It's that time again! We hope everyone had a good time over the holidays :). We have a jam-packed devblog for you guys to kick off this year and we're excited to get started! For those who may not have known, we skipped the December development blog and instead chose to merge our progress from November and December into one post.
In other small news Dakota has also finished his freelance responsibilities. We are now both officially working on Blackwake only.
As everyone should know by now, Blackwake was a mess internally. We took many shortcuts and rushed our way through our goals to have the game presentable in time for the Kickstarter. Since the Kickstarter we took on the task of rewriting the game, and we're happy to say the rewrite is done. The game isn't exactly in the state it was at the time of the Kickstarter, but that is because we have new approaches this time around to how we want to do some things, so we're treating them as new systems.
We won't be including rewritten systems in this devblog, so what we'll be showing you are new things on top of the rewrite.
This is a huge update! This has been something we and everyone else has been wanting in Blackwake for a while now. The last time we had a big ship was in October 2014 which we scrapped as it was a prototype. We went back to to the drawing board and started off with the Hoy an 8 gun vessel which has served Blackwake well during 2015. People enjoyed coordinating and playing Blackwake with that ship so it has proven to be a solid ship to have in-game. We thought it was now time to take a step forward and get a larger ship in Blackwake.
Behold the galleon, a 20 gun vessel !
This ship is a monster compared to the hoy! It has front and rear facing cannons, 2 gun decks and 2 crows nests. It is also designed in a way that should be interesting for gameplay due to its verticality. We assume it will require a minimum of 16-20 players to function effectively.
We've been using our own custom ocean shader for some time now, and while it looked fairly good we were still keeping our eyes out for opportunities to push the water further without hitting performance significantly. To us and I'm sure you guys, having more ships and more players was more important to us than prettier water.
Our old ocean managed to catch the surface 'look' pretty well, but where it lacked the most was believable movement. It is something we've been wanting for a long time now, especially for storms.
Our ocean system has been overhauled and switched to a new superior system, and so far performance seems very good. We are still looking at performance closely, and hope we can continue to use it from here on.
And of course, we wouldn't show you a new ocean without showing you it's full force!
Garrett released a new work in progress track in early December, here it is if you missed it (Tempest) along with another work in progress.
We created a shader that allowed us to make the ship materials/selection more consistent. It's quite easy now to change colors on the fly and this looks like something we can now have in-game if you are nominated as captain. Color choices may be slightly limited based on faction. This has yet to be discussed as it is too early at this point.
While making the ship we also created a way for dirt/muck to be over the outside of the ship hulls. The ships have been looking clean for far too long and it was time to make things look a little more used.
Obviously we would limit the color palette depending on faction to avoid any ridiculous color setups.
Once fires were rewritten they needed something to burn, so we finally got around to rewriting our sail shader. The sails are now translucent, and you can see the outline of the masts and other sails through them when facing the sun. The sails auto react realistically depending on the suns intensity for that time of day, and can be burned.
The sails now also retract and lower. The sails will have 3 settings: all down, just main mast up, and all up. This way you can have more control over your speed and also use the middle speed for sharper turning, introducing another light glazing of skill to sailing. The ship can continue sailing without a captain so long as the sails are down. Only the captain can raise/lower the sails, and it cannot be ordered (the players cannot be told to lower the sails, and manually lower each mast, for example). If you've ever played in a public match with strangers I don't think we need to explain why.
(Click the thumbnails below each weapon to cycle through the images)
This is probably one of the most devastating weapons in the game. It has 7 barrels, it can pierce through multiple enemies and has much stronger accuracy than a blunderbuss as it doesn't spread. Reload times for this weapon are quite long to compensate for balance. This is the kind of weapon where you would try to line as many people up as possible for a massacre.
This is pretty much a grenade launcher. Don't worry though it'll be balanced to refrain from being a n00btube :) Unlike normal grenades, grenades shot from the grenade launcher will explode on impact.
Double Barrel Pistol
This pistol will allow you to shoot both rounds at the same time, or fire each shot one at a time . This would be extremely useful if you see a wounded person and help you get an extra kill. Again, with more barrels the longer the reload times will be to balance things out.
