Welcome to our second monthly development update! There’s quite a lot to share, so we’ll get right to it. Meet Some Islanders Characters are truly at the heart of Coral Island, and we’re thrilled to have David Lojaya work with us as Lead Character Designer to bring them all to life. Meet Yuri, Noah, Millie and our Mayor Connor (left to right). Here is a little bit about each of them: Yuri is an eligible marriage character. When she is not busy keeping the islanders healthy, she can be spotted hanging out or playing chess at the beach shack; She also likes tattoos, pastel hair, and playing pool. Noah is an eligible marriage character. An obvious fan of consistency, Noah was born, raised and settled in Coral Island-- with a brief departure to Pokyo for university years; Now back in town, he spends his days keeping the local tavern running, in flat colored khakis. Millie owns the house in Garden Lane and rents one of the rooms out to Yuri. She works at the Library and likes to spend her free time bird watching. Mayor Connor used to run his own general store before deciding to run for office many moons ago. He loves Coral Island and knows all the islanders. To get a more in-depth look and find out more, follow us on Twitter, or join our Discord server (for exclusive info). Expressions and in-game models abound. Content will be dropped on a weekly basis! Farm House Interior It might not be much, but this house provides a solid foundation for your new life in Coral Island. Customize the interior with unique decorations, change the colors and styles of the floor and wall -- everything you need to find the perfect combination. First Look at Crops What’s a farming game without crops to plant! Coral Island features a ton of plantable’s to keep you busy throughout the seasons. You’ll also come across unique fruits and vegetables that can only be found and grown on a tropical island. Here are some staple crops to checkout: [Strawberry & Potato] [Carrot & Starfruit] (yes, that is what a starfruit really looks like!) [Concept art phase] Farm Animals Sneak Peek Ranching and nurturing animals is a big part of the Coral Island experience. Today we would like to show you an early work in progress look at what the chicken and pig might look like. We’d appreciate feedback if you have them! [Model phase] [Concept art phase] Lighting System, The Day & Night Cycle Coral island features a day and night cycle. Your day start at 6:00AM, and though inadvisable, you may pass out at 3:00AM if you stay up that late. Lighting is dynamic and real-time in Coral Island. This allows for some interesting and soothing scenes: We want to thank BlackSquid Production for helping us with the custom lighting development! Smart Tile System We use the term smart because each tilled soil you make on your farmland is contextually aware of their surroundings. This creates some fun visual feedback as you work on your farm. Bonus: it is also an opportunity to create cool designs! [did you know, there are 16 different textures we use to make this happen] Farm Layout Improvements We’ve also worked on improving the farm layout. Now, the farm area kind of resembles our studio logo -- and it happens to function really well for gameplay to boot -- imagine that! Can you spot it? [lots of new things to spot... and secrets?] Grid & Tile Editor Overlay (Technical) Grids and tiles govern many gameplay elements in Coral Island, but the game is not created in a tile-like manner because of our loose 3D art. To avoid limiting our artist’s creativity, yet be mindful and stay aware of where tiles live and intersect, we created an in-house grid overlay system that is directly accessible in the game engine. The 2D grid itself and all the tiles are drawn in the world space with projecting Z coordinate to the surface. Each selected tile is then saved as 2D index in a data table, from where they can be used by the gameplay systems. Bug Of The Month
We are starting a new tradition here at SWAG. We’ll be sure to include our favorite game bug in each future update for your viewing pleasure: [we call this one ‘home run’] Whats Next Because we missed the farming deep dive, that will now happen next month -- we appreciate your patience! Expect to see more crops and perhaps a glimpse of areas outside the farm. Hopefully there are a few surprises as well!
Lastly, here is a tease of next months character reveals: Developer Interviews
We've started conducting developer interviews to share a little bit more about each member and how they work. Learn more at the links below: Damas Nawanda Thanks for reading, Stairway Team -------------------------------------------- Stay up to date by subscribing below. If you prefer something more intimate, you can connect with us directly on Twitter (Stairway Games // Coral Island), or join our Discord server.
Greetings from SWAG!
