent blog posts, dev updates, and videos when they are available. I am aiming for at least twice a month and video snippets from our demo Fridays. Importantly, I hope to shift our blog posts to our website in the future.
In the last blog, we mentioned that we would take note of the QA document that was compiled from the community. I got to work and nagged the team leads to answer them, nagging is what I do best. You can find the questions here. Thanks for organizing and bringing this to our attention @Rawr! The leads answered most of the questions but we will wrap up the rest over the next couple blog posts as we have more concrete answers. Get ready for the wall of text!
Could we please have a roadmap? I.e.:
Lists of features you’re working towards
We are currently working towards a dynamic list of features to support an exciting experience with our sandbox adventure style game. A general list of features would include:
Building, Resource Gathering, Crafting, Combat / Weapons, Multiplayer, Natural AI, Companions, Large Multi Biome Worlds, Portals, Questing
Up and coming dev milestones.
By mid-June we expect to have our “vertical slice” as our core gameplay experience is due to submit to our team and investors.
Dates we can expect to hear from you guys (which can literally be an announcement of an announcement)
Mid-June will be our next big announcement. We are stepping up our interaction with the community over the next four months with developer blogs and videos twice a month to showcase progress and let you guys see all the fun stuff that we are all excited about!
When should we be hearing about the “plan for coms”.
You just heard about them in the last question. =)
2 x a month with developer blogs and videos
With regards to the roadmap:
What features are expected to be in the alpha? When will it be released?
Our focus for alpha is a strong compulsive game loop built around our core features to explore, collect, create and engage in combat all within a multiplayer experience.
What features are expected to be in the beta? When will it be released?
As we progress to beta we will deepen and broaden our core features as well as add support for questing, portals and logic.
What features are you aiming for with full release? When?
Creating a robust feature set that supports an adventure sandbox game would not be complete without beginning to delve into the lore that brings our world to life. We will have a write-up from gameplay and design by the end of next month on what to expect.
Will OSX/Linux usability be part of that release?
Unlikely. The core parts of the engine that make it Windows-specific have been abstracted behind layers which will allow us to more easily approach OSX and Linux, and supporting OpenGL also moves us towards that goal. Unfortunately, as with many things in development, you cannot be 100% confident in anything unless you can see it working. We do not actively test on OSX or Linux.
When will people start getting access to v2? Does anyone outside of NK have access already?
A select group of testers will be using the software during development to assist with bugs and feedback. Please note, this is not an early access release, this is a development release. We are looking forward to getting the software ready for our early access users and as we get closer to being able to provide information on a time frame you all will be the first to know.
Will you need to sign up for the Alpha?
Over the next few months we will be better positioned to start putting a date to when we can expect to have a closed release to the public. Our team is excited to bring people on board for the experience and just as soon as we can, we’ll let everyone know.
You mentioned “Playtest Fridays” on your youtube a few years back; do you still plan to do something like this?
As we move closer to our Alpha we can get back to our playtest Fridays. In the interim, we have demo day Fridays where developers have the opportunity to showcase their work to the team. These works will make their way to the community in the coming weeks and months and give you all a better insight to what we are currently working on.
How much has the core lore/story concept changed since the kickstarter?
Not significantly at all, in fact, we actively keep towards the framework of lore when defining design and various aspects of gameplay.
Are the entities (gods?) from this post still part of the game/story?
There are still god like characters that the player will learn about and we’ll write more about them in a future post.
Why was the gem removed from seed’s hands?
As the lore has changed the reasons for removing the gem were necessary. More to be revealed at a later date.
Is Tuggles still going to be used?
Radial Menu UI prototype
Have a great weekend and don’t forget to follow the leads!
Our adventure into gameplay prototyping has begun, with big steps towards making our development environment much more seamless and flexible. The benefits to having a small team of brilliant minds, is that we are constantly forced to looking at ways to make our lives, and the lives of our users, easier. We have to find ways of making things accessible, faster, and easier to understand, and while that can take more time than just smashing a system into an engine, the results are exponential, and keep everyone excited.
In the coming weeks, we will continue to take note of the QA document the community has been compiling, and aligning our internal leads to address them as appropriate. Without question, it will result in more and more questions, so we are discussing how best to address this. We get a lot of live feedback from everyone involved in our discord channel, and please know it’s invaluable
As an update on our investor presentation, it went fantastic. Everyone is pleased, and excited about our progress. It’s always been a chore, to focus on the idea that we ARE making a game, but not understanding how important all of the technology and tools are, in being sure we can make it, and the community everything it has the potential to be. The investors, and many new opportunities, are seeing what is now being accomplished and it’s very exciting.
The members of the community that have been messing about with our current build of the engine, has been leading into a lot of interesting discussion, and strong insights into our approach. Much of the thinking has made it clear we are on the right track, which is an empowering sentiment when working on something this ambitious.
On that note, we will be clearing out mods from devotus from previous mod jams, to start prepping to get another version of the engine out in the coming months to a larger community, and start our own mod jams as a studio, with members of the community, to start focussing on more aspects of process and communication. Its understood that no dates creates a lot of frustration, but we have to put stability first, especially since we know there are a lot of high expectations, and locking down hard dates right now, have the potential to set everyone up for failure.
The QA will be a smart step forward, get everyone on the same page about what is happening, shed some light into general milestones, features, mythos, etc. And from all the pieces missing in the QA, we will have an opportunity to define the angles that we need to work to communicate better.
As always, thank you for all the support, your near endless patience, and confidence in what we are doing. Not one decision gets made for us, that doesn’t have us asking “what would the community think”, or “how would our community use this”. And this thinking is producing some really neat solutions, that are exciting enough to keep us working hard.
Expect another update from us in a couple of weeks, as next week is a big rush for us on dev goals, where we can lock down a schedule for the QA session, share some video, and get out some general milestones and feature lists for our first public release of TUGv2.
Ahoy! Just wanted to give you guys a quick update on what has been going on this month, and some things to expect coming into next month.
We have a big investor milestone meeting coming up on the 19th, and all of our time has been focussed on getting all the systems we shared with you, via youtube, stable and clean. Of course, those systems are not fully fleshed out game features just yet, but it’s a strong foundation built on the engine that is allowing us to expand out on things with gusto.
Into the coming months, we will be focussing on what is defined as a “minimally viable product”, that is to say, “what does this game experience feel like, with polish, for a short play session”. So while it may not be perfectly balanced, we need to demonstrate polished animations, some competency with enemy AI, and strong visuals (particle effects, graphics, etc). This also means a grasp on what the actual UX is in a 3d space, which revolves around the process a person gets from a keystroke, or series of keystroke, from a selection to an action.
Working through these things over the next few months gives us an opportunity to start being more open, again, with some of our thinking, and intentions, with design. While we do not expect EVERYONE to approve of all our choices, the product is too early on to allow for any design by committee. We will be responsible for creating the foundation of what the experience is, and leave opportunities for systems to be modified and expanded upon. And this is much of the reason we are so focussed on tools and our own development pipeline. The more clean and streamlined that is, the easier it would be for any of you to do, as well.
Some of you in the community have brought up the possibility of a QA, and that is a pretty solid idea. We love getting a chance to talk to all of you, and answer questions. If nothing else, we can always say that we pride ourselves on transparency, even on topics that are taboo and perpetuate chaos and confusion… (web based cookie clicker FTP clone, anyone?) But first, we are gonna get the current build into the hands of a few of you, and have some footing to get both technical, and experience driven question from all of you. So expect us to start taking in questions in a couple weeks time.
That is pretty much it for the time being, but if you have any questions, you are always able to reach out to any of us, and you will hear back from us.