This week, I’d like to update you on how the graphics are coming along in WAVEN. We’re making progress on many subjects that are as diverse as they are fascinating; I think those of you who’ve been following us from the start will enjoy seeing how things have evolved. Indeed, you’ve seen many a mock-up on this blog since October. Today I’m going to show you a few videos and images that represent how these mock-ups have evolved/progressed.
The interfaces have been a huge thing in recent weeks here in-house. You saw my first tests, the ones with Arnaud, and now Franho’s interfaces which are headed to “finalization”. That’s generally how we do things. I try to lay the initial foundations that seem effective for my GD, I present this “soft cut” to Arnaud, whose eagle eye picks out what doesn’t work. He adjusts it and makes a few proposals in the form of SWF files (to test movements and usability), then I respond, and we go back and forth 2 (or 3 or 4) times. We do it and re-do it, and when we start to feel like it’s good, we send it to Franho for finalization. Franho takes the relay and then, when he gets down to the nitty-gritty, a ton of issues blow up in our faces. It’s not a very nice feeling, as anyone who’s been there before can confirm… So, we go back to it and put the pressure on Franho, who’ll make 1 (or 2 or 3 or 4) versions in turn… And we know plenty of things will continue to change, even in what I’m showing you today.
So, what you’re going to discover below is closest to what you’ll get in the end… But it’s not finished yet… Also please keep in mind – and I can’t stress this point enough – that we’re first prioritizing the development of mobile device interfaces. We will adapt them for computers afterward. If you’re viewing these interfaces on your computer, you’ll naturally find them too big.
Okay, that probably seems like no big deal, but I promise you, we’ve already cried tears of blood to get this far. I’m eager to show you the Dimensional Haven interfaces so you can see the overall strategy we’re trying to implement for them.
New Character Animations
We’re working on developing, among other things, the combat aspect. And we’ve used the “BOARDGAME” prototype as the basis for this first “functional” prototype. Remember, the characters that come as miniatures are:
For the board game version of WAVEN, we’re thinking about the Kickstarter campaign coming later this year. We’re going to try to combine it with the beta launch of the video game. It’s not decided yet, but the idea could maybe (I repeat, maybe) be to give the first beta keys to those who support our Kickstarter. We’re currently getting quotes for the miniatures, and as soon as we have a clear idea on the subject, I’ll give you an update. I’d like to present the project and its pricing in order to get your opinions and adjust our work. The problem with Kickstarter is that there’s no room for error there, and so I’m counting on you to help us make the right decisions. We’ll talk about that more in a couple months.
And below, here’s the video game version of some of the characters.
I recently read posts on the DOFUS forums from players missing our old 3D graphics tests. These players think that our first tests were much better than what we’re providing now. I understand how appealing the images we showed at the time could be. We were very happy with them, too. But as I say fairly regularly, a video game is like a puzzle. This is my perspective, and everyone’s free to think what they want, but I firmly believe that a good video game depends on the perfect chemistry between graphics, GD, dev, LD, etc. And I even include the economic model in all that. Every part must serve the whole. That’s a reality that we’re only just starting to assimilate here at Ankama. It probably seems silly said this way, but how many games focus on their graphics only to offer a lousy experience with everything else? Plus, how many movies and series would work like that? I believe that a good project comes from the balance between all those parts. What good is having big strong muscles if your heart is unable to support them?
When it comes to our initial graphics tests and our vision for WAVEN, therefore, we’ve made certain choices. And don’t think that these choices are simpler than the earlier ones. While some see the results as “too childish”, they are in fact real technical challenges. It is much more complicated to achieve simple, elegant scenery that enhances game design than it is to achieve realistic scenery. I must highlight this point. In addition, as you know, one of our major goals is for WAVEN to be a multi-platform game. Everything therefore has to be clear and appropriate on both computers and mobile devices. For what we want to do, it’s a massive challenge, as each element needs to be effective on every type of device.
And finally, the style we’re developing lets us play with the environment. So, okay, this short paragraph might give you the impression that I’m trying to win you over to our choices. That’s certainly true to a small extent, but above all, what I want you to understand is that it’s important to consider all the data before judging any result, no matter what it is. That’s probably the only downside when we show you our pre-production work.
The video above gives you a glimpse of what our local Paul is capable of adding in terms of renders. Paul is a “technical artist” – a dev who knows how to make pretty things. Yes, I know. What’s the world coming to if devs can perform artistic feats? I don’t know, friends… It just might be the end, as in Walking Dead…
The scenery teams suffered to get this result, but honestly, I think it’s great! In terms of narrative, we’re going to be able to play with the weather and unleash the elements if we want. Since WAVEN comes chronologically after WAKFU, the water level has risen to almost completely cover the World of Twelve. It was therefore very important for us to be able to play with different water renders – whether they be waves or renders linked to water transparency. All of this will play out and display naturally throughout your adventures. Of course, this first video combines many effects, but that lets you imagine the possibilities.
This other video is a rain test.
And this last video – maybe the most impressive, in my view – shows the interaction between the 3D environment and 2D characters. This video impresses me because the shadows and renders projected onto the character give the impression that the character is also in 3D, when obviously that’s not the case. I love the very first Final Fantasy Tactics on PlayStation, and I’m happy we can follow in their path. Twenty years ago, that crazy bunch was already working this way, and looking at that “old” game again today, we thought we could take that same path. In a way, it’s a return to our roots, because that’s the game that most influenced us back when we started on DOFUS.
I’ll be honest with you: Personally, I’m tired of this 3D race that is currently raging all around us in various audiovisual and gaming media. I’m sure there’s still a lot to be done with 2D rendering, and we’re going to carry that torch for as long as possible.
Excerpt from Tot’s blog, March 15, 2018.
Read the original post (in French) in its entirety.