Update #23: Without Further Ado…

We are very proud to provide the first gameplay video of Wasteland 2, which will allow our backers to see how far we’ve come and how everything is coming together. The usual way of doing things in this industry would see us create a demo specifically for displaying to the press or at game shows, but we’re very glad to have been allowed the freedom to create a demo video from an actually playable area, which ensures there’s no wasted code. This is a straight video capture of Development Director Chris Keenan playing the game. The only element that is not running in code is the sound effects, as it was faster to do in post, but as you will hear, there is nothing being done audio wise that isn’t easily replicated in engine. In fact, we plan to have many more sound effects in the final game than what is heard here.

Wasteland 2 – Early Gameplay Footage (*updated)

This represents not just the strong synergy of the inXile team but the effects of your continued input via the forums. The game has continued to improve thanks to this communication, and Wasteland 2 will be better for it. The benefits have ranged from changes to the combat mechanics to finalizing the name of our attribute system.

It also represents the success of working with Unity and the asset creation experiment we did to increase the variety and density of the world look. We were pleasantly surprised at the talent that submitted art content, and we look forward to continuing to work with them.

I’d also like to thank the military personnel who joined our Yammer group to help us develop the slang and communicate more real world experiences for us to draw on. We love to learn little things like how much they hate it when movies say “Over and out!”… There is no “out” after “over” dammit!

This first level you will see is one of the first areas you will encounter in the game. The agricultural center was also a part of Wasteland 1. It was an area that Chris Avellone had some affinity for and he did the design for the level. Also thanks goes out to Nathan Long, who provided this area’s clever writing. We had a chance to show Chris the level last week, and when we commented that it was coming together he said “not coming together … it has COME together.”

Our objective was to show off some of the HUD and how both the combat and skill systems work. There are many elements not represented here but to name a few:

  • Minimal particle effects
  • Minimal sound
  • Mini-map not working
  • Inventory, logbook and other character screens not shown
  • Not all skills (in and out of combat) being represented
  • No world map movement
  • It needs more messaging in the UI
  • And not a comprehensive list of all the combat variables

Sorry if we’re over communicating, but it’s just a reminder: we’re just past the halfway mark, so don’t expect to see everything that you can expect from the final game just quite yet.

You will get to listen to the latest track from Mark Morgan (at the bottom of this update) that sets the haunting and often desolate tone of the Wasteland. And you will hear our first pass at the radio broadcasting which plays a vital role in communication, reactivity and mood setting. There will be a host of cults who are broadcasting their propaganda while other calls will be the locals who seek the help of our rangers. We have many interesting ideas on how to use the radio in novel ways.

Our vision for this game remains intact and you will see a number of examples that illustrate this. The customization can be seen in the examples of bringing in your own portraits and by the ability to set the user interface in a style that works for you.

You wanted a party and turn based RPG with tactical combat, and we are delivering that. The demo helps to show off action points, use of cover, enemy view cones, distance/height/enemy size/enemy speed affecting the chance to hit, ammo configurations, attributes changing the characters strengths and role, simultaneous party firing and more. And we are not done adding elements to make sure you are fully engaged in an interesting combat system. There is still plenty of time for you to comment on the combat system and to help us hone it in. Our goal is to build a very deep combat system, with the potential to dive in and fine-tune your damage-output and tactics, while not absolutely requiring that level of micro-management from all players.

If you played Wasteland 1, you will enjoy the many callbacks to the original, but at the same time there is no need of that knowledge. While certainly not a comedy you will get a healthy dose of the humor that gave Wasteland its charm.

Once again we thank you all for backing our vision…Image-210117-fullImage-210118-full

The Update Before The Update

Update #22

The team at inXile is filled with nervous energy to show off what we’ve been working on. As we’re now in full production, we’ve been making some great strides with the game’s systems. There is still quite a ways to go, but we’re near the point where we can show you all a bit of what you pledged to make a reality.

