The team at Akimbo Creations has some exciting news as we start the next leg of our journey. ARC Continuum will be coming to Kickstarter early September.
It has been an exciting journey so far!
It’s been almost a year since we got Greenlit on Steam. We cannot thank everyone who supported us enough. With the help of CMF (Canadian Media Fund) and the tremendous support we received during our Steam Greenlight campaign. It has allowed us to continue to work on our passions and allow us to push the boundaries of indie gaming with ARC Continuum.
The offices of ARC Continuum have since expanded and we now have offices in Ottawa in addition to the original studio in Vancouver. Our studios are now home to many talented individuals who bring with them the passion for quality and indie games.
We will be using Kickstarter to bring ARC Continuum to the next level, every dollar we raise, we plan to put back into development to add features, powers and enemies that we had to drop.
We will need all support we can get, so tell your friends and family about ARC Continuum!
Update on Beta
We haven’t forgotten about the beta. We will need all the help we can get to test the game and to make it better. Our team has been hard at work to polish the Beta to make it ready for the public but we still have a bit of ways to go. However, once we go live on Kickstarter we will be CLOSING the Beta signup – so make sure you register for the Beta NOW!
Here’s some footage from the Beta.
Again, the team at Akimbo Creations would like to extend our thanks to each and every one of you who have helped us get here and we need that one last push to get us through this last leg of our journey.
We will let you know when we go live on Kickstarter – Keep an eye on our Website, Twitter and Facebook for instant updates, videos and more.
In this week’s blog we will be talking about the music and sound effects of ARC Continuum. We interviewed the man behind the music, Paul Ruskay, founder of Studio X Labs and a veteran in the gaming industry.
About Paul Ruskay
Dan: What projects have you worked on in the past? What are you doing to make ARC stand out from them?
Paul R.: Homeworld series, Turok, Strike Suit Zero, Max Payne. I think that ARC will stand out as a very interesting blend of the ancient and the futuristic story telling. For the game’s soundtrack I collaborated with a wonderful santoor player who added that ancient sound to my science fiction synthesizers. It was amazing how many different moods could be created with that one instrument. I think in the context of the art direction and story, the Santoor blends nicely to create a sense of culture and place.
Dan: So why do you want to be part of ARC Continuum?
Paul R.: It was easy to see a considerable amount of work had gone into the game when I first saw it in May 2016. Arc Continuum was an already fully formed world with characters, art, animation and narrative. It was easy to get inspired by working with an already so realized vision. In the end, it was an easy decision to join the team since science fiction is such a fun genre to work in. That, and we would be using both Unreal and Wwise to produce the game.
Process of Sound Design
Dan: What is the process for creating music and sound effects for games? (e.g. recorded instrument, edited, put through Wwise etc.)
Paul R.: The process is to first establish what audio engine will be used for the project and who will be responsible for what on the code and content creation side. From there, you build categories of sound banks that are based on the in-game animations or FX. These sound banks generate your first pass at the audio events needed for the game. Once you have that first pass at music and sound triggering in game and bug-free, then you can really start to tune and mix the layers into a final mixed experience. There is a lot of setup on any project just to get the basic audio triggering, but once that is done, you shift into refining all of the elements together.
Dan: The music of ARC Continuum feels very ancient and mysterious, what is your creative process to give it that feel? Do you draw from any particular inspiration to influence this process?
Paul R.: For the soundtrack of Arc Continuum, I looked for an ancient instrument that matched the tone of the game and came across the santoor. After some research, I felt that it would be the right combination of ancient and mystical feeling, and looked for someone who was an expert in playing the instrument. A percussionist I know introduced me Saina Khaledi who has performed on the santoor for the last 20 years. For the recording session, I created simple melodies for Saina to listen to and improve upon. It was interesting to hear how she would take the simple melodic ideas and improvise upon them with intricate flourishes. The blending of the synth sounding elements with the santoor really combined into the perfect combination of elements for the game’s soundtrack.
Dan: What is the most important aspect of any piece of sound or music in games design?
Paul R.: I think the most important aspect would be how all of those pieces of sound and music blend together to create the overall user experience. The great thing about working with Wwise on this project is that it allows you to craft that moment-to-moment mix in a very intuitive way. When designing audio or music for a game, it is so important to be able to get your work into the game engine as quickly as possible and test it. Testing in game allows you to understand the frequency of the audio event and how it triggers in game. From there, you can create an audio asset that is custom to how it will trigger in-engine. There are also a whole host of post-processing (filters, reverbs, delays, flangers) that goes on in Wwise as well which allows you to create an immersive acoustic world. So I always try and listen to all the audio elements from the end users stand point. You constantly need to be asking yourself questions on whether music is too loud or busy. Is the main weapon too loud or will it cause ear fatigue? As the whole experience gets tuned, all of those smaller decisions will make up your final releasable mix.
