Friday, 21 December 2018

Sprint Round Up - 21.12.18 - The LAST Sprint of 2018


Twas the last sprint before Christmas, when all through slack
there were messages pinging, of snow in Finland
tasks have been completed on Jira with care
with hopes of increased wishlists for the new year


...we're not poets and we know it, but all in good cheer!   Pontus has decamped to his native Finland and the snow is plentiful!  There's a few us of here in merry ol England that are snow jealous.

Finland = Winter Wonderland

In this sprint, there were lots of tweaks and updates as we prepped the roll out of the FIRST ACCESS programme for our Kickstarter backers, as well as plenty of essential documentation and tasks. So without further ado, here's the last Sprint Update of 2018:

App System


•  Apps can define cost per action, and any continuously-running actions can apply cost over time.
•  Updated App scripting wiki page to match with the recent App system changes and to better explain all the features

AI

• Added generic actions to AI definitions (to perform tasks, change state, without the need of an InterestPoint)
•  Added stats to AI definitions (to track various attributes in a data driven fashion)
•  AI documentation

LevelKit

•  Built the "Semaeopus Testing Facility" level in LevelKit as an example for modders, and as easy place to test new modded content and features
•  Changed the LevelKit Tool to have a dropdown menu of different Districts for the mission so people don't need to check the options from wiki and type it in
•  Did a complete review of all the props and models in LevelKit:

  •  Made sure Models are not importing new Materials
  •  Gave a box collider to things big enough to need one
  • Created a Prefab of everything  
  • Added everything to Collections, cleaned up and re-sorted Collections
Organising materials in LevelKit

FIRST ACCESS

• Sent FIRST ACCESS keys to relevant backers
• Fresh build of OFF GRID with LevelKit tools for FIRST ACCESS users
• Created public Trello board for modders and FIRST ACCESS players to request features and report bugs

The best NDA return e-mail we received!  :D

Character Controls

• design and planning for improving character control

Bug Fixing

•  Fixed game crash in Map screen.

Other

•  Final itch.io build, and then added back all features & content that was disabled for it.
•  Explored documentation generation
• Loads of improvement and additions to the documentation on the wiki
• planning and research on offering a slacker backer option for people to be able to get into FIRST ACCESS post-Kickstarter (more news coming soon!)
•  A team holiday party at Beef & Brew that left us all bursting!  No worries, we took the leftovers home.  Waste not, want not, folks!

A note on FIRST ACCESS: 
 If  you are eligible for FIRST ACCESS, you will have
 a) backed OFF GRID at the PENTESTER level or above on Kickstarter and
 b) already received an e-mail with instructions on how to join!

If you find that e-mail and you have time to dig into things over the holiday season, please do!  Sign and return your NDA, and we'll endeavor to send over your Steam key in return as soon as we can. 


...and that's that!   We're still going through the holidays, but taking it a little easier than usual to enjoy the time with families and friends.

Thanks everyone.  We wish you all the happiest of holidays!

The OFF GRID Team 

p.s.  There's a HOLIDAY GIVEAWAY planned!  We've chatted about it in our discord - and it's soon to be announced.  Sign up to the newsletter to get the details first!



If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Improving AI Performance

Hi all, Steve here!  Here's a look into what I've been working on recently: 

There's been some monstrous performance spikes in our AI, and I've spent time over the last month working to mitigate this issue.  Two significant changes have been made to improve this:

1 - the addition of a pool of Dictionaries to store states, and
2 - making each state item immutable

This vastly reduces object creation, which is slow, and reduces the number of objects in existence, which helps reduce memory fragmentation (another Bad Thing) - which, being C#, is harder to control than in C++.


Dictionary Pool

So what's a Dictionary Pool, you may ask! Well, at its simplest (which this is), it's a big list of pre-made Dictionaries, each with a flag on to indicate if it's being used.

When we want a Dictionary, we grab one from the pool, put it in a list of 'in-use' Dictionaries, and mark it as being used. When the object using it is destroyed, we mark it as free, and put it back in the pool for someone else to use. The key here is to be very strict on who is using your object! It's critical that nobody is using it when it's marked as free, or the whole concept breaks down.

Immutability

And immutable states?  Immutability is another weird software-engineer-y word. In english, it means something that never changes. But that's perhaps misleading when it comes to thinking about objects in Unity - what use is an object you cannot alter?

The answer is that while you can't change the object, you can create a new one to reflect this change. This means you have precisely one instance of any particular combination of object.  For us, this means that instead of creating hundreds of thousands (no exaggeration) of states, all duplicates of one another, we create... about seventy. The overhead of querying a Dictionary for the instance of the state we want is much, much less than creating a tiny object, then destroying it, repeatedly.



These two changes weren't trivial, as such, but were fairly self contained, and only produced a handful of super frustrating bugs that I had to then work against for a week or two.

Back within 60fps, but still a lot of garbage to deal with!

But the good news is that performance improved drastically!  We are now back to 60fps within the editor on my machine, mostly. Which was a relief because I feared for a moment or two that I'd accidentally extended the AI system in such a way that it would never be useful in a finished game, which would have been embarrassing.

