As the new year charges on Trigghy (RIOT- Civil Unrest’s coder) wanted to update you on the biggest challenge he’s had to deal with. Let’s see what he has to say.
Unity3D’S crowd physics vs Trigghy’s crowd physics
One of the biggest problems and challenges we faced with RIOT – Civil Unrest was handling the crowd. Some of the game’s scenarios only feature a hundred or so people on screen while others feature a cast of thousands! What’s more that doesn’t take into account any useable objects, scenario elements or the like… it all adds up to one heck of a lot of physics to manage as each individual needs to react to the others in its immediate vicinity. The result should look like a single mass moving and modifying itself as though it was a unique body. It really does use a lot of physics and processor power and when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!
However, when I joined the project and got a grip on how the original code worked it became apparent that it wasn’t going to work for with large crowds. Using Unity3D does have a lot of positive benefits but the code was throwing up way too many conflicts between the navmeshes and physics. Looking back I probably should have reached my conclusion sooner; characters moved in strange ways and blocked the path of others. The way the original code worked was just a mess with no fluidity to the crowd’s movement. There really was only one thing to do, drag and drop it into the recycling bin and start again.
So that’s what we decided to do, scrap the original Unity crowd physics and start over. Of course, it had been a valuable lesson I guess, leaning what didn’t and wouldn’t work. Starting from scratch on my own code I adopted a different approach. I took every character in the crowd and developed a system with which each individual applies a varying amount of positive or negative pressure on the crowd members directly next to them. The end result is a far more fluid mass of individuals that react as a crowd would in a real world situation.
Take a look at these short videos and notice in the example of the old physics how when pushed back by the advancing police line the crowd has a very chaotic, digital feel to it. Compare that to the far more fluid way in which the crown responds in the example of the new physics. You’ll also see the difference in the crown sizes too.
For the record, following a couple of days off during the holidays, we’re all back working hard on the project and are confident we are making great progress. More updates and news soon.
After some time of productive silence, I feel that I can finally communicate what’s been going on in the past few months, and how after all this persistent fighting things ended up turning drastically in our favor.
Restarting the design and coding side of the game went way faster than expected, and thanks to all the assets that were made, getting back on track was not so tough after all.
To briefly sum things up, this is what’s been happening. I’ve been pushing the project forward for the past few months with the Italian independent company Ivan Venturi’s IV PRODUCTIONS, we got a great publisher (Merge Games), and a kick ass team on board. All hell can’t stop us now.
At the moment we’re finishing up the Alpha, meaning that pretty soon we should finally have the long expected Beta that we’ve all been waiting for. And what about the release date? We still don’t have a specific date yet, but we can all expect to have a first PC release by the end of this Summer. Because of its complexity, the mobile version will come out shortly afterwards.
For those who haven’t checked the Twitter posts yet, these are a few screenshots straight from the game.
Last news, the game is going to be presented to GDC 2015. Soon enough we will finally see the end of this very long journey, and thanks to all the community support, I can officially say that the results will end up being much better than I initially expected. So stay tuned everyone, 2015 will be the year we’ve all been waiting for.
The last several months have been very slow, full of confusion, stress, miscomunication and lots of exhaustion. The whole design and programming side will have to be redone from scratch, this time in a much cleaner and efficient way, but considering that most of the art side of the project has been made, I’m not worried about how everything is going to turn out.
Time wise, obviously after the last changes it’s going to take a bit longer, so there won’t be any beta or demo anytime soon, but no worries, after a few new changes it seems like we might be able to have some much better and faster result on the long run.
It’s a long, rough, battle, but the war ain’t over yet. Many things happened, and many more are bound to happen, but until the game is out, I will personally never give up. So stay tuned everyone, it’s a long journey, but the fight will reach it’s end at the right point in time. Promising paths are already heading our way.
It’s refreshing to take some time from work to finally write down another blog post. Things have been going very well lately, the developing speed has been progressively increasing, and the details of the new animations, physics engine, AI and visual effects have also been drastically improving with our latest builds. Danilo has been working full time on the map editor, Claudio has been focusing on the whole police AI mechanics, Jendrik has been implementing all of my graphics plus visual effects into the code, and Simon has been taking care of all the many legal sides of this project.
At this pace, it’s realistic to imagine that we should have some very good results fairly soon.
