And we're back! I mean, we were never gone, we just couldn't agree on what to post. We will be posting updates more frequently from now on. Hello. I'm Ansis, the lead programmer. Work on the game has never ceased. Wave 6 will be released as soon as we have a handful of small quests fully implemented, voiced dialogue and everything. When? "This year," I keep telling myself. But this is the third year I'm telling myself that. Anyway, here are the few big ticket items myself and the programming team have been working on since the last wave, along with many smaller improvements and fixes.
Updated Unity Four Times
The project started with Unity 4.5 almost a decade ago. It was a rather flimsy engine at the time, so we added hacks to overcome its limitations. As time went on, Unity, the company, improved the engine by leaps and bounds, and our hacks became obstacles to keeping up. I had to choose between staying on an old version of Unity or unbreaking our game every time we updated. I chose the latter. The first two upgrades were painful, but our code got more compliant in the process, and the last upgrade needed only one line of code to be fixed. I'm now confident that we will be able to enjoy improvements to the Unity engine and editor for years to come. The project is now based on Unity 2021.2.8f1.
Because of the aforementioned hacks, updating from FMOD 1.09 to 2.01 was quite an undertaking, but in the end this allowed me get rid of a bunch of dead code, and our audio team can now use a recent version of FMOD. The new FMOD-Unity integration is much better written, easier to maintain, and performs better.
New AI System
We replaced the poorly performing NodeCanvas behavior trees with a bespoke implementation of a planning system. Instead of pre-programming all the behaviours, we define conditions and actions the AI can combine into plans it generates on the fly to achieve its goals (e.g. kill the player). If you have played FEAR you have fought planning based AI. I hope this approach will make our raiders clever and nasty. The new system is unlikely to reach a high level of quality in time for Wave 6 however.
New Dialogue System
We spent two years reviving the old dialogue system based on ChatMapper and Lua, but I was not very happy about how it was turning out. It was brittle, and we were going to need lots of custom tooling to debug dialogue. Then Unity acquired an integrated visual scripting system, and I decided to redo the dialogue system on top of that. It's still a work in progress, but official support and tight integration with Unity gets us so much for free: writers can just drag items from the assets into the graph to reference them, they can test their dialogue immediately, and even change it while the game is running. It sucks that we lost so much time on this, but dialogue and quests are the stars of the show not just for Wave 6, but the game overall. We've got to get it right.
New Lipsync System
We are committed to fully voiced dialogue with lipsync. We cannot be animating it all by hand, so we have to have a way to generate it. The old lipsync system predated the advent of modern machine learning techniques and was very limited: it could only deal with words from a limited English dictionary. Luckily, Oculus was bought by Facebook and has "fuck you" money to create and give a lipsync library away for free. We took advantage of it, and our writers can now generate robotic placeholder voices and matching lipsync with the press of a button.
Help! We need help. We always need help. We are always looking for more programmers, designers, artists, modelers, animators, audio engineers, and testers to join us. Apply here.