Category: Ember

Happy Halloween Omniframe

Happy Halloween Update

Just for fun, for Halloween Tommaso drew a costume for the Omniframe. “Neko-frame” is a cute, pink Omniframe with cat tail, paws and ears. It’s perfect for candy gathering missions this Halloween!

While this isn’t a real frame design (except, perhaps, as a cosmetic option? Would you like one?), the frame does highlight that we’ve started work on customization options for the Omniframe prior to starting its 3D modeling. This was not a part of our deliverables for this milestone, but was needed to make sure we “built the model with customization in mind.” Consider it a bonus collection of art work (we won’t be modeling these options or adding customization in game until a future milestone).

We took a little of the extra budget you guys provided us and explored eight different customization areas. We also designed an example of what a “light” and “heavy” version of the Omniframe might look like.

The light version of the Omniframe (“Codename Sly-Dancer”):
omniframenew-pieces-sly

The heavy version of the Omniframe in Hard-driver covered mode (“Codename Bison”)
omniframenew-pieces-tank-shield-hard

The Omniframe can be cosmetically customized in eight areas (note these are just cosmetics, except for weapon pods, not craftable upgrades with stats):

  • Head with optics
  • Shoulder weapon pods
  • Shoulders
  • Jet pack
  • Wings
  • Lower arms
  • Thigh plates
  • Feet

We think we will be able to get a tremendous amount of variations out of the Omniframe “look” with these areas. Selling cosmetic options for these areas (except for the shoulder weapon) should provide one good stream of revenue for the game to support the costs of our zero-monthly-fee online servers.

This will be the last blog entry on this website before moving to a new, dedicated site for Em-8ER, the new name (still pronounced “Ember”). We changed the name to avoid confusion with the mobile game and the Steam game currently on the market. Em-8ER is the planetary designation of the world where players will be at war with the shape-shifting Tsi-hu.

While we are currently behind on production, we just completed the modeling of the THMPR and will have a grand unveiling of the model on the new site next week. We’ve also invested in the logo for the game, which will also be unveiled on the new site.

Now that the modeling of the THMPR is done, we can move on to to rigging it, animating it and importing it into the Unreal engine, as well as texturing it in PBR based materials using Substance Painter and Substance designer. More information on our updated production schedule will be posted next week as well.

Thank you for your support and your patience while we ramp things up! We have more exciting developments happening in Em-8ER that we’ve not yet announced but that we’ve begun to develop thanks to your extra support! We’ll be sharing these as update on the new site as we complete them!

Ember Promo Kaiju

EM-8ER Update – October

Hello Emberites!

Two things with this update. First, I wanted to say it’s been an incredible blast to be working on the game. I’m so excited about the setting (Massive Planetary Warfare), the Kaiju theme, the art direction, and the incredible new tools for game development. It’s all thanks to you, and I’m super grateful to have this chance to make Em-8ER.

Second, I wanted to update you on the team’s efforts:

– Joe has been working on the THMPR high-poly model. Some of you have caught his live-streams where he uses a program called zBrush to create the mesh. ZBrush is like digital clay you can push and pull to create your model. It’s pretty amazing to watch and I suggest you pop in on one of his next streams to see for yourself.

– I’ve been working with Warren on the characters for Em-8er, starting with the female. Character modeling will be an upcoming fundraising milestone but it’s important we lay the ground work beforehand. I gathered a large number of references and notes together while brainstorming more about Reaper culture and the terraforming process (you’ll see why this is relevant later). Warren has turned around the first draft of rough sketches and it’s already looking really good. We’re going after a mix of realism and stylization. I’m a bit tired of the “cartoon hero” look so many arena shooters are doing these days. I want to make sure Em-8er stands apart, visually.

– Tommaso and I are about to embark on some refinements to the Omniframe. Specifically, we are identifying which parts are customizable and starting to break it down in preparation for modeling. The Omniframe art asset exe is the second goal after we’ve created the THMPR. This will make sure we have all the customization points considered when we build it. While customization is not a part of this milestone, we want to make sure the current model will support it when we get to that point.

