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  • State of the Game Address

    *** Closed thread as it was superceded by State of the Game Address II ***

    Figured I'd post something talking about where we are, where we have to go and when people can roughly expect various releases since it seems to be getting asked with increasing frequency and it would be better to just refer people to one place then continuing to respond to individual posts.

    Where is the game at?

    If you imagine building a game to be like building a cake, instead of building it up layer by layer, it is like we've built an entire slice of cake first, from top to bottom; a "vertical slice", if you will. We have virtually all the features working, core gameplay looking and feeling good, etc. However, now we have to build out the rest of the game... err, I mean cake... or do I mean game? Anyway, you get the idea. In one respect, the game is in a very advanced state but in another, the content, we still have a lot of work to do. We might even almost have two slices but we think we need at least 6 for full release and ideally, we'd like to serve you 8 slices of Grim Cake... uhh, I mean Dawn! Taking this ridiculous analogy further, not that you want me to, you could say, alpha will probably happen around slice 2.5 to 3 and beta once we get to slice 4-5.

    Now for some specifics...

    As you can see from the Occultist video, the gameplay is well developed and already quite fun. Balance is fairly good for an alpha. Physics, pathing, and all of those sort of underlying systems are in reasonable shape but could use polish. Unfortunately, there just isn't enough playable or content to constitute an alpha quite yet. More on that below. Major UI is all working, although the art could use some love.

    This is probably the single most significant effort left before we can release the full game. We have an area almost finished that would probably provide about 2-4 hours of gameplay that is probably sufficient for the alpha. There is a much larger expanse of world beyond that, which is laid out but in varying levels of completion. Finally, there are areas we've planned even further out that don't yet exist.

    I put together a quick little progress-map using a shot of the actual levels taken from the editor layout mode to help illustrate this.

    The green areas are the mostly finished levels. This is probably about large enough for us to begin the alpha with once we finish adding the quests, close off the exits into unplayable area, and tidy it up. As I said, this is probably about 2-4 hours but could grow once it has some questing. It can also currently be replayed up to level 30 since I haven't put the enemy level cap on the starting area yet.

    The yellow area outlines levels that are semi-developed and wouldn't take too much work to finish but need revisions, final setup of enemies and loot proxies, and polish. Some of these areas though flow right into less finished orange regions and couldn't be opened up for the alpha until the adjacent orange areas were finished.

    The orange represents levels that range from partially completed but still needing a fair amount of work to barely started levels that need a lot of work but for which we have all or almost all of the necessary art assets.

    Red levels are basically prototypes that need more art before they could be finished.

    Purple represents an approximation of the additional areas we want to build for the final release. For some of these areas, we already have all or most of the art needed. Others would need a larger amount of new artwork before we could begin building them.

    Undergrounds and "rift areas" are currently just set up as prototypes and need to have their entrances hooked into the world. We need a much larger number of finished undergrounds.

    Skill Masteries
    We have 3 of the skill masteries nearly completed (the other two being Soldier and Demolition). The other two masteries I've started are about 1/3 and 1/2 finished. We could go alpha with 3 masteries as we continue to work on the remaining 2. This is probably the biggest gameplay task left to finish before final release.

    We have two major enemy sets that are basically completed with a large number of skills and behaviors that create interesting tactical situations. These are the zombies / aether corruptions and the grobles / dranghouls. We then have 3 minor enemy sets that include 2-3 enemy types and a couple solitary enemies mostly finished.

    In total we have 20 unique enemy models right now. Each of those has or will have 2-5 different "class" variants and hero monsters based off them. Of that 20 though, 15 are in-game while 5 have finished models but are waiting on waiting animation and design work to get them in-game. Also in that 20 are 3 mini-boss / boss type creates but one is still waiting on animation and design work. Note that these numbers do not include human enemies, of which there are currently outlaws and cultists.

    About 6-8 more regular enemies and another boss monster would probably be enough to ship with but I'd be much happier if we had 12-15 additional enemies and 2-3 more bosses.

    There are currently no named hero versions finished, just normal and champion and the two bosses.

    Loot and Economy
    We have all of the common items in-game for normal difficulty. We have large number of magical affixes in-game too so that the looting feels fairly rewarding.

    There are almost no unique items in yet though. We have art for about 20 unique melee weapons and a couple pieces of armor but we obviously need much more. This is something we could easily outsource if we just had a full-time artist who could help managing the outsourcing and getting the returned items game-ready.

    The economy is in pretty good shape. It is actually refreshingly challenging to accumulate money and there is a good balance of finding items in the world vs. wanting to buy stuff off merchants.

