Getting close to an Alpha test for FFA!

Hi guys!

Just wanted to check in and let you know that we are getting some major progress done on FUTURETECH FLIGHT ACADEMY (the smaller “mini-game” set to release ahead of LEGACY proper). I’ve recently been able to incorporate some much needed functionality for the mission selection and ship selection UI screens. Now that it is in place, the game is actually starting to feel like a “real game”…if that makes any sense.

Within a few more weeks I hope to have it at a point that will allow some early game testing for people outside of the project. I will keep you all informed so that when the alpha is ready, the criteria for applications for alpha testers will be made available for anyone who might be interested.

Ok, that’s it for now. Back to blueprint coding!

~SF

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Tribehacks with Todd Howard!

Hey everyone – Gen here!

SO yesterday was very exciting for me – visited my alma mater, the College of William and Mary, to see the keynote speaker for the third annual three-day tech development bonanza: Tribehacks.

Wonderfully, the keynote speaker in question was none other than Todd Howard, College of William and Mary graduate of 1993; also a top designer, director and producer working for Bethesda Softworks, specifically the Fallout and Elder Scrolls franchises.

Needless to say, it was thrilling to see him present a humor-filled, educational talk about technology, games, and the development processes and preparedness goals for those trying to break into the industry.

I have a video clip here of not quite ideal quality, so mea culpa on that; I did not prepare adequately…but CWM should ideally have a recorded file of the keynote in their archives. I have contacted them for the recording, and they will release it once it has been approved in its entirety.

But for now, my little clip is on Youtube, if you would like to get a glimpse:

Tribehacks 2017 Questions

All of us were thrilled to go and see this talk; it was just a lovely event. Wish I was still eligible to register for Tribehacks, but that’s okay. Got some tips from the presentation in any case.

As always, Howard spoke of his philosophy for developing games, the three points of which are readily available online through Wikipedia and other sources like recordings from other talks:

  1. Great games are played, not made. Game design documents are constantly changed when played at the final.
  2. Keep it simple. Simple systems acting together create complexity.
  3. Define the experience. Design the game so that it provides the experience you want people to have.

And above all, to follow passions and keep learning. Know how to do a multitude of things so you have more to offer, even ideas-wise. Brainstorming was a key element to the process on which he placed high importance; he mentioned that at Bethesda Softworks he and his team often take part in one or two-week brainstorming sessions that he calls “Game Jams” in which they would just come up with ideas for elements that could be potentially included in the games being worked on, whether it be a storyline, a set of character or personality functions, environments, quests, etc., and then present it to the rest of the design staff. Just to keep their creative juices flowing, so to speak.

Some questions that I didn’t manage to capture on film here included an emphasis on education that is not directly applicable to the game industry. Traditional art, writing, science, psychology, philosophy, etc. Specifically for those who may feel that they have made an off-path or unwise choice in their studies considering their intention to enter the gaming world. Howard emphasized that it all came down to what you do with those skills. That the experience and education you have is just as important as the application and not to regret it, but to use it.

Just keep at it, even when it seems discouraging. Learn as much as you can, try different things and figure out how you want to fit in the gaming world – what interests you about it the most. And then acquire the useful know-how, like some scripting languages because, as he had said, “at the end of the day, it’s all just computer code that needs to be written.” However, he stresses that the focus should be what you love most in the creation process, because conversely, “there is always time to go back and learn the computer.”

(Fiddling with Creation Kits and Mods and being active on coding or workshop communities always helps, too. It was nice to see how knowledgeable and curious he was about different mods people came up with, noting that it was the little ten-minute practical fixers to the games that really impressed him.)

But I know now I’ve got to get on those C#, C++ and Python classes now, despite being a mostly right-brained creative type. Blerg! 🙂

A New Toy – I Mean, Tool!

Hey everyone!

Gen here!

So…just a very small bit of news that I wanted to share (because I am still so excited about it): I bought myself a present. A large, expensive present. A Wacom Cintiq 13″ HD touch drawing tablet.

