.:Welcome to Below and Beneath Blog page:.

0030. Six Months After

So. It has been six months since we finished the game. It did pretty well on the Games Convention, but once that was done, the team evaporated fairly quickly.


Matthias is now an Engine Programmer at 10Tacle Mobile GmbH in Darmstadt.
Paulo joined Radon Labs, not in Berlin but in Halle. I hear he is quite happy to live finaly with his family.
Sven is currently finishing his portfolio for his applications.
Stefan indulged in the one thing he could not show at Games Academy: his highpoly modeling skills.
Matthäus - as far as I know - works now at Silentdreams in Düsseldorf.
Timon is at keengames in Frankfurt, which is exactly where he wanted to be.
Me - I got an intership at Metaphrenie, learned a lot, but will return to videogame development anytime soon.

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There have been problems with the engine-licence since January 2008: Users had to change their system-time to play "Below & Beneath". Matthias and Sven are currently working at that problem, and I hear it will be solved soon.

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When we prepared the game for the Games Convention we found that we did not know the last name of Maya.
Maya was the actress which lend her voice to Vespec.
I recently left her a message again, when we hear from her I will update her name in this Blog.

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Since this might never the less be the last (or at least my last) Blog-Entry for Below and Beneath, I would like to thank everybody in the team, everybody who helped us during its development, and everybody who liked to stay informed and read this blog.
Goodby, everyone!


 
Jochen Winkler - Monday, 10 March 2008 @ 12:50:08
0029. Feature Stop
Feature Stop

Hi, everybody!

Guess what - our game is finished!

No, just kidding. Really, we're working on it like we did before. But as of today we do not add any more features. Some game development companies call this a feature stop, hence the headline of this blog post. Now if one of our team members came up with a cool idea the game would benefit from, we would just leave it.

From a programming standpoint, there's no way new features make their way into "Below & Beneath" from now on. Instead Matthias and Paulo, our programmers, concentrate on polishing what we already have. And so do we artists. One thing we still can do is improve the environment. You know, our level.

That's where the scribble to the right comes in handy, picture 1. It shows my current project, the so-called Dead Mother. I just wondered whether we've ever told you about her. And I came to the conclusion that: no, we've not. The Dead Mother--or the Big Dead Mother as she was initially called--resides in our forum since September 2006. Jochen drew a sketch that showed her taking up a whole cave. You thorough readers of our blog recognize that we concentrated on other creatures to enrich our game. We built bipeds, quadrupeds; antagonists and a new protagonist. And, well... that's about it :)

Although we concentrated on other creatures we kept the Dead Mother sketch in mind. Now we've decided to get her into the game, too. Today is feature stop so she won't be a whole new moving enemy. And that's fine with me since she is designed to be a location. She's immobile; a mere skeleton. She takes up a cave. Get me right here: she - takes - up - a - whole - cave. Namely the one on picture 2.

Seeing her the player can guess how Nyctali were once born. In fact, similar to ants given birth by ant queens.

That's pretty much it for now and from me. The next weeks will bring you the last blog posts before this year's Games Convention; and before we finish school at the end of August. For now: See ya!

Have a nice week!

Sven

 
Sven - Wednesday, 18 July 2007 @ 09:21:23
0028. A new and improved map!
A new and improved map!

Well, its not exactly /new/ - but it sure is improved!
The whole thing basically took off as a level modeller from Piranha Bytes (the guys behind the Gothic series) checked out our level. His first impression were all the - in his words - unused polygons and the washed-out textures. He aimlessly started tugging and scaling on some polygons, and behold: the part of the level suddenly looked quite awesome indeed! After applying some test-textures, it was evident that this was the way to go. So I spent the next 2-3 days tugging and tweaking the entire world geometry and making new textures - but it was well worth it! Everyone who has seen the map thus far agreed that it is much much better in its current state :D

To add to our luck, another team dug up a texture-mix shader from one of the engine´s examples (thanks for hiding it in THERE). To put it simply, this allows us to blend textures smoothly - previously, if I wanted a smooth sand to rock transition, I had to slap in a 3rd texture with both sand and rock blended - now we can do it via a shader, which gives us a great deal more flexibility - we can now easily blend as much as five different textures into one another whitout effort!

The screenshot I attached is from the current state of the map, taken mere five minutes before writing this - so enjoy the view, not too long and you shall get to play with this cool evironment yourselves :)

 
Stefan - Tuesday, 10 July 2007 @ 12:47:49
0027.

Good evening, everybody
There is not much to tell, so I'm gonna amuse you with some moving picture.
The rig of our new main character is game-rig, i.e. not as complex as something you would find in film-animation. But never the less I was given the freedom to use more bones than last time, so I was able to pull some tricks that made my animator veeerrry happy.
Have a good day!

Jochen

 
Jochen Winkler - Wednesday, 27 June 2007 @ 20:05:44
0026. One of those days
One of those days

Well it’s my turn again...
I was travelling from Berlin to Halle and I thought during the whole time this small journey took, what should I write about.
Have you ever experienced that, I mean: “Have you ever thought about what you want to talk, or in this case, write, for so long, around 2 hours more or less – Thanks Deutsche Bahn!
I must confess it is pretty weird! Doesn’t matter what you come up with, after some time this idea you have is revolving in your head, it starts to suck. At least that was what happened to me.
Maybe that’s a sign... yeah, a sign that tells me I have nothing to talk about, that’s what it is: A SIGN!
But doesn’t matter how I feel about it, I need to write something, I have to give my monthly contribution to this blog.
Maybe it would be a cool idea to use a place holder, I mean, a kind of dummy text to fill out this space. You know where I'm going to right? Something like: I never spend much time in school but I taught ladies plenty. It's true I hire my body out for pay, hey hey. I've gotten burned over Cheryl Tiegs, blown up for Raquel Welch. But when I end up in the hay it's only hay, hey hey. I might jump an open drawbridge, or Tarzan from a vine. 'Cause I'm the unknown stuntman that makes Eastwood look so fine.
Well, I don’t know, chances are that nobody reads this text anyway, so I’ll try to leave it like this, who knows maybe today I'm as fortunate as Edward Louis Severson III at his time!

