Hello there! It's been awhile since our last post about gameplay and we thought we'd share more about where the game and some of it's features are currently at. Since we started developing Hevn we've always leaned towards a diegetic approach as far as design decisions go. But in recent months we've also been keen on learning more of and implementing a 4 Layer approach (see here) as well as making the game more intuitive, approachable, and fun.
I'd also just like to mention that we've received some amazing feedback for a previous build of the game, and all of that feedback has been heavily considered and addressed as well. With that said, let's take a look...
Characters play an important role in Hevn. There are already several characters (some with speaking roles and others without) in Hevn. They mostly consist of Sebastian's family, friends, coworkers (fellow and extended), antagonists, and of course robots! We've recently expanded upon these characters in several ways, but one in particular is a robot. His name is MQ.
MQ serves not only as a way to help guide the player but also as a reactive and sometimes proactive personal assistant. What this means is that the player will be able to call upon MQ to learn about the world or situation in a deeper way. The player can do this through their helmet from any remote location. Or they can talk to MQ themselves in person.
MQ will react to the state of the world as well as Sebastian, and interact at crucial times. He also plays a role in the narrative as he sometimes acts as a liaison between others. Hopefully MQ, as well as the rest of the characters, all help to build a world that is more immersive and alive.
Although we were kind of eager to share our previous attempts of how we were adding music to the game (see here), we recently decided to upgrade that effort and move towards an approach that really enhances and compliments the narrative as well as the situation of where the player might be in the story and world itself.
Without getting too specific, we've essentially created what we're calling "Narrative Music Zones". It's background music that plays based on in-game geo-location and game state. Although this is a very basic concept, it definitely has made an impact on the feel of the game and whether or not the player is near "something important" and not to mention providing a more cinematic feel. The style, tempo, and feel of the music also plays a key role in each of these areas.
The narrative has evolved quite a bit since its inception (as reflected by recent changes on the front page) and our ever expanding morning meetings. The story of Sebastian consists of a few different motivations and obstacles throughout the course of the game. And although the story is essentially "set in stone", it's still up to the player to determine how it actually plays out. We'll provide more information on how this happens at a later date.
A considerable amount of time and effort has been given to performance and optimization. From improved culling to smarter audio handling to huge reductions in memory requirements, the performance has improved. By the way, there are also several technical articles that cover in detail what was done (some of which are here and here). But the end result is the game runs and looks better than ever (thanks to Unity 5!) and unless your machine has anything lower than an Intel HD 3000 in it you should be able to run the game with no problems.
One other thing worth noting is we really didn't want to compromise the feel of the game during this process. So although there have been significant improvements such as ambient occlusion, fog, and smoother controls, things like dynamic lighting and shadows, post processing effects, ambient particles, and better texture detail are still there. Actually the lighting plays an even bigger role in the overall narrative as well as the state of the world.
Lastly, some of our recent efforts have gone into localization. We'll likely have a post covering more about this process, as it's pretty cool how it all works together with other components efficiently. It's just really nice to be able to make changes in one language, and see them in the game almost immediately for all languages. It's not perfect by any means, but a far cry from what we had in the past.
What is worth mentioning is that we're hoping to have basic text support for English, Spanish, French, Italian, Catalan, German, Japanese, and Chinese. Also any of these languages can be switched to mid-game at any time.
There's quite a bit that I'm leaving out (a lot actually), but hopefully this helps to convey our dedication to Hevn. We're super excited to get this game out there and can't wait for you to try it out!
More game design details at IndieDB