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.
If you have been following us on social media, you must’ve noticed that we have been teasing the Lore of ARC Continuum. Today, we delve deeper into the world of Taraan and the ARC itself.
Taraan is a desert planet born out of chaos on the outer reaches of the known universe, unique for a raw, powerful energy source at its core – Kalatrium, which resonates at the same frequency throughout the multiverse. This energy source is the cradle of Taraanian civilization. For eons, the people of Taraan lived in darkness, until the source revealed itself and the people managed to transform this energy source into light. As society flourished, a select group of people noticed the curious effect this substance had on time and a full scientific inquiry was launched. For years, the scientists could not crack the code of Kalatrium’s structure. It remained a startling mystery they craved to solve, until one woman – Zara – transformed this energy and created the ARC.
The people of Taraan built a great cult around Zara, who would become queen and rule the ancient world, manipulating time and seeming to defy it herself. Get a greater taste of the mythos of this tale, by checking out the video below
Unlock the power of the ARC and manipulate time by signing up for a chance to be ARC Continuum Beta tester today. Only time will tell if you can be trusted with such great power.
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for instant updates, videos and more.
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.
For the ultimate combat experience in game play, there are three aspects that every player looks into: fluid actions, satisfying kills, and overall, a darn fun experience. Incorporating all of these into ARC Continuum is no easy feat – it takes a lot of time and brainstorming, but as we progress our hero’s weaponry and powers are becoming more and more sophisticated. How did we get to that level? One of our game developers, Zack Bryan broke it down for us. Here are some interesting bits about Arc Continuum’s combat development.
Weaponry and Combat
Designing weapons for combat is no small feat. There are so many variables and odd little things that you have to pay attention to while designing weapons for combat. In ARC Continuum, these weapons will be with you for the entirety of the game. If they’re not fun, how will the game be fun?
Our weapons started off with just the Machine Gun, and that was it. As we continued through development, we felt that combat was lacking. So after many discussions, we decided to follow the classic archetype of weapons and created the Shotgun and Sniper to go along with the Machine Gun.
Sniper in Action
But how would these new weapon types affect how a player uses powers with their weapons? Our next step was tuning – making sure that our weapons are fun as hell alone, and even better when combined with the other powers.
Combining Power and Weapons
When creating the combat for ARC Continuum, our biggest challenge was: how do we make it so the player can utilize both weapons and powers together? We were really focused on making sure that the player would be able to use their powers in a way that would suit their method of gameplay. This is still something we’re continuing to improve as we go through development.
We wanted the player to be able to look at their arsenal of weapons and powers and have the possibility to combine them, or find strong and unique combinations to overcome the enemies that they’ll face. For example, you can use Time Slow on a group of enemies and then use the Machine Gun or Shotgun for maximum effectiveness at close range. Or use Time slow on a group of enemies to keep them together while you use Time Vortex to get the best results as the enemies can’t escape the force.
Blink and Dash are primarily meant for traversal, but in combat they can be just as useful as any of your powers. With Dash you can get yourself face to face with an enemy and quickly take them out with a point-blank shotgun blast and call it a day. Or you can use Blink to get yourself to higher elevations for prime sniping opportunities.
We mentioned earlier that we are still at the tuning phase; we want both the weapons and powers work great by themselves but even better together. Tuning is a time consuming nightmare, cause all you want is to make sure it feels good. But the difference between good and bad could literally be changing the effective range by 0.5 or adding a bit of recoil and a new particle. To try and find the best results, we actually created our own little shooting range in engine so we could test stuff like; projectile spread, recoil, damage and effective range.
We are still working hard to tweak and improve the combat but we are very excited with the progress we have made so far – we can’t wait to show you the end result. Here’s a little teaser to get you through the weekend: