auf so ner großen Karte kann man diesen Burgenbau-Modus bestimmt schön auch mit mehr als einer Fraktion spielen
Last week we've shown you a little video of our new studio in Belfast, but not much new in terms of Gameplay.
This time, I want to introduce you to the concept of our game. Because it may be a lot different than what you anticipate. We've been thinking about this new concept, and fleshing it out, over and over again. Naturally, in a team of our size, there are many different opinions to be taken into account, some based on objective criticism, and some backed by subjective preference, both equally valid.
So, without further ado, let's get started on:
What is Melee?
Melee is what we call a "persistent medieval war" game. The core of the game is conflict, war, ownership, and battles. Each round will be a couple of months long.
In this time, you build up your family, a group of individuals with different skillsets. Each family will support around 5 individual family members. The idea here is to remove the tedious but necessary tasks from your direct control and instead let you focus on more engaging content. While you are out exploring the world, your family members will be stocking up on lumber, producing ore or crafting all of those iron fittings that you really need.
Now let me make a separation right here - Melee will not be a survival game. While you do have the ability to craft weapons, and live a hermit life, this is not what this game is about. Instead, Melee will be a complex social game about conflicts and decision, and it will make heavy use of one mechanic to make sure that the gameplay is very different from a survival game: Symbiosis
- Combat - set your character up with the equipment and skills you need to win confrontations. This can be on the battlefield, in “illegal” robberies or simply defending yourself.
- Exploration - There are things to be found in the world, old forgotten techniques or misplaced technologies. They may allow you and your team to craft newer and better items which none of your fellow players are able to create. Explore the world, share, sell or hoard these precious finds.
- Industry - while the core game is about war, the reason for the war is the industry, and everything produced in the industry will, sooner or later, be consumed in war. Different locations give you different natural resources in different qualities, so you will have to trade with other players, or on a larger scale, other cities, to get what you need.
- Economy. Everything in our world is created by players, it's hauled by players, used, sold, traded and bartered. No items will exist that is not made by players. It is player run, and fueled not by hoarding more things, but to conquer your opponents.
- Leadership - a big part of the game will be about taking command. We'll allow players to create their own mechanics in which to govern with, be it in city management or commanding battles. We like putting players in charge. It's your world, it's your story, we are simply providing you with the tools to enable that and enjoy the ensuing drama. And drama there will be.
Symbiosis in Melee
So, reading up to here, have you been thinking: "Ok, so me and my guys, we'll find a good place where to build our castle, and then we're just sitting there, grinding skills and equipment until we can fight"? Because that's not how it will work, not fully at least. One of the most important things in medieval times was manpower. And for that you will have to open your gates, and let people live in your city. People you don't know. People you might not even trust. Instead of having an outpost full of streamlined loyal and trustworthy companions, you have a more or less strictly run city, which you are sharing with the world. Whatever you do, you will be in competition with other cities, that also want to attract new players.
How will you run your city? What will you do if, for example, some citizen of your city gets robbed or killed outside your gates? Do you not care? Are you giving your citizens the impression of not being able to defend them, risking losing them for another city? Because they are giving you taxes and resources, so you better make sure that they feel welcome here. How far would you go to make players feel at home?
Do you give them a place to build their own home? Will you have separate city areas for slums and more "appreciated" citizens, or is this important blacksmith that just came into your town forced to be living next to the low-life peasants?
What happens if you have two players in your city, both trying to build up a specific industry, and rivaling each other? What if one decides to sabotage the other, will you sort it out, expel one of them, or just watch what will happen, eventually turning your city into an area without rules and laws, encouraging a survival of the fittest?
You will need those citizens if you want to wage large wars, and the citizens need you to protect them and provide them a fair and save environment to thrive... Or another good reason to stay with you and not your rivals.
As the name "Melee" suggest, every combat encounter will feel intense, personal, and challenging. No matter your level, at the end of the day it's still a question of your personal skill who will be triumphant in a combat situation.
