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Video: Antilia Update for March 2018 (Version 0.2)

Thursday, March 15, 2018 5:05pm
jeff
Lead Developer
I've posted a video update on the state of Antilia, our first internal test version, and more details on the inventory system!



Video on YouTube

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Antilia's Inventory System and Project Goals for 2018

Monday, January 1, 2018 3:52pm
jeff
Lead Developer
Happy new year, everyone!

As is my custom, I'd like to start off the new year with a bit of reflection on Antilia's development in 2017. I'd like to present a few decisions that have been made, and my goals for 2018. But first, and in order to set the tone for the new year, I'd like to present our first game system designed and built for the Antilia sandbox RPG.

Antilia's Inventory System


To start, let me say that it was an absolute joy to work on this inventory system and finally see it become a reality. I worked late into the evening hours numerous times while building this, not because of time pressure but because it was just so much fun. I have been planning improvements to Antilia's inventory for several years now, and I am both delighted by and proud of the result.


((Full resolution image available here!))

Some highlights of the new design:
  • The inventory is fully 3D rendered - I expect players to continue filling their inventories with uniquely designed items in Antilia, and unlike static icons the 3D rendered inventory makes it easy to identify crafted items.

  • The inventory can be expanded - Players will find items to expand their inventories across Forra including chests, crates, weapon racks, and mannequins for clothing and armor.

  • The inventory can be customized - Expansion sets can be collected, applied, and removed. I want to encourage the player to experiment with different arrangements and tune the layout to their play style or task.

  • Manage Items in Groups - Groups of items can be moved around by dragging the group's container. Equipping an outfit will be as simple as dragging a mannequin from your inventory or a wardrobe and dropping it on the character.

  • Inventory slots of different sizes - This will create new challenges and decisions for players, and allow us to better tune the game's balance. It also makes it easier to recognize items such as fishing poles and spears when they are given an appropriately shaped space.

  • The inventory is responsive and interactive - As you hover over items they respond by jumping out of the slot and rotating as the information pop-up appears. While moving items the slots will be color-coded to indicate where an item can and cannot fit.

This is the first of several game system redesigns I have scheduled in 2018, so stay tuned!

A Retrospective on 2017


Unlike the year before, 2017 was a very busy year for Antilia's development. Hundreds of hours were spent on design work, brainstorming game systems, and writing up a 60-page initial draft of our game design document. Across a dozen additional documents we have been collecting, organizing, and distilling all our ideas for Antilia’s lore and gameplay. Dozens of whiteboards were filled with task lists that were then slowly crossed off. Many of those tasks were of a technical nature that wouldn't make for good blog post but needed to be completed, such as synchronizing and caching scene data between client and server.

A large amount of development time in 2017 was spent in the development of content tools for Toi Studio, something for which I have mixed feelings. On one hand we built the Landscape Tool, which will be required for our small development team to have a chance at building the varied environments of Forra. On the other hand it took until October to get the Landscape Tool working. I had planned several tools in my goals for 2017 based on editors we built previously for the Antilia MMO, but clearly I did not appreciate the amount of development effort re-creating and improving the old tools would take. To have all the editors and features I want in Toi Studio will take not only take longer than I had hoped, but longer than is practical.

Appreciating now that this is the case, I've made the decision to exclusively prioritize my development effort on Antilia this year. Plans for porting and improving editors including the Mesh Editor will be shelved, and instead content will have to be built using pre-existing software wherever possible. I fear I have let Antilia's following down by holding too strong an opinion toward products such as Blender based on my initial bad experience, and I am going to change this behavior. It may also disappoint some who had hoped to use the Toi Studio tools for modding, but in the future I want to develop custom tools for Antilia only when there are no immediate alternatives.

Goals for Antilia in 2018


For 2018 I'm only setting one goal: To build fun, quality game systems for Antilia like the new inventory and get the community testing them.

Many thanks again to the wonderful people who continue to follow and support our project, and I wish you all a good year in 2018!

