CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


Barring any major bugs discovered this will be the version used for the full release.

Why do a Full Release?
CAT Interstellar was always intended to be about an hour long and tell a very short story about an unfortunate event on Mars. I think it meets the requirements of the original design document. Regardless, doing a Full Release has a number of benefits, one of them being my psyche, with the other two being that I can focus a lot more time on support issues like VR and Localization.

What’s Next?
I know a significant number of you see a lot more potential in this game but keep in mind, nothing is lost. We’ve built a number of systems, pipelines, and mechanics that will absolutely be used again (and should eventually be available to you through the project files).

This isn’t the end of the CAT Interstellar universe either. Earth is still a frozen wasteland with a population of just under a billion people. All of them starving for a new home. There are half a million androids in geostationary limbo with no place to call their own and no task to focus their, so called, sub-sentient minds. The contracting company, CAT Interstellar, has failed to terraform Mars and they are desperately looking opportunities to exploit. A massive communications array on the Moon that connects all outposts and habitats in the solar system is beginning to become self-aware. Androids 388 and 461 aren’t ready to abandon Android 42 if there’s a chance he’s still alive. All while the United Nations Common (UNC), Earth’s loosely agreed on government, is trying to ensure everything doesn’t come apart at the seams.

Anyways, back to the update...

What’s in the Update?
Gameplay Adjustments:
  • Set subtitles default to off
  • Adjusted the Cat characters fur to look a little better
  • Minor Layout adjustments to all the levels
  • Adjusted Android Trigger volumes
  • Changes to Signals Ending Sequence
  • Added “Planet:” to chapter start screen to make the locations more obvious
  • Added additional dialog to the Base level

Bug Fixes
  • Key Rebinding is back online!!!
  • Fixed numerous grammatical errors on android 42’s text box
  • Fixed bug where Laboratory door could trap the player
  • Adjusted Android 42's follow distance so he shouldn’t trap players anymore
  • Bug on the surface where players could get stuck near the greenhouse
VR
I've added a VR branch for alpha testing. Thank you for your patience with this. To gain access go to your Steam Library, Right-click CAT Interstellar and select Properties. Inside the properties window select the BETAS tab. You Should see a drop down with vr_alpha – VR Testing. Select this and the game should start to update on its own. Once the download is complete you’ll be able to play. The VR mechanics were rebuilt from scratch and any feedback on the controls or perspectives would be greatly appreciated.
I’ve started a new support thread HERE.

Project Files
The first iteration of the project files uploaded as free DLC. It includes the Meshes, Animations, Audio and Code(blueprints) for DOG-V. I’m releasing the files under the Creative Commons License Attribution 4.0 International. You’re free to strip what you need for your own projects but give credit in some form. I’ll update the project with new textures, audio, meshes, and shaders as I replace the ones in-game. The format of the project requires that you have Unreal Engine 4.17.1 installed. I DO take requests so if there's something in the game you want to know about don't hesitate to ask. I've started a thread specific to the project files here.HERE.

Employee of the Month
I also want to take this opportunity to recognize an Ionized Games employee who went above and beyond what was expected. Ziggy is a junior programmer who has been with us since the founding of Ionized Games. For his efforts in getting this game released he is being promoted to Senior Programmer effective immediately.



Lastly, Thank you
It's hard me to wrap my head around just how far this game has come but, one thing is for sure, I couldn't have done it without your support. I have written and re-written this statement over and over and still can't think of a way to express my gratitude to you. The best I can do is try to make more and more assets available to you to make your own games. Regardless, thank you again for everything.



Sincerely,
IG
Aug 11, 2017
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


TL;DR this is the full story of CAT Interstellar with the subtitle system re-vamped. This build is worth another play-through from beginning to end.

