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Blog

New Website is Live! Plus: You can now pre-order Warden!

Calum Spring

If you can read this you've landed on our brand new website! It should be much faster, more stable, and allow us to edit and add new content more rapidly.

In conjunction with this today we're going live with pre-orders of the PC (Windows/Mac/Linux) version of Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth. If you pre-order via the Humble Widget you'll get a DRM-free copy of the game, as well as a Steam key, for all three PC platforms, as soon as the game releases.

You can find out more info about the game and pre-order either on the landing page of our website or on the Warden page.

Or pre-order right now below:

CK Status Report, November

Calum Spring

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Hey there! It's about time we update you all on what we've been up to over the last couple of months.

AIE Post-Incubator Development Grant

In June, after a multi-stage selection process and a lot of paperwork, we were fortunate enough to receive grant money from the Academy of Interactive Entertainment's Post-Incubator Development Grant program. In the months since this has enabled our team to dedicate even more time and energy to making games, with less stress and worry surrounding both personal and company financials. We'd like to thank the AIE for the opportunity and for selecting us. You can read more about it on Kotaku: http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/06/aie-launches-brand-new-games-development-grant/

Incorporation

Since we last blogged Cardboard Keep PTY LTD has been incorporated as a real company! We have a business number and everything. This is a big step to take and means both less legal hurdles in the future and hopefully a greater chance that we'll be around well into the future.

paxauswide
paxauswide

PAX Australia Post-mortem

At the end of October Cardboard Keep bunkered down in Melbourne for a week of conferences and expos, starting with the inaugural Unite Australia and GCAP 2014 developer conferences, and ending the week with PAX Australia. The response we got at PAX Aus was phenomenal. Well over 2,000 people played Warden across the three days, including many of Penny Arcade's staff and other industry heavyweights. Through this we also met new friends and took a sizable swing at our Greenlight campaign, speaking of which...

Warden Greenlit

If you haven't heard, Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth has successfully made it through Greenlight and is approved for sale on Steam! We'll be launching in 2015 on Steam among other platforms, stay tuned for more news on that front.

steamwide
steamwide

iFest Canberra

Just yesterday CK attended local indie games festival iFest here in the nation's capital, and not only did we get a great response to people playing Warden, but Warden was selected as the iFest Canberra 2014 Indie Games Showcase winner! I also gave a talk to iFest attendees titled "How To Start Making Games Right Now". It should be online in the next few weeks so if you're someone who wants to get into making games but doesn't know where to start, keep an eye out for that.

Friends of Cardboard Keep Shoutouts

Finally here's just a few of the things our friends in game development have been up to. Echidna Studios launched their hex strategy game Merchants & Mercenaries onto Greenlight along side PAX Aus. I'm personally really looking forward to this one, you can check out their Greenlight page and give them some love here: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/comments/330534057Whale Hammer Games have premiered a new trailer for their upcoming game Tahira: Echoes of the Astral Empire. The art and animations in Tahira are incredible, give it a watch here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Nq0LFoe6Ps

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That's it for now! Stay tuned for more announcements as Warden creeps closer and closer to release. Until next time, Calum

Warden is on Steam Greenlight!

Calum Spring

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After a year of development, Cardboard Keep's first big title, Warden: Melody of the Undergrowth, is live on Steam Greenlight. To skip to the chase, you can find our Greenlight page and vote on Warden here.

What is Greenlight?

Greenlight is the crowd-sourced approval process for getting games onto Steam, the largest digital distribution platform for games. Getting "Greenlit" means we can sell Warden through Steam!

How can I help?

The best thing you can do is click the big "Yes" button on our Greenlight page! You'll need a Steam account to vote, but creating one is free. The next best thing you can do is share the news and tell your friends!

That's it! Click here to find our Greenlight page and vote on Warden.

P.S. Cardboard Keep and Warden will be at PAX Australia in Melbourne next week, in the ANZ Indie Pavilion. Hope to see you there!

Dev Log: Texturing Levels in Warden

Timothy

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Hey folks,

GrassUnwrap

Lets delve into our method for creating and texturing the levels in our upcoming game, Warden. Every level in Warden is built using Blender 3D. The base mesh of a level is created as a single, contiguous piece, with smaller details added in-engine later.

