Pine Monthly Recap May - More to Do

Posted in Development Blogs

Hey all!

We are eager to share some cool stuff we worked on last month, and to tell you all about where we’re headed.

We are now deepening out the final player mechanic, which means there’s gonna be more to do for the player. This is essential when building the questing system, so that we know exactly what options the player has. This is all building towards the content alpha milestone, which concludes our alpha phase at the end of this month.

Here are some highlights!

Puzzling in Vaults

An important part of the main quest comes in the form of Vaults, small designated areas filled with puzzles that hold the Outfindings (important tools). We’ve been working hard on our trigger systems, grabbable system and cutscene systems to fill the Vault blockouts with cool puzzles and interesting gameplay. We don’t want to spoil too much, but here’s a quick glimpse at the Dry Bay Tower (with work-in-progress visuals), one of the three!

New interns!

Give a warm welcome to Andréa and Félix, our new environment art and programming interns! They joined the ranks to make awesome art and tech for Pine.

Food Pinning

A much requested feature in the game also made it in: food pinning! We didn’t like it much that you could eat in your pause menu, which takes you out of the game completely. With species also taking food ingame, we thought it only fair to give the player the same option. Check out the top left here:

Testing “energy” and Mixtures

A bit of an interesting thing we decided to try out is an energy mechanic. A very specific goal we had for this is that it was vital to not make it a grind, or feel like a survival mechanic. However, the purpose of it made it worth trying: we want to place the player in the simulation more. As species have to find food and rest all the time, it might be good if the player gets a sense of that loop too. There are a few states:

The changes made by the energy system are very subtle: jump height tweaks, running speed, sprint time, attack time, etc. By eating foods, you can regain energy (or even drain it as a tradeoff for health), and we’re also implementing a resting mechanic soon to let time of day pass too (mockup):

We’re currently testing out how it works. The last thing we want is to make it feel like a stamina system, or to make it too intrusive. It might not work out, but playtests will have to point that out.
To boost up your energy even more, we also conceived the idea of Mixtures: potion-like consumables that can grant temporary status effects or boost your health or energy. Players craft these and can use them in preparation of situations ahead. More soon!

The swamps are getting denser

As one of the last areas that needed a lot of assets and setdressing is the swamps – specifically, the Soggy Fields! In May we took to fill that up, and it’s getting quite dense.

There are quite a few new trees for this, as you can see in the previous blog. Next step is adding water over the surface, and adding a lot of this ground vegetation!

About the planning

Lastly, it’s time to give some less joyful news: now that we have planned the whole project out to the end, it’s clear to us that a Q4 2018 release for Pine is too ambitious. We’d like to take a bit more time to round things up better and give you a better game as a result. This is no huge surprise to us: the estimate made during the time of the Kickstarter was a rough one, with a lot of question marks about the content still. Also thanks to your feedback, the game has gotten a lot better and more focused since, so the end result will definitely be better for it. We hope you understand!

Importantly, we aren’t pushing the game back much – but more on that soon. In the upcoming month we’ll have a big announcement, so we’re really excited to share that soon. Here's a hint of what is included...

As always, all feedback, questions and comments are welcome. Feel free to reach out through pine[at], on IndieDB, on Reddit, on our Discord server, Facebook or Twitter.

Pine DevBlog #74 - Beeches and Buildingblocks

Posted in Development Blogs

Time for a devblog! As mentioned, we've been lowering the frequency quite a bit, in order to make sure we're not spoiling too much and to focus even more on developing the game.

With regards to that development, we're making some really great progress. A region system, trigger system, working on the Outfindings, an updated main character... Lots of important steps to completing the content structure of the game.

One of the more important mechanics that was properly added recently is the new eating mechanic, allowing the player to heal only during gameplay. This changes the way you fight a lot and makes it a lot more dynamic and interesting! You can pin food to your HUD (3 foods at the start of the game) and eat from there. We will be working on a 'heal preview' functionality and more polish later. Check the top left UI here:

We are currently prototyping the first Vault, the Dry Bay Tower, to greater detail - having meshed all the building blocks, the design team is now busy with creating every layer and all puzzles in between. Without spoiling anything, that blockout looks something like this:

The swamp assets are making good progress too, as we're building large trees, small trees and more vegetation to put in the swamp area (Soggy Fields). Check out the first trees:

The river tool is also being used to great 'length', as we're placing the first rivers and it seems to work nicely!

