Status Report May 2019

May 20th, 2019
Status Report –  January – May 2019

This update was crucial as we went from prototype to functional version of our animation system. It allows us to control several types of characters starting with their movement, interaction, combat up to multiple crafting functions. It also includes sound connections to each action character is performing.
As I have mentioned sounds – you will see, or better say hear, now sounds – especially when running on different surfaces. New sounds were added to swimming and other actions as well.

As previous update .16 was focused on Hardcore play – we have now data for minimal loot needed to survive in jungle environment. Really thanks to all testers and streamers for testing it!!!

In current .17 version players have now possibility to choose from Softcore or Hardcore settings. Hardcore setting still keeps minimal loot, where Softcore has loot up to tripled.

In current .17 version players have now possibility to choose from Softcore or Hardcore settings. Hardcore setting still keeps minimal loot, where Softcore has loot up to tripled.

Last month were also not only about programming. We done a lot of from management work, financial planning, taxes. Also we have participated on marketing and public relation events.
The Indie Gamer Magazine brought 4 pages interview with me about AreaZ game development.

We had about 1 hour lecture about Game Development on Anime days in Bratislava in April 2019 brought to you by Sector.sk magazine.

On May 24th – 26th we will present our game on Game Access Conference
https://game-access.com/conference/ in Brno Czech republic as part of Indie Expo. We will meet and join other game professionals and investors. As May 26th is open to general public – I would like to invite all who would like to see and play our game.

For the future development we are currently working on throwables such as spear, boomerang or even stones and bananas 😀 . Also we are implementing bow shooting. You can see first tests if you are following our social media.

Also we would finally like to rework the swamp area – to make it more interesting and to improve collisions and FPS.

We decided to release Early Access only after tutorials, hint system and mission are implemented. Anyway you can play or better said test the current build already if you support our development via preorder at https://szeiner.com/store/14-games

Thank you for your support.

Juraj (Duro Bulo) Bachar
AreaZ Game Developer


Status Report 2019 Outlook

January 5th, 2019
Status Report –  2019 Outlook

Even during holiday season we managed to put a lot of effort in game development.

Before we take look on upcoming year 2019, let’s see the current state of the game development and how we have managed to fulfill our survival game principles till now:

1) Complex Environment
We managed to create a complex environment where map territory, nature, loot economy, items, animals and player make complex interaction.  Not only we have day/night simulation – we have fully introduced ocean tides, ocean currents and made items to float and drift on ocean. If item such as wood gets wet – it will not burn in fireplace (until dried). When fire is hit by water (ocean tide) it will extinguish. Items can be wet, can be burned by fire. They can be damaged by usage. Implemented lifecycle will remove old items depending on their quality and lifespan. Even animal behavior is connected to day cycle and ocean tide. We have sky map with real stars constellations enabling player to navigate during nighttime.

2) Challenging gameplay

Survival should remain challenging. We want to achieve this feeling during whole gameplay, not only on beginning when player spawns. Our complex environment affects player by multiple ways. Each task cost player energy he must replenish. To better understand it – we have made energy usage overview for player on daily basis – how much energy he gained and how much did he used every day. To it comes “survival index”. When it is negative – player is losing more energy as he manages to get. This means he will not survive for long.
To keep player busy – our loot economy spawn items not only depending on item actual volume. It considers what we call “successor” items as well. For example– bamboo and crafted bamboo spear will both have impact on bamboo spawn volume. Therefore you cannot trick it easily to spawn new loot just by removing the item from spawn. Also the economy is sector based – which allows us to fill different map areas with loot.
This all together makes survival challenging not only for the first day – but also during whole game play.

3) Survival techniques

In game we have focus on real “primitive” survival techniques – that can be found in any real survival field manual. From crafting, to cooking, obtaining fresh water (f.e. game enables indirect water boiling), and hunting and trapping animals. You have to find evidence of animal’s presence to lay traps successfully. This could be even animal feces. Building a shelter will provide you some heat comfort. Do not rely that you will easily harvest tons of wood or rocks with bare hands.

Also time of the day is important. Some areas are more accessible during low ocean tide. Giving you better opportunity to pick up food such as shells or setting fish/crab traps. High tide can bring you drifting loot – so plan your survival according to the time of the day.

