Legend of Grimrock 2 - All News
Tuesday - March 11, 2014
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Performance Optimizations
In an update on Legend of Grimrock 2, the performance optimizations they have been working on for the last few weeks, are discussed. If you are not a programmer, nerd or a geek, you might not find this too interesting....
Some might think that optimizing is boring and tedious because the work is very time consuming and nothing seems to happen to the game on the surface. To help with this I’ve turned opimizing into a sort of game for myself. Whatever I’m optimizing I first come up with some metric, usually a number whose value I can track and try to make it as small as possible. I set up a challenge for myself to see how low I can push that number. Some things are easy to measure like memory consumption of the process with Windows Task Manager or the time needed to process a single frame. But to really dig deep into performance issues it’s necessary to breakdown the measurements into smaller bits to get a better idea what to optimize. Therefore I built a performance profiler directly into the game that I can summon with a press of a button.
The profiler shows milliseconds and percentage of frame time spent in each subsystem of the game and various other statistics. To run at 60 frames per second the computer can spent up to about 16 milliseconds to process each frame, including updating the game world and rendering the view. The profiler also shows amount of temporary memory allocations (Malloc column) during the frame — more about that later.
Tuesday - January 28, 2014
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Feature List & Screenshots
Almost Human has a new blog post for Legend of Grimrock 2 with some new screenshots, and a feature list.
Information about Grimrock 2 has been a little scarce lately so it’s about time we unravel some of the mysteries. Let’s get going!
The events of Legend of Grimrock 2 will happen on the Isle of Nex, a secluded island faraway from civilization. An island is a perfect place to setup an unforgettable dungeon crawling experience because we can mix indoor and outdoor locations seamlessly while still maintaining that atmosphere of mystery and danger, and the density of interesting things that is at the heart of Grimrock. If you think about it, the island is the perfect microcosm, where the party may explore dark woods, misty swamps, underground tunnels and ancient ruins without need to travel great distances. For us, an island is the perfect “dungeon” with a welcome variety of different types of environments.
At the start of the game, a party of four prisoners has ended up on the island against their will and start to explore the island. Pretty soon they will realize that they are not alone on the island and that the island is not an ordinary island at all… What are the mysterious towers on the island and who built them? Why is the island full of puzzles and traps? The story of Grimrock 2 will not be a direct continuum to Grimrock 1, but will be a completely new story with new characters that will expand the Grimrock universe.
A big part of Grimrock is, of course, the brain-teasing puzzles and for Grimrock 2 we have been busy developing new types of puzzle mechanics. Talking about puzzles is a tricky subject to discuss. We believe that the less you know about them in advance the better. So without ruining the surprises ahead, let’s just say that you’re not the only one stuck in the puzzles…
Saturday - December 14, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - A Breath of Fresh Air
Almost Human has posted a new development update for Legend of Grimrock 2.
Hello everyone, it’s time for another status update! Features and content keeps on pouring on in the game at a steady pace and the point where the entire game would be playable from the beginning to the end is sooo close: there’s just two or three levels (that I actually started working on today) that need to be done to make the game “whole”. Of course, the game is not by any means finished at that point but reaching alpha is a mighty fine milestone nonetheless! Other gameplay things we have also tackled recently were prototyping some new spells and adding a completely new character class. We’ll keep the new class under covers for a while but once we get it to a more complete state, we’ll tell you more about it!
Saturday - November 30, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Rivers & Lapland
Almost Human talks about rivers, hangovers. and laplands in a developer update I missed last month for Legend of Grimrock 2.
’ll have to apologize that this post will lack the focus that the previous ones have had but there’s a very good reason for it: I also lack focus today! I lost the focus yesterday when I was out for a couple of beers with other Finnish indie game developers (and had a great time as usual) but despite that, my current state of being is actually good for writing. Usually when I’m a little hung over I have pretty good flow, in more ways than one, so we thought why not exploit my misery to type one of these “what we’ve been up to recently” -posts.
So now that we have that disclaimer out of the way, let’s start from the big picture: Legend of Grimrock 2 is starting to really shape up. I mean now it actually has a shape instead of being scattered all around in little bits and pieces that don’t connect with each others in any meaningful way. Our first levels are in alpha and we are closing in fast towards the state where we have more or less the whole package and can switch to “iterate and polish” -mode. But we’re not quite there yet: we still have time to experiment with new features!