Within a month, you can expect a new update which will show a few minutes of actual gameplay. The video will follow a slice of the Agricultural Center, which was designed by Mr. Chris Avellone. You’ll see a team of four Rangers running around in the world, some early working HUD elements, a few combat encounters, a taste of dialog, and the ranger team using some of their skills. We’ve been working on each of these systems separately and this is the first time we’ve put them all together to get a small sample of the gameplay experience. It’s beginning to look like a real game!

Keep in mind that this is an early build and is intended as a progress report, not as a demonstration of final gameplay. As always, we want to hear your feedback! It has been a cornerstone of our development up to this point and we beg that you keep it coming as it will only result in a better game for everyone. We follow all channels available to us so let us know with a comment below or on Facebook, Twitter, our blogforums, or by simply shouting very loudly.

We hope you’ll see the potential.

If you’d like to get periodic details of the development process, you can also follow me on Twitter @RangerKeenan. Thanks and we look forward to hearing your responses!

 

Chris Keenan – Producer

It’s about time!

It has been some time since I have posted a blog here and I apologize for the delay. I need to do a better job of communicating my thoughts and ideas as that is a part of the process I know people are interested in. I have been very focused on getting the first pass at all the writing complete by October. The thing that is most critical in creating a deep and re-playable experience is for us to have plenty of iteration time on the game. There is simply no substitute for allowing plenty of time for us to play the game over and over thus allowing us to hone in on the things that people are going try in the world. A wonderfully written script is not valuable if it is delivered too far into the development process. This game is going to be much deeper than most people realize and I will go out on a limb to say it is nearly impossible for two people to have the same experience playing through the game as there are so many nuanced decisions. The caliber of writing is very impressive and for those who wanted an M rated experience… you will be more than satisfied. We don’t pull any punches on the subject matters of a dark post apocalyptic world. My attitude is that if you going into a genre that has expectations then GO THERE.. all the way. It is for the same reasons I tend to love all the great shows and writing that I find on Showtime and HBO and find myself turned off by the material on network television. I don’t like to see pandering to a mass audience for my TV shows and I certainly won’t allow this game to soften up a rough world.

In addition to the benefits of creating better cause and effect it is also key in helping us understand what the asset list we are going to need. The map designs tell us everything about props, backgrounds, sound effects etc. Of course we are making progress on many fronts and I am especially excited at the ideas we are toying with in presenting the world map. So we will be working on a Kickstarter update in the next week that hits a variety of subjects including a write up by our technical director for those who want to dive deeper into our production thoughts.

Thanks again for all your fantastic support!

Brian Fargo

inXile and J!NX to create clothing and accessories line based on Wasteland 2

Today we are announcing an exclusive clothing and accessories line with the premier name in gaming and geek clothing. J!NX creates the clothing for the biggest franchises in the industry such as World of Warcraft, Minecraft, League of Legends and Portal 2.

We are excited to be in such great company with the other games that J!NX represents and for the quality product they produce. Wasteland 2 has a distinct visual look that lends itself perfectly to apparel.

“As a long-time fan of Wasteland, and a day 1 backer on the Wasteland 2 Kickstarter, I couldn’t be more psyched to be working together with a legendary designer like Brian Fargo and his crew at InXile,” said Sean Gailey, Co-founder and CCO of J!NX.

-Brian Fargo

inXile Chooses Unity for Wasteland 2

We recently announced the choice of Unity as the game engine for Wasteland 2 development.  Many of our supporters are curious about why we chose Unity over multiple other options, and whether Unity is able to meet the requirements of the project.  In this post I will talk about the factors leading to our decision and how Unity addresses the needs of Wasteland 2.

Background

Before diving into specifics I’d like to take a step back and talk about inXile’s approach to game development.  We are decidedly not a technology development company.  We are a game development company.  We pursue game ideas first and then decide what technology to use to best realize our ambitions for the game design and our business goals.  Consequently we have used several different game engines and multiple third party tools and solutions over the past decade.*  There is inevitably some engine-level work that we do to tune the engine for the particular game we are making, but we try to make initial choices that minimize that risk factor.

From a lead programmer perspective, my goal is always to enable the designers to most directly implement their vision by providing tools that keep me out of their way.   That requires analyzing the game design up front, and with budget and time in mind, deciding what technology I should license and what I should write.  I want to license enough and develop enough that the designers have all the tools they need, but without wasting money on overkill solutions, whether licensed or developed.

