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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsDISCO ELYSIUM (we finished it, it's out)
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Author Topic: DISCO ELYSIUM (we finished it, it's out)  (Read 46766 times)
kuubaas
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« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2016, 06:11:56 AM »

Hi there! While kinnas and the art team are busy concepting and modelling away, I'm on day/night cycle and weather duty. The main challenge here is to squeeze as much visual variation out of as little pre-rendered pixels (and final game size) as we can. We wouldn't want to be rendering separate background images for day and night, snow and rain, etc.

The above is also the reason we are not going purely 2D but instead using very basic 3D geometry as a canvas. This gives us some extras like partially real time shadows (see below) and visual feedback when placing in-engine assets like characters.


Interior vs exterior lighting

Kinnas has only mentioned interior rendering because lighting interiors and exteriors is a very different task and warrant different optimizations and even separate shaders to make them efficient.



The main difference between the two being the behaviour of natural light. Exteriors have pretty much uniform light direction at each point in time, with light and shadows changing direction throughout the day. In contrast, interiors have light shine in from the windows (that is, each room having its own light direction which stays constant throughout the day) and daytime modulates only the light's intensity and warmth based on the window's direction. The latter is achieved by kinnas's mentioned lightflow map and screencaps above.


Lighting exteriors

Since interiors have quite diffuse shadows always pointing away from the windows, we can get away with a single shadow map for the whole day cycle. Exteriors, however, are not so forgiving. You have the sun forming radically different shadows as it travels across the sky. To make those shadows happen, we would need to import enough geometry to make them detailed enough and it still wouldn't look as good as a pre-rendered raytraced shadow.

So we are not going to do that.

We are going to bake shadows for morning, noon and night and use time manipulation and weather trickery to make them work so the player won't notice. Here's an excerpt from a map with the three shadows for evening, noon and morning.





These channels are to be multiplied to the background albedo map each at a certain time of day. Lack of a color means that spot is in shadow and the brightness of red, green and blue means the area is lit at the corresponding time of day at that intensity.

Here's the result switching between the shadow maps with light and shadow color grading going on as well:



I might still play around with some ideas to keep it pretty but pack the shadow information down to something less than full-size RGB map.

Also note that shadow casting between the characters and the background is real time (based on our super simple world geometry) which still needs work and is another can of worms to be discussed in another post.

Some of the switching between the pre-baked shadow states can be handled by summoning clouds for an overcast weather but that would look suspicious three times a day. We'll need some classic card trick misdirection while the player is busy and shuffling between interiors and exteriors.


A quick weather generator

Switching shadows and daytime isn't enough though, a world needs weather to be believable. Since these two things go hand-in-hand, I'm also doing the rain dance.

Here's a span of three days starting out with a warm but rainy evening and half a day of snow and fog on the morning of third day.



Generated by adding up some sine functions to make random but plausible looking weather data.

This is what the graph says:
X axis is for days (full numbers being midnight, n+0.5 midday)
Y axis is for temperature/probability.
blue: air temperature
red: dew point temperature
orange: precipitation (red minus blue)
green: fog probability


The weather generator itself is going to use the above data and follow very simple rules:

If precipitation is above 0 and temperature is above 0, it rains.
If precipitation is above 1.5 and temperature is above 2, there's lightning.
If precipitation is above 0 and temperature is below 0, it snows.
If precipitation is above -0.5, green dictates amount of fog.
Precipitation levels between -1 and 1 give us varying amounts of cloudiness from clear to overcast to gloomy. (should have called it humidity)

With some tinkering, these functions and rules result in mostly dry weather with some foggy mornings, now and again some rain and the occasional snowfall and the very rare lightning.

Now that we have meteorological data generated, let's have it modulate our lighting and weather effects.


Raining makes things wet

Here's a section of pavement getting wet.



I misuse a shadow map to mask whatever comes down from sky. Looking from straight above anything in “shadow” remains dry and rest of the scene gets affected by rain, snow, hail, etc. As it comes out, this a very fun map. I can rotate the caster to simulate wind. I can add the wet areas to background's spec map to really make it wet. I can use edge detection to map splashes under the eaves and edges of objects. With some work, I can even wet the background spot by spot instead of doing it uniformly. Finally I can use the sun's shadow map to dry it off at different rates. Sounds like pet project material, I'll keep you updated which of that I can squeeze in. I should probably get back to the big tasks like day/night cycles and the actual weather machine.