And it is LOVELY. SO lovely. If any of you aspiring or accomplished artists out there are considering it seriously, GET IT. I have been putting it off because of the price, understandably (it costs about as much as a computer), but found a deal for a refurbished one and took it as a sign. Ha ha.

I must say again – worth it.

With digital tablets, it’s sort of been a given that there’s a little disconnection when it comes to the drawing/painting process. You’re drawing half-blindly, staring at the cursor on the designated computer screen as if it is your last hope. And it is, really. That’s your drawing point. (Anyone who uses a tablet, this is baby basics of basics, I know.) Your hand is drawing on a surface away from the actual image being rendered. It’s weird, but you normalize the feeling and that disconnect because you want to create pretty art. It’s like playing a videogame, but for drawing.

The Cintiq, of course, eliminates that disconnect; you draw directly on the screen. It makes a difference. Already I’m noticing a faster speed to creating digital artwork now; there’s more control in each stroke too. It’s a fairly customizable product and you can adjust the lighting and settings as you wish.

Anyway – thought I would let you guys know!

~G

Happy 2017!

Hey everyone! Gen here!

Hope everybody had a lovely New Year’s! I think most of us are happy to start afresh, and not unwilling to let 2016 pass us by. But lots of great things happened too; lots of milestones made, social issues brought to the forefront, environment and animal protections and of course, our art/entertainment industry is growing and changing for the better.

And so have its independents! 😀

A lot is planned for 2017 for us, so this year should prove to be exciting in that regard. As for one of the initial goals for this year, the official trailer for Futuretech Flight Academy will be coming together! That will definitely be thrilling to see!

Otherwise, at least for my corner, working on final touches to that trailer script and storyboard set. It is mostly organizing and re-editing the content I have for Legacy after that!

Will blog again soon with updates!

~G

Looking back at 2016….

Hey guys!

As 2017 fast approaches, I thought it would be good to take a moment to reflect upon the current year and some of it’s high points in regards to the progress of the making of LEGACY (and to a new degree, it’s “prequel” of sorts…FutureTech Flight Academy, or “FFA” for short).

I would have to say that, without a doubt, our major high point was attending PAX EAST in Boston, MA this past spring. We had an amazing time there…from finally showcasing a playable demo for the public, to taking in all the sights, sounds, and energy from the event itself. There were so many great games showcased there that certainly fueled our drive and ambitions to become a name in this fabulous industry! We also met a lot of interesting and genuinely helpful people during our three days on the convention floor. The people who sat down and actually played the demo had tons of great feedback for us. Subsequently, from this feedback, our newest game idea was formed. Also, we were surrounded by other teams in the booths adjacent to us who had a lot of helpful and useful ideas and advice. It really was a great feeling to see just how supportive the indie gaming community can be from the inside. Plus, PAX EAST 2016 would not have been such a fantastic success if it weren’t for the truly awe-inspiring effort put in by the team who volunteered to man the booth. To Camille, Genevieve, Latisha, and Tori…I want to thank each of you for making the event run smoothly, efficiently, successfully, and most importantly…fun! Although we will not be making an appearance at PAX in 2017, be prepared to see us in 2018 with some new, amazing content!

The major event that spawned from our visit to PAX was the decision to create a smaller, one-off game which could be considered a “prequel” of sorts to the main project. It seemed that the majority of the people who played our demo…a small space combat portion of the game…thought that this was an example of the full game itself. Not only that, but they were all for it being a project that they would be willing to follow and support. This realization was in fact a bit of a relief, seeing that the main game would not be close to completed until sometime mid-to-late 2018. By splintering off and working on a standalone space combat sim, we had the possibility of releasing a completed game much sooner. We have also placed FFA on Steam’s Greenlight “early concepts” page for additional feedback and exposure. As of now, production of FFA is well underway, with a projected release sometime this coming Spring/Summer.