Wasteland 2

So along comes Wasteland 2 and we began the familiar yet always unique process of identifying the requirements so we can evaluate game engines and tools that will get the job done most efficiently.  The original Wasteland was party-based and turn-based with a top-down POV that relied heavily on text-based story and drama achieved through deep connections and consequences between story and character.

For Wasteland 2, with the help of our Wasteland fans we decided to keep the focus on story and character, retaining the party-based and turn-based mechanics.  The top down POV would remain as well but we would go with a full 3D render to bring it into the modern graphics era.   During our Kickstarter we also promised to deliver on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms, and to provide support for the modding community.

With those broad strokes on requirements, we began evaluating engines and tools.

The Influx of Support

It’s been a great pleasure to feel all the support from fans of the game during Kickstarter, and that has continued during our engine and tools evaluation.  Multiple vendors who also supported the Kickstarter came forth with their products, not just to hawk their wares, but to offer genuine encouragement and generous offers of custom support.  Among them were prominent engine vendors as well as specialized tool vendors, and of course Obsidian.  We necessarily must decline some generous offers as we let the game requirements drive us to single solutions in each category, but we do so with great appreciation for the genuine good will expressed in the offers.

There was a broad enough offering just from the vendors that came to us that we prioritized our evaluations to these products first, hoping to find our solution amongst the ones making generous offers and hence help devote more resources to the game.

Development Requirements

Besides the items mentioned above, high on our list of requirements for an engine was ease of use by the artists and level designers for getting assets into the game and editing levels.   We are a small team and must be able to work very efficiently.   This became a first-pass filter when evaluating engines.  Also very important was ease of development for the promised target platforms.   Following a close third was amount of support from the vendor and general availability of expertise for crowd-sourcing, contracting or hiring.  Putting it all together we came up with a list of engine requirements that looked like this:

  1. Ease of use by artists and designers
  2. Targets Windows, Mac and Linux
  3. Support and expertise available from vendor and in community
  4. Adaptability for player modding
  5. 3D rendering, pathing, AI, phyics, character animation tools

The 3D rendering and other game systems at the bottom of the list are very important as we plan to make a great looking game with physics and effects.  But these things, at the level we need them, are commonly provided by full-fledged engines, so they end up lower on the list in terms of differentiating factors.

Given the top down POV and camera height required to show a party of characters and enemies, it would be overkill to spend too much of our resources on detailed character models and all the cutting-edge rendering and animation techniques associated with that level of detail.

If we plan well, then we can put just the right amount of resources into modeling and animation so that it looks great from our camera POV without wasting effort on detail that will never be seen.  Then we can spend more time working on other enhancing effects that will be noticed from or POV, such as physics for ragdolls and flying debris, and the fire, smoke and particle effects for the gunfire and explosions that cause those ragdolls and flying debris (hopefully of for your enemies and not your party of rangers).

Unity

Unity Technologies, with their Unity 3 game engine, was among the vendors that came to us with congratulations, goodwill and offers of support.   Their engine stood out as an early front-runner on point 1 of our requirements.  The artists loved its support for the native formats of the art tools we already use (3DS Max and Photoshop).   I also like its built-in version control for assets and code.

At first it seemed to be missing a leg on point 2 (support for Linux platform), but I knew that we could get source code and therefore could provide the Linux port ourselves.  Given that the engine is designed and structured to support multiple platforms, I felt it would not be insurmountable to port it to Linux (or actually hire some outstanding external contractors we’ve used before to do the job).  After talking to Unity about this, we found they’ve already been working on a Linux port, so Unity is supplying inXile the linux port alpha source code.  InXile will work with Unity in order to port Wasteland 2 to linux.