– Art pipeline. I’ve been doing a deep dive into the Unreal Engine, starting with the art pipeline. Since this is an art asset milestone, I want to make sure we’re fluent in getting assets into the game. Unreal is an incredible engine, and I wish we had it on some of my prior games. The new Physically Based Renderer is a great advantage not just for looks, but for speed of creation. I’ve been working with creating materials with a program called Substance Designer and importing them into Unreal. Using Substance Designer is way to create PBR textures procedurally, instead of using photographs or hand painting.

– Server research for the future game. While not part of our milestone (and no multiplayer planned for even the playable mockup), we need to start looking at how we’re going to create a server that can handle an online shooter with the scale of a planetary wargame. On Firefall we learned that our lag compensation model hindered our ability to give creatures great AI and limited some of the things we could do. I’ve been working with a new programmer on the team on some of these issues and we are currently in a long research phase that will last 4-6 weeks. If this works out, we may have a new person joining our team!

That’s it for now. Our immediate goal is to show you a complete THMPR model, and then move on to texturing it and importing it until Unreal.

As for physical rewards, please forgive us as we concentrate on the digital ones first, as these are most important to the game. 3D prints and books will take some time to manufacture, and we want to make sure we complete the digital model of the THMPR before we start printing even just a part of it. Again, once we have the model, expect 40 days or so of manufacturing time.

See you soon for our next update!

warrencolllage

Update – Warren Louw Joins EM-8ER Team

We’re excited to announce that Warren Louw is joining the team to help design and illustrate the characters for EM-8ER! You can see his art in the featured collage image on the blog post. Character modeling and customization in a future EM-8ER playable mockup funding goal, but we’ve used some of the extra funds to start this process early.

Warren is a well known illustrator who’s work has graced the covers of DC Comics and ImagineFX magazine. He’s well known for his beautiful females and crisp illustrative style.

Did you catch that? Thanks to your incredible support on the last milestone, we will be creating BOTH male AND Female characters for the game! Personally, I’m thrilled we will be able to offer more options to player and I thank you once again for making this possible.

Meanwhile, JoeSolo is hard at work producing the model for the first 3D test print of the THMPR model, which will be mailed to Gatestrider and Max Kahuna backers. We expect the printing production run to take 30-50 days due to the speed limitation of 3D printing and hand painting the Max Kahuna rewards.

Work also continues on developing the Unreal client. We have a basic framework up and running, but we’ll need to wait for THMPR to be game-ready and rigged for animation before importing the model into the whitebox test level that will ship with the art-preview EXE to backers.

The Tsi-hu human nickname contest is also proceeding smoothly. We’re impressed with several of the submissions and your vote participation has been outstanding.

Finally, we are working on finishing up the forum titles for all backers. We do this via e-mail address, and where the e-mail used for Indiegogo and the forums differ, we have to manually contact backers to establish their forum name. Thank you for your patience!

If you’d like to see more of Warren Louw’s work, you can find him here on DeviantArt:

Community Spotlight – Xeevis

Salutations Reapers. Today is the first in a series of blogs called Community Spotlights. These will be short and sweet introductions to our fellow community members. Say hello to the first brave soul to have a light shined on him, Xeevis. He is our valiant volunteer who helps with add-ons, various necessitates and indulgences to keep our forums running smoothly. Shall we begin?

Ronyn: How did you first get introduced to the Ember community?

Xeevis: I’ve been following Mark Kern’s twitter for many years, so I had the latest information on his upcoming activities. When The9 made it clear that they weren’t going to let go of the Firefall IP, I was thrilled to be among the first to sign the petition to make Ember. I decided to do my best to help make Ember happen.

Ronyn: How long were you involved with Firefall?

Xeevis: I started playing Firefall July 2012, up to the end of 2013. By that time it was apparent there was something terribly wrong. The game wasn’t progressing anywhere. Frustration led to personal activities that Red 5 determined was reason enough to permanently delete my character, around the same time Mark left R5. But I remained part of the great community Firefall had, hoping the game would eventually return to its original vision – sandbox, horizontal, shooter-first with simulated open-world war.