One of those new features we tried out is rivers. Of course they are not only for looks so that you can go for a refreshing dip in them if you want to. A nice byproduct that we got from it is that now it’s possible to create terrain where there are bigger differences in elevation so now we can add small canyons or ditches into the wilderness or add “verticality” to some dungeon rooms as well.
Saturday - October 19, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Skill System Explained
Almost Human is back with another development update for Legend of Grimrock 2 explaining how the skill system works.
Goals of the new skill system
When we started throwing around ideas about the new skill system, a few things came up often in the discussions. Firstly, every character level gained should feel special. Essentially this means that every skillpoint spent should improve the character in some way. In contrast the skill system of Grimrock 1 was designed so that you get a benefit every time you crossed a threshold in a skill. If you spent points in multiple skills, or otherwise didn’t reach the threshold, the character did not really advance at that character level. Combined with the fact that skills were very deep (maxed out at level 50), this resulted in a situation where optimal strategy is to pump all skill points into very few skills. Especially with magic skills, this resulted in mages specializing in one or two schools of spells, which resulted in fewer spells to be available to mage. Fewer spells = less fun to the player. Also at higher levels, spending skillpoints became almost automatic and there was less decision making involved
Shorter skill trees
In LoG2 when you gain a level, you are rewarded with only one skillpoint. To counterbalance this the skill trees are much shorter. This way, every skillpoint spent matters now and there aren’t any intermediate skill levels. In fact, most skills are only 1-3 levels deep and there are many on/off kind of perks that you can buy. Some skills have other skills as prerequisites. For example, the Shield Expert skill requires that you have spent at least one point in Armors.
Technically speaking, the skills available to your character form “a forest of short skill trees”. Shorter skill trees mean that you can max out a skill with a few level ups (assuming that you meet the prerequisites), so this should encourage spreading points in multiple skills.
Monday - September 23, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Meet the Team #2
Almost Human is back with the second update to Meet the Team. This time we are introduced to Jyri (Jykä) Leppänen the animator of Legend of Grimrock 2.
Please introduce yourself!
Name is Jyri (Jykä) Leppänen and I’m the latest addition to this awesome humans crew and hoping to be equally awesome someday. My primary objectives are to make coff…to make these cool monsters animatable and then animate them to life, hopefully in a cool manner too. Ok, flattery behind, coffee is getting colder and thoughts are getting older.
How did you end up at Almost Human?
I was working very hard on updating my animation reel since the old one was heavily outdated. At the same time I searched for some open positions and work possibilities from anywhere and everywhere. Well, fortunately I sent my animation reel to Almost Human even there wasn’t any open positions mentioned at the site. Grimrock naturally appealed to my nerdiness and I decided to give it a try. For my great joy they called me to an interview and hired me. I can say that was quite a happy day.
What is your role at Almost Human?
My main tasks consider character rigging and animation with and under the guidance of Olli. He has the experience and knowledge what kind of animation style and rigging tricks work best in this kind of grid based game. Also the large variety of monster types makes things interesting because there actually isn’t any types. Every monster is it’s own case. This is all new ground for me. When the character starts to be playable, we usually think about some new ideas for it with Petri & Olli. Our coder Petri has better picture of how the character should work mechanically to be balanced difficultywise and so on. Usually this means new approach and new/additional animations for the character.
Friday - September 13, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - New GUI
Almost Human has a new developer post talking about the new GUI for Legend of Grimrock 2.
From the past experience with graphical user interfaces (GUI) we know that creating a gui that not only looks great but is also effortless and intuitive to use is hard work. For LoG1 we did many, many iterations before settling down with the final design (by scanning older blog posts you can see various incarnations that evolve to the final version). We are pretty happy with the original gui but as always there is still room for improvement.
The changes are not just eye-candy, some of them make the gui more usable. For example, you can now cycle through the characters by clicking on the arrows on the left and right side of the portrait. Also, the main statistics, experience, food, health, energy, protection and evasion are always visible on the upper half of the character sheet. With a quick glance you can now see whose character sheet is open regardless which tab is active.
