Developer Blog – October #1

Developer Blog – October #1

Team Utherous continues to push towards the first crafting and combat test. A lot of technical work needs to take place before we can move into the testing phase, but we’re well on our way. Some personnel needed some shifting around, but nothing out of anyone’s comfort zone. All the teams are working to get where we need to be for this event, so keep checking back as we’ll have some announcements soon. In the meantime, enjoy a little peak behind the kimono in regards to what we’re doing to get ourselves one step closer to crowdfunding.

We’ve acquired a new programmer to help us out with… well… lots of things, but most immediately, getting weapons in hand so they aren’t just waving around some random area of the game world chopping up skyboxes or something ridiculous. We’re also re-purposing part of our character asset creation pipeline to get in some last minute (non-character) assets. Statistics on the weapons and shields are still be ironed out (and will undoubtedly be adjusted in the future). Animations are being reworked on a newly modified rig to fix some issues experienced with the previous version. Crafting stations need to be laid down on a yet to be chosen terrain patch and the behind-the-scenes crafting ‘tables’ need to be configured as well. Oh… and we just need a couple icons for the animal loot drops… no problem, we got this.

For this test we won’t be exploring the full depth of the Utherous crafting system, but the foundation for the code to make sure it works at a fundamental level. As such, we’ll likely be having players collecting junk from the mobs they defeat, exchanging that for gold, and buying the final components needed for crafting weapons and shields. Then they’ll be able to head to the crafting stations and assemble the weapons and shields. As Utherous is aimed squarely at a hardcore sandbox MMO audience, the final game will require many more intermediary steps for the crafting process because, as everyone knows, crafting is god’s work!

One of the hardest parts of creating an MMO, and a reason why people say an independently made MMO is very difficult to do, is that getting the tech together to sustain a large landmass and player base is very difficult to do. We’re pretty confident that we have that part under control at this point. We’re looking at implementing some pretty big bullet point features for the next few months, so stay tuned. I don’t know about you, but I’m very excited to see Utherous start to come together.

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Developer Blog – September #2

Developer Blog – September #2

Hello again readers! After the initial, rambling intro of a post from last time, I’m going to go ahead and take a more of an informational (if no less rambling), approach as to the on-goings in Utherous’ development this time around.

All heads are down and plugging away to get our baby in shape to shoot footage for our infamous media push. We’ll be relying heavily on organic community growth via word of mouth to make our big media and crowdfunding efforts a success, so there isn’t going to be a lot of new design talk or high level changes during the next few months as we work to produce consistent assets and functional, essential code.

Keeping Things Moving

A few last minute UI assets have been delivered in the way of armor slot silhouettes and some minor button additions and, as always, some great illustrations, modeling and texturing is also being realized. I’ve personally been plugging in (some long overdue), icons into the database before our weapons and armor get setup for in-game crafting and use. This will be a very exciting addition to the game as crafting will integral in players’ survivability and success in Utherous. Resource gathering, crafting and combat all being in game will be a huge milestone in the game’s core loops being enjoyed.

As for code progress… there’s just a ton of stuff going on over there. A bunch of day/night system fixes have been introduced, patcher issues have been resolved, and some login bugs have been addressed.

The day/night cycle on our alpha continent will function on a 4-hour real time interval. This time split is pretty evenly with 1 hour of darkness 1 hour of sunlight and then 1 hour each for twilight and dawn. We experimented with many variations on this schedule to try to allow for the best player experience. Eventually, a 4 hour schedule was determined to allow the most flexibility of play as well as adding a distinct feel of time progressing.

A little inside baseball on the time cycles; We had originally tried to offset the times so they would not always line up with a real world clock. So for example 4pm Eastern Time would not always be the middle of the night in game. After several permutations of this system it was causing a massive amount of errors with internal timing and for keeping the cycle in sync. Eventually we had to settle on a number that was a factor of 24 to make everything line up.

Breaking Out the Bug Swatter

The patcher issues that a small group of players noticed in the last alpha should all be resolved. This includes the game not installing properly, the download getting stuck, and the login credentials not being recognised.

One of the hardest issues to pin down was a login issue that caused the ground to be… not so ground like. Characters were, at times, spawning in and then falling directly into the ocean, or even worse, the center of the earth! We have adjusted spawn locations, and also the ground mesh, and now everyone seems to be on more sure footing. I am sure some of you will find new and creative ways to explore the underworld in the next alpha.

Also worth noting is with advanced actions like combat and resource gathering, some work is currently being done on sounds coordination as well. Many other fixes involving UI and interaction with the world are also in the works.

K, Thx, Bye!

As you can see, we have a lot of plates spinning at the moment, as is the nature of game development, and we definitely appreciate your patience during this project. Stay tuned for news on the next alpha test and please spread the word to those you think may enjoy the open world sandbox Utherous.