Ronyn: How did you keep in touch with the community after your account was deleted?

Xeevis: Actually I was allowed to keep the account, just the character along with its entire inventory was purged, but it was a small detail. I’ve been coming to Forums every day. It’s like a family pub, with darts and friends.

Ronyn: Oh I see. What is it that makes this community so special to you?

Xeevis: This community is helpful and supportive. Even if we don’t agree on certain things, we still manage to settle it down. There are however, some individuals who throw unnecessary tantrums and that is a big shame. I wish we could all move under a single banner. A big thank you goes to Ember’s Discord staff, who put a lot of time and effort into maintaining a certain level of communication and making the chat a welcoming place to hang out. It’s not an easy task.

Ronyn: Right on. You know, so many of us have benefited from your work on the boards here. Tell me of your coding background.

Xeevis: This may be a shocker, but I started coding where I believe everyone should start…  working on an MMORPG game. I’ve been playing my favorite game of all time, Ultima Online, since 1998. By 2004 I decided I wanted to run my own server for Ultima, so I found myself coding a game for hundreds of players. At first I was just modifying C# scripts made by RunUO emulator community, but then I moved to writing my own. It was so much fun, I could immediately see players use them and have fun in turn.

Over time I’ve monetized on my newly gained skills as a freelancer, but money was never my drive. I’m just grateful when I can contribute to worthy projects. usually open source.

Ronyn: Incredible! So you taught yourself coding?

Xeevis: Yes, and through making useful stuff too. EmberBot is the first discord bot I ever made. Dashboard is first ever greasemonkey script I ever made. With everything I do, I keep learning new things, that’s a part of the motivation.

Ronyn: Fantastic. How did you become a volunteer here on Ember?

Xeevis: I’ve made some suggestions for improvements on the forums, and Mark liked them. He asked if I wanted to help him with it, and I couldn’t refuse. I’m still trying to find ways to improve everyone’s life here. Forums Dashboard and Ember Bot on Discord are constantly being improved and I’m open to more ideas.

Ronyn: What is it that makes Ember so attractive to you?

Xeevis: Sandbox online shooter, set in the rich world with simulated war against AI entity, where skill matters, is something that is still very elusive. It’s something I definitely want to play. I’ve played Hellgate London, Earthrise, Global Agenda, Planetside 2, and of course, Firefall. Each was incredibly fun and unique on its own terms, but each had its share of problems. They were gems in hard shells, I trust Grummz has enough battle scars to see the Ember gem chiseled out.

Ronyn: To see the Ember gem chiseled out. I like the way that sounds.

 

One thing that really stands out to me while talking to Xeevis was how much he appreciates the community he has been a part of all these years. How about you readers? How do you feel about this community? Let us know in the comments below. Plus if you are one of the many who has benefited from Xeevis’s work this would be a great place to say thanks.

Stay vigilant Reapers, next time you just might find the spotlight pointed at you.

– Ronyn

Developer Insights – Joe Solo

Greetings Reapers, today we have the very first in a series of interviews called Developer insights. In this blog I will be speaking with various people from the gaming industry. Picking their brain a little bit about what they do and how they do it. Today I am pleased to announce that we have the magnificent modeler who has been hard at work on Ember. Our special guest today is none other than Joseph Pena, or as you know him: the mighty…. Joe Solo.

Ronyn: Let’s begin with you telling our readers a bit about your particular specialization in game development.

JoeSolo: My Primary specialization(s) are Character Modeling and Hero Asset modeling. If it isn’t modular, I probably build it.

Ronyn: For our readers can you tell me what you mean when you say “Modular”?

Joe Solo: Think of modular assets like the wood planks that make up a real-world barn. Each plank is basically the same, they are placed next to each other. It’s the same idea in 3-D. However, in 3-D I don’t create a new 3-D plank from scratch every time I need one. I simply make one “master” plank in 3-D, then copy it over and over again to make however many planks it takes to build the barn. This is a basic way to understand it.

