Dev Blog 21

Brad Hill Dev Blog

Welcome to the March Dev Blog! In this update we’ve got some new (and long-awaited) gameplay footage. We’ve also got some updates on redesigning the Orion’s cockpit, our testing procedures, and more.

New Gameplay Video

It’s been a very long time since we released any new gameplay footage so this month we set aside some time to cut together some freshly recorded clips.  It’s a quick montage of combat showcasing the progress we’ve made over the past few months. We hope you like what you see!

We plan on releasing more gameplay in the future, including another uncut gameplay video to contrast the last one made way back in May 2015.

Cockpit Design

A major task this month was updating the Orion’s cockpit.  Everything from the layout to the content displayed on the screens has been overhauled to provide the immersive experience we want for the player. Given all these requirements, it’s been a task for both our Art and Engineering teams.

The layout has posed the challenge of  being both great to look at and completly functional.  We’ve had to take careful consideration of any change we make to ensure the layout makes sense from a practical point of view.  Things like the distance from the seat to all the controls, the size of the displays relative to the player’s field of view, and even the angle of the pilot’s arm rests all had to be considered.  After a lot of revisions we’ve moved on to the detailing and texturing phase.  Here are a few screenshots from the current prototype:

Orion cockpit model WIP for Project Orion
Orion cockpit model WIP for Project Orion
Orion cockpit model WIP for Project Orion

We are also working on redesigning the layout and content of the cockpit displays. We’ve settled on two primary displays flanking the 3D radar sphere along with two secondary displays along either side of the cockpit.

The two primary displays are designed to be visible at all times and provide important information for the pilot like ship health status, speed, shield strength, and more.  The secondary displays are not quite in the player’s field of view, and they will display non-critical information and generally exist to make the cockpit more immersive.

Art Update

Along with the work on the cockpit, we’ve got a brand new launch tunnel ready to go! You can see it in the updated gameplay as well as in some screenshots below.

The new launch tunnel for Project Orion
The new launch tunnel for Project Orion
The new launch tunnel for Project Orion

Other tasks the art team have been working on this month include a massive space elevator for one of our future missions, a new TDF fighter to replace the current placeholder ship, and some fixes and tweaks to the TDF frigate and Capital ship. We’re looking forward to showing these off in next month’s Dev Blog!

Voice Acting Progress

Working with voice acting in Project Orion is somewhat of a unique challenge. Larger development teams often have access to a recording studio either in house or by paying for session time. Given our small team size and relatively small budget we won’t have the luxury of recording with our actors in person. Rather than being in the studio directing recording sessions we’ve opted to outsource our voice talent to freelance actors.

All voice acted content in Project Orion will be recorded by individuals in their own personal environment, and sent to us for evaluation. This means in many cases actors will never hear the other side of a conversation their character is a part of, something that certainly makes the acting process more difficult.

There are of course challenges on the technical side as well. Because each actor has different equipment and a different recording space the end result of their work will not be consistent between the whole cast. When we receive recordings we need to treat each audio file to fit them into the same sonic space. Every character has to sound as if they are in the same environment in order for the voice acting to encourage immersion in the game rather than break the illusion. Whether it’s setting a different EQ for each actor, adding individual reverb levels, or applying filters to mimic the sound of radio communication there’s always plenty of processing work to be done. Despite these challenges we’re able to create something that really enhances the game experience for the player, and we think the end result will speak for itself.

QA Testing

One topic we haven’t discussed at all so far is the process of continually testing the game. In our QA department we’re hard at work making sure the “machine” is running smoothly. Project Orion has a lot of moving parts and changing something seemingly negligible can have a big impact on other important systems where problems are much more obvious. This is why we’re doing something called “regression testing”.

With each new build we test every feature to verify that all the systems are working properly, and that we haven’t introduced any new bugs with the most recent work done on the game. We do this weekly so we can act quickly and smother any new bugs that may have popped up. Project Orion continues to grow and get better, and we continue to test thoroughly so that it doesn’t fall apart on the way.

Wrap Up

That’s all for this month’s update; we’ll be back next month with more updates from the whole team as we press on. Project Orion is looking better and playing smoother every day. We look forward to bringing you more news and until then, thanks for reading!

-The Project Orion Team