Mar19 Weekly Update


Morning everyone!

I’m waiting on the SXSW panel footage RIGHT NOW so I can upload them to our socials, and then we can discuss some of the news we’ve been holding off on for awhile. (The newsletter will also elaborate on some of the points briefly showcased in the videos).

A number of us are here at GDC (the Game Developer’s Conference, which is the largest game dev meetup in the world, hosted in San Francisco, California for a whole week!), so work will be hectic for us as we schedule our outings around meetups with old friends and interviews for the coming months. On the Boston side, I know we’re working on the runic/magic system, fleshing out the food, and finishing up our Alpha sprint. (We may need one more Alpha sprint depending on how our deadlines are met, or if we want to take just a little bit of extra time to make sure our core systems are in place.)

I’m afraid I don’t have much else to report since our post last week covers most of the things we’re still working on, and we were meant to have the panel footage up by now… but I digress. It should be posted today, and then I can link it here on the forums once it’s up! Would love to hear all of your thoughts about what’s revealed. :wink:


Thanks, the panel footage is up (haven’t watched it yet so can’t comment)…will the featured new video footage from that showing be available shortly?


Working on confirming how best to upload the narrative video with 505 right now.

In the SXSW thread, you asked for pictures…

So I believe I mentioned a week or so ago that we were looking into fixing our lighting system in order to create “real darkness” and “levels of darkness”. (If I did not, I apologize). Basically, a lot of our rooms for the pre-alpha and for a time afterwards had lights “baked” into them, such that there was artificial mood lighting in place for when we actually have lights that would cast the way we wanted them to. Now that we’re nearing the end of Alpha, we’ve started to work with our new Art Director, Ryan, to pinpoint how we want our shadow system to work. He’s a big advocate for adding blues and greens as shadows rather than just a harsh black shadow, for example.

I’ve attached two examples of areas below, one with real time lighting (the first) and one with baked in lighting (the second). Ideally, we’re looking to create lighting that softens the harsh shadows of 1 with the colors of 2, but is closer to 1’s darkness.

Also, please note that these areas are still a heavy WIP and under construction as we speak!

[spoilers for those who are avoiding screenshots!]




With all due respect, the pre-baked lighting shot looks way, WAY better.

The real-time lighting looks like a game out of 2005.

Are you really going with real-time for beta and final?


I love that you are embracing real darkness and also real time lighting!

Obviously it can be harder to get things looking quite so attractive if your light sources are genuine but it adds a lot to the simulation side of the game, and helps with immersion.


I cant see any of the media, but based on these last two comments, I am going with the real lighting. It is the heritage and part of the legacy of this company. I would be ashamed if they went with “pre-baking” and the like. Go with the simulation side of things, and people with play the game forever. Go with the “pre-baking”, and have a flash in the pan.

Also - Thanks Flug for all that you do. :smiley: I may not comment, but I am reading!


It’s still early and under construction. It may not please all people, but real-time lighting adds a lot to gameplay. Personally, I think the team is doing a fantastic job. Really loving the screens, though I’d like a look at sound and animation–two further aspects that contribute to immersion–in the future, just so I can get a feel for the overall presentation, and how it will juxtapose with the art style.


They both look nice as is. Personally I like the harsh black shadow look but the color in the second screenshot is tastefully done. I like that the darkest parts are still black, it makes for a really cool contrast with the blue parts. What bothers me is when a game is supposed to be dark, but it’s just tinted blue without any real darkness (compare the later Silent Hill or Thief games to the earlier ones), so it’s good that you’re consciously avoiding that.


May I add that I am happy they are using both realtime shadows, and real darkness?

I am fine with some game darkness. I need to be able to see somewhat. But there needs to be a balance, where I can see what’s on my screen, but darkness actually has some gameplay effect beyond looking shadowy and mysterious. Baked shadows won’t do much in terms of gameplay. And let’s face it, nobody wants to go inside a dark room and be able to see what’s ahead. Darkness, and its usage in terms of building a game, should make what’s ahead scary. Likewise, too much darkness, and it gets frustrating, and navigation becomes a chore. One area designed like that would be fun, too many and it becomes cumbersome. Not to mention, all that time designing beautiful scenery, and you can’t even find a light source to observe the art. I’d say a balance is necessary. 60% game darkness, 40% real darkness, or something like that (I am open to suggestions.) I want to be able to see the architecture. Textures should require me to be close, and holding a torch, or something like that. And of course, the draw distance should be greatly reduced, and real darkness clouding what’s ahead, as we are underground (except in the case of scenic vistas which are prelit by “magic.”) Or something like that. Maybe even being forced to use a torch when not using a weapon to explore my surroundings. In summary, I need enough game darkness to be able to read, navigate, and enjoy the aesthetic; but the possibility of darting through moving shadows, being lost enough in the darkness that my other senses are forced to compensate, and losing my sense of direction, all appeal to my Thiefly persona.