Textures are created or re-used based upon what and where the level is, and many variations upon them are used for blending purposes. The entire level is then UV mapped inside Blender. We apply textures to the faces of the level and export the mesh as an FBX. Doing so will cause Unity to create materials for each texture and assuming the texture is identically named within the project, this will automatically assign the correct texture to the material.

We do not embed our textures inside the level FBXs that would blow out the size of the project and cause double-ups of the textures in the project, which is just bloat.

This texture is used to connect a mud floor to a brick floor. It is created by blending the two in photoshop.

When texturing in Blender the process is simple. Textures come in three types. Tiling (On both U and V), tiling only on U (Horizontally) and tiling only on V (Vertically). Often walls of the level will need to tile horizontally while the floors will need to tile in all directions. Only very thin and tall objects will only need to tile vertically.

Generally speaking we will block out segments of our level with UV seams to divide the textures into easily managed islands. After laying down the base textures we can add extra seams to apply transitional textures to blend between texture sets.

Tips and tricks: Texturing levels can be time consuming so ensuring solid mesh flow is key to not getting bogged down unwrapping. To avoid obvious seams you need to be careful about tiling textures and colours. Often large dark vertical shapes in the texture can be used to cover up a seam. making it much less obvious when playing the game.

This Cliff face connects grass to dirt and as such the unwrap is not pushed beyond the top and bottom of the texture.

Strengths of this technique:

  • Works well in unison with low-poly level geometry.
  • Easy to keep a consistent look and feel to areas.
  • Faster than tweaking unique textures for each level geometry.

Weaknesses of the technique:

  • Potentially uses a lot of textures (Texture atlases can help mitigate this).
  • Loses effectiveness with noisier textures (Takes much longer to make them line up right).

Happy texturing! Tim

Dev Log: Warden's Mecanim animations

Timothy

MecanimPost-CoverPage

Hey folks,Let's look at Unity 3D’s Mecanim animation system and how we have implemented it in Warden for our playable characters.

Every animation the character plays transitions from it’s “Default” state. Default is a series of nested blend trees to blend between Idle, Walk and Run animations, as well as directional movement such as sidestepping and leaning into a turn. Almost all the other states in the tree return to this point with a trigger called “Default”. From the Default state we branch in many directions for all the different kinds of movement and actions the player can do. For example jumping, crawling and attacking.

To keep the state machine tidy we organize states into key categories such as Damage, Jumping, and Default Tasks. The Jump state tree is quite simple. There are three animations, one for take off, one for falling and one for landing. When the player hits the jump key, we hit the “Jump trigger” to push the animation into the beginning of the jump. From here based on the “exit time” of the animation the character naturally reaches the apex of their jump and begins falling, while automatically transitioning into the fall animation. Finally, we detect if the character is grounded again and when they are the “Land trigger” is hit and the animation for landing is played.

We also have a catch all for when the player falls off ledges. This allows the character to transition into the falling state without jumping.

Jumping!
Jumping!

The attack tree was initially quite a simple and tame beast. After many attempts we solved the issue of having multiple weapons and styles with an integer to determine weapon type. Each attack can combo. We count where the player is up to in their attack combo to determine which attack animation should be played. Then we check what their current weapon’s “type” is using the aforementioned integer and play the relevant animation.

For example, the player has a sword. They press attack. From default the animation transitions into attack combo 01 which is a blend tree containing all of our weapon types first combo animation. The sword is weapon type 0 and thus the combo blend tree is set to “0” and that animation is played. If the player was using a spear, their weapon type would be 1 and a different animation would have played.

We found Mecanim's triggers to be a godsend. Initially, when we started work on Warden, triggers didn't exist yet and we had to do a lot of nonsense with bools to get it all to work. All of the Warden playable characters share the same animations, re-targeted across multiple rigs using Mecanim's humanoid re-target system. This is a real time saver as our animator Rob doesn't need to create unique animations for every single Warden we want in the game, allowing more time to be spent making the animations better.

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Hope this was insightful, if you have any questions about using Mecanim, comment below or drop us an e-mail! Peace out. Tim