A long awaited update
It‘s been two years already since we released Mel and the reception has been amazing! We‘ve taken your feedback and implemented a whole variety of new features, such as story mode, new subtitles, Steam cloud saves and official avatars.
So what are we up to nowadays? Since the release of Mel we‘ve released Portal Stories: VR and in August last year we announced that we started work on a whole new game: “The YR-Initiative ”.
During the last couple of months we have concluded that the initial timeframe we‘ve set for ourself on the YR-Initiative wasn‘t going to work out, and we have decided to temporarily halt development on the YR-Initiative whilst we focus on creating another, smaller (non-VR) game.
Introducing: The Captives! The Captives is something completely different from what we‘ve done before: it‘s a top-down adventure game, with a strong focus on combat. We‘ve been working on this in secret for a couple of weeks now, and we‘re very happy with the progress so far. We hope to be able to release the game in the fourth quarter of 2017. We‘ll talk more about The Captives sometime in the close future, so keep an eye out on our social media: Twitter and Facebook
A screenshot of the Captives in early production
So what does this mean for the YR-Initiative? Our primary focus at the moment is on The Captives; then, once development on The Captives slows down towards its release, we‘ll re-focus on the YR-Initiative. We still think the game is going to be awesome, and we‘ll still release it, but it will be later than we originally planned. We are however very pleased to announce that the YR-Initiative will have both a VR- as well as a non-VR version of the game. Both versions of the game are designed together, with separate user interfaces and controls for each version, to provide the optimal experience for both versions. So you‘ll be able to play the YR-Initiative in VR, with your keyboard/mouse or with a game controller.
The YR Initiative has developed quite a bit since the last update
Once work has concluded on The Captives, we will continue development on the YR-Initiative.
February development update
Oh dear, it‘s been weeks since we‘ve posted anything on our website! This is because we have been incredibly busy and a lot of things have happened since the last update. Since then we‘ve created well over 2 gigabyte worth of content. We‘ve added music, placeholder voice lines, smoothed out gameplay, added new mechanics, implemented feedback, designed and built new environments etc.
To give you an idea of what has been done: here‘s an in-game screenshot of the area we showed you concept art from last time:
This all leads to the point we‘re currently at: we‘ve finished the prototype, and we‘re working on the rest of the game. We have a really good idea of the scope we want to go for, what puzzles we want to build and what mechanics we want to use. Now it comes down to creating it all. This is going to take quite a while, we have some internal timelines, but we‘re not ready to share these yet.
We‘re also very happy to welcome Micah on board. He‘s our new writer for the YR Initiative. He has already come up with a whole cast of interesting characters and some very strong narrative directions. We‘re very excited to see the whole story come together.
Last but not least, we‘ve been able to get some early feedback on the prototype and it‘s been very positive. There‘s certainly room for improvement in a variety of mechanics, but that‘s the reason why we created a prototype in the first place: it allow us to get feedback and rapidly improve on things that don‘t work as well as we‘d imagined, anticipated or hoped.
Week 3: Making progress and a new name
We‘re currently three weeks into development, and we‘re making a lot of progress on the game. But what is a game without a story? So this week we‘ve also sat down together and discussed the story for the game. This (and the fact that Disney has a trademark on the word droid) has led us to change the title of our game, from now on the game will be called "The Yr-Initiative". We‘ve already gone ahead and updated our social media to reflect this change. The gameplay has not changed.
We‘re hoping to complete our first pre-alpha build by monday, so we can play through the first few levels of our game. Write down all the bugs and continue to improve everything. In order to get to this stage we‘ve all been very busy!
Ethan has been designing concept art for the various environments you‘ll be exploring in our game. This can then be used by our 3D artists to create the necessary assets. This concept art is then used to give everyone an idea of what kind of style we‘ll be using throughout the game. It doesn‘t mean that we‘ll actually design the levels like this.
With the help of the concept art Stephen has created a whole lot of 3D-Models to be used in-game. He has also designed the puzzles for the first few levels. With all these things combined he has created the first rough outs of the levels in the actual editor.
Personally I‘ve continued working on getting the various gameplay elements we need to get our game working. I need to get 2 more mechanics working (hopefully before monday) and then the first 5 levels should be playable!
