Thursday, April 14, 2011

AVWW Pre-Alpha #9 Video -- Bats, Espers, Burowers, New HUD, and Weather

It was just three days ago that I wrote the #9 preview for A Valley Without Wind, and mostly that's still the best source for the goods on what all is new this  time around.  However, the big thing we were missing last time was a video, because of a few technical difficulties with the first version of the video.

This video has been worth the wait, however, as our PR guy Erik is now doing them, and so the artistry in the video itself has jumped way upwards.  Without further ado:

What's New?
For the most part the video shows off exactly what I was telling you about in that #9 preview (linking again to it for those who skipped down), but there are a few things that have actually changed in the last three days.  So we've not only put up yet more new screenshots, but I have a few new things to add to our prior list:

Revamped HUD
Perhaps the most immediately noticeable new thing is the new visual look for the game's HUD and GUI in general.  Gone are the AI War-like dark buttons and such, and in are a new, higher-quality fantasy-looking style based on the Necromancer GUI for Unity.

It makes a huge difference in the feeling of polish for the game, from the loading screens to the main menu on down to the actual in-game HUD itself.  Note that the character select screen hasn't been fully updated yet, so it looks a bit off still.  I'm particularly fond of how much nicer the minimap looks, along with the ability bar slots at the bottom of the screen.

Lots More Sound Work
As always, Pablo is hard at work on the sound and music for the game, but the last week or so he's been working on sound effects in particular.  Mostly we don't include those in videos of this sort, but towards the end of the video you can here one of the wind sound effects, which is pretty cool.

New Ground Graphics
One thing that is shown in some parts of the video, but not others, is the new ground graphics that are now in use.  I had only managed to update some of them before Erik was taking the video, but you can see the difference in the outdoor grasslands areas, in the small town areas, and in the lava area.

We previously had maybe 5 ground layers, but now we have a whopping 29 of them.  There are five different kinds of lava alone, five different kinds of full snow, two different kinds of thawing snow, new pine needles and rocky grounds, and so on.

Between this and the HUD, the difference in the latest versions is pretty dramatic when you're actually playing.  You'll be seeing more of these in future videos of course, but this week's has a first taste.  The big change is that these grounds are higher quality and more interesting, which really brings the scenes together better.

Revamped Damage And Melee Models
Now when players or monsters take damage from enemies, they flash red for a brief second or so, and are invincible during this brief window.  This prevents a lot of things, such as enemies swarming players and insta-killing them, or players overkilling enemies with area damage that was "cooking" the enemies over time rather than just hitting them with one damaging blast.

In the video the only real evidence of this is the flashing red on occasion as the bats hit the characters or the character hits the enemies, but in actual gameplay this feels much better for close combat.  In general Keith actually redid the entire melee model, as the other one felt a bit clunky and that was part of the reason I haven't wanted to show it yet.  Now swords are actually a worthwhile thing and a viable way to take out espers or whatever else.  I still have work to do on the visual effect for the sword before we show it, but gameplay-wise it's now ready to go, which is a big step.

New Weapon: Gatling Gun
For our first gun, I wanted to pick a particularly challenging case to inflict on Keith, so the gatling gun was it.  This required a ton of new gameplay subsystems that we'll be able to use for various other weapons in the future, so it was a nice test case (despite some things that are unique to the gatling gun, of course).

The gatling gun has a spinup time while you hold down its fire button, then starts spraying bullets in a line, going faster and faster the longer you hold it down, until it overheats and has to go through a lengthy cooldown.  Or you can let go before it overheats, and the cooldown is correspondingly less.

The gatling gun also makes it so that you can't turn, but you can still move around -- so you wind up spraying bullets in the direction you were facing when you started using it, which can be phenomenally useful against, say, swarms of bats.  Even better than the energy lance.  You can see the ability icon for this next to the sword icon throughout the video, but I still have some visual work to do on this before we show the gun proper.

Until Next Time!
There were actually other internal things we also did in the last three days like the addition of tilesets for outdoor areas, and some first work on some very cool crafting stuff, but I'll wait to share those things with you when they're a bit further along.  Suffice it to say, we're very pleased with how things are coming along!


Lusit said...

Is it a possibility for trees/grass and whatnot swaying in the wind during storms, a la Oblivion? It's a really stunnning effect.

Just wondering.

Christopher M. Park said...

Oh, yeah -- that was something that I'd been planning, then I ran out of time, then I forgot. Trees and grass and such already sway slightly in the wind, anyway, so the idea here would be to bend them further over and make them sway much more violently. I think it will be quite a cool effect. Thanks for the reminder! :)

Lusit said...

I'll be looking forward to seeing it :)

Freykin said...

This game looks more and more amazing every time you release a new video or post a new update. Been a fan since I stumbled across A.I War several years ago, and can't wait to see where this one goes!