Unrelated

Here's some normals debugging for a piece of UI.



Because vector debugging tends to be the prettiest part of game development.
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irve
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« Reply #21 on: February 25, 2016, 04:12:39 AM »

Time for an update. Also, hi.  Gentleman

I am the programmer who is kept busy by the needs of the writers. I make the dialogues tick. If I had a card, it would say "Systems Designer", but it is a made-up name. I'm a university-grown systems administrator/lecturer-turned-programmer (I still work in TUT). At some point I'm probably also show our rules system and then I get to talk about my background with D&D and larp.

Bootstrapping the Writers

I have been working on the project since August, but a lot of it has been what I'd call explorative programming: you hack on something, get something working and at the same time develop ideas of how they should work in reality.


This is how a writer likes to work (and yes, this a fragment of our office in warmer times; I just burned wood to make it slightly warmer as there's still a winter outside and we burn wood to make it warm). Note that due to Articy being Windows-only, the visible laptop has been replaced with a less Mac one.

My current goal for the past three months has been bootstrapping the writers. We need a way of testing and playing through the mass of dialogues while building an engine. So: for the writers to be productive they need both a way to import them into dialogues and also a finished-looking dialogue windows which behaves like they expect. So they can see when their own dialogue does not behave expedtedly.

Articy: Draft 2

During the early days of the project we understood that we have neither the time or resources to create our own dialogue producing program. We dreamed about Obsidian's tools; looked into Chat Mapper, Twine and then settled for Articy:Draft 2 from Nevigo.

Chat Mapper had severe interface problems (it's extremely "clicky" program and it requires you to click around a lot while lacking keyboard fluency); it also looked slightly uneappealing like it could break at any minute -- it meant that we met some resistance with selling it to the authors.

Twine was interesting, yet it wasn't exactly forthcoming -- we needed something else.

We went for Articy: Draft 2, since the writers liked it and we as programmers also liked it -- it has a strong templating system, has support for cooperative editing with its lock/unlock logic and seems stable enough for our needs. The interface of the program has been designed to be flexible; there are annoyances like when invisible dialogue windows appear and lock it up, but all in all it's a solid piece of software. It is also really graphic-heavy: your small mobile graphics-processor will not zoom out your full-sized dialogue tree.

If I was a single-person programmer/writer I'd recommend the program highly since its solo license for an indie is absolutely adorably well priced. For slightly larger dev-teams and text heavy rpg-s I'd be extremely cautious, as currently I have three writers an occasional editor and occasional myself, who share the trio of lower-priced floating licenses and it's getting rather crowded, as you might imagine. If you are well-funded I think the software is the way to go: Think of the full price per seat at your max cast before commiting to the software.



On the image above you can see a smallish dialogue. From Articy we export to .xml. We tried and looked into Articy:Access and it is a nice thing for what it does, but since our import pathway goes through a Unity tool called Dialogue System, we passed on the opportunity of spending more (remember our frugality: I burn goddamn wood to keep my fingers flexible). That brings us to the:

Dialogue System

Made by Pixelcrushers; it is a tool for Chat Mapper and Unity integration and maintains feature parity with it, but since it imports well from Articy and the dev is one of the most friendly-helpful support persons you can meet, I think that this choice is solid. You can trust Dialogue System to show dialogues for your custom RPG. It even includes the source, but so far I have only read it to understand some of the intricacies of its inner workings.

After importing from the Articy, we had to make some adjustments to the behaviour of some dialogue lines: in essence, and this will be a separate text, we have some new ideas of how an RPG check system should work and this means that there is some processing that is done on every dialogue line to see if the line is seen by the user and if the line has some side-effects on the stats or story. Basically any ability checks are handled using a custom interpretation of Dialogue System's lines. For the technically inclined: we use and abuse OnDialogueLine and OnConversationResponseMenu to their full potential.

