NIGHTFALL DEVBLOG #1
The first and most important question of course -- What is Nightfall? Nightfall is, for us, the game we've always wanted to play for ourselves that no one has delivered. Nightfall has been a concept in our heads and on paper for years, but it was something we never seriously attempted. We'd brush it off hoping someone would create this experience for us or that eventually a game would be modded to fit this gap, but we were let down time and time again. We've reached a point where we're tired of waiting around for our dream game to come to us - we're going to make it ourselves.
Some of you may remember a previous game we posted about here called Crazy Seas. We had a fairly successful blog here for awhile and had received some great responses from the community, of which we're still pretty grateful for. We ended up eventually axing the project due to the size of our team, budget constraints, and in honesty - inexperience for the MMO scale we were aiming for. I tell you this because something we STRONGLY believe in at Venatus is honest development. This is a passion project for us and that said, we want to play it as badly as you do. I speak of our previous failures so that they are out there, but also so that it is clear of our growth. Crazy Seas helped us grow and was more of a stepping stone in our learning, which is not what we intend for Nightfall.
With the boring stuff out of the way, let's talk Nightfall. As I said, Nightfall is a passion project for us. What does that mean? Simply put it means that this game is near and dear to our hearts and is not something we're taking lightly. We will develop this game. The questions are of course; our time frame, our budget, and the content of the game itself, ALL of which I will address in our DevBlog post here. So without further ado, lets get into this and officially begin Nightfall's first DevBlog post.
What is Nightfall?
If you're not coming from our Discord, (or heck, even if you are) I'm sure this is the question at the forefront of your mind. What is Nightfall? What is this game and why should I care about it. Here's a quick excerpt from our Discord which I'm going to stick here and then I'm going to break it down in more detail.
"Nightfall is a block/voxel type game being developed by Venatus with influence from Minecraft, Castle Miner Z, and other predecessors. It is a base-defense open world sandbox game that pits you against dynamic and dangerous enemies along with other players. You can work together or go it alone to try and survive the harsh nights of Nightfall. The game is an open world sandbox where Players can do whatever they want. To survive, players will need to gather resources and construct a shelter. However, when night falls, things get much more difficult. The players will need to defend against difficult dynamic enemies and survive to the next morning."
So what does all of that stuff mean? Well, Nightfall is the game we've been looking for in other games of this genre that we think have failed in producing the content we want to for Nightfall. It is obvious without a doubt that Minecraft is the pioneer of the Block-Type genre. No one is arguing that here. But Minecraft has it's limitations. We like to think that this is where Nightfall will pick up the slack. No, Nightfall is not a Mineclone. Is the world/terrain going to be made of blocks/voxels? Yes. Are some of the most core mechanics of a block game going to exist in Nightfall too? Undoubtedly. But that's where the similarities will begin to thin. Minecraft opened doors in sandbox games that were monumental. We want to take that open-world sandbox freedom and put it to the test in new applications. Our game is about survival in a much more difficult sense but it aims to retain the creative aspects of the sandbox of a block game.
Do you remember spending your first night in Minecraft? Way back in 2009? The fear you had of the night and rudimentary dirt house you built to keep yourself alive? If you play Minecraft, this feeling is something that is probably long gone by now. When the sun sets, nothing is different. You probably just hop in a bed and don't even give it a second thought. This changes in Nightfall. Our goal is to replicate that feeling of unknown you had when you survived your first night again... and again... and again. Not only that, but we aim to have weapon variety, a plethora of enemies - each with unique AI, and harsh survival mechanics. Seasons? Check. Weather? Check. Scary shit that's going to try to eat you? Check. We want every play-through to have a uniqueness to it but at the same time have a core survival instinct that you need to rely on.
Okay, okay, you caught me. I did say we've had this idea for ages. Why did we wait so long? There's a few reasons for that. If you don't care then this is definitely a section you can skip!