    Story / Quests
    We have a good background for the game and a rough outline of what we want to do for the main quests. We also have brand new, much easier to use and more powerful quest and conversation editors. However, almost nothing is implemented here. We've have a few prototype quests set up in-game that will probably be in the final game but need polishing up, especially in the dialog department.

    The game is running reasonably well for an alpha and I can often play for 30 minutes or more without any problems. There are a few major bugs and occasional crashes though, as well as little bugs that range from annoying to comical. This is all to be expected at this stage though and I think we're generally in good shape.

    Feature / Code Completion
    The game is nearly feature-complete but there are still various revisions and fixes that need to happen to some existing features and there is a lot of work that needs to be done to get multiplayer working. Our overhaul of pathing, physics and various systems broke multiplayer and the work needed to get it working again is difficult and could be extensive.

    That said, we could release the alpha without multiplayer and continue to work on it. There are a few things that need to happen before alpha.


    Alpha Release
    We're not far off from a minimalist alpha where players can replay a small chunk of the world that comprises about 3-4 hours of gameplay. With the enemy level caps off, it could be replayed up to level 30.

    The following is a rough list of the most significant tasks that would need to be finished:
    • Finish off the green starting area levels and part of the yellow slums area.
    • Get at least a main starting quest-line in and polish up some of the existing quest prototypes that can serve as sidequests.
    • Finish up the 3 nearly complete skill classes
    • A few other programming and design tasks

    Rough estimate is that this will take 6-8 months to complete with our current resources.

    Beta Release
    The time between alpha and beta will depend on whether we want to shoot for a real content-complete beta or more of a Minecraft or Path of Exile style beta where the game is more complete than alpha but still in development. I'm thinking we're probably going to want to go with the work-in-progress style beta. I think we would still want to aim to have a more significant level of content built out though and this could take some time. With our current resources, it might 4-6 months from the start of alpha but we won't know until we see how alpha goes.

    Final Release
    We can't really provide a good estimate right now given our current situation. Getting to the full release is mainly just a matter of filling out content though at this point.
    Last edited by eisprinzessin; 12-01-2012, 05:54 PM. Reason: closed thread and referred to part II

  • #2
    Thanks for another comprehensive and exciting update!

    "We already know Crate has talented people as well...do we need to pretend Blizzard has a bunch of monkeys sitting around slapping keyboards to appreciate what Crate is doing with Grim Dawn?" -- Renevent

    "There seems to be a distinct lack of appreciation of what it takes to create something." -- Renevent


    • #3
      Thanks for the detailed update.

      How many hours do you envision the full game will take to complete? From the graphic it seems a fraction of the size of TQ. Or does it look like that just because it is compressed...

      I'm guessing you have a lot more planned for the expansion that you havent shown.
      "When you play GD it will feel like being punched in the face by a drunk grizzly bear. Thats how awesome it is.

      ... wait is that awesome? ok, how about - its like you're drunk and a grizzly bear is punching you but... no wait... its like you're drunk, you punch a grizzly bear in the face but the bear is also drunk, so it just explodes into gibs."


      • #4
        Great update, it's really enlightening to get a rough overview over where you are at.
        Looking forward to hearing more about the Demolitionist once you get to work on that as it stands out as one of the more intriguing trees for me. I'm anticipating lots of aoe's and burst damage.

        Maybe it's just me digging too much into it, but I can't help but feel that the map got a little spoiled by seeing the 'satellite view'. Definitely piqued by the rift and underground stuff though!
        Praise the sun!


        • #5
          Medierra...man...I'm so stoked to see the work you're doing. I know I spend way more time on the Runic forums but trust me, i've been watching you folks like a Hawk. You've got a great community, anything I might have had to bring up has pretty much been covered already by everyone else.

          You folks did good with TQ. I know it wasn't everything you wanted it to be but it's still one of my all time favorite games. I'm really glad you've decided to make another game, I know it's gotta be a real bitch sometimes. Just wanted to thank you for giving us this upate and all the insight and access. I've been telling everyone all about this game, hopefully it'll get you a few more sales.

          Ok, yeah, I know, I'm such a suckup, w/e lol.
          "Shared pain is lessened.Shared joy is increased.Thus we refute entropy."
          -Spider Robinson


          • #6
            Originally posted by Chameleon View Post
            Thanks for the detailed update.

            How many hours do you envision the full game will take to complete? From the graphic it seems a fraction of the size of TQ. Or does it look like that just because it is compressed...