Writers Tool



This is what I have been building for the writers so that they can import their .xml into the game without ever running Unity. It has a list of dialogues which you can run. Currently it also contains an amount of testing-out-stuff and Estonian comments. It also shows our dialogue window, as it stands as of now. From this tool we, at some point, will change the dialogue variables.

You can also see the current in-progress state of our dialogue UI. There will be an eerily cool dynamic background to it which has been programmed, but still needs some integration.

So now the writers have begun playing through their dialogues and I occasionally laugh myself to tears when reading what they have made.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2016, 01:55:15 AM by irve » Logged
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« Reply #22 on: February 25, 2016, 07:46:35 AM »

I need more bleak and gritty RPGs in my life so I will follow this from now on. Wink

Interested to hear more about your procedural IK solution later, I've been thinking about that a lot as of late for the next project (and am also using Unity).
« Last Edit: February 25, 2016, 09:11:32 AM by Greipur » Logged

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« Reply #23 on: February 25, 2016, 09:35:12 AM »

Stunning visuals, and impressive lighting, I also lol'd at the "being made by wikipedia addicted eastern european intellectuals!"  Coffee haha! Can't wait to see more ^_^
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« Reply #24 on: March 07, 2016, 10:31:15 AM »

Hi there! While the background renders are coming along, I’m taking a break from being a weather god to explain the Glorious MulTan Map (® ™ etc).

Everything in this post is black, white and red because it’s raining and I’m feeling particularly noir today. Cool

Baking the background for a pre-rendered game isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. For instance since we want to use real time lights we can't just bake shadows into the background. Say if you illuminate an area in shadow with a flash light a render with baked in shadows will not have enough colour information to properly light up.

So. We have to split our background up into separate colour and shadow components. This is actually great because it will give us a chance to swap shadows based on the time of day. To do this we render our background map at three different times of day and with a very neutral overcast light. All together 4 versions.

Here’s our overcast render (neutral map) vs a moody morning map.



We render these into floating point EXR buffer files to keep as much information as possible for shadow map extraction. The following is how we extract the shadow component from our morning, noon and evening renders.

Stand back and hold onto your hats, we are going to do...

P i c t u r e   M a t h ! My Word!




Since our goal is an image of only shadow information we need to take one of our daylight renders and remove from it all information about geometry and texture (which in our case is the overcast neutrally lit render). We tried to do this step via subtraction to get an additive shadow map but the maths gave us an image with a whole lot of (mostly inverted) colour information in there as well. This is bad because we want to keep all colour information only in the neutral map since that's where the final colour correction and brush strokes paintover pass happens.

Dividing the renders instead of subtracting gave us exactly what we wanted. A mostly colour-agnostic multiplicative shadow map. Beautiful.

Here’s the resulting map featuring the main problem in red:



All pixels in this image illustrated in garish red are values above 1. Pretty much every surface facing the sun is lit up into super high values because we're dividing the daylight map by the darker (smaller) value of the neutral map. If we were to just clamp values at 1 we retain shadows but lose all information about anything that's brighter than the neutral map. This would essentially work but look super bland. We can do better.

Here's A/B between the clamped shadow map multiplied by our neutral map versus the original morning render. Should look similar but all the sunlight is grayed out by our clamp. Not nice at all.



This is how multiplicative maps work. They only make colours darker.

In order to not lose shading information in the range above 1, we would either need to use a floating point file format (no thanks, let's stick to png), misuse the 8 bits of png channel as a floating point value or somehow squeeze it nonlinearly into the 0 to 1 range. Since the last two are virtually the same, let’s just avoid the brainhurt of bit juggling and go with the squeeze.

Looking at functions that could pack our (0 to possibly infinite) values into a 0 to 1 range, arctangent function looked like the most obvious choice. It starts out as a one to one (0 equals 0) accordance and loses resolution as values go up.



That’s exactly the kind of squeeze we need. Except for the poor little pi in there but that’s nothing a little math can’t get rid of.

More picture math!



Here’s the tangentified shadow map in its full grayed out glory.



Looks as flat and dull as the neutral color map but that’s because our mortal eyes can’t process infinity. Blink

The above is what is going to be used in engine. The game takes the map and does reverse math to unpack it to its full infinite range before multiplying back onto the neutral map.

Picture math galore!



