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Wasteland 3 - On The Road To Alpha

by Silver, 2018-04-17 01:41:38

A lengthy Fig update for Wasteland 3 talks about the road to Alpha.

Production Greetings with Stewart Spilkin, Senior Producer

Stewart here!   

As we roll on into 2018, Wasteland 3 has been in full production for a while and I’m happy to say we’re hitting all our major milestones on design, art, and engineering. Long-time fans of inXile may know our production philosophy puts a heavy emphasis on iteration. Practically speaking, that means we want to have levels and systems in so we can test and improve on our ideas.  This allows us to find out sooner rather than later what works and doesn’t work.

At this point, over 90% of the scenes in the game have first pass scripting as well as first pass art. We have Rangers killing stuff, vehicles driving around (and also killing stuff), multiplayer working on consoles and PC, the works! This allows our level and systems designers to experience and polish up their scenes, and for our Design Lead George Ziets to do playthroughs and take (very meticulous) notes. The value of getting this kind of revision time early on can’t be overstated.

We have a few new team members to mention. On the Environment Art side is Yong-Ha Hwang, recently on the Blizzard cinematics team, and Josh Deeb, who is joining us from Daybreak. In our NOLA studio, we've also picked up Germ Revoso as a concept artist, and Greg Roberts is doing some great animation work for us. On the writing team, author Cassandra Khaw has been doing some amazingly twisted dialog work for us, and Nathan Long, the principal writer on Wasteland 2, is cranking out volumes of great material too.

Checking In On: Gameplay Systems with Eric Schwarz, Systems Designer

Hi everyone! The last several months of development have seen huge strides as far as our gameplay goes. As we barrel forward on development, we're continuing to refine the feature set and details of our character system, skills, abilities, weapon types, gameplay styles, and more. Being system designer on the game means ensuring that the game is fun to play, that the user interface and experience is as smooth as possible, and that I advocate for (and design) as many features as we can possibly get in. Most of my efforts lately have been focused both on ensuring our core combat and exploration systems are at a level where we feel there are no major unknowns left to solve, and are in a good state for iteration, balancing, and, later, polishing up.

In addition to making the core gameplay as good as it can be, I've also been working heavily with George so that our area design is in sync with our gameplay mechanics and makes the best possible use of them. This also means working on content design for all of our enemies, whether those are our different factions of NPCs, robots, animals, and even bigger, meaner things, so that each of them has a distinct gameplay identity, weapon types, and in some cases, abilities they use in combat. We're spending considerable effort to ensure that our combat encounters and enemy types have plenty of variety, and fitting personality for our post-apocalyptic version of Colorado.

Of course, all that high-level stuff is important, but what matters is getting those features directly in the game to play and experience first-hand. As such, a bunch of my time also involves coordinating with the level design team to implement all our features in all the locations you'll explore. Jeremy, Zack, Ben, Alex, Leland, Jeffrey, and others have been working hard to not only build the gameplay scenes and missions, but also do passes on combat implementation, loot, skill interactions, and more. It's a huge undertaking for the team, but with each and every revision, our scenes and gameplay get better and more fleshed out.

While we're still building on the foundation of Wasteland 2, there are also dozens of little tweaks, changes, improvements, and quality-of-life updates, many of which came directly out of feedback from our previous games. In future updates, we hope to be able to go into more detail about these. Until next time!

Eric Schwarz
Systems Designer

Checking In On: Content Design with George Ziets, Lead Designer

Hello all, Ziets here. The writers and level designers are working hard to get the whole game to a first draft state - especially the critical path. By the end of next month, we should be able to start the game at the tutorial and follow the critical path all the way to the end. It won’t be bug-free, of course, but getting to a solid first draft (as early as possible) is a critical step.