            I'm guessing you have a lot more planned for the expansion that you havent shown.
            We've already said that the first release will include about as much playable area as Greece or maybe a little larger. I think we're close to that now and should have a pretty decent playable area once we finish laying out the world. This is the first installment of a $20, so I wouldn't expect the world to be as big as all of TQ. We're planning to keep building it out though with expansions packs, so eventually it should surpass TQ.

            The levels also play a little differently. TQ was basically a long, linear corridor. A lot of the area in each terrain region was taken up by boundaries and unplayable area. In Grim Dawn, it is a larger open space where most terrain regions are almost completely comprised of playable area.

            In terms of hours... it is really hard to give an estimate since people play at such different paces. I've always found estimates of play-time to be sort of bullshit for that reason. I remember when we were doing some playtesting for TQ, I timed how long it took people to get to the Spartan Camp. Some people rushed ahead and wound up there in 20mins or so, most took around 40mins and some took hours. One of the guys took over 4 hours somehow!

            I think play-time will be even more variable in Grim Dawn since it is less linear. With a wider, more open space, you could spend a huge amount of time exploring an entire area or race across it in a relatively short time since you don't have to follow a long, winding, linear path.

            Even though the first release will be smaller than TQ in total area and content, I think there is a very good chance that many players will actually end up spending a lot more time playing it. It is just so replayable.


            • #7
              After reading it again I see the biggest things lacking are Quests and a storyline. The loot, enemies, masteries, etc seem under control and look like they are planned out.

              How does what you have planned for the story/quests compare to TQ in the number of quests and Acts, etc?

              Edit ahh you pretty much answered it above.
              Last edited by Chameleon; 03-30-2012, 05:04 AM.
              "When you play GD it will feel like being punched in the face by a drunk grizzly bear. Thats how awesome it is.

              ... wait is that awesome? ok, how about - its like you're drunk and a grizzly bear is punching you but... no wait... its like you're drunk, you punch a grizzly bear in the face but the bear is also drunk, so it just explodes into gibs."


              • #8
                Thanks a lot for the positive comments so far guys and thanks for helping to get the word out Zidders!


                • #9
                  do you really need an installer for the first alpha ?

                  the progress sounds awesome
                  can't wait to see the alpha


                  • #10
                    As others have said, thank you so much for such a thorough update.

                    I'm freaking amazed (and really happy) that you're still pushing forth with GD. The list of things to do seems quite intimidating to my eyes. Everything is looking great so far but it seems we'll still all have to sit tight for a while. That said, I think the vast majority of us on the boards are more than happy to do so. As much as I'd love to have the game in my hands right now, I'd much rather wait for you to release a version of GD that is the full realization of what you have envisioned
                    My Youtube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/klo0ga


                    • #11
                      (Crap, Rhis told me to delete that...) Uhh, what installer? I see no mention of such a thing.


                      • #12
                        As someone with no real "insider" knowledge of game development it's interesting to me to hear things like this. From what you said about the alpha being the green area and the 3 almost completed classes it seemed like you'd be done within the month, as you said those 2 things were pretty much done. But it would still take 6-8 months. I guess maybe it's making the quests, but I would think that would be fairly easy.

                        Not that I'm saying your slow, or this should be done faster. Rather just highlighting my ignorance in the field.
                        Who doesn't like orange. oooooOOOOOooooorange


                        • #13
                          Thanks for the update!
                          Have you guys thinking outsource some stuff like arts? My company outsource like 70% arts to Asia and it's been working well so far.


                          • #14
                            Definitely excited for this game. I've been involved in the beta and alpha for path of exile (stoked you guys mentioned it, as there's a ton of inspiration to take from ideas those guys have come up with), but nevertheless quite excited for the spiritual successor to TQ.

                            Its really hard to be patient though for such a promising game, and I hope you're able to acquire those extra resources to get this game out even sooner!

                            Whenever it comes out though, I'm sure I'll be picking it up!


                            • #15
                              I am quite interested with how the world will shape up in the distant future. Especially with something like the mining camp tucked away in the corner. Also, every time I saw that map, I read Lower Crossing as Lover's Crossing.

                              Devil's Crossing has been established as the hub of a wheel if I recall. Will there be any plans to have future hubs of a similar nature? Or to put a different way, would you have a site (eg: Mill Town) set up, and then build up the surroundings that way? If so, wouldn't that help break down the work required into more manageable pieces?

                              You guys really have a lot in front of you. This sort of post is much more pleasing I'll admit than a video too. It really gives a great idea of how much progress has been made. And the amount of progress certainly is a shitload. Bloody hell, Medierra and Rhis, I hope you guys get to sit back once in a while, crack open a beer or other similar beverage and relax.