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  • Joshua Wise

March Studio Update

Greetings! I hope you fared well in March. Especially those on the east coast of the US who have been enduring storm after storm for weeks.

With April upon us and the California poppies bathing Cali in a sea of orange, it shouldn't be too much longer before we dread the summer time heatwaves....Yes I know right now half the team is shaking their fists from under the snow they are shivering under.

March at Broken Hammer was quite busy as we finished loading Gwynevere's story into engine, then began our overhaul of the Neutral Arc's backend.

Gwynevere's story ended up finishing it's edit and load in at around 99,000 words. This is up from the prior draft of about 74,000.

How did we possibly extend her story by over 20,000 words?

Little things. Dialogue cleanup. Lots of edits and reworks of some scenes. Very similar to what happened to the Neutral Arc when it was first brought into the engine. You realize some things when you transfer it to engine and into a new media.

Besides that, Gwynevere's story was one of the first to be finished in draft format. As we fleshed out the rest of the lore, we found ourselves making changes that differed from the original script.

Imagine building Legos without instructions and, using different colored pieces. All you have is an image of the finished set to go by. Thus, issues can develop even if you have a design that looks like the picture. Edit passes go back and correct these issues. Often times sections of the story grow to enrich scenes or to fill in holes in the plot which were missed before.

Do all these passes result in large word count jumps? No. In fact Calle's Arc is one of the ones which has averaged the least growth in each pass. However, we'll see when it comes time to bring Calle's into engine.

Transitioning Gwyn's story was a long process since it not only combined this massive edit pass but, also implemented our new backend system to organize all the scripts. Something we had to figure out that was long overdue since we spent a chunk of last year on the crowdfunding campaign.

As the player, you won't really see the effects of our new system. While it helps us not only navigate sections of script faster, it serves to resolve some development issues we've had working with Tyrano.

Specifically...loading too many memory intensive images into engine at once.

Honestly, we really trimmed them down a bit. Georgy's original models were loading in at about 4MB each. With our large model sets and animations, we effectively found a way to crash Tyrano by just overloading it.

So with a script being loaded in large single chunks, it meant that, when the engine would load up, the scene would have to also load every single image. Even with trimmed images, eventually the engine would decide it didn't like it and crash out. Usually when we'd load into game to test features.

Our programmer found it to be an issue with how the developer engine manages memory. Simply put, it would be like filling a pool with a partially clogged overflow drain. Eventually it overflows and the engine itself quits.

This would generally not happen in compiled versions of Dust and Air, only in the development version. Tyrano's engine when compiled is much more stable. We've never been able to crash compiled versions.

For the Demo we could work around it. However, going forward with the rest of the NA and story arcs, we knew this couldn't remain.

The Tyrano devs recommended we break it all up into smaller segments. Effectively turning one overflowing pool into many pools where the water level would never overflow.

So as you can see on the right, we broke up a single day into many segments.

Not only does this help in quick location of story sections but, it resolves the issue of loading too much in at once.

Even when there is a larger chunk, it's not loading in much compared to what it used to load. This will in turn, speed up our development because we aren't having to back up progress all the time.

Oh and speaking of development, we're excited here about the recent 1.8 update to Tyrano. Which brings gallery systems.

In Visual Novels, when you want to go back and see a key image to a scene you like, you can do it there without loading the entire game. Dust and Air actually has had a gallery system in place in it's internal builds.

This was a feature that unfortunately didn't make it into our Alpha Demo.

The functionality was there however, we just didn't think it was in a presentable state.

This was something we discussed with the Tyrano people and we are glad to see this issue has been resolved.

Sometimes the patches take time but, the Tyrano devs are quite active with their community. We hope Dust and Air's release will be a big boost for them.

Lastly, before I ramble on into eternity, if you haven't caught them, check out our live streams with Faith. You don't have to watch it all, but feel free to stop in and say hi as she works hard to develop the decals for Guns of Icarus.

Apologies we haven't been able to schedule them ahead and give our community more notice. She's been working on her schedule and hopefully we'll get more of a set day and time for April and beyond.

As far as April goes, we look to be doing some big playtest and development meetings with the music team as we bring in some of the new music and test it in engine.

Conn's transition back to art production on the NA has been bearing some fantastic fruit. I wish I could share some previews but, the scene he's working on is a bit too much of a spoiler. So lets just say, when he revealed his most recent image during our March meeting, it really blew us all away.

That said, it's time to bring this to a close for this month.

Oh but one last thing! Sorry...

There's some great news from Muse on their end as Guns of Icarus is finally getting it's PS4 release. Very exciting news. Be sure to hop in game and check it out in May as there will be crossplay between platforms.

Alright, see you in the skies!

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