More soon - we'll keep you updated as we go along. A lot of the work is related to the new Hue, so we're holding off a bit on that - soon!

Until next time!

Pine Monthly Recap April - From Village to Village

Posted in Development Blogs

Another monthly update! We have been more silent than ever this month, but only because we were working hard on so many things and didn’t find the time during the month. But we’re excited to tell you all about what happened now!
The main focus of this month was a milestone deadline – the simulation alpha. Our goals were to:

  • Get the simulation running on the whole island, both in simulation space (under the hood) and real space (which is in front of the player)

  • Run that with seamless streaming of assets and organisms

  • Finalize the infrastructure of the island, with all villages, roads and species’ navigation made possible

  • Structure the first version of the economy on the island with different resources and foods in different regions, and with villages gathering and trading those

Overall, we succeeded. The simulation is complex but clean system of villages, village goals, groups, roles and organisms. It takes a lot of time to test and analyze, but it’s cool to see it come to life.

Villages have a bank and their leaders need to fill that bank

To supply for their inhabitants, village chiefs send out groups to gather food and resources, or trading/scout/raid groups to get to that goal. That alone brings many concepts: leaders, groups, goals, banks and more. All of this has to be visualized and implemented, but we’re glad to have improved our village system and village commander systems a lot to make it happen. Most of these assets are obviously temporary!

Chiefs send out gatherer groups:

Or a trader!

Sometimes trades go wrong…

The bigger villages send guards with the traders, and they’ll usually come back with some good value:

The village banks are created per species – here’s another look at them:

Worked on village structure and design

Each village has an alarm bell, fences, tiers set up and more. This is all part of a vast system of nodes that get enabled when a village exists in a certain way.

More blockout work on the island, revamping the Arid Canyon

In the attempt to connect the island better, we also revamped several areas to be better suited for the gameplay and make more sense naturally. One of such areas is the Arid Canyon, which is now one of our favorite areas! We redid all the materials, tweaked vegetation and more.

Tools, and a new intern: Pavel!

Pavel is helping the programming team and immediately started making himself useful by working on much-requested tools for the art and design team. One of such is a ‘fencing’ system with which we can more easily place connected meshes, such as fences:

Also, a cool new water system allows us to make a procedural river mesh throughout wherever we need it, which is more flexible than before.

The build that resulted for the milestone is giving us a lot of information – we’ve been making plans, testing and tweaking away ever since. The economy on such a scale is something very delicate and we’re making sure the experience is smooth and logical in all areas.

Next, we're prototyping some last player mechanics and we'll be solidifying the simulation and the island's design. Exciting!

As always, all feedback, questions and comments are welcome. Feel free to reach out through pine[at], on IndieDB, on Reddit, on our Discord server, Facebook or Twitter.

Pine DevBlog #73 - Steampipes and Suspicions

Posted in Development Blogs

Lowering the amount of blogs has so far really helped us focus more on content and share it in shorter bursts - so here's another one packed with content for you.

We've worked on the Litter Stack, Krocker Rattle and Fexel Furnace for in their villages - similar objects to the Cariblin Pole, where they assemble food and resources and can gather for social activity.

The most important work of the last two weeks has been working on finalizing the island's infrastructure for the full-scale simulation to play out. This means making sure roads are finished and passable by species, interesting locations are blocked out and that species have something to do.

Also on a village scale this means the species have a ton of spaces and nodes to choose from while performing the tasks of their village schedules.

It's been interesting to see where the issues are. Sometimes trades fail too often, food sources aren't placed correctly or organisms can't find their spot in the village. But we'll keep working on it!

To round all the roles, positions, reactions and behaviors off, the art team has continued blocking out things for functionality. A lot of new animations and props were added to communicate the roles and reactions clearly, such as suspicious-trigger animations, a new alert for the litter and chief animations for all.

In the future we'll make these roles more species-specific - check out these sketches for the village leaders for example!

Lots more was done in these weeks, as we're ramping up to a simulation alpha build. In that, we're seeing the simulation in full scale, streaming, for the first time. It's gonna bring up even more issues, but our systems have been set up to be very tweakable, so we will keep on fixing things throughout development.

Until next time!