Once we get the playable pre-alpha build, we will most likely encounter a lot of issues, and we‘ll continue to improve all aspects of the game. It‘s also a good moment to see how some of the decisions we‘ve made so far turned out. Is the gameplay fun? How‘s the scale of everything? Where do we see game-breaking bugs? Does the game look good? How‘s the performance? Only time will tell!
Development Week 2: Creating a new game from scratch
It‘s now been two weeks since we‘ve started working properly and we‘re making quite some progress. Since we‘re building a game from the ground up, rather than making mods there‘s a lot more work to do before we can actually get to a working game. For Portal Stories: Mel we could just use all the game code, and just throwing some things together in Hammer would already result in something playable. For Portal Stories: VR we obviously had to code a whole heap of the mechanics for the game, but we could still use the assets from Portal 2.
Because this is a brand new game, in a brand new world, we have to create all new models: New walls, floors, gameplay models and new decorative stuff. Over the last two weeks concept art has been created for some of the styles we‘re currently working on. Our 3D artists can then look at this concept art to understand the style we‘re going for, and create the necessary models.
In the meantime we‘ve designed the game, we‘ve come up with pretty much all the mechanics we want to use, and the structure in which we‘ll be using them: The game will consist of a series of 5 small trainings missions, followed by a big mission. The small levels would be comparable with something like Portal test chambers, whereas the big missions are more in the style of Zelda dungeons. We‘re currently focussing on the first set of small missions and the first big mission. In the past few weeks we‘ve designed these missions on paper, and with the first models coming in, we can start creating some of these levels in game.
Personally I‘ve been mostly busy getting some of the gameplay elements working in-game. Since I don‘t have all the models yet, I‘m working with placeholders like coloured cubes and that sometimes gives some very funny sights:
Just to reiterate: everything in this screenshot is work in progress and is NOT the final product. Everything in this image IS subject to change.
With that being said, hopefully next week we can have rough working versions of the first five levels!
Development Week 1: A new chapter for Prism Studios
I‘m Anna, and I‘m the technical lead on DR01D I also worked on both the Portal Stories games, and I‘m in charge of a variety of business aspects of the company. During the development of DR01D we‘d love to keep you all up-to-date of a variety of aspects of creating the game, and take you all on a journey with us. We will try to keep these blog posts spoiler free, and if we do add spoilers, we‘ll make sure to clearly mark them as such. In this blog I‘ll talk about the history of Prism Studios, and how DR01D came into existence.
The past year and a half have been absolutely crazy for us all, after the hugely successful release of Portal Stories: Mel we were all very proud and happy of our achievements, but at the same time a certain weight was lifted from our shoulders. A project we‘ve spent so much time and effort on over four years was finally over. We finally had time to do other stuff.
Fast forward a couple of months to early 2016 and we get the opportunity to get development kits for the HTC Vive! A whole new world of games opened for us and we knew that we had to do something awesome with it. The first thing that came to mind was to try and see how the elevator from Portal Stories: Mel would look in VR.
After playing some other in-development VR games we started realizing that just the elevator wasn‘t enough, and there was potential for so much more. So Stephen came up with the idea of adding just a few little levels of Portal-esque gameplay to the elevator level, and a couple of hours later we had a whole heap of ideas and we started working on Portal Stories: VR.
Since the Source engine currently doesn‘t support VR, we had to use a different game engine, and we chose Unreal Engine 4. Because of the different game engine we had to reverse engineer all the mechanics from Portal 2, and make them suitable for VR. Designing gameplay for VR is vastly different than for ‘normal‘ games. In Portal 2 you just press E near a button to get a cube, but in VR you want to actually press the button. One of our favorite mechanics in Portal Stories: VR are the turrets, people see them and ask, how do I get low enough behind that cover? The answer: get on your knees so you‘re low enough!
Once again the release of our game was a big success, people definitely wanted more. Unfortunately making games takes a huge amount of time and energy, and we could no longer afford making free games, and after discussing it for months we finally decided to properly form our company, and start making games for a living. While we were figuring out how to get our business started, we started the planning for DR01D.
In August we had finally incorporated our studio properly and we created a roadmap for the development of DR01D. We applied for funding to get started on the project and announced our plans in our initial post on the Steam community. Unfortunately some of the business aspects took a lot longer than anticipated, so it took us over two months to get the whole business side in order, but we‘re finally actually working on stuff!