Part of the reason that it’s taking us some time to move forward is because we’re working really hard on the Level Editor, one of the most important and ambitious objectives of this project. As a matter of fact, we’re working on creating our own levels with the same exact editor, so that you guys can also create your own campaigns in same way that we did. The levels will consist in a series of generic backgrounds, playable grounds, and foregrounds to choose from as a base template, plus a very large amount of items, structures, roads, plants, lights, etc, that you can add by simply dragging them into the scene.
We’re aiming to make all this as simple to use as possible, so that if you wanted you could help the people that are fighting for an important cause you know about by creating a map and sharing it either with your area or with the entire world.
Of course most of the times a riot is introduced by some impactful event or action, and that’s why we’re planning to have a cut-scene editor included with the level editor as well, where you will be able to choose between any of the hundreds animations or actions available, and millions of different skins and clothes combinations for any character that you want to place in the scene before or after the riot begins.
We ourselves are also going to create all the cut-scenes with the same editor for all of the four main campaigns, each one with a very well studied, accurate and realistic storyline that we already wrote with people who lived most of those situations in person or have been personally involved with them.
After all this time, seeing all these things come together sure is satisfying, but the battle is not over yet. We still need to finish quite some stuff before our official release is visible. Soon enough we’re going to update you on the current AI, the game mechanics and objectives, vehicles and a very realistic and accurate sound design. Stay tuned everyone, great things are happening.
Having researched multiple riots in the world and having studied the phenomenon, we often stumble upon personalities which are hard to ignore; most of the times, those somehow special characters, lay in the rioters’ side of the battle and you will see quite a few of them in the game, for example Loukanikos. Although sometimes those special characters lay amongst the police and RIOT wants to tell both sides of the story.
Development is going great lately, we managed to put together a lot of material for a test build to show at GDC, and even if the build is very rough, the results have been quite positive so far.
So, let’s do a quick recap on how things are going so far.
We focused most of our attention into making a realistic artificial intelligence. Both policemen and rioters have the same psychological skeleton, meaning that anyone can potentially end up doing anything depending on the surrounding circumstances. Of course, rebels are much more “free” to do whatever they want, while policemen are more strainded to their rules and orders. This doesn’t mean though that a policeman can’t decide out of the bloom to pick up a rock and throw it to someone because he’s angry at him or her for some reason.
Artificial Intelligence is definitely coming out very nicely, and it’s definitely going to be one the most developed and unpredictable sides in RIOT.
Game mechanics are also coming out pretty well, even if we still need to implement a lot of material to make it work how it should. While rioters can be dragged around and can be instigated to be more peaceful or violent, policemen need to follow specific commands given by the player to execute their actions, depending on the unit type. Keep in mind that both sides can be controlled on the same screen at the same time in versus mode, giving the players the chance of fighting (or peacefully solving the situation for the professional players) in the same room, on the same device.
In one or two months from now, once we polish the playable level, we’re going to finally start testing the prototype until RIOT will be fully playable, realistic, accurate, fun and challenging. Considering the gameplay variation and the AI complexity, I’m very curious to see what’s going to come out, and what kind of tactics/solutions we can all come up with in each different level/situation.
Variety and random events are also something that I personally decided to focus on a lot. As for the animations, most of them are completed, at least for the main characters. There are about 1500 frames of different animated actions for each character, plus several hundreds of different clothes, gear, hats, masks, etc. Dozen of semi-randomly generated civilian vehicles have also been completed, and now I’m finally focusing on completing all the customizable vehicles for the police as well, for at least all the main campaigns. Basically it’s impossible to play the same map and have a similar outcome every time, both on a visual and gameplay aspect.
The reason why it took us so long to have some visual results, is because we decided to create a nice, user friendly map editor, so that users can create and hopefully upload their maps by their own. This requires a lot of preparation, but at the same time it will give us the chance of creating many more maps in a much shorter period of time.
Customizable random elements can also be added to the scene, any object can be placed either in a single spot or in a whole custom painted area, in a way to play either a very specific scenario, or possibly something with an incredible amount of random variety (from rocks to vehicles to spawning points or exploding trucks and tanks).
