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!

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #23 - Steam Dev Days and The Months Ahead

Hi there! My name is Tyler Owen and I'm the lead developer for Lacuna Passage. I normally write these posts anyway, but I wanted to make this one a little more personal while discussing some of our plans for the coming weeks and months ahead of us.

Steam Dev Days

This Wednesday and Thursday I will be attending the first Steam Dev Days event in Seattle with my father Jeff Owen (who has been kindly assisting with many of the financial and business-related elements of Random Seed Games). The conference is an invite-only event for approved Steam partners, which, thanks to the support of our followers on Steam Greenlight, we are.

Our goals in attending the event are threefold. 1) To learn more about the specifics of Steam publishing and SDK integration, 2) To explore the future possibilities related to VR and Steam Machines, and 3) To meet up with other indie developers.

This will be our first real conference visit since starting development of Lacuna Passage. Unfortunately we will not have a proper demo along with us, but it seems that will not be the focus of the conference anyways. The announced sessions and the fact that this is invite only for developers indicate that this conference will not be about promoting or demoing games. It will be about learning the Steam infrastructure directly from Valve and networking with other developers to learn from their experiences. That's what we intend to do. Our acceptance onto Steam through the Greenlight process might arguably be more important to the future of our company than even the funding support we received via Kickstarter so we don't want to waste this opportunity.

If any other developers are interested in talking shop while at the conference, please get in touch with us via email or twitter and we can figure out a time to meet up.

The Months Ahead

It is becoming apparent that we may not be able to provide as many behind-the-scenes details over the coming months as we have since the Kickstarter. This is due to many factors, but most importantly, we don't want to spoil things for our players. Since so much of Lacuna Passage revolves around the story we want to tell, we need to be careful that those story details are not revealed too early. We want many of our art assets and locations in the game to be a genuine surprise. What that means is that as we continue development there may be periods of time where we are unable to share what we are working on. A lack of updates will NOT mean a lack of progress. We will try to continue discussing our work as best as we can, but our visual updates may be fewer and farther between. We hope you all understand.

drill_rover_hp.jpg

With that being said, we do have just a small visual preview of a large asset from our lead artist Cameron. Above is the nearly finished high poly render of the mobile drilling rig.