By Jamie Finch, posted 29th April 2016
Hi! For the last few weeks, the team have been busy working hard on this brand new challenge mode that will be coming your way in the not-too-distant future. TerraTech Gauntlet was unveiled on the Twitch stage at PAX East recently, and will be playable for the first time at Insomnia Scotland this weekend. Attendees will be able to jump on one of the 32 computers running the game – face the Gauntlet! – and then post their scores to the LAN leaderboard in order to make their ghost data available for all other players to race against.
You can view the TerraTech Gauntlet Teaser Trailer here:
This is the first time we've attempted to tackle a game mode of this magnitude, and we had a lot of fun with doing so! We hope you enjoy it as much as we currently do when you get your hands on it. So without further ado – here is the Gauntlet Dev Diary.
Started by making a palette of props to build obstacles around the track with. I did this by taking grey box primitive cubes and cylinders in a test mode and driving techs over them, trying to find out what worked well as ramps of different sizes and platforms to move over. Once I had some good shapes, I made a standardised range of five different sizes of each item to ensure that I could build obstacles of different scales.
Then I took the spline that makes the track and started running it across a generated landscape. I wanted the track to take around five minutes to complete for a new player (any longer might get boring, less would be too short). Once it was the right length, I looked at including variety on the track, I wanted the course to pass through all of our biomes to show some variety. Beyond that, I needed some steep inclines, which I got from running it through a mountain, and some flatter areas as the staging ground for some larger set piece jumps, and for those I used a salt flat section.
Next I looked at the different challenges and bits of content we had to throw at the player during the course. I made a list of the simplest to most complex and tried to plan the obstacles out to offer a variety of challenges one after another. Whilst doing this we had to be wary of the notion of brand new players having a go for the first time.
As the course started taking shape, following reviews we tried to work choices into the track, "I can stick to the track and have an easier route, or I can try to take a shortcut through this narrow gap". For most sections there is an optimal route which raises risk, but you can always fall back to a simpler option if you like – trying to stick to the old risk-versus-reward rule.
Changes were worked in over hundreds of playthroughs to hone the track into shape, we had regular team reviews during construction where everyone was invited to call out changes.
I was in charge of scripting Gauntlet and building the techs. We have a quick tutorial for new players, which is based on the Story Mode starter tech but now with added boosters!
One of the first obstacles in Gauntlet are these turrets; they look a bit scrappy but they pack a punch if you stay within their line of sight for too long.
This is the Gauntlet Guardian; it'll attempt to block you off the track so you'll need to be on your toes.
We also have “The Wall”; can you find a way past it?...
...well, that's one way I suppose. But there are a couple of other ways!
After setting up the framework for gauntlet we needed something other than a score to compete against. To do this we now record the player's progress through the challenge and have a simple system to play it back. We record the Tech's position and rotation at key points and simply interpolate between them when playing it back.
We also improved checkpoints so we can have physical gates, and also loops (flying ring challenges down the line anyone?).
While I was doing that we decided to add some cool fireworks to the loops. Everyone likes fireworks, right?
Remember the splines from a previous Dev Diary? They're now running the show for Gauntlet mode!
Essentially, a spline is a bunch of points joined together with a nice smooth curve. We use this curve to form the centre line of our track, and we determine the edges by extrapolating to the left and right of the central curve.
The most important parts of the spline code are in drawing the edges of the track and in determining when the player has driven out of bounds. We also use the spline to determine the progress along the track. This is useful in determining when the player is going in the wrong direction!
Amongst other things I've been building some of the props for Gauntlet...
I also redid the timer GUI to fit in with the main game HUD
Ramps and roads are the big part of the Gauntlet mode. Having extra random obstacles on the track or huge ramps which can launch your tech into the air gives that extra bit of fun and adrenaline which you can't experience in other TerraTech racing or flying modes.
I tried to keep all objects similar sizes, so when we place them together, it would make a nice seamless road or massive ramp.
A massive structure that you need to drive all the way up. It's actually made of a couple of large modular objects that are neatly placed together.
I did several concepts for the Gauntlet logo… About 200,000 variations, plus or minus. Our initial idea was to make it feel like a game show logo, but it quickly turned more and more ‘Venture' and we wanted to emphasize the actual Gauntlet. So we ended up with this:
I also worked out some icons for the track so you know what's coming to you during a run:
Made some signposts for Gauntlet out of the new colour blocks… but they were deemed unworthy. There's no pleasing those arty types! ;)
There you have it! We can't wait to get this new challenge mode implemented in the main build – we look forward to seeing you beat our (Anton's) best times!
Take care of your Techs... and each other.