The actual backgrounds are what I’m focusing right now. Not too many have been completed yet, even if most of them have been carefully planned out and ready to be created in a way that every element can be used in the map editor. I’m going to need some concentration and spit quite some blood to make all this come to life, so bare with us as we do our best to make it happen.
light fx used to replicate realistic 3D lighting in the scenes
Cut scenes also require some time, also because we want to implement the possibility of having a cutscene editor in-game as well. Yes, this means that if things work out how they should, you would be able to create your own personal cut-scenes as well as your own personal backgrounds. Cut-scenes with randomly generated characters? Very much possible.
WHEN IS IT COMING OUT?
This is definitely hard to predict, even if we’re pretty sure that it’s probably going to come out during the second half of this year. Considering that the game went through a s**t ton of issues last year, and development never officially started seriously till November 2013, I can say that me and my team have been delivering a lot of great results so far. We’re predicting to have some great stuff in a few months from now. Now that we almost have a proper working scene, we need to boost out a lot of backgrounds, fix up the gameplay, test it out with many beta testers for a while (possibly people who experienced riots both from a policeman or a protester point of view), polish the game, and optimize performance for mobile and tablets.
How long all this is going to take, we can’t officially predict. But as we mentioned earlier, we don’t want to deliver anything until the project is completely finished. Also we do want to release it and play it ourselves soon, so that is keeping us working like insane psychopaths, possibly more than we ever did in our lives before.
So quick recap. Lots of things have been made, lots of things need to be done. Considering actual development started picking up well at full throttle in November, we’ve been moving like a high speed train since then. Predictions? Aiming for the second half of 2014. That is our main goal of course, but no promises.
Today I’ve decided to spoil some of the police uniforms that the game will feature.
Keep in mind that all these uniforms are composed by many separated elements. Each police unit will have different costume parts that will randomly vary based on the team organization. The details are noticeable just enough to give each character some unique personality.
Our main goal is to replicate unpredictable but realistic situations to give you the sensation of control vs freedom that you experience in real life during the course of most riots. That’s why each single character will also have different stats that will determine its psychology and its ability to react in different ways depending on the situations they’re in. Fear, fury, revenge, stamina, self-control, and many others, will be some of the elements that will make all characters more alive.
In the next few weeks you might be able to see some in-game footage, so stay tuned, follow us and if you have any questions feel free to contact me. I’ll try to reply personally to most emails if possible.
2014 is starting out in an interesting way. I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next.
This morning I woke up, and the first mail I saw was this:
“Do you ever do updates of development status? Or add new screenshots?Or, open a forum for people talk about your game?OR DO YOU JUST LEAVE UP THE MOTHER FUCKING BUY MY GAME FOR $10 RIP OFFBULL SHIT WHILE YOU COLLECT THE PEOPLES MONEY? FAKE GAME ASS MOTHERFUCKER.”
– John Q.
“”It is taking way to long to update the blog not even thinking ofinvesting in this game….. I check every day every FUCKING DAY and noupdate or anything thanks for nothing….”
I’m sure many of you already know this, but for those who don’t, let me assure you that making a game takes definitely quite some time. Also, if you don’t want to spend money to help us out with the project or if you don’t want to wait for us any longer, please don’t. Or at least try to stay calm, because the game will be finished and it’s going to come out, no matter what happens.
On the other hand, it’s true, most of you don’t really know much of what’s been going on, what happened, how everything started and where is everything going. That is why I’m going to write my next post personally and describe the whole story behind RIOT so far.
RIOT Game Background
In 2012, after experiencing a few riots back home in Italy for the first time, and after realizing how much the television was fighting to hide or manipulate some of the bloodiest and most powerful events I’ve ever thought existed, I automatically drew a few images of what I lived, using the style of one of the coolest games I’ve ever played at the time: Superbrothers Sword&Sworcery:EP. This was where everything started, and even though at the time I had no idea of what would’ve happened next, I kept saying to myself: “Dang I really want to bring these guys to life somehow”.
I officially moved from LA to Turin a few months after knowing that there was a lot more going on in Italy than I thought. I met up with a friend of mine (Lorenzo Mori) and an artist that I met through some new friends in a riot (Luca Delloste), and in mid July 2012 we moved together in my parents’ house for a few weeks to work on RIOT for the first time.
The amount of work we accomplished was amazing, and the results were beautiful. That was the first time I realized how awesome this game could turn out.
