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TIGSource ForumsCommunityDevLogsShadows of Doubt - A First-Person Detective Stealth Game
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gimymblert
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« Reply #80 on: August 11, 2019, 07:20:47 PM »

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NovaSilisko
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« Reply #81 on: August 11, 2019, 08:20:39 PM »

Thanks! Definitely going to be playing around with the pausing in relation to evidence, as you suggest it maybe feels a bit too safe right now. The other argument is that I will probably want to include a lot of flavour text in the various documents and clues you find, and I wouldn't want the player to be put off reading that because of the stealth element.

Game option, IMO  Smiley If the player wants the extra tension you can keep it on (it can be on by default as well), but both arguments have merit so hey - roll with both. Plus pause-for-reading would be real helpful for people who might take longer to read it. My dyslexic friends would appreciate that a bunch.

Anyway - this project really is something. The scope of it blows my mind, and I look forward to it.
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« Reply #82 on: September 06, 2019, 06:49:05 AM »

I’ve been working on quite an exciting new feature for Shadows this month: Procedurally generated ventilation shafts! If you don’t play many games then that might sound incredibly boring, but to any seasoned FPS or immersive sim player then hopefully that sounds excellent.

One of the biggest things missing from the gameplay right now is multiple ways to get in and out of locations: The choice-driven stealth gameplay I’m shooting for requires that the player is given a choice in how to infiltrate their places of interest. Before this update, there was only the front door, and in the future, there will be yet more options including fire escapes and windows. But one of the biggest tasks on my to-do list was these air ducts that the player can crawl through to get places they shouldn’t.

Originally the ducts appeared on the exterior of buildings by accident, but I figured they looked way too cool to get rid of.

Previously in the project, I briefly toyed with having a more realistic air duct system as described in this article. I have kept a few issues in mind, although in the end, I decided to prioritize gameplay over realism- and with that, I decided to leave my air ducts at the mercy of procedural generation. The air ducts are completely procedurally generated within each building. Even if two or more share a similar floor plan then the shaft system within each will still be completely different, and your infiltration routes and options will be different too.

Going into the technical side of things a little: Basically, in the configuration settings I have for each room, I’ve added range variables for how many air vents can be added. For example, a bathroom might have one, or a kitchen, but less likely a lounge area. So when the rooms are generated they will also look for a place to put an air vent; often in the ceiling but sometimes high up on a wall or (less likely) closer to ground level on a wall. So now we’ve got all the points where we want the vents to be in the building.

Next up I map all the available space that the ducts can use. Mostly this is the space between ceiling and floors, but it can also cover spaces inside maintenance closets and even space outside the building. Now I have this space mapped out and the points I need to connect, I can simply use an A* pathfinding routine to connect points together- this becomes the path of the ducts. With every path calculation, I can weight already-placed ducts so the game won’t create air ducts which run immediately parallel to each other.

This is what the duct system looks like minus room and building models.

As with the walls/floors/ceilings, I have a different model for each possible turn/junction of duct- this is how it’s possible to create them. They all share the same material within unity, so I can easily combine them together to form one model and keep performance high.

It’s working really nicely! When inside the player can freely climb up and down vertical duct sections too. One last thing that I need to work on (aside from a couple of misc wall bugs) is enabling ducts to be discovered and mapped on the minimap. It would be cool to maybe be able to discover blueprints that map out the ducts and vents of the whole building- adding incentive to research your places of interest before infiltration.


Anyways, that’s it for this update. Progress is going nicely on the game- next up is a focus on improving the AI some more and fleshing out the side mission I showed off a few weeks back. Stay tuned for more soon!
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« Reply #83 on: September 16, 2019, 07:49:11 AM »

Wow,
I love the mood, i watched your 20mn video to see more of the game and i'm impressed !
A short question, do you plan to extend the gameplay area ?

Anyway, bravo !
Michel-ange MERINO
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« Reply #84 on: September 17, 2019, 09:48:29 AM »

ahhhh the duct crawling system is such a cool addition Kiss Kiss Kiss
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« Reply #85 on: September 18, 2019, 10:45:45 AM »

Wow this game looks absolutely incredible  Addicted

Honestly what caught my eye were the stunning visuals, I don't think I ever saw such a unique style in a game before..There are a few pixel art/voxel 3d games but this is something else, the only game I can think of right now is The Last Night, a game which was announced a while back and had such a striking style.