A standard melee weapon which will function like a spear. We will go more in-depth with the melee system at a later time. This one is not throwable.
Whale and Shark Harpoons
These ones are throwable :) The whale harpoon (top one) will be able to do huge single target damage/bleed, while the shark harpoon will be able to pierce through multiple people.
The rum bottle has now replaced bandages (as requested by all of ye pirates that played) as a form of healing yourself and team mates. You'll be able to let them have a swig of yer' Salty Seaman rum to stop them from certain death. It can also be used as a weapon if you're angry, just break it to create all sorts of sharp edges. Considering Blackwake is a game about violently murdering enemy crewmen in brutal ways, please remember to drink responsibly while fighting to the death.
If you've been following our progress of Blackwake the past couple of years you would be aware that we have not had any proper FPS animations. Everyone has been a bunch of stiff C3PO men and that has now changed! We have started to work with Pramote who we have contracted to help with our animations and rigging. We've just started off with the standard pistol animations and a gun powder horn has been made as well for the reloading.
A few other things
We've linked up the captain voting shown in the last devblog.
We've started getting Blackwake integrated with Steam. We'll be focusing on this more heavily within the next month so we can begin pre-testing the alpha with friends of ours for stability before closed testing for all backers begins in a couple months.
The graphics setting menu has been drafted out, we'll be linking it to the game hopefully next month. Rebind-able keys will of course be in the game but will be done at a later time.
The scoreboard has been overhauled and has been mostly linked up to the game. Here you'll be able to see ships that are alive/sunk, your own crew, and other players in the game and the ships they're on. You will also be able to mute players in this menu.
Currently no tasks reward the player with score, it is something we're going to be writing up in the future.
A few months ago we switched networking systems to a new solution that was still in beta. We were working closely with the developers, but ultimately decided that the system was too unstable and early in development for us to continue using it. Nothing was synced because our networking simply didn't work, we were writing everything as if the game was single player. Soon enough our 'to network' list was growing and we finally had to figure something out, or we ran the risk of falling behind.
We began looking into other solutions, seeing good/bad reviews, and ultimately decided to try and write our own. After going full potato the last week of November, WakeNet was born.
Built on top of the Unity LLAPI, WakeNet is light weight, simple to use, easy to setup, and based on the now-deprecated legacy Unity networking. WakeNet is seemingly stable, too. We even gave it to our friends over at Wolf Pack Games developing Letters of Marque, who have reported numerous stable multiplayer matches. We now work with Wolf Pack Games on polishing WakeNet, and hope to release it free and open source to the Unity community in the near future. We hope WakeNet will be helpful to other independent Unity developers looking for a very user-friendly and cheap (free!) networking solution.
Blackwake has been completely ported to WakeNet, and so far everything seems to be working well.
Here is a video during the development of the system:
As you can see we have kept busy and productive the past couple of months with some pretty cool stuff. We are surprised with the amount of work that we have done ourselves, considering that there was just two of us up to this point. Progress is going smoothly and we are hopeful it will continue to stay this way, as all things have been going uphill since the Kickstarter campaign.
Another huge upcoming change is that we have also started to work with Rino, a talented character artist. He will be responsible for bringing our characters up to the standards we require, and creating the rank outfits and player meshes/faces/beards.
More gameplay elements, artwork and animations will be completed in the coming months. Each month Blackwake is looking more and more like the game we dreamed of. We have kept things manageable and realistic without being overly-ambitious and we are grateful for everyone's consistent support.
In regards to closed alpha testing , we are hoping it will be ready by April. If things work out maybe even late March. We still need to assess this as a lot of things need to be done first. Internal game-breaking bugs will need to be sorted out so the first Alpha test isn't a disaster, as well as server load and stability. Please be patient, we are working hard to make sure things go smoothly for all of us :)
For those of you who haven't seen this yet, Dylan Walsh created a fantastic footage mashup of Blackwake that definitely put a smile on both our faces! It really shows how Blackwake feels as a team based shooter.
Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed that hefty update!
With that said, we'll see you all in the next update and forums :)
-Tyler & Dakota