Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Steam Support, Voice Actors and Screen Australia Support

Hey all, this is Crystal here to update you on what’s been happening around the Wander offices (my house *does* count as an office, right? And my cat counts as my assistant?).
First of all, I’m very pleased to report that we’ve been chosen to receive funding from Screen Australia, and I’m sure I speak for the entire team when I tell you how excited we are about this. Money (a loan) is great and useful when you want to make stuff good! Sadly, it appears that this type of funding is soon to be a thing of the past, so we’ll be sure to put it to good use. In other news… We’re on Steam, huzzah! We've got Steam support working, voice chat is getting there and everyone who's supported Wander so far will be getting Steam keys.
Now on to the really interesting stuff! Well, interesting to ME, at least. First of all, fireflies! What do fireflies have to do with anything, you’re no doubt saying to yourselves? Well, I’m glad you asked. You can find these little guys in the world of Wander, and once you’ve befriended them they can be enlisted to light your way at night, point things out to other players, or you can just make them fly around in circles for your own amusement! You can see these little dudes in action by checking out the video below, featuring me (Canadian accent included) and Loki, the god of mischief himself, showing us how to direct fireflies like a boss.

You may also notice, during your travels through the rainforest, that sometimes you walk past a rock with some glowy symbols and it starts talking to you. No, you haven’t been inhaling too much spice, it’s all due to the excellent efforts of our fantabulous voice actors and our splendiferous sound designer/voice-over director/voice actor, Elaine. I honestly don’t think I could ask for a more talented and hard working group of people to bring my words to life. Everyone’s working super hard to fill Wander up with more lore and dialogue than you can shake a stick at, and this includes sitting in a stuffy tent covered in a blanket for hours in order to get the best possible sound quality. Believe me, it’s a VERY professional setup, and I’ve no doubt that you’d all be very impressed.



Speaking of sound, we’ve also got some pretty rad sound effects happening in our menus, It’s a little thing, but it’s one of those nice touches that picky people like me notice and appreciate. You might also notice something new on this site, a link to the wiki Gamepedia / Curse are now hosting the official Wander wiki. As a narrative focused game we're going to have a lot of spoiler warnings but we're excited to have a place where fans can formulate ideas. Of course, it's a wiki so it might just one more exciting way for Wander myths to spread.
Another thing we’ve been busting our humps over lately is the intro cutscene to the game. I remember a time, not so long ago, when we thought that cutscenes were a thing we could only dream about and long for wistfully. However, now that we’ve switched over to the better-in-all-possible-ways-engine, Cryengine, cutscenes are now a very real part of our lives. Particularly in the past couple of weeks, when we’ve spent a lot of time perfecting exactly what it is that happens during those first few minutes of the game. I’m sure Loki is sick to death of hearing me say “I want the tree big! I mean, really big! BIGGER!” But all in all it’s coming along well and starting to look pretty amazing, all thanks to our fantastic level designers, Aaron and Sarah. Loki and I *may* have had a childish argument or two over the amount of camera spinning we want to include in the intro (let’s just say, one of us watched a LOT of Sailor Moon as a teen. And that person is me.); however we’re pretty confident that it’s going to end up looking awesome.

Of particular relevance to me has been the progress of our new character designs. Our art director Garth and his team have been doing a bang-up job translating my concepts and notes into some pretty sweet-looking characters. They’re still in the preliminary stages at this point, but I have to say I’m blown away by their work, and I can’t wait until we can all see the finished products. To be honest, when I saw the first griffin model, I was so excited that *redacted by Loki*.
Anyway, I better sign off before this gets *really* uncomfortable! Until next time!

Friday, 28 February 2014

New Trailer

We've been hard at work over the last few months on the port and we're very excited to be able to show it off at last. Here's a new trailer for Wander. We'll have a few more coming in the next few months demoing new features.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Wander to use CRYENGINE® FreeSDK

In the last post we talked about lots of the things we have planned for this year. We have big plans to add to our fantastic narrative while making Wander look and sound great. We needed a game engine that could help us achieve that. We're happy to announce that we're now using CRYENGINE® FreeSDK. We're really excited about what we will be able to achieve.