First RIOT team. On the left Luca (additional artist), in the middle myself (Leonard Menchiari, creator), on the right Lorenzo (Programmer), July 2012
The team was powerful, but it lasted only two weeks. Lorenzo had to study in England, and Luca left to explore Europe with absolutely nothing in his pocket. I didn’t want to give up, so I had to find a solution and keep working on the game myself.
At this point I decided to learn programming by my own through the endless possibilities that the web has to offer, and by February 2013 I was able to put together a very simple and cheap prototype that I made with my own hands. I couldn’t go on without money and without a place to stay though (mostly because I needed the internet and the power for my laptop), so I had to find another solution soon.
That was the moment I decided to start the Indiegogo campaign so I could work on RIOT for about an year or so without having to worry about food or finding a different place to sleep every single night. Once the indiegogo campaign started, I was able to make around twice the amount of the $15k I initially asked for. This definitely gave me a big push to move forward, and make this game a whole lot better than what I initially pictured.
The money was spent for licences, to hire different people, and to pay rent and food. Unfortunately, because of many issues, the team had to be changed several times this year, causing the project to drastically slow down in different occasions. But even though the game design was delayed for several months, we had to go through many different programmers, and there were some dysfunctionalities with the public relations department, the team is solid now, and the speed on the project is constantly increasing. We’ve been receiving a lot of help lately, so hopefully you guys will be able to see some in-game footage progress and how things are moving forward fairly soon. We’re also finally starting to picture a release date, but we don’t want to anticipate anything because I don’t want to make any promises yet.
Many things happened, many obstacles were passed, but the team is moving forward and for those who are still wondering, upset, scared, or tired of waiting, I can assure you that this project will be made, and from what I can see, I can already say that it’s gonna turn out pretty sick.
There is a forum for those who were asking. It’s not official, but you can find it on the Steam website. That is what we’re using right now to read comments and suggestions: http://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/discussions/129385144
As soon as we get an official forum page, we’ll make you guys know of course.
About the demo, we decided to work on it some more rather than sending out something cheap and hasty, so hopefully we’ll have some more updates about it soon.
Again, thanks a lot for the support! You guys are great and with a little more time and patience you’ll finally see how sick this project is going to turn out.
And so, another week arrives. And with it, a new blog post. But before we dig into today’s topic, allow me to deal with a particular issue.
Part 1: Peace Flags
Sometime ago we received the following email:
“Hello, Leonard, i see you do great game. But 1 thing is not great – the homosexual rainbow banners. While playing, I would like to feel like rebel, but not like homo rebel 🙂 I Don’t make shit-talk against homos, but i will be really embarrassed to play homo 😀 Hope you can add some other banners for choose.
We believe the question is rather disconcerting, given the amount of homophobia (even though no shit-talk is done apparently) and the ideal behind it. However, since the question gets asked repeatedly, we would like to state that those flags are peace banners and not gay banners.
Not that treating of gay riots would be out of the question, but not the case at the moment.
Anyway, we should better focus on today’s topic: the art pipeline and the No TAV campaign.
Part 2: No WHAT?
NoTAV. In Italian, TAV stands for high speed train. It is a movement born 25 years ago to protest against the construction of a high speed train between Turin and Lyon.
The general opinion of the protesters states that the construction would not be motivated by any real need, and it would have plenty of reasons to actually be stopped. The protesters say, the reason of its existence would lie behind mere economic exploitation.
We should make clear that RIOT is NOT here to send that message. Or the opposite.
RIOT is instead here to tell some of the events of the No TAV protest, trying to be as a camera watching the scene, as objective as we can be, as realistic as the game can reach.
Part 3: Concept Art
Not only Leonard has been hard at work in writing the screenplay of the No TAV campaign, but also he has drawn two of the four scenarios that are going to compose it.
Both levels are set in Chiomonte, the location in which the construction yard of the TAV is located. However whilst the first one takes place in 2011…
… the second one is from 2013.
As you look closely, you will notice that certain elements (such as the rioters’ hut, for instance) are in both levels, indicating that a different part of the same environment is being shown.
That, as the game will tell, has been due to a gradual conquer by the police of the area.
Part 4: Where are the pixels?
