Welcome to September’s Development Update!
As we push onwards to Closed Beta (December 6th) and Early Access in 2022, it’s time that our monthly blog posts saw some change.
Once we launch Beta, Prehistoric Kingdom will essentially be a “live” game. Because of this, there’ll need to be some alterations to how we communicate and post our news. Not just to deliver the information you’re interested in, but for us to effectively show new developments when they’re locked in and ready to present.
To help the team achieve this, we’ll be creating two types of news updates, Dev Diaries and Feature Spotlights.
The Dev Diary
A dev diary includes development insight, community spotlight and any social media news you might’ve missed. Arriving on a monthly basis, these will be replacing the previous devlogs. We intend for these to act as a very casual way to keep fans and followers in the loop, discussing what we’ve been up to and what we plan to tackle next.
It should be noted that these (usually) won’t contain any bombshell information and will instead be an outlet for us to cover more longform topics, whether they’re developer interviews, technical insight, tweaks and changes, or non-spoiler content.
By separating a status update from big reveals, it gives us more of an opportunity to maintain consistent communication with the community (hi!) while working on bigger updates or content reveals, especially post-launch.
Feature Spotlights include previews for upcoming additions and content, discussed separately within their own posts for clarity and accessibility. They could be a glimpse at an impending update, a deep-dive into a brand new system or improvements that we’re keen to show off.
Unlike the dev diaries, these don’t have a set schedule or frequency and will appear only when they’re ready. They’re sort of like a surprise party, but with bad wordplay and over enthusiastic paragraphs. Smashing!
Animal locomotion has seen a lot of development across September with many changes and improvements thanks to one of our programmers, Matt.
Creatures (especially large prehistoric ones) present a difficult challenge to overcome in video games, as you ideally want to respect their physicality and animation where you can while ensuring that they get to their destination.
When developing their AI, we need them to reach very specific targets or stopping points like feeders, the edge of a lake, and hopefully, not ram their face through a fence. Alpha was quite limited in what the creatures could do, so imprecise movement wasn’t an enormous concern for the time being - though many faces were smashed through fences.
Features like variable travel speed, foot locking and foot repositioning are just some of the additions we’ve made as part of our ongoing R&D efforts to benefit the animals’ AI and pathfinding. Developing a complex system for units as big as dinosaurs is no small task, but it’s definitely coming along.
For the patrons of your park, we’ll soon be working on guest needs! Visitor welfare is an important part of any world class zoo and as such, we’re trying to strike the right balance between detailed simulation and optimized solutions. Though we can’t delve into our plans too much, we are very excited to explore more of Prehistoric Kingdom’s management and crowd simulation.
And yes, we know guests look a bit terrifying. We fully intend to make them beautiful and lively, but our resources are very much focused on their underlying mechanics and gameplay for the time being.
Modular Building: Point Snap
Point Snap is a new quality of life feature coming to the modular system in Beta! When toggled on, players can snap any non-wall or roof item to 9 different points around a grid tile.
Intended for quickly adding objects like beams and pillars around a build, this tool gives you grid-perfect placement for those moments of needed precision. Creative accessibility is important, and we will continue to add similar features in the future.
And of course if grids aren’t exactly your thing, every item in Prehistoric Kingdom can be placed freely.
On a more technical note, the rendering for our modular system is now fully built around GPU instancing (like the painted trees). This means that repeated objects do not cost additional draw calls on the GPU, offering huge performance savings on large parks. As we’re currently working on support for modular prefabs, you can imagine the necessity for supporting thousands of pieces at a time.
Speaking of technical features, the long awaited undo and redo actions have been added to the game! Only terrain, water and the modular system support it at the moment, but we’ll be sure to keep expanding it to other mechanics before Beta’s launch.
The game uses a variable memory cache to keep track of all your actions, discarding the oldest changes once that limit fills up. Since this can retain a lot of data, players can hold down the undo/redo keys to cycle through all the remembered actions rather than constantly tapping.
In case you missed it, we released a Beta Announcement trailer at Gamescom in August! You can find a whole bunch of information and details about what to expect from Beta in this blog post.
Created by manuelaguero2702.
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Thank you for reading September’s dev diary!
Hopefully you’re all very excited to see more from us over the coming months.
Until next time,
- The PK Team