Greetings human captives and future champions!
It's been a little over a month since our Kickstarter has come to a close and by the Nyne do you deserve an update!
Let’s jump right into it.
There’s a saying that’s been etched in my brain ever since I was a wee lad, and that’s failing to plan is planning to fail. A little cliche I know, but for those who have even a limited grasp of what goes into developing a game, laying down its blueprints and figuring out the hows and whys to each component is critical to a successful title. This is what we’ve been doing over the past month and a half. I know it’s not sexy, but it’s absolutely paramount that we revisit what we’ve already built and have every new feature mapped out before we implement them. It provides a guide for our programmers, direction for our artists, and context for our writers. We’re not just going to start coding away and building a plane while it’s taking off. We’re not trying to make a quick buck. We have something BIG here, and we don’t plan on wasting time or resources on having to recode infrastructure or scrap rushed art assets down the road. Yes we’re a small team working with a small budget, but we’re dedicated and incredibly passionate about this game. Islands of Nyne: Battle Royale and it’s universe will thrive if things are done right from the start.
Here are some of the things we’ve revisited and re-shaped this month
Tropical Island Arena
* Establishing optimal arena size for 100 player matches
* Locations of existing and new POI’s (Points of Interest)
* Resculpting terrain to offer a more tactical focused landscape
* Foliage density and height limitations for better player visibility
* Safe zone/plasma wall timings (match pace)
* Player movement speed
* Weapon variety (firearms and melee)
* Player spawning system (locations, proximity, mechanics)
* Item spawning system (locations, rates)
* Inventory (see below)
A lot of the decisions we’ve been faced with this month are ones of scope. What functionality and features should we have implemented for each testing phase? How much can we implement without having any delays to production? What features take priority on our roadmap? Well, the good news is we’ve figured most of this stuff out and will be posting up an ever expanding roadmap soon. Hopefully, we’ll get enough input from you guys to get a solid idea as to what stuff you want prioritized. This game is not something we can test properly in-house. It requires our community of real and enthusiastic players (you guys) to provide us with feedback and have a fun ass time doing it. So, going back to my prep-work spiel, we’re also putting a lot of effort into not only making sure our core gameplay features are present, but the backend infrastructure is also there so that when we do need to adjust systems, values, drop-rates, etc. we can adjust them easily and in a timely fashion. I can prattle on and on about this forever, but in short, we want to release an alpha build we’re proud of; enough to allow you to stream to the public without having to worry about breaching any sort of NDA
Ok, enough talk. Let’s move on to some of the juicy stuff.
If there’s anything that gets my blood pumping about game design, it’s the UI/UX part. Coming from a background in user interface design I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped a game due to poor user experience. There are some people that don’t mind spending 80% of their time in their inventory clicking tabs, dragging items, staring at confusing icons, doing the old drop/sort ritual, but not I! Players should be focusing on the game, not playing the never-ending inventory management sidequest.
We’ve decided to move forward with an inventory system custom fit to ION’s unique gameplay. Obviously, some of this stuff might change during testing, but so far we’re very happy with it.
The inventory system was designed with ION’s efficient, quick tactical decision gameplay in mind while also putting much thought into the following:
Intuitiveness - no, or very little, learning curve.
Management - efficient and complex. A system appealing to both; players who enjoy managing their inventory, and ones who never want to open it.
Originality - a custom solution tailored to ION:BR’s unique gameplay and universe.
Architecture - a future-proof design that minimizes implementation time for any additional inventory slots or items.
Immersion - visuals and animations that are consistent with the ION universe and add a fun, compelling feel to the game.
However, before we started prototyping inventory designs we needed to figure out what happens and what’s displayed when a user stumbles upon a lootable item in the world. So, we came up with this:
Nothing out of the ordinary here, but we’ve essentially borrowed our favorite approach to item hover functionality from other games and added our own unique touch.
Item Glow - In addition to the appearance of a crosshair when your view is centered on an item, the item you’re focused on will glow from the edges. This will help players differentiate between items in close proximity to each other and make them more visible when searching for them. Pretty straight-forward stuff. I’d like to also point out that the only times you’ll see a crosshair is when you have a non-weapon item equipped (or nothing) and when you’re centered on a lootable item (like in the image). That’s right! NO crosshair when firing from the hip
Item Overview - When hovering over a lootable item, a visual overview of the item and anything associated to it (attachements, ammo, etc.) will be displayed. The visual overview allows you to quickly determine if there is anything you’d like to loot from items lying around. You might not think this is a big deal, but it is. Just need an attachment for your m4? Low on assault rifle ammo? Now you won’t have to waste any time inspecting or picking up items to see what’s in them. A quick hover over the item will let you know just what it’s got.
Item Actions - Tapping E on an item will quickly add it to the closest empty slot in your inventory from the left. Pretty standard stuff. Here comes my pride and joy - when you HOLD E, players will bring up the Assign Slot Interface which allows you to assign the item or anything attached to it to an inventory slot of your choosing. Lets check out what that looks like.