Content
  • Cave scene ending with all triggers and key events.
  • Signals full sequence of events.
  • Credits completed.
  • Added additional dialog sequences to “The Base” and “Credits”.
Adjustments
  • Added a second Android type.
  • Adjusted mechanics of the Cat character to make the movement a little smoother.
  • Speech Bubbles (Subtitles) are now enabled by default.
Bug fixes
  • Missing rocks allowed the player to get behind the wind tunnel.
  • Numerous subtitle fixes.
Known Issues:
  • “Signals” start screen cut off the last ‘L’.
  • Music at the end of “The Caves” is buggy.
  • Key rebinding is still down.
Project Files
    The only thing holding this up is the audio files. I’m trying to commission some audio effects for release under a creative commons license. Once that’s complete, I’ll push the first project version which primarily consists of all the code, animations, texture, and shaders for DOG.
To Do
  • Improve the 2D graphics for in-game consoles.
  • Re-record key dialog.
  • Add more ambient sounds, effects, and props.
  • I’ve moved the release date back (again) to September 8th. I kind of screwed myself by doing a sale the last 2 weeks. I’ll go into a lot more detail about the business side of things but first I need to read through the SteamWorks documentation again and verify all the information I’m allowed to release. Having information on the business side of game development will be as helpful as the project files.
Purpose
The goal of this project is to tell a science fiction story that can be completed in a single sitting.

I’m fully aware that if I was smarter I would be making mad cash with a multiplayer survivor game. I just personally don't have the free time anymore to level a character up or win an argument on the internet. That’s the audience I’ve been going after since day one. I’ve tried to make that as clear as possible on the store page but if you have any idea how to convey that better please let me know.


Maybe we'll try to get rich next time.

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Community
A few months ago we donated some of the game profit in the hopes of helping a few foster dogs and I thought it was a good time to give you an update:



Bojangles and Roxy both got adopted by great families and are F'ing loving life.
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Sis is still at Tails (The foster agency) but is gaining confidence everyday and making huge progress. She's made a lot of dog friends and is relatively comfortable with humans she knows.
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Slim Jim is in a foster home... but it's looking more like a forever home because they really love him.
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It's unfortunate you would find out about this from a crummy game announcement on Steam, but Foggy Nelson took a turn for the worse and passed away from some of the lingering issues he had when he was found.

I wish I only had good news for you but that's just not how it works. Regardless, even though we’re just an obscure indie game with a knack for delays we’re going to try to help in a much bigger way. I’ll have more details on this in the future.

As always, Thank you for all the support you given. We’re almost there.


Hot-Fix:
Subtitle error for android 42 and the missing 'L' in chapter 5 starting screen.
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


TL;DR
This update includes additional dialog, a remapped version of “The Surface”, numerous bug fixes, and Ansel support. This update probably doesn't warrant a fresh play-through if you've already been through once.

First off, I want to welcome the massive influx of players during the Steam Summer sale. Thank you for giving this little game a shot and hopefully you stick around for the ending. Your feedback is truly appreciated and encouraged. I’ll try to maintain a weekly update until our launch date.

Surface
The surface level has been remapped to be a little more efficient in its layout. The mine is now on the far side (since it is the final destination) and the entire map has been opened up. I was also able to cut out huge segments of the map that were rarely visited (like behind the base). This should drastically reduce the load time for the largest level in the game.

I’ve also added guide poles to help make it a little more intuitive as to where to go. Please try not to run into them since the androids spent a lot of time installing them.

Additional Content
  • Added dialog to the “Main-Menu” level as well to “The Base” level.
  • Reworked the “Main-Menu” with layout and an additional audio cue to make it more intuitive.
  • Added an additional conversation to The Base as well as numerous environmental ambiences to add a little more life to the level.
Bugs
  • Fixed the issue with players not being awarded the “chapter 0 “ achievement (Sorry).
  • Fixed a bug causing the locker door to freeze up and not allow the player or the android through. This effectively blocked the “Chazz” achievement (Thanks LigH).
  • Fixed numerous collision issues making DOG’s engines freak out.
  • Adjusted numerous graphical errors such as over clipping decals and overly reflective volumes (Thanks XBL Laberbacke).
  • Lastly, I finally tracked down one of the most elusive bugs that occasionally made it difficult to “drop” objects. This one was unique because it was so hard to reliably reproduce. The ultimate cause of the bug was how DOG’s gravlift ray traces to objects. If the ray trace is beyond a certain distance (10-meters) it will disappear. This inadvertently nulled out the “drop” command if you were holding an object AND your line of sight was beyond the 10-meter threshold.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2mvmHwCxw5A

Known Issues
  • Key rebinding. This bug is caused by how the action manager is passed around. I have a very good idea how to fix it but didn’t have time before this update.
  • A few of the subtitles got jacked. I plan on streamlining the subtitle system to go in line with audio dialog instead of a bunch of beeps and boops. I’m sorry I’ve made you suffer for this long.

