Posted by on March 17th, 2017

Happy Friday! Cambo here to kick the weekend off by bringing back the dev tech blogs. We plan to keep them coming at least once a month as we make more progress on development. In regards to the Q&A, most of them are answered and I’ll be sure to post it in our next update blog. For now, here’s our infrastructure dude, Maylyon!

 


 

Hey everybody! Maylyon here with a new non-game related, non-engine related, non-tools related tech blog!  Hint: this is your tune-out point if those are the topics you are looking for.  3 … 2 … 1 …  Still here? Excellent!

After literally years of silence about Devotus, I wanted to follow-up with a snapshot of where Devotus is today. If your memory is a little rusty, Devotus will be our mod content distribution pipeline to help mod authors create and manage their home-brewed content and deliver it to end-users.  To get context for this blog entry, you should definitely read those first two blogs.  Without further ado, the “what has been happening?” (aka: “you guys still work on that thing?”).

 

ModJam 2016 ARMAGEDDON!

In case you didn’t know, there were mods on Devotus’s developmental servers from a TUG v1 ModJam in early 2016.  Don’t go rushing to find them now; they’re gone.  They were sacrificed to the binary gods in order to make way for…

 

Going “Serverless”

Suspend your understanding that the term “serverless” is a lie because there are always servers somewhere and play along for a bit.  The old Devotus architecture was built on AWS EBS-backed EC2 instances running a mix of Node.js, C++, and MongoDB.  It looked a little bit like this:

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The primary detriments to this approach were:

1.    Paying for these servers (even extremely small servers) when nobody was using them,

2.    Scalability at each layer of the stack would incur even more financial cost and contribute to…

3.    Complexity of the implementation.

Leveraging AWS API Gateway and AWS Lambda, we have moved to an architecture that looks like:

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Moving to this setup allows us to:

1.    Greatly reduce the costs associated with Devotus (especially when nobody is using it),

2.    Offload most of the scalability problem to AWS (less work = more naps),

3.    Synergize our implementation with the other microservices we have been developing on the Infrastructure team.

 

Support for GitLab

Devotus now allows mod authors to create git repositories on GitLab in addition to GitHub.  It’s actually been there for a while but wasn’t there in the last blog I wrote. By supporting GitLab and their awesome pricing model, Devotus allows a mod author to choose whether they want their mod’s git repository to be public or private at mod creation time.  This choice does not apply to mod’s created on GitHub because their pricing model is less awesome (but still pretty awesome) and I’m cheap (see previous section for proof).

 

Improved Download Metrics

In the “bad old” days (read as “a month ago”), mod download count was just an unsigned integer.  Download request comes in, number gets incremented by one.  Commence spamming download of your own mod to falsely inflate its popularity!  Everybody wins!  … Except for the people who want to use the system.

Now, in the “brave new world” days, mod downloads are tracked per-user, per-version.  This allows mod authors to track their mod’s popularity throughout its release history and allows end-users to trust that a mod’s popularity is probably because of an amazing mod author rather than a mod author’s amazing spam-bot.

 

The Future Is…?

That’s all I have for this installment.  I (or somebody from my team) will be back with future Infrastructure updates as we get new and/or exciting things to share.  In the meantime, be sure to jot down all those cool mod ideas you have kicking around in your brain into a little leather-bound notebook so that WHEN TUG v2 is launched and WHEN Devotus is client-facing, you will be ready!

Have a great weekend!

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Posted by on March 3rd, 2017

Hey everybody! Cambo here and Happy Friday!

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!