Our game is about conflicts, combat, and wars. Therefore, we want to make sure that, whenever you feel like it, you can join a battle, and every battle will have some influence on the large world.
The most simple way is to fight what we call the "instant battles", which are similar to how you played battles in cRPG - you have different servers with different gamemodes and maps, and you are put on one side. Those battles have no political implications, you can play with or against your friends, they are there to improve your skills, and also to earn a bit of money. Said money is coming from Faction taxes, moving the wealth from the Top to the Bottom, and making sure that inflation is never screwing you over.
This is the other side of the coin. These battles are initiated by faction leaders, with obvious huge political implications. You can conquer other towns, or raid them, or burn them down. Those battles are waged in whatever environment the players built, and now it's time to see if the castle design you figured out is up to the task of withstanding an attack. By drafting an army, you will take the characters living in your city and turn them into soldiers. While the individual characters are not in danger per se, it will make a difference if you have a city made out of lumberjacks and tradesman, or hardened soldiers and fighters. Those armies will move slowly across the world, and once they have reached their destination, it's time to let the tacticians of your team shine. You will have access to many different siege weapons to take control of the Battlegrounds, and those Battles will demand everything from both your soldiers and your leaders, because small mistakes on either side can change the face of the political map, and the power balance between factions.
This is the goal we are having for this game. It is ambitious and experimental - as far as we are aware, nothing like this exists so far. This is not a game for everyone, but it is something we want to see happen.
I personally can't wait to see all the small nuances we planned out to come together into one big game, and put the social aspect of multiplayer games into focus, because for me, that is the most interesting part about multiplayer games.
Hey there folks. I know you all have been waiting patiently, and we are pleased to have a new update for you today!
The team is almost fully complete now; Igor has just arrived in Belfast and Thomek will be returning from working on his film to join us again soon, hopefully in January.
We will be breaking up for the Christmas period and so we wanted to give you all a brief overview of what each team member has been working on for the past few weeks, before our next update which you can expect in the new year as we start to focus more intensely on implementing features for Early Access.
Alongside overviewing everything in the project and working with the coding team to fix bugs, Chadz has been working with the team to revamp the combat system for the game.
Previously we had been using a prototype that didn’t have the depth for combat which could be enjoyable from both a casual and a hardcore player’s point of view, and we needed to rework some of the mechanics whilst also making sure the combat was good quality and visually flowed well.
The system has now moved towards using different stances to influence the type of attacks that can be made, for example the vertical stances use more thrusting attacks and horizontal stances swing the weapon. At present we have 4 stances, up down left and right, but currently intend on implementing many more based on historical techniques. Attacks are still based on direction of the mouse as before, but the stances add a bit more complexity, giving players the ability to make tactical choices without confusing newcomers.
We are still very much in the process of testing this system and refining it to make sure it is enjoyable yet challenging for players. Our team all have different opinions and come from different gaming backgrounds, some even have HEMA experience, but they are all working together to influence what we hope to be a never before seen combat system that is true to our name.
cmp has been making really nice-looking shaders with PBR values for the maps and in-game assets, and has also been improving and fixing up lots and lots of bugs for both the general engine and the tools he has built for importing assets into the game.
...he doesn’t want to talk about it much.
Serr and Igor have been working together on implementing many features into the game and making sure they work correctly.
They have been working on creating the Family bot system, assigning them to perform tasks such as harvesting trees, planting crops, and crafting items. At the moment everything works, though as in every game development there are still many bugs that need to be ironed out.
The crafting system has been improved and is working much better than before; players can gather the appropriate resources and construct different structures and materials. Animations have been implemented so that the player can visually see corresponding actions such as chopping wood, and show what stage of production the character is in when crafting.
They have also added a system to allow the dropping of items and connecting the appropriate models, for example if a 2-handed sword is dropped then visually a sword prop will be dropped by the character onto the ground.
