Welcome to April’s development update!
We’re back with another DevLog showcase to discuss recent ongoings and everything that the team’s been up to! Without further delay, let’s get right into it.
Contrary to other months, April was mainly spent working behind the scenes on necessary parts of the game such as automatically setting visual quality on initial startup and ensuring that things like terraforming work as intended in the built game. Whilst we started adding the backend support for animals, the team also got their hands on a fresh new development build!
For this reason, we partly focused on documenting potential quality of life improvements from our internal testing to minimise issues early on. From here on, we assessed the next focus areas of development to bring new usability improvements to the game.
Whilst not as hot as last month’s island, the team thinks our next map is pretty cool! Packed with trees and exceptionally long in its terrain, the boreal environment is the second coldest climate in the game.
From the towering peaks to the flat, gravel-filled shorelines, this map allows for a variety of ways to build your park on its sloped, diverse terrain.
Working alongside Byron to implement one of the most important pieces of UI in the game, Mau painstakingly developed the Nursery during April. With a fresh look and visual-functionality that completely blows the demo’s design out of the water, this is by far the most complex menu currently implemented in the game due to all of its functions under the hood.
When an animal is selected we showcase an animated 3D model that corresponds to the skin that’s been chosen for the creature (yes, you can still spin it around!). This area in particular has become far more visual than the demo and is something we’re quite proud of.
Adding new animals and their skins to the Nursery is a breeze thanks to the dynamic nature of Mau’s system. Climates, habitat statistics, and skins are easily defined while all animals can be sorted into five specific filtering options; clade, climate, period, diet and rating! If you’re extra stuck or want to get specific, we’ve included a search bar at the top to find exactly what you’re looking for.
In regards to animal growth, the new ontogeny system is roughly halfway done. This time we’re taking performance into account to try and reduce issues from the demo such as distance “popping” when moving away from a creature.
The new system allows us to set growth and size changes across animals and skins, meaning that alt. species can have a different physical appearance and drastic changes to sizing.
On the technical side of the game, our best boy Matt has been working hard polishing and reworking aspects of the game to improve both performance and the visual fidelity.
To achieve this we’ve began implementing impostors for many of our high poly in-game objects. Unlike traditional billboards, impostors use a series of images from multiple angles in order to create the illusion of a 3D model. It looks great, runs great, and becomes virtually indistinguishable from actual geometry at a certain distance. Don’t believe us? Check out our “hotels” in the video below!
This technique carries over into the foliage, too! Distant trees will always appear full and fluffy in order to provide players with constant eye candy; no more weird shadows and shading!
The game’s grass received some love for the first time in a while! This newer iteration offers neat visualization for grass height blending between climates along with smooth transitions to other textures like sand, dirt and rock.
In addition to all of the above, certain buildings requiring the water’s edge will snap directly to the shoreline when placing them.
The team spent a lot of time with the game in April: building, creating and trying to find trouble spots within what we have so far. Thankfully for us, it’s going well! With some requests and changes from developers noted, we all greatly enjoyed building basic parks across the four Early Access maps.
Created by Mau.
Created by Nathan.
April flew by as we revealed another four of our creatures’ requirements. Including our first few tropical wet and dry animals as well as the showing of our first in-game feathered creature, we hope you enjoy this month’s species spotlights.
Beneath the peaks of our snowy mountains sit a variety of pines and bushes â the classic selection of a colder boreal environment.
Over the past few months we’ve been adding brand new climates with relative ease; so much so that we’ve changed our minds! With the original four climates now finished, the team is happy to announce that all eight climates will be coming to Prehistoric Kingdom at launch!
It’s important to understand that this change will not increase development time beyond our internal schedule. The addition of four new climates has very little impact on our workload and would open up even greater design opportunities for our players.
Now including 8 islands, 32 paintable terrain textures, and 64 unique plants at release, we’re sure that there’s enough here to satiate your creative desires.
Like other buildings from past DevLogs, the Gift Shop got a quality enhancement to its model and textures.
During April, Nathan prepared the Small Ornithischian rig for a highly adorable … cactus… thing.
Measuring in at just over 2.5 meters, Prenocephale is one of the smallest creatures found within the roster. With a uniquely fruit-filled diet, this prickly dinosaur is equipped with a signature dome-shaped skull.
Apart from adding alarm and broadcast calls to the original Prenocephale soundset, Byron remixed the game’s audio levels to achieve a better sound balance. Everything’s far more accurate to where it should be and we’re glad to have done this early on before introducing even more audio files.
Chicken Mimics is a new animal introduction track that’s used for a variety of small-medium herbivorous dinosaurs. Creatures like the Prenocephale and Psittacosaurus will use the light version of the music (heard in this animation reel), whilst larger animals will get the full mix.
Over this past month, Cindy was tasked with altering our feathered animals with a new technique in order to get even better results. We’re incredibly happy with how these new iterations have come out and we’re sure that you’ll agree. With some proper fluff and feathering, take a look at Guanlong wucaii and Yutyrannus huali!
For anyone who’s played our old demo, you’re probably familiar with the “gorgeous” Dryosaurus. Like other old critters, Mau’s given our long-legged friend an adjusted model and brand new designs based off the older skins. Thanks to Cindy’s handy work, the team is delighted to reveal our revamped Dryosaurus altus.
Thank you for reading March's Devlog!
We all worked incredibly hard this month, but there's no time to rest: we look forward to polishing existing features through April, as well as adding ulterior functionality to paths and monorails. Stay tuned!
The PK Team.