Planning

  1. Could we please have a roadmap? I.e.:
    1. Lists of features you’re working towards
      1. 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:
        1. Building, Resource Gathering, Crafting, Combat / Weapons, Multiplayer, Natural AI, Companions, Large Multi Biome Worlds, Portals, Questing
    2. Up and coming dev milestones.
      1. By mid-June we expect to have our “vertical slice” as our core gameplay experience is due to submit to our team and investors.
    3. Dates we can expect to hear from you guys (which can literally be an announcement of an announcement)
      1. 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!
    4. When should we be hearing about the “plan for coms”.
      1. You just heard about them in the last question. =)
        1. 2 x a month with developer blogs and videos
  2. With regards to the roadmap:
    1. What features are expected to be in the alpha? When will it be released?
      1. 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. 
    2. What features are expected to be in the beta? When will it be released?
      1. As we progress to beta we will deepen and broaden our core features as well as add support for questing, portals and logic.
    3. What features are you aiming for with full release? When?
      1. 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.
    4. Will OSX/Linux usability be part of that release?
      1. 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.
    5. When will people start getting access to v2? Does anyone outside of NK have access already?
      1. 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.
    6. Will you need to sign up for the Alpha?
      1. 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. 
  3. You mentioned “Playtest Fridays” on your youtube a few years back; do you still plan to do something like this?
    1. 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.

Lore

  1. How much has the core lore/story concept changed since the kickstarter?
    1. Not significantly at all, in fact, we actively keep towards the framework of lore when defining design and various aspects of gameplay.
  2. Are the entities (gods?) from this post still part of the game/story?
    1. There are still god like characters that the player will learn about and we’ll write more about them in a future post.
  3. Why was the gem removed from seed’s hands?
    1. As the lore has changed the reasons for removing the gem were necessary. More to be revealed at a later date.
  4. Is Tuggles still going to be used?
    1. Not likely.

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Radial Menu UI prototype

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to follow the leads!

Cambo

Engine Programmer Lead @JoshuaBrookover

Gameplay Lead @Scriptslol

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Posted by on February 10th, 2017

Ahoy!

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.

@Ino

 

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Procedural Maze Generation

TUG Discord Channel

Nerd Kingdom Forums

TUG Twitter

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Posted by on January 13th, 2017

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.

 

 

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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.

*high five*

ino

@inoritewtf

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Posted by on December 22nd, 2016

Ahoy!

After a long period of development with TUGv2, under the new engine, internally dubbed “eternus”, we are proud to share the progress we have made so far. Please do keep in mind, that we are building everything from the ground up on our own, to facilitate a lot of unique future goals, so not all systems have been complete. In order to hit our goals for this month, we had to be sure we focussed on systems that made the most sense, to share something today. So be aware that what you see is incomplete, the systems are not final, and we still have a long way to go until it’s “complete” and polished.

As for advancements:

Art: we have FINALLY been able to define visual consistency to work hand in hand with graphics development. And while we are still lacking some general systems like Particle Effects, and proper animation support, to facilitate polish, the general look of the game has really started to define itself.

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Technology: Our team is broken into 3.5 major technology groups internally. Core engine has pushed forward our eternus engine, and lowered the bar to entry for hardware requirements, how much that bar has dropped, is still subject to some negotiation with art and design, but it’s still at least lower than the Dx11 spec as it stands. There is a lot to be said about what the engine does, and can do, but i’ll let Josh speak more to that in an update early next year.

The tools team is a massive change for us from the first iteration of the engine with TUGv1. Not only do they create tools that allow for our own team to develop content faster, but also allow for modders to change parameters within the game with relative ease, and even develop their own tools from an extensible framework. This is also another topic to expect being spoken of early next year.

On infrastructure, the ability to create accounts, upload and distribute mods, and be able to house a growing community of players and creators, we have come a long way. While I KNOW Nathan is going to love digging deep into share the emotional themes behind proper documentation and planning of systems, we will be sure he tones it down so as to not over excite himself (does sarcasm read well in blog form?)

And about half of the gameplay team is building systems that sit somewhere between gameplay, and core engine team. Little bits that give the game a great quality of life, that people may not fully get the implications of, until it’s revealed to them. Stuff like persistence of “simulated” data (what happens when off screen”, logic and power stuff, and even object datas and interactions.

