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Friday, January 24, 2014

The Road from Alpha to Full Beta

Wow, another month... Guess with the holidays and travel that was to be expected. In any case, things are back in full swing. Working on getting alpha cleaned up and ready for Steam Early Access (hoping to have that up in a couple weeks), and at the same time moving ahead with beta. I've received a lot of good feedback from testers and press. I've been fixing bugs, of course, but also putting as many little finishing touches into the game as possible without getting bogged down in the details. Wednesday I finally got real-time reflections working on the astronaut's helmet:



Of course, it looks even better in-game. Little things like this add up to a huge improvement in the overall visual feel. Lifeless Planet will never be a AAA game, but I'm doing the best in the short amount of time till release to make the visuals the best they can be.

I also added all-time SSAO to the game. This helps objects appear more grounded and connected by shading all the little nooks and crannies where objects meet. The best way to explain this is by showing it with this animated gif:


As you can see, it helps to make the astronaut connect with the ground a little better as the area around his feet are now shadowed. Without it, the player character and other objects seem to "float" in the world. Wikipedia tells me SSAO was first used in the Crysis games, so quite cool that I can get it working in the Unity engine. I'm constantly impressed by what Unity can do.

Dave