October Development Update

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Featured in PCGamer!

We are very happy to have been featured on PC Gamer’s website. Lauren Morton focused on one of the mechanics that makes Verdant Skies stand out in the farming life simulation genre – genetic splicing! If you haven’t checked out the piece, you should. It’s a great read!

http://www.pcgamer.com/verdant-skies-is-a-farming-sim-where-you-play-as-a-space-scientist/

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Exterior Excellence

One thing any homeowner can tell you is that painting your house is no easy task. Thankfully, Andy’s made it a far more enjoyable experience to customize your home’s exterior in Verdant Skies. You can now change the design and color of your door, windows, as well as the texture and color of your exterior and roof.

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Improved Beds

The exterior of the player’s home isn’t the only decorative feature that’s received an overhaul! Our flat beds have been upgraded. The layers have been tweaked to give them a much more realistic depth. Check out the before (left) and after (right) below!

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Livestock Leashes!

Since adding animals to Verdant Skies our playtesters have had an overwhelming urge to treat their livestock like a pet. You asked, and we listened! Using the same awesome physics as the gardening hose, Andy created this little rope leash so that you can take your favorite friend out for a stroll.

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Meet Miles!

As a stipulation of his contract to sponsor the colony, Miles Kelly owns the only shop on Viridis Primus. Frugal and always on the lookout for a great investment opportunity, at times he seems more concerned with profits than people. However, Miles can make anyone feel like his most important customer once they enter his shop.

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July Developer Update

Busy as Bees!

The last few weeks we’ve been buzzing about preparing for several showings. First up is 2D Con from August 11th to 13th at the Doubletree in Minneapolis. We will also be at the Social Science event on August 16th at the Science Museum of Minnesota. We’ve also had some longer playtests that allowed us to test content beyond the tutorial.

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The Relationship Journal, Badges, & More!

Andy finished programming the journal, which is an important tool to manage your relationships with the other colonists. At first, the journal only shows your current relationship status.

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As your relationships mature, additional options unlock. The journal is used to breakup with someone you’re dating, to ask them to marry you, or to move in together. If you’ve broken up with someone, the journal can be used to start your second chance to the relationship. As we’ve been discovering, there are a huge number of possible routes you can take through a relationship. Beth has been diligently working to ensure that all the possible events for relationship changes are covered.

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We have finalized a lot of technical details around how relationships will progress. We’ve decided which characters will require exclusivity, which ones don’t, and what exactly that means when it comes time for the player to settle down. Here the player has had a baby with Rosie, so they have earned a special badge that shows up alongside the relationship hearts.

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Player’s Log

You can track your tool upgrades and special items in the new player’s log. Tools have three different levels. Better axes and hammers use less energy and work faster. The improved hoe allows farming in different areas. The fishing spear throws faster and affects a larger area, making it easier to get multiple fish with one spear.

Crops will also be tracked in the player’s log. Certain crops can initially only be obtained and grown in specific biomes. As you progress, you may find the genetic trait that allows you to grow a crop in any biome.

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The log will also keep track of your progress as you collect fish and insects. Like crops, certain insects and fish are only found in one biome. You’ll have to explore far and wide to make sure you catch them all!

Map Complete

The world has finally been completely filled in! We’ll have minor tweaks and cleanup, but it’s nice to have this big task finished. The world is roughly divided into a six different areas: the town, the plains, the marsh, the mountains, the forest, and across the east river. In our testing, most players get into the marsh first, and then build the bridge for the other side of the river, but sometimes people switch that around. Although some of the mountain is available from the start, getting to most of it requires some special equipment…

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More Late-game Content

Andy spent a few weeks adding end game content. One of the things that our testers really would have appreciated is a way to increase their storage size. Seed storage seemed to run out first, but having extra storage in each group will be very useful! Next up in this category will be to add some mysterious content to the world…

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Play Verdant Skies at 2D Con 2017!

Verdant Skies is honored to be included in this year’s Indie Island at 2D Con! Come check us out August 11-13th and be some of our first beta testers!

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Verdant Skies June Development Update

No summer vacation for us!

With no May update you may have thought we were taking the summer off. Nothing could be further from the truth! While many are out enjoying the summer sun, we’ve been hard at work creating content for Verdant Skies.

New Recipes, Award, and UI Art

Lizzy (@Pixilizi_Art) has been hard at work putting polish on much of the UI. She added some new vibrant colors to the old recipe icons, and created some new award icons that you may see popping up in the newly redesigned Achievements panel.

We are still considering some different approaches for the new panels. Here are mock ups showing off a couple of the possibilities we are exploring. Works still in progress!

The Science of Sound Design

The audio team for Verdant Skies presented the game at the Science Museum of Minnesota! Troy (@YellowChord) and Topher (@PhantomFreq) were asked to participate in an event called “Social Science: The Science of Pixar” and brought Verdant Skies to show attendees how sound can impact games and animation. They brought a variety of sound effects including footsteps, wood cracking, champagne bottles popping, and farts to demonstrate the effects that sound design can have on the play experience. It was easy to make switches in real time due to the software we’re using for Verdant Skies. Wwise is an audio middleware program that allows audio professionals to make detailed changes to the sound while reducing the work for the developer. Players were wowed not only by the sound and music, but the gorgeous hand-drawn art, diversity of characters, and spear fishing.

New Character!

Along with revisions to some of the events for our already announced characters, Beth (@BethKorth) finished the first few relationship events for our newest character.

Meet Skye Miller

Despite being paid by Planetary Pioneers, Skye takes seriously her ethical responsibility to produce an unbiased narrative of the colonization of Viridis Primus. Her desire for an honest representation sometimes puts her at odds with Jade who would prefer a more positive spin on the colony’s progress.

