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  1. #1
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    Announcing Alaska from Ratus Apparatus


    Announcing a new First Person Immersive Sim from Ratus Apparatus coming to windows PC in Quarter 3 and Linux a bit later.

    Find out more at ratusapparatus.com

    upvoting my reddit would really help if you use that kind of thing. http://www.reddit.com/r/IndieGaming/...tus_apparatus/

  2. #2
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    I thought I'd do a quick update with all the details I can give right now:

    Overview
    Alaska is an immersive sim with a dynamic narrative, you have been sent to a remote space station to investigate a murder, you must explore the station and investigate its occupants. Build a case against a suspect, but did you prove his guilt or have you made a terrible mistake?


    • Immersive Sim - World is simulated and reacts authentically.
    • Dynamic World - You are free to roam the station and observe the participants going about their day.
    • Adventure Game - Use the Talk/Use adventure game style to progress.
    • Agency Engine - Alaska uses my own Agency Engine, nothing is baked everything is dynamic.



    Screenshots







    Trailer


    IndieDB


    Last edited by The Sombrero Kid; 27-02-2014 at 07:46 PM.

  3. #3
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    To solve the murder, you will have to find out what this machine is.

    I plan on posting more regular development updates from now on detailing what i'm working on and where i'm going with it to coincide with my screenshot saturday posts.

    This week I've mostly been working on a system where if an NPC is sleeping you can still talk to them by going to their room and pressing the call button, they'll answer the door and let you talk through your dialogue tree with them. I'm also adding a system where you can sleep to fast forward time, the UI for setting how long to fast forward to is an alarm clock on your phone. Finally I've been 'writing' the dialogue for the ending of the first act.

    Things i've still to do before the next build are:
    -Polish Pass on Act 1
    -Make the Encyclopdia work, any datapads with historical background go here, like Mass Effect.
    -When you meet a character their profile is added to the Contacts App in the Phone, and stores all the information you have on that person.
    -Add Google Analytics
    -New More Polished Trailer

    Then I am going to begin work on a Greenlight Campaign.

  4. #4
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    Thought I'd add some of my gifs i've made of the gameplay to the page to give people an idea about how it plays.
    Intro


    On Screen Keyboards


    All Lights are Dynamic & Shadowed

  5. #5
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    I've not had a chance to post development updates the last couple of weeks because i've been busy, I have a small list of things to work through before I put out a Demo, Trailer and Greenlight campaign.

    Primarily I have been working on getting the UI up to date with the new style and removing all the programmer art, it's an ongoing process and there's still lots to do. Part of that is connecting up the functionality for the Mass Effect style encyclopaedia that reveals background details about the setting as the player explores and the Contact screen which holds all the details you know about the NPC's you meet as you find out about them.

    I've also been writing and implementing dialogue for some of the NPC's, I hate writing the dialogue because I know how important it is and I don't have a clue what I'm doing. I had initially planned to have a relatively small selection of dialogue options and present them all to the player all the time, rather than having them tunnel through a tree, but this approach means you need to be quite careful about constraining the conversation too much and not getting to flesh out the characters enough. I'm still going to persevere with this approach as I don't think 'exploring' a dialogue tree is very fun, but if it turns out later that I need a lot more dialogue than can comfortably exist in one menu, I might switch.

    The other thing I've been working on is Google Analytics implementation in C++ using Microsofts Open Source Cross Platform C++ REST API. I've already uploaded the Google Analytics code to GitHub because I think it might be valuable and it's small and clean. I intend to flesh it out further as time goes by, currently it only supports Events. Analytics is something in mobile we take for granted and is invaluable for measuring all sorts of aspects of where our game is failing the players. Most big studios have their own Analytics solution for their games but Google Analytics is fine for my needs and will help me learn more about how people play my game in the absence of any kind of testers.
    Last edited by The Sombrero Kid; 05-04-2014 at 03:06 PM.

