Lacuna Passage - Devlog #61 - Terrain Updates, Inventory, and More

The holidays have been a busy time for us and our families, but we've still made a good deal of progress this last month. As we move closer and closer to an eventual Early Access release for our survival sandbox mode we have been evaluating every aspect of the game that we think is necessary to make a good first impression.

Terrain Updates

Even with Early Access we will really only get one chance to show the potential of the full game, so we decided that the terrain was such a large part of what we are trying to do that it needed to be at a higher level of quality. To do that we have officially transitioned to using the new terrain shader that we mentioned last month. And as an added bonus, the new terrain shader has allowed us to increase the fog distance so that there is even more visible terrain while exploring.

We still need to randomly place our new rock models and modular cliffs, but the setup of the textures and shaders was more than half the battle. We can now quickly iterate on the general topography of the map and all of our settings for texture coverage can be regenerated based on our complicated ruleset in World Machine which you can see below.

It's not a simple process, but it is streamlined and optimized to allow us the most flexibility when prototyping new terrain features. We will be shooting for a terrain equal in size to what will comprise the final game map for the story mode (roughly 20 square miles of explorable terrain), but this will be a distinct and separate map with the potential for multiple maps after release.

Inventory Additions

Over the holidays we also worked on expanding our internal inventory database that will dictate what kinds of items you can expect to collect, craft, and consume during the course of the game. That list is now well over 100 items long with many more additions yet to come. Some mechanical changes have also been prototyped, including nutritional differences between ingesting raw food packets versus prepared food packets. Here is a tease of our spreadsheet for managing these items and the impact they will have on your gameplay.

New Unity Asset Packs

Last month we posted about how we began selling our own cliff and rock models on the Unity Asset Store. This month we started posting some supplemental music content to the Asset Store that will eventually be promoted as part of our Song Seed music plugin for Unity. Our composer, Clark Aboud, has been working on some amazing music unrelated to Lacuna Passage and we thought we would try to sell some of that music to help support him and our continued development. We have now released two dynamic loop packs that can be used with any game, but will work particularly well with Song Seed when it is eventually released. As a demonstration of how these loop packs can be used, you can play the tracks below which are complete songs composed entirely of these perfectly looping clips.

If you are a game developer, or know someone who might be interested in these loop packs, you can visit our Unity Asset Store publisher page which has links to purchase either pack.

TIMEframe Holiday Sale

As the holiday season comes to a close we did want to remind you all that our other game TIMEframe is still currently on sale for our lowest price since launch. Of course, if you were a Lacuna Passage Kickstarter backer you should already have your free copy, but perhaps you would like to buy another copy for a friend or just to support us as we continue to work on Lacuna Passage. We are quite proud of our 86% positive review average on Steam. If you have already played the game we would love to hear what you think. Visit our store page and leave your own review. Every little thing you can do to spread the word about our projects helps immensely. And for those of you who have already left a review, thank you!

Game with the Devs - Play Heroes of the Storm with us!

Spencer and I are working very hard to bring you Lacuna Passage, but we still take time here and there to relax and unwind a little. Over the last few months we have been enjoying Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, during our lunch breaks. We are big fans of the game now and we thought it might be fun to bring fans of TIMEframe and Lacuna Passage into the mix. It doesn't matter if you are a DOTA2 or LoL grizzled veteran, or if you don't even know what a MOBA game is. We would love to have you join us for an occasional match and if you are new we can help show you the ropes. We are by no means professionals, but when you work from home with a very small dev team it helps to be reminded of the people you are making games for and interact with them on a more regular basis. I just recently upgraded my internet connection (I live in the middle of a nature preserve) so hopefully we can even stream the games and participate with Twitch chat too. Come play with us! You can use our referral links below to get started with the game and we will announce our play sessions over Twitter with info on how to join us.

Spencer's Heroes of the Storm Referral Link

Tyler's Heroes of the Storm Referral Link

That's it for this devlog. Thanks for reading. We've got lots to do!

