Since our last update, I have created at least three new playable scenes. They're all work in progress however, and we will continue work on them until the whole Act 1 is ready. Me and our environmental artist Dalton Costa have been busy churning out new assets and map pieces.
The biggest new area is going to be the water purification plant, which will consist of multiple different maps in the game. We're in the progress of building the first map of it now, and seeing how the assets will look in the engine.
I've also been updating the enemy AI code, its animations and attacks. There will be some specialist code needed for the boss enemies in the game, and that's what I'm going to tackle next. In Kalaban there was only a couple enemies with firearms, but in the sequel there will be more.
You don't want the enemies to feel robotic killing machines in the game, but instead make them fun and challenging foes. No matter how hard, there must be a strategy for beating them. This of course is a matter of gameplay balance, level design, enemy placement and the attack style of the enemies (fire rate, animations, etc).
It's a lot to take into consideration when you're not simply making a game full of mindless foes. Even the mindless foes must have strength in numbers, and special enemies among them to spice things up. For example, I have always enjoyed the Fallen minions in Diablo II, where there are shamans sprinkled among them. The shaman will resurrect fallen foes, until you take him out.
I haven't gotten into the special scripting part of the maps yet; secret areas, story triggers, traps - but I'm looking forward to it. I enjoy creating new fictional words, be it on paper, in text or in video games. During the last three years I've gotten pretty familiar with Unity, and there are a number of incremental steps which needed to be taken in order for a project like "Kalaban II" to be possible.
One of the biggest has been the rigging and animation of the human / humanoid characters. It used to be such a challenge for me, and when I made prerendered graphics in the past I had to use all kinds of workarounds to do simple animations. The finished sprites usually looked fine, but they took a number of hand-crafting and polish which just wasn't optimal in the long run.
One thing that you can be pretty comfortable with modern engines and tools is the fact that the visual fidelity will just be there. With the right lighting, tweaking of post-processing effects and just generally acceptable or above level assets you can create really impressive scenery.
People who on the internet are constantly fighting and bickering about "what's the best engine for 3D games and game development in general", but I think it's a matter of getting intimate with the tools that you're using. When you know the basic "do's and do not's" you can be pretty comfortable with content creation.
Of course there is room for improvement and optimization, but that's something you should really do constantly. We'll continue with our work, and hope that everybody's having a great weekend!
- Harri J.