Images in the above calculation are two blindingly uninteresting maps that, using a single function of trigonometry, combine to form our juicy clear morning sunshine.



To my surprise, from the tests I’ve run so far, the loss of arctan map resolution in the upper values has yet to manifest itself in any form. Highlights are fine, dark objects are fine, in light or shadow.


Oh look, it stopped raining! I can snap out of noir now.

We repeat the above process for all three times of day and get three separate shadow maps which we combine into the R, G and B channels of a single image file. Here’s what our shadow map looks like after being packed with morning, noon and evening shadows.



On the left is our old method which just took Cycles’ shadow pass (just plain binary soft shadow/light without bounces) and on the right the method described above. The former might look bright and clear but the new method carries much, much more subtle lighting information from render to engine.

I love picture math. Picture math makes pretty. Hand Shake Left Hand Shake Right
« Last Edit: March 08, 2016, 12:14:46 AM by kuubaas » Logged

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« Reply #25 on: March 07, 2016, 02:56:55 PM »

Impressive tech, and the art is great! Will be watching this one:)
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« Reply #26 on: March 07, 2016, 03:28:24 PM »


Imagine a dungeon-district! An RPG city district that doubles as an ongoing dungeon, phasing from hidden street to meth-lab to salsa party.

Blam, you stepped into the wrong room motherfucker - salsa party!

Hope you brought your maracas!

Be armed to the teeth with maracas when you come to the… okay I’ll stop now.

SALSA PARTAYYYYYYY  Cheesy

Seriously though. You mentioned in your first post that there's like 10 of you on the team? So I assume you've already got your composition/sound design handled in house; I don't care. I WANT TO WRITE THE SALSA PARTY MUSIC.


P.S. (I am a percussionist. I own multiple pairs of maracas).

P.P.S. Thanks for the great progress and ever entertaining updates!
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« Reply #27 on: March 08, 2016, 11:25:53 AM »

This game looks really cool! Thanks for the detailed dev log.
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« Reply #28 on: March 08, 2016, 12:55:00 PM »

We got our maracas men waiting to salsa it up so we good on the salsa for now. It'll be the most fantastic salsa beat ever conceived. Underground Karelian Hardsalsa.

Thanks for the kind words!

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« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2016, 02:54:58 PM »

It'll be the most fantastic salsa beat ever conceived. Underground Karelian Hardsalsa.


I'm holding you to that. I can't WAIT to hear that! Beer!
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kuubaas
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« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2016, 05:14:04 AM »

Thanks for the kind words, guys.

Taking a break again from picture math and from being a weather god. Never a dull moment around here.

Here's a little part of a feature we call Sense Overlay. The gist of it is, the world will have interactable objects marked by outlines and in some cases orbs. While interactions with visible objects are placed within world space, other senses (smell, hearing) that do not have a pinpoint location are placed in an orbit around the player's head. Because if you happen to be a humanoid, that's where most of your sensing happens.

This concept art depicts your sense of smell being a bit... saturated by your surroundings.



Here's a very early go at programming it, along with a bit of clipping. Devlogs are never complete without a bit of involuntary clipping.



You press Tab to call up your Sense Overlay which includes the selection ring becoming an orbit of sense orbs (affectionately named Hula and Halo by the programmers). This was a quick update, more on those bad boys later.


Also. After a motherboard crash in the studio, I got to work on my crappy little laptop for a while and decided to give up my beautiful render-to-mask highlight system. Rendering the whole scene with replaced shaders and edge-detecting the result in post-process seems to hog up a bit too much GPU time, even after several optimizations.

We are aiming the game for oldish hardware as well and thus might have to make do with the good old mesh extrusion method. Will have to review the asset creation pipeline because those sharp edges are going to be a pain.

Any ideas on efficient silhouette highlighting when your model has split vertex normals?
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« Reply #31 on: March 16, 2016, 08:30:46 AM »



It's happening! Concept art is slowly mutating into 3d!

As of yet it's all quite bare of snow but we went out and did some cellphone scans of local piles to be immortalized for the game. Stand fast brave pile of snow, you may melt but your likeness never will!
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« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2016, 05:24:44 AM »

We're working furiously towards an internal milestone build which should have most of the important dialogue and world interaction mechanics implemented which is why it's so hard to get anyone to write about it. We'll have some juicy stuff to show soon though!