The Gameplay though is as unique as the style! I watched the 20 min demo you've uploaded and really enjoyed it.
I have a couple takeaways and questions about the demo, I know the game is heavily in development and the demo doesn't represent the final quality but I'm just curious.

  • It currently looks like the only way to solve a case is to use brute force, break into every suspects apartment and try to find the "smoking gun", are there plans to expand on the "mystery" part of it? Like will we get certain motives (that aren't always black and white)? Maybe a system where you gain evidence slowly about each suspect and have a percentage towards who is most likely the right one, and report him or anything of that sort.
  • I think the quality of the content is the most important thing in a procedural generated game, I would really love to see more variety in cases, locations, people, stealth mechanics and constant progress towards some goal in the story.
  • Getting caught looks right now very forgiving, in the demo you opened the door and it took the AI some time to figure out what even happened, I feel like if you didn't take enough cautious steps and got caught you should be immediately punished or have a little small window of opportunity to escape.


The game is honestly something special, I love reading about the progress you make and of course the final product is a definite buy.
If you plan any play testing for it I would love to be in that queue. Smiley
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« Reply #86 on: November 23, 2019, 07:51:37 AM »

Wow,
I love the mood, i watched your 20mn video to see more of the game and i'm impressed !
A short question, do you plan to extend the gameplay area ?

Anyway, bravo !
Michel-ange MERINO

Yes definitely, at the moment it's quite unoptimized so it makes sense to playtest in a smaller area so I can get in and out the game quickly. In the final thing, I'm aiming for around 60 different buildings on the map.

ahhhh the duct crawling system is such a cool addition Kiss Kiss Kiss

Thanks! Probably one of my favourite additions so far :D

Wow this game looks absolutely incredible  Addicted

Honestly what caught my eye were the stunning visuals, I don't think I ever saw such a unique style in a game before..There are a few pixel art/voxel 3d games but this is something else, the only game I can think of right now is The Last Night, a game which was announced a while back and had such a striking style.

The Gameplay though is as unique as the style! I watched the 20 min demo you've uploaded and really enjoyed it.
I have a couple takeaways and questions about the demo, I know the game is heavily in development and the demo doesn't represent the final quality but I'm just curious.

  • It currently looks like the only way to solve a case is to use brute force, break into every suspects apartment and try to find the "smoking gun", are there plans to expand on the "mystery" part of it? Like will we get certain motives (that aren't always black and white)? Maybe a system where you gain evidence slowly about each suspect and have a percentage towards who is most likely the right one, and report him or anything of that sort.
  • I think the quality of the content is the most important thing in a procedural generated game, I would really love to see more variety in cases, locations, people, stealth mechanics and constant progress towards some goal in the story.
  • Getting caught looks right now very forgiving, in the demo you opened the door and it took the AI some time to figure out what even happened, I feel like if you didn't take enough cautious steps and got caught you should be immediately punished or have a little small window of opportunity to escape.


The game is honestly something special, I love reading about the progress you make and of course the final product is a definite buy.
If you plan any play testing for it I would love to be in that queue. Smiley


All these things are true, it's just that early on in development that those things simply aren't in yet. Thanks :D
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« Reply #87 on: November 23, 2019, 07:52:56 AM »

I'm trying to transition over to recording video dev blogs, here's the first one:



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« Reply #88 on: November 24, 2019, 03:20:42 PM »

OMG! I am so freaking hyped for this game! Keep doing what you're doing man. Grin
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« Reply #89 on: November 24, 2019, 03:25:32 PM »

So cool!! Kiss
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« Reply #90 on: December 05, 2019, 05:01:39 PM »

This is ace stuff! I can´t wait to give it a shot.
I haven´t played FPS games for more than a decade as it all feels the same with a different coat.

Here you have an unique take on the format and also great aesthetics.
Keep it up and keep those videos flowing! Wink
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« Reply #91 on: December 05, 2019, 07:21:16 PM »

Hey just found this, looks amazing. I've always wanted to play more first-person sim-like stuff but I'm not into like gritty cyberpunk or stuff like that. This looks great!
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« Reply #92 on: December 07, 2019, 01:30:59 PM »

My next video update is here! I talked about the UI stuff I've been working on in this one. Plus you can now draw moustaches on people.