Creating Mystical Music
We want ARC Continuum to feel like a real world and the ambient tracks play a massive role in making the world feel alive. Taraan has an ancient history but at the same time is far more technologically advanced than our society and the music has to reflect that. To do so we have incorporated some ancient instruments, such as the santoor, an instrument that has roots as far back as 1600 BC. By blending this ancient music with electronic tracks we create a nice blend of ancient yet sci-fi music.
Progress for ARC Continuum has been coming along nicely. A big part of the game design process is iteration – that is, going through what you have and discovering how you can make it better. In this week’s blog, we will talk about what we are doing.
One of the first things we can talk about is art. Games are visual experiences. Currently, we are working on the levels that will make up the first playable beta. From an artist’s point of view, working on this beta involves looking at each level from multiple perspectives: How is the lighting? Are there any textures we can improve? How can we guide players where they want to go? What can we do to improve performance/lag?
By going through the levels in this way, artists can identify what they think is missing and add these elements to complete the visual experience. On ARC Continuum, we are striving to create a world that makes sense and feels complete as opposed to a world that purely exists to contain gameplay.
Something that is harder to nail down is design, especially as it isn’t something you can just see in a picture. Improving gameplay is a result of constant playtesting. Designers need to get into the game and see how the powers “feel”, how the weapons are balanced, how difficult the puzzles are – the list goes on and on.
Everyone at Akimbo Creations loves games and we bring that passion into our work. By critically reviewing other games, we can identify not only what their designers did right but also what they did wrong. The idea isn’t to copy systems from other games, but to identify how certain game aspects make you feel as a player and what mechanic, or combination of mechanics caused that feeling.
We believe games should always be designed with the player’s experience in mind. Every part of the game should work towards an engaging user experience, where each mechanic is a cog in the machine that drives the experience.
With the base systems in place, the programmers now have their work cut out for them – they are constantly optimizing and adding to the ever growing codebase that makes up the game. As the designers identify what is missing from the game, they discover more features that need to be added and variables that must be tweaked. When testing, you always find bugs that you never even thought about – sometimes when you fix one bug you inadvertently cause another. Because of this, a designer & programmer’s job is never truly done. Even after release, we will be improving the game with patches and even extra content.
Don’t forget, we are currently accepting applications for beta testers, be sure to sign up here and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest news.
On the 4th of September, 2015 ARC Continuum was posted on Steam Greenlight. On the 15th we got through, with overwhelming support from the community. We were blown away by the percentage of yes votes, hundreds of positive comments and the speed which we raced through. Up until now we have been conservative with what we share as we locked down mechanics, style and development pipelines. But now that things are in full swing we will be releasing weekly development blogs, where we can share our vision for the game with you and some of the techniques we are using the make the best game we possibly can.
Since then we have been very, very busy getting ARC Continuum from its early concept/Alpha stage to a point where we are ready to really showcase it with the community. The offices of Akimbo Creations have expanded to accommodate the growing team as we bring in more passionate and talented artists, designers and programmers. We have used this talent to skyrocket the game forward, improving the art style, game systems and content within the game. In the next coming weeks we look forward to sharing with you the progress we have made and providing an inside look at some behind the scenes of what it takes to make an indie game with the quality we are aiming for.
With ARC Continuum we aim to deliver a game from an Indie team, with an indie budget that can compete with the triple A titles out there in terms of visuals, storytelling and gameplay. We believe that the tools are out there now to create realistic animation, high quality art, cool particle effects and beautiful lighting. With a clear focus on what we want to achieve we can ensure we spend our precious time only on what will push ARC Continuum to greater heights.
The next few weeks will be big for ARC Continuum, we have a few big announcements on the way and a lot of great content we can’t wait to share. Next week we will begin to dive into the mechanics of ARC Continuum and talk about some of the fantastic way you can bend time to your will with the ARC. If you want to be the first to know when we post new blogs, videos, artwork or more be sure to subscribe to our mailing list! Subscribers will receive promotional material such as digital posters, the chance to get access to the beta and more!
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