Please take into account that this art is just temporary, rough, concept art. Most of the backgrounds start on paper, to then become pixel art.
And successively be lit by 3D Lights in Unity, featuring bump mapping and dynamic shadows.
Finally, a reward for the readers who got to the end of the page: a frame of the introduction cutscene for the No TAV level set in Chianocco, the second location of the campaign.
To you, dear backers, fans and whoever is reading this post right now, we are proud to announce that after a long time of intense work, pain, stress, programming, drawing and lots of other fun things, we have finally started our development blog.
“Where have you been all this time?”
That, my friends, is a fair and legitimate doubt that may have taken some of you. There was no vital sign: we did not update the Facebook page, and the IndieGoGo campaign page was desert. Well, the answer is simple: we have been hard at work on RIOT, the game that we are all waiting for. In this post I am going to explain and break down some of the main aspects of the development. Some bits have already been revealed, but this is our first, big, post that is going to sum up and describe what is going on.
Part 1: Who are you?
Thanks to our backers’ support, the team is now as big as we need it to be. Five people are running the development, full steam ahead.
The team is composed of, in a very random order, Leonard Menchiari, the game director, he who brings the vision and carries us all. He is also the main artist of the game, and a pretty good one if you ask me (Check out the speedpaint and the gifs!).
Then there is Mattia, who is, well, me. I take care of the game design, a.k.a. “How the game works”. Leonard has the vision, and I turn it into game mechanics. It is pretty fun to mess around with an entertaining, but realistic system like the one in RIOT.
Then we have Giuseppe Navarria and Danilo Catalano, our two programmers. Both on Unity, respectively on optimization/shadows, and game logic. Last but not least is Giulio Perrone, our second artist. He is been helping a lot, and the art of the game is now proceeding at double the speed now.
As you can see, the team is all Italian, but our “office” is the internet. In fact while Leonard and Giulio hang out in Turin, Giuseppe and Danilo live in Catania, and I am located in Holland.
Part 2: What is this game about after all?
We have noticed that there is some confusion going around the gameplay of RIOT, so we should address it. RIOT is, first of all, a simulator. It tries to realistically portray the behavior of rioters and policemen during several real riots, which have actually happened in Greece, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, and Spain.
Second of all, RIOT is made of two game genres. If the player chooses to play as the rioters, he will find a game that is strategic, but it is mostly about fast-pace reactions to the situations happening all around him. What I mean by that is that there will be very little time for planning, and it will mostly be about responding.
This is does not mean that the strategic component is cut out, but just that the response time will have be short. This section of the game will be about controlling a chaotic (but not random) mass of people.
The second genre belongs to the policemen. When played through this faction, the game becomes more similar to a strategy game.
It is more organized, orders are sent through an actual “button-y” user interface (instead of the gestures used for the rioter), and the game is more focused on planning rather than fast response. Both component are still present, but the policemen faction is more organized and logical.
Part 3: You promised me a beta!
And a promise is a promise. We are trying to release the beta version of RIOT for PC and Macs in November. We are still not exactly sure about the precise date, but it is going to be around that month for sure.
It may be a problem to release a beta version on tablets, so we will perhaps distribute the .APK to all our android users instead of deploying for the Google play Store. We will look into options to release a beta version on the App Store and Google Play Store, but that we cannot promise yet.
In case you may want to pre-order it, that option is available on our website, http://riotgame.org.
We are going to say more about the gameplay in the next post, that will explain in depth how the rule system works, and show some footage in the form of gifs and videos.
Part 4: Real pictures and unlockable
A really cool feature of the game that we can now announce is that since ALL the campaigns and levels will be based on actual riots, each level will unlock a real “object” belonging to that specific protest. Whether it is a picture, a video, a description, an article, there will always be something to watch and/or read about the level you just played.
Part 5: Level editor, and the mission
Something that we think has not been discussed enough yet, is our intention with the game, and how releasing a level editor is going to be fundamental in that regard. The idea is that RIOT will not only be a game, but also a platform, or even an information source.
Players will be able to re-create the riots that are currently going on in the world, and use the video game to spread awareness about them. Through user generated content and developers update, RIOT wants to achieve an informational goal.
Too many times these events are not covered by the national media, so many lost everything and still keep on fighting. Too many voices are dying unheard.
Something has to be done.