Month: May 2016

Teaser Trailer 1: In Case Of Emergency, Release Raptor

Not only is the steam store page for the game now live, but we also have our first actual trailer-style video!  Happy day. :)

Here’s some fun/interesting facts about the trailer:

  • The music is by our own Pablo Vega, with lead vocals by his wife Hunter Vega.  That’s not the whole title track for the game, but it’s about a third of it.  I’m so stoked to be able to share that with you, because they both knocked it out of the park.
  • The main footage shown is still from the SciFi Industrial Level Kit demo level, by Ximo Catala.  I’m getting soooo close to having stuff I can show you with the procedural generation, but I’m not there yet.
  • The darker lab-style stuff was from the demo scene from Lab interior pack by Silver, which I’ve shown a screenshot from before, but no video.  The lighting in that was a mess and mostly off, but it looked neat and so I figured why not.
  • The robots shown being destroyed are Mechnarid, by Daniel Kole Productions.  Those are suuuuper stand-in alpha stuff.  I just slapped them in there in about an hour and rigged them up so I could demolish them in pieces.
  • The temp-y robots illustrate an uber-simple form of “dismemberment” (with the top gone, but legs still walking), but it doesn’t have true AI, and it doesn’t look like the real robots will in the game.  Thematically I needed some sort of robot footage for the trailer, so I figured that was good enough to get the idea across.
  • The story talking about “the corporations have fallen” is a reference to the corporations that run the world in Bionic Dues.  The incompetent machines that make for such fun puzzles and levels in BD are the precursor to the robots in this game, which are in no way incompetent.
  • The story mentioning “our fleets have abandoned us” is actually referring to the abandonment of Earth that happens back during the civil war in the prologue to AI War: Fleet Command.
  • Curious about how the story for our games fit together?  Bionic Dues is maybe a few decades before Raptor, and then Raptor is about 800ish years before AI War.  The Last Federation and Stars Beyond Reach both come later (in a different galaxy), and Starward Rogue is a few billion years after that.  The forums have a cool post on the Lore timeline of the Arcenverse.
  • Anywho: the idea is that the humans have mostly abandoned the planet to the machines, and yet a few humans left behind are turning to genetically-engineered raptors to fight the robots that are after them.


Click here for the official forum thread on this post.



“Release Raptor” Steam store (coming soon, anyway) is a go!

We now have our Steam store page live for “In Case of Emergency, Release Raptor.”

What is this game?

In short: you get to pretend to be a raptor, but in computer game form instead of just walking on your toes at home. (Or was that just me? I’m afraid I have to admit I did the toes-thing at school, even.)

What have I missed dev-diary-wise so far?

Some pretty cool stuff! Two videos, and some substantial writeups. If you’re a fan of reading nuts and bolts stuff, or seeing some of the behind the scenes bits, I talk about and show those things in pretty good depth.

  • Dev Diary #1 is part of this announcement post, which also talks about our use of Unity Asset Store assets and how we do that: Announcing “In Case Of Emergency, Release Raptor”
  • Dev Diary #2 is a freaking hour-long video: Thar Be Dinos Behind That Longwinded Man. Sorry about that length — though people have said it is interesting, at least.
  • Dev Diary #3 is a video that is thankfully only 10 minutes long: More Audio And Video. On that one I learned my lesson and did some substantial editing-down to get to the good parts and avoid some tangents and places where my train of thought derailed a bit.

When can I buy this game?

That… is a very good question. We may or may not do early access. If we do, then potentially you can get into that in about a month (sometime in June).

How much will it cost?

I’m honestly not sure on that just yet, either. If we go the early access route, then the plan would be to release something that is bulky and fun, but which could be built out more. If we go that route, then we’d release it at a starting price substantially lower than what our v1.0 price would be.

In that scenario, the price would gradually go up as the game gets larger and larger. If there’s a huge popularity to the game during early access, then we’d probably build it out more and the final price might be a bit higher for those who don’t get in earlier.

Overall I don’t see this costing more than $15 USD at v1.0, though, and ballpark I’m presently thinking of $6.99 for the starting EA price. If we do EA.


How accurate are your system requirements?

Very inaccurate! The minimum system requirements on the graphics card side are literally the bare minimum to actually have the game function. Below that it won’t launch, but with that I’m not sure you’d get any appreciable framerate you like.

The recommended system requirements are a stab in the dark based on other similar games, since I have limited styles of hardware to test on. But most likely you could get 60fps on that hardware.

Figuring out the real system requirements, and having time to help optimize things for people’s specific machines (whether that means options they can toggle or adjust, or code improvements or whatever) is one strong argument in favor of EA.

What sort of rig are you running?

Personally I am developing this on a GT72 6QE Dominator Pro G laptop. Crazy as it sounds, because I always built my own PCs — I used to do that for a living, and prior to that I built PCs with my dad going back to the 386 days. Ah, sweet memories of my first pentium.

Anyhow, I wanted the mobility of the laptop, and I wanted specs that were good, but not TOO good. If I was running some crazy SLI setup that almost nobody has, then I’d get a very different experience from most people who tried to play my games. As it is, it’s rocking a GTX980M, and that’s a bit of a jump above the average card already.

What performance do you get with that?