Ansel Support
We’ve supported Ansel for a while now but just recently got whitelisted by Nvidia so it should work for everyone (with and Nvidia card). Pressing Alt+F2 in game will bring up the Ansel HUD and let you get some amazing screenshots. This system is very simple and straight forward but still gives you a lot of control.

Future Updates
You’ll notice that the cave collapse scene is cut a little bit shorter. This scene is about 90% complete but I don’t want to add it in until I have fixed all the nitpick timing issues.

The dialog for Signals is also almost completely recorded and edited. There are a few additional animations and events that need to be added to pull the whole thing together but we are making very good progress on it.

The next set of updates should be focused almost exclusively on content.

P.S.
Thank you again for all the support, feedback, and troubleshooting. I could not have done this without you.
Jun 25, 2017
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


DOG-VI
Introducing DOG-VI, the final update to the main character. DOG has been through a number of iterations from the original game jam submission, to the first public build, to a version that was actually textured :), and finally the current style...

Epic Game Jam Submission


First Public build


DOG-V - Textured


DOG-VI Final Version


Animation Improvement
There were a lot of limitations to the animations the previous version of DOG could use because of the simple bone structure. Some of the new features include height adjustments for the engines to give better feedback from the terrain you’re on.


The clipping problem was also solved similarly by adjusting the engines horizontally.

There’s an assortment of improvements but, in general, the character should feel a lot more responsive to controls and reactive to the environment.


Release Date Delay
If you haven’t noticed, the release date has been pushed back from May 26th to August 11th. The main reason for this is to fix some of the aspects of the game that still bug me. Here's an idea of what need to be done:

Bridge collapse – The logic behind the original version was this:
  • Spam particle effects (burn up the GPU)
  • Enable physics collisions on each part of the bridge (burn up the CPU)
  • Spam radial impulses to kick all the pieces around (make sure they're fried)
Obviously, it was a mess. The new version (still a work in progress) makes much better use of the particle system as well as more optimized objects like destructible meshes and physics hinges.

There are also some map placement issues. These aren't game breaking but they lead to a lot of confusion about where to go. The Base level has already been remapped and should be a little more intuitive. The Surface level will also get remapped.

Lastly, there's some key audio segments that will really help try the story together. I know there's a lot of androids now... but we need even more!!! Why are you in space, then a cave, then back on Earth?!?


VR
Part of the reason for the redesign of DOG was to create a sort of "platform" for a VR character. The perspective will be a ~enclosed 3rd-person, like you are in a mech. I've gotten very positive results from the Android character and the DOG character but I'm still working on the cat character. I hope to at least have a fully playable prototype available for testing by the release date.

Project files
We live in a totally different type of game development world than we did even 5 years ago. There's a much more mutually beneficial relationship between developers and users. If you’ve been following this game, it’s pretty obvious I've gotten a lot of help from the community and I want to try to repay some of that with more than just free keys. I’m going to start releasing the project files used in CAT Interstellar. I'll start with the DOG character (skeletal mesh, animations, and code).

DOG isn’t animated like most video game characters. Instead of multiple frames making up an animation over a set amount of time, DOG uses single frame animations and linear interpolations between them during runtime. This allows for DOG to react to her environment much more realistically. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information in animating a character this way so hopefully these files will help.

I’m currently putting it an easy to read UE4 project file and should have it up as DLC in the next week. I'll keep the DLC updated as I add more boring things like shaders and loading screens.


TL;DR
Updated DOG model and fixed map layouts. This update probably doesn't warrant a fresh play-through if you've already been through once.
Apr 26, 2017
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


This update deals exclusively with optimizations to the game. The three principal areas of optimization are draw calls, Texture memory, and dynamic lighting improvements.

The benchmark goal I have kept with this game is a minimum of 30fps at 1080p on a gtx 750. With this latest patch I’ve been getting 60fps for most of the game.

CPU Optimizations:
One of the CPU bottlenecks I found was the number of draw calls for static meshes and their materials. To address this I “merged” certain mesh groups together. In the image I've combined 6 static meshes into 1 (the yellow circles are the bounds of the object):



  • This will also help with artifacts caused by turning corners quickly.

