March 24, 2006

Prey Weekly Development Update #11

Hey all; welcome to the eleventh edition of the Prey Weekly Web Update. As usual, this week has been rather busy here at Human Head. We've been splitting out time between implementing new feature requests from 3DR and fixing bugs.

At this point, though, many of the feature requests are fairly simple tweaks, things like adding in screen tips in sniper mode so you know how to zoom in and out, changing the HUD damage feedback system to something more intuitive, etc.

Check the changelog at the end of this update for even more info on what's happening with the game.

Typically (at least on nearly all the projects I've worked on), there comes a point where staff members start wrapping up their normal duties and transition over to game testing. We're nearly at this stage with the art staff. Oh, there's still a number of art tasks remaining and things will still crop up as we're headed towards gold, but many of the artists have been transitioning over to bug-finding.

Rather than have them try to play through the entire game over and over, we've split the maps up into groups and are having each artist concentrate on a group of maps for a short period of time. We'll then rotate them into different groups of maps to keep putting new eyes on each set of maps.

Next week, we're planning a more hardcore test of deathmatch. We have been regularly testing deathmatch both for bugs and balance, of course, but next week we want to get into it hardcore. There are a couple of bugs that QA is able to reproduce that we have yet to see in-house. Next week's hardcore test should flush out those issues.

2K has sent a tester on-site to work with the team directly for the next few weeks. So far, he's been working out well, and has been diving in and showing us bugs that we've had difficulty reproducing, as well as helping out with regression testing bugs after we've fixed them.

In case you aren't aware of how the process of QA works, here's a quick outline:

  • QA reports a bug, and enters it into a centralized database
  • We look at the bug, and determine if it really is a bug, or if there is a mix-up. If it's not a bug, we mark it the very obvious: "Not a Bug"
  • We then determine if we will be able to fix the bug. Occasionally a bug cannot be fixed due to engine limitations and so forth. We mark it "Will Not Fix"
  • We then try to reproduce the bug. If we are unable to reproduce it, or don't have enough information to recreate the bug, we mark it "Need More Info", and wait until we hear back from QA with the additional information
  • Finally we fix the bug. And mark it "Fixed."
  • Even though we fixed it, it's not closed out and considered final until QA has retested the bug. They retest it, and either mark it "Fix Verified", or if they still can reproduce the bug, then they mark it "Fix Denied"
  • If the bug is kicked back to us, then we swear repeatedly and the process starts over.

We received more music from Jeremy Soule last week, and are expecting more music from him early next week. We're close to having all music for the game in our hands for implementation. All told, we should have close to 2 hours of music in Prey.

A few Human Heads attended GDC this week, shmoozing with other developers and attending talks. As mentioned last week, our very own Ed Lima is giving a talk today (the 24th) on sound in the Doom 3 engine and on many of the enhancements that have been added both by us and by Creative Labs.

Yes, Ed will be showing some sound stuff in-engine. Don't expect a huge Prey demonstration, though -- it's tailored towards the sound, so he's just showing off a couple of rooms as he's demoing the sound enhancements. But, we did choose two pretty cool rooms. :-) One of them has one of my favorite portal effects.

Speaking of GDC. Every year, when I realize that GDC is upon us, I always start thinking about E3, since it's a bit less than two months away. We've already started discussing what we'll be showing of Prey at E3.

No final plans as of yet, so I can't mention anything in this update -- but we will be showing off Prey in some form at E3.

Okay, arguably the most popular feature of the weekly updates: the changelog. As we've been working on a number of things near the end of the game, quite a few spoilers had to be removed this week:

  • hunters have new projectile effects so the projectile stands out better
  • XXXXXXXXXX at the start of the map has a new texture on it
  • Tons of tweaks in the Harvester maps, in terms of creature placement and bug fixes
  • New combat room added to Salvage: a cool room involving multiple portals and many enemies
  • New animation for Tommy's intro
  • Preparation for a door color unification pass across all levels
  • New damage HUD, giving better directional feedback during combat
  • Lots of great AI tweaks and fixes to the Hunters
  • Animation work on various cinematics and to XXXXXXXXX-X scene
  • Removal of a poster in the Roadhouse that contained unlicensed images
  • New graphic effect on the health spore: much cheaper, and pretty much looks the same
  • New GUIs throughout the levels, providing more information about the ship and the inhabitants
  • New creature placements, providing more locations for wallwalk combat
  • HUD tips for sniper zoom

As always, thanks much for reading our Prey update. We have some pretty exciting Prey related things happening over the next few weeks -- can't talk about them just yet, but just keep your eyes peeled! Until next week....

Chris Rhinehart - Prey Project Lead
Human Head Studios

And for no good reason at all, Joe Siegler insisted upon another picture of Crystle Lightning. ;)

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

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Posted by Joe Siegler on March 24, 2006 at 1:26 PM | Permalink | Discuss this story on our forums
News Categories: Prey | Weekly Updates