Art Blog 24 – Animation Updates

It’s our first blog post since release! Exciting!

Hope many of you have had a go in early access for yourself since then. :)

Anyway, we’re busy getting our first update ready so I thought I’d share some new animations that we are getting in. Currently, some of the older ones are getting polished up too so you should see some improvements next update. Read more

Programming Blog 15 – Pathfinding Solutions

Hi, it’s Stephanie here and today I’m going to talk about our pathfinding! (It was supposed to be Bean, but he forgot his password!)

The monsters in our game use a custom pathfinding solution to navigate the ship, allowing it to take the dynamic layout of the ship and a multitude of obstacles in to account. The pathfinding can sometimes take a short while to calculate, especially if it is from one side of the ship to the other with lots of twists and corridors in the way. Read more

News – Monstrum to launch on Steam Early Access in January 2015

Team Junkfish would like to announce that their survival horror labyrinth “Monstrum” will be launching on Steam Early Access on the 29th of January 2015, with a prospective full launch in Q2 2015.

Frequently cited as one of the horror games to look out for in 2015, Monstrum takes the traditional survival horror formula and remixes it completely with its procedurally generated levels, permadeath and AI driven predators ensuring that nowhere on its derelict cargo ship is every truly safe.

With its focus on replayability Monstrum offers up a challenge to even the hardiest gamers, forcing them to use their wits and what ever tools they have at hand to outrun or outsmart their pursuers as they attempt to escape an environment that is out to kill them while evading the lurking terror that lies around any corner.

As part of the Early Access launch Monstrum will be available at a discounted price of £9.99/$14.99/12.50, which will increase to £11.99/$17.99/€14.99 when the game launches fully.

 

Early Access Features

The initial Early Access version of Monstrum will feature:

  • Two unique monsters, each with their own tracking methods and hunting styles

  • Three potential escape routes, each with their own challenges to solve

  • Four ship sections to navigate through

  • A procedurally generated environment, no ship is ever the same.

  • A variety of distractions, hiding places and tools to aid your survival


Full Release Features

The full release of Monstrum will include:

  • Three monsters in total

  • Five varied ship sections, with their own environmental traps and hazards

  • Oculus Rift support

Team Junkfish also give the following statement on launching Monstrum in Early Access:

We are very excited to announce the Early Access launch date for Monstrum. Choosing to launch the game in Early Access was a truly difficult decision, however we felt that we owed it to all of the fans who have been patiently waiting on the game to try and meet our proposed launch date in some fashion and not further delay the game.

For the Early Access launch we will have most of the game’s features in game, so players will be able to run screaming in terror down the halls in an attempt to escape whatever is chasing them, or make their way off the ship if they can fix up one of the escape routes dotted around the freighter. But we need the extra time to polish up our final monster, an extra area of the ship and sink any bugs that are still lurking around to make sure that the full launch is up to the standards that both we as developers and our fans hold.

Because we’re launching Monstrum in Early Access we will be offering the game at a discount. We hope that this, combined with the opportunity to provide feedback will help us forge Monstrum into the best game it can be.”

 

For additional news and information on Monstrum and Team Junkfish, please see:

Website: www.teamjunkfish.com

Steam Greenlight: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=227960559

Twitter: www.twitter.com/teamjunkfish

Monstrum Facebook: www.facebook.com/monstrumgame

Team Junkfish Facebook: www.facebook.com/teamjunkfish

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/teamjunkfish

IndieDB: http://www.indiedb.com/games/monstrum

 

Press Feedback on Monstrum

“Monstrum definitely seems to be going in all the right directions, pushing forward in what was threatening to become a stale and samey genre.” – Ben Barrett, Rock, Paper, Shotgun

“…it’s brilliant in implementation, and a lot of the things that make it brilliant are things that could have sunk another game.” – Christian Donlan, Eurogamer

“Death matters: get caught by the monster or lose your footing and your attempt to escape is over. Next time you start, the layout of the ship will be different, the locations of key items will have changed. It’s this that gives the game an edge over what its most obvious peers—the Amnesia series, Slender—have already achieved.” – Chris Thursten, PC Gamer

“Some of the scariest moments I had in this game happened whenever I was searching a floor and suddenly found a door that I knew wasn’t opened by me, which was a lot more frightening than any scripted sequence could hope to be.” – Caspar Bronmans, Rely On Horror

I’ve already spent a fair amount of time with Monstrum and I’m happy to say I’m nothing but impressed. Massive ships with labyrinthine interiors ruin what little sense of direction I possess, and because the locations of precious items are different every time you play, there’s a decent replay factor here as well as a healthy amount of scares.” – Adam Dodd, Bloody Disgusting

The problem is, a monster is stalking the player and believe me, it’s a nerve-racking feeling when you first catch a glimpse of one.“ – Alasdair Duncan, Destructoid

So far, Team Junkfish’s survival-horror is impressive; impressively terrifying, impressively disorientating, and the amount of sleep it probably helped me lose is also arguably impressive.” – Ryan Noble, Indie Games Magazine

“AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHGH!” – Countless Let’s Players, testers, reviewers, shows attendees… (profanities removed for delicate eyes)

EGX Rezzed 2014 – Editor’s Pick

Art Blog 22 – Polish. Cut. Pour.