What does this mean for players

Current players would have noticed there was no new release last month. Partly that was because we had a few days off for New Years and the holidays but it was also because we're working on the new version. There is going to be a bit of delay before the first new release is out.

The new version of Wander will use a lot less memory, run on less hardware and be a lot more beautiful. The most important thing is that the new engine gives us tools to get thing done quickly, meaning we can add more content. The screenshot above is running faster and smoother that the previous version of Wander, while also looking very pretty. We've only just started and we've got a long way to go but it's going to be an amazing journey.

There is a downside to this. CRYENGINE has no Mac support. If you've got a Mac and have already purchased Wander and don't want to play on Windows or Linux, please contact us about getting a refund.

We've also got something else we're very proud of to show, our music is now recorded with our amazing musicians and here is an example from our intro voice over

We're still on Steam Greenlight if you haven't voted for Wander yet.  


Friday, 3 January 2014

A fantastic 2013 and big plans for 2014

It has been an amazing year for Wander and the team. We have been nominated for a number of awards and mentioned as one of the most anticipated MMOs of 2014 by our of our favourite sites, Massively. Most importantly, we now have a fantastic community of Wanderers. All of this before we have released Wander! We're really excited with what 2014 holds and we have some big plans!

Our success this year wouldn't have been possible without all the support we have received. We would like to thank AIE, the GDAA, Sony, MAINGEAR, AMD, GenAudio, Scalify, Oculus, Melbourne Fringe Festival, all our players and the Australian games community. Thanks for believing that a beautiful non-combat, MMO game was something worthwhile and that we were the team to achieve it; This year is the year we will!

We're very happy to have announced last year that we would be coming to PS4. It's exciting that it's now this year! Sony have been lovely to deal with and I recommend any dev who's doing an appropriate game to chat to them. So of course our biggest plan for 2014 is to release Wander. The main areas we're working on are the narrative, tutorial, collaborative mechanics, improved graphics, new cultures, expanding dream weaving, new ways of communicating, new music and improved sound design.

Game play: 

Our primary focus is making a great clear introduction for Wander and implementing all the collaborative ideas we've designed. Feedback on the dream weaving has been great and we're going to continue expanding how the lore unlocks elements in the dream weaving. We're designing interfaces to make this clearer for players while staying beautiful and immersive. We always try and focus on keeping UI out of the way, but we also need to communicate well.

Story: 

We've been recording all the lore with our wonderful voice actors last year and we're going to continue with that. It was great to be nominated for Best Narrative and hopefully this year we can win it. As all the cultures become clear in the narrative we're hoping that the depth and interest of the story draws players in. We're big fans of games with a strong narrative!

Graphics: 

We're currently working hard on the look of Wander focusing on clarifying some of our art direction, implementing all the new cultures and making sure Wander the best looking game that it can be. The water, especially underwater is receiving some much needed attention now. We're going over all our at to improve the look and performance of Wander. As we get closer to release we hope that better lighting, improved shaders and better streaming systems can allow Wander to really look great, while not needing quite as much resources as it needs now. Of course, if you have a next gen system, be it PC or PS4 we're hoping to give a next gen experience. Should we start saying current gen? A new year and a new gen, blog writing is getting confusing!
 

Music: 

One of the things we're fantastically excited about for this year is the new music that we've recorded at the Royal College of Music in London, with a collection of amazingly talented artists. We're very happy to say this music has been mixed and mastered by some of the most talented audio engineers in the world, at Astound Studios in LA. We're very grateful to GenAudio for helping with this. The music, and the rest of the soundscape will be presented using GenAudio's fantastic next gen audio tech called AstoundSound.