-Steve

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Monday, 19 November 2018

Sprint Update 19.11.18: The Longest Sprint


Hello!  This Sprint Update is a long time coming - there's been a lot going on, including a successful Kickstarter!   Successful Kickstarter has a nice ring to it, eh!?

If you followed along with the Kickstarter (and hopefully you did!) you will have had a lot of updates to read in the meantime.  Nevertheless, here is the detail of what we have been busy with throughout this epic sprint as we prepared for and ran our first ever crowdfunding campaign:

AI

- Pooled dictionaries in AI state
- Immutable AI state
- Inevitable fixes for above
- Extra cost for guards using stairs
- Fixes to AI planning
- Fixes for OffMeshLinks / AI using doors
- Tracked down a bug relating to door GUIDs / saving and loading
- Noise documentation
- Updated AI used in the Harbour scene
- Fixed a drone navigation crash
- Added mechanisms for AI to prefer particular devices based on their personality
- Added mechanisms to allow AI Actions based on their personality + Documentation for this

Controls

- Added UI to remap controls in main menu
- Checked/updated all control settings & defaults
- Limited repeat rate on analog gamepad sticks when moving around UI
- Added dataview range control on mouse & keyboard


Apps being configured: choose if you want them available in the app wheel or radial menu.

App system

- Completed new app system
    - added App system Lua API
    - unavailable apps are now hidden from Apps menu
    - If app can't be added to either appwheel or radial, it's now hidden in the App Menu (for exaple the password cracking is currently an app, but shouldn't be controlled by the player directly)
    - Apps are added to AppMenu, AppWheel and Radial menus when the app becomes available
    - Only execute currently selected app (instead of all active ones) when selecting a target+app in radial menu
    - Update loop for apps (so apps can run in background and do things continuously/over longer time)
    - Apply app action cost (both per-action, and for app cost over time for a continuously running app)
- Status windows for apps
    - Support for displaying an icon and/or a piece of text
    - Support for changing icon & color
- Rewrote Light Monitor app using new API
- Created "Send Data" app (lets you send a file to currenlty targeted chaarcter or device)

Lua API additions

- Lua API for audio RTPC
- Added normal (scaled) time support for scheduler API
- Added notification messages to UI Lua API
- Player API additions to get social profile data for currently targeted character

Bugs fixed

- Player character walking/crawling sounds get swapped after crawling first time
- Removed hack that re-assigns all materials in scenes (original Unity issue that required this has been fixed so the hack isn't needed any more)
- 1st person targeting should maintain the direction player is currently looking at
- Character profile data displays color codes in UI rather than colored rich text
- Fixed notification message UI animation setup
- Fixed file viewer not displaying images
- Fixed card scanners missing UI markers whe usign the Help app

Apostle level

- Checked all atmos colliders, added new ones where needed
- Blocked staircase from lobby to 1st floor
- Blocked door in 1st floor that would otherwise allow player to skip half of the floor
- Checked navigation layers
- Checked colliders, changed some to simpler ones, added some that were missing
- Fixed colliders with negative sizes
- Fixed typos in some device scripts
- Checked all doors and assigned correct door groups and access levels
- Removed drone from rooftop
- Replaced a few hunded cardboard box models in level with prefab versions
- Fixed missing/wrong static tags around the level
- Removed some leftover invisible collliders blocking player and the AI movement
- Fixed props not correctly aligned to walls/floor
- Redesigned first floor of Apostle HQ
- Implementated new hackable device

Art

- Creation of activist and hacker characters
- Prop and asset creation for new levels
- Set dressing and environment art for the Apostle level

Models of the real life hackers featuring in OFF GRID.

Other

- Enabled ultrawide display reoslutions
- Added headers support in popup menus (menu item with no function becomes a header automatically)
- Added splash screens when starting the game
- Data colors now ignore alpha value set in scripts and instead use pre-defined opacity to make sure things look correct in data view and in UI
- Opened studio Discord!
- Built a new website for the game
- Quick update of studio website with new Semaeopus logo

Kickstarter

Updated build for Itch.io demo

- Removed options menu from build
- Removed other levels from the build
- Forced loading straight to Apostle level in demo build
- Added Kickstarter campaign ad in main menu
- Disabled save game loading (makes no sense for a single-level demo and would cause issues when loading a save where the demo level is already completed)

Campaign Prep

- Campaign page drafting, review, and finalising
- Reward drafting, review, and finalising
- Contact push
- Press push
- Newsletters
- Update planning: every 3-4 days to all channels
- News release drafting
- Daily social media scheduling
- Streaming planning

Events and promotion

- Game Dev Camp, Lisbon - Rich and Steve spoke
- IndieCade, LA - Rich spoke
- Sweden Games Conference - Rich spoke, Off Grid demoed within Indicator and Off Grid won the Indicator award!
- Inside Intel, London - an art exhibition on privacy & surveillance
- PlayUK, a videogame curation put on by the British Council in Macedonia
- Dev Space Winter Mixer, London
- Closing party and livestream to countdown to the Kickstarter campaign's end!



The final moments of the Kickstarter campaign!