3-D modular assets take this idea much further still. Duplicating a singular object like a third dimension wood plank 2k times might not be efficient for your project. It also might not look very good. One identical plank duplicated everywhere is VERY noticeable. It is too easy to tell. It’s also six sides of an object duplicated 2k times. That’s a lot of polys for something to look bad. Making 2k individual planks costs too much time for a game.

So what do you do? You may need to make a larger rectangular plank that fills up 1/4 of the side of the barn that contains 8 – 10 different planks painted onto it. That’s eight custom planks of wood on a single six-sided plank! You just saved yourself a lot of polygons! What’s interesting is that by including say eight planks of wood on your texture sheet, you actually open the door to a bit more customization for the wood itself.

Example: I make one panel of wood, textured a specific way. I duplicate this wood everywhere. It looks very “repeated” quickly. Once you put these five identical objects in a row, you can tell that they are, in fact, the same. However, if I make a texture with with five different wood panels “painted” into it, then when I start building my barn you get the impression that panels are different than others.  It takes longer to notice the pattern repeats.

Ronyn: How did you acquire these skills? Did you go to school for it?

Joe Solo: I drew a lot growing up, learned to carve out of wood, as well as make furniture stuff. Had uncles into tech that got me some basic 3-D programs in high school. I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Game Art from the Art Institute. I also studied life drawing under Charles Hu for about 4 years at both AI and Gnomon School of Visual Effects.

Outside of that there is really a lot of self-teaching through various outlets, mentors, friends, and colleagues. You can only really do this job if you are always picking up new things, and in tandem studying the fundamentals of how to go about creating or making something. This includes design, programming, art, basketball, etc. What the game industry/entertainment industry is for any true craftsman is “the pursuit of mastery.” The idea you want to be better tomorrow than you are today, and will do what you can to make that happen. I hope to be better at sculpting at 50 than I am today. I don’t just mean making cool stuff either. I mean, having a deep understanding of what it is I am doing, which in turn will hopefully make my art look even better.

Ronyn: What tools or programs do you commonly use?

Joe Solo: Zbrush, 3DS max, Maya, Substance Painter, Headus UV Layout, Unreal 4, Marmoset Toolbag, and Photoshop. That’s the main list of what I am usually dealing with at any one time.

Ronyn: What is it like working with Mark Kern, AKA Grummz?

JoeSolo: He is probably one of the easier people I have worked with directly. I have worked with him directly on feature teams for FireFall before Ember and he is very good about getting his ideas on a sheet, or some other example.

From my experiences he takes a lot of the guesswork out of what I have to do. He also allows for a certain amount of artistic wiggle room which I think is essential to artists being able to feel that they are contributing something.  I will also say Mark, myself, and the others, share similar interests and tastes in media. I think that helps on a small team like Ember. Most everyone here has already been drawing upon similar interests for years. This allows some things to go almost unsaid or seem obvious during meetings.

Ronyn: Do you have any advice for our readers who might be interested in doing what you do some day?

Joe Solo: I would like to offer a place for people to start. Pick up a copy of George Bridgman’s “Bridgman’s Complete Guide to Drawing from life”. Once you get it. Start doing copies of the drawings in there. Master studies and practice are the key ingredients. They also don’t require a computer. If you can understand (even simply) how forms interact with each other in 2-D, when you get into 3-D, you will have an easier time. Outside of that. Draw all the time.

Ronyn: Where did the name “Joe Solo” come from?

Joe Solo: I could probably give you many different responses to that question. All of them having some meaning. Really though, it sort of describes “me” in a way. I love big games like Destiny, FireFall, TF2, etc, etc, but I am a “pub” or “solo” guy. I typically don’t group, or game/compete with a core group of people. Video games to me have always been a place where I go to “escape.” Art to me is a place I go to “escape.” To me gaming has always been about the core experience I am having and the story I craft for myself. What’s funny about this mentality is that I have basically only worked on multiplayer games my whole career. I love bringing people together. I just like being the guy who waves hi to other player, then runs off to quest lol.