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Developer Blog – September

Hey y’all. I’m Eyal (pronounced ‘hey y’all’ without the ‘h’), Project Lead for Utherous. We’ve been working hard over the past few years to develop a new MMO that old-school sandbox players are sure to love and make their own. We’ve provided a slow trickle of information and have had a few alpha tests that have begun to see the fruits of our labor take shape, but we have a lot more planned for both the near and not so near future.

Now, you might be saying to yourself, “Hey Eyal.. weird name, and why haven’t I heard that much from you guys yet?”. It’s somewhat by design. From the very beginning we’ve been adamant that we don’t want to be a studio making a lot of promises we know we can’t keep and to launch a crowdfunding campaign selling gamers a bill of goods that can never materialize. It’s become something of a trend in this industry to overpromise and underdeliver, especially in the independent development world, and we are committed to avoiding such practices. As such, we’ve taken the approach of delivering a working, feature rich, playable game before going to crowdfunding platforms to help carry us to the loftier goals we’d like to achieve.

Big Minimum

Make no mistake—even in its current state Utheria (the land of Utherous) is impressive. The continent of Nor (the first of our planned 14 continents), is absolutely huge. The landmass and surrounding waters come in at roughly 617 mi². That’s over twice the size of New York City’s landmass. In the latest alpha we saw the introduction of resource nodes including trees, ore, minerals and rocks. The quick math adds up to a combined resource node total of 1,593,272 harvestable and regenerating nodes on the continent of Nor.

Before any crowdfunding attempts are undertaken, and in addition to the features already functional, we plan to implement at least 3 full craftable armor sets along with 4 races, and whatever other fixes we can plug in before the time comes. We will also have, the very crucial, player created villages mechanic ready before asking for any help from future players in reaching our end goal.

Our hope is that these features will bolster your confidence in our humble 30 person indie team. We aim to establish ourselves as a serious development studio that you can invest in with confidence. We want to create a world that players can enjoy for years and to create a healthy rapport with our community. This starts with honesty and we will do our best to never put forward disingenuous marketing material or mislead players about what is to be expected from us. This strategy is not only borne from our company philosophy, but is a promise to you, the patron, that we will never knowingly engage in such activity.

The State of (and Imminent State of) The Game

I’ve mentioned the land size and you can extrapolate on the proposed land size of the final game should we reach our funding goals (which are still being determined), but a little recap of how much we’ve already accomplished in addition to terrain building should serve to illustrate our work ethic and resolve.

We’ve conducted a resource gathering egg hunt where players competed for prizes. I mentioned the resource node creation but want to stress just how difficult and time intensive it was to achieve this goal… consider it stressed. Our XP system has been tested and is functional as well as our skill tree and inventory systems. The questing system has also been tried out as well and is in a functional state. We have most of the backbone of our game in place and can’t wait to show it to players.

These core mechanics highlight the most technically challenging programming features that we’ve been able to implement, but also worth noting is our art team’s accomplishments. We have nearly 20 armors in various states of completion, 70+ weapons and shields traveling the pipeline and dozens of 2D assets primed for, or already viewable on the website.

Our next test will feature crafting, armors, weapons and some animals to combat with as well. The code team is optimizing the wildlife ecosystem to make it as dynamic and realistic as possible. We may only release a few animals at a time, but the backend to a robust “ecosystem” will be in place in some capacity. Each feature implemented has better prepared us for the next and paved the way for our future development.

Much More to Come

Thanks for checking in with us here at Skill Check Games for I plan to be one or many posts about the ongoings of our ambitious indie title, Utherous (pronounced ‘Luther-Us’, but without the ‘L’). How’s that for an analogous callback? We’re in this for that long haul and hope to impress you with what will hopefully feel like a release ready title shortly, but with a crowdfunding proposal that will be aspirational, yet achievable with respect to what will have already been accomplished.

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Alpha Test: Experience and Skills

With our next Alpha test coming up this weekend, we wanted to take some time to go over one of the features you will get a first look at in this build, the Skill and Experience system.

While you spend time in the in game world, you will notice a number ticking up on the top right of the UI.

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This number is the amount of experience your character has earned and can be used to purchase skills. At the moment, for testing reasons, this number will go up rather quickly to allow you to quickly and easily learn the lumber skill. There are many features, which we will discuss later, that will affect the rate at which this number goes up in the final game.

There are two key factors of the experience system in place for this alpha test. The first major one is that purchasing a skill resets the counter, so if you purchase the mining skill first you will have to explore for a bit before you can learn the other skill from the trainer, even if you have 200 points saved up. Also of note is that death will reset this counter. While this shouldn’t be a huge issue, since combat isn’t in yet, we just wanted to make people aware of it in the off chance you have a fight with gravity.

The second part of the system in play are the trainers themselves. We have made them readily available in order to facilitate testing, but this is not how things will work in the final game. While everyone will have access to some basic trainers early on, more advanced trainers will only be found in player cities. Each city will possess unique trainers that only its denizens, and their friends, can use.

We’re looking forward to exploring these features with you in game starting this Saturday, August 6!

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