It's been a few weeks of intensive work and I wanted to give you all an update on progress being made.
First off - we intended to have the village level playable by today. However as we were building the level we noticed that in order to build a less linear and more open level design we needed strengthen an aspect of Unknightly that has been lacking - we needed an overarching story to help guide players through the levels and give them a sense of purpose.
It is for this reason that we have decided to include a story and objective system as part of the 1.0 (full) release. As a result we will be delaying the expected release date by a few weeks.
As for the current state of development - the core narrative has been written and the objective system has been mostly development. Effort is currently being invested in baking the story into the existing levels. As a result we have put in some work into expanding the existing levels to adapt them to the story requirements which has made some levels noticeably less linear!
Beta testers can expect a invite to play-test and provide feedback on the story and objectives system shortly.
Hopefully you will appreciate these additions, even though they come at the cost of a slight delay in schedule.
I am very happy to finally be able to share some great development progress with you all.
As stated recently, work is being done to reach Unknightly's full release (v1.0). the v1.0 road-map has multiple major features defined as goals (for more info check out the previous announcement here). Major Update (#6) represents a significant step in that direction.
Guards to Interact with Doors
Guards currently bump into doors causing them to slam open. This didn't look great but since existing Dungeon levels have very few doors it simply wasn't worth the huge development cost of implementing a proper AI interactions system.
The Village level has buildings filled with multiple rooms and thus the level has many doors. A new system needed to be put in place to handle AI door open / close interactions.
Thanks to this guard door interactions look a lot better but more importantly if you do not observe your surroundings carefully you might get caught off guard by a guard walking into the room!
PS: Existing Dungeon levels have been updated to use with with the new door interactions as well. :)
Left Handed Support
Many left handed players have had an awkward time using controls since they were originally built with right-handed players in mind.
Fully integrated with tutorial and in-game menu book.
Support for HMD Oriented Movement
Support for this movement mode has been discussed with players multiple times.
After giving it some thought and play-testing it we feel it's a viable option for players who have grown accustomed to HMD oriented movement from other games.
Official Windows MR Support
Unknightly now officially supports all Windows MR headsets.
The game has been fully play-tested with the Acer's version of the WMR platform.
WMR has been fully integrated into the tutorial and in-game menu book.
Changed Noise Generated from Walking
Walking noise is no longer affected by if player is crouching or not. Only movement speed matters.
Reduced noise generated from walking.
As a result of these changes players will no longer be required to physically crouch in order to move around silently but rather only crouch to hide between objects to avoid being detected.
Redesigned Light & Noise Indicators The previous indicators felt like (and in fact were) placeholders which looked very crude and overly bright. We've replaced those with a much cleaner and elegant design. Check it out in-game.
Simplified In-Game Menu Interactions We received multiple complaints about players having a hard time turning pages or figuring out they had to pick up the quill-pen to interact with the in-game menu. We still insist we do not want any menus inside Unknightly and so we tried to simplify some existing interactions like having to drag a page to turn it (a page will now automatically turn when you grab it) etc.
Improvements to Bow Handling We've received multiple complaints on the use of the bow & arrow being uncomfortable so we've gone back any re-played a few classic games who are hailed for having great bow & arrow systems. One of these games was Valve's "The Lab" to see what learning we could bring into Unknightly. We quickly came to the conclusion that the reason people grow to like the bow and arrow mechanics in these games is primarily because after firing a good number of arrows our mind picks up the game's physics and calculates the offset required to hit a target. With Unknightly you only fire a very small number of arrows and thus the learning curve is very slow. In fact, after firing many arrows in Unknightly we found out the system is more precise than many of the other games out there. Yet we were able to include multiple changes improve the bow handling experience. Hopefully you grow to like it :)
Minor UI design improvements
Tutorial Tips Dark Mode Text: Dark mode text fits in much better with the atmosphere of the game and is easier on the eyes.
In-Game Menu sliders and button colors re-arranged on some pages to be more compact.
Button Hold-to-Press times changed for Save Game, Load Last Save and Pause Game.
Miscellaneous Bug Fixes Fixed or worker around multiple bugs including crashes caused by "ObserVR" plugin, players spawning off limits, etc.