On my 980M, I’ve mostly been playing in test levels thus far, not real ones constructed and fully optimized using my custom occlusion system. Despite that, in the worst instances I’m dropping to only about 30fps, and on average I maintain a high-50s framerate. In places that are closer to approximating the actual load of a real level (read: where the occlusion system is able to properly do its job), I’m routinely getting 200fps or more.


What is the status of optimization in the game?

Premature optimization is always a bad thing, but I’ve also been very frustrated in the past with many early access games (or release games) that don’t pay any attention to it at all. One goal of mine has been to figure out “budgets” for various things (destruction physics, camera post-processing effects, dynamic objects, particle effects, static meshes, etc) in terms of GPU/CPU latency.

Overall my goal is to make it so that I maintain a smooth 130fps or more on my machine, so that lower-powered machines can hopefully maintain 60fps either at the full graphical settings, or with things turned down a bit.

In my case, these performance goals actually play into level design itself. The way that the mazes are created is specifically designed around the custom occlusion system that I created, which in turn was developed specifically for this kind of game.

The test levels I’ve been running around in and having lower framerates in have these issues specifically because they are not split up and designed properly like the procedural levels are. In a lot of cases, because of their design, the occluder has no choice but to show about 5x more of the level than it otherwise would, and that’s when the framerate hit kicks in. When it’s able to show just an appropriate section of the level, then that’s when I’m back to 200fps or so.

Other questions?

The best place to reach me is actually the official forums for the game. I’ll try to catch things on the steam community as well, but there’s a much higher chance that I’ll miss it for at least a few days if you’re posting somewhere other than the arcen blog or forums.

NB: I’m actually going to be unavailable from tonight until Monday morning — go figure on that timing, eh? — so I’ll be slower to respond than usual. But if you have press requests, then contacting Erik at arcengames at gmail dot com will still get you in touch with us during this period.

Click here for the official forum thread on this post.



Starward Rogue Update 1.100: The New Balance Hotness

Been a while, hasn’t it?  Our last update to the game was just over a month ago.  Well, even the release notes don’t remotely do this one justice!

Basically there was previously a problem with the balance progression throughout the game if you were past a certain skill level in particular.  And there were some rooms that would give you situations where you might take unavoidable hits.  And there were some enemies that were out of whack, and some weapons for you.  And most of the consumable items were underwhelming.

Well… wowza, what a ton of changes to tune this one up for you.  The math for the progression of the game has been completely reworked, along with a lot of math in a lot of other places.  96 of the room templates have had tweaks to them, and the rest have had a hard squinting-at.  The final bosses are going to kick you in the teeth now (as they should), rather than you commonly having an OP build that would let you blaze through them quickly.  The latter still CAN happen, which is part of the fun of this genre, but now it’s not remotely (vaguely, slightly) as frequent as it was before.

Oh!  Hey, yeah, there’s also… seven, I think?… new weapons for you.  Four new familiars, too.  Bunches of new sound effects and some new particle effects.  A new enemy, the Zombot.

Also, I almost forgot — Misery wrote up a great guide for you: Some tips and tricks for new or advanced players

Good grief!  And yes, of course, the Freaking Volunteers (whom this release is courtesy of) are still working on more.  If you run into any balance issues or have other feedback (good as well as bad!), I’m sure they’d love to hear from you on our forums, the steam forums, our bugtracker… you know where to find us.

Official forum thread on this post.



Raptor Dev Diary #3: More Audio And Video

Oi, Raptor!  Been four business days since we saw you — what’s new?

The short list of new stuff shown in this video:

  1. Improved post-processing visual effects.
  2. Improved raptor skin.
  3. Completely re-rigged and freshly animated raptor.
    1. A couple of glitches there, though, most notably in the walk animation.
  4. Completely new sound system based on SECTR Audio and a bunch of custom stuff.  HDR audio!
  5. Revised sound effects for many things, new sound effects for many things including the raptor, and things like reverb zones.
  6. More stuff is destructible now, and you can see how that actually affects level traversal in some places (much nicer than getting stuck on geometry).

What’s next?

  1. More splitting-out of the various assets and prepping them for procedural generation systems.
  2. The first foray into procedural levels with real content.
  3. Custom audio occlusion based on my occlusion culling system.
  4. Custom ambient sounds attached to objects (hissing pipes, etc) based on the SECTR Audio stuff, but distinct from it.
  5. Particle effects!
  6. Better vocalization sounds for the raptor, probably.
  7. Putting all these new things together in the form of actual enemies to fight that use all of these subsystems together.

Other important news?

  • Linux support is a definite thing now!
    • Previously we were considering using dearVR, which includes some compiled platform-specific code that does not run on linux yet.
    • Instead we’ve opted not to get that product, and are instead achieving the same thing using a mixture of SECTR Audio, our own custom code, and good use of Unity’s own built-in reverb zone capabilities.  No platform-specific compiled code makes me a happy fella.

New Screenshots (click for really detailed versions!):

1. Running With Claws Out


2. Jumping Threateningly2_JumpingThreateningly

3. Smash – And Cool Glass Shader3_SmashAndCoolShaders

4. Dramatic Pose And Detail4_DramaticPoseAndDetail

5. Raptor’s Body Detail5_RaptorBodyDetail

6. Depth Of Field And Detail On Closeup Box6_DepthOfFieldAndDetail



Click here for raptor dev diary #2.

Click here for raptor dev diary #1.

Click here for the official forum thread on this post.