2019 Plans for upcoming weeks are:
We already have  core game and survival mechanics settled. Next we want to focus specially on new animations. This means to apply animation to most action the character is performing. This will include implementation of character sounds as well.

We want to polish the map – we will optimize the tress collisions thanks to data we have gained from testers. The swamp area will be completely reworked as we are not happy with assets we have used there.

As we have focused on core mechanics – now will be time to polish the graphics. This goes especially for player HUD, inventory screen and game menu.

Also we will improve the crafting mechanics- implement additional crafting recipes logic.

To the end I would like to show you some pictures from our first public appearance – on Game Developers Session – Indie Expo in Prague in December 2018 – where we got nice feedback.

That’s is all for now …

Thank you for you support!

Juraj (Duro Bulo) Bachar
AreaZ Game Developer

Status Report October – November 2018

December 1st, 2018
Status Report October – November 2018

First I have great news.  AreaZ game is now available to Pre-order. And all players with pre-order will have instant access to the DEMO version of the game.

Just pre-order on https://szeiner.com/store/14-games.

This eshop is operated in cooperation of several Czech and Slovak independent developers. Payment can be done by PayPal (inclusive customer protection), Credit Card or even Pay Safe Card.
Afterwards an email with steam key will be send to you. By using this key on Steam, AreaZ game will become available in your Steam Games Library and will automatically download and install. The installation requires about 9 GB of your hard drive. And you are ready to test the demo version.

There are 2 possibilities for preorder. First  is AreaZ Pre order – which is basically the game. Then there is a VIP Pack for people that would like to support the development. VIP Pack will include game itself, and all future game software content including future expansions (DLC) and skins.

Feel free to contact us, if you have any questions.

Please note this is not yet the final version of game or even  early access. This is a demo where we currently test core features. Soon we will add some gameplay as currently the player is mostly in “god mode” except drowning and predator attack. All feedback and reports are welcomed and much appreciated. Please use our forum for reports:
https://szeiner.com/forum/index.php?categories/areaz-game.43/

Also check regularly our changelog available in game menu for important changes and updates.

Next week we are going to present the AreaZ game demo officially on Game Developers Session in Prague as part of Indie Expo.

Development
For last two month we have focused to create first working demo version from existing prototypes. Also first invite only test were done to check the core functionality.  Most of the mechanics was plugged in and partially polished. Starting from character mechanics, up to environment and map. We have replaced the swamp water and achieved very nice result:

Also we have been testing the loot economy, added loot items, and filled the crafting recipes. Here is a overview of items which can be crafted from bamboo.

The next mechanics we have focused on was basebulding. Here are several stages of shelter construction.

As survival simulation is important for us – we have added night sky based on real star position and brightness, so you can see existing star constellations. This will also help players to navigate at night. For gameplay reason we have enabled the possibility to speed up the night up to 4X. This means if daylight takes 20 minutes – the night will last for 5 minutes only.

Also we were working on our Steam presence. After being approved by Steam and solved tax and legislative issues, we have established our Steam Store Page available here, where you can add the game to your Steam Wishlist.
Please note – for those who have already Pre-ordered our game – you have it already in your Steam game library.

https://store.steampowered.com/app/935490/AreaZ/

For upcoming weeks we plan to rework the design of menu, which is currently basic one only. Afterward we plan an important update to our Character, which will enable us to add new animations and game mechanics and fix some current issues.  Also to include bow and firearms. This update is needed, so we can start to implement sounds in the game as well. Currently there are only two ambient sounds present.

Of course we will check and fix reported bugs and issues.

Thank you for your kind support.

Duro Bulo
AreaZ game Developer

Status Report August – September 2018

October 4th, 2018
Status Report August – September  2018

Even during holiday season we managed to put a lot of effort in game development.

First we have focused on animal AI. Animals where categorized depending on their primary movement style – walking, swimming and flying and their behavior – prey and predators.  We have realized soon, that build engine AI path finding is not suitable for us. We had to develop our own mechanics from the scratch for fish and birds. So we had to design not only movement, pathfinding, but collision handling and evasive maneuvers as well.

Next part of development included the creation of first map and environments available in demo. This includes area(z) such as coastline, beach, jungle, bamboo forest, meadow and a secret area. The final frontier for player to conquer is deadly swamp.

We were not only creating the area(z) itself by modifying the terrain and plating plants. The work included decision how the map should be designed to provide required resources for survival and crafting for best player experience.