Memory
I down-sampled a lot of textures from 4k to 2k. I did this individually for each texture to make sure there weren’t any noticeable changes to the environments. Here’s an example:


  • If you can’t tell a difference between the 2K textures and the 4k textures it means I did it right. It’s also important to note that, unlike purges in the past that cleaned up unused textures and models, this was specifically targeted towards textures used in-game. Because of this, I’ve shaved off ~1.3 Gigs to the game size and cut load times by ~50% on the benchmarking system.

https://youtu.be/QEzhxP-pdos


GPU Optimizations:
This is a lot less amazing and mainly concerns adjusting the configuration files inside Unreal Engine 4 to match the environments of CAT Interstellar. For instance, I placed every light in this game and I know for a fact that there are only five instances where more than three dynamic lights overlap. All of those instances are because of a light in an adjacent room that is blocked anyway. There is no situation where 4 dynamic lights need/should be rendered so I’ve removed the option. Similarly, I made adjusts with Particles Effects, Screen Space Reflections, Anti-Aliasing, etc...

The Cost of Progress
I hate to call this a downside but I’m not sure how you all are going to take this:
  • The graphic menu has been simplified to 3 categories with 2 options each: “Fast” or “Detail”.


Being a lifelong PC gamer/modder I completely understand why removing options from the player is generally frowned on but I feel like this one is at least partially justified. I’m honestly curious what you think though.

P.s.
These adjustments can all be changed in the console and I’ll never take that away from you.

TL;DR
  • Faster load times
  • Higher frames per second
  • Less menu options
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


The main purpose of this build is to get feedback on the new cat mechanics. I’ve purposefully left out the fate of DOG and Android 42 as well as the ending of Signals because I need to keep some suspense for the final release.

Update/Fixes
  • The Signals level has been significantly expanded. There’s some story centric pieces missing (Like dialog) but the general layout is in place.
  • The controls for the cat character have been completely rebuilt from scratch. They aren’t perfect but they’re ready for testing.
  • Community voice acting added for Androids 520, 220, 32, 34, 128, and 481
  • Camera sway on the main-main level is fixed. The menu is now a lot easier to interact with.
  • Audio adjustment throughout the whole game.
  • Added location and altitude to chapter overlay to help with the story.
Development
The game is getting very close to completion and I wanted to give you an idea of what work remains to be done (excluding bugs and adjustments to the cat mechanics):
  • The fate of DOG and Android 42
  • Menu Redesign
  • Detail meshes added to Signals
  • Dialog added to Signals
  • Ending of Signals
  • Optimizations (always)
  • I should also have some VR footage very soon but I’ll post that in the VR thread when it is ready.
Community
The Community Screenshot challenge winner is Monterico Gaming TV with this gem:

I’ve added an achievement and viewing platform to this location. The achievement can be unlocked by starting all the generators and then going to the viewing platform. All other participants will receive a free key so look for a friend invite!!!

Support

At this point there are two main things you can do to help and support the game:

  • 1. Record a play-through
You don’t have to do some crazy editing or have a 1000 followers for me to watch it. I scourer YouTube ~once a week to watch play-throughs and they are probably the most helpful form of feedback besides the occasional 2-page forum post. It truly does help to watch players navigate the game. I can adjust the map layouts if I notice people getting confused in a particular spot or add additional direction indicators. If you’re new to this community I promise you, I read and watch every video, forum post, review and I genuinely try to respond.

  • 2. Review the game
This does NOT mean a positive review. Just to give you an idea of the dynamics, a negative review that is helpful can prevent more negative reviews by giving people something to agree with instead of forcing them to write their own negative review (The opposite is true as well). The enemy here is reviews that simply say "mah, good" or "meh, bad". Don’t worry about doing any “damage” to the score. We’re in a weird place at a 68% (mixed). It would take dozens of positive reviews to bring us up to 70% (Mostly positive) and over a hundred to drag us down into the 40% (bad) territory. I only mention this because I don’t want to try to sway your opinion either way. My main goal here is to dilute Unhelpful reviews, both positive and negative. Waiting until the actual release is also a good reason to hold off for now... you might not like how it ends.

It’s totally cool either way, I’m already really proud that the game has gotten this far.


As always thank you for the support and please enjoy Universe, one of the best science fiction stories ever written.

CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


VR Plugins Disabled
Unfortunately in the last update I left the Oculus libraries and SteamVR API plugins enabled. I've been doing a lot of work with VR lately and forgot to disable them. Most users wouldn't have noticed but if you had Oculus Home or SteamVR installed it was most likely causing a headache so I wanted to patch it as quickly as possible.