Great leader Adam is away today, so ‘The Arts’ are here to take over for him, carry the torch, take the flag, lead the charge, you know?

First and foremost, merry Christmas + check out this long giraffe I got from Peter. It’s pretty good, has a solid whip-like motion to it so it’s kind of his own fault when I annoy him with it.

 

Right then, lets get down to business. Interior of the helicopter now has its texture pretty far along, didn’t take long – I used that ‘Frankenstein’ method (mentioned in the last art blog) a bit. Here are some shots:

 

I’ve also been tasked by the glorious leader to bring some older assets up to scratch, improve consistency and so forth. Here is a little presentation scene I threw together to show you all, take a step inside my darlings!

The sofa (left) was ancient history, but now it’s not. Well, the style is still old but I mean the textures, can you diggit? I remade the textures from scratch. I made a dif/spec texture for the cushions, then used a generic fabric normal map to give them an impression of cloth/fabric. The wood is literally just slapped on with a wood material I made a while ago. It’s also a little more desaturated to fit in with the environments better. Summary: looks better and the textures are smaller overall!

The mess table and bench (left) are now improved. Colours are consistent now, the support bars are thinner and the table has been raised to fit better with the hiding system. The bench also uses that fabric normal map, multiple uses!

The items on the left had a pass made. More polys to round areas out whilst reductions were made in others, so poly count is near enough identical. Textures are smaller too, whilst retaining detail: just not an unnecessary level of detail like individual DUST particles – which it was almost like beforehand. The fan and tape recorder share the same texture too, simply to save on memory.

The storage shelf is less boring now. I made it a little lighter and used the normal map to give its metal frame a more interesting visual dynamic. It now literally frames the contents it holds, showing to the player, through an almost ‘visual metaphor’, that even the most interesting looking exteriors (like people) can just be full of dull, lifeless (soulless) material. Just kidding, but it does look cool! And check out those sweet cloned lamps it’s got stacked!

OK, I am tired, I can’t carry the torch any more! It’s time to wheel out the next generic ‘art':

Hello everyone, animator here to talk about what I’ve been doing the past few months.

So recently I’ve been doing lots of monster animations which unfortunately I can’t show you. However, I can show you and talk about some of the player item use animations.

I’ve been working with Andrew Bean to redo the system used for the player use item animations. Originally I would animate both the player’s hands, move the actual item around and key the position in the scene to sync up the animations. Then I would export both of them separately and the programmers would place them in the scene. This was a bad system as it meant I had the problem of trying to keep the floating items in the hand positions when they moved. It also meant that it was even more difficult for the programmers to sync up the animations in the game.

The new system involves parenting the item to the player’s right hand. This means the item locks onto the hand and moves smoothly with the hand animation. All I need to do is animate the player normally using the item and only export the item’s rotation, so that it is positioned in the hand. This especially helped for items like the bolt cutters and fuel tank which required both hands needing to be used.

But because of this the whole item holding system needs to be redone. This means more work has to fix things like the wrist rotations, but it means we’ll have a better looking result in the end.

That’s it for this update, hope the insight was good

 

Adam and The Arts.

 

 

Audio Blog 10 – Story in Games Pt. 2.5: Sonic Shipyard

Ahoy!

This audio blog returns to the Story in Games/world building series that I was writing regarding game audio. Last time I looked at the IEZA Framework and broke down Animal Crossing: New Leaf’s sound design using it. As with the first blog on music in games, this time I’m going to break down some of Monstrum into the four components, what the sounds are for, why are they used and how do they make the world that the player is in feel more believeable.

For reference, here’s the graph again:

Effect

Effect sounds are a huge part of Monstrum for one major reason: the monsters can hear them too. This means that almost everything that the player can interact with or do requires a sound in response. Be it from crawling around under tables to using a giant rusted crane, running around a maze of shipping containers to throwing away a glowstick, if it makes a noise in the game world then it makes sense that the player’s character isn’t the only thing that will hear it. This ties quite heavily into the monster’s tracking AI, which we’ve sort of discussed before in relation to audio distractions. The fact that they’ll head towards things that are making noise can be a hinderence as well as a boon. So that giant rusted crane from above? You might just need to use it to escape, and it’s not in the best shape so chances are its moving parts are going to be pretty noisy…

A really early WIP shot. Still rusty though!