Whew!  A long list to match a long, bountiful Sprint! 

To top all of this off, the team travelled to Dundee, Scotland last week to attend the UK Games Fund Awards.  Semaeopus was nominated for the 'Smart Studio' Award, and we were looking forward to a fun celebration together after the month of hard graft.  When the category for 'Smart Studio' was up, we were absolutely stunned to hear 'Semaeopus' announced as the winners!


Award winners!  Sarah, Steve & Pontus pictured with the award presenter.

A successful Kickstarter, two new awards, and loooooads of new supporters - we are so grateful to each and every one of you that has helped make the last couple of months so successful!  

There's been SO much going on - expect to hear more from individual members of the team as we each wrap up from the last couple of months. 

What's next?


It's onwards and upwards now.  We're working on getting our FIRST ACCESS programme off the ground.  Anyone that backed at the PENTESTER level or above can expect to hear from us soon about what is to come. 

One of the two main goals of the crowdfunding campaign was to provide a bit of additional resource to support more open production of Off Grid.  We're busy getting our ducks back in a row after the Kickstarter, and can't wait to move forward with you all behind us.

THANKS EVERYONE!

The Off Grid Team


If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - *EVEN IF YOU ALREADY BACKED THE KCKSTARTER! Each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Friday, 9 November 2018

126% Funded on Kickstarter!

 We did it!

OFF GRID was 126% funded on Kickstarter in the end - that's a whopping £5,252 over our goal.   THANK YOU!





We hit the first stretch goal late yesterday afternoon, then kept building to our final tally of £25,252.

That means OFF GRID has the extra funds dearly needed for art and sound, AND we'll be sharing even more with you as we shift into a more open mode of development!

PLUS, by hitting that stretch goal, OFF GRID will benefit from the addition of an in-game social media app, and those of you that took advantage of that extra tier (and all those who backed above it!) will get the satisfaction of seeing a message of yours in the game.

Thank you to everyone that followed along with the countdown - whether in person or via the livestream.  It was great fun to share the success with you all!

We will be back in touch soon with updates on the game, development progress, and importantly, details and questionnaires about your rewards.

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Thursday, 8 November 2018

12 HOURS + MORE New Characters!

It's the LAST DAY off the OFF GRID Kickstarter campaign!

If you are following the project but have not yet backed, we need you to do it now, even if just $1, a quid, a yen, a euro!

We are SO close to unlocking that first stretch goal - can you help us do it?!




There’s officially less than 12 hours to go now, but that doesn’t mean the fun is over…

Character Reveals

We have two new characters joining the OFF GRID lineup to share with you:

Naomi Colvin


Naomi is a writer, digital rights campaigner and activist who has been involved in casework around some of the highest profile hacker court hearings in the UK, specifically that of Lauri Love’s extradition. She writes extensively on the subjects of human rights and digital policy and is a well known figure in the world of privacy and digital rights advocacy.

Her involvement in OFF GRID is important as she has an incredible knowledge of digital policy and law, and knows about how the most seemingly innocuous of miswritten laws can have massive effect and cost on the liberties of society.



Barrett Brown


Barrett Brown is a US journalist, essayist and satirist, and founder of the Pursuance Project an activist and journalist collaboration toolset.

He is best known for having founded Project PM, a research collaboration and wiki, to facilitate analysis of the troves of hacked emails and other leaked information concerning the inner workings of the cyber-military-industrial complex, and was imprisoned for charges relating to the 2011 Stratfor hack.

He’s previously been described as an unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous, has written two books, and multiple articles about politics and journalism in the digital age. In 2012, the FBI raided his house, and later that year Barrett was indicted on 12 federal charges.

While in prison, Barrett continued to write a column from jail for The Intercept, for which he has won a National Magazine Award and a New York Press Club journalism award.

MORE TO COME!

Expect more as OFF GRID’s development continues!

Remember, characters in OFF GRID can be virtual instead of physical: you just need to find their public key and then you will be able to speak to them via the CryptoChat app. There will be an array of hackers and activists you can eventually meet in OFF GRID: we’ll continue to announce some of them, and others might just stay secret for you to find!

Here’s a clue towards one of them!




We have our Kickstarter Countdown Party tonight in London at the fantastic Loading Bar in Dalston, and we'd love for you to join us!

There will be:
  • OFF GRID cookies
  • A prize for the best hacker fancy dress 
  • A LIVE livestream with interviews and Q&A with the dev team and hackers like Lauri Love, “March” O’Neill, and Hacker Fantastic
  • A demo of the game to play and chat about
Get your free ticket here.  Hope to see you there in physical form, or joining us with your wonderful digital presence on the stream!

And once again, THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Wednesday, 7 November 2018

36 Hours To Go + New Characters!

It’s been a busy week with smashing through 100%!  We are now sailing along - nearly half way towards our first stretch goal, we had a big news piece released, and we've announced a couple fun new characters!

36 HOURS (just under!)



WOW.  It’s absolutely awesome to be nearly 110% funded at this point!  We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again - we are SO GRATEFUL to each and every one of you backers! THANK YOU!