Ronyn: What have you found easier to create, hard surface or organics?

Joe Solo: Hmmmm. Hard surface is probably “easier.” You start to realize though as you get further into this industry, that line becomes very blurry depending on the asset.

Ronyn: What are your favorite types of things to make?

Joe Solo: Human figures. If I could just do nude human figure sculpting studies all day, I would be happy.  The human body is by far the most interesting thing to me.

Ronyn: I know the readers want to me ask, how is that T.H.M.P.R. coming along?

Joe Solo: It’s coming along pretty well. I would say the high poly is near completion. That’s the “hardest” part. Everything else will be pretty straightforward. I am not sure if everyone knows but I am recording as I work. This should all (hopefully) be compiled in some way at the end so the community can see a “making of.”

Ronyn: Is there anything particularly challenging about making it?

Joe Solo: To preface this answer a bit… Dev can take many forms. When it came to the THMPR and getting a pulse on whether or not fans wanted Ember, we tried to spend our time on what the core concept of the THMPR was. The idea of it not just visually, but in game as well. What will it do? How does it function? What’s the core loop involved with it’s game-play? These are all questions that needed answering in some capacity, on top of seeing some kind of visual.  If you think about what I just said, 90% of it can be answered in a prototype that requires no “real” art. Just grey blobs. Grey blobs don’t sell a universe though. The visual has its own set of questions outside of its relation to game-play, that are very similar to the previously stated questions. What will it do? How does it function? What is it’s visual shape language? How does its shape language “communicate” with the rest of the world we want to create when we haven’t created it? These are very open sounding questions. They can even be intimidating questions.

So how do you (did we) solve these problems? Baby steps. You start with your knowns. 1. THMPR is going to be a bipedal jaeger type thing without a pilot. 2. It gathers resources for a free moving player. etc. Basically the list of what you want it to do. This gives us all the things it can’t be. it can’t be four legged as an example. Think about this for a minute. If you can come to reasonable, bite sized, understanding, that your game-play asset has two legs, you can do a lot. You can start thinking about its scale, how it moves, etc, all without really doing any art. This is informative though. You can now just take, say the unreal dummy (he is bipedal) and scale him to giant size, and make him your THMPR for very early testing, until a THMPR blockout or asset comes in. This is the reasoning you should have internally. Again though, a game needs visuals to sell it. People don’t understand that a “Giant Biped Man” is supposed to be a mech.

Knowing all of this and keeping in mind that at this point your budget is basically $0 because you are indie, all you need is art that “gets the point across” from a 2-D concept. Which is exactly what we have. Then it falls to the modeling artist (myself) to help fill in gaps we haven’t even thought about, or couldn’t afford to think about. If anything is challenging about what I am working on, it’s being a “concept designer” as opposed to an “artist.” I have to try and take what is fairly loose, and translate it to a 3-D style a concept artist can then tweak/build upon. Which in turn I will take/build upon, for probably a few models until we establish a firmer “visual language” for Ember. I think readers can appreciate this breakdown of how a game kind of “starts.” Different projects, and different stages of projects, come with different challenges. In a lot of ways, you can boil everything with the THMPR down to this: We are trying to do the best work we can, all of us. We don’t yet know where that will take us. But it’s a ride right now, that is fun as hell, especially thanks to our community.

Ronyn: What kind of crazy capabilities will it have?

Joe Solo: I don’t know how much I am allowed to say in regards to that. I will say though that Tommaso’s awesome concept art kind of dictates what “needs” to happen, especially in tandem with Mark’s game-play ideas. The community can expect awesome dash punches, some truly “anime” style mech combat moments, along with a lot of personality built in. I’m hoping the THMPR will end up feeling sort of like Dog in half-life 2. Not so much mimicking Dog, but having the same kind of character and presence Dog had.  I think the core idea of Thumping in FireFall was always sound. It was basically a mini “horde mode” anytime the player dropped one. The player really had no emotional connection to it though, outside spending money on it. I think by giving THMPR movement and a sense of purpose, players will be more invested in it.