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New Antilia Screenshots and Toi Landscape Tool

Thursday, October 12, 2017 1:46pm
jeff
Lead Developer
Greetings everyone, it's time for another update on Antilia! I am not the kind of person that is content with talking about or merely dreaming up ideas, I also enjoy the process of making ideas into reality. For this blog post I had decided some time ago that it needed to include new screenshots of Antilia itself and not just our editing tools. It is very exciting to see the hard work put into the development tools begin to yield results that we can view directly in Antilia’s game client. We have not presented new screenshots of Antilia since the MMO, and for the development team this is an exciting milestone.

I’m extremely encouraged by the progress we’ve made in several past months and it is still our goal to resume alpha-testing in 2018.

New screenshots of Antilia


It was surprising how much effort it took to reassemble the pieces required to produce these screenshots. While many of these pieces are familiar or similar to their counterparts in the Antilia MMO, we are taking the opportunity to give many of these systems the second pass they had long been in need of.


((Full-resolution version available here: antilia-game.com/data/blog/AntiliaSceneWIP1.png))

In order for the new screenshots to really convey that they were screenshots of Antilia (and not just a landscape demo) we set a couple goals. The first of those goals was that the scene would be loaded and controlled by the Simulation Engine. Secondly the new screenshots had to include an animated Antilia character.

Antilia’s characters from the MMO had grown quite complex - a collection of partial meshes and textures that must be carefully combined in order to render a character. To achieve this some time had to be spent rebuilding and improving our systems that composite Antilia’s unique characters.


((A brief excerpt from a game data file that describes to the engine how to build Antilia's characters.))

Once our tools were able to produce new landscapes, the next challenge was to begin assembling new content in the game and walk around in the environment to get a sense of what is and isn’t working well. Scale is surprisingly complex, as it affects not just the overall size of the gameworld that can be explored, but also how frequently the game engine must load in new scene data.


((Full-resolution version available here: antilia-game.com/data/blog/AntiliaLandscapeRenderingWIP24.png))

Having a moving character helps significantly in understanding the sense of scale from the player’s perspective, and gave us the opportunity to begin work improving Antilia’s movement system.


((I also spent some time improving the ocean shaders. Full-resolution version available here: antilia-game.com/data/blog/AntiliaLandscapeRenderingWIP18.png))

Toi Studio Landscape Tool


In order to create the world of Antilia with the sense of scale we are aiming for, we realized early in the year that we would need a much better tool for creating Antilia’s diverse landscapes. Our new Toi Landscape tool allows us to create detailed terrain with the ease of drawing a map. While I don’t want Antilia to be a procedurally generated world, I see great potential in using controlled procedural generation as an artistic tool.


((Full-resolution version available here: antilia-game.com/data/blog/ToiStudioLandscapeWIP15.png))

The new tools and screenshots have energized the development team, and everyone is excited to begin creating the world of Forra with the new tool.

There are more exciting updates planned for the upcoming months, including a video in which we will use the Landscape Tool to collaboratively design the landmass of Forra, and screenshots of a new gameplay system.

Stay Tuned!

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An Impromptu Antilia Q&A via Discord

Saturday, June 10, 2017 9:03am
jeff
Lead Developer
With so many things being worked on and also so many things yet to build for Antilia, it has become difficult writing a good summary each month of Antilia's development. Delaying these posts only makes matters worse, as it is difficult to recall and convey the excitement we have for a particular task weeks later. Yesterday I had an impromptu meeting with Lokosicek in our Discord channel, and allowed chat members to listen in and provide live questions and feedback. The following conversation covered a variety of topics, and ultimately provided a better update on the state of the project than a blog post could have.

Download Audio Recording: MP3

In the first half of the conversation we discuss blog posts and various ways we could make better use of social media. In the second half I answer general questions from chat while providing updates on the Toi Engine, our tools, and future plans for Antilia.

I can appreciate that not everyone has time to listen through an hour of audio (although I would recommend it for anyone interested in the world's lore), here's a brief summary of the key discussion points:

Social Media and Blog Updates

  • I would like to stop writing lengthy blog posts that try to summarize a month or more of updates, and instead provide shorter, more regular updates that only touch on a single topic each time.
  • As work on Antilia content development starts picking up in the second half of the year, we will return to providing video updates and live streams.
  • I would like to share more of the images and artwork we as developers take inspiration from in designing Antilia.

