As previously mentioned, the ship in Monstrum is procedurally generated, meaning the layout will be different each time you start a new game. Up until recently, the game would pause for a few seconds whilst the ship was generated - fine for development, but for release we need a loading screen that keeps the game responsive. One solution is to run the ship generation over multiple frames, by pausing the generation at reasonable points to let the loading screen update+render, then resuming the algorithm again. The transition to this technique went pretty smoothly (well, hello there coroutines), but, more interestingly, a by-product of achieving this means we can watch the ship generate itself! Pretty cool, huh? Gif time!
Let's switch off the lights and have one last look:
A quick news post, but we're really happy to say that Monstrum has been voted through Steam Greenlight :D! We're all really happy about this, and amazing at the support we've had for the game so far. We may do a little postmortem on the stats and that in the future :).
At any rate, you can keep up to date with the progress of the game on this website, or these:
Hope you've all heard the news that we've been Greenlit. Again, thank you for all your help and support if you voted for us.
We've been working on putting together the exterior of the ship superstructure which is a nice change from the claustrophobic maze of rooms and corridors of the interior. Of course, with a procedural ship, the size and shape of the ship will be changing with each playthrough and modelling many different ships is both inefficient, and does not give us much variation. Instead, we've been modelling it piece by piece. By creating repeatable tiles, we can expand the size and change the shape of the ship to fit with the level accordingly.
So far, the outer deck sections only spawned at the edge of the ship as a small exterior section that did not connect to any other places. They were pretty useless, having a similar behaviour to the rooms but with fewer spawn locations. Ultimately players would find themselves running out to these sections when chased and with nowhere to go or hide, they would have no chance to escape.
The exterior sections have been redesigned, now with walkways acting more like corridor pieces, linking up the exterior walkways and giving the player a lot more freedom.
Below is an example of the modular tiles put together in Autodesk Maya to immitate a section of a ship that has been put together procedurally. So far, this is only limited to the top superstructure of the ship, but the rest of the ship will work in a similar way once implemented.
Here is an exploded version showing each tilable section. Overall, 18 tile variations are used to construct the current superstructure of the ship.
We can add additional floors, windows and walkways accordingly.
On the inside, we've been playing with shaders to get the kitchen looking shiny. We are using static cubemaps to make the metal in there look very reflective. A problem we are encountering however is that even in the pitch black areas, we still have reflections from the cubemap showing, making these areas look overly shiny and unrealistic. So it's a little wrong for now but when it's right, combined with the dramatic shadows that are cast by the models, we should have a very eerie feeling room.
I've had to work on stuff related to our Greenlight campaign and official announcement happening in the past two weeks (clickyclickyplugplug), which sadly left me with little time for doing audio work, so this will be fairly short...
We've spoken about the use of distractions in the game and I want to talk quickly about one in particular: the radio. Instead of having the bog standard static and white noise coming from them I wanted to do something a little different, so we're planning to have them play some bursts of music from what would basically be a "radio station" just to break up the white noise a little. If you've watched the trailer you might remember a bit of this, which has now been expanded upon:
I always forget that they tend to have a lot of build up...
I've been doing a bit of research into a few different genres that were floating around when the ship was built (perk of the job), so the plan is to get a few from maybe four or five select styles and run with it. With regards to the "radio" part I'm planning to remaster the tracks to make them all nasty and... like they're coming from a radio. There's also the issue of the distortion and signal dropping out, so it's not going to be a clean passage from a song playing all nice and clear. This is a horror game after all.
So why is an abandoned ship able to pick up radio stations anyway? Well...
Welcome to another art blog entry from the Arts. We had been working hard on the announcement trailer alongside the game the past couple of weeks. If you've not seen it, the link is here :
The area shown in the trailer is the upper portion of the ship's superstructure. This area holds the bridge, as well as the general living areas for the crew. With the lighting remaining relatively warm, this area is the nicer part of the ship, Well, nice enough for a squatter at the least.
The next two areas of the ship we are going to work on are the lower deck and container hold of the ship, offering two exciting and contrasting environments for you to hide in.
Above: Early upper deck and stair well concept sketches.
The lower deck houses the general working and maintenance sections of the ship. Containing the main engine room, this area of the ship has a very cold, industrial feel, reinforced by cold green lighting. Metallic in appearance, this metal mess of shiny gauges, wires, dials and pipes make it the rusting metal jungle of the ship.
Above: Early lower deck window lighting idea and "The hold" concept sketches.
The cargo hold of the ship will be a maze like formation of shipping containers, making it possibly the hardest area to navigate. With little light in this area, the narrow paths will be hidden in walls of shadow; dark enough for something to lurk around safely unseen. The tall, colourful variations of containers will hold a variety of curious, and sometimes secret objects. With fewer hiding spots, dark paths and a labyrinthine layout, the hold will be a complicated area of the ship you won't want to stay in long (unless you like being scared).