It's worth noting that a significant chunk of the development time has been devoted to rebuilding some of the AI systems (especially AI navigation). While these efforts do little in terms of affecting game-play the are mandatory in order to properly support multiple story buildings which are very common in the upcoming Village level. These navigation improvements have also solved various game-play issues where AI would disappear into walls etc.
I want to take this opportunity to thank you all for your huge support of Unknightly and I hope to delight you with more content very soon.
Special Thanks to some of our beloved community member for helping play-test this update, giving feedback, discovering bugs and making great improvement suggestions - most notably: Major_Troubles, Hoshi82, Jaknet and Caldor <3
We're all set up so that the next major update can finally include the Village level! <3
My name is Jake (AKA PortalStudios) and I'm the developer of Unknightly. A few months ago (February) this year I've went through a few very significantly... changes… in my personal life.
I don't wish to sound overly dramatic, but suffice to say I had hardly turned on my computer for a few months now (let alone visit Steam).
Recently things have been looking up and among a few other things I’ve made the decision to see this project (Unknightly) through to the end and deliver on the commitments I made to my supporters and player base.
A few months ago I, together with a few very dear members of the community, had great discussions about future plans and dreams for Unknightly - some of these will have to be postponed for the time being.
As for now, I’m aiming for a 1.0 release and exiting early access by September 30th having delivered:
(Possibly add a special movement-mode for motion sickness sensitive players).
Delivering on these commitments and closing a 1.0 release is my number on priority. As for the day after the 1.0 release, I will be looking into:
Further supporting Unknightly with incremental updates.
Porting Unknightly to addition VR platforms.
Opening Unknightly for modding by the community.
One final thought for this post:
After being a dev that’s active on a daily basis responding to every PM, review and discussion within hours or days for over a year since launch, dropping dead-silent for a few months can only look like a sudden abandonment so I cannot not blame anyone for drawing conclusions.
The last thing any creator wants is to abandon their creation, having invested so much love, sweat and tears into its development, releasing and continuous support for almost two years straight.
Over the coming few days I will be catching up with reviews, discussions and PMs, and gradually resume activity as normal.
I can only add that I am very happy to be able to resume work on Unknightly and seeing it through as it's a project that is near and dear to my heart as I'm sure it is to some of you as well.
Hopefully with its 1.0 release Unknightly can continue to rank as one of the best stealth experiences VR has to offer.
While we are hard at work on getting out the upcoming "Village" update (we know many of you are eager to jump into <3), we did manage to dedicate some time to release this minor update for you all.
This minor patch includes: > Significant bug fixes > Multiple "quality of life" improvements > Several minor features requested and discussed on the forums.
Special thanks goes to some of our most influential community members Major Troubles, Caldor and Jaknet. as well as members who've opened bug reports and made suggestions addressed in this patch, including Thetrakynia, Sir Positive, Absolute Glad Lad, Galatoni, Korou50, Hoshi82 and others.
Alright, I'll do my best to keep it short and to the point:
Added Press-to-Crouch Option aimed at people who have difficulty with physically crouching. This option is disabled by default and can be enabled through the in-game menu.
Press to Snap Turn is now supported as an alternative to swiping.
Game Intro Screen Sometimes Stutters - We have located and treated the source causing the outrageous performance issue.
Switch to Newer Version of Plugin to Avoid Crashes - A few players were reporting frequent crashes caused by one of the plugins we are using. Updating the plugin to the newer version seems to have solved the issue.
AI Keeps Staring at Player After Light Sensor Value Returns to 0.
Guards Not Casting Shadow - This was a bug since we did intend guards to be casting shadows from nearby light sources.
Quality of Life Improvements
Improve Bow Handling & Aiming so controllers do not slam into HMD. Also improved the bow's alignment / aim .
Disable Grabbing of Bow & Arrows While in Air since it was interfering too much while climbing & falling.
Snap Player to Last Location and Rotation on Unpause and Ignore Noise caused by movement when returning from pause.
Improved Bow Haptic Feedback and Sounds to only play when string is moved + play haptic on both hands
Remove Snap-Turn "Swoosh" Sound which was getting annoying.
Change Color of a few Menu Buttons such as "Quit Game" and a few others to have a brighter color since they looked as if they were disabled.