AstoundSound: 

As well as wanting Wander to be the best looking game it can be, we also want it to be the best sounding game ever. Game audio hasn't seen the rapid advances that graphics has seen over the last year and there is some great algorithms to improve immersion that aren't widely used yet. We're happy to be on the cutting edge of audio with AstoundSound. We want our rainforest to sound like it's all around you, and the 3D audio technology from GenAudio helps us to achieve that. Our sound designer luckily spent her holiday break recording even more lovely rainforest sounds and getting more reference material. We think that our opera singers, in a detailed rainforest will create a soundscape like no other. We're also planning to allow players to weave there own soundscapes in the dream weaving.

We're really excited about 2014, thanks for supporting Wander so far! Get on the forums, vote on Greenlight and chat to us if you've got any ideas.

Awards:
Nominated for Best Narrative and received an honourable mention for Best Art and Best Design - FreePlay 2013.
Nominated for Best Accessible Game - Australian Game Developer Awards.
Nominated for Best Graphics - hóPLAY 2013.
Selected for PAX Aus Indie Pavilion

Events Exhibited at: PAX Prime, PAX Aus, iFest, FreePlay
Featured Event at: Melbourne Fringe Festival

Friday, 6 December 2013

Dream weaving, day night cycle and a lot more lore.

Beta 14 of Wander is now uploaded. There is a lot of new content in the latest build. We have a day/night cycle now so you can see the sun moving and work out when to find shelter. We also have some new voice actors, Kathy and Rebecca. Elaine has recorded a lot of new content from these two, written by our writer, Crystal.



We're excited that the first initial version of the dream weaving is now live. As you learn more in Wander, you can imagine more things in the dreamscape. You enter a dream by being in a shelter when night starts. If you're in a shelter with other players you will be able to visit each others dreams.


We've got big plans for the next month as well. Antony and Ralph are hard at work implementing Crystal's concepts for the new Hira (humanoid) characters and then they are getting to work on new Oren and Azertash characters, to join the Griffins we released last month. Sarah and Aaron are adding new content as always and our composer, Ben is going to be recording a lot of new music with a collection of amazing musicians.

If you have an Oculus Rift and would like to see what Wander looks like with the Rift before you buy the beta, we've uploaded a video in Rift mode. To toggle Rift mode in Windows or Linux just hit the Pause/Break key.



If you haven't yet voted for Wander on Steam Greenlight, we'd love your vote!

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

New griffins in the latest beta.


We have just uploaded a new beta (beta10) with two new griffin cultures. Antony and Crystal have been hard at work and we're really excited with the results. The environment continues to get more detailed due to Sarah, Aaron and Elaine's hard work. We've been looking at a lot of source images to improve our ground textures and ground cover and that work will be coming to Wander in the next month.


We have also updated the Oculus Rift SDK and fixed some Linux and Mac specific bugs. We have very big plans for the next few releases. The dream weaving design, code and art is progressing very well and we are hoping to have an initial version for players to test in the next beta. We're really excited about it.


The new cultures and the dream weaving all play a part in the narrative of Wander. We have some very interesting voice actors coming to Wander. We're planning to have new narrative content added each beta from now on.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

New cultures coming to Wander, nominated for a few awards!

As always lots has been going on with Wander. Each of the existing forms are now made up of multiple cultures.  We've also been working on a huge collection of other things since the last blog post. We've improved our lighting and vegetation rendering, made a lot of new content and fixed some bugs.

It's been a very successful time for Wander recently.  We're a finalist at the hóPLAY 2013 awards, were nominated for Best Narrative and received an honourable mention for Best Art and Best Design at FreePlay 2013 and were nominated for Best Accessible Game at the Australian Game Developer Awards. We're very happy with this given that we're still in beta!

Some of the new griffon cultures are almost done and we're very happy to show some of the new elf concept art:








Each of the cultures in Wander have distinct myths and a place in the narrative. We're also making good progress with dream weaving.