March 17, 2006

Prey Weekly Development Update #10

Hello again and welcome to this week's edition of the Prey weekly update!

First off a huge thanks to Peter Johnson at Venom for taking the time out of his schedule to write the great update last week on the Xbox360 version of Prey.

Wow, so what's been going on here? It's been a crazy busy week:

In terms of production, we've been focusing on:

  • bug fixes from 3DR and Take 2 QA
  • map optimizations: Over the past couple of weeks, there's been some pretty large optimizations done to the maps. Visually they are essentially the same -- most of the optimizations have been ensuring that entities in other rooms cease thinking as necessary, additional corridors or doors added as needed for vis purposes, removing redundant geometry where found, etc.
  • feature tweaks: a number of game feature tweaks as requested by 3DR to polish the experience. For example, things like tweaks to how some of the weapons function, a screen effect when you are very low on health, some AI tweaks, etc.
  • level tweaks: similar to the feature tweaks above, the level designers have been adding in sections as needed to expand the gameplay in levels, and also moving elements around so they are properly introduced and utilized.
  • animation tweaks: The animators have been crunching hardcore to clean up the motion capture data. A lot of work has gone into cleaning up the motion capture data. The data had a lot of hitching, and issues when blending between different animations. So far the animators work has fixed things up pretty well -- only downside is that it's very time-consuming for them. Once the cinematic animations are complete, the animators have a good-sized list of things to tweak throughout the rest of the game, from weapon animations to creature animations.

A new contract animator has joined us to help finish Prey. Eric Weiss has a background in both film and computer game animation, having worked on such movies as Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Godzilla, and most recently, Superman Returns.

On Prey, he's been focusing first on learning the animation pipeline from Maya into Prey, and has been doing work on one of our boss creatures. Very cool having him aboard and helping make the animation rock.

Check out his IMDb page here.

Michael Greyeyes, the voice of Tommy, was here at Human Head on Monday and Tuesday recording new lines for the game, and re-recording some older lines. It was a busy couple of days, but we managed to record around 250 lines. Will we use all of those? Probably not -- our goal is that Tommy comment mainly about critical things. While it's very cool to hear his voice as you're playing, you obviously wouldn't want to hear him comment every 5 feet - you'd likely be saying "Shut up Tommy!" :)

As always, Michael was ever the professional who clearly enjoys his job. He nailed most of the lines in only a few takes, and had fun joking around a bit and ad-libbing a few lines.

Ed Lima, Audio Director at Human Head, along with some folks from Creative Labs will be giving a presentation at the Game Developers Conference next week on audio in Doom 3 engine games. Ed will be discussing some of the audio features added to the game to not only make things sound more realistic, but also features added to make the game more enjoyable. An example of this is voice ducking technology which lowers surrounding sounds when an NPC is talking, so their voice stands out above ambient sounds.

If you are at GDC, make sure you stop by and check out the presentation by Ed and Creative Labs. Additionally, Ed's talk at GDC will be next Friday the 24th at noon EST, so if you happen to be there, check it out to hear Ed's insight into Prey.

From the "No TV and no beer make Homer go something-something" department:

Of course, during all this hardcore crunching, we still have to take the time to blow off some steam. Now that the Guitar Hero craze seems to have all but died down here at the office, it's been replaced by some new sounds: The clang of swords and howls as heads are lopped off. A few of the guys here have taking up playing Rune Deathmatch again. Brings back such memories to hear those sounds once again echo through our offices.

We received some great feedback on the changelog from two weeks ago, so here's this last week's changelog as sent to 3DR. Warning, some spoilers might be in here -- but any major spoilers have been removed:

  • Leech node hints now give you an icon of the gun itself
  • Glowing blood sprays are visible when sniping an enemy
  • SpindleB: Turbine Room has gotten major optimizations
  • "Thin thing" portal trick added to Salvage (still requires some cleanup).
  • Pretty large optimization pass across most of the maps. Still more optimization to be done.
  • Key default changes:
    - Lighter defaults to F key
    - SpiritWalk defaults to MMB and E
    - Crouch defaults to C and SHIFT
    - Leech gun is now on key #4
  • Leech gun auto switches when out of ammo
  • Hunters can lean around corners to attack now. They occasionally decide to do the lean attack during normal attacks, too, to mix things up.
  • tweaks to hud tip system
  • added tips when entering a shuttle
  • made spectators show up on scoreboards
  • allowed spectators to go through forcefields
  • added "Resume Game" to out-of-game menu
  • put player portraits on scoreboard
  • added gametime played to loadgame screen
  • added "ready" tip to MP hud
  • made shuttle not thrust until transitioned in
  • tweaks to the motion capture animations for Grandfather and Jen.
  • added music volume control
  • tweaks to help screen
  • new negative feedback sound when shooting teammates in team dm, got rid of colored flash on teammates as well
  • New recorded lines for Tommy yelling at Grandfather as he is XXXXX XX XXX.
  • More save/load fixes
  • Playtime now displayed for savegames
  • Made vacuum robot explosion do radius damage
  • Spirit bridge updates throughout the levels
  • Ambience passes to newly added areas, thin thing, XXXXX XXXXXXXXX, etc.
  • Low health screen effect added

Thanks as usual for reading, and make sure to check in again next week.

Chris Rhinehart - Prey Project Lead
Human Head Studios

Here's level designer, artist, and prolific toy collector Ash Welch testing Prey DM.

Jimmy Shin, programmer takes a break from working on
creature AI to read a recent forum about Prey. You'll also notice that he's not a prolific toy collector.

Click the screenshot to watch Prey in action on the videos page!

Additionally, if you are a gaming news website, and wish to be updated directly with notification of these updates, please email us with a link to your website and a request to be added, and we'll email you with the next update.

Posted by Joe Siegler on March 17, 2006 at 12:39 PM | Permalink
News Categories: Prey | Weekly Updates