Re-Tune Hero Movement Speeds - Hero movement speed has been reduced slightly to better fit the pace of game-play we are aiming for.
Reduce Hero Noise when Falling Short Distances so when crouching you can safely step off a box, barrel or table and not have to worry about alerting guards. Do not try jumping off while standing though, that will most likely get you in trouble :)
Limit "Bunny Hopping" which some players used to blaze through maps, which of course is undesired.
Cap In-Game Super Sampling to x1.5 - With all the dynamic lights and shadows in game we cannot recommend SS of x2 as the game has a few scenes where even high-range graphics cards would see a performance hit. Players who do wish to cross the x1.5 recommended max can still do so using SteamVR settings.
Removed Chinese Localization - After localizing the game to Chinese and promoting it in China for a few months we come to the unfortunate conclusion that the sales we were achieving in the Chinese did not make it sensible to continue supporting Chinese localization in terms of translating and development costs.
So hopefully these improvements serve both new and long-standing players in making their overall game-play experience better. We wanted to deliver them early rather than bundle them with the upcoming major patch which will take a little longer to release.
As always, looking forward to your constructive feedback and please do let us know on the forums if you happen to encounter any bugs/issues or would like to make suggestions.
Thank you all for being such an integral part of Unknightly's development process! <3
And for those who've scrolled all the way down here - here's a little treat :)
Let's quickly some of the significant features included in this update:
Major Features :
Bow & Arrow
We've always been very inspired by the old "Thief" games. Ever since we launched this game we've wanted to add a bow and arrow as a main utility for the player to manipulate the world - and now we've finally done it ! With this update we've made available to the player 3 different arrow types:
Lethal Arrow - Assassinate guards from a range. These arrows will not penetrate heavy armor and so as with the dagger player will be required to aim for a guard's head or neck.
Noise Arrow - On impact creates a noise for several seconds distracting guards and luring them towards it.
Water Arrow - An arrow that will allow the player to change the lighting conditions in the environment.
Ability to Manipulate All Lights and Snuff out Candles !
Numerous times have people been asking for the ability to snuff out candles. We've replied that the challenge with achieving this goal is performance related. Without diving too deep into the technicalities of the matter we've made use of multiple optimizations techniques and are now able to support multiple "dynamic" lights in a scene (meaning they can be turned on / off). As a result we've made all lights in the game either completely or partially extinguishable depending on the type of light (candles can be completely snuffed out while braziers can be dimmed for a period of time).
Manual Save & Load System
Allow the player to save and load the game at any time they wish from their Journal (in game menu). The player now has 3 slots which they can save to or load from at any time they require. This means you can now save just before you attempt something bold and restart at that very last location if things do not work out as you planned. No more checkpoints !
Loot has been requested since the early days and is finally starting to make its way into the game. With this update we've introduced loot as part of every level as well as hints (in the form of notes) lying around hinting at the location of that loot. Players who manage to collect all loot in a level will be awarded with a special achievement for their success. In future updates we will be taking a look at expanding what a player can do with the loot they collect (ideas suggested include : trophy wall, sell for gold etc.)
Minor Features :
Performance Optimization ! This update has pushed us to invest a lot of time and effort into optimizing the game's performance in order to support all the features we were striving to add. This resulted in the game's overall performance improving quite significantly leading to a much smoother and more pleasant game-play experience.
Tutorial Way Point Markers Added a way point marker on screen to assist the new players with figuring out their next destination.
Official Support for Chinese (Simplified) We've translated every piece of text available in the game to Chinese (Simplified) using the help of a professional translator.
Guards Now Wear a Variety of Helmets ! Every guard in game can now be assassinated, should the player wish to do so. Every Helmet has its own weak spot.
Journal (In Game Menu) Interaction Hide hands when interacting with the journal (so they do not obscure the text)
Hope you all like this update - we're really excited for your thoughts and feedback !
As always withing a few days we will be posting a thread where we can discuss together the plans for the upcoming major update !
We know it's been a long wait but we've finally released Unknightly's 4th Major Update!
