New artstyle!

Hello everyone! We’ve been pretty silent last few months and there was a good reason for that, as we were re-doing our artstyle, which we are now ready to show to you. With this change we wanted to stay true to our amazing concept art, focusing on the contrast and colors instead of the old somewhat realistic approach. Let’s take a look at the old style below, to have something for comparison before we dive into step by step progress on the new one.

Old art
Old artstyle

This did not look bad, and in fact had some warm charm to it, giving off an autumn feeling. However the general feedback was that while it looked good, it felt generic and uninspiring. Empathy is serious and often dark game, and we wanted our artstyle to better reflect that. So we took the new concept for the roadsplit scene, that can be seen below as the base for the new style and started working on transferring the atmosphere from the concept to the game.

Roadsplit scene
The roadsplit scene

This has a lot of colors in it (mainly reds and green) as well as contrast between the background and the left part of the image. But before getting to the colors we re-did our basic 3D assets, trees among others, to better reflect the concept. Below you can see a simple block out of the scene with the new assets.


First draft of the new style

We immediately liked what we saw, the colors and atmosphere were much closer to the original concept than previous style. However, this was only a rough draft of the scene with placeholder shaders and scale was still off. We started working on adjusting the scale and adding some new effects such as portal to next scene.


Adjusting the first draft

With adjusted scale we were getting closer to the atmosphere of the scene, so we started working on the shaders to replace the placeholder ones on the ground, trees and the fog. Some new assets and shaders are added.


New shaders

The leaves on the ground look much better now, previously it looked like blood spills.. and while the game has some drastic events, we wanted beautifully haunting atmosphere, not a murder scene. The fog is added, both to the ground and the trees in the background. All in all, it started looking pretty close to the concept, or as close as we could take it at that moment. However colors seemed too bright, so they are adjusted with some post process filter, and thus we present you the final result of our work on the new art style. Drumroll, please..


The final result

To see the screenshot in better resolution in our gallery click here. The end result fits the atmosphere of the game much better, with better contrast and colors. We still need to work on some of the effects, and post process will be fine tuned further. But this is as good as it gets for now without stalling the production of the content too much, leaving the final polish till later. Among others things on our to-do list is to improve the fog shader in the trees to be darker, as well as further adjust the colors in the scene. For now we’re moving onto next scenes, hopefully releasing a gameplay video by the end of summer.

And remember our emotion mechanic, that allowed you to alter the world around you in a cool way with various emotions? We revisited the design of it and made it approximately 180% cooler by shifting the focus of it to the story and people, rather than inanimate objects. With that we continue to follow our vision of focusing on the story and atmosphere, rather than item hunting and item puzzles. Empathy is about people, their actions and their story.

That’s it for this update. We’d love to hear your feedback and thoughts on the new artstyle!

 

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    First gameplay video

    Sorry for the silence past month, we were busy working on a tech demo and it surely has paid off! Most of the assets you will see in the video are placeholders, including the inventory and Shade model. In this tech demo we showcase our Emotional Planes feature that allows player to use emotions to affect objects around him.

    The emotions used in the video are the following:

    Denial: Contradicts a state of an object, resulting in the opposite.
    Bargaining: Affects the default state, changing direction or speed of an object.
    Anger: Enhances default state of an object.
    Depression: Reduces the default state, often resulting in slowing, freezing or falling apart.

    The final version will feature additional emotions. Emotions will also affect much more than puzzles objects, we want them to fully change a scene, including vanity items that are of no use to the player, an eye-candy to make the world more living. Emotions can’t jump-start a car or unlock a locked door but they will affect organic and dynamic objects, altering their behavior and state. This feature will greatly enrichen the puzzle design as well as storytelling.

    Later in the video you will see a Shade, silhouette of a man sitting on a bench. Shades are neither people nor ghosts, they are images of humans who existed in the world before the incident, their thoughts and feelings now burned into it’s atmosphere. You can’t have a conversation with them, you can’t interact with them, you can only see and hear their thoughts, often giving you clues on the puzzles and story. Some Shades will be stuck in a certain emotional plane, telling you a story by their location and pose.

    There are still some small hickups in the navigation, most of art assets are placeholders, but we felt it was good enough to show our concept. Let us know what you think!

    If you liked the video, please support us by voting for us on IndieDB Indie of the Year contest at http://www.indiedb.com/games/empathy

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      October update

      Hello everyone! We are currently hard at work producing a demo of the first environment, the City. It will be used to find funding for the game to allow us focus on it full time in the coming months and add more content.

      As you could have noticed on some forums, as well as on our IndieDB page we have been recruiting, and still are! We are looking for talented environment 3D artists, those interested can send me an email through the “Contact” form. However we’ve also had some addition to the team. Welcome Robert and Branden, two talented artists who will be helping us to bring our passion to life, as well as Karol, new UI programmer. Hopefully we will be able to showcase some of their work at the end of this month. For now Branden is taking care of the Park storyhub and Robert is working on City assets while awaiting a special concept from Massimo.

      We are also developing a new feature for the game that is meant to bring a certain amount of skillplay into the traditional point and click. I would like to see more active gameplay in Empathy combined with classical puzzles and this feature should be able to spice it up. We will showcase parts of it in the future demo.

      Lastly we’d like to show some progress Davy made on Childs animations. Check it out below!

       

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        September update

        Ohoy! Time flies by quickly.. You can now find us on IndieDB at http://www.indiedb.com/games/empathy. We are working on importing and setting up the animations of games protagonist into the engine and making a small gameplay teaser. For now we have a new concept for you to check out, of a park you will find in the City environment. Apart from the visual, big focus now lies on story telling and level design. The story is deep and will be quite a challenge to relay to the players while at same time keeping the balance between mystery and clues.

        We are also expanding, looking for more artists and several other people who’d share our passion for this project, please see the recruiting ad at http://www.indiedb.com/forum/thread/empathy-looking-for-3d-artists

        With all that being said, here is the latest concept:

        concept-art-park_small

         

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          August update

          Hello everyone! The project been developing well, despite going through yet another series of changes. We are now testing static cameras resident evil style instead of third person, which we feel better fit the gameplay of the game. The main character is still being animated, as for the story we finally settled on an outline we are all satisfied with.. that took us a good while. We have also an update by Forrest on the first environment (concept of which can be found in media section), check it out below!

          website_screen001

           

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            Child concept

            The concept art for the Child protagonist is done, check it out!

            child_final

             

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              Current status

              So what’s the games current status? It is coming along nicely, we have finished implementing core mechanics and now polishing them up, as well as starting to implement level specific mechanics which are significantly easier.

              On the creative side, the work have started on the first environment, which is now being modeled. There are also rough drafts of soundtrack for first environments as well as finished concept art. The characters however are still waiting on their concepts which should be done this week and forwarded to the character modeler.

              Design wise.. slow and steady! I am still pondering over couple of interaction mechanics but the core of the game looks quite nice.

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                We are recruiting!

                We are recruiting more people to the project, mostly 3D and texture artists, as well as character modelers/animators and those who have good knowledge of UDK Cascade/material systems. Get in touch with us through “Contact” page if you are interested!

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                  Welcome to the new site!

                  Welcome to Empathy’s new website. Here you can find info about the game, media and blogposts from developers.

                   

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