Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Dev Blog - 21.02.18 - Upping our Profilers

It’s devblog time! 

Much of February has passed since the last sprint, and in that time, hearts and precious metals were shared across hipchat, though none were valentines from one dev to another, nor sadly, were they photos of our hard-earned Winter Olympic golds.  They were all lowpoly art, handcrafted by our stellar intern Josh, as he helped us prep marketing materials and create props for the game.  He’s been hard at work and done an awesome job for us. Thanks to our multi-cultural dev team, however, we did learn that Valentine’s Day in Finland is celebrated as ‘Friends Day’ - this is a notion we like.  And if you’re wondering, there’s fans of Team GB, Finland, and USA cheering across our virtual office spaces!  :)

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

Drone Patrol

This month, Steve’s spent a lot of time trying to wrap his head around the AI in Off Grid, with some success!  After a significant battle with drones, we coerced them into patroling, alerting the guards to Joe’s presence, and then a bit more patroling. Implementing these behaviours helped lead to fixing missed issues with last month’s ‘NavCloud’ work, which was largely theoretical - so it was good to see it working (eventually)!  This was a bigger win than it may sound and lays a good foundation for future AI work, which we’re hoping to build on next month.

Machine of Cinema

We’ve also incorporated Unity’s Cinemachine module into Off Grid. This caters for both cinematic/cut-scene cameras and gameplay cameras.  Our existing cameras have been rebuilt using it, and adding new ones is now trivial.  Worth looking at if you’re a Unity developer!

MoCap + Unity Timeline + Cinemachine = <3

There’s been big ol’ heart eyes going on as we’ve been using Unity Timeline to integrate motion
capture into an interactive cutscene and recreate our game intro in the engine.

Timeline is a fairly big feature and is impressive in how it is extendable.  There have been a few frustrations as we went, though, as there are few key features missing, that seem like they ought to follow on from other elements of the engine - such us the Event triggers in rest of the animation tool set. Not to fear though, nothing we haven’t been able to find a good workaround for!

We are expecting the intro will be in a good enough state to put in the next build of the game in a few weeks time.  It has been great to see the characters coming to life when their animations have been sat in a backup folder for well over 18 months!  Now we can see breakfast being cooked, doors being kicked down and hacktivists being kidnapped in all their lowpoly glory.

Personal Data Records

In the last sprint we did some design work for social engineering, and modifications to our character profiles to make sure we had the data needed in place, so now it was time to actually start building things.

We’ve now added a “People” page to our pause menu, displaying all the characters you have found, and all of their background profile information you’ve learned about them.  As you grab files that contain any metadata about people, the metadata is automatically added to the profiles.  We also converted the character targeting app we did last sprint as a testing tool to display the collected information rather than everything, so you can easily just target any character you see to check what you know about them.  Depending on how big our profiles grow through the game, we might end up limiting that a bit and instead just take you to the pause menu’s People-page instead.

And talking about character changes, we’ve expanded a bit on our character customization options for level creation purposes (and the profiles at the same time). We’ve added some blend shapes to character models, ranging from thin to fat, and a “Gluttony” value in character profile files that will change the character model, but can also be used in mission scripting to change how the characters behave. Combined with the colour look-up textures we’ve added previously, and some clever design choices when building the models, it’s possible to get quite a selection of different looking characters from the same base models!

Supporting the cause

As you well know by now, we aren’t just making a game about hacking and data privacy - we want to accurately portray hackers and hacker culture in a way that is too often overlooked in popular media.

Rich talked about this the end of last month when he demoed Off Grid at the CyberSalon Meetup:
What is to be done? Games for Social Impact. Joined by Ben Greenaway, Simon Sarginson, and chaired by Rosa Carbo-Mascarell, it was a really in-depth event to get your teeth sunk into. The discussions and presentations roamed from how games address the emotions of surveillance to why simulating a riot in Riot:Civil Unrest can be seen and explored as a simulation and modelling tool in its own right - and how that uniquely quantifies the dynamics and strategies of something so

With all that said, Monday the 5th of February was a huge victory for justice and an opprtunity for one of the UK’s most eloquent hackers to stand up and cheer! We were incredibly pleased to watch Lauri Love’s extradition case finally be wrapped up this month.  He’s been through a heck of a lot and withstood it with remarkable composure.


^^^ Is on the way!  It is way too hard to keep secrets for so long, but sometimes in life you’ve just got to sit still and keep your lips sealed.  What to say?!  Just keep your eyes peeled - we should have some big announcements very soon!

Next Month:  See you in San Francisco!

It’s GDC time… and if you’re headed to San Francisco, you will be able to get your hands on our latest demo!!  We’ll let you know when and where - just keep an eye on our social media!

Catch you soon!

Rich, Pontus, Steve, Sarah & Josh

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