A new chance to back Em-8ER’s milestone crowdfunding will be announced and go live next week. Check your e-mails, our forums or our website for the exact time next week. In the meantime, we have lots of updates!
We’re happy to announce that we’ve completed the milestone for our previous fundraiser. To recap, here is what we delivered:
1) THMPR art demo – The THMPR lives! We originally promised a THMPR moving around on a whitebox test level using the Unreal Engine. We blew through this goal by adding a half square kilometer of frozen terrain with the latest in procedural texturing and real-time tessellation techniques. On top of that we had Firefall’s composer, Michael Bross, contribute some great music to the demo. Sprinkle in some bonus weather effects and fantastic landing, walking and drilling animations, and we have a art demo that is both beautiful and promising of what’s to come.
2) Design Vision Book – The book, both digital and print, turned out beautifully. 20 full color pages (24 counting covers) of detailed information about invasions, the aliens, game lore, crafting and resource systems, omniframe system, and base building clearly define the direction of the game. In my past experience this is the most complete and best “pitch-book” we’ve ever made for publishers or prospective gamers. This should go a long way to explaining how Em-8ER will feel and play.
3) 3D printed THMPR busts. These prints are highly detailed, with many overlapping layers and “undercuts” that made printing them a challenge. We created “model kits” by re-sculpting parts in zBrush, then output them in parts and assembled them. We also created bases for them as a bonus, made from copper and stained wood. The process takes almost a day for each THMPR, not including painting times for the highest tier backers.
These rewards are in the process of shipping out to backers. We can’t thank you enough for your support and help during this past milestone.
WHAT’S NEXT – NEW FUNDRAISER
With the past milestone done, our new milestone fundraiser will be unveiled next week! This milestone will focus on the human characters, both male and female models, their “geesuits,” basic animations, and a gun for the Omniframe so we can have basic shooting mechanics.
New backers will gain immediate access to the current THMPR art demo and the design PDF at eligible levels. Since our mailing list has grown from 1500 to 8300 members, we anticipate a lot of newcomers who haven’t had the chance to back Em-8ER before or see our current progress!
All these milestones (we anticipate 3 more or so), will combine to create the ultimate playable mockup of the game. The mockup will include a sample THMPR encounter with attacking Tsi-Hu shapeshifting aliens, gliding and jetting Omniframes with basic abilities, and a frenzy of sample ranged and melee combat. This demo will be used to promote our eventual Kickstarter and future funding of the game.
Finally, JoeSolo continues his work on the Omniframe by modeling the legs and streaming it live. Join us this Sunday from 6PM-8PM PST to watch Joe work his modeling magic on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCSieVxJhO1EbiRVn3XfYerA
Looking back we’ve learned a lot about how long things take with a part time team. It took a long time to build the THMPR model to AAA standards, longer than we would have liked. But given only one part-time modeler doing everything from high-poly to low poly and materials, we were able to still deliver a stunning result.
Lacking an animator and a rigger (someone who prepares models for animation) also added time and cost. We did not budget for this originally, and finding someone to take on this task was a challenge. In the end we found a AAA animator who worked on Gears of War 4 ready to help out and we got some fantastic animations into our demo.
Physical goods also consumed a lot of time. Each THMPR 3D print took nearly 19 hours to print, clean and assemble (57 models made). Booklets also took a long time to write, layout, proof (thank you community!) and print. Add shipping times for 1 person packing everything and filling out 80 customs forms and you have a lot to do!
Taking all the lessons we’ve learned, we’ve taken steps to speed up the process:
1) More hours – More of us are putting in more hours (away from our day jobs, I myself am full-time on Em-8ER). This increases the cost, but we feel momentum is more important to building support behind the project.
2) More staff – We’ve added a second modeler to the team, and I will be doing some of the modeling duties for props in world and the gun. We’ve already addressed the animation issue by adding 2 devs to our animation team and built those costs into the budget.
3) No physical goods – Building and shipping physical goods takes time away from development. In some cases, quite a bit of time. Focusing on awesome, yummy, virtual rewards will free up over a man-month or two of production time that can be used on the game itself.
4) Staggered milestones – While we are working on one milestone, we partially spin up the next one, even before funding it. We take the risk (of the next milestone not funding) so that we can speed up delivery of each milestone. The new fundraiser for the player characters is our first foray into this process. The humans are already more than 50% complete, so a 4 month process will seem to only take 2 months to backers.
5) Pure gumption! – We are super excited about the project, seeing the THMPR run around, drill and laugh over the frozen landscape of Em-8ER is a huge boost to both developer and community morale. We are sure that Em-8ER is a THING and that we are headed in the right direction. The design vision book also clarified and focused our scope to an achievable goal.
With your help, Em-8ER has grown from a single piece of concept art to a Unreal engine art demo of a living, breathing, drilling THMPR MEK/A, a gorgeous design doc, and a community of over 8000 members.
With two successful milestones behind us, we look forward to the the next! See you in Em-8ER!