The lighting looks good, real, and sets up some apprehension. I think veteran dungeon crawlers would cautiously proceed. especially in to that big fat trap (see the raised gates surrounding the center of that large room?).


The light aside, I think it’s still all looking very “clean”. No moss, no dirt etc. Are all areas going to be like this?


Sluangkhot…thanks, those shots are both great in their own way; the first ‘quiet’, the second spectacular in more conventional ways.

In short, great. I think the darkness saturation, glow-level, and radius of the spot lights is about spot-on.

Curratum…come on…2005? …they’ve long said it was real-time lighting and shadows. If it looked rubbish, you might have a point of comparison with pre-baked…but …


All I’m saying is, the lighting in the first shot looks extremely flat.


…I also like the level of light reflection on the wood of the table given the angle…incidentally, I’m assuming the table must be floating slightly, because the shadows of the legs do not meet the legs themselves…?

Curratum, it looks correct for the scene and the source i.e. muted down-lighting…just not spectacular in the ‘oh-wow’ sense. But nonetheless impressive for all that. And we’ve asked for just such a pic for a long time (or some of us have…or…ok…me and maybe two others). It doesn’t look anything like ‘2005’.


Yeah, it seems the table is floating a little bit in the second shot. Good catch!

So as all of you are more or less pinpointing, we want to have a good balance. The entire game won’t look like screenshot1, or screenshot2. The colors of screenshot2 are quite nice, and adds an atmosphere, but it’s also (spoilers?) an area infused with more mana. (Thus, the mana wisps.) Additionally, it’s pretty easy to see in this room. Nothing wrong with high visibility, but because the lights are pre-baked, that would mean if I shot soaker arrows at every torch… everything would still be tinged a light blue, and we wouldn’t have areas of real darkness.

The real darkness shot in screenshot1 is just one example of an area that would naturally have true darkness. It’s an interior space, so there’s no “mana wisps” or torches nearby to illuminate the space. The color is more grim, and a lot of 2000-era games had this kind of “shade with black” lighting, thus the reference that Curratum is making. We’re not offended by the suggestion, we can see how other players may see that as well. That’s why we’ll bring some of the blue tinges from screenshot2 to the real time darkness sections of screenshot1, and bring more true darkness from areas like screenshot1 to screenshot2.

Balance! :slight_smile:


This puts me at ease, thank you for the detailed and level-headed clarification. If you could find some sort of compromise, melding the two overall looks of the shots, that would be great!


… What, you mean I lack diplomacy? :grin:


Are there any comparisons of the types of lighting in the same space?



Compromising is for the weak!

There can be only one!


Maybe I’m not the best data source, but TBH I loved both of those screenshots. Baked-in lighting (beyond the initial test level) is sort of the “character classes” of graphics: it’s how the developers think a scene should be lit. If the art team is involved, this can be gorgeous, and can help deliver maximum emotional punch to an important scene.

By this (strained) analogy, dynamic lighting is player-centric; it’s what happens when I take a pointed stick to the one hanging light so that the shadows dance and obscure the Big Bad sneaking up on me. Goofy things can happen, because players are freaks… but the payoff is a world that always feels reactive, and players are never in doubt that their choices have consequences.

So I love both approaches to lighting, as long as each is applicable within the intended context.

Take that, lighting extremists! :smiley:


Other than ambient light, what other light sources can we expect? Will there be luminous fungi, or glowing moss to light tunnels?

Also, I wanted to ask about animation–do the lizardmen having moving tails when they move? Or when they’re standing still?

Love the baked-in look, but as I said, inefficient for gameplay. Moving shadows make for some tense stealthy moment, as well.

Really interested in details of the combat system, seeing as it’s been compared to Dark Messiah.