Ronyn: Can you give us a sneak peek if I say pretty please?

Joe Solo: More “peeks” will be coming as the weeks go on of this milestone. As the community has hopefully noticed, Dev is really transparent on Ember. It’s almost one-to-one as far as communication goes. We aren’t really hiding very much. Am I further along on the THMPR than the community has seen? Yes I am. Is that progress in a state, that if presented, the community can clearly understand? Not quite. That to me is the clear distinction. Anyone can show “progress.” Is that progress clear and understandable? That’s the real question. Often times during the creation of an art piece there is this “mediocre looking” phase. It’s mediocre to the casual observer, but vital to the artist. This kind of phase is confusing to see/interpret. I may have simple shapes that are supposed to represent “final” areas. These shapes may only be useful to the artist in whatever form they are in. To take this even a step further, internally, sometimes people aren’t sure what I am doing unless I explain it. This goes for other people on the team as well. We need to communicate to you guys in ways that make sense and that takes a little bit of elbow grease on our end sometimes.

Ronyn: This has been extremely informative. I can’t thank you enough. Is there anything you’d like to say to the community before we end the interview?

Joe Solo: I would really like to just thank the community for all the support on Ember so far. It’s been inspirational to our team to keep moving forward. Thank you Ronyn for taking the time to do this. I’m not very good at leaving my own words of wisdom, so I will quote one of my favorite college teachers for you guys instead. It’s helped me  haha

“Work hard, don’t suck.” – Thomas Jung

 

Go to http://artguyjoe.com/  for Joeseph “Joe Solo” Pena’s own website to to see a bit more of his art.

 

There we have it folks. Some fascinating insight into what goes on behind the scenes. Is anyone here inspired to follow in Joe’s Footsteps? Or did someone perhaps learn something new about game development from Mr. Solo’s detailed response? Tell us about it below!

Until next time Reapers, Keep your eyes on the prize. – Ronyn

Ember Promo Kaiju

Ember Reaches 20k Funding – New Poster Revealed

We’ve reached over 20k in funding! To celebrate, we’re releasing a new image for the design book. It’s THMPR vs Kaiju, the creature that will attack the THMPR when it returns to base during your escort. You’ll have to help it fight off this big beastie as you escort your THMPR back to base. (post-KS feature, not for Playable Mockup)

Milestone 2 – 400% funed, 8 days left

For this milestone, we wanted to raise $5000 to create:

Finishing the THMPR model, texturing it and adding shaders
Creating a couple basic animations: a simple walk, simple drilling
Importing it into the Unreal Engine to allow you to trigger its anims
Create a 20 page PDF and soft-cover, illustrated design vision book

Milestone 3 – Omniframe modeling unlocked

When we reached $10,000 in funding, we were able to fund Milestone 3, to be completed 1-2 months after Milestone 2:

Model the Omniframe (without character)
Texture and add shaders, rig it for animation
Import it into Unreal, create a movement demo of jetpacks/gliding

Use of Additional Funds

In an event that surprised us all, and without any asking for more money or having stretch goals, the community managed to raise another $10,000 for a total of $20,000 raised. This is amazing, and we are very grateful for the support.

We’re using some of the funds to help create additional necessary concept work (some of which will also be featured in the delivered design vision book). These concepts include the Kaiju mini-boss for the THMPR, a better drill arm inspired by the fan art that we loved, and adding a hand instead of bear-trap claw to the THMPR.

As we plan out future fundraiser milestones, we’ll use these funds towards reducing the cost and fundraising of each additional milestone. For example, if we need to raise another $10,000 for character customization and modeling, we could use some of the reserve to reduce that goal to $7000. We’re likely to spread this out over several milestones.

The remainder, around 10%, we will save in reserve for unanticipated future needs.