A lot can happen in 36 hours - so let’s see what we can do! Will we reach that first STRETCH GOAL?! We hope so! The in-game social media app would really add to the gameplay experience.

New Characters

If you have kept an eye on our twitter feed, then you will be aware of these fun additions. We had a great livestreamed interview with Biella Coleman, an anthropologist who studies hacker cultures on Monday. Yesterday, we announced security researcher Hacker Fantastic.





Biella Coleman

Gabriella (Biella) Coleman holds the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy at McGill University. Trained as an anthropologist, her scholarship covers the cultures and ethics of hacking. She is currently working on Hack_Curio: a curated ensemble of hacker-related videos that will be accompanied by short reflections on the featured clip written by researchers, writers, and journalists working on these topics. The site will launch in the late fall of 2018.

She has authored two books, Coding Freedom: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Hacking (Princeton University Press, 2012) and Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous (Verso, 2014). Her work has been featured in numerous scholarly journals and edited volumes. Committed to public ethnography, she routinely presents her work to diverse audiences, teaches undergraduate and graduate courses, and has written for popular media outlets. She sits on the board of The Tor Project.

She is a fairly significant chronicler of hacker culture and perfect addition as a character to the OFF GRID universe.






Hacker Fantastic

Hacker Fantastic is a professional hacker with over 15 years experience providing security services to a global client base. He is widely known for his research on vulnerabilities in North Korea, exploiting the late Prime Minister of Singapore's code and his hacking of Microsoft's “ransomware-proof" computer during 2017.

HF’s research on exploits powering the WannaCry ransomware, NSA leaks, and Shadow Brokers in 2017 were published to an audience of over 500 million. He is an expert in his field and is highly sought after, to lead long-term engagements that accurately reflect real-world security challenges, simulating attacks on global and high-risk environments.

Fantastic’s work is known globally and he has been at the forefront of discovery and dissection of state level hacking tools.  His background in the professional research side of hacker culture creates interesting balance within the world of OFF GRID.

Countdown with us!

If you're in/near London, join us for a little celebration as we countdown to the campaign's end tomorrow night!   There will be a livestream countdown, too - sign up for a reminder and watch it via the OFF GRID Kickstarter page!

Please keep sharing the campaign - it’s not long to go now!

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team



If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Monday, 5 November 2018

STREEEETCH GOALS!


How fun it is to be talking stretch goals!  Stretch goals are a tricky thing, especially with this amount of time left: it’s plenty of time for a nice little burst of activity, but it isn’t ages either…

We wrote a little bit about our attitude to stretch goals yesterday here, and so, building on that, here is our plan…

We’re not gonna go mad, but we do have a few nice ideas that we’d like to put out there and see how people respond to them, and if they prove popular, we have further things to expand upon based on uptake too.

We’ll be revealing 2 possible stretch goals to start with, and then revealing a new one each time one is met (if they are met!).

To start, we have these stretches for you:

Stretch Goal #1: In Game social media feed!

How about it: an in-game, fictional social media app that does some world building and can provide hints for both narrative and mechanic discovery?

We are on our way already with this one: the campaign currently sits at £20,593 so we’re 13.5% toward it already! :)
Apps...
Apps...
This will give you more insight to what's going on in the game world outside (rather than just what's going on in the mission you are playing), through a short message-based social media feed. Not unlike certain real-life one with a bird as their logo.

We feel this is something that would make the OFF GRID world feel more alive, *and* that we can do without it affecting our release schedule since we already have built similar tech for other parts of the game. The feed would be a combination of procedurally generated messages from the "outside world", pre-made story telling messages, and ones created as a response to player's actions and choices in the game. This would also create an additional way to learn about people in the levels, and perhaps gather some useful information as well. After all, people post all kinds of things on social media!

To go with this, we'll add a new limited edition tier to our campaign, giving you an opportunity to create your own message and have it included in the game.

What might you put in there?! Get to thinking - it’ll be up on the reward section once the stretch goal is met!

(We reserve the right to veto inappropriate or ill-fitting content of course, but will work with you to get everything edited into something that will work with the message generation system we use.)

Stretch Goal #2: New hackable interfaces!

Now this one is niiiiiice!

The game currently has one device user interface (UI) which represents something you'd have as a back-end settings menu on a device. With this stretch goal, we'll add some new ones to represent the front-end side, what any normal (non-hacker) user would see when using a device.

...after all, all the devices in the game are actually used by other characters too, and surely they aren't doing it by hacking to their back end settings menus like you are! So the player should be able to see the same end-user side as well.

We think this will make for some potentially interesting variations on hacking techniques and puzzles too.

Let’s do this!

“How?” you say...

  • Tell others that you’ve backed OFF GRID and want to see it go further!
  • Tell your friends they might like the game too!
  • Post the campaign wherever you hang out online
  • Do you write about games? We’d love you to write about OFF GRID!
  • Do you stream? Stream the demo and talk about the campaign!
  • Retweet, share, and like our posts as much as you can
  • Start thinking about what social media message you want to adorn OFF GRID with and back the new tier once it's unlocked!
If you haven’t already, and you like what we do, back us at any level you can! Remember, if you are tempted by the stretch goals and have already backed, you can up your pledge too! Even just by £1! Every single little bit helps!