Antilia Development


In the second half of 2017 I'd like to turn more of my attention to developing Antilia itself, while work on the Toi Engine and content tools continues as we need those features.
  • In May we began work on the terrain engine, specifically we've been experimenting with different world scales and terrain sizes to determine how large Antilia will be.
  • The Isle of Kasau has been used as a sort of 'measuring stick', at the scale we currently favor, the Isle of Kasau has roughly 80% the area as it did in the MMO.
  • In the second half of the year my priority will be to build a good foundation for Antilia with terrain rendering, landscape features such as trees and rocks, and character movement.
  • In 2018 I would like to resume alpha testing, with a regular schedule of content updates as we continue to build the world.


((We have been experimenting with different terrain scales, using the Isle of Kasau as a measuring stick. Smaller scales mean less area to space to fill with content and shorter travel distances, while larger scales are more difficult to coordinate between developers and risk giving an "empty" impression.))


((Here we are experimenting with different shading and texture styles.))

Toi Engine

  • Progress is being made toward open-sourcing the Toi Engine.
  • Work on Toi Canvas is complete for now, with additional features being added in the future as we need them.
  • Work has begun on the Terrain editor, which we will use to build Antilia's terrain and generate procedural forests and landscaping with.


((A few samples of brush styles that can easily be created and used the canvas tool.))

Throughout the event I was also responding to questions from Discord chat, so I would certainly recommend giving it a listen!

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Toi Milestone Reached and Work Begins on the Reisuii

Monday, April 3, 2017 6:16pm
jeff
Lead Developer
Greetings everyone!

It is no exaggeration to say it has been a busy couple of months for Antilia. My take-away from January was "set goals, create lists, and cross something off the list every day." In February and March I extended that to include the rhythm of a regular release schedule. Antilia is a marathon, and I aim to do better than stepping forward on occasion some months. There is still progress to be made in finding our best stride, but I am looking for it (not to be confused with our fastest stride, which would quickly burn us out).

As the Canvas tool becomes more functional, I can start planning the next tool - the terrain tool. I believe this will also be a good time to think critically about how movement and camera control works in Antilia - I’ll need those working to test the appearance and scale of the terrain in-game.

Lore: The Reisuii


Many of the most exciting developments in the past month have been on the topic of the Reisuii, and I want to thank Mataata for her interest and effort in pursuing final decisions on the topic. Without her questions, suggestions, and excitement we wouldn't be making nearly so much progress on the Reisuii’s development.

While the names of the Reisuii bloodlines are still being decided, the animal species we are currently taking inspiration from include: mice, squirrels, rabbits, raccoons, otters, and sheep. In a future post I will begin to reveal more details about the Reisuii, their culture, and gameplay - much is still waiting to be discovered.



Lore: Map of Antilia


In addition to writing on the Reisuii and their culture, Lokosicek and I have been adding new details to the map of Antilia. Previously this map only contained basic landscape features such as mountains and the Taipii cities. In our improvements thus far we have been improving landscape features, adding new Taipii villages, and describing points of interest across Antilia. Later this week we plan to continue developing the map with our focus shifting underground: caverns, mineral locations, underground water, and possibly the Reisuii mines and cities.


((This map is still a work in progress. Full version is available here.))

Toi Studio: The First Internal Releases of Toi Studio


A major milestone was reached this month with the first internal development release of Toi Studio. Along the way some significant engineering challenges had to be approached, a few failures were encountered, and functioning solutions were found. These aren't the kind of engineering challenges I can read about in a blog or find solutions to in a Google search. In cases like this invention is required.


With the initial release of Toi Studio, version 0.1.0, I focused on getting things in order so that the other developers could start providing feedback. Since then I've been trying to create a new version each week. In version 0.1.1 I worked on completing Toi Studio's synchronized data storage system, such that we can now observe each other making changes in real time. The most recent improvements have focused on the various modes for drawing and editing shapes in the Canvas tool.


((In late March I added support for different control handle styles on the same spline, offering artists more options for controlling shapes.))

In the upcoming months I would like to resume creating videos as we begin to use Toi Studio to create game assets for Antilia. The Toi Engine and Toi Studio have gained some great momentum early on this year. I must be careful not to get ahead of myself, but it would be great to see some of Toi’s momentum begin to be shared with the Antilia game.

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