No Stretch Goals This Milestone

You’re gotten us ahead by more than we expected! As a result, we won’t be announcing any stretch goals or asking for more money. We just want to deliver what we promised and to do our jobs well.

Thank you again!

ember960banner

The Path to Playable Mockup

It’s been a swift and incredible journey to go from a humble petition to reboot Firefall (and create a new, unique style of multiplayer game), to a over 600% fundraiser, a website, forums, concept art and thousands more signatures.

The fans have shown incredible support for creating an MMO that never got a chance to launch: a open world, horizontal, go-anywhere, dynamic event driven game based on resource collection, customize everything, and open war against an alien race. Basically what Battlefield 1942 or 2142 would have been if it was turned into a bigger concept. A game that my World of Warcraft team wanted to make after WoW, and that was attempted by Blizzard with the now defunct Titan project (whose remnants became Overwatch).

We have the idea, we have the hard lessons learned with Firefall (and Titan) that will allow us to avoid all the past mistakes and focus on what worked and worked well. But how do we get from here to game? How can the fans help make this popular idea a reality?

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” is an old proverb. But we’ve taken it to heart here. We’re creating a process for crowdfunding that is similar to what publisher do for games: milestone based funding.

The problem with most crowdfunding is that it is billed as a one-time event, where backers pledge and wait years before seeing any results. A blind fire, hope and pray method for large projects. Milestone based funding, on the other hand, breaks up the goal into smaller pieces, delivered quickly. Each milestone is evaluated by the ones funding it before the next is approved.

We are doing this for crowdfunding. We’re taking our game, Ember, and dividing its funding and its playable deliverables up into small steps. By delivering tangible, game advancing goals that backers can judge for themselves, we can build a trust, a momentum, and a growing game step by step. You, the backer, will get frequent updates that let you decide if we are on track and growing the game.

Backers can do this for as little as $1 to participate, all the way up to larger rewards and perks. You won’t wait years for the results, as we plan to deliver milestones at least every two months.

The first milestone was:
* Launch a community and forums for Ember (DONE, and thriving!)
* Create key concept art (DONE, Thumper, Omniframe and Alien Tsihu DONE)
* Prepare for 3D modeling of THMPR (DONE, orthographics completed)

IMG_1573

We completed this milestone in record time and with very high quality equal or better than larger game studios. We exceeded 600% funding and used the funds to create all the key artwork we needed to start developing the game.

You’ve shown the demand is there for this game. The petition did its job and the fundraiser showed you were serious about Ember.

So what’s next?

We’re Committed. We’re Building the Game.

We’re going to build Ember. We’re going to make it real with your help. You’ve show we can do this, and we’ve shown we can deliver with our first, out-of-the-park, milestone.

Now we need to start the second milestone. And the secret is we’ve already started! Modeling of the THMPR has begun, and we’ll post some video soon when we release Milestone 2 funding goals on IndieGoGo.

I believe in this so much that I’ve started to fund the second milestone out of my own pocket, and we’ve started building it, confident you will be there with me. So let’s do this.

Here’s a sneak peak of what we’ve been working on:

Let’s Build a Playable Mockup

The ultimate goal of the current milestones is to build what we call a playable mockup. The mockup is meant to demonstrate the potential fun, marketability and playability of the game. We’re going to take one encounter, the iconic “thumper” encounter and build it to a high degree of polish in Unreal Engine 4.

In the playble mockup, backers will be able to suit up in an jetpacking, gliding, Omniframe with a default loadout of weapon and abilities. They will be able to call down a THMPR MEK-A and start mining for resources while waves of xenomorphs and the Tsihu attack to try and stop you. When the THMPR is finished it will run back to a target area where you will have to escort and defend it along the way. When it reaches its destination, the resources will be deposited as your “score” and the mockup will end.

This mockup will only be available to backers, but backers will be allowed to take screenshots and stream it to help build public support. This support will be used to fund our main Kickstarter to launch the company full-time.