A couple of weeks ago they also implemented the basis for the growing of forests in-game. If a player chops down a tree, a sapling will eventually re-grow into a small and then a large tree, and the forest will slowly spread over time. In doing this, and ensuring these rules for resources all work together, we will build a completely persistent world.
Jacko has been busy as of late with the incredibly small, humble task of creating blockouts of...well, every single prop in the game we can think of so far.
Fortunately for him, these are low-detail models that he can mock up very quickly to act as placeholders in-game. That’s not to say they are simple, not at all. Each item and building still needs to look historically accurate and have the correct shape and features. The aim of creating all of these is so we can have a base for everything we want to implement that can then be iterated upon and reworked in the future. For now though, we can bring them into the engine and see how they look, and most importantly be used in coding to test if actions such as crafting are working as intended.
For creating assets we have been using a modular workflow, building a simple base mesh such as a basic stone wall, that is then varied and iterated on to create many different pieces that can be put together to build a model, such as a complete stone castle. Its almost a bit like using Lego, only you need to create the blocks too before you can build something!
Some of the buildings that have been created include a cobb/dirt material house which is quite simple and would be one of the most basic houses that can be built; timberframe houses which are the classic medieval style, very easy to find references for with some even existing in some form today; and also different stone material buildings.
We now have many of the crafting stations we want in game and the idea is that every one is designed around the same base building. The player chooses what sort of building they need, whether its a blacksmith, a carpenter’s workshop, or a butcher’s carvery, and then upgrades from there, starting from small to large. The quality of the crafting station will also change depending on size, smaller buildings may only allow one character to craft inside at a time, or it may be related to the amount of production that is possible. There will always be a tradeoff between quality vs quantity. Alongside these stations, relatively simple animations will be created to show the player what stage in production the character is in.
He’s also been doing some of what he calls ‘admin stuff’; overseeing the assets created by the art team, working closely with our coding team to fix visuals and materials for Epic, and also reimporting and reworking some of our legacy assets as a lot has changed internally since early development.
Fin is composing away as usual, creating the best possible musical score we can have. The music will dynamically adjust to what the player is doing, which is achieved by dividing the whole Suite into separate parts, tagging them to their corresponding in-game situations. Tags are for example decided by surroundings, nature, nearby buildings, actions, and the status of the player. We will restrict the blending between 2 parts to certain chords or harmonics, making the transitions as seamless as possible. That means every player will have his or her very unique game soundtrack. This system, however, is not expected to be implemented in Early Access, because sound effects are on a higher priority at this time.
That's why he has also been working on creating a dynamic sound system for the game, drafting a large overview of all possible sounds and their corresponding locations. The aim is to have all sound effects based upon the player’s game, for example if a player is in a forest on muddy ground, fighting in heavy armor, the soundFX will depict that to each detail.
We are aiming for as realistic an approach as possible in the sound design, and so audio will not only be based on distance, so that things that are further away are mixed more quietly, but also, as stated above, on equipment and weather...can you hear those raindrops dripping on your helmet?
Additionally, we aim for the sound to provide fully responsive audio feedback, such as if a player aims with their bow and pulls the string, the sounds of all surrounding objects will sound much more mellow in the right ear, since the hand is blocking parts of it, while string sounds and cloth movement will sound stronger and closer. Taking that just as an example of the many plans we have, we're striving to have an audio system that is capable of adding to gameplay as well as to immersion.
For the past couple weeks Rachel has began learning how to use World Machine to help the team with working on the game's maps for instant battles and also the Epic world. She has been working on a 1.2x1.2km map that can be used in-game for testing combat, styled as a sort of basin type of map that dips in the middle and has high ridges around the edges.
Rather than hand-sculpting the landscape, perlin noise is used to break up the terrain and generate features such as hills and mountains. RGB maps are created that dictate where certain textures will be applied such as grass, rock, dirt, and sand; and individual alpha masks are used for where props will be placed such as trees and flora.