  6. #6
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    There are 4 areas I've been working on this week:


    • The flow diagram of the second act
    • Dialog with Asher that links the first and second act
    • Bug fixing and code cleanup
    • finishing the encyclopedia functionality and updating more UI elements to the final UI



    Story

    The way I've been working on the plot for Alaska is firstly I had a general outline of what I wanted to happen, mainly based very heavily on games, films, tv shows and books I like. Those influences are primarily Blade Runner, Pathologic, Twin Peaks and Philip K Dicks books with Faustian themes, like Galactic Pot Healer and The Three Stigmatas of Palmer Eldritch.
    I then broke the game into 3 acts, despite my belief that the 3 act structure is wholly unsuitable for interactive narrative, it's actually really difficult to break down a story any other way when you are a complete amateur, so I'm trying not to bite off more than I can chew with the writing.

    Flow Diagram of the Tutorial, Act 1 & 2, Blurred to avoid spoilers.
    So dealing with each act 1 at a time I will draw a flow diagram of all the Key/Gate verbs in the Act and then go about implementing each one and marking it off on the chart as I go, as part of the flow diagram I will often write a chunk of supporting narrative that may or may not end up exposed in the game but is justification for peoples actions and when I come to writing dialogue in any of the steps on the flow diagram I will usually do the same and write backgrounds for the characters and justifications for what they say and try and give them more than just one dimension, again even if it's never exposed to the player.
    So I've been doing that this week and it always makes me feel hugely out of my depth because unlike with the Art, which was more lack of interest than ability, I've never had an aptitude for writing and I don't think I ever could. So after working on story stuff it's always good to go back to the easy, comfort zone stuff. That being coding and UI grunt work.



    Bug fixes

    The code isn't very clean at all, one of the reasons it's not open source right now is I need to go over it and clean it up before I'm willing to let people see it. One of the most important rules I have that I just can't get myself to adhere to is no code in the header file. No matter how important I feel it is I just have a bad habit of not creating the cpp file when I make the class, so all the code goes in the header and compile times plummet. So with a mind to speeding up compile times after reading and implementing the recommendations in this blog post by Bruce Dawson, I decided to set about moving all the code that shouldn't be in the headers into cpp files and it makes me feel a lot better about the code cleanliness.

    Second on the agenda was fixing some of the known bugs. There was a boring issue where there are 2 ways to pick up an object, one is by holding it in front of you and moving it around and the other is by putting it in your inventory and I had to make sure both these methods were supported for using objects on other objects. My favourite bug so far was where you could put NPC's in your pocket, carry them around and then drop them off elsewhere which was a trivial fix. and there was a fairly harmless buffer overflow when reading files from an ifstream that meant some of the text in the game ended in garbage strings in release mode. Buffer overflows are fairly common in code and are usually harmless, especially in a game. They can cause things like the heartbleed exploit everyone's banging on about these days but for my purposes it's good to get rid of it because it can mangle the heap if you're unlucky.

    Finally keeping visual studio in check requires a lot more work than it used to, I link statically to the c runtime which means I need to build all the libraries to link statically to it too which means they need to be static libraries because dynamic libraries don't always link well to the static runtime, also since switching to visual studio 2012, I've had issues with conflicting versions of direct x in this new windows sdk it's started getting bundled with which effectively stopped gpu debugging tools from working so I've had to fix that by being very specific about the order they get included and linked and where they get included and linked from. Lastly Visual Leak Detector has been reporting false positives since I upgraded to 2012 and it's made keeping on top of leaks difficult, updating to the new version of vld rectified that though which means I can be certain there are no leaks again. All of this is very boring, very time consuming stuff, thanks Microsoft.



    Encyclopaedia

    most of the work on the encyclopaedia, as with all the menus is in lua, but there was one thing missing from the menu system that I hadn't gotten round to implementing - scrollable button lists. There is already scrollable text boxes and it was quite simple code it affects the inventory too which, before, had a maximum size. The other side to the Encyclopaedia is building the UI elements needed.



    So that's everything for this week, No screenshots again this week because as you can see everything I've been working on has been pretty bland, I'm certain there will be new screenshots over the next couple of weeks though, as I work on new stuff. I will finish up by linking to all my coverage I've had so far though because I've been meaning to get them all in one place for a while now.

    http://indiestatik.com/2013/10/25/igf-entries/
    http://indiegames.com/2014/02/_waldi...o_by_jeni.html

    http://www.indiegamemag.com/screensh...st-federation/
    Thanks to all those guys for the coverage, it's hugely appreciated.
    Last edited by The Sombrero Kid; 13-04-2014 at 12:30 AM.

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