Stairway Games (SWAG) is an Indonesian based indie game dev studio founded in March 2019. The studio resides in the remote region of Yogyakarta, nestled between historic Buddhist and Hindu temples. Our team currently consists of 24 passionate talents. This includes a blend of both permanent crew members and remote collaborators, operating across several time zones and disciplines. Soma and I founded SWAG with three main goals in mind: 1. Cultivate a studio culture that is in service of creating polished games 2. Treat our fellow crew as human beings, which means a good work life balance and good pay 3. Help drive growth for the game development scene in Indonesia Developing a game is no small feat, and several members of our team actually had little to no experience with Unreal Engine when we first started out. It’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking about the journey towards the end goal, when what matters most is the resilience to keep at it. The philosophy behind our studio name and logo is just that, the importance of pressing ‘continue’ - analogous to taking one step at a time towards our current goal, Coral Island. Starting this month (March 31st), we will be using our website to post monthly development updates of Coral Island. Our dev updates will be posted on the last day of the month, and recap all the hard work (success and failures) we accomplish. Since we intend to launch Coral Island as an early access title, we want to establish transparency early on and internally adapt to this new working rhythm. Thanks for reading -Jeremy -------------------------------------------- Stay up to date with by subscribing below. If you prefer something more intimate, you can connect with us directly on Twitter (Stairway Games // Coral Island), or join our Discord channel.
SWAG Crew: Damas Nawanda, Co-Art Director
Damas has always loved drawing and was determined to have it as part of his career. Little did he know that he would become Stairway Games' Co-Art Director. Here, Damas breaks down the responsibilities and new workflow he discovered as Coral Island's Art Director. Q: What are the responsibilities of an art director? From my experience, I realized there are three primary responsibilities of an art director: define the vision or look, communicate the vision, and ensure the consistency of the direction. Q: Can you walk us through the three said responsibilities? The first responsibility is every visual aspect of the game, from the crops to the town's architecture. After many thoroughly-detailed discussions from everybody, we decided to have a “never-ending holiday full of fun activities” as the game’s theme. We explored different looks and concepts for the game that may best deliver the resulting theme. It was a bit of a blue sky approach since there was little limitation during the exploration. Let’s say that there were lots of exciting ideas for the concept *laugh*. The concept artists, Reza and I, started to produce multiple lookdev concepts that best visualize that theme. We looked for references in different games and movies that might have suitable elements in realizing that theme. This was one from the many lookdev concept explorations chosen for the game. I went with a very moody and chill vibe for this piece. It was influenced by modern Disney movies, especially for the shapes, colour and mood. To us, it seems like a game that we haven’t seen before and wanted to play. This piece is also the start of my journey as Coral Island's Art Director. Next is to see whether this direction can be implemented in Unreal. Our talented team came up with amazing solutions in realizing the vision and we were pretty excited with the result. This gave us confidence in pursuing the art direction even more. Though, unfortunately, we realized that some of the implementation done here wasn’t able to be carried into the final product due to performance issues. Some have been improved to be better than before. Overall, the direction is still heading towards that initial theme we defined. Our pipeline is pretty unique. Not all concept exploration is done in the preproduction. Our pipeline focuses on validating gameplay as soon as possible. We jumped right onto gameplay-heavy concept and assets that require quick turnaround. Because of this, the other concept exploration is done in the later production phase. The exploration is done simultaneously with the gameplay phase. One such example for us is architectural exploration.
The second responsibility is to communicate the direction of the visual properly. To do it, we needed to break down what our art direction actually is based on the lookdev and identify the right characteristics that describe it best. By breaking down the art direction, we can use it as a guide to future visual assets and designs down the line. Q: Are the characteristics used to shape the game’s “look”? Yes, that's right. The words we associated with Coral Island’s theme are “playful,” “pleasant,” and “rich”. We consider them as an art pillar to realize the art direction. For example, to inject the playfulness into the game, one of the approaches we use are using exaggerated, stylized shape language and use fruity local colours. But what does that mean exactly? How sensational should it be? We say it should be fruity, but what are ‘fruity’ tones? We try our best to explain that in the art guide by making tutorials, showing the dos and don’ts of each approach. For example, we have a tutorial that can guide artists to pop more of the large and medium shapes at a certain proportion while keeping a rounded and wonky line. There are also diagrams, sketches, and reference pictures to help the artists get a more concrete idea of how everything should be.