To provide player a resources to survive – we deigned our version of loot economy. This calculates not only the spawned loot, but considers even items already crafted.  Economy is based on zones – not on predefined spawnpoints. And there can be multiple zones for each item. The animals (like fish) spawn the similar way.

Some animals act as “border control”. Especially sharks are spawned when player swims or is drifted by sea currents out to open sea. If player manages to swim back towards the beach, they will lose their interest.

In swamp we have prepared and tested dynamically spawned natural obstacles – so player will have to find his way thru the swamp. Just finding the one static way on Wikipedia or elsewhere, will not work. We want the player to rely on his own knowledge, experience and skills. And luck as well …

With area(z) created on map – the next step was the environment itself. We have set up the day/night cycle, wind, and light settings. Also sea tides, sea currents (which affect loot and player character as well) and fog. Only the temperature impact will be added later in bigger update – as it is complex issue. Anyway the temperature is already affecting loot, and is also changed by fire heat and material being wet (wet items will cool down). Same will be done on the side of player character later. Also we have to connect it to basebuilding – like shelters – which will provide some heat comfort.

All above mentioned is connected to one “environment manager”. It allows us simply to decide what part of the day it should be and how fast will be the day cycle running. It will set up properly all values, including sun, wind, fog, sea tide level and currents.

Also we have being working on first postprocess parts –such as blood stains, underwater view etc.

As the game is closing to the first milestone – playable demo, we had to work on legal, tax registration, licenses and other connected issues.

We are finalizing our first presence on web, social media and working hard on STEAM game page, so we can publish them officially.

Once again I would like to thank all the people, who are helping us with this project as well to our supports.

Really can’t wait to see first players to test the game demo and provide us first so needed feedback.

Duro Bulo
AreaZ Game Developer

Status Report April – July 2018

Status Report April – July 2018

Let me introduce you the AreaZ game – we have been working on for several last month, based on Unreal  Engine 4.

It is a hardcore survival game – where you have to focus on survive techniques, use local resources in different Areas. With each action you take a risk and have to focus to use your energy and resources wisely.

We have defined the main game principles following:

1) Game should not be easier when players manages to make his first steps. It should constantly bring new challenges and obstacles to overcome. Player should continually influenced by environment and had to feel the need to use available resources. Not like in other survival games, where getting first food, water and basic equipment means the end of survival and turning to PvP shooting action only, where player needs just to eat and drink sometime.

2) Player should use such abilities and techniques a average survival would be able to. He has to focus on resources available in local environment (area). Game will use basic (primitive) survival techniques – and not focus just on looting. Character is not a some kind of superhero with all abilities and knowledge.

3) Environment should be versatile and uncertain to keep player interested, active. Making him to scout every inch of the map for resources. It can not happen that player knows and runs directly to food/water or material resource, he remembers from his previous character life. He will need to scout and plan his activities also according the part of the day. Each search and action will cost him energy and it might happened that collected resources will be not worth it and will not cover the energy used to gain them. Also he will have to find hints and track footprints to find resources..

4) In case we will include multiplayer (currently only single player would be available) – the game should make it hard for geared up players to come back to spawn beach and “rape” fresh spawned players.

In the first moth we have also tested first crucial game mechanics prototypes such as – sea tides and sea currents, item spawning, spreading of fire on nearby flammable materials, and fire extinguishing by water (due to rising sea level). We have obtained first environments for beach, jungle and swamp AreaZ. Made sprint, stamina, wetness and energy consumption prototypes.

Inventory
In May and June we have focused on creation of character inventory and HUD. Our Inventory system is modular, can be used not only at character itself, but also on any object in world. It can be used in fireplace, chests storing items etc. The size of inventory can be set for any object differently. Items can be dragged and swapped between slots and inventories modules. Item stacking is also available.  Information about item volume (such as water, food volume in can), quality or damage of item, item temperature and wetness is available as well.
But my opinion is that we should simplify the inventory and make the game so functional, that inventory will be mainly used just for overview and to make order between items.
Because of that we have simplified the inventory. Mainly interaction with items in world will be done by hands. I do understand that some players love to reorder the loot in their inventory all the time and spend in inventory more time, then in game. But this is a survival game not “packing my luggage for holiday” simulator…
After Early Access, the inventory system will allow us to add clothes, items that will take more slots and item rotation.

