From Casey McGeever, CEO of Heroic Games, Inc. (Consultant on the SoH forums)
I think the community likes to hear what we’re doing and what is going on, so I thought I should try to make that happen. Here is my stream-of-consciousness update:
1. We’ve installed a system called TrueSKY, which we are still evaluating and perfecting. It has a few bugs for our application, and we’ve spent far more time getting it just the way we want it to be, but we think we have it now, except for one issue involving shadows. For the moment, we are planning to use this tool as our method delivering the day/ night cycle for Apotheosis City. It could also give us some other features like cool surface water and even weather effects, but right now we have not even tested those, as they are not on our critical path. We do want to get a working day/ night cycle going and TrueSKY seems to work really well, now that we have it built into our version of Unreal Engine 4. Our artists like the look of the lighting, and they think it makes the FX from your superpowers look even better.
2. We’ve installed and are using PopcprnFX, which is a really excellent toolkit that we use for power FX and possibly for some other stuff too. We have built PopcornFX into our version of the engine as well. We have our first powerset, Healing Nanites, built in this tool, and we are working on the animations that go with those powers. But we still need to quality check this, as well to get everything hooked into the engine (since this too is a new tool). The PopcornFX guys have been helping us, giving us advice and they are just really good to work with in every respect.
3. We’ve had an issue with our master animation blueprint, resulting from some code improvements we wrote recently, and this has caused us to stop and re-think if an improvement to this part of our codebase is warranted. A change here will definitely impact the overall schedule of the game, but it would also be a quality improvement. Right now we’re thinking about this because one of the principal things that slows down a UE4 MMO is switching back and forth between C++ and BPs, and this is not something we can change, it’s a facet of the engine design. So we are evaluating the pros and cons of the animation BP we have now versus an upgrade. But with our BP issue, we are temporarily unable to produce videos. Hopefully this will be resolved shortly.
4. We’ve had some personnel issues (which I won’t describe) that have slowed us down a bit, and we think we are recovering, and coming back to a better situation right now. On a small team, when people have real life issues, delays do happen. But we have added a couple of great new guys to the team that you can see on the website, and we have actually added a couple more who are just joining us now. It’s our habit to announce new devs after they have been with us for a few months and when we all agree they want to be listed.
5.We’re working steadily toward a login test, which is a very modest name for a pretty significant event. If it works out well, we will have demonstrated that we can put the MMO into our MMORPG. 🙂 I’ll say in advance that when we do the test and publish a newsletter about it, the technical notes will definitely be worth reading. Once we think we have a date for the login test, we will put a sign-up sheet in the forums to see who wants to test with us. Hopefully we won’t have trouble getting a couple of dozen testers. If we get an enormous number of volunteers, we may run the test twice just to let people login and walk around under the Arch. But we will all be limited to the Arch area.
6. This morning I saw the latest round of polishing and improvements for the Arch Park area of the city, from our environmental team. I thought it looked outstanding, and since today was the internal schedule milestone for that piece of the login test, that was quite heartening. As you all know, it can literally take years from the point in time when the first video tours of a new game level occur, to when that level is ready to have players walk around in it. That’s normal in a game. We did our first tours of Apotheosis City in December of 2016, so we are getting closer by the month.
I’ve left out a dozen interesting things…but this post is already too long. Overall, we’re doing great! And the next Alpha activity is the login test, so stay tuned — it’s either May or June.