Community Screenshot Challenge
This is also a good time to have an impromptu community event. I've been trying to update the store front's media (Trailers, screenshots, banners, etc...) and I thought it would be interesting to have a competition to try and get some unique screenshots.

Awards:
Best screenshot gets an in-game achievement.
Top 5 screenshots will receive a free activation key.

Lol, I realize you already own the game if you're taking screenshots but it's one of the few things I have to offer.

Rules:
No post processing added
No Photoshop
No taking screenshots of superior games and posting them here. I don't care how good Witcher 3 looks.

When you think you have a good one, post it to the community screenshots and comment here (preferably with a link). If you want to use a past screenshot that is fine too.

If you have an Nvidia card you'll have a leg up on the competition with Ansel. If you're using AMD there is similar spectator system you can use in-game by pressing 'O'. It's still a work in progress so you will have to use the console command "restart" to exit the mode.

I will NOT use your screenshot on the store page unless you give me permission (I count your comment here as permission). I'll decide the winners in the next update (~1 week). The updates are going to start coming a lot faster from now on.

As the player base you also reserve the right to rise up and declare your own winners but we'll deal with that when it happens :)
CAT Interstellar - IonizedGames


Update Notes:
  • Voice Acting - You now how the option to switch between voice acting and subtitles at the main menu. Thank you to all the community members who submitted voice acting for the game. If you don’t see your submission in the game yet I’m still processing the audio files and it will be in the next update.

  • Destructible meshes - The rock animations for opening up new cave sections was awful. They’ve all been replaced with destructible meshes that your grav lift can blast through. Really interested in feedback on how to make this even better.

  • Music - Rebuilt the music system to be more dynamic in terms of what song plays when. Should help a lot with ambience.

  • DOG’s Light - I’ve doubled its effective distance, thanks to optimizations in other areas, and added an IES profile to make it look a little better.

  • Rock collisions on The Surface are fixed. That’s right, everyone one of them is literally perfect. The collision for those meshes are now based on individual triangles. No matter how much the rock has been scaled up you should be able to climb in every nook and cranny without a problem.

  • Loading screen - Not very exciting but worth mentioning.

  • Ansel screen capture added (More on this at the bottom).

  • Dozens of smaller fixes, Dog’s HUD corrected, DOG’s sensor ability now tied into the flashlight, adjustments to level indicators, timing on speeches, audio volumes, trigger box adjustments, Android interactions, Surface lighting sharpness, landing particles, rock textures, push physics, flashlight added to player android, etc...

If you haven’t been keeping up with the beta branch the game is definitely worth another play-through from the beginning.

Achievements:
Achievements have been added!!! There is an achievement for each level but I also added a number of additional ones based on unique areas in the game to encourage exploration. There are also a few pertaining to easter eggs. I plan on adding a lot more so if you have any requests I’d love to hear them.

On this note I also plan on adding stats. This isn’t really the traditional type of game that stats would matter but right now I’m dependent of forum posts and playthroughs on YouTube to figure out where I messed up. So in the next update not only will your government and every social media site be collecting information on you, but I will too.

Environments:



Almost every environment has been revamped. From very slight changes, like the direction of the SkyLift (Thanks LigH), to massive expansions in The Caves. The Base has some optical illusions that should help convey its size and The Mine needed a little more atmosphere and light work.

Story:
I had to tweak the story a little to reconcile an issue I’ve had since the beginning. If your sensor detects bacteria or “life” it should light up for every single instance of bacteria on the walls of the cave. This turned out to be essentially impossible to do because of the number of draw calls. I think the new “mission” fits a little better but as always I’d love your feedback on it.

To-Do:
  • Cut scene at the end of The Caves (what happens to DOG and Android 42).

  • Signals - Control Mechanics. I’ve been watching all the playthroughs on YouTube and it’s painfully apparent I messed up the control mechanics here. When the cat jumps it gets an additional force based on the direction you’re looking. Looking up gives the cat the highest jump while looking horizontal gives the cat its furthest jump. I thought that by adding the crates at the beginning it would force the player to learn this but it didn’t work the way I thought it would. That is the main road block in finishing Signals.

  • 3D Menu - This will rid the game of everything 2D. I should have something to show in the next week but, beyond fulfilling a lifelong dream of a 3D menu, this is essentially the last piece needed to implement VR.