We need to deliver the visual we identified in such a way that each team member will understand it. I usually compiled them as an art guide. The art guide is the instruction book for different visual aspects of the game. I poured the vision I have in my head into writing and drawings using the team’s “language.” After all, the art guide was made to help not only concept artists but also 3D modellers, level artists, and other visual roles. Q: What about the last responsibility of an art director? The third responsibility is to maintain consistency of the direction. The most common way to do this is to give feedback on the team’s work. Feedback can be done by providing notes or paintovers or solving the problem together at their desks. It would be helpful for both the art director who gives feedback and the artists who create the assets to have a quality checklist. The checklist will allow the evaluator to be stern with the feedback and give a quick reference that can be used as a solution and example. For the artist, this would help them produce more consistent result most of the time, as the checklist is the reference for the design's quality. For some cases, problems we encounter may be more challenging than expected. It may include for us learning their tools just for a better understanding and to speak in the same technical language. But sometimes, when a communal headache arises, stepping back and having coffee together to bounce ideas and boost our energy is the correct approach. Q: What kind of workflow and management skills did you develop as you work on the game? Personally, it was learning to switch between the two mindsets, the art director and the concept artist mindsets. It is quite challenging for me because making concept art is best done in a focused state of mind, and giving feedback throughout the day could break me out of it. My strategy is to have a good routine. Start the day as a concept artist, use the morning energy to focus on creating concepts while I still have it, then later in the day switch to art director mindset to give feedback for the team so they can work on it first thing in the morning. Q: How does working at Stairway Games helped you shape yourself, both as an artist and an art director? I feel fortunate to be able to work with Stairway Games, especially not long after my graduation. They allowed me to step up and make a mark in the industry. The team’s passion has fueled my passion for creating a game that will be enjoyed by many. Nothing can describe the feeling of putting our art into the hands of a lot of players and positively impacting them. Also, most of us have this contagious drive to prove something to the world; we want to show what an Indonesian studio can do on the global stage. Though it may be challenging, it is exciting to be part of that journey.
To see Damas’ works, check out his ArtStation or drop by his Twitter or Instagram to chat with him! _________________________________ Stay up to date by subscribing below. If you prefer something more intimate, you can connect with us directly on Twitter (Stairway Games // Coral Island), or join our Discord channel.
March 2020 Dev Update
Welcome to our first monthly development update! This post is particularly special because we are finally showing in-game footage of Coral Island. Please keep in mind that everything is a work in progress -- many assets are still placeholder, and lack the final polish the released game will have. All that being said, we hope this gives a solid look into the direction we are taking the game. Here is a short video to kick things off, showing some debris interaction gameplay. We will post another video, with a much more in depth look next month. Your Farm Coral Island is set on a tropical island, and this is the plot of land that you’ve purchased. It comes with a farmhouse of your choosing. You'll have three styles to select from! (Your farmhouse, partial view of your farm land and the initial concept art) Pesky Debris Clear debris to start farming. We use alembic animations to provide tactile feedback for your tools. These animations store complex data while being relatively light weight to run! Custom Characters and In-game Camera Here is a glimpse of the characters you’ll be able to create using the character creator. We are still iterating on the design language of the models, and hope to show you the improvements we've made in future updates. Also attached is a look at the min and max zoom range of the in-game camera. Carrier Birds On Coral Island, most mail is delivered by carrier birds. You’ll start with a trusty pigeon, and will have the option of acquiring and unlocking other birds as you progress through the game. Current Game Performance We have two primary rigs for performance testing that captures a large range of compute power. The results below is from early, unoptimized code and shaders. We’re excited about where performance is currently at! GTX 1050 TI, Ryzen 1700x @ 1080p is averaging 55-60 fps High settings, and 100% resolution scale GTX 2080 TI, i9 9900k @ 4k is averaging 110-150 fps Epic settings, and 100% resolution scale Next Update
We are working hard on our smart tile and grass system, in addition to other exciting things, for the next development update. We'll also be showing a deeper look at the core farming aspect of the game.
Thanks for reading, Stairway Team -------------------------------------------- Stay up to date with by subscribing below. If you prefer something more intimate, you can connect with us directly on Twitter (Stairway Games // Coral Island), or join our Discord channel.