Assign Slot Interface – This is what appears when you hold E on a lootable item. The Assign Slot Interface allows players to quickly manage their inventory while picking up an item.
It was designed to give players the ability to quickly loot attachments or ammo from weapons and offer more control over assigning lootable items to inventory slots.
Equippable Item Slots – Right now we’re limiting the number of equippable item slots to 6. This is the default value for now and so far we think it’s been working pretty well. Note that the “Extra Capacity Unit” in the Modifier socket is not functional yet so it’s not currently impacting the number of slots you see. You can put ANY in-game item in these slots. For example, If you find an extra personal shield or head armor, you’ll be able to carry them in these slots. This will be for carrying purposes only. Their effects will not apply or stack onto your already equipped character gear. A scenario where you might want to use this is if you need to carry something for a friend or want a backup for when your helmet or shield breaks. You could essentially become the “pack-mule” of your team, hoarding all of the ammo or medkits and dishing them out when your cohorts need em. Note: you will need to equip any usable items in-game to use them. No quick heals or “press G to throw nade”!
Unload Ammo Button – That’s right, no forced reloads. If you notice, there’s a couple icons in the lower righthand corner of the slots containing firearms. There’s an icon indicating the amount of ammo currently loaded into the weapons magazine and a button next to it that when pressed, unloads the ammo into a empty slot or drops it if no slot is vacant. The obvious benefit here is that if you wanted to transfer ammo already inside of a weapon’s mag to another weapon, you could easily do so.
Attachment slots – attachments will have dedicated mini slots above slotted compatible weapons. This is pretty straight-forward. Check out the AK item slot. You can see it has a reflex sight slotted above it. As of now, larger weapons will have 2 attachment slots – 1 for optics (sights/scopes) and 1 for other types of attachments (suppressors, grips, etc.). Handguns only have 1.
Dedicated Armor Sockets – So far we’ve implemented 3 dedicated armor slots that each provide specific benefits when fitted with their supported item type. Head armor provides damage resistance to headshots, personal shields provide damage resistance to body shots, and modifiers have a passive effect on a variety of gameplay elements.
Your actual inventory, the one you’ll be able to bring up at any point in time (unless you’re dead) is very similar to the Assign Slot Interface. Let’s take a looksie.
Player Inventory - The Player Inventory Interface (PII) can be accessed by pressing TAB or I at any given time. This interface features all of the same inventory functionality detailed in the the Assign Slot Interface. The only differences between the 2 interfaces is the amount of information displayed. The ASI displays the “Loot Item” in place of the PII’s “Item Details Window” and “3rd Person Character Pose”
Item Details Window – Hover your cursor over an item in your inventory and its details will appear on the left. The more information you know about stuff you pick up, the less googling you’ll need to do when attempting to figure out what an item’s stats are and wtf it’s supposed to do. Knowledge is power amirite? We’d love to see all of your ideas and suggestions when it comes to what kind of information you’d like displayed here. Spray patterns? Statistics? Damage over distance? Let us know.
3rd Person Character Pose – Want to admire that new armor piece you unlocked last match? Well, your inventory’s the place to do it. Not only that, but EVERY item in your inventory will actually render on your person in-game. In the screenshot above you’ll notice señor “Juan Deag” (desert eagle) holstered on the character’s hip as well as his equipped weapon (AK) grasped in his right hand. Not only is there visual appeal to this feature, but it also ties in nicely when it comes to looting your fallen enemies. More on that in the next update Note: we’re still ironing out some clipping issues and have yet to include a handful of items to this system (helmets, nades, medkits).
Overall, we really like the feel of what we’ve built so far and can’t wait to get some hands-on community feedback on it once the alpha rolls out. Don’t hesitate to let us know what you think!
Here’s a quick vid of the inventory system in game and in motion:
Since our post Kickstarter campaign ended July 13th, we have received a numerous amount of people still looking to support us. Out of fairness and respect for our Kickstarter backers, we will not be offering any Kickstarter exclusives, but we still want to give our early fans a chance to support us and still claim some extra goodies. We’ve set up a new on-going campaign that gives new supporters a chance to help fund development while snatching up some generous deals before launch. Check them out here: http://islandsofnyne.com/paypal.html
One thing we’ve noticed since ION's announcement is everyone's strong feelings towards melee combat. We all want a satisfying melee system. I'd like to open the floor here and ask you all exactly what kind of melee system you'd like to see implemented in ION? What games have you played in the past that you personally feel did melee right and why? Let us know so we can get a better understanding of what kind of melee combat you'd like to experience in the dome.
As always, myself and the rest of Define Human Studios humbly thank you for your constant support and enthusiasm. Keep the discussions going and ideas flowing on the forums, and lastly, prepare yourself for a Battle Royale experience like no other!
Stay tuned for next update.