Update #30

Kieran

Developer
Recently we've been doing weekly updates on our insider forum, the prelude alpha is nearing completion and we've been keeping those waiting for its arrival informed on our progress and what challenges we've faced and overcome each week. It's been a very busy time for us but now we see the light at the end of the tunnel and we thought to do a more summary public update rather than the usual insider update.

We set a lot of extremely ambitious goals for ourselves with Sui Generis, we have to admit some of what we set out to do sounds a bit high-reaching. It's how we imagined future games when we were teenagers and that idea has stuck with us. You might find it a little concerning as a backer but there's quite a bit of what we wanted to do that we just couldn't be sure would really work. It made a lot of sense to us, we certainly thought we could do it but with no one having attempted it before we just couldn't be sure. There have always been moments of "Oh dear, what if this just causes too many problems?" There's also been a few times in development when we've imagined just how much easier our lives would be if we'd have gone for something simpler that's tried and tested!

Much of what we're trying to accomplish is far beyond the scope of the prelude and that's partly the idea of the prelude. It's an intermediate goal that is built from the same blocks but doesn't yet need to take advantage of everything they provide. In the end we've invested more in the prelude than we originally planned in an effort to do things right. Core to our game philosophy is that nothing is a static asset or effect, a predefined animation or scripted behaviour. We need to start with such things as placeholders while prototyping but in the end everything must be complex, mutable and reactive. If anything is possible then it should always be possible and be a natural result of the underlying simulation. We're not just talking about physics here but rather how everything has a meaning or purpose, how AI understands what things are and how they may relate to other things. Our event system and AI are aimed at providing an emergent story but we believe the most important and challenging aspect of this is the little things that drive how that story unfolds; the actions and objects that are instrumental to what actually happens and how what happens and happened previously can be perceived by AI. This has always been central to our design.

So far we've been very busy with overcoming the technical challenges of how to run a game where everything is dynamic, interacts and all motion is governed by physical forces; how everything can be described, how information can be accessed, interpreted and exchanged; how things behave in consistent and plausible ways rather than through simple schematic models; how AI can form opinions and make decisions that give them access to potentially unlimited options and roles, and do this in a lifelike and natural way rather than through a rigid set of unscrutable rules.

While on the surface the prelude is quite simple we have always remained true to our goals, it is built on these things and they are functional. It shows that we've already overcome the most serious technical challenges. Really we could not have hoped for better results. SG's physical world works beautifully and it can communicate, beneath the surface it is so much more than the typical series of player activated things, it is bursting with meaning and potential ready to be unlocked.

Now we're less concerned with technical issues and what could go wrong but rather with how to take advantage of everything we've done. Nagging concerns are being replaced by a flood of ideas about what can be done with what we've put in place. We still have a lot of work ahead of us, there's no mistaking it. We have developed models and methods, algorithms and data structures but ultimately it's the data itself that drives the world. We still have to design many of the things themselves, the activites or specific behaviours, the knowledge that governs them. This is an incremental process however where we can gradually expand options, understanding and possibilities.


We realise a lot of this may seem quite abstract but it's difficult to go into detail in a concise manner. Some people might also find knowing how things work breaks the illusion. If you are interested and have access to our insider forum, you will find more information about our AI systems, about how things in the world carry information and many other things besides. We plan to continue making frequent posts with detail of our progress and some of the game's inner workings.


On a more practical note, the prelude alpha is indeed very near completion. We've solved every major issue we're aware of, including those mentioned in our last insider Sunday update. This last week we've stopped to take a breath for the first time in a while and just look at what we're doing which is what inspired this update. It's very satisfying and exciting to see everything working smoothly. This week we'll be finalising some user interaction features and work on an actual release build. Performance on lower end systems is still potentially a concern at the moment (this is not a serious issue and will be solved completely) but we think it may be acceptable for a first alpha release.


Best,

Bare Mettle
 

Tony

Moderator
Wow, very exciting to hear about how well everything is progressing! Thanks for the great update, @Kieran.

It seems that the team has tackled some of the most difficult mechanics and now has a solid foundation to build off of. I'm very keen on seeing what new and innovative ideas you guys (and gal) come up with in order to utilize the AI and other mechanics which are unique to SG.

The entire Bare Mettle team deserves a mini-vacation after the prelude alpha is released. Is it possible to send you guys a nice bottle of wine or case of beer to celebrate? :D *Cheers!*
 

JoeysLucky22

Insider
Tease, tease, tease... Do you realize this stuff is just torturing your community???

Kidding of course! I love reading these 'supdates' and getting a behind the scenes taste of cutting edge game development. You're not only doing a service to this community but to game enthusiasts everywhere who love to see this kind of transparency at such an early stage of development. We get to learn along with you!

I'm extremely eager to help play test this prelude. Even the early combat demos you guys have released blew me away! You've done a fantastic job with the combat mechanics already so I can't imagine what you guys have in store for the prelude.

Keep at it Bare Mettle! I'm already singing praise about this team with all my gaming buddies. I have a strong feeling this game is going to set a new bar in the RPG genre.
 

