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Filed in Developers' diary by Dan @ 6:43 pm UTC May 7, 2014

So another month has passed and here I am to tell you what we’ve been up to. A lot of stuff has happened: we launched our own crowdfunding platform, developed several new game features and finally started designing quests, to name just a few things.

We were inspired also by the largest medieval battle in Libušín

The most important news for us is that we’ve finally launched our own crowdfunding platform. It really took us a long time due to the whole range of various issues that arise when you want to make a complex system that must have no glitches, in view of the fact that it’s about money. The process involved lawyers, negotiations with PayPal and an attempt to use an existing platform, which we later rejected and created our own… Anyway, the outcome is that if you register with the same e-mail that you use on Kickstarter, you will see your existing pledge and you can also raise it. One registration will then do you for access both to the crowdfunding and the forums and it should be possible at any time even for new backers to raise their current pledge.

We launched our own crowd funding platform to support us through PayPal or credit cards

At this moment not all the tiers from Kickstarter are in the store. Take it for now as a sort of dry run and if everything works as it should, most likely we will even add the majority of the pledges from Kickstarter, apart from the ones that were limited and sold out. That does not mean that we’ll never want to make new swords, for example, however when we do, we’d do it in such a way that our Kickstarter backers would still have something exclusive.

So how is the store working out? It’s not of course as massive as the Kickstarter campaign itself, but it’s not bad. Even despite the relatively quiet launch, we collected more than 17,000 dollars in the first week. If that keeps up we’ll be satisfied.

Characters and animations

I mentioned last time that new people have joined our ranks. One of them is Honza Zámečník, who knows how to do almost everything you can think of and exceptionally well too. So Honza and our main character developer Jirka have started thinking about how we will create the characters and how we will animate them. Literally around the corner from our studio is a company that has a top-notch 3D scanner, so our guys of course started experimenting with whether we could manage to create a 3D scanning setup cheaply ourselves, and the results of their attempts with a couple of cameras and a cell phone look really promising. So far, it looks like the characters in our game will be very detailed 3D scans of real people.

On the left professional studio near to our office, on the right we do the same in our hallway

Apart from that, we also started dealing with how to get the figures in motion, not only their bodies, but also their faces. That can be a bit of a problem with an RPG, because it contains a huge amount of text and it is practically unthinkable (and especially unaffordable) to use the best possible method – performance capture – for all of them. So for now it looks like we will use performance capture for the cut scenes, and some other solution, that allows batch processing of large amount of data for the branched dialogues and ingame stuff.

Well, since technology is progressing in leaps and bounds, it turns out that motion capture has advanced so far and become so cheap that it might be worth our while buying our own small studio, which would be equal in quality to the existing studios, but cost a fraction of their prices, and might even be cheaper than paying for recording in a big studio abroad.

Our 3D models made with just one camera

New features

Every few weeks we have a company-wide presentation of the new stuff that has been created during the previous weeks. Since, due to having to catch up on the whole backlog, I haven’t had much time for dealing with the actual development, I was quite surprised how many new things had been created.

In the first place, we have the archery practically done, including most of the RPG stats connected with it and I dare say it’s that sophisticated we could put out an archery simulator :-) The scripters then set up shooting of forest game, so you can set out hunting hare with your new bow and I gotta say anyone who manages to hit one of those bunnies is a sharpshooter. It really is awesome.

Our AI has learned to get characters to create queues in front of a door, give right of way to each other and close doors behind them. The horseriding has improved a bit, so for example when the rider now jumps from his mount on a hill, he drops perpendicular to the ground, and on the other hand he can mount the horse even in relatively complicated conditions. The model of the horse itself is being redesigned. The former one was a little short and when galloping sometimes looked a bit funny, so the horses are getting new models and a new skeleton.

Apart from the new castle they’ve been working on for some time, the graphic designers also created very realistic creeks, the programmers have added digging holes in the ground and shields are gradually working their way into the combat system.

Planning and design

As far as me and design are concerned, this month we still haven’t gotten into the working regime I’d like to see. Fortunately we’ve managed to sort out most of the backlog. We created a long-term roadmap of the tasks for the game. We’ve finally decided, hopefully, where we will be moving to next month, because we no longer fit into the existing space.

I also gave lots of interviews and we had a visit from our friends at the German magazine PC Games, which published a long, exclusive preview and video on us. Now we can finally take a break from the media for a while.

I had a few lectures at universities and startup clubs, which is a useful activity, because in our country there are not many options for study focused purely on game development and so it is necessary to popularize games so people will have a place to work here in the future. There are never enough good programmers and at these presentations, which were stuffed to bursting, I addressed several thousand. If you’re interested in the footage you can find it here (unfortunately most of them in Czech):

Meanwhile, the designers have been writing diligently. We started from the simplest activities and events in the game to get in sync before getting stuck into some serious quests. The problem is, since I don’t have time, I can’t even get round to reading the things that are being done. Seven people are capable together of generating more than a hundred pages of text in a week, which I then have to read, comment and usually also target where the changes should be heading.

So we finally came round to designing one quest together so we would all be on the same page and each could apply all the necessary skills. After all, writing even a very trivial quest for an open world game is really a whole thing. You have to constantly bear in mind the player’s freedom and deal with "What happens when the player doesn’t do something he’s supposed to, does something he isn’t supposed to, doesn’t have something he should have, injures someone who he's going to need etc.” Most greenhorns therefore often slip into writing situations in the style of "The player comes to the square, where at that moment...”, or "Then the player will follow the soldiers to...” The question of what happens when he comes there at midnight or he doesn’t follow the soldiers usually takes them by surprise :-)

Living history

Well, since the biggest living history and re-enactment event here, the Libušín Medieval Battle, has again taken place, I couldn’t miss that either. About a thousand warriors met there again and brutally hacked at each other indiscriminately while their better halves and more peace-loving friends presented life in a period camp. My photos are here.

In conclusion I’m adding links to all the various interviews and articles that have appeared about our game in recent days.

Thanks for your support!

Dan Vávra, Creative Director

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