The most important feature is that Character can use BOTH HANDS independently.

This is a feature I was looking for very long time. In survival game you should (must) be able to use torch in one hand and weapon in another. Humans have two hands and are used to use them for crafting, and other activities naturally.

Crafting

Functional crafting was our goal for the next month. Here we could fully unleashed the full power of our two hands inventory, as we can naturally combine items the character is holding in each hand.

Our goal was to make crafting as very intuitive.

It is based on so called recipes. A recipe is chosen automatically based on items combination the character is holding in each hand. Also there is difference if player is interacting with another world object. There will be different recipe when standing by fireplace or not, even character still has the same items in hands.
To craft – player does not need to go to inventory or some crafting action menu. Just press and hold the “F” key by default and so called primary recipe will craft. Crafting can be cancelled or just stopped (if item allows it) by pressing “F” key again or by hitting the mouse button to start an attack. Surprised player can defend himself and do not need to wait, till crafting action is done. Example – you are opening a coconut with an axe. By clicking mouse button you can immediately use that axe for melee attack. If crafting is stopped – only partial volume will be used.

If there are multiple recipes for one items combination, player can access them via inventory. If stacking is enabled – exact amount of item is needed.

I have not decided if crafting recipes will be shown or player will have to figure them themselves (find the second possibility more interesting, hopefully not frustrating). Skill system is not planed yet.

Crafting system is robust and flexible. Allows player to craft new items, to change states of existing ones – change volume (water in bottle, etc.), repair or even damage items.  They can be made dry or wet or their temperature can be changed (warm up, cooled down).

Also world objects can be crafted – those need to be placed on ground. Before doing that player is enabled to change their location and find a suitable place. World object will be then placed on ground and not float in air. Such object si f.e. fireplace.
Also world object can be placed under water (f.e. crab trap). With this object  player can make interaction – put other items in it (meat, wood to fireplace.
this is also the first step for basebuilding – when placing shelter, walls or barricades.

To simplify the user experience, we made a keyboard shortcuts, that allows player to store item from each hand to inventory or drop them to ground. Also there is a key shortcut to swap items between hands.  Using those player is still aware of his surroundings.

Crafting system manages not only crafting but also manages character actions such as eating, drinking, igniting of fire, opening of items (such as coconuts or canned food) , or attaching bait to traps.

Every crafting or action requires its time and energy. This energy must be replenished from food. Player has to use his energy and food wisely to survive. Also energy does not come directly from food, but must be digest first. This should make game more hardcore and make player to better plan his actions and energy consumption.

The final goal is to accumulate so much energy – that character will manage to cross the frontier – the swamp (in case of first Area). Future will bring access to another AreaZ, with different resources, environment exposures and risks to survive.

In the end of July we have focused on character itself. We have setup the basic animations and functions. Currently character uses its energy, and can restore it by eating and digesting food. Character can became wet and dry himself by sprinting. Also stamina is implemented.

Character can be idle, walk, run, sprint or jump. Also it can strafe. Also crouch is implemented.  Swimming is already available. It can pick up items (also during swimming). It can interact with items and place objects on ground.

Few last days we have focused on melee. The type of melee attack is based on item (weapon) the character is holding in hand. There are different attacks for axe and spear. Spear can be used to also to fish underwater when swimming.

Object when hit is receiving damage and can be destroyed. Each object has it own durability. Each item (weapon) gives its own damage power.

Next month I would like to slow down, as it is holiday season and want to be with my family – as they strongly supported me.

Anyway we will slowly add new items, implement their features, add crafting recipes and actions Also we will place this item in world, make points of interest and slowly fill the map.  Also I would like to set up initial environment such as day and night, environment temperature, some postprocess, fog, and sounds.

Next after fireplace, bamboo and drift wood is added, we will implement temperature impact on character +hydratation. The weight of character will be added in EA.
Also we would like to make first steps wit animal AI behavior.  And fill the map with animals to hunt and predators. Also add some venomous ones.

If this will be achieved we will make preparations for Early Access – improve HUD quality and inventory graphics. Also to save and load the game – at least for character and crafted items (same as it is done in multiplayer games)

I would like to thank to everybody who is participating and supporting  this project

Juraj Bachar
AreaZ game Developer