Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

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Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by sear » September 8th, 2016, 12:28 pm

We have a huge Kickstarter update today for you all! This one covers Gamescom and some other shows, but perhaps more interestingly for some backers,
goes into quite a bit of detail about how we built the Necropolis area and how we used it to incorporate the thousands of epitaphs and tombstones in the game.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/in ... ts/1674434
Hello Exiles,

Chris checking in. In our last update, we mentioned that we had partnered with Techland Publishing for Torment, and that our first major event would be showing the game at Gamescom 2016. After quite a few weeks of prep, it was go time. Brian, Colin, George, Thomas and myself all packed our bags up to visit Germany, and it was an incredible experience.

Techland did a fantastic job in setting up not one but two booths for us, and worked around the clock to provide support and assistance demoing the game. We even had professional cosplayers on hand! They are treating Torment like one of their own titles and know how important it is to get things right. We would not have been able to pull it off so successfully without them.

...

Designing the Necropolis

Adam here. A little while ago, George told you how we are incorporating backer NPCs into our game. I want to tell you how we're including the largest quantity of backer content: tombs and epitaphs.

First, let me take you back to our Kickstarter planning sessions. We knew from the start we wanted a reward where higher-tier backers could include their name in the game somewhere. In a game about legacy, set in a world built on the bones of forgotten civilizations, it made perfect sense for that reward to be a tomb. We designed a massive gravesite for these tombs, called the Valley of Dead Heroes. In this place would be hundreds of tombs, memorializing heroes of the past and naturally raising the question: "What does one life matter?"

Like our backer NPCs, we wanted the tomb content to feel like a natural part of the world. We also wanted to encourage players to actually read the tombs – not all of them, but some of them at least. And ideally different players would search through different ones. It was a challenge, but one we were confident we could make great... until the Kickstarter broke records, and we found ourselves with nearly four thousand tombs and epitaphs that needed to be in our game somewhere.

As we began designing areas, we did the math. We originally planned for two scenes that would contain most of the tombs: the Valley of Dead Heroes and "Valley Part Two" which would be placed in another zone of the game. But even if we made those scenes enormous, cramming in as many tombs as we could fit on-screen while still giving the player space to walk, it would only take care of half of the required number. We also considered sprinkling the other tombstones throughout the game, but that would still require far too many tombstones to be placed in every single scene in the game. So our algorithm master and all-around guru Joby Bednar had the very Numenera idea of a massive underground storage space, now used in the Ninth World as a burial ground.

The rooms in this space would be accessed by a control panel: the user enters a code and is taken to a room in which lie a subset of our tomb/epitaph markers. Mechanically, the room would be a single Unity scene, but with the props, lighting, effects, etc. swapped out based on the code the player enters. It would take a lot of custom scripting, but it gave us the flexibility to handle all the backers we needed to feature. It was the perfect solution, and with some design constraints outlined, thus was born the Necropolis…

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by Aramintai » September 8th, 2016, 2:00 pm

This is all very interesting but when's the next beta update?
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by monocle » September 8th, 2016, 9:26 pm

+1
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by natzy » September 8th, 2016, 10:25 pm

Aramintai wrote:This is all very interesting but when's the next beta update?
Indeed. We are not going to stay with the beta in the current state until release right?
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by kilobug » September 9th, 2016, 12:45 am

Nice creative solution to a seemingly overconstrainted problem, congrats :)

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 9th, 2016, 5:45 am

So this Necropolis will have a grave for every backer?

Would be neat if you included some hidden rooms that contained artifacts or cyphers. 99% of players would never find them (well unless they looked it up in a guide), but it would still be a interesting way to praise some of your highest backers. The Signed Limited Collector's Edition is, I'd imagine, a small enough group that you could do it for all of them.

You could also have them for the developers or you could insert some Easter eggs. Have a grave for "The nameless one" or "morte" for example. I love Easter Eggs and hidden stuff of that sort.

I also wanted to ask, Will this game have steam achievements or steam controller support?

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by kilobug » September 9th, 2016, 6:41 am

anonymous6059 wrote:So this Necropolis will have a grave for every backer?
From what I understood, every backer who have the "Be Dead and Remembered" perk, which starts at the $125 pledge level. All backers would be 90k+ not "just" 4000.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by IHaveHugeNick » September 9th, 2016, 9:12 am

Necropolis sounds cool. Seems like a lot of effort to accommodate backer content though. But I guess it's better to go over the top, then to end up with something like Pillars with it's obnoxious backer content sticking it's ugly teeth from every corner.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 9th, 2016, 9:19 am