Parco

Insider
It's been a very busy time for us but now we see the light at the end of the tunnel
Best,
Bare Mettle
Nooo, dont go towards the light!!! :p
Also, I think you guys should just stop here and start simplifying it, you have to think about all the other games being released, you are putting the current generation of games to shame. making a game that skips generations ahead compared to other games, its gonna shake up the market and make the consumer demand more than other game manufactures can handle and that will force them out of business. so to avoid the market collapsing i think the game needs to be delayed 6-7 years before its safe to release it.
 

tiny lampe

Insider
the prelude alpha is indeed very near completion. This week we'll be finalising some user interaction features and work on an actual release build.
I dare not say next week but...in two weeks, yes, in just two weeks...some of us may embark on a revolutionary dungeon-crawling experience. I'm ridiculously excited and I'm not even an alpha backer.
 

lvk

Insider
Super exciting news! I do have an off-putting concern, the center bit of the second paragraph (where you mention there were moments you weren't sure it would all work out) - it makes it sound like the introduction to a typical PR update leading up to major features being cut, the kind Kickstarter backers are used to, even though as insiders we know this is not the case and the road to this point has been an uncompromising endeavour to greatness.

If you'd be a reader just following Kickstarter updates, it leads to skimming the post to see where and how the game has been compromised. Eventually if you read through the post a bit it becomes clear what it's about, it's just a heads up on how it might be interpreted negatively due to how it's written.

As a forumgoer however I can't wait. Finally everything you've been working towards gets physical shape (with accurate collision models!) You're on the verge of making a massive impact on the RPG genre, and you should all be proud.
 

lvk

Insider
@Psychomorph It's technically worth a lot more than money.

Sui Generis' Kickstarter ended about 2 years ago, which is about 520 working days (excluding weekends, but we know Bare Mettle and co. worked plenty on weekends and had already spent a year developing SG next to full-time jobs). Assuming they work 8 hours a day (they have actually worked 14-hour days) and their primary team members are paid average salary for a developer (going to work with $80k here due to their varying disciplines), they would still be over 200K GBP short.

This is assuming they never paid Bethain, Leonid, their former writer Tony (not to be confused with @Tony) and their new extra artist Scott_P, that Madoc gets paid average developer salary despite probably having been at the top of his field before he started Bare Mettle, that they haven't actually worked weekends or 14-hour days, and that they haven't worked on Sui Generis for a full year before the Kickstarter.

These are very, very rough estimates, but given all the personal sacrifice put in, I'd definitely say it's worth more than money.
 

Psychomorph

Insider
This is assuming they never paid Bethain, Leonid, their former writer Tony (not to be confused with @Tony) and their new extra artist Scott_P, that Madoc gets paid average developer salary despite probably having been at the top of his field before he started Bare Mettle, that they haven't actually worked weekends or 14-hour days, and that they haven't worked on Sui Generis for a full year before the Kickstarter.

I think they have a single account with the KS money. No-one gets paid (except contractors), but they can lift money off this account to buy milk and can keep their personal savings.
 

Fawz

Insider
Glad to see you guys took the time to post an official update on Kickstarter. Not everyone comes to these lovely forums to read the various tidbits of information you guys share with us, so it's important to remember to take time and keep most people in the loop with these types of global updates.

Things sounds like they're going really well and heading in the right direction in good time. I'm immensely surprised to see and hear that you guys have yet to scale back on your ambitious plans for Sui Generis. It might take more time to get everything right, but so long as you have the funds to keep working with the long term in mind us backers will continue to have your support. Making SG the best game it can be is the most important thing in the end :)
 

turtleman155

Insider
after seeing the heaped praise on middle earth: shadow of mordor because it has the cool dynamic nemesis system i can just imagine what critics will think of sui generis when it drops, everyone will be like oh shit what is that, as its basically 100% dynamic lol :D
 

tiny lampe

Insider
after seeing the heaped praise on middle earth: shadow of mordor because it has the cool dynamic nemesis system i can just imagine what critics will think of sui generis when it drops, everyone will be like oh shit what is that, as its basically 100% dynamic lol :D
About that, there is a consumer behaviour theory called 'discrepancy-interruption theory' that claims that innovative products are not always well-received by potential customers.

If a product relies on a well-known formula but improves on it by innovating on a certain dimension, then that product will be well-received according to the theory. A clear example is color television; when they were first introduced people immediately saw that they were the same product they were used to (black-and-white TV) but better. So of course it was a success. I would say shadow of mordor falls into this category; the developers mimick a game that is successful (assassin's creed) and add their own bells and whistles to it. Having something you are familiar with (black-and-white TV, AC...) be improved in some way comes as a nice surprise/a reason for excitement. That's why those products that innovate but without deviating too much from the standard are well-received.

The other extreme of the spectrum is innovating so much that you no longer conform to a standard; instead, you break it. That's what happened when people were used to radios and the first black-and white TV came out. People were unfamiliar with the product, they didn't know how to use it or what to expect, and this created negative feelings towards the product, at least initially. This should not be surprising; it's the 'good old fear (and hence rejection) towards to unknown'. That's why to successfully introduce revolutionary products in the market companies need to spend substantial amounts of resources to educate their potential customers regarding what the new product can do for them. Of course, some may be more averse and skeptical than others; it all depends on how open to new experiences one is.

Personally, I believe Sui Generis falls into the 'break the stanard' category instead of the 'bells and whistles' category. This means that it may be substantially more difficult for Sui Generis (when compared to Shadows of Mordor) to receive the praise it deserves (both by reviewers and by the general public). On the bright side, it also has much higher chances of becoming a new paradigm of RPGs.
 
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