Oct 082017
 

We have been going on it for a while now and it’s time to tell you a little bit more of what we have been up to.

Level Design

Our plan is to release a demo and test it to see the interest of the game and decide upon that if we want to continue production or not.

We are still very much in the planning phase and we have started to block out the first areas the player will experience.

The game will take place in Mont Saint-Michel, an island in Normandy France that due to tidal ways sometimes get cut off from the mainland. This is of course a prime location for a mystery adventure.

Blocking out the level like we have started to do helps us test the gameplay and general feel of the game as well as the scope of the areas before we dive into creating the actual assets of the game. This will save us time later in the project, so we have a solid plan on what we need to do.

Beneath the Waves - Blocking out the level

Beneath the Waves – Blocking out the level

The game will start on the shore leading up to the entrance to the city and during the demo you will be able to explore a small part of the city up the Grand Rue leading up to the hotel where the player character will stay during his visit to the island. This is where the adventure begins that will lure you into the mysteries of the island and your own history.

Beneath the Waves - Demo Map

Beneath the Waves – Demo Map

Music

Our musician Ulf has also started testing out some music for the game and produced to test songs. What we want is something low key that can be layered for different areas and below you can listen to our concepts so far.

Christophe Demers

Juras, our character artist has been hard at work modelling the player character. The next step is to texture and rig it to give it that final look and to be able to animate it.

We will not tell you much more about Christophe right now other than we have fleshed out a lot about the character and the events taking place on the mysterious island of Mont Saint-Michel.

Christophe Demers

Christophe Demers

The Future

Over the next period we hope to get in the player character into the game along with other graphical assets. Hopefully we will also have fleshed out some of the puzzle ideas we have that we want for the demo release.


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Aug 272017
 

Welcome to the first official post about Beneath the Waves!

A month into development and we are starting to see the concept take shape as we flesh out exactly what this will be and how it will be played.

The Game

Player character concept

Player character concept

What can we say about Beneath the Waves so early into development? Well… We can say that it is an adventure game filled with mystery.

We can’t really talk too much about our story as we don’t want to spoil anything for you. We can say that we are hoping to write something that will be filled with mystery, maybe even a little scary! Something that will keep you wondering about what it is that hides Beneath the Waves?

Gameplay wise it is greatly inspired by the classic adventure point and click genre. We want to have a bit of a fresh take on it so we are considering how we can do that. Our thoughts now are along the lines of having it play like a 3rd person game where you transition out of action mode and into puzzle mode. The classic adventure games often have a static camera and you go from scene to scene and we are aiming for one location where you can move freely within that space, think free roaming but in a small environment.

The Setting

Beneath the Waves will take place on a remote island cut off by the tides. We are greatly inspired by Mont Saint-Michel located in Normandy, France. The player, a 35ish travel author are doing and article series about popular tourist places during off season and for reasons not yet revealed takes aim on this beautiful island.

The game takes place in modern day but the popular tourist island with its rich history has the feel of, and aesthetics of a medieval city last renovated during the 30s.

The Team

Progress on the model of the player character.

Player character progress

Well whenever it comes to us at KJ Interactive you will have Krister and Jona. Krister being a coder he will naturally handle the programming of the game. Jona as the marvelous technical artist that he is will handle that side as well as being the lead of the graphics people helping them doing what they do to the best of their ability.

We are also getting help from our friends at Red Line Games. Juras is our character artist and he is currently working on the player character that we will talk more about in an upcoming article.

With us we also have Kalle that together with Krister is focusing on the story and dialogue.

The Future

Our short-term goals are to produce a demo to test the idea of Beneath the Waves on players to see if this is something you will enjoy and see if our direction with the game will be enjoyable for you. Therefor we are focusing on the beginning of the game and releasing that as a free demo and from there we’ll continue if you enjoy it as much as we hope you will.


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Aug 102017
 

So it’s been quite a long time since the last update, but here are some exciting news about me, Ambrosia, your pet Hippo, remember?

 

 


J Due to me having never really gotten as deep into rigging as I’ve wanted, this dev diary has somehow been over 2 months in making! The sad/funny part is that what I’m showing off isn’t even finished…

So what have I been doing over the last two months? Well other than private maters and generally creating some scripts to help me with rigging; rigging is exactly what I have been doing.

Below you will find a lot of images of Ambrosia inside of Maya as I slowly but surely create a rig that even a very meticulous animator would enjoy working on.