On the visual side, the little drips of brown and green here and there remind of the new outdoor environments. A little feature that we wanted to do for Grimrock 1, but didn’t have enough time, is race and gender specific inventory panel backgrounds. Naturally now that we have moddable races (did I mention this feature already?), mods can define new background images for new races.
Saturday - September 07, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Puzzle Creation
Almost Human has a new development update for Legend of Grimrock 2 talking about the creation of the games puzzles.
One of the central game mechanics in the Legend of Grimrock -series (can we already call it a series?) are puzzles. They’re a very natural pairing for an oldschool dungeon crawler like ours and it provides a nice counterweight for the exploration and combat you’ll be doing.
After we finished Grimrock 1 I thought that we might have squeezed out all the possible grid based puzzles with levers, pits, doors and traps that we could possibly muster. And I felt that way for a long time too but strangely, after wrapping up the release of Dungeon Editor for Grimrock 1 with Petri, I realized there might still be a few puzzle ideas hiding deep somewhere in the back of my head, just waiting to be digged out. Figuratively speaking of course, not literally…
Saturday - August 24, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Meet the Team
Almost Human has a new post introducing us to one of the team members named Jyri Ullakko.
Alright, this has been a long time coming… I’ve worked at AH for about a year now and haven’t written anything to the blog! Naturally I should introduce myself before I start blabbing about other things so the guys threw me some interview type questions and I went on to answer them.
Please introduce yourself!
Hello everyone! My name is Jyri Ullakko and I’m an artist here at Almost Human. I’ve previously worked on games like Trine 2, Shattered Horizon, and on some mobile games back in the day when I was at Fathammer. I’ve also spent a number of years working at Fake graphics creating graphics for advertisements.
How did you end up at Almost Human?
Well, I knew all of the AH guys before I joined the team. Most of us had worked together at one point or another. I’ve known Antti longest as we met in highschool and then after that worked together at Fathammer. Juho & Olli I met at Futuremark. After Grimrock’s success the guys started thinking about adding some muscle to the art ’department’ and pretty soon I got a message from Antti asking if I wanted to join their little operation. I pretty much pounced at the opportunity as it’s not everyday you get to work in a small successful company with a bunch of your friends on an interesting project where you really get to contribute! … also I felt it was quite the honor that these guys wanted me in their gang as they are one of the most talented people I know!
What is your role at Almost Human?
Juho and I are responsible for creating the graphics for our games. We create the walls, floors, vegetation and whatnot that Antti then uses to build the environments. Then there’s the occasional monster I get to do and sometimes I tinker with creating items for our game… but everyone at AH sometimes do things outside their main focus. (Like writing up blog posts!) I like to take part in game design when I can or atleast listen in on Antti & Petri to find out what cool stuff they are coming up with. It’s nice to have some variety and not get pigeonholed into working on some narrow bit of the game. Ofcourse this also means that sometimes we have to do stuff that might not be as fun as bringing to life some weird fantasy creature but hey, that’s a small price to pay for the creative freedom we have!
Monday - August 19, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - New Portraits
Almost Human has a new development post that introduces Emile Denis the maker of the games new portraits.
"Couple of months ago we posted to our blog that we were looking for an artist that could help us create brand new portraits for the LoG2. We received tons of applications, 234 to be precise, and I went through all of them. One artist stood out pretty early on. He had just the right style we were looking for and his communication was great and with reasonable rates, it wasn’t that difficult to select him to do the work. So, without further ado, let me introduce Emile Denis to everybody." -Juho
Several months ago, I heard about The Legend of Grimrock via some websites and several reports on tv. I was immediately intrigued by this game with an old-school and Modern side. After testing it with a friend, I really enjoyed it!
Then, last April, a friend who works in the the video game industry sent me a link saying “hey look!, I saw this and thought you would be interested in it!”: It was an advertisement from Almost Human who was Looking for a freelance portrait artist for the Legend of Grimrock 2!
I didn’t think twice and immediately sent an email with my portfolio, then, after a few days, Juho Salila give me the definitive answer: I am selected! It’s such a pleasure since I love everything related to portraits and characters! I was even happier when Juho gave me as a reference the Baldur’s Gate’s portraits (one of my favorites games)!
Tuesday - August 06, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Weapons and Combat
Almost Human has posted a new update for Legend of Grimrock 2 talking about weapons, and combat mechanics .