Before we continue we would like to take a moment to apologize to our community for having this update take so long to release. The main reason for the delay was that we've run into some significant technical issues while upgrading our game engine as well as with the implementation of some new plugins (Google Resonance, and more as described below). Technicalities aside, we feel confident to say we can now continue developing and releasing updates at the pace you guys have come to expect and appreciate from us. It is our intention to release a significant major or minor update every few weeks as well as get to the creation of new levels in the very near future. Thank you guys so much for your patience and support, it's not taken for granted.
That aside, let's dive into some of the features included in this latest update.
Major Features :
In Game Menu !
We're finally introducing a proper menu system into the game - and dare I say we're quite proud of it. From day one we knew we did not want the standard menu screens and laser pointers you can find in so many VR games. We generally try to put a lot of though and effort behind designing game elements which will blend naturally into the game play experience and keep our players immersed and engaged at all times. So our answer to this problem was to let the players carry a small journal that attaches to their belt. The player can then pickup this journal, open it, use their free hand to turn pages and use the attached quill pen to change their settings. You need to experience it to see what it's all about - we feel it's pretty awesome, hopefully you guys do so as well :) Also inside the menu inside the menu we've included some new features. Here's some of the more significant ones:
Rotation Settings Snap & Smooth turn, both with their respective sensitivity settings.
Level Management Restart from Checkpoint, Reset Level, Exit to Main Menu and alike.
Graphics & Audio Settings Super sampling, brightness, background music & ambient sounds volume are now all configurable though the menu - so feel free to can customize them to your liking.
Difficulty Settings !
The game now supports two difficulty settings: Normal & Hard ! Hard is what was available so far, while Normal is a new and more "casual" difficulty setting meant to be played by the average VR player. Make no mistake - Normal is not going to be a walk in the park at all and most players will definitely find it quite challenging and fun. We put in a lot of though and effort into making the Normal difficulty strike a good balance of being both challenging and casual at the same time. This was done mostly by making the AI more forgiving to minor mistakes made by the player - but go too far and you' probably won't get away with it. It's worth pointing out that we did not go down the easy route with a simple x0.5 factor or anything like that but instead we choose to more manually craft and intervene where we felt was appropriate. PS: Normal is the default setting, so experience players should remember to turn it up to Hard if they feel like they want the classic hard core experience.
Dramatically improved 3D Audio Precision! *
Sound is a critical component of any game. This is especially through for a VR stealth game where proper sound spatialization and directivity supply the player with a lot of information just from hearing, on top of the huge benefit in terms of immersion. It's for these reasons we've decided to invested significant effort in taking a major step forward in terms of the game's audio quality. Anyone launching the game will undoubtedly notice a significant and very welcome improvement from previous versions. Having said that, there's so much more benefit left to extract from the audio technology we've implemented - we've only just scratched the surface and will continue to iterate on this front in upcoming updates. Here's a link to the technology behind what we've been using to implement realistic 3D audio into the game: https://developers.google.com/resonance-audio/
Note: Achievement were not added to this update even though they were initially planned to, due to the simple fact that we were unsatisfied with how they turned out at this stage of the game. Simply put - we've decided to post-pone this feature a little longer and revisit it once we've added loot and perhaps also stealth score as metrics of a player's performance.
Many minor features have made it into this update. We'll try to name a few important ones:
Player's Movement Speed Now Affects Visibility Previously the player's movement speed was not accounted for while calculating his visibility (yellow indicator). Now that visibility accounts for this factor, a player's movement speed can both work with or against him! By standing still or moving very slowly the player is reducing how visible he is to guards, so if he happen to find yourself in a pickle with no dark corners to hide in, he should try to crouch and remain as still a you can to hopefully escape detection. Remember it also works the other way around - sprinting though a dimly lit area is now very likely to get you detected.
AI Suspicion from Touch Builds Up Instead of Instant Detection Anyone who got instantly detected by a guard while trying to pick-pocket their keys knows what I'm talking about :) Thankfully this now no longer happens As the player you have much more slack when bumping into guards or picking their pockets. When you frisk a guard he slowly builds up suspicion. Though if you are not quick and careful enough you will still get detected.
Significantly Increased Stamina Stamina was added as a resource a while ago and we're received a lot of request to increase the amount of stamina the player had to work with. That's exactly what we did by giving the player more than double that of the existing stamina amount.