We use Blender to make and render out the "underpaint" of our background art and I recently made this monstrocity of a megatexture/megashader to make it easy to paint out the sandy beach areas for the game. It's basically your regular kind of masking magic but it has some clever tricks. For instance I set it up so you can mask over the regular displacement & normal maps with a messy one so you can easily paint in a path where people have walked. Mixing and matching textures with different normal maps gives more variety and a more organic feeling to it so you can have for instance seamless footsteps in an otherwise pristine windswept wave pattern part of the beach. And you can paint beach clutter and it has all the alphas set up so it mixes seamlessly with the underlying texture which is nice and convenient.

It's in fact so nice I'll be a bit sad going in and painting all over it.



Here's a look under the bonnet at the node cthulhu which makes it happen:

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« Reply #33 on: April 05, 2016, 12:53:49 AM »

Glad to see more devs poking about with Blender in interesting ways, not that it's uncommon that indies use free software, but I find it rare to see people pushing that software this far in indiedev. Inspirational for a fellow Blender user! That sand shader looks very convincing, by the way.
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« Reply #34 on: April 08, 2016, 01:28:47 PM »

Welp, here's my past week summed up.

Rewrote my hacked surface shader into a pure and beautiful vert/frag shader. Unity sure keeps its shader compiling and shadow collection out of reach and undocumented. Will elaborate further soon.

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« Reply #35 on: April 22, 2016, 01:16:56 PM »

Can't really comprehend these breakdowns. Still. Looks very promising, keep up the updates, fellow countrymen  Gentleman
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« Reply #36 on: April 22, 2016, 01:32:27 PM »

Looks great. Can't stop reading 'furries' though  Shocked
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« Reply #37 on: May 08, 2016, 11:41:17 PM »

Some breather-weeks have passed in which we paid our technical debts, which spawned during the race to our internal playtest build. This update focuses on the state of the dialogues and as promised: a peek what we intend to do differently.

Right from the onset we knew that we had to cater our worldbuilder-in-chief, Robert, with the most expressive system we could build in terms of interactivity and also in terms of his writing ambition. His book, sadly available in Estonian only, is possibly one of the most interesting slipstream fantasy books that I have read and also in a large part the reason why I believe into our writing enough to dedicate myself to the game. Our world will be a cool one. Also, we have an actual published and talented author writing your story, how cool is that.

Orbiting senses

In terms of interactivity we need our protagonist to sense the surroundings in a literature-friendly manner. It reeks in the bathroom, but the smell is also so indescribable that they should have sent a poet. There is a suspicious track-mark on the pavement. You barely hear the seagulls over the sound of the engine.

We decided that your senses — both area and object related, tell you more about the world using what we call “sense orbs”. The orbs come in two types: in-world and orbital. In-world orbs are visible to the player and concern your perception — you see something and its location is marked. Smells, sounds are ofthen more transient and you cannot pinpoint their origin. This kind of sensory information, even your “gut feeling” hovers around your head as you travel the world. If interested you can click on them.

Suppose that you end a dialogue and have this specific “staircase wisdom” — you realize that you had a perfect counter to someones’ line or you have a feeling about something being really wrong with the corpse — you could have a monologue with that feeling to gather more insight into yourself or the world.

So the orbs share both tweet-like information and can be discussed with; they store the interacted-or-not status and are coloured to hint that you had to have a certain skill to interact with them.


The orb visual uses placeholder graphics.

Continue

We designed the dialogue interface in a manner which tells to the player “red goes forward”. Our dialogue options are (usually) red — if you have a choice you choose from the red ones. If you don’t have a choice, you click on the big red button. It goes slightly against the “red is the close button” convention, but we believe that the way in which we introduce our UI will avoid any confusion on the matter.


Dialogue window showing an empathy passive

The continue button sometimes changes colour. It needed some clever lookahead logic, but we foreshadow possible extra content which comes from having high skills in some stats. Suppose you have high drama: you might get an idea from your character facet called Drama: “It would be aproppriate to pause and inspect your sidearm thoughtfully.” Then, when you do that, you might be more successful in establishing Authority over someone. Sometimes they just add flavour or send you off to weird side-treks into someones psyche.