  • Optimizations (always) - You probably don’t hear this much from Early Access titles but I’ve tried to be good about optimizations from the very beginning. I’ve made few changes to how some of the dynamic lights work so you should see improvements in frame rates throughout the entire game as well as the notorious frame drops inside the elevators. I’d still like to do one more purge of the system and combine/replace as many textures as I can. This won’t make as big of a difference as past purges but each one counts.

Ansel
Ansel screen capture allows you to take all kinds of screenshots (Super Resolution, Add Post Processing, and 360 Capture). It will eventually replace the spectator option but for now it is just experimental. I’m in the process of getting white-listed by Nvidia but until then you’ll need to go through a few extra steps to get it working. For more information go HERE. There hasn't been any negative reports in the beta but I have not personally tested this with and AMD card so if there is a problem just report it in the forums and I'll push a quick-fix.

VR
First off, thank you for your patience with this. There are two things I’ve been struggling with when implementing VR: How to handle the menu and implementing motion controllers.

The menu is going to be a high priority over the next couple of weeks. I honestly have no good excuse for hesitating on it this long. Similar to the subtitles, there are some obscure limitations inside UE4 when interacting with a 2D UI in 3D space and the idea of building a system from scratch seemed enormous. Those days are over and I’m very confident this new menu system will work.

The gameplay was another issue. Originally the game supported only Oculus with a gamepad because that’s literally all I had to develop with. Playing with motion controllers totally changed how I viewed VR and I really wanted to integrate that into the game but didn’t know how. The plan moving forward will be to stick with the original control scheme: sitting/standing VR with movement controlled by the keyboard or gamepad with one possible exception I’d really like your input on:

I want to change the last level for VR users from controlling a cat to controlling an android with the motion controllers. This would make an interesting dynamic in the community because VR users and normal users would have to share their experience to get the complete story. The VR DLC will be free so you can always go play Signals in 2D. This way you aren’t being denied content or being penalized for using VR and we have some wiggle room to design the last level specifically for VR users. At least that’s how I view it but I’d really like to know what you think. This could totally be an awful idea.

Community
Sorry, but we ran out of animals to DNA test for the community events. Instead, I contacted a shelter I worked for and we, the community, are sponsoring 5 dogs. For those of you who haven’t worked in a shelter, it is extremely difficult to get older dogs adopted (anything past puppy status is an older dog). To try to help with with that we’re paying the vet fees and adoption fees for some of the dogs that haven’t had much luck. For now I’ll just tell you their names, ages, and breeds:


BoJangles - 4 y/o Male Shepard Mix


Sis - 3 y/o Female Pitbull/Shepard Mix


Foggy Nelson - 4 y/o Male Terrier Mix


Slim Jim - 2 y/o Male Rat Terrier


Roxy - 2 y/o Female Doberman Mix

This will obviously be a recurring theme whenever I get updates. I’ll keep the community informed on their status and we should have some videos of them coming soon.

As always,
Thanks again for everything,
ːionizedgamesː


Update 2.0.3 - 11 March 2017
Fixed a collision issue preventing the player from enabling subtitles at the start.
Fixed a bug with Android 42 not continuing through mine when using subtitles as well as interacting with drones (Thanks LigH).

Added 3D Menu!!! It isn't perfect but I thought it was better to get feedback on this as quick as possible. Please let me know if you run into any bugs or annoyances with this.

I realize this .gif sucks but it gives you the idea.


I'm going to try to start pushing updates every week.
To-Do
- Signals Details.
- Menu redesign
- Android 42's navigation around destructible meshes.
- Scaling first person camera movement (VR).
- Adding Community Voice Acting
Community Announcements - IonizedGames
Don’t be deceived by the title this is more of me trying to get your opinion than an update. I was hoping to get this out yesterday but Colorado has had some pretty crazy winds the last couple days (100+mph) and the internet has been in and out. I’ll go over the update notes, Community, and then a little bit about development. I’d love to get your input on any of it.

Update Notes:
  • Android 42’s textbox problem has been resolved using a priority type system. Thanks for all the community help on this. It’s also ready for voice acting to be added back in (see community section).

  • Linux brightness bug has been fixed by adjusting the auto-exposure. If you still encounter problems try setting the post processing quality to 0 in the menu.

  • Screen resolution can now be set above 100% to 120%.