Body joints and first IK leg setup | June 5th

First up we’ve got this image of Ambrosia’s body skeleton, may have gone a bit insane with those tail joints, but as long as I end up with somewhere around 100-120 joints including the face, I’m not going to fret over it.

Looking at the front left leg, you can see that it has brown joins rather than purple ones, this is due to an IK-chain having been installed, what an IK or Inverse Kinematic solution allows you to do is to, in this case, move the leg using the foot rather than by bending the knee.

Here you can find a rather more technical explanation without Game of Thrones references for what IK vs FK is.

First pass on facial joints inside of Maya  | June 6th

Next up is the first facial joint pass and with this I landed on 104 joints, a small enough number considering it’s a character with a face setup, however, with too much control, the animations would take a whole lot longer to create and with the relative low resolution of the mesh and the distance she’ll be from the camera, this will more than suffice, it’s not Uncharted 5 after all!

What may be interesting to some who are just getting into rigging, is that the joints seen in the picture above are not the skinned joints (this is actually true for the first image as well) instead this is a second skeleton to which the skinned skeleton has been parent and scale constrained.

Why do this you wonder? Well, one reason is that doing something wrong is less likely to break the entire rig, more importantly however is the fact that this new rig doesn’t have to have the hierarchy needed in a skeleton which is going to end up in a game engine! What this means is that I could for example create a reversed foot, allowing me to animated her fot rolling from her heel rather than from the ankle where the final IK-handle is positioned.

WIP Ambrosia controller setup | July 3rd

Here is a view of the first controller setup, roughly one month after the skeleton was finished, let’s just say I learned a lot during this time and no small part was spent reading books on python and starting my own rigging library.

The legs are the only things actually done in this picture, but they can do pretty much anything you could ever want, including automatic and/or manual squashing and stretching!

I found that creating custom controllers can be quite a pain, especially if you want two curves or more in one, but with some scripts which took… Days to write, I now save a few minutes every time I need a new controller, in a few years I will have made up that time for sure!

Body controllers version 1.0 and facial controls version 0.1 | July 23rd

Twenty days later, minus twelve days of vaycay in Murica and the body rig is finished, this includes a very cool spine controller allowing for some rad squash and stretch action… yo! Look at her, isn’t she cute?

First version of the Ambrosia Substance and facial controls version 0.7 | August 9th

Jump to today, or yesterday as midnight was now more than two hours ago, we’ve got brow, eye, nose and cheek controllers. Exciting! Other than a preemptive turning 30 years ancient party which lasted for 3 days and a 4 day visit to Lion Game Lion in Croatia I’ve ben working on this little girl.

From the last picture to this one, roughly 42 hours of work has been done, the next rig I make will definitely go a lot smoother and faster, those weights are driving me mad, mad I say!

Ambrosia Facial Rig V 0.73

Since moving images are a lot more interesting and well, since I figured you may want some proof that I’ve not just created some splines in a Maya scene, here’s Ambrosia going from upset to happy!

Important to note is that other than opening her mouth, none of the mouth controls have been setup, so look forward to much nicer looking smiles, aimed at you inside of the game!

Perhaps more important still is the fact that this texture is far from done, due to a new UV setup and engine change, I decided to create the new texture using only Substance, so again, look forward to a much cuter Ambrosia in the future!


That’s all for this recap, I’ll do my best to get a new one up faster next time, with that said though, KJ has just started working on its new official project Beneath the Waves, this game will be produced in conjunction with Red Line Games, make sure you check it out!


 

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Jun 042017
 

It’s time for another Dev Diary!

 

This one looks like it could earn me some money, once you start peddling the gods inside of your new store.


JThis week it’s time for something new, an art asset overview video, as I migrate assets from Unity and create new assets for Eco Tales I’ll be creating videos like this to show you all what is happening on the art front.

As for the Dev Diaries. they will also continue, but art will rarely be mentioned inside of those videos.

This time we take a look at some high tier furnishing for your shop as well as some item containers and even some edible items which will be found both in the adventuring mode and inside of the shop mode!

Without further ado, the art asset overview video!

Please let me know your opinion of this format either on the video or on Facebook, I really want to know what you think!


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May 202017
 

Oh boy, oh boy! Look at how sparkling my skin is in this new engine the “Unreal Engine”.

Word on the street is that this isn’t even my final form!

 


JHello Eco Tellers or… rather Eco Listeners,
I want to welcome you to a new stage in the life of Eco Tales’, one where it’s gone from being the studio’s main game to a Jona’s favorite side project.