THANK YOU BACKERS! 

The Off Grid Team

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Sunday, 4 November 2018

WE HIT 100%!!

You have all helped us raise over £20k for OFF GRID so far…

AMAZING.




..and there is still quite a bit of time to spare too - a good few days in fact!  As all money over and above the goal will go straight into making OFF GRID even better - let's keep it going!

If today is anything to go by, we are really rolling!

Since hitting 100%, we have doubled our usual average daily pledge, with ~£500 coming in in just a few hours - could this be the start of another mad rush like the astounding beginning of the campaign?!  It’s a bit early to tell, but apparently the last couple of days can have a similar effect. We can't wait to find out!

Feeling good!


It feels SO good to have the support of you all behind us!  We were pretty confident that we have a caring and passionate audience from the get-go, yet still nervous about putting that assumption to the test!

This moment was *terrifying*:



From the very moment we hit the GO button, you backers took us for a wild ride!

  • OFF GRID was 35% funded in 5 hours
  • We hit 40% funded in 7 hours
  • AND THEN we hit the 50% mark within 21 hours!

50% funded within 24 hours?!  That blew our minds!  We are so grateful for all of that early support - it set the tone for the campaign and gave us the boost we needed to keep things going strong.

These last few days as we crept toward our goal have been pretty exciting!   We have been busy too: there's a big piece on the IRL hackers and principles behind OFF GRID hopefully going live tomorrow, and some cool announcements to make over the coming days, including new hacker / activist characters!   All this could make for a very busy final few days!


Rich Metson and Lauri Love being prepped for the camera in the Sky studios on Friday.

So what is next?


A few of you have been asking about what we plan to do if we over-fund, and with the amount of time spare, it is likely we will by some degree!  What scale that is though, is anyone's guess.

At this point it is worth reminding folks that stretch goals can be a length of rope devs can do themselves a disservice with, and the key thing to really point out is that any funding over and above our goal will go straight into improving the game.  Funds, broadly speaking, will go on:

  • covering cost overruns 
  • better polish
  • expanding upon the content and depth of the world

All that being said, we do a have a few nice things that we would like to do, and a little extra funding would help them become realities!

We polled some of you in the Discord just before launch about your feelings are on the subject. The majority of people seem to feel the same way we do:  that the key thing is to focus on the core game and ways to improve upon it rather than adding bells and whistles.  A couple of  key things folks in the Discord said they would like to see avoided were:

  • over-promising
  • anything that would cause delay to the main game

Our whole campaign (and indeed our development approach before and after) has been very carefully structured in order to avoid these issues

So with all that said ...

Tomorrow we will announce some manageable and realistic stretch goals that will add value to your core experience of the game!

Stay tuned!

More backers, please!


Do keep spreading the word, and if you haven't backed yet, please do:  every penny counts towards improving OFF GRID and making it the best it can be - *especially* every penny over the initial goal!

We have a bunch of folks who are following the project’s progress that we would love to convert in to backers!  If that is you, now is the time to BACK!


Converts!

If we can convert these 280 or so backers-in-waiting, it would be an additional 66% on top the backers we already have!  Remember:  the Kickstarter rewards are exclusives, folks, so what are you waiting for?!

Celebrations!


Now is the time to celebrate!  If you’re in/near London, why not come and do so with us on the final night of the Kickstarter?!   Grab a free ticket here, and then head to the Loading Bar in Dalston for 6:30 pm this Thursday, the 8th of November.

There will be: 

  • Some drinks 
  • Some swag 
  • A prize for the best fictional hacker fancy dress!!

Don’t worry if you are not able to come along in person - the whole point of this event is to create a fun livestream countdown that you can take part in from anywhere in the world!

We will get the dev team and some of our hacker friends along to do interviews and Q & A throughout the evening as we countdown to the campaign's end.

You can subscribe to the event to get a reminder when the stream goes live here.

Be sure to tune in, and if you would like to post some questions in advance to the Discord in #kickstarter or on the KS live event in the 'submit a question' field, then please do, and we will be sure to cover them!

Thank you!!


Finally, a HUGE thank you for helping us achieve our goal!  Let's get some more in the bag over these next few days!

THANK YOU!


The Off Grid Team 

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Friday, 2 November 2018

95% FUNDED ON KICKSTARTER!

Things are looking good, everyone! 

We made a big jump yesterday and today OFF GRID is 95% funded!

THANK YOU!

There's just 5% - that's £1000 - left to go before we reach our target of £20,000!

Let’s raise that £1000 as soon as possible!

LET'S DO THIS.

Help us reach 100% funded:
  • Tell others that you’ve backed OFF GRID and want to see it succeed!
  • Tell your friends that you think they might like it, too
  • Post the campaign wherever you hang out online.
  • Do you stream? Stream the demo and talk about the campaign!
  • Retweet, share, and like our posts
This is an incredible place to be and we are SO grateful to each and every one of you backers!

If you haven’t already, and you like what we do, back OFF GRID at any level you can! Every single little bit helps!

