Tag: T.H.M.P.R.

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!

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!