IHaveHugeNick wrote:Necropolis sounds cool. Seems like a lot of effort to accommodate backer content though. But I guess it's better to go over the top, then to end up with something like Pillars with it's obnoxious backer content sticking it's ugly teeth from every corner.
Yeah, I totally agree with you. I hated the way POE did backer content in general. Those flashbacks got really old, real fast. That and every time you went to the edge of a map you'd find a marker that said something like "Pink fluffy wuz here" or "I ate farts" or "IHaveHugeNick" ;) which really just ruined the immersion of the game. I hope that 99% of backer content is only in the Necropolis.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 9th, 2016, 9:25 am

kilobug wrote:
anonymous6059 wrote:So this Necropolis will have a grave for every backer?
From what I understood, every backer who have the "Be Dead and Remembered" perk, which starts at the $125 pledge level. All backers would be 90k+ not "just" 4000.
All I have is a "Thanks in the Credits". I'm guessing this is only for those who backed during the original kickstarter. Not us slobs (me) who showed up late to the party. I have the Reward: Limited Collector's Edition (14,800). Guess that's what I get for not backing on time. :(
Alas, I'd hoped to visit my grave and reflect on my legacy.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by Drool » September 9th, 2016, 12:32 pm

Once I figured out what the flashbacks were, I was okay with it. Frankly, that's not a terrible way to include backer content. Sure, most of it was prose doggerel, but it was really easy to avoid; I just stopped reading random people.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 9th, 2016, 1:29 pm

Drool wrote:Once I figured out what the flashbacks were, I was okay with it. Frankly, that's not a terrible way to include backer content. Sure, most of it was prose doggerel, but it was really easy to avoid; I just stopped reading random people.
Well for me that is half the problem. The first time I played the game I was like "Oh, whoa! This game has sooo much dialogue. I'm going to read everything and suck up all this juicy lore!" Then I slowly realized it was just a bunch of random junk that had nothing to do with the actual game. Slowly, I stopped reading it. Eventually I started running anytime the screen started trying to get all psychedelic on me.

Its one thing when its just a wall of markers, but something totally different when you have to avoid all the NPCs in a game like the plague.

If a Backer actually coughs up enough cash to make a character fine, but that character needs to be part of the world. It shouldn't be just some totally random story that has nothing to do with the actual game. I know that it would be hard for a backer to come up with a story that has something to do with a game that doesn't exist, but that is why I'd make it a really, really high tier (lots and lots of cash) to do in the first place. Then, I'd just give the backer a list of possibilities that are laced with naughty spoilers. He or she could then use this information that was trustworthy bestowed upon them to make a decent character.

Its nice to see small nods to backers. Backer cyphers and artifacts. Backer named characters, items, or other silly things of that sort. Its not so nice when every 20 minutes I have to avoid something just to stay immersed in the game. That is just my take on it though. I'm sure I'd be singing another tune if I'd backed high enough to actually have content in the game that I created.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by IHaveHugeNick » September 9th, 2016, 2:33 pm

Drool wrote:Once I figured out what the flashbacks were, I was okay with it. Frankly, that's not a terrible way to include backer content. Sure, most of it was prose doggerel, but it was really easy to avoid; I just stopped reading random people.
I remember reading about some guy who was going around towns murdering every backer NPC because they were "breaking his immersion". He was probably off his meds, but still. If they can pack it all in a room and out of the way, that's much prefered over spraying backer content all over the game world without any plan or thought.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by hasunA » September 9th, 2016, 4:23 pm

The tech behind the Necropolis and its chambers is amazing.
Looking forward to see it in action.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by Drool » September 10th, 2016, 12:30 pm

IHaveHugeNick wrote:He was probably off his meds
Just a little.

Still, no objections here to shoving it in the closet and being done with it. Although, I'm quickly reaching the point where I think we should just move beyond backer content all together. Or make it extremely limited: that 10k price point gets you to the launch party and gets you a tombstone.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 10th, 2016, 2:36 pm

Drool wrote:
IHaveHugeNick wrote:He was probably off his meds
Just a little.

Still, no objections here to shoving it in the closet and being done with it. Although, I'm quickly reaching the point where I think we should just move beyond backer content all together. Or make it extremely limited: that 10k price point gets you to the launch party and gets you a tombstone.
Exactly. I totally agree. The way Inxile is handling it seems fine, but it's still a bit excessive. You don't see giant tombstones for every single developer so why is it so important for all the backers to get one? A video game is a work of art. Backer markers sprayed throughout the game feels like graffiti or vandalism. Having your name in the credits should be good enough. I mean that is all the developers ever get. Why should it be different for backers? So I'm very happy that Inxile has tucked 99% of the backer content safely inside the Necropolis.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by Firkraag » September 15th, 2016, 10:05 am

IHaveHugeNick wrote:
Drool wrote:Once I figured out what the flashbacks were, I was okay with it. Frankly, that's not a terrible way to include backer content. Sure, most of it was prose doggerel, but it was really easy to avoid; I just stopped reading random people.
I remember reading about some guy who was going around towns murdering every backer NPC because they were "breaking his immersion".
I would personally use phrase "breaks narrative flow". There was a little chance reward, no possible (puzzle, mini quest, conflict) interaction with those characters. You're going through the quest and then see interestingly looking character, turn to it and get Art Installation. Some were great, but others - 'meh' and after a while, when you knew there was nothing about them, you could actually do, you stopped caring.