DEMO OPPORTUNITIES

There’s two fun events we’re taking part in!  If these are in your neck of the woods, go get check 'em out!  OFF GRID is in fantastic company with loads of other interesting indie games:

TONIGHT in London:  DevSpace Winter Mixer

TONIGHT - SUNDAY in Macedonia: 
PLAY Arcadia 2018

Don't forget you can play the OFF GRID demo from the comfort of your own home, too!  There's a fresh, new demo build on itch.io - Pontus did an update with a few small fixes yesterday.  Enjoy it!

Happy Friday and THANK YOU, backers!

The Off Grid Team


If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Thursday, 1 November 2018

ONE WEEK TO GO!

SEVEN DAYS.

The one week countdown begins….

OFF GRID is 82.73% funded today (£16,546) and there is just one week left in the campaign!

That means there is £3454 left to raise within the next seven days - that’s under £500/day! 

We can do it.  Help us smash it!

All or nothing.


Kickstarter campaigns are all-or-nothing:
  either we hit our goal, get the funding, and everyone gets their rewards, OR we fall short, and backers get their money back without the rewards.  <-- We do not want that to happen. 

You want your rewards.  We need the funding to get them to you.  Help us make it happen!

If you have been thinking:

“There’s a group I should really post this in... “  Do it.
 
“I have a mate that would really like this.”   Tell them. 

“I don’t have a big following, my tweet won’t matter.”   It totally matters! 

“Having a name in the game would be a super cool gift.”  YES IT IS! 

“I’d really like the goods in the next tier..”  Up your pledge!

“Could this be a good use for my bitcoin riches?”  Definitely. 100%.
 
“I wonder what being a character in a video game would feel like?”  This is your chance to find out!  Go on!

Now is the time.  Together we can do this! 

To everyone that has backed OFF GRID so far:  THANK YOU!  Your support means *everything* to us!  

LET'S DO THIS!

The Off Grid Team

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Trick or treat! 80% FUNDED!

Happy Halloween from all of us at Semaeopus!

What a treat!

We’ve hit the 80% funded mark!  THANK YOU!

If we’re *exact* about it, we’re 81.355% funded at time of writing - backers have funded us to the tune of £16,271!  There’s just 8 days to go for us to raise the last £3,729.

A quick reminder:  it’s an all-or-nothing campaign, so we absolutely must hit the £20k goal in order to receive the funding.  Help us get there by continuing to share the campaign in any way that you can.

Real life trickery

We hope you enjoyed yesterday’s surprise character reveal!

Hackers and hacktivists have become iconic figures in recent times, making a huge impact on the public dialogue around data privacy, information security, freedom of information, whistleblowing, mass surveillance, and digital rights.

Having real hackers in the game is an opportunity for players to dig into the themes of the game in a more meaningful way.  After all, their stories helped inspire and shape OFF GRID

Our halloween themed scare is all about these scenes from the OFF GRID intro...

Each represents a real scare that happens regularly.

They are not fiction. They happen. Governments really do smash their way into homes (or use trickery to gain access), and bundle away teens and other souls with little, poor, or even no substantial evidence.

The people we are featuring in the game have been through this, and they’d be the first to tell you that’s a trick-or-treater you don’t want knocking on your door.  So whatever you do this Hallows Eve - stay safe on the interwebs!

Help us reach 100% funded!

If you haven’t backed OFF GRID yet, what are you waiting for?!  Go ahead and treat yourself - it will help us make this game the best it can be, and shine a light on the aforementioned issues.

If you are quick about it there’s still some early bird £14 copies available as an exclusive to Kickstarter! SO BACK NOW!

Just 8 more days to go!

Happy Halloween and THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team


If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

SURPRISE Character Reveal

Remember us harping on about some big news?

Well... today is the day!
"Surprise characters to be unveiled"
"Surprise characters to be unveiled"
Did you happen to spot this image on the Kickstarter page, scratch your head, and wonder who it might be?


Drumroll please... 


Former LulzSec, Anonymous, and other well-known hackers will feature as characters that players can meet in OFF GRID!  

Hackers to be featured include:

Ex-LulzSec and Anonymous members and now security researchers
  • Mustafa Al-Bassam
  • Jake Davis
  • Darren Martyn
Alleged Anonymous hacktivist and digital rights campaigner
  • Lauri Love
Noteable whitehat security researcher
  • “March” O’Neill
. . . with more to come!
Hacker characters to feature in OFF GRID:  Mustafa, Jake, Darren, March, Lauri
Hacker characters to feature in OFF GRID: Mustafa, Jake, Darren, March, Lauri

This will be a very cool feature of the game as it builds on the notion of exploring hacker culture in the game world with an authenticity that is hard to come by in mainstream media.

It will give the hackers themselves the chance to tell some of their stories about the future of the internet, and if this proves popular, will provide something to really expand upon.
Some of the early concept art
Some of the early concept art
We have found it hard to keep from blurting this one out, and it has been excruciating working on the art without saying anything.  Turns out well known hackers know how to keep a secret too! 


