Well, we made it. Last week we submitted the alpha build for Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture to Sony Santa Monica for build approval and they gave us the big thumbs up. This means we’re hurtling straight towards Beta and then Gold.
In real terms? OK, so it doesn’t get any easier – the back half of development is all go, ramping up detail in all angles, intergrating stuff like crazy, polishing the hell out of anything we can… and the bugs. It’s all about the bugs. So by this point the world is locked, scenes are locked, we know what is happening where and when and why and how, but there’s a big difference between that “it works” and “it’s a great game”, which is where we all want it to be.
QA kicks in hard now, with both Sony’s internal teams and our new in-house QA tech – Foucauld Escaillet, who we’re incredibly happy to welcome onto the team – will be playing the game over and over and over looking for everything from texture seams to places where things could, well, just be tightened up a notch (and there’s always plenty of those). The art team split their time between bug fixing and environmental storytelling; now the world is there in its major components, it’s time to focus on the small details that really sell the sense of place and people.
In a month’s time, Jess hits the studio with orchestra and choir to record what I’m sure will be recognised as her best work to date – a score of incredible power and subtlety – and then together with sound designer Adam she’ll begin the long process of mixing and integration. At this point, all of the audio in the game, including voice-overs and procedurals, gets overhauled, tuned to each other and gently massaged into the immersive soundscape we’re aiming for.
We’ve just wrapped the first instance of a brand new AI system, which I can’t talk about without giving too much away, but together with the effort now going into ambient visual effects is bringing the world to life around us. The stunning voice-overs recorded last year are being fleshed out with visuals and foley, and we’re heading back to the studio in a couple of months to add the last parts of the game in, and there’s some incredibly exciting news headed your way about that in the near future.
Nope, we’re not going to GDC. Nope, we’re not doing any interviews at the moment. Nope, there’s no new trailer or screenshots coming your way for a little while yet. It’s heads down time, the unglamorous bit of development where you just grind away, making it as good as you can - the bit where you understand game development is about craft as much as it’s about art. We’ll surface again sometime around March with more news, but for the moment, we just wanted to let you know where we are, and that we’re making something we’re really proud of. This is going to be our best game yet.