What I think, people imagine, when they backer-made or inspired NPC is "Woman in Red" Matrix-style. Something, that makes you stop for a bit, distracts you before punching you with the feels, pulls you into the world, a little touch that lingers in your mind for days and contributes to the overall feeling of the game, be a real, living character, after all, no matter how small it's part. Something that integrated into the story, so that it would be welcomed, not make players annoyed.

That takes time and effort. Therefore, expensive and, for the sake of final product/artwork, has to be limited.

A glorified post or a piece of fan fiction, on the other hand, could harm the artwork.

So, yeah I agree with other posters. Necropolis is good idea, though it's unlikely it'll be explored in great detail.
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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by Ranneko » September 16th, 2016, 11:40 am

This approach to the Necropolis sounds much nicer than the rather slapdash approach of Pillars. A random sampling feels much nicer to me than a system that quickly trains players to never bother interacting with backer NPCs or memorials.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by ar_xiv » September 18th, 2016, 5:08 pm

I am in love with this sort of ridiculous approach to a simple problem. Go for it! I know you guys like Gene Wolfe, and I was immediately reminded of the peat bog necropolis in Shadow of the Torturer. I tracked down the passage, and will reproduce it here:
(excerpt from Shadow of the Torturer, Chapter 22: Dorcas)

... I conceived of a place like the necropolis where I had frolicked as a boy, with trees and crumbling tombs, and walkways paved with bones.

The reality was very different—a dark lake in an infinite fen. Our feet sank in sedge, and a cold wind whistled past with nothing, as it seemed, to stop it before it reached the sea. Rushes grew beside the track on which we walked, and once or twice a water bird passed overhead, black against a misted sky.

...

So there were graves after all. I asked where the mausoleums stood.

“There aren’t any. No coffins either, or mortuary urns, or any of that clutter.

Look at the water slopping at your boots.”

I did. It was as brown as tea.

“It has the property of preserving corpses. The bodies are weighed by forcing lead shot down their throats, then sunk here with their positions mapped so they can be fished up again later if anyone wants to look at them.”
This whole chapter is good stuff. It's been said here before, but everyone who is into Ps:T and TToN should read Gene Wolfe.

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Re: Updated Our Journal (58): Gamescom 2016, Building the Necropolis

Post by anonymous6059 » September 19th, 2016, 5:00 am

ar_xiv wrote:I am in love with this sort of ridiculous approach to a simple problem. Go for it! I know you guys like Gene Wolfe, and I was immediately reminded of the peat bog necropolis in Shadow of the Torturer. I tracked down the passage, and will reproduce it here:
(excerpt from Shadow of the Torturer, Chapter 22: Dorcas)

... I conceived of a place like the necropolis where I had frolicked as a boy, with trees and crumbling tombs, and walkways paved with bones.

The reality was very different—a dark lake in an infinite fen. Our feet sank in sedge, and a cold wind whistled past with nothing, as it seemed, to stop it before it reached the sea. Rushes grew beside the track on which we walked, and once or twice a water bird passed overhead, black against a misted sky.

...

So there were graves after all. I asked where the mausoleums stood.

“There aren’t any. No coffins either, or mortuary urns, or any of that clutter.

Look at the water slopping at your boots.”

I did. It was as brown as tea.

“It has the property of preserving corpses. The bodies are weighed by forcing lead shot down their throats, then sunk here with their positions mapped so they can be fished up again later if anyone wants to look at them.”
This whole chapter is good stuff. It's been said here before, but everyone who is into Ps:T and TToN should read Gene Wolfe.
Wait, aren't you mixing up several different parts of the book? Botanical Gardens of Nessus contain The garden of Endless Sleep and they don't really share any resemblance to the Necropolis. The design of the Necropolis in T:ToN also is very different from anything in The Book of the New Sun. Although the basic concept for the Necropolis did, of course, come from TBOTNS. I'm not seeing much else of an comparison.

Plus, you're leaving out one of the most fascinating forms of interment in TBOTNS:

"Now we went among the heaps of tailings where there was no path. Here, in addition to much rubble, the miners had cast all they had brought forth from the buried past that might otherwise have defamed their village and occupation. Everything foul lay in tumbled heaps ten times and more the height of the baluchither's lofty back—obscene statues, canted and crumbling, and human bones to which strips of dry flesh and hanks of hair still clung. And with them ten thousand men and women; those who, in seeking a private resurrection, had rendered their corpses forever imperishable lay here like drunkards after their debauch, their crystal sarcophagi broken, their limbs relaxed in grotesque disarray, their clothing rotted or rotting, and their eyes blindly fixed upon the sky."

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