  • ‘E’ has been removed as a default menu button.

  • Debug Viewmodes have be enabled in the dev tab. This will help troubleshoot frame drops.

  • Fur material added to Cat character.

  • Box mission on the surface only has 1 box. This was never meant to be a time sink. Finding one box gets the message across about what your sensor can do.

  • Improved level transitions and adjusted DOG’s speed per level.

  • Android 42’s dialog has been slightly extended.

  • Signals is now available to play test. Mainly to test the optimization and control mechanics.

  • Android 42 now has IK foot placement so we’re now officially competing with Uncharted 4 for game of the year.
Community - Voice Acting Anyone?
All the dialog has been written and I’m ready to start adding the voice acting back in. I originally planned to do all the Android voice acting but a few people have offered their voices to make the Androids a little more unique. If anyone else is interested in helping out I’ve created a document with all the different dialogs here.

You can comment on the document with which Android you want to voice. You can also comment on changes to the dialog if you think something better would fit. It doesn’t matter as long as the core message doesn’t change. Also, feel free to add your own personality to them.

The only rules:
Allow a few seconds of silence before and after you talk so I can get a noise profile.
DON’T do any editing yourself. Don’t normalize it, don’t add effects to it, and don’t try to take the background noise out of it.

The only way this crazy experiment could possibly work is if I edit all the audio the same way. If you do want to help out please send your dialog in a .wav format to contact@ionizedgames.com

It doesn’t matter if you send it all as one file or if it’s stereo/mono. I can handle all that on my end. You can also send me multiple versions of a dialog or do multiple Androids if you want. The only android you can’t do is 42. Sorry.

The format of the google doc is:
*Android’s #*
*Statement 1*
*Statement 1*

*Statement 2*

Any time there is a line it indicates a new dialog box. A good way to get an idea of the spacing is by watching the first two androids talk.

Payment:
I cannot pay you money. Sorry, this is about as “indie” an operation as it gets. What I can do is give you keys, give you credit, and promote whatever you want (as long as it isn’t offensive (whatever that means (now we’re real deep in parenthesis))). The “credits” in this game will be an interactive level you can walk around. The reason for this is 2D scrolling text sucks and a lot of the credit of this game goes towards assets that were purchased on the Unreal Marketplace and I want to give the creators proper credit for that (run on sentence).

Here’s an example of what Luo’s cave section will look like. You obviously do not have to give me any information you don’t want to and I won’t post anything you don’t specifically give me permission to. If you don’t feel comfortable posting any information I could always just use a nickname a picture of one of your pets. It’s totally up to you.



Development
I can’t say whether I’m developing good or not but I hope that I’ve at least been honest and open about issues and progress. I’m trying to give you as much of an incomplete story as I can without ruining it at the end. It might seem weird now but I promise the Androids, the caves, the cat will all come together in the end. I know development is taking a lot longer than expected so thank you for sticking with me.

Just to give you some idea of where we are:
The layout of the cave is about 90% and you have access to the whole thing. All that remains as far as static environment is just touchups and detail meshes on the last cavern. The last major thing that’s needed is what I’ll call for now an “event”. The complexity of that event is about the same as the opening sequence but you can’t see it until it’s done. It’s taking longer than I thought because I’m trying to get some destructible meshes for Houdini (sigh...).

You now have access to Signals to test to movement mechanics of the cat and how well the level is optimized and lit. Signals is about 60% complete. What’s remains to be done is audio dialog (you won't interact with the characters like you do as DOG).

I’ll keep posting a major update ~once a month but I’ll post to the beta about everyweek. You can access the beta by right clicking CAT Interstellar in your steam library >> Properties >> BETAS tab >> Select beta1 in the drop down. I’ve removed the password so anyone can access it.

VR
I have mixed feeling about VR. Part of me wants to stick to the original plan of the VR origin being DOG (first person) and using a gamepad or mouse/keyboard for movement. The other part of me thinks we can do better. I’m not sure which will win out but I’d love to know what control types you like.

One of the things I’m concerned about in VR is the time it takes to beat the game. Personally I usually get burned out and a little nauseous after ~30 minutes. I know this is just my own experience so I’m really curious what it is like for the rest of you. Have any of you played Allumette or Obduction? What did you think?