Where Unity really bowled us over was on point 3.  Besides generous support available from Unity staff, the Unity Asset Store is a treasure trove of assets (3D models and code) provided by the large and growing community of Unity users.  A recent Unity newsletter announced that the Asset Store customer base has topped 100,000, and the catalog has reached over 3,000 packages!   We’ve been able to find all kinds of useful 3D assets and code in the Asset Store ranging in price from cheap to free!  Having an organized marketplace like the Asset Store for finding assets and expertise fits right in with our desire to leverage and give back to the community.   While we cannot share engine source code changes, we can share script code and components, as well as graphical assets as part of our modding support.

On the Modding front, we always figured we would have to provide custom tools to users, so we didn’t rank modding support high on our list of engine requirements.  We’ve also had generous offers from the Wasteland community of coders to help with developing those tools.  And yet I think the fact that Unity provides their basic engine/editor for free is a big plus as a starting point for providing the tools necessary for supporting modding of Wasteland 2.  And there again, I think the Asset Store will facilitate ongoing collaboration with the community on modding tools that can be offered in the store for free.

Finally, from looking at Unity demos, other games developed with Unity, and conducting our own art and coding tests, we are convinced that Unity delivers on the game system that we need to build Wasteland 2 in style.  This includes advanced 3D rendering, pathing, physics (PhysX), multiple options for scripting language, advanced 3D level editor that is customizable with scripted components, and much more.

Summary

In summary, Unity hits the sweet spot for us defined by the specific requirements of the Wasteland 2 game design, deployment plan, and the unique circumstances of the development effort which includes community involvement on an ongoing basis.

It has been my experience over decades of game development that no engine or tool is ever perfect for the game you want to build.  Any engine or tool will have points of weaker comparison to other options, but you have to evaluate how the whole offering matches up with your resources and skills to make a good choice for the project at hand.  Unity is an excellent choice that will allow us to deliver the great game we’ve promised in Wasteland 2.

Best Regards,

John Alvarado
Director of Technology
inXile enterainment

*Technology inXile has used:  Snowblind Engine, RadTools, UE3 Engine, Gamebryo Engine, RKEngine, and various smaller third-party tools for game sub systems such as, path-finding, physics, character animation and lip-synching, etc.

Update #15 – Welcome to our New Home

You found us!  Please bookmark this page for future reference.  Since we have some backers who supported us through Kickstarter and others through PayPal, we’ve decided to use this space for all new updates related to Wasteland 2.  We will still send out reminders through Kickstarter when we post important updates, but check back often for development information and to give your fan feedback.

Now that we’re funded, you’re probably wondering what happens for the next 18 months.  We’ve been hard at work preparing our core design principles vision document.  This document contains a solid overview of the important elements from which we will be crafting the detailed game design document.  Before we started on the vision document, we spent a lot of time on our forums reading what elements you feel are important and what systems and features you’re not too fond of.  The vision document will be available on our Wasteland portal in the next few weeks.

We already have an amazing community on our forums, and we know that it’s going to get better and better as we get further along in the game.  If you haven’t done so already, head there and let us know what’s important to you.  We’ve seen some wonderful suggestions that have already improved the vision of the game!

We are still working with some backers on account reconciliation through Amazon, and we will have a final list of all backers and reward tiers tomorrow.  Very soon we will prepare the questionnaires that correspond to your reward tier.  Here you will be able to give us all relevant information on your shirt size, NPC characters name, what package you want or any other applicable bits relating to the reward you selected.   Any information relating to in-game rewards (i.e. Statues, weapon names, shrines) we will use when setting our production specifications, so please try to send it back relatively soon.  We’ll set a deadline on it, but you’ll have a few weeks to reply.

Once we have that information back, we will also set up a backer database on our site.  You will be able to login with the user information you presented to Kickstarter or PayPal and can manage your reward tier here.  If you move in the future, just stop by and update your address.  If you’d prefer to be contacted at a different email, modify that in our database.  If you accidentally selected the wrong reward, you will have the opportunity to change it.  If you wanted a higher tier, but didn’t have the funds to secure it during the campaign, you will be able to upgrade your tier in a backer-only store.  We are not changing any of the tier limits, so sold out tiers are unavailable as upgrades.

Thank you for using the backer database as it will help things run smoother during the coming months of development, and we look forward to hearing your feedback on our vision document!