On design and the other half of gameplay, it’s been all about making sure tools, and engine are supported so we can accomplish various goals. For now, lots of SYSTEMS are working, and we now have a chance to play and iterate to make the game “fun”. Lots of work still goes into narrative and mythos consistency, defining the “laws of nature” within the world, and the general approach to learning of complex systems is also a thing, but at this point it comes with a great deal more focus.

On the topic of communication, both recent, and going forward, I accept full personal responsibility for how things have been handled to date. The process of game development, and more so, software development, is a difficult enough thing to maintain internally as a group, and a great deal more consideration should have been taken from migration of our v1 to v2 work. We will ALSO communicate the plan for coms moving forward, early next year, so you know what to expect, and we can be held accountable to it.

While we have been active and responsive to community on various channels (Discord chat, email, NK forums), we have neglected a few outlets for various reasons. However regret does come from lack of communication on our Kickstarter page. It was not considered a community to this point, simply a blog outlet channel, one of MANY, and no proper path was given to alter that outlets means of connecting with the project. This mistake, across a slew of others, were opportunities for us to learn and set a plan of action for communication into the new year. We have a lot of progress to share from this point forward, which will be more consistent.

As for “when the game is going out” to the community, some of you guys are going to be getting it sent to you soon, hopefully by end of week. HOWEVER, it’s not going to everyone, just yet. The first hands on have to be with some of the developers we have in the community, to help us catch some bits, so we can do a better job on supporting our own developers getting the game done. We will roll out launches to various groups within the community, and likely put out some kind of sign up in the next couple of months, to start phasing people in.
On the note of “our future”, we have determined that “paid mods” is not the right thing to do, if for nothing else cultural reasons. However, this doesn’t mean that modders will not be rewarded or compensated, it just means it will be coming from NK. The actual final cost of the game, is a bit up in the air, though do know that we are leaning AWAY from the idea of FTP.

Expect us to make more mistakes moving forward, it’s a process of our getting better, if nothing else, we can at least promise to be transparent with everything (no matter how taboo), and hold ourselves accountable for the decisions we make, and learn from them swiftly.

(no, nobody is paying a penny more for V2 of tug)

xoxo, ino, who still lives in his car.

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Posted by on February 8th, 2016

Hey all, it seems that lots of people are taking bits and pieces of information from different places, so here is a breakdown of something with specifics, so there is not any hearsay involved. Please note, we will update this list as discussions advance a bit further as well.

  • strongly considering giving TUG away for free, but don’t know what that looks like yet
    • monetization for TUG is all about aesthetic, not gated content
    • design and experience are not changing with this consideration
    • game is playable offline and moddable, so not really something that allows for us to gate or control content, since you could just mod around it
    • discussion is needed with community over next year to figure it out.
    • focus on getting into as many hands as possible, both dev and player
  • mod monetization/support
    • important to give modders a way to earn living from amazing work
    • quality control is first priority, not everyone can just monetize (skyrim fiasco)
    • empowering amazing modders = more amazing mods and support
    • (thoughts) would need to be proven modder, and proven content
    • (thoughts) near professional level quality to be considered
    • how it works unclear, community dialog needed, a year till decision, at least
    • doesn’t mean people are paying for every mod
    • NK interested in licensing mods that make TUG better as an experience
    • monetized mods perhaps optional with some aesthetic reward
  • no updates to DX11 TUG, but new engine getting done fast important because…
    • DX11 is limiting who can play
    • OpenGL will be able to reach a great deal more gens of hardware and paves the way for Mac and Linux in the future
    • comes with better performance across the board
    • comes with “new” art style and awesome graphics improvements
    • comes with improvements to dev environment (faster content, better mods)
      • powerful behavior and analytics tools available to all players and modders
      • powerful distribution system to share and distribute work
      • new modding platform with real time debugging
      • new tooling platform with direct engine integration

We will share details of these things over the course of our development, and we are only a few months away from being able to show progress, which we will do as regularly as possible.

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