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« Reply #93 on: January 02, 2020, 11:56:29 AM »

Happy new year! For this update, I figured I'd look back at last year's roadmap and evaluate where the game is, and where it's going this year.


This time last year was a weird time for the project. After a rush to get the game into a playable state by Xmas, I took a long hard look at it. I spent the bulk of last year's roadmap post talking about how the game was lacking cohesion and frankly felt underbaked and not fun. Something had to change, the game wasn't suddenly going to become more fun by just ploughing through like I had been doing (out of blind hope and optimism more than anything).

I've reached these points in projects before, where you have to merge your hopeful, ambitious plans with what's realistic, workable, and most importantly, fun. To start the year, I decided on some crucial changes: Specifically, the management angle just wasn't cutting it (why leave it to other detectives to do fun detective stuff). So that was ditched in favour of making the project a purely player-driven game. Stealth was to be the new driving gameplay mechanic that created peril and made things exciting.

Turns out that was the right move, as this immediately removed a lot of janky complexity and allowed me to focus on what this game has ended up becoming: A stealth game where you break into places you shouldn't in search of clues and information. This substantial pivot as first described in the January blog post was much more work than I realised at the time of writing however, as almost all my targets were pushed back. In fact, last year's roadmap reads more like this year's. This is not uncommon in gamedev though: It's so hard to predict timescales. Something you thought was going to be quick takes ages and vice versa. More frequently than that though, the little bits that you barely ration time for, end up piling up and taking large chunks of your time.

It's not all doom and gloom though, the game is lightyears ahead of where it was this time last year. Not only is it properly playable now, but it's also fun and extremely atmospheric. I've got a much more solid idea of what it is and what needs to be done now, and the development progress is gaining a lot of momentum. Most of the more complex systems are functional, and the development itself is easier-going as a result. The project has entered the fun phase of development; where the things you've worked hard on are coming together and you frequently catch glimpses of the fruits of your labour.

2019 was the year this project progressed from a collection of vague but cool ideas into something real and playable. I'm really pleased about that, as this project in the early days was tough going— there were several times I almost chose to ditch it in favour of something simpler.

Here's what actually happened in response to my plans at the start of the year, goal-by-goal:

Quote
Switch the project to unity’s HDRP.
I did this! It went smoothly and took about as long as I thought it would. In December I updated to the latest HDRP/Unity version and it's looking better than ever. Success!




Quote
To make the stealth interesting, I need to start thinking more about the environments. Rooms and buildings need multiple entrances and exits (think air vents, windows, fire escapes etc). I’ve got plans to overhaul the generation of interiors that I’m super excited about.
Mostly did this. Air vents are in, but that's about the only alternate entrance/exit. Most of Q1 was spent working on the last sentence— refactoring the way the game handles environments. I ended up making a pretty nifty floor editor along with procedurally generated interiors, an essential addition to the game, which was well worth the time. This took up the remaining quarter though, and I didn't get the fire escapes or windows as entrances/exits done.

Quote
I want to get a Steam page up as soon as possible.
I did this one, although it arrived after Q1. I wanted to at least have some gameplay to show before I set up a page.

Quote
April 4th: Rezzed 2019. I’d love to demo the game at Rezzed, but getting something presentable enough to demo in time will be very tough.
Didn't manage this, getting something decent by April 2019 was a tough ask and I'm glad I didn't try and rush anything. Knowing the state of the game in Q1 last year, it would have ended up a mess. I'm pleased to say the game is in a much better position this year though, and we're thinking of demoing at Rezzed 2020! (Btw Rezzed is an indie-focused game show in London for those who aren't familiar).

Quote
Expansion of citizen models and visuals; there’s a tonne of data being simulated but none of it is visual right now because I only have 1 basic character model.
I've been holding off on this one for ages, as the plan was to hire someone to make character models. As the funding we need for this hasn't materialised, we've still got the basic models and (lack of) animation from this time last year. The characters are starting to feel off as they're so far behind the fidelity of the rest of the game. There's a decent chance they are improved before demoing at Rezzed this year.

Quote
Expansion of exterior models- there’s only 1 building model in the game at present.
No other buildings yet, but I've been working on getting the framework for them right. I'll be looking at adding new buildings very soon, and I'm quite excited about it! A fail though in terms of my goals.