Eventually we would like to get to a point with the map system in-game where we can define a set of parameters for procedural generation of landscapes and implement logic for where vegetation and flora can be placed, to very easily and quickly create changes in the world.
On the side, Rachel has also been working on some of the character customization features such as different body types that the character can morph between, and also some in-progress hairstyle and facial hair options.
For the past few weeks, Zimke has been creating a multitude of different materials and textures for the clothing that can be worn in the game. The current function for the outfits are to be worn either as cosmetic civilian wear for walking around in Epic and showing off your wealth, or to be worn as a base outfit underneath any armor that is equipped.
There is a basic initial set that the player can wear and now there are many variations in materials for each item that can be worn. Currently, this includes a shirt, tunic, hosen and shoes, with additional headgear and pouches for players who wish to use them!
The current hats include a straw hat that was commonly worn throughout Europe and Russia, and also a linen coif which is a typical Catholic hat that could also be worn underneath another headpiece.
The range of materials of the different clothing articles will represent different qualities of fabric, from cheaper textiles such as linen and wool of different thickness, to patterned silk, all appropriate to the historical period. We have many resources available to us for referencing, with what remains from manuscripts and museums, and with Zimke as our historical expert we can create good looking, accurate materials.
The visual quality of accessories also change to match the outfit. From the plainest wool outfit, the belt and garters are un-dyed, but in the silk variation these use a better quality, red-dyed material to show off wealth.
Zimke has additionally been creating different levels of dirt variation textures for each of the materials which may also be linked to the quality of the material to show that an item is very poor and damaged.
In his workflow, Zimke creates the clean material and then when satisfied with how it looks, he fits it to the UV layout of the mesh and adds appropriate detail layers. When it comes to adding levels of dirt, some of it is hand-painted and some is created procedurally.
The base clothing is coloured neutrally so that color variations can be added to the game for character customization. For Early Access there will be a limited amount of colours that can be picked from, but we would like to implement a tool in the future that will allow players to pick their own colours, giving full personalisation to our most detail-orientated players.
As for Autobus, he’s been modelling and texturing some modular weapon sets, made up of various different parts. Each of these parts can be swapped out for another piece with a different shape or material to give players full control of customizing their own weapon. For example, a spear consists of 3 main parts: the head, shaft, and buttcap.
These weapon parts are modelled to be visually distinguishable from one another, and some time is spent researching and blocking out base shapes before creating the high poly versions. Though we could create hundreds of variations that are subtly different from one another, weapon crafting would be less interesting and more tedious. With these distinct sets, players on the battlefield will quickly be able to see exactly what type of weapon has been used and the customizations that the owner has made.
These weapon parts will also vary in quality, as with armour and clothing, with poorer quality sets textured to show the weathering of the material, or dirt and rust that has formed. On the other hand, good quality parts will have a polished and clean appearance.
Autobus has also played around with designing some texture variations for the tunic, such as creating an elegant patterned silk, with golden threaded cuffs that would indicate that the owner was very wealthy and could afford such finery.
So, that’s most of what we can share so far with you guys. We have big plans ahead of us and we’re working hard to make sure we can deliver the best game we can!
See you all again in the new year!
Namakan said:Es hieß vor einiger Zeit, dass sie so vielen Leuten wie möglich das spielen ermöglichen wollen.(Hatte damals noch mein Laptop und hab nachgefragt, das ist aber 4+ Monate her)
Joker86 said:Ich bin trotzdem mehr als skeptisch. Die Jungs sind super Programmierer und technisch echt spitze drauf, aber was game design angeht haben sie zumindest bei cRPG nur Pfusch abgeliefert. Weswegen ich jetzt nicht weiß, ob das mit M:BG besser wird.
Siegbert_von_Meklenburg said:Was sind denn deine Befürchtungen?