Item Noise Predictability Picking up and throwing items to distract guards is an important mechanic in game. Unfortunately item noise sometimes behaved quite unpredictably. We've finally managed to fix it so that items are now much more functional and pleasant to use.
Save Player's Last Checkpoint On Game Restart Previously restarting the game or level would wipe the player's checkpoint data forcing them to start that level all over again. We now save the player's last checkpoint so that once you restart the game and reenter that last level you are respawned on that last checkpoint. Going forward it is our intention to replace the checkpoint system with a manual save / load system that would allow player's to freely save and reload multiple saved games at any time.
~100 New Guard Voice Lines Evolving guard dialog is always on our radar and has great implications in game. We've added close to a hundred new guard voice lines which help communicate to the player what the AI's currently thinking. We've also included voice lines where one AI reacts to what another AI has said which creates some very entertaining and sometimes funny moments.
Bug Fixes Many bug fixes have gone into this patch especially related to the tutorial. Special thanks to our beloved community member Jaknet for having brought many of these to our attention. Just to name a quick few: - Fixed: Tutorial instruction text would sometimes get inverted on one of the controllers. - Fixed: Player always start the Tutorial level facing the cell's wall. - Fixed: Player could not complete tutorial if he skipped tasks even if he managed to reach the end of the tutorial level. - Fixed: Issues with the guards "Look At" functionality which is a significant queue to the player that he's being watched by the AI. - More...
As always withing a few days we will be posting a thread where we can discuss together the plans for the upcoming major update !
It's been a little over a week since we've released the last major update (#3), We've enjoyed receiving the overall positive feedback so far!
So we've got a pretty exciting minor update for you guys!
As always with minor updates I'll do my best to keep it as short and to the point as possible:
AI Animations - "Body Language" :
We've done some significant work on improving the AI's animations from a practical standpoint, which means it will now be more clear what the AI is thinking based on its body language. A few quick examples:
When a guard has seen something suspicious, it will now turn its head to that location to have a look. This might sound minor but it goes a long way in letting the player know that guard is on to something.
Another example when a guard has heard some noise he will have a look left and right (even if he's still patrolling) as well as throw in some voice lines letting the player know that guard is building up suspicion.
A guard's body animations become more excessive the more suspicious he becomes, showing that he is on edge.
Guard "Suspicion State" Thresholds Increased :
Guards will now take more time to transition between suspicion states allowing more time for players to recognize that a guard is becoming aware of their presence and take action. (Stats for nerds: as an example, a guard will need to become about 60% more suspicion in order to transition into a phase where they physically go and check out a specific location). Additionally guards will now have reactions to suspicious events while they are in patrolling/guarding state. These reactions will kick in before they reach the point of stopping and turning around (you could think of this as new intermediary state between "idle" and "turning around"). This again means the player will be able to better assess what that guard is thinking.
Oculus Rift Key Mapping Changes:
As was requested for quite a while by many of our Rift players, we've switched around the Grip and Trigger buttons' functionality. So now - for Rift users - the Grip button will be used for climbing and grabbing objects and the trigger for using the dagger. Enjoy <3
Other Minor Features :
AI Sight range increased by about 30% so they can now farther into the distance.
Fixed a bug with AI's sight which was causing the AI's field of view to be (in some cases) smaller than intended.
Guards chasing the player will now be able to catch up with him once that player is low on stamina and can't run fast enough.
Configured the game to be able to play sound even without having window focus (being on top) - this is a good thing to have in general but was primarily done to help players that had different issues with the game's sound not working for different reasons.
Fixed bug that caused game to crash in very rare cases, due to an infinite loop error :S
Alright, I hope you all enjoy these new features and fixes!
We'll be sharing our plans for the upcoming major content patch very soon in a discussion on the forums as usual.
Looking forward to you feedback on the recent changes <3 !
We're super excited to announce our third and long awaited Major Update ! I would like remind everyone that the reason this major update has taken longer than previous ones is due to the fact that we've finally taken on the daunting task of redesigning and rewriting a very large portion of the core game-play in order to evolve the game from "lose-on-detection" to a "chance-to-fight-back" model.