Quote
Expansion of AI behaviors. What I have is a decent foundation, but I need to work on their routines to give the player more interesting stories to discover.
The AI has been expanded a lot since this time last year, in fact, they've been completely rewritten. They are much more dynamic and react to the player properly making stealth possible, although they are still very janky. Big improvements but nowhere near a finished state.

Quote
December 2019: First early access version. This is a best-case scenario, but it’s something that I’m going to be aiming for. I’m not going to force this one- I won’t release anything that I’m not happy with or something that’s unplayable.
I knew this was very optimistic even at the time, but December seemed like such a long way away! Not in 2019, but dare I say early access in late 2020 is looking a little more realistic? No promises or I'll have to write my 2021 roadmap as apologetically as this one!



There are loads of 'smaller' completed features I didn't write about in last year's post though: Revamped UI, procedurally decorated apartments, performance optimizations, elevators—  the list is extensive.

So what's the 2020 roadmap?

Quarter 1 2020

Polish up the game with the goal of presenting it at Rezzed in London at the end of March. This means fixing bugs, adding a couple of smaller features and brining stuff that's 'half-way done' up to 'pretty much done'. Get some more content in there, hopefully, some new characters models and animations along with more environmental items and at least 1 new building to make the city more varied.

Quarter 2 2020

Flesh out the gameplay features. CCTV, hacking, tracing phone calls. Foundations of the skill systems and progression. Cool detective stuff that opens up the gameplay.

Quarter 3 2020

By this point, I should know if early access by the end of the year is feasible. If it is then it will be a case of adding content throughout this quarter until I feel we have something that's worth your time and money.

If we are able to hit early access this year, the first build will likely feature the first story mission (already done but not polished), or 2 plus a nearly-complete sandbox experience. By that, I mean enough varied side missions and incentives to progress skills/items. There's a couple of cool ideas that I've kept under wraps in terms of what the player can progress towards, but I'll write about that another time instead of spoiling it here.

Quarter 4 2020

Gearing up for EA. Polishing, fixing bugs and adding minor content. Playtesting. IF we don't hit EA this year, we should by this point at least have a pretty solid date in mind for when that's achievable.

That caps off my new roadmap, and I'm feeling pretty good about 2020! Don't forget to wishlist the game on Steam if you haven't already, and head on over to our Discord server too.
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« Reply #94 on: January 14, 2020, 06:26:53 AM »

Good year for this game! You've done well! Best of luck with your goals for this year too. Coffee Definitely made a good call with the stealth focus as it looks like such an interesting game to play. I too do think that varied character models would be neat to get in place soon.
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« Reply #95 on: March 27, 2020, 05:47:00 AM »

From the confines of coronavirus lockdown, I bring you a brand new and over-due Shadows of Doubt development diary!

There have been points over the last 2.5 years in this project where I've felt like giving up; it's such a large ambitious project that at times it has felt like I had bitten off more than I can chew. I'll likely write about the challenges in more detail with another post, but for this one, I wanted to share with you perhaps the biggest saviour in terms of production viability: Voxels.



Back in the pre-art asset days of this project, when it was still a management game, I often wondered about what direction the art style would take. Realism was off the table due to workload, but I really wanted to explore a pixel art approach. As the game shifted to 3D, and then entirely to first-person, voxels started looking like the way to go.

This turned out to be perhaps the biggest decision in actually making this ambitious project actually somewhat do-able with a small team and small budget: The reason being that the turnaround of most art assets is minuscule in comparison to anything else.

It's arguable that the voxels are a little bit of a mismatch in terms of what people expect. They're associated with Minecraft and a general cartoonishness, which doesn't fit the tone of this project at all. On the other hand, they do effectively evoke a low-fidelity style, something which has recently taken off in some really, really cool projects that I adore. I think in an ideal world I would choose a low-fi, low ploy art direction over the voxels as it's more effective at conveying the atmosphere that I want. But crucially I also believe this would have resulted in increased turnaround time in regards to art assets. I'm happy with the trade-off.



When used in conjunction with the unity high definition pipeline it really pops. There's something about the use of voxels and modern render technology that makes something look really cool. I'm not sure how else to describe it, because logically the two should be at odds with each other? Maybe it evokes the way we remember old games of our past; always looking better than they actually did. As if they were brought to life, but not replacing that low definition that allowed us to fill the gaps with our imagination.

