Blackwake - First update!
Welcome to our first development blog for Blackwake! And we wanted to thank everyone who supported us once again! We wouldn’t be here without you!
This month we’ve been dealing with a lot of the business side of things as we set up the company, so this has taken a decent chunk of our time and energy as there have been some complications/concerns doing this internationally. We did manage to make some progress, though!
So, what's going on?
! Late backing open for 15 days !
Due to the request of many, we have extended our Kickstarter through Paypal for the next 15 days. You can pledge HERE
While sporadically working on Blackwake over the past couple years as a side project, we took quite a few shortcuts along the way. We’ve also learned tons just from making the early versions of Blackwake, and had to recognize the game for what it was. A heaping pile of technical debt.
There is a better way to do nearly everything that is in the game, but the year+ old systems were so tangled with each other that if we tried to clean up one it would break the others. This obviously wasn’t an option as the Kickstarter approached, so we opted to polish it as much as we could for what it was, and instead completely rewrite it after the Kickstarter ended.
A rewrite may sound bad, and we just want to be clear we aren’t expecting any delays from this. Our timeframe to testing included time for the rewrite, and it’s going well. Without a rewrite it would have been very tedious and time consuming to continue adding content, so ultimately this will speed up development significantly. The game is now easier to work with than ever, with many systems seeing their line counts reduced by as much as 80%.
Progress so far to give you an idea of where we are:
Blackwake originally used Unity’s legacy networking, so we’ve kept our eyes out for other networking solutions and have recently switched. We’ve been working closely with their developers and they were extremely supportive with the changes we needed to be able to port Blackwake. The system is still in beta, which means every now and then the network heavy parts of the rewrite are halted while we wait for patches.
During the Kickstarter we were contacted by Garrett Beelow and began working with him shortly after. Garrett was genuinely interested and excited to work on the music for Blackwake, and his skill set in epic music we felt would fit the game very well.
Here are some cuts from his work-in-progress tracks for Blackwake. Be sure to give him a follow! https://soundcloud.com/garrettb
We’ve built a couple small tools and written a custom shader to not only speed up our destruction performance by four times, but also increase the quality in it’s current state.
As you can see results are much more jagged compared to what we had before, and we hope to make more improvements as we move forward.
A while back we noticed the system we used for PBR wasn’t entirely accurate, but a change like that would have required touch ups on every object, which we didn’t have time for. We’re addressing this problem before we move onto any new props, and we’re currently in the middle of this process. The art should become even more accurate in the future, as Wes from Allegorithmic/Substance has stated he is working with Unity’s developers on achieving a 1:1 visual match between the two.
We have also decided to remove the tiller and instead put a much more iconic ship wheel in it’s place as many people have requested.
For our ships, draw calls have always been a huge concern between the destruction and detail props. Lately we’ve created some small tools to help us reduce calls, and plan to make further changes to how the equipment on the deck is arranged to squeeze out everything we can. The more we save, the more ships we can have in one match (within reason). We’ve always been able to support many ships, but the issues came when the ships are arranged closely together in boarding clusters and LOD is a lot harder to do as it’ll be extremely noticeable.
So far we’ve reduced the draw calls on our ships by about 65%. Meaning six ships now have the same amount of draw calls as two did in the Kickstarter demo.
Plans for October and moving forward
Next month we hope to be finished or almost finished with the rewrite, and actually have the game back together again. From this point we will move forward with implementing our goals for backer testing which include steam integration, voice chat, captain voting, scoring, the first batch of weapons, and new characters along with many other smaller systems required for testing.
Thanks for reading our first DevBlog! Be sure to leave a comment in the discussion below. We'll see you all in the next update :)
-Tyler & Dakota