Some of our zones are already at an alpha state, which means that first-pass dialogue and level scripting are done, and combat, missions, and exploration all exist in some form. I’ve been playing through our zones and sending long lists of feedback to the design team. Our current focus is the city of Colorado Springs and Ranger HQ, our main hubs that contain the most reactivity to events that occur elsewhere. We’re also developing the endgame sequence and writing some of the most important characters in the game, like the Patriarch (the ruler of Colorado) and a returning Ranger from Wasteland 2 (who will, for the moment, remain nameless).

Once we're satisfied that all our zones have reached alpha, we’ll shift our emphasis toward playtesting, bug-fixing, and iterating. The iteration phase is the moment when a game really begins to shine, so the more time we can spend in iteration, the better the final product will be.

Final note: When we reach the final installment of our "Building the Everest" series of updates, we'll give you an early look at how our mission system will actually work in game.

George Ziets
Lead Designer

Checking In On: Art Design with Charlie Bloomer, Art Director

Hi all, I'm here to give you some news about what the Art team has been up to lately. The pace of production has been astounding! As with any production cycle, as the design becomes more and more fleshed out, the remaining questions begin to melt away, leaving a relatively clear path for artists to move in.

This is probably most evident with our environments. Every scene in our game has passed the blockout stage by Design, which means there is nothing stopping the Environment Art team from moving forward on first pass treatments for every scene in the game. We even took scenes from three different zones to a finished (polished) state before Alpha, since doing so would allow us to test assumptions about overall aesthetic approach, performance, and about how well our special shader solutions for snow etc. will work across ALL platforms. The other aspect of environments that we switched into high gear was props. We have a mix of in-house and outsourcing resources cranking through a long list of carefully vetted assets that include props, interactables, items, and weapons.

In January we made the decision to focus our Character Art effort leading up to Alpha on the assets that would have the most wide-reaching impact on our game - namely our factions. The world of Wasteland 3 is populated by many distinct groups! Each faction character is constructed out of a collection of "parts" - chests, legs, hands, feet, heads - that results in a large amount of variation across the Wasteland 3 landscape. By focusing all of our resources on these character factions, we've developed an excellent visual language for each group and a firm foundation for the next stage - characters with more unique appearances that will play a specific role in conversations and/or gameplay. Here's an example of a Scar Collector outfit, kitted out for the harsh winter enviornment:

Speaking of conversations, we've fully tested our pipeline for generating facial animation and the accompanying full-body gestures that will make up our cinematic conversations! We've settled on a system of processing audio tracks, combined with motion capture, that yields the quality we have been aiming for. As we work toward Alpha, the last piece of the puzzle is being addressed. That has to do with how our tools for managing the complex conversation system in Wasteland 3 can actually drive the animation and audio at runtime as well. In the end, it's a cleverly automated system that handles the heavy lifting with relatively little hand-holding required by us mortals.

Our Animation team has been focusing on establishing really nice idle poses that will serve as the starting and stopping points for all of our combat animations. The end result is animations across all our weapons sets that demonstrate excellent readability and also personality! The same can be said for our new fidgets and reaction animations as well. And the most recent leap forward has to do with a clever way of using additive layers for our damage animations so they now take into account both the direction and severity of an attack and then randomize the result. We really like how it's coming together and hope you will, too.

The Wasteland 3 UI departs in appearance from that of its predecessor. While the functionality has been improved in many spots, visually we've moved toward a look that is intended to provide the same information in a less "physical" shell. Part of the change is aesthetic - we tie into the game's themes with shades of blue and with hints at ice and frost. Beyond that, we're keeping the interface elements clean and easier to read. We've established our visual language and now it is simply a matter of executing on the plan.

Across the whole project, the excellent pace of art creation in the last several months has been exhilarating and positions us well to dive into the part of the project I like best - that time after Alpha where our focus shifts from getting things in and functional to making things beautiful! Things like the Meat Clown!



Information about

Wasteland 3

SP/MP: Single + MP
Setting: Post-Apoc
Genre: Tactical RPG
Platform: PC
Release: In development