P.S.
This might be a little cheesy but would you have a problem with cursing in this game? This isn’t supposed to be a kids game but it also isn’t some gory mess. Maybe it’s because I just discovered Rick and Morty but if a cave is literally collapsing around you it’s likely you would at least mumble “damnit” to yourself. This is just something I came across while writing the dialog and I’m interested in what you think.

Thanks again for everything,
ːionizedgamesː
Nov 30, 2016
Community Announcements - IonizedGames
First
As Always, thank you for all your support through this project. I’ll give the details about the current update, an update on development, and another community key give away.

Update 1.9

Full Linux support*
*until proven otherwise.

I’ve traced down every build error and shader issue. The game currently runs as well on Linux as it does on Windows.

All Linux testing was done on:
Ubuntu 16.10
Using Nvidia proprietary driver 367.57
Intel Core i5-3570k
With a Nvidia 750 gtx

If you are a linux user and you have the free time please go Here and let me know your system specs and whether the game is running properly.

Graphics/VFX:

Volumetric lighting



Vertex Painting



Particle effects for walking/running






Gameplay:
  • Camera rotation lag added – This will make movement even more fluid and provide a buffer when running into objects.
  • Elevator Transition worked on – It now actually raises or lowers based on where you’re heading.
  • Android 42 will follow you through all cave levels - Android 42’s navigation seems to be working good but if you find a problem please let me know.
  • Android 42 got a flashlight.

Menu:
  • Added Dev tools tab to options menu to help troubleshoot future bugs.
Level Design:
  • Re-worked the surface to make it more intuitive and encourage exploration.
  • Filled in dead zones with events and more environments. I’m deliberately not being specific about this.
  • Decals in the base make directions easier.
  • Placement of generators in the Mine level are placed “less arbitrarily” with more support around them.
Story:
  • I rewrote most of the dialog to make the story much easier to follow. You’re going down into un-explored caves with Android 42 to see if you find anything weird. All the back/side story is still inherently in the game but, it isn’t crammed into the core dialog sequences.
  • The Mine level has been flushed out with Android 42 walking you through to the generators.
  • Android 42 has been added to the Caves and there is even a testing area for his navigation.
Bug fixes:
  • Music not looping on Surface level.
  • Fixed the fullscreen bug.
  • Screen settings will stick from the intro level to DOG.
  • Assorted holes in the map

Development:
“Signals” is still not done. I’m hoping to at least open it up to the beta branch for testing by next week. I sincerely apologize for this taking so long. Lack of content is, without a doubt, the #1 complaint. I’ll give you more details on why exactly it’s taking so long when I release it to the beta branch.

I have also tried to stick to a bi-weekly update scheme without much luck. The situation that arose this time was Linux. Why release a build when you could fix a few shader issues and release to Linux at the same time? Now that Linux works it's two weeks later and you need you need another week of double time to stay on schedule. It's an organizational problem I'm trying to get better at.

I've already gotten feedback on a beta build I pushed last night so I'll aim to release a hot-fix of some minor issues by Friday of next week. I'm going to try to stick to bi-weekly updates until release. When's release? I think the best guesstimation for a release date is a month after "Signals" is released. The game really isn't that long. Space, Base, Surface, Caves, Earth, Space, Done.

Community:
Originally, I was going to do another “find the cat” giveaway since I moved her to a more appropriate place but it’s a little too obvious. Instead, I’m going to try to get your ideas on how to handle a problem with Android 42’s text boxes.

In order to get this update out I did what any good programmer would do and brute forced a solution. You can find all the details about it HERE.

To get a key go there, leave a comment, solution, inspiring quote, whatever you want.

YOU DO NOT HAVE TO KNOW HOW TO PROGRAM. The problem is a logical one. There’s literally dozens of ways to solve it I just thought it would be interesting to see what you all came up with.

Once we decide on a solution I’ll give everyone a key (Once Chazz shows up with the solution).
Once again, The post is HERE.

Also, let me know what you think of these community things. I don't know if they're cheesy or not. Do you want more?


TLDR;
Signals is not done but the game is worth another play through.


Edit:
Almost forgot about VR!!! The awesome people at Epic games sent me Vive and a Rift to develop on. I have to spend this month focusing on content but holy cow the Vive is incredible. I can't wait to get it working with CAT Interstellar. I'm racking my brain on how to implement the motion controllers. If you have any ideas or examples of games that did it right I'd love to hear about it.
...

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