 
Paulo - Wednesday, 20 June 2007 @ 17:33:30
0025. Music and Deadlines

Hi Folks! Tuesday was a really great day for me. Matthias managed to implement my music into the game and now we can walk through our world with a whole new feeling and immersion. It’s just WONDERFULL to HEAR what this game LOOKS like… Everytime you enter a new room, the music changes and gives you an immediate idea of what to expect here – tension, danger, recreation or simply open-mouthed astonishment? Go where you want and give it a listen.

On the other side – I start feeling the pressure of the nearing deadline. There is still so much to do and so little time left… In the last couple of weeks, I never went home after class. Every day, I spend one, two or even more additional hours on our project to get it done in time. I’m always one of the last people to leave the classroom - and the other guys that stay longer – they play games instead of working on their projects. Company of Heroes and of course World of Warcraft… Every time I notice that I’m the only one still working, I calm down a bit and think: “You’ll make it! You are diligent!” But then I remember that many folks work at home to get their project done, and then I think: “There’s still so much to do… Work harder!”

So – in the end, I have sometimes problems to relax. And my Wii is the victim… I use it way to scarce. Can’t sit down for two hours doing nothing. That kind of bugs me.

Anyway – Working on Below and Beneath makes me happy. And as long as I can feel that, I’m motivated.

 
Timon - Friday, 15 June 2007 @ 16:13:38
0024. Animating like crazy

So I finaly got my first character to animate and already startet to animate like crazy.
There is not much time left till the deadline and I have to do all of the last semesters animating work again--in the few weeks left.
That's all, back to work!!!

 
Matt - Monday, 11 June 2007 @ 15:14:35
0023. Enemy at the Gates
Enemy at the Gates

Hi, fans!

Wednesday--two days ago--we had one of our milestones. Once a month during these milestones our work gets checked by our school. When on wednesday people came to have a look at our work we artists were ready for it. I mean of course we were ready.

However, in the end nobody checked our work. Next milestone the guys from the office should take a bit more time. They barely had a quiet moment with our programmers and their progress. Not to mention the assets from our art department.

That makes you the first ones to see the final four-legged Nyctalus. Feel free to have a look at him on the right side of this blog post. Besides, this post's title "Enemy at the Gates" actually has nothing to do with what I write today. Well, maybe you can count the four-legged Nyctalus as the player's enemy. At the gates. Or something. Whatever :)

I keep the post short and as simple as that. Look forward to our next weeks' issues. I'm quite sure we'll keep you informed about new challenges. The next one for me is... Nah, I won't spoil what I've been assigned.

Have a good day,

Sven

 
Sven - Friday, 01 June 2007 @ 00:51:47
0022. Combat System

Hi, it's me again. This time I will tell you a bit about our current work.

Paulo designed a state machine which we are going to use for things like our combat system, or the enemies AI. This is very handy because the implementation of the states are in a different place. So we could keep our character and enemy class small and tidy. But it's complicated to clean things up. There is a lot of planning we have to do before it all is at the right position. Well, but time is money... uhm i meant, we have no time!

Last time i wrote that Paulo was working on the pathfinding. He has finished his work and is now very busy to put brains into enemy's body. ;) My part is now the new combat system. As you can see in our last demo it worked not very well. That's why I am working on a new system.

There are three different attack modes. We have a normal attack, which can be used while Vespec is running or walking. The other styles can be activated, if you hold the left mouse button for at least 2 seconds. Vespec (our new main character) will stand still and give you the choise of two other attack styles. The counter attack which will stun enemies in an area in front of Vespec. The other attack let Vespec jump into the direction of a nearby enemy. It also stuns the enemy for a short period of time. Only, the effected area is smaller than the area of the counter attack.

I think that's enough until now. Maybe you can see the next time the full combat system in action. Keep an eye on our news!

 
Matthias - Wednesday, 23 May 2007 @ 22:52:50
0021. Map-Design goodness

Long time, no post from me. Blame my bad memory...
Anyways, I wasnt quite as lazy as it appears, and have been toiling away with more upgrading on our game level. After some meetings, we have finalized plans for an expansion to the world, increasing its size by a good 50 to 100 percent! The new area will be filled with tougher enemies for the player to defeat - or to run away from. Also, the whole Cave has been improved geometry-wise, its now much much smoother than it was before. On the other hand, a lot of work has gone into re-colouring almost every single light in the current Level, removing some of the too cartoony feel it had previously. Now - and everyone in the team agrees with me there - the level looks much better, the whole oversaturation is gone. Along with the new and improved geometry, the level looks a whole lot better.

It wouldve looked better still, werent it for engine problems that prevent us from using normalmaps. When they are enabled, the game truly looks awesome, but sadly we get a LOT of bad artifacts on the world geometry. The culprit seems to be the game engine, and I am still somewhat on the subject, trying to get Trinigy to look at the problem and maybe help us with it.
A screenshot will be included in the next issue of this post, when the work has progressed more. Until then, stay tuned for the posts of our other members, which are also working on exciting things!

 
Stefan - Sunday, 20 May 2007 @ 23:06:13