Playing the Mockup in Just a Few Milestones

We’ve broken up the ultimate playable mockup goal into several funding steps. We may split or combine these steps into various funding goals depending on momentum and complexity.

Step 1:
Develop Key Concept Art – DONE

Step 2:
Model the THMPR mining MEK-A and get it into Unreal 4 with PBR shaders. Create and illustrate “vision book” that will define and guide the game’s development. (This will be the current funding round).

Step 3:
Model the Omniframe and player Character and get it into Unreal 4.

Step 4:
Model the Tsihu and get its shapeshifting working in Unreal 4.

Step 5:
Build a playable mockup using the assets we built in prior steps. Players can thump, pilot Omniframes, and fight Tsihu using the Unreal Engine.

We are going to try to get each goal done in 1-2 months from completion of funding. We do this by actually starting on the next goal before the last one completes (as we have with the THMPR modeling), and by taking on additional part-time staff. We want to deliver rapidly and keep the momentum up.

These mini-goals will be on IndieGoGo, until:

Have Playable Mockup, will Kickstart

Once we have a playable mockup of the THMPR encounter, we will prepare and launch our largest goal, a Kickstarter to launch the company that will build the game, full-time. By using screenshots, videos and streams from YOU playing the mockup, we hope to build enough momentum for a very successful kickstarter and start a real live game company, together.

Step 2 Funding goal and campaign will go live on Monday, Aug 29. Hold on to your butts, its going to go fast!

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Posters shipped – All backer rewards complete

We did it! Posters have been shipped, all art complete, and website and forums are up. This concludes our first successful fundraiser and delivery for Ember!

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Pictured is the Ares Operator level rewards. Boss Boss gets a bigger THMPR poster (huge), and the Omniframe inventors get 8×10’s of the Omniframe and Tsihu concepts (as do Ares and Boss Boss).

Next week we will be posting our next goal and outline our multi-goal path towards a first playable version of Ember. Thanks for making this possible!

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The Tsihu – First Contact

On a toxic, fiery world designated as EM-8ER, also known as “Ember,” Gatestrider reaper teams encountered humanity’s first sentient xenomorph.

We know they call themselves the “Tsihu.” The reaper teams that endure their constant attacks have a more colorful name for them.

Our first contact has been anything but peaceful. It’s all gone to hell. Every mining operation, every excursion triggers more and more of these attacks by the Tsihu. Anybody who has ever tried to talk or reason with them has never had the chance to get more than a few words out before being slaughtered.

They have a language though. We hear the phrases “Zha ryuon muon” and “Tasa hekita” repeated often. Linguistics is on it. They think “zha” refers to loop, and “muon” some kind of fabric, or binding. “Hekita” seems to mean some kind of deterioration.

Is it war? Not yet. If it weren’t for the technological ruins and resources on EM-8ER, our reaper teams would have simply left. Instead, what we have here is an opportunity. The Tsihu aren’t really *here*. They are phasing in and out in crackles of lightning and electricity, as well as much of the native xenomorphs. We think it’s temporal-as in these creatures are from another time. An earlier phase of the planet, perhaps, if you can believe the readings.

We need to keep a lid on it. For as long as we can. Every team here is in agreement. The riches and alien technology of this world would be enough to start again. Maybe give us enough edge to tell those Enshigi* bastards to fuck off.

But first we have to figure out what the hell the Tsihu really are, and how to beat em. They shapeshift. If they’re not in humanoid form shooting at us, they are suddenly morphing into huge creatures that are tearing our omniframes apart hand to hand. We think they go feral if they stay too long in “beast” mode. We’ve seen some in chains and some kind of holographic tagging or restraints. These are always the most violent and destructive ones.

We need to claim as much of this planet as we can before word gets out, and build up the means to defend it. It’s all right here, everything we need.

Garrack – Firstclaimer of Ember

* The Enshigi – humanity’s most enigmatic and advanced colony. They hold the Gatestriders home system hostage in retaliation over a disputed sector of space where the Enshigi have forbidden any entry or exploration.