A Chance to Fight Back!
So as we mentioned above, this was our primary goal with this update and has thus set the tone for this update and pushed us to add multiple new systems to the game in order to properly support this new and ambitious game-play model.
Players will no longer automatically lose when detected but will instead be given a chance to escape and hide from guards. However! Once detected, guards will start performing perimeter searches and become increasingly aware of the player's presence. This makes getting detected a double-edged blade where on the one hand the player may gain a second chance, while on the other hand he loses the element of surprise and the odds turn against him.
Guards will be able to attack the player. If the player takes a couple consecutive hits and dies he will restart from the his last checkpoint!
Make Assassinating Guards a More Challenging Task
So before this update, guards were basically sitting ducks if lured into areas of complete darkness since they could not see anything - at all... This had created an exploit that made it possible to lure guards into these dark hiding spots and kill them off very easily, one-by-one. We've made several advancement on this front and have every intent to keep iterating and improving based on your feedback.
While a guard is suspicious or alarmed he will gain the ability to see even in complete darkness but his field of view will be significantly reduced. As long as the player sticks to the shadows and keeps a short distance from that guard he should not be detected.
Some guards will carry shields which they will use to protect their face and body when they feel threatened. This makes them more challenging to handle in face-to-face combat and will instead require flanking and stealth tactics in order to pull off a successful assassination. Note: Right now the guards with shields are not as powerful as we would like them to be and will buffed in an upcoming minor patch.
Increase Guard Cooperation
Guards are now aware of one another and will react to having heard or seen one of their allies who has a suspicion and come to their aid.
Guards will cooperate and perform more coordinated perimeter searches. Once a state of "perimeter search" is declared, guards will divide up the area between themselves and each guard will cover part of the area in a methodical non-random way.
Added Snap Turn Support
We've now finally added support for snap-turning for both Vive and Rift users. Currently snap turns is set to 45 degrees with more options coming in a subsequent patch! This was a (too) long awaited feature prioritized primarily for players who have a 180 setup, but also for the broader community as a quality of life option to avoid "cable-hell" and we're very happy to finally have it in-game.
This one we did not have planed at first, but we quickly realized we needed some way of balancing the climbing mechanic with the new combat system. After brainstorming in-house and with community members we decided to go for a "stamina" as a finite but regenerating resource the player would have to manage in order climb, sprint, jump etc.
Hand Model and Animations
We've replaced the previous "place holder" models with proper hand models which not only look way better, but also include beautiful idle, grab, climb animations ! Shout out to our community member "Captaindickhook" for offering to make the model and animations for us - he's undoubtedly done a fine job.
Conclusion and Special Thanks
This update is undoubtedly a major mile-stone in the game's development process. We're extremely fortunate to have such an amazing and supportive community that keeps pushing us forward and takes an active part in shaping this game by providing us with constant constructive feedback on what they believe we should focus on and where we can improve - for that we are deeply grateful !
Special thanks to a few veteran community members who've played a major role in providing feedback as well as play-testing of the pre-public versions of this update:
SupaDave, WMan22, Caldor, Hoshi, Barba-Q.
As well as a few newer yet very involved community members: Goblia, Maozee.
It's a true privilege to have such amazing community members on board! <3
So everyone enjoy the new update and as always looking looking forward to your feedback!
We've released a minor but significant update for you guys.
I'll keep this one short and to the point:
Significant CPU Performance Improvement :
Long story short, we've integrated a new plugin which dramatically reduces the CPU cost of rendering a scene ("Draw Calls"). This is significant because not only should this makes the game run noticeably smoother for most players, but it also make the creation of more dense and complex levels possible - as you can expect to see in the "Village" levels we have planned for the near future.
Guard Voice Lines Improvements :
So most of you probably know we've hired a professional voice actor and are taking guard voice lines much more seriously going forward. We've added over +100 voice lines to guards including some entertaining "idle" voice lines :) This minor patch is a major update in this respect with many more improvements to guard voice lines to come.
More minor tweaks and changes over which we'll not go into detail here.
We're working towards the next major patch, and I hope it will come out as amazing as we imagine it :) We will of course share the features of this major patch in the coming days so we can get your guys thoughts on them before we dive deep into the development process.