Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016: Starting Epitasis and what lies beyond

I've never actually taken the time to talk about how I started Epitasis or how it came to be, so I figured the end of the year would be a perfect time to talk about that, and where exactly Epitasis is heading next year.

Epitasis started as a small art project, based off some code I had created for a previous project that never really got off the ground. The code included things such as basic player movement and a linked actor system, allowing players to interact and manipulate objects around the world. This gave birth to a puzzle system now found in Epitasis, and most of the code, while transferred from blueprints to C++, is relatively the same.

In terms of art, the project started with a small vision I had in my schools art gallery back in March of this year. While no particular piece caught my attention, something about the room made my brain click and I finally had what I was looking for in my next project: A colorful world, a green field, and an orange planet. I immediately began working on this exact area, and within a week I had a small prototype, which looked like this:

Not long after that, I took a month long trip to Costa Rica. Traveling around to a few places throughout the country brought a long needed inspiration for colorful vistas and mountainside landscapes, which compared to the last few projects I had been creating, was entirely different. My previous projects were very monochromatic, dark, or realistic. With Epitasis I wanted a style focused on colorful imagery, and not focused entirely on being super realistic looking. Something along the lines of The Witness or RIME essentially, and so far this style has worked incredibly well.

In Costa Rica I also had the opportunity to stay at an animal rescue center for a couple of weeks as well, and got to take care of beautiful animals such as a Scarlet Macaws, Sloths, and Howler Monkeys, to name just a few. Heres just a couple pictures from my month long trip:

Once I got back, I finished up some summer classes and began working on the project with most of my free time I had. It's been like this since, but my free time dwindles between the amount of college work I have for my major (computer science). I also began experimenting with photography, as I took it as one of my classes this past semester, which has influenced some thoughts on things such as lighting and composition. I spend a lot of time flying around my levels trying to get cool shots and various times of the day.

I also created a demo for Epitasis, presented it at a local UE4 meetup, and in just a couple weeks in 2017 I'll be presenting it again at an IGDA meeting in DC. I may also bring it to MAG Fest in Baltimore for a hot minute in January as well (next week!), but as I didn't have a demo in time to apply for getting a table a while back, my time there would be severely limited to a small rotating booth between developers.

I also released a small teaser trailer for people to see Epitasis, and a website. Check them out if you haven't seen them:

This brings me to the new year, and where I see Epitasis going in 2017.

First of all, I should state that I see Epitasis having a "when its finished" release date, but having done something like that in the past I know that I'll be able to figure out a release date before its actually finished, depending on the amount of work thats left to be completed. At the moment, the game is in a state where most basic and core systems are completed, and now I'm just creating content, levels, and more designs to be added in and extended. Its a hard process, and to be completely honest, its only going to get harder as more time goes on. There is some promising designs I've already started concepting for the game though, such as a language based on real world binary numbers and how one may be able to communicate through binary to extraterrestrial intelligent life (see: Voyager probe plaque, and also prime number communication) and a bunch of other cool stuff I'll talk about in the following year. Besides from a notebook covered in level designs, the wall near my desk is also currently covered in new and old designs, take a look:

I hope to continually improve the prototype demo for Epitasis in the next couple of months as well, which would allow me to show it off to more people and at other events, and hopefully gather some more attention for the project. I dont think I'll be done in 2017 with Epitasis, and it would be foolish to think otherwise. However, I do see a lot of the game being completed by the end of the year, and hopefully a 2018 release. But like I said, it'll be done when its done, and I don't plan to rush it.

It's going to be an interesting year for game development all around, as there's so many interesting projects happening by independent developers and developments being made in technology, such as UE4. Overall, 2016 was a great year to start a game development project like Epitasis among so many other great projects, and I honestly cant wait to see what 2017 brings to the table. :)

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