Voxels, then. After a bit of research, it became clear that the main contender of voxel software is MagicaVoxel, an extremely awesome bit of free software that pretty much all voxel artists use. Great, that's an easy decision then? Well no. Although it does a whole bunch of stuff really well unless they've changed it since I last looked at it, it doesn't do two very important things that I figured I needed early on in this project:

  • Be able to convert, or 'voxelize' traditional 3D meshes into voxels. This is important as I decided quite early on, to make this manageable I wanted to re-use some of the 3D building models I made for Concrete Jungle for this project.
  • Be able to output voxel meshes with traditional UV maps instead of an atlas. This was important as I wanted to make normal maps for my models, and not just have them all as a flat texture. This was important in order to move away from the cartoon flat visuals and towards the low-fi look.

Then office co-worker Nick Gunn, who works on Industries of Titan (which uses voxels to crazy-awesome effect) recommended looking at Qubicle. It can do both of these things and also has the added bonus of being quite good at optimizing meshes for use in Unity: Something which magicaVoxel at the time also lacked.
[/list]



There was a short learning phase; at first, Qubicle being limited to isometric view really bugged me, but I soon got used to it. I also began to establish my workflow. What was the best way to go from nothing to a final in-game model? My original vision involved using a pixel-art setup in Photoshop to manually edit the outputted Qubicle texture maps. I would use a really cool colour indexing technique to make everything look more like pixel art than anything else. It kind of worked in practice, but it soon became clear that to produce effective art assets quickly, I really needed to be able to paint directly onto the model. Photoshop does have this capability, but frustratingly there is no option for using point filtering, so my pixel art was lost to a horrible soup of texture when projected onto the model in Photoshop.

I explored some other options, but frustratingly I couldn't find anything that allowed me to UV paint and that didn't force the texture to be blurred. In the end, out of ease more than anything else, I decided to import my pixel art colour palettes into Qubicle and just use that to make the texture maps too.

Actually, after a brief adjustment period, I grew to really like it. It's pretty simplistic —  nothing fancy. But it has the essentials, plus it's quick and easy to add noise, which is nice as it again makes it easy to avoid the flat surfaces that look cartoon-like. It was probably the tool I was looking for all along for both modelling and texturing. As I grew more used to using it, prop creation time reduced dramatically, and now most basic props can be created from scratch in under an hour, and for smaller things about half that.




This sideboard took around an hour to go from nothing to working in-game model with wood colour variants and functioning cabinets and drawers.

Unfortunately, Qubicle doesn't let you output the texture map alone, so my workaround for creating multiple maps involves exporting my original model with a colour map texture, then duplicating it in Qubicle and turning it to greyscale and creating a heightmap with it. Then, I export this as a separate model (and along with it it's UV texture). I sometimes do this a third time to create a smoothness or metallic map too. Then it's a case of putting all these textures together into a unity material (unity can automatically create a normal map from a height map) and we're done!



The final bit of magic sauce I use is a special custom shader than can colour things without needing a whole new texture. I've talked about it in the past here, but what it does is allow another texture map to define unique colours to apply to the model. So for example, I can take a model of a bed and apply a special texture map to it that keys out the pillows in red and duvet in green, with the rest black. The shader will colour black areas with the base texture map, which will be the same for all bed model instances. The red and green keyed areas, however, will draw colours from my pre-defined colour pallettes which consist of 5 colours and are generated for each individual room. This is how the game can generate interiors with colours that are complementary to each other. With enough assets and this technique, I hope that we're able to move away from the cookie-cutter effect you see in many procedurally generated games.



At the moment you've probably seen the same few props hanging around in my screenshots, but over the course of development during the next year or so you should see this greatly expand. Not least because we're planning on adding a 3D artist to the team this year.

Anyway, that's my 3D asset workflow, I hope some out there found it useful and/or interesting. I'm really excited to see the game environments grow into more unique and interesting. Don't forget to wishlist on steam and join our Discord server if you're interested in the project—  it really helps!

« Last Edit: March 27, 2020, 05:54:03 AM by ColePowered » Logged


Detective Immersive Sim Shadows of Doubt | City deck building puzzle game Concrete Jungle
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