April Playtests, April Concept Art!
GREETINGS FROM OUTER WILDS VENTURES!
As we make trails from April and prepare to make camp in May, we here at Outer Wilds Ventures have an extra spring in our step from all we accomplished in the last month--the solar system's really taking shape!
What have we been doing in the last couple of weeks? On the design front, we finished greyboxing and playtested two of the biggest planets of the game. The art team started modeling all the Hearthian characters in the game, modeling the ship, and creating particle systems to populate the solar system. The tech team has implemented entirely new player and ship UI and created a vital new tool for adding Nomai text throughout design, and we're starting to implement new player sound effects as well!
Moving forward, our big focus will be all things ship: the model and overhauling all of the systems around it. We hope y'all enjoy this update about our playtesting notes and new concept art!
Playtesting Outer Wilds is not without its challenges. For starters, our design pillar, Curiosity-Driven Exploration, works by sending players across the solar system, not just an individual planet. The nature of our production pipeline, however, requires us to design one planet at a time so we can pass them over to the art team. Currently we have to focus playtests on exploring one planet at a time for production's sake--as we get deeper into production, we can open this up, but it requires a much longer playtest if we're asking players to traverse the solar system.
Additionally, playtesting these planets requires previous knowledge of how to play the game: we're not looking to run through the tutorial anew with each tester. Any game you pick up again after a month, two months, or more away is going to be a bit foggy for you, and add tweaks to input & player systems on top of that...we have to really strive to make sure we create the ideal playtest scenario for each playtester that comes to our office! So with those constraints in mind, what did we accomplish?
1. We solidified our new UI : One of the big changes we were testing was adjustments to both the player and ship UI (the ship is going to have its own full update in the next month, so more on that later).
3. We confirmed our level design: For those of you who have experienced Brittle Hollow or the Hourglass Twins from the original demo, you'll understand why these planets are some of the hardest to design for: your safety & knowledge in relation to the terrain is changing constantly! The key to these playtests is that the player can intuit where to explore and how to avoid hazards in a reasonable amount of time. These planets provide the player and the designer with some huge challenges, but we feel pretty good about handing these greyboxed plants over to the art team!
CONCEPT ART SNEAK PEEK!
We've been concepting some different art applications that we're excited to share with y'all as we get ready to implement them in game! The first is a new style for Nomai murals. As storytelling and narrative for the Nomai evolves, we want to make sure their aesthetic continues to grow to meet aesthetic demands. We're pretty excited for the style, with a distinct Japanese influence, that is shaping up for these murals.
Additionally, we've got some basic concept art for the Hearthian villagers you'll find on your home planet. We really wanted to give each character more personality (in writing and in clothing), and we're pumped to bring these to life in-engine!
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