Verdant Skies- New in March

New fog effects, audio, controller support!

March has been a busy month for us; we showed Verdant Skies at MinneBar, a Minnesota tech conference. We all worked really hard to make VS as polished as possible for the event. For me, that meant a lot of work into perfecting the controller support, since only XBox controllers were available at the event. We got a great team picture of myself, Beth, and Lizzy.

Marsh Fog

Scott ( @slembcke ) had some free time to help out on the project, and one of the awesome shaders he wrote adds fog to the marsh. Fog changes with the time of day and has a configurable height off the ground. It’s all drawn in the same pass as the sprites themselves, so it’s very fast. We’ve also got a nice night-time / morning fog that occurs in other areas.

Even More Interiors

Beth ( @bethkorth ) has been hard at work making interiors for the new characters. Without revealing too much about the new ones, here are a few sneak peeks.

New Sound Effects and Music

Our two audio masters have been hard at work! Troy ( @yellowchord ) has started writing adaptive music for Verdant Skies, so the outdoor music will flow and change with in-game events dynamically. Topher ( @PhantomFreq ) did a great pass through the sound effects in-game. There are a few special events like the house construction that feel much more satisfying with sound.

Improved Fishing

Spear fishing has been a big hit at testing, people say it’s a lot more exciting than waiting for a fish to bite. Topher added new sound effects to the fishing mini-game and I programmed different fish characteristics, so you can see which fish you’re going to catch.

Each region of the map has different fish. Being able to identify which fish are which is pretty handy. In this case, the little fish in the middle is a “Flying Trout”, and it’s a good one to target since it’s great for sushi- an easy to make early cooking recipe.
The fish that are easy to cook are great early-game energy boosters for players who want to get the most out of each day.

Since there are more regions, we needed more types of fish!

Meanwhile, work continues on character events, bug fixes, usability and UI improvements, and all the usual stuff.

Introducing Wyatt

Every space farming colony needs a reliable botanist, and Dr. Wyatt Jones is yours! Friendly albeit a little distant, Wyatt finds little use for small talk. However, he will be more than happy to speak at length regarding the sciences. Use his vast knowledge to aid you in your farming endeavors.

Making the Music of Verdant Skies

The team is trying to establish a coherent mood for Verdant Skies and a big part of that comes from Troy’s music. To begin the project, he established a palette of instruments that coalesced around guitar, drums, bass, and organ. Those aren’t everything, but it has done a nice job to establish the frontier-like elements of the game–an untamed wild, expansive and uncharted.

The trailer needed to invite the audience in and preview the musical style. For that, Troy decided a piano would be fitting. He used the EastWest Steinway virtual instrument treated with Logic’s built-in Space Designer convolution reverb plugin. This lent a grounded yet otherworldly, shimmering sound. He applied a tape delay to the pedal tones as well.

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To structure the music, Troy focused on the three main scenes: a woman walking along a lake, a man walking through a swamp on an autumn day, and two friends meeting near a grove of trees. Each offered a glimpse into the possibilities in store with the game, so the musical material needed to build as the world opened up. Troy built clusters of lightly articulated piano chords filled with dissonances that didn’t resolve–we don’t know where the next scene will take us, or what we’ll find on this strange world. As it grows in volume and the range increases, we peer through trees to see evidence of a new colony and the Verdant Skies logo as an F# chord plays in the strings.

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The final four notes utilize the main motif of Verdant Skies: an ascending major 7th followed by a perfect fourth a minor 6th above (in this key, F#, E#, C# & F#–and don’t try to tell him it’s an F natural!).

There is lot of exciting audio happening in Verdant Skies, so be sure to check back to hear what Topher Pirkl is doing with sound design and adaptive audio implementation.

Listen to Troy’s track on the teaser trailer: