Happy holidays and a quick update

(click for full-sized image)

(click for full-sized image)

Its been a long time since we've posted any updates about the progress of Everybody's Gone to the Rapture, and as it's the holiday season, we wanted to let you all know a bit more about what's been going on.

Since E3, we've been working hard to get the game up towards alpha and we're nearly there. This means the game world is now locked - after many revisions as we've worked getting things like pacing, signposting and transitions from area to area, and around the areas right. There's a lot of backwards and forwards during this process, especially on a game that's not delivering its story in a linear, corridor fashion. There are six major areas in the game, each of them needing a distinct identity whilst hanging together as a coherent whole, and getting that right needs in-depth iterations between design, audio and art.

Alongside that, the art team have been incredibly busy churning out the volume of assets a game like this requires. It's really made us realise that the way we've always talked about the game, not as an indie title, but a short-form AAA, is definitely the most accurate way of talking about it. Making sure everything produced is historically accurate, to really sell a complete and compelling fictionalised version of rural England in the 1980s is a big challenge, but we've got an absolutely wonderful art team, including three amazing young artists all working on their first professional title, so we're very lucky. Alongside the environment art, our resident VFX genius has been creating some extraordinary visuals that are really unique and create a stunning layer of mystery in the game. Behind them, there's a lot of complex design and code, keeping a large open-world running at a steady frame-rate without compromising the visual quality, and creating an AI system that balances its mechanical role with really communicating a sense of life and agency. Often, the behind-the-scenes stuff is difficult to identify, but it's the spine of the experience and takes a long time to get right - usually something that is still getting tinkered with right up to beta.

The core thing about Rapture is atmosphere and story - a deep, engrossing, emotionally driven tale set in a living, breathing world, and that's a combination of lots of things from environmental storytelling to vocal performances. We went into the studio with a stunning cast in late September and integrated all of the scenes into the game during autumn, and we're really proud of the performances. We worked with a brilliant voice director and were lucky to attract some wonderful actors, and Sony supported us using a longer rehearsal period to be able to workshop the script and really get deeply into the nuances of the characters that you'd normally get. We think the results speak for themselves. Supporting those performances with foley, visualisations and art is the major task ahead of us now.

In audio, it's been a really exciting few months. On top of her many director duties, Jess has almost finished the score and we're heading to the studio in March to record it, and it's already clear it's going to be her strongest work yet. We've got a stunning, world-class line-up of musicians ready to go on this, and we can't wait to get it integrated. This is being blended into a procedural ambience and mood audio generation system that's been custom-built in-house and is letting us get around the normal compromises you find in game music that needs to respond to in-game events and player activity. The audio on this game is going to be really special, from voice to music to sound.

 

There's a lot to do still. The first part of making a game is hugely exciting, but you need to settle into a long process of driving the quality up, kicking bugs into touch and tweaking the minutiae - it's what really makes a big difference to the overall game. As we move into a process of regular QA builds, working through the bug database, pushing hard on lighting and colour grading, making sure we are balancing the process of adding depth and complexity to the art... this is the hard stuff, the real craft of making a good game. There's not loads to report, no shiny new things to show off. But - it's the part of the process where a great team makes all the difference, and we can definitely say weve got one of those

So what can you expect from here on in? We're well past the half-way point, we can say that. It's always been a tough game to talk about, because it's a mystery, and that mystery is woven into the fabric of everything. There are clues in the screenshots accompanying this blog, just as there are in this new music track we hope you love as much as we do. We can't tell you anything about the story without potentially spoiling it, so you're going to have to be patient on that front, but we're really pleased with how a story as non-linear as this is all falling together in a way that is really powerful and engaging which, after all, was always the whole point.

Rapture's coming. Omnes pulvis stellarum sumus.