Development update – April 2015

In order to communicate how our main projects are going, we thought monthly updates would keep people in the loop. Here’s our first one!

Actually, we have to be straight with you. And by we, we mean “I do”. Cognitive Discodance is pretty much the efforts of a solitary developer, Brett. I do all the writing, design, programming and all that other stuff. Part-time, as well, so the speed multiplier on development is way, way low. I’m also getting married and building a house, so life’s pretty busy. That said, Cognitive Discodance has made use of the fine talents of our friends, so it’s tricky to say “I” when there are technically more people behind-the-scenes.

Earlier this year, The Day After moved away from its bespoke C++ framework to Unreal Engine 4. UE4 is free for people to use and is incredibly powerful. It allows cross-platform support out-of-the-box and has most of the development tools you’d need for a decent game. Previous work on the The Day After involved building our own engine and toolset. Moving to UE4 meant that we can leap over all that nonsense and move towards actual content creation, rather than engine development.

I’ve had to learn how the engine works and plan out how The Day After fits in with all of that. A bespoke engine is good in that it directly supports the kind of game you want to make, but obviously it’s bad because you have to make all that yourself. UE4 is primarily an engine for first-person shooters (which The Day After is not), but it can be wrangled to do other things. So far there hasn’t been any major obstacles apart from my lack of knowledge. And if there are obstacles, I can probably program plugins to fix that.

On top of learning UE4, I’ve been learning Maya LT so that we can have some 3D assets in the game to start getting a feel for the game. We can probably commission more assets from real 3D modellers, but Cognitive Discodance is running off the financial equivalent of fumes from an oily rag so that might have to wait.

So while progress is slow, it’s been a lot more encouraging than in previous iterations of this game. We already have a proof-of-concept that creates a comic book panel from a 3D scene in real-time. This means UE4 already can do what we were hoping to do – we just need to put some meat on those bones.

We’re hoping in the next few months to have enough content together to give an idea of the look and feel of the game. Until then, adios!