2 Week Countdown!

The results of the focus group testing are being analyzed, causing the team to shift their plan of attack to look at some of the nuances of game play.  More polish time is being spent on environment assets, huge improvements to NPC variety added, and of course, the fourth Drifter!  The team is picking up great speed and looks to be on target for their goal of July 6th...
The first glaring change in the game was the addition of Lenore, the fourth and final Drifter.  Once in game, the next large change was the huge increase in the variety of the NPC models.  Through two gameplay sessions it was difficult to see a duplicated combination of parts, thanks to the magic of the Voltron rig and the design team's creations.  Another addition to the gameplay was the drift radius highlight: when a player is near a driftable NPC, that NPC will have a faint blue glow on them...especially useful when you near a body that doesn't glow, giving it away that they inhabit a Drifter without having to switch to Drifter Vision.

After looking through the questionnaires from the focus group, listening to the Q&A tape, and starting to watch the player footage, a number of suggestions for improvement were brought to light.  One of the major things the test players found was that attacking was a bit slow with the extended animation times, and when killed, the time to respawn in a body was also a bit too long.  Also, when a player is killed while not in Drifter Vision, there's very little in the way of feedback to tell that has happened.  The team has brought these issues up to the designers, who have formed a task force to adjust these parts of the game and eliminate the confusion and lag.

Some polish details in progress include baking in the lighting within Maya rather than the 80-some lights placed in scene designer.  The artifacts are almost finished being re-rendered and placed in the museum, along with a few ambiance pieces such as benches and banners to add some color to the interior.  The exhibit audio which used to project in a sphere from the podium, will now project in a conical 3D shape instead, originating from the new speaker boxes on the new podiums.  The audio team is also working on adding a distortion filter to make the voice sound more speaker-like rather than the clear sound it has now.

All the models are being weight painted so the animations for their walks, tells, and environmental cues all flow more naturally.  The attack/fail animations are also being retouched to help with the feedback timing and transitions between animation.  While the Drifter models are complete, some slight detail work is being done to further push their individualism and iconic look, as well as the addition of particle effects unique to each Drifter.  The finalization of the environment with the lighting and exhibit/prop placements will allow the cinematic team to get that in and render out the entire cinematic movie for inclusion in the game.
The website has also gotten a bunch of new content, including a new introduction video with the 4 updated Drifters and gameplay footage, art pieces, and of course, a mirror of these blog entries.