Resurfacing

Hello everybody! Did you miss us?

This blog went without updates for an unusually  long time. You might’ve been thinking that Chaos Cult Games went belly-up and development stopped; however, nothing would be further from the truth. I’ve been busy with rewriting lots of foundational code basically from scratch, while my friends and partners were drawing, modeling texturing etc, preparing new content. All that to make Xenos look way nicer than before.

When I started working on Xenos, (that was almost a year ago. My god, it IS taking longer than planned!) the game world was made up of small tiles. And these tiles had little objects, modeled with all the art skill of an experienced programmer. It looked ugly, but it was workable. Today, when art is created by actual artists, this approach is both ugly and counterproductive; so I had to change everything.

example of a chunk

A single chunk in Unity editor

The new Xenos game world is made of chunks, that are around 100 times bigger that a tile was (i.e. a chunk is approximately 10×10 tiles area). Each chunk can have any number of objects inside, that can be arranged however we like – no grid of tiles is required. And, of course, the objects are not made with voxels anymore, but modeled traditionally with polygons and lots of detail (at least, more detail. We still have to deal with performance limitations). This new approach allows for much more interesting and varied environment, but it also brought lots of technical difficulties. The procedural map generation that worked on tile map, naturally, stopped working. I had to make some new algorithms and I’m still nowhere near the complexity and flexibility I had with tiles. Pathfinding on a tile map is really easy compared to tile-less environment. Again, I reworked it, but it’s no longer as robust as before. Algorithm  for loading part of map on-the-fly – to create seamless environment – works with new system, but is unacceptably slow (went from 200ms to several seconds.) I’ve yet to fix this, and for now Xenos is limited to a single location.

In addition to that, content development is much slower now. Where before I could just decide: “I need a new table for this house”, model said table in 10 minutes with voxels and add it to the game, now I have to ask an artist to create that table. Which takes maybe an hour of actual work, and the work does not start immediately. Of all people working on Xenos, I’m the only one without a full-time job, after all.

On the plus side, with more generic art requirements, we’ve been able to make use of ready-made assets in Asset Store. These help considerably.

Current status of Xenos development is this:

  • We have working chunk-based system, that supports most of game mechanics from current demo.
  • We have a number of assets to create a town location, kind of like the one in demo (but not enough)
  • We’re building different buildings and parts of environment for this location, but we don’t have nearly enough yet.
  • We have concept art for player character and alien robots, and it’s being turned into actual models right now.

So, I think we can wrap these things up and create a new demo version somewhere around october. While you’re waiting, be sure to check new screenshots and concept art on IndieDB!

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