Another first for us in 2016 was the release of our very first teaser trailer! It’s fairly short and purposely ambiguous, but definitely sets the tone and mood for the game as a whole. The haunting voice-over work from on of our voice actors Tulip (whose voice can be heard on her web page http://www.tulipflanagan.com) sounds just so perfect! I still can’t get over how good it is. Thank you Tulip for the wonderful improvisation. The teaser video can be found here…https://youtu.be/OG3d8P2k9y0.

One of the technical milestones in the project early in the year was the completion of the “AI Ship Director”…an intuitive in-engine visual scripted program…used to control all of the various AI ships in a given level. By implementing this “Director”…I was able to greatly increase the efficiency and speed at which the game engine could control enemy AI assets in a level. Other technical achievements of last year were the creation of a functioning main menu, weapon selection script, and a order priority selection menu. The latter gives the player the ability to designate targets of priority for their support AI wingmen during the space combat scenarios.

In the writing department, we covered a lot of ground this past year. Our writers, Genevieve and Summer, both created some very intriguing dialogue and back-story for the game. Genevieve has been focused on creating a new main character for FFA, a young rookie pilot in training named Gary. Newly recruited, he is eager to get into the fight against the alien menace that is currently controlling the planet. However, he soon finds out that joining the cause comes with it’s own heavy price to pay. Moving to the lore of the game, Summer has been writing a narrative that will delve deep into the history of the world of LEGACY. Several hundreds of years before the events of LEGACY, circumstances are unfolding on Earth and beyond that will forever change the fate of humanity.

In the art department, we had a very talented batch of concept artists, 3D modelers, and level designers working to get a ton of assets and art sheets thru the pipeline. Latisha and Jacob…the core of our 3D modeling team…have been working on creating our weapons, level assets, and textures. Sergio, who has moved on from our team to work with a AAA gaming studio, was integral to creating the 3D models for our fighter and bomber assets…with design help from concept artist Kevin. Kevin, who has been busy with both ship and environmental concept art design, created a fantastic array of alien and human weapon designs, as well as environmental art for the interior of the large space cruiser being developed for our next main game demo level. Tori, our level designer, has been putting together that demo level inside of Unreal Engine 4 for most of the latter half of 2016. Our newest concept artist addition to the team, Danielle, has been creating character a-pose modeling sheets and illustrations featuring design updates to the main characters of the game. Her unique ability to blend both the established design aesthetics of the characters while being able to seamlessly integrate her own unique spin has been amazing to watch! The characters are fabulous to look at…and are coming to life with their own unique personalities. I cannot wait to get them modeled and rigged for animation in 2017! Our UI designer Camille has been working on creating some really great designs for both the menu screens and HUD iconography for both the main game and FFA. Some of those menu screens were showcased in our demo at PAX back in April. Since then she has create a ton of new work that will be front and center in FFA’s gaming interface.

Of course there were a few setbacks…which seem to mirror a lot of what transpired in 2016 as a whole. One of the major ones was not reaching a point that we felt comfortable launching a crowd funding campaign. Initially slated for fall of this year, there just didn’t seem (at least in my eyes) enough solid ground to initiate that sort of funding campaign. It’s my true belief that people should have the ability to see a comprehensive, fully grounded and functioning demo product before being asked for their financial support. Although we had a playable demo, there just seems to be a little bit more needed in place before that happens. Rest assured, that will be coming very soon though. Another was the inability to cast all of the main voice acting roles for the game. With a large portion of the characters cast with amazingly talented voice actors, the bar has been set pretty high for the remaining parts. The search for the voice of the main protagonist, alien scientist, and for the newest character…Gary…along with several other NPC’s…continues on into the new year.

In conclusion, I believe that overall 2016 was a monumentally positive year for production. Like our aforementioned voice actors, it has set the bar high for 2017. It is a bar that, although high, I believe we will surpass and even eclipse in 2017. We have the team, the vision, and the drive to make it happen. Keep an eye out for what is next. Trust me…it’s gonna be cool!

Happy New Year from the LEGACY team…and thank you for your continued support and interest!

~SF