TIMEframe - Featured in Multiplicidade Festival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Thanks to our friends at Gamesquare, TIMEframe was featured in a live music performance by Astromash for the Festival Multiplicidade audience in August of 2015. Unfortunately we were not able to make the trip down to Rio de Janeiro ourselves, but the pictures of the show look great! We also have a little video clip for you to check out.

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #48 - The next phase of Lacuna Passage development

This past month has been hectic, but we are finally back with a focus on Lacuna Passage.

Some of you had concerns about TIMEframe being a distraction for us last month so this month we want to talk about all the tangible ways that it has positively impacted our continued development of Lacuna Passage.

Demonstration of the Song Seed Music plugin used in both Lacuna Passage and TIMEframe

First and foremost has been the refinement of our dynamic music system, Song Seed. We have been building Song Seed over several iterations in the last year or so specifically for use in Lacuna Passage. The demo we previewed at PAX East was the first public implementation of our dynamic soundtrack and it worked really well for us, but there was still a lot that needed to be done. We realized a long time ago that this system would be very beneficial for other developers as well, so after PAX East we began working harder on the public version which worked well with the timing of our updated release of TIMEframe. Music is a huge part of TIMEframe so we were able to use it as a real-world test of the system. In fact, in addition to our own implementation in TIMEframe, we have just opened up a beta test of the Song Seed Unity plugin. So if you are a Unity developer interested in helping us improve this tech that will be a big part of Lacuna Passage please let us know (and check out the example video above). Soon after testing we will be releasing the plugin on the Unity Asset Store at a modest price. The proceeds from this will all be funneled straight into Lacuna Passage development as well.

Another benefit of working on TIMEframe that cannot be stressed enough has been learning the ins and outs of Steam integration. Lacuna Passage has always been our priority, but it has also been our first foray into commercial game development. We had no experience with integrating with Steam until now. After working on TIMEframe we now have a much firmer grasp on what that integration requires. Store page setup, game package installation, authentication, achievements, trading cards, cloud saves, DLC… the list goes on and on. We have used TIMEframe as our test bed for these features and this has given us invaluable experience as we now implement many of these features in Lacuna Passage. We are now looking forward to a tentative release date of June 30th for TIMEframe which will give us even more experience in running an active product and managing customer relations. Once again, all the proceeds will directly benefit Lacuna Passage development. (And as a reminder, all Lacuna Passage Kickstarter backers will be receiving a free copy of the game and the original soundtrack).

Last but not least, we have been experimenting with new features that have been added to Unity in versions 4.6 through 5.0. We have not updated Lacuna Passage past 4.6.2, but with our work on TIMEframe we have had a chance to see how these more recent updates might affect Lacuna Passage. The new user interface features in Unity might drastically improve the way that we handle the rendering of the datapad for example. There have also been several performance enhancing changes that could positively impact our open-world memory management. We have been able to evaluate these new features in TIMEframe on a smaller scale without any disruption to our Lacuna Passage project management. It would have taken us orders of magnitude more time to even test these options in Lacuna Passage itself.

These are only a few of the most direct benefits we have experienced while working on TIMEframe, and as we move forward into this next chapter of Lacuna Passage development we feel much more confident in our ability to deliver on our original promises. Game development is not a straight path. There will always be bumps and detours, but we work extremely hard to ensure that every decision we make benefits our ultimate goal of delivering the best Mars exploration narrative experience that we possibly can. Over the next few weeks we will have more regular updates with the art and design of Lacuna Passage.

TIMEframe - Development Update

This past month we have been hard at work revisiting our old Ludum Dare entry, TIMEframe, which was recently Greenlit on Steam. Our goal is to have a finished version of the game by the end of the month to put on Steam. Here are a few progress shots showing off some of the new art assets in the game:

You might have noticed some new text elements that were not present in the original prototype. We are introducing a simple history and story to the world of TIMEframe that you will be able to uncover during your exploration.