I want to start off with what has been going on behind the scenes and then at the end of the post, I’ll write a bit about what this means for the project and why this has happened.

First up, an image of Lech posing inside of the Unreal Engine, this is the first version of my Eco Skin shader or… I guess they’re called Materials now, that’ll be hard to get used to.

I think it’s a very good start, especially considering that the textures are auto-generated inside of Substance Designer, his eyes do look a bit dull and dead, but he doesn’t have retinas in this version so worry not, Lech will be his old grumpy self soon enough.

I’m going to test Dev videos and see if those are of interest to you all, please leave a comment on the video or on Facebook if you like the thought!

I will also create art asset overviews something I loved to watch when I was a student and Wolfire Games showed off their game Overgrowth.

(In the future I promise better audio and more interesting deep diving videos, a moving image says more than an image which in turn says more than nine THOUSAND words!)

Onto some Q&A.

Why has this happened?
Eco Tales : My Item Shop is a very large project, it’s two games in one and for a budding studio, it’s just too large of a commitment.
(Don’t be sad, I’ve no longer got a working Netflix account so I’ve got all the time in the world!)

What does this mean?
This means that Eco Tales : My Item Shop is now a one man project, but don’t worry about me!
I’ve always dreamed of one day creating a game all by myself; and Eco Tales : My Item Shop has been brewing inside of my grey head goo for almost two decades by now, long story short to me this is just a fun challenge.

What will KJ do now?
I will take the fifth on this one but let’s just say it will be VeRy exciting!


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Apr 252017
 

Well we’re trying a gif this time since the over all theme of the post is motion, let’s hope it doesn’t free… eeze. Annoying, some kind of stuttering going on I can’t seem t… o be able to keep moving my face.

 


J Here we’ve got the first iteration of a Humanoid root-motion rig driving the movement of Lech, with an overriding generic rig for the facial bones to keep that beautiful face smiling!

Continuing on I’ve created a system for combining meshes in real-time, I say I but google and Simple LOD was of more than a little help!

The characters and animation systems of Eco has as you see been my main focus this week, and after looking through my import settings I found why my feet were slipping around all over the ground.

As you can see, the sliding feet is no longer an issue on the Lech below, additionally you can see one of his feet are planted firmly on a high ledge, the back of his hand is planted on a pole and his face is angled towards the camera.

Other than the sliding feet issue, this is all due to Final IK a powerful and easy to use IK-system which we’ll use to get our little Ecozens to feel more firmly planted in the world, literally, it will also be used to make the characters look at things of interest as well as, pick up and hold items, without having to create tens of new animations and animation overlays.

Looks a bit washed out though doesn’t he? Here’s a preview of the current lighting!


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Jan 112017
 

Jona is working hard on making me look better, seems something about the lighting is off… Well, I look like this, this week, I wonder what I will look like in the next recap…


J So I’ve been sick as a dog the last two weeks with fever and what have you, but before that and even some time during I’ve been able to stay sentient long enough to create some much needed and some less needed but very cool things!

Starting off with something we really needed, new counters to put smaller items on, these don’t look too interesting but, they actually are, these are generated using my new Houdini counter generator, it’s not a digital asset as that would’ve taken much longer without giving any real advantages.

Instead it builds counters inside of Houdini based upon a curve, these are then exported as FBX-files which get a UV-pass in 3ds Max before moving through my counter Substance.

Since December is in my mind a time for creating quick finished assets within the scope of a single day, I wanted to take this chance to create an eye generator, here’s the first iteration, for this I’ve also created new eyes and a new retina which should look a lot better when PBR is applied.

Here are the new eyes rigged on Lech, there’s something missing, doesn’t look too good without shading does it.

In designer however, it does look a lot better and this should also be a lot closer to what it’ll look like inside of Unity.

Next up, with the eyes so much improved I wanted to go in and create some new teeth as well, here’s the final result.

For the moment I’ve created a new texture set for teeth and eyes, however, since I’m using the same EcoTales PBR shader, I’m probably going to add this into the character’s main texture, that’s the true beauty of Substance, I can just change the UV layout completely, blend the final eyes and teeth on top of the character and bam, done!

By now I’ve made this look a lot better again, but this pre-pre-alpha picture still gives you an idea of where we’re at with the art currently.

With that everything made before Christmas has been posted, Happy Holidays (in retrospect) everyone!


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