Hacktion figures

We have exported the models in a 3D printable .stl format so that you can print your own characters from the game.
Ever wanted your own Lauri Love action figure?
Ever wanted your own Lauri Love action figure?
They are released under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 so feel free to share and remix, have a play!

Get the files from here!

They will all be up on our Github page shortly too.
Mustafa in progress
Mustafa in progress
If you do do some printing, be sure to take a picture and post it at us on:
HACK THE PLANET!

Thank you!

The Off Grid Team


If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Monday, 29 October 2018

The Art of Prop Making & Set Dressing


Good morning, backers!

OFF GRID is 78% funded right now!  THANK YOU!

We've got an update directly from Sophie, who works as an artist on OFF GRID.  She is fairly new to the team, but she's been doing a stellar job!  We hope you enjoy:

- -

Hi!  Soph here! 

I’m here to keep the art side of things rolling on smoothly.  Which mostly means asset creation, like props, but also set dressing.

Modular Props

Let's talk modular:  doing things this way allows you to have just a few meshes that you can make a lot of things out of.  For the Apostle level, I made a couple pieces of modular furniture to speed up asset creation.

Think of it like an Ikea range where you could buy a desk, drawers, cupboards, etc. that all fit together physically and look like part of a family.  Some of the pieces in that range will share exact parts, and some will have unique ones. This is the basics of modular building.

Modular desk components.
Modular desk components.
With these six pieces I can make six variations of desks.  Going beyond these, you could make a broken desk with only three legs that is being propped up with other assets, or you could scale the length of the straight desk-top as much as fits the space you want (since the textures are vertex-painted faces there’s no distortion).

Modular sofa components that can be put together in endless ways
Modular sofa components that can be put together in endless ways

Different from these desks, this four-piece sofa set is mostly one-off models (they all share the same feet).  Yet when placed in the scene, there is no real end to the possibilities you can make with it.  Make a snaking three mile long sofa if you so wish!

The modular sofas creating a comfy space in the Apostle level
The modular sofas creating a comfy space in the Apostle level

Set Dressing

Set dressing is pretty straight forward as a concept. You’re placing things around the world to make it feel like a more real lived-in environment.  It’s a little more than just throwing assets around the place (although that’s a lot of it), you need to think about each environment differently.

In the run up to the Kickstarter, I spent a lot of time in the Apostle offices discussing with the team what the general feel of the place is, and then looking room to room talking about what happens in these rooms in a gameplay sense.

The Apostle is being closed. There are boxes everywhere as stuff is being packed away to go elsewhere. These boxes are great for the stealth aspect of the game, but also tell the story of what is actually going on. Most of the larger offices are quite sparse, having already been packed up, but a few offices are still very much in use.

Set dressing has to work alongside the game in making the environments look more interesting but not distract from what the player needs to do. This means I can’t place new hackable devices around the place and not block the player’s path. But what I can do is direct the player to places of interest.


Set dressing is cleverly used to direct attention to this office in the Apostle level.
Set dressing is cleverly used to direct attention to this office in the Apostle level.
For instance, most of the offices don’t have much in them that the player needs to notice, these are kept very sparse and all packed up. But there is a particular journalist's office that is a key place in the Apostle level, and it’s one of the few offices that’s still in use.  There’s things scattered around the desk, a coat that’s been left on a hanger, a board with all the bits of information that the journalist has been working with.

Fun with set dressing - a DIY standing desk.
Fun with set dressing - a DIY standing desk.
There were a few other places less important to the player that I was able to just have fun with. Such as this office where it’s being packed away. A friend of mine wanted a standing desk but her work wouldn’t give her one so she stacked things up to make her own one. I made a little desk in honour of her here. I bet it really annoys the person on the opposite desk!

A secret corner for slacking off!
A secret corner for slacking off!
Here the occupants of this office have used the fact the office is moving as an excuse to move furniture around and create them a secret coffee corner for slacking off.

Hope you've enjoyed!

Help OFF GRID succeed!

We have just 10 days to go with the campaign and need to raise another £4,318 in order to meet our goal.  Please help us!   Share the campaign with others:  if each of you shared just once, the campaign would be shared to thousands of others.  We need this exposure!

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team

p.s.  Did you read the last update?!  BIG NEWS coming Tuesday! 

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Friday, 26 October 2018


OFF GRID is 76% funded and officially loved by Kickstarter! <3

The campaign was given a 'PROJECT WE LOVE' badge earlier in the week!  We had hopes and dreams of getting that nice little bit of extra love from Kickstarter before we started, and now we’ve got it.  It feels good. Thanks Kickstarter!

BIG NEWS IS COMING

We have some tremendously fun news coming next week!  Stay tuned - the news is going to break on Tuesday, October 30th.  You don’t want to miss it!

Once the news is LIVE - please do us the favor of sharing it to the masses. Tweet, blog, write an article, do a little video, share, retweet, or write us a poem.

Would you like a clue?  OF COURSE you'd like a clue!  Here you are:


To celebrate the release of the aforementioned news, Rich will be doing a dev stream on Tuesday to chat about it all with you! Tune in via twitch.tv/semaeopus at 5pm UK time. 