We also have some standard use of effect sounds like differing footstep sounds depending on the surface the player character is on or how they are actually moving. The various interactables all have relative sounds too. As well as this the use of reverb plays a big part in giving the ship a sense of space. The corridors have long, hyperrealistic reverberations that echo down its (mostly) empty halls, while the various rooms sound… roomy.

Affect

On that note, we’ll jump into the Affect section. There’s a bit of a deeper reason as to the obvious difference in between the reverbs. While they are being used to try and replicate the sound of the space the player character is in, the corridor’s long decay tails encapsulate the seemingly endless series of halls the player traverses through, which the rooms feel boxed in and smaller. I wanted the players to “feel” like this to a degree, especially at points when they have to deal with a monster. You’re trapped on this big, labyrinthine ship, but even within that there are microcosms, little pockets that can just as easily result in you being locked down even further. In the corridors you can run far and wide if a monster spots you. Dive into a room are your options are immediately less free, and if you chose to hide the area that the player inhabits becomes smaller still.

Some times you can pick the right place too!

There’s also the different themes for each monster, which has been covered in a few previous blogs. For a basic recap: each game starts with the same “wandering” music until the player is discovered. After this point the music changes to a different “bank” of songs depending on the monster in the level. There’s a “chasing” theme while being hunted, a “hiding” theme while you’re under cover but the monster is still actively chasing you down and another “wandering” theme, which replaces the original one after the initial chase and utilises some of the motifs that each respective monster has.

Interface

Monstrum doesn’t have much in the way of a HUD, but we do have the journal! It’s responsible for holding the player’s notes and objectives, which they can flick through, so natrurally it has page turns and paper flutters when you use it. It is in real time though, so do be careful when having a read…

Zone

The diegetic sonic space in Monstrum is of crucial importance in multiple ways. While the Effect sounds not only provide (realistic) responses and tie heavily into the gameplay the Zone sounds define the environment, which is a fairly big part of any horror game. There is a low level base ambience across the whole ship to provide an “air”, removing the silence that could occur if nothing was playing. Similarly, the different parts of the ship will have their own airs on top of this to give some subtle sonic changes, in addition to the reverb changes mentioned above, as players move through each area.

Additionally we have our random ambience generator, which allows triggers various creaks and rumbles of an old ship at sea. This works by spawning an audio emitter somewhere within a sphere around the player after a randomly picked delay. These are limited so that there’s a decent amount of time between each sound so that they don’t get too repetitive and lose their effect. Finally, they’re also affected by occlusion and reverb to help them sound a bit more distant in the ship. So we have:

randomly placed sounds + random time intervals + reverb and occlusions = mysterious spooky ship noises!

I’m sure Gary can go over the system in a bit more detail for a code blog. The outside of the ship doesn’t really have this effect going on as the sounds have fewer points of origin and nothing to reverberate off of, which gives it its own character. It plays more with silence, and being in the open provides a bit of a reprieve from the visually and sonically claustrophobic interior.

It’s also dark. Really dark.

But of course, how the audio is implemented is only part of the battle, how it sounds is also a key factor. This is quite relevant to the Hunter as it is, at times, part of the environment too. But that doesn’t exclude the others from this! We want to keep players on their toes, even before they know what they’re up against. Was that thud in the distance a footstep or just the ship? Was that noise above you just water in pipes or something creeping through the vents? Well, you’ll find out when you play the game!

There is a lot more in the game that I’ve not covered, such as the radios and other spoilerish stuff, but hopefully this will give you an insight into the general audio direction in Monstrum on the whole!

Cheers,
Jaime

Art Blog 21 – A Frankenstein Approach to Creating Art Assets

Hi everyone! Time for another art blog.

Today, I’ll talk about some of our art asset production workflow. Since we had started, our art production process has been through a lot of iterations to lead us to what we have at the moment. We’ve made plenty of mistakes and learnt a lot since then. We currently produce in-game assets in 3 different ways that I will explain below.

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Programming Blog 15 – Entomophobia

Hello, Junkfish followers. Peter here, to present you another code-oriented blog.

In the run up to Christmas, we’re easing back a bit on the major tasks and mechanics, and looking at another (less interesting, but equally necessary) part of development:

BUG FIXING

Read more