Much of our focus in these last few weeks however has been on trying to improve upon the atmosphere and lighting of the original version. We really want the game to feel as if you are walking through a painting with all kinds of slow-motion elements.

The soundtrack for the game will be equally stunning. We are currently in the process of recording live string instruments. Here’s a preview of the updated ambient music you will hear as you explore the world of TIMEframe:

The finished game will have nearly 20 minutes of music just like this. 

We really hope this side project demonstrates the level of quality work we intend to uphold. For reference, here is the old web player demo of TIMEframe. We will be sure to update everyone on the release of TIMEframe, and with it our return to Lacuna Passage development next month. As a reminder, all Kickstarter backers of Lacuna Passage will be getting a free copy of TIMEframe as a thank you for your patience and support.

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #41 - Prologue for Mac, Photo Contest, TIMEframe on Steam...

December was a crazy month for Random Seed Games. Demo releases, holidays, Ludum Dare, Greenlight campaigns, and more. So let’s dive right in.

Lacuna Passage Prologue on Mac

First off, some of you may have noticed already if you tried to access your Lacuna Passage download pages in the last couple days, but we have just added a Mac version of the Prologue demo. If you still haven’t claimed your download page then follow our directions found here. The Mac version is not nearly as well tested on our end as the PC version, so if you find any bugs please report them here. Some of you have contacted us about testing a Linux version eventually. We are compiling a list of Linux testers so email us at contact@randomseedgames.com if you haven’t yet.

Photo Contest

So, now that 95% of our backers have access to the Prologue demo, we would like to announce a small contest. Between now and January 31st at 11:59PM CST we will be accepting submissions of photos you have taken in the demo with the photography mechanic (photos you take during the demo can be found in the “Lacuna Passage Prologue_Data” folder under “Screenshots”).

Pro Tip: Use crouch, jump, or zoom to get more interesting photo angles

Please send your photo submission to info@lacunapassage.com via the email address that is associated with your Humble download page. Only one photo will be accepted per entry. Emails received with more than one photo attached will be disqualified. Our top 3 favorite photos will receive a free “upgrade” to the $75 Kickstarter backer level (if you are already a $75 level backer you will get another Collector’s Edition and poster to give to a friend or family member).

Show us your Mars photography skills!

Song Seed

I feel like we have been saying this for a couple months now, but we are getting closer to a beta test for our dynamic music plugin for Unity. If you are interested in helping us test Song Seed please email us at contact@randomseedgames.com.

TIMEframe on Steam

Recently we reached out to our fans for their support in voting for our side project, TIMEframe, on Steam Greenlight. Well, after less than 2 weeks we have officially been accepted onto Steam! This has really taken us by surprise. We were not expecting to get through this quickly, if at all. We want to thank all of you who voted for us.

As we mentioned in our previous call-to-action, we will be putting a priority on releasing TIMEframe. Our goal is to have it completed and on Steam sometime in early February. We will still be working on Lacuna Passage in the mean time, but just not as much as we are right now. When TIMEframe is released we will hopefully have some extra revenue to help finance the remaining development of Lacuna Passage, which we will return to full-time. And as we mentioned previously, all of our backers will also be receiving a free copy of TIMEframe when it is released! We are very excited for the upcoming releases of both TIMEframe and Song Seed and what they mean for our young studio.

Ludum Dare 31

Earlier this month we took part in 31st Ludum Dare weekend game jam competition. This being our third entry after the original TIMEframe (in Ludum Dare 27) and Dodgy Ball (Ludum Dare 28). The theme this time was “Entire game on one screen” and our entry was SUPER FUN FAMILY PRIMETIME TELEVISION SIMULATOR. The results are in and we placed #41 in the Humor category, #74 in innovation, and #98 in Theme out of 1,270 jam entries. We placed in the 200s and 300s in all other categories. We are very happy with these results for such a bizarre game. If you would like to read more about the game you can check out a post-mortem here and you can play the game in your browser here.

Thanks for following our blog and we will be back with another art progress post on the 15th.

Oh, and Happy New Year!