Now, let's get to smashing the 80% milestone as soon as possible, folks!  Share and chat about it as much as you can!   Perfect conversation for all those Halloween parties this weekend... the mass surveillance state that surrounds us all is downright frightening, after all. 

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!

Wednesday, 24 October 2018

HALFWAY, 73% FUNDED & NEW DEMO BUILD

We’re at the halfway point!

Halfway through the Kickstarter campaign and 73% funded is a great place to be - thank you!

You backers have given us a seriously wild ride: OFF GRID was 35% funded in 5 hours, 40% funded in 7 hours, AND THEN we hit the 50% mark within 21 hours!

It has been super exciting to have the support of all of you behind us. To be 50% funded within 24 hours? Astounding!

We still need £5,330 to meet our goal - and WE NEED YOUR HELP!

If you have yet to back OFF GRID on Kickstarter - now would be the *perfect* time.   Help us reach 100% funded!  Every single £, every single $, is hugely appreciated - please, please, please share far and wide throughout your own networks.

Don’t forget about the playable demo on itch.io

There's a fresh new build of the demo up today, complete with:
  • better keyboard & mouse controls
  • inverted axis support
  • rebindable controls
  • and more!
We’d also like to hear from you: what would you like to hear more about in these updates? Character backgrounds? More on hacking gameplay?   You tell us!  Let us know in the comments below or in the discord - join it here, if you haven't already.

There are 15 days left in the campaign, and a lot can happen in 15 days.  We are excited!

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team

P.S. If you havent already, wishlist and follow OFF GRID on Steam!

Hero character concept art: The evolution of Joe


OFF GRID is 73% funded!  THANK YOU!

If you’ve read anything about OFF GRID or played the demo, you will have picked up that our hero, Joe, is a technophobe dad who relies heavily on his hackivist daughter, Jen, for everything:  to get his phone to work, keep the smart fridge firmware up to date, and make sure the IoT toaster doesn’t get any funny ideas.

Our last update showed some of the early art tests we did, and explained that we landed on following a low poly art style pretty quickly.  Environments in this style are somewhat straightforward - you can make some really interesting scenes quite quickly. Even ‘programmer art’ doesn't look bad in a low poly environment, which is one of the reasons we went for it!  But when it comes to characters, it takes something a bit more special.

We started by mocking up a very basic low poly character so that we could get straight into prototyping movement and mechanics. We didn't really have a story or background for him at that point, we just knew that we wanted the character to be a bit of a luddite and incredibly dull  - the very opposite of the superhuman, infallible secret agents of most games.

Our initial model was made as a placeholder and he was seriously vanilla:

The very first Joe - a placeholder!
The very first Joe - a placeholder!
We quickly pushed it on by defining the ‘shapes’ of character that could be used to portray different attitudes.  As you can see in the bottom half of the sketch below, we felt that rectangular characters, and especially ones with a lean to them, a bit like a parallelogram, provided a nice dynamic. Over time, this lean also seem to fit the notion that our lead character is ‘forced into situations’ unwillingly.

Shape studies during Off Grid character development.
Shape studies during Off Grid character development.
There is some interesting theory around shapes and personality floating about on the internet, but essentially, the shape of a character will often convey their attitude.

Pixar are a great exponent of this, and a good example is Carl from UP.  He’s a grounded and steadfast character who is immovable and difficult - until he is changed by another character with the ability to always bounce back and right themselves, even if a little naive:

Character shapes from Pixar's UP.
Character shapes from Pixar's UP.

 ...and so we starting experimenting along these lines.  Sazacat, our character artist, started speed painting some thoughts on how we might make some extremely normal-looking folks in game.

Early OFF GRID character concepts.
Early OFF GRID character concepts.
Reaching the concept below really defined how we wanted the characters faces to convey emotion in OFF GRID.

A defining concept for OFF GRID hero character, Joe.
A defining concept for OFF GRID hero character, Joe.
We then progressed to the more twisted / awkward style that all OFF GRID character bodies (especially the knees and hands) carry:

The Joe concept art that truly began to define OFF GRID's character style.
The Joe concept art that truly began to define OFF GRID's character style.
That style was largely brought about with the drawing above, which very quickly translated into a model for our player character, Joe:

The 3D model for Joe that brought together all the early concepting work.
The 3D model for Joe that brought together all the early concepting work.
You can see the kink in the knees, and the slightly crooked fingers, as well as the uncomfortable stance (even in A-pose!).

We also defined our style with the use of specific hard and soft edges all over the character, but most prominently around the jaw and forehead.

The final iteration of the OFF GRID hero, Joe!
The final iteration of the OFF GRID hero, Joe!
These couple of major points have set the style for the rest of the characters in the game.

We hope this provides a little insight into the process.   Don't forget, if you like this sort of thing, you can get your very own copy of the 'Making Of Off Grid' book by backing at the NAMESPACE level or above! 

We look forward to showing you more soon!

THANK YOU!

The Off Grid Team 

P.S.  Please continue to share the campaign as far and wide as you can.  Every single $ or £ backing is so important to us!

If you haven’t already - be sure to wishlist Off Grid on Steam - each wishlist makes a big difference to us, and we really appreciate your support!