Programmer’s Corner

There’s tons of changes to report, as always! Over the last couple months, Andy (@kortham) has implemented dozens of changes. The most interesting change is that we now have cave fishing! He also improved controller support, and upgraded the AI for the NPCs so that they have more realistic wandering. To address a problem with NPC pathing, he made it so that the NPCs now favor walking on the paths, and the player will be unable to block the roads by constructing items.

Happy Spring from the Verdant Skies Team!

Spring has sprung!

Much like our world outside, there’s many things blooming in the development of Verdant Skies! From crops to insects, we’ve added some great new art. Love is in the air as we continue to expand on the relationship system. Of course, what update is complete without some bug fixes!

Working on Relationships

Lead Writer Beth ( @bethkorth ) finished the first draft of Rosie’s entire character arc. From your first meeting all the way to the commitment ceremony, it’s amazing to see it all come together! Andy ( @kortham )  worked on the programming required to flag relationships as exclusively dating or married. Different characters respond differently to you based on your relationship status, and each individual relationship moves at a unique pace. Some characters want exclusive status early in the relationship, and others don’t care at all.
If you become good friends with someone, but decide not to date them, you move down a friendship path, and you’ll get an extra friendship event in place of the dating ones. Next month, we’ll give players a way to break up with someone they are dating. A similar interface can be used to start dating someone you previously turned down.

Finalized Crop List

Crops are done! Lizzy ( @Pixilizi_Art ) has completed the artwork for all the growing stages of the 14 crops in the game. There are four crops native to each of the regions – plains, mountains, and marsh, and there are two extra crops found across the river. In testing, this is a pretty good sweet spot where you’ve got a lot of variety but you don’t have crop-overload. Since the player can genetically modify each species they have, they can end up with a lot of seeds!

New Bug Art

Lizzy has also been busy working on art for the bugs that will be inhabiting Viridis Primus. Here’s six in addition to the Angler Mite you’ll see in the insect collection image below. These little guys are probably a lot cuter than the insects that may be invading your garden or home this spring. Check out that fuzzy coat on our adorable little Umbra Bee on the bottom right!

Lots and lots and lots of fixes

I skim through the changelog to remind myself what we did over the past month, and this month there were about 4 pages worth of fixes. A lot of these are too small to mention, but it includes many fixes to furniture, controller support fixes, improving the usability of various UIs. We made a concerted effort to go through all the clothing and fix minor layout problems with them. One playtester noticed that the crafting recipe for sawdust required that they already had some sawdust, so that was fixed. Some of the oldest art in the game, such as the shipping box and scrap pile was redone to match the improved standards we have now.

Play Verdant Skies at GlitchCon17!

Verdant Skies is honored to be included in this year’s Minnecade! Come playtest at GlitchCon May 5-7th. We’re hoping to get some really long playtests out of this convention in order to test some of the new content. Most people who play for 2 hours really only start to scratch the surface of what we’ve got finished… which is really encouraging!

Verdant Skies Development News

It’s still February somewhere in the world

Yeah, technically it might be March now, but we’ve been so busy working on the game, posting about the news falls to the back burner. And honestly, making the game is more fun than writing blog posts anyway.
Cleanup, polish, improvements, and even a few new features have been the focus for the last month. Under the hood, there’s been some big upgrades to the audio engine (upgrading WWise to a new version) and a major rework on how shadows and reflections are rendered. These changes allow for better performance and fix a few outstanding graphical glitches that we’ve mostly just avoided showing in screenshots. Shadows and reflections are now much more consistent. For example, when you see a flower waving in the wind, the reflection and the shadow now also wave.

Insect Catching

Insect collecting is a new memory-matching style mechanic we’ve introduced. Alpha testers have loved the fishing mini-game, so we wanted to expand that to other resource gathering tasks. In order to successfully collect an insect, you need to find a matching pair of them out in the world. Once you’ve got a pair, the insects go into your inventory and can be sold (maybe even cooked), or given to a character who collects them in their terrarium.

Jade’s Room

New Interior Decorations

Lizzy has been hard at work making new interior decorations (in addition to new portraits for old and new characters). The extra wallpapers, floors, and new furniture allow for a lot more personalization in the interiors.

Rosie’s Room

Story and Dialogue

Two new characters now have their arrival events written, bringing the total of already unlockable in-game characters to six. We’ve got 6000 lines of dialog in the project so far, and we’ve fleshed out most of the first five friendship events for the first four characters. After the five friendship events, you unlock the next five romance events- somewhere towards the end of that group, you make the decision to exclusively date that person, which can lead you towards marriage.

We’ve also done the programming work necessary to move the quests, mails, and event triggers out to a separate file. These are easy-to-edit json files, and it allows us to work on them without having to recompile the game. But more importantly, it allows for the possibility of users editing the files to add their own content!

The cave has also received some upgrades.

Preorders Available

We’ve made pre-orders available via the Humble Bundle store! Once Verdant Skies is released, you can redeem a steam key for the game through the Humble Bundle site. If you’d like to support our development process, you can preorder on the Verdant Skies page. Pre-orders aren’t for everyone- don’t worry, we’ll let you know when the game is released too!

Trees take a few days to regrow now, forcing players to explore a bit further if they are doing major lumber construction projects.

Introducing Jade

The mastermind behind the colonization of Viridis Primus, the colony’s administrator Jade Worthington is a force to be reckoned with. Direct and driven, Jade enjoys the company of likeminded people. Laziness or ineptitude is sure to land you on her bad side. Her motives are a mystery but it is obvious that she is determined to make this endeavor succeed no matter the cost.