Back from the holidays and already busy at work, it is time for another development update! In this update I’ll talk about changes to the item system that ended up having a pretty big effect on the combat mechanics as well. Did I get your attention?
Thursday - July 04, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - New Development Update
Hello all! We have been pushing hard on the development of Legend of Grimrock 2 and now we are going to have a brief but sweet summer break. But before we go a recap of what has been happening is in order!
The focus of work recently has been on the building blocks of the game, the monsters, puzzles, and environment assets. After the holiday break we are going to start putting the pieces together and building the (final) game world. (I put “final” in parenthesis because I know we are going to polish and tweak the levels to the very last moment before the game ships.)
With the added musclepower of Jyri and Jyri, we have been able to push an impossibly large amount of 3D models, animations and textures out of the oven in a very short time. For example, we have 16 complete new monsters and more is coming. Combined with the monsters from Grimrock 1 we have something like 40 unique monsters, although many of the old monsters won’t make a come back in the new game. The monsters of Grimrock 2 are also much more complex, many with multiple types of special attacks and unique AI behavior.
On the wallset side, we have seven completely new environments, more than double what we had in Grimrock 1. The amount of model files, material definitions and scripts is getting really tough to handle!
On the tech side, we have implemented water rendering and integrated a video player. After carefully evaluating our options we chose to use an open source WebM/VP8 video format. Being open source means that mods can also contain cinematic videos without licensing limitations. This was very important to us. The cinematics can also be played whenever needed, no longer just at the start and end of the game.
Saturday - May 18, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Development Update #2
Legend of Grimrock 2 has another development update posted. The posts topics talk about a new animator who has joined the team, new levels, items, and monsters.
Olli has been helping out Jykä to get up to speed and he’s also been active on the business side by filling blanks on obscure documents for our new accountant. Sometimes the business side of things feel like solving a cryptic Grimrock puzzle and Olli’s getting pretty good at it. Olli’s also found time to complete animations for the very first monster you’ll encounter in LoG2.
In another news, Jyri #1 has been working on new items graphics. We need at least a hundred new items for LoG2 so this will keep him and a few other people rather busy for some time! Jyri has also been modeling new environmental assets and a new puzzle object that Antti will be putting into good use.
Talking about Antti, he’s been working on the levels and we now have about 30% of the playable area in “pre-alpha state”, i.e. mapped out with puzzles and initial placement of monsters. I’ve also helped Antti by creating the first version of the very first introductory level.
Juho has been working on a new monster concept and has also been modeling assets for the first level. He’s also gotten his eyes shot with a laser and he had to take a few days off to recuperate. His new laser-cut eyes will hopefully make him even better as an artist (if that’s even possible!).
On the tech side the refactoring work for the component system is finally done. Some other notable changes are: a new quite deadly trap, and lifting off the restriction of levels having to be 32×32 squares in size. Levels can now be any size up to 64×64 and also non-square. Levels can now also be connected in north-south and east-west directions as well as vertically.
Wednesday - May 01, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Looking for Freelance Portrait Artist
Almost Human has posted a new blog entry for of a new position on their team for a talented freelance artist to create new awesome character portraits for the upcoming Legend of Grimrock 2.
Ahoy ye freelancers! Almost Human is looking for talented freelance artist to create new awesome character portraits for the upcoming Legend of Grimrock 2.
Friday - April 26, 2013
Legend of Grimrock 2 - Developer Update
Almost Human has a new update for Legend of Grimrock 2. The update focuses on the state of the game, and its plans for the near future.
The codebase has been in quite a bad shape after working so furiously on the first game. So I’ve been doing a lot of code refactoring which is a bit unthankful work because I’m rewriting a lot code and on the surface nothing seem to be changing. But still it’s very important and will speed up development in the future tremendously. Almost everything is now component based (except for the Party class which is a bugger to refactor because it’s so tightly connected to many places). Also I have rewritten the save game system, so that it’s easier to add new components that store their state automatically in save games.
I’ve also worked on the AI and as a result some critters are now noticeably harder to deal with. A completely new AI behavior has also been added. You can tell the difference immediately when this new behavior is activated but I don’t want to spoil the fun by revealing all the secrets yet!