This foreshadowing with colour adds an interesting anticipation moments and also tells to the player that there are many paths through our game and not all of them are open to anyone.

Internally we call those moments Passive Checks and they are “take 7” type of non-rolls. You either pass the threshold with a skill and get its information or not and continue with slight nagging feeling that you should be more Dramatic in your next playthrough (or scum-save).

Checks

We have two kinds of checks which you can roll: Red ones and White ones. The White check signifies those dialogues in which you can convince someone or try something and while failing it affects the story (and sometimes in a beneficial manner) you can always come back later and re-try them.

There is a silent contract with the player that the writers adhere to: If you see a White Check you can re-roll it once you have improved as a person or have improved your odds (such as finding out some facts about the target and such). Also, the unmade White Checks remain in the menu for you to find even if you first encountered them somewhere “deep” in a dialogue.

The Red Checks are reserved for story events in which you can either succeed or fail and they are always tied to a choice. The silent contract here is that we make an effort to weave both successes and failures into the story. There are moments in which you wish for your character to fail a check.

Currently, and this might change depending on player feedback, we show your odds before the roll. Your stat, skill, bonuses and possible die rolls are matched against a target number and modifiers to the target number, which you have as of now.

This serves as a tool for the player to judge if she wants to drink alcohol; for example, before the roll, to deepen the intuiton of the character. We might decide that this information would be too much before the check and show what affected your roll only after you have passed it. This is something to playtest.

So, until next time when I hopefully tell about our character system.
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« Reply #38 on: May 13, 2016, 01:34:15 AM »

Guns yo!
It's a breech loaded nock cannon - blast your foes to smithereens with seven (roughly) simultaneous blasts from its clustered barrel.











Still fine-tuning the textures to make it read better from the game's zoom level.

No traditional combat mechanics though, you're not a psychopath running around gunning down people. You resolve conflicts through dialogue and sometimes a gun is a useful tool for a genteel conversation.
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« Reply #39 on: June 07, 2016, 04:34:28 AM »

Time for new promotional art and ACTUAL GOSH DARN SCREENSHOTS!



(click on the screenshots for some juicy 2560 wide pixels)







We also had a go at writing a press release which I'm sending out now. It's strange to be one of the "guys in marketing" now and it's becoming apparent that it really is very very hard to be short and concise about your video game while somehow trying to keep it interesting. Here goes nothing:

Ahem.. PRESS RELEASE:

Today FORTRESS OCCIDENT announce NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES, a story-driven role playing game about being a total failure. An almost irreversible, unmitigated failure. Both as a human being and an officer of the law.

Find yourself in a strange and familiar new world, where you can go anywhere you want to. See that liquor store? You can go there. See that motor-carriage? You can drive it into the ocean. See that phone booth? You can call her, and make her love you again!

Or – you can take one final case and crawl back to life.


NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES has:

•  An original genre of setting, developed for 15 years in absolute secret. Neither fantasy, alternate history, or any known type of -punk, a novel set in the same world has been dubbed fantastic realism.

•  The most advanced visuals ever made for the isometric perspective. A trick of the trade we call paintshading lets us create a moving contemporary oil painting.

•  Writing by chronically success-impaired science fiction author Robert Kurvitz and original music by the Mercury prize winning band British Sea Power.

•  A realistic skill system lets you develop original ideas using Conceptual Thinking, tune your nervous system with Electrochemistry, and become a disgrace to the uniform with Composure, a skill that lets you don your disco outfit to the maximum effect.

•  Thought Cabinet, an inventory for thoughts, where you process the ideas you've stumbled on. Ideas become fixtures, permanent beliefs that you can't get rid of, even if you want to.

•  Exactly one hundred and twenty eight times more choice and consequence than previously thought possible in a role playing video game. This is a world where even the smallest things you say matter.


We are inspired by "Planescape: Torment", "Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare" and "Kentucky Route Zero".

NO TRUCE WITH THE FURIES has been in development for over a year. It's expected by the end of 2016 for PC.

Visit our frequently updated social media hijinks:
Website fortressoccident.com
Facebook facebook.com/fortressoccident
Instagram instagram.com/fortressoccident
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