First of all, timing for ourselves. This is a time where we have enough of our own time to dedicate to creating this game. This is also a time where we have the resources AND the people to pull it off. Our team currently consists of 11 people, three of which are artists, two of which are composers, some with game design experience, six of which are programmers, etc, etc, you get the gist. Almost all of us are pursuing a career in software or game development (no exaggeration, literally 10/11 people on the team.) and this is what we want to do. We are dedicated to this.
With that said though, we are students or full time-workers elsewhere. This is not our main job and this circles back to the honesty we were talking about. This is another reason why we've decided now is the time. We're sick of being mistreated by other developers and disgusted by the precedent that's being set in development. Blatant cash grabs, under-age gambling, pure lies coming from development teams being swept under the rug and forgiven without explanation -- you know who you are --, we're done with that. So we're trying to make a positive change here and be open to you. If we need help, we'll ask for it. If we're struggling, we'll tell you. What we won't do is give up. If we need something we'll make sure to let you know and if we're thriving, we'll let you know too. (FYI, we're doing pretty well right now thanks for asking). This is why we've decided we're ready to bring you Nightfall.
Okay I'm picking up on the who, what, why, where theme here. Another section you can skip if this totally bores you, but here's a little bit more about us. We are Venatus Games. Our team began sometime back in 2013 and has changed a lot since then. There are now 11 of us who are committed to bringing you a product we're proud of and that we ourselves want to play. A cool thing about our team is that most of us grew up together. We know each other well and are a tight knit group which helps to avoid any unforeseen development crises. But as I mentioned previously, we're also college students, workers, and adults. By this I mean we have lives to live, bills to pay, and in some cases, others to take care of. While Nightfall is important to us, we do have other priorities as I'm sure you do too. We're funding this game out of pocket and from generous community supporters, (shoutout to Nedac!) and that's something we plan to stick to. If you want to learn more about that you can click here or scroll to the end of this Blog.
When will the game be released?
Tomorrow... just kidding, I wish. This is of course a common question and although this is sadly a common answer - when. it's. ready. We're working our butts off to get to a playable build and will share ways to play and test the game with our Backers/Patreons as soon as they become available. In the meantime we'll continue to overload you with information and eventually game play footage but we PROMISE to be as open and honest with you on the process and where we are in it as we develop the game.
Alright, alright, give me the good stuff already!
I think we've talked enough and it's time to start showing off some of what we've got in store for you over the next few months but before we do that I'm going to tell you my life story starting from conception. On January 2nd, I emerged from my mother's- just kidding, here's Nightfall...
So what the heck do you do in this game?
Well you can start by checking out our FIRST official piece of concept art by one of our own, Crimmy. It features a player standing on a cliff overlooking a valley where a player(s) has built a settlement. An important part of Nightfall is Survival. That is blatantly obvious. You'll need to eat and probably drink, as well as make shelter to survive the harsh reality of the world. But we want you to survive in environments you are not used to. The choices we made when designing this concept are purposeful. Notice the towering mountains in the background, or the trees that are more than a few blocks larger than a player. This is intentional. We want to provide an environment that feels real and not just pre-defined within measly constraints. Our terrain will be unique and provide new sights to see each time you load up a world.
The uniqueness of the terrain will definitely be a big factor of where you choose to survive. Each biome will come with different elements to it's landmass and all of them won't be plain, simple, and flat. Some will come with large spikes, some will come with deep valleys, and some might look so alien you think you might have walked onto the set of a Sci-Fi movie. But this is purposeful. Our world will have a flow to it but will also reward exploring. You might find different resources in different biomes, new ores and locations under the surface, or even different creatures. You won't know what's around the corner and this is one of the things that makes Nightfall great. We won't recycle the same four biomes you see everywhere (forest, desert, tundra, oh look another forest, desert, forest, etc, you get the point) over and over. We'll give you a palette. Do with it what you want.
Now, I'd like to unveil one of the first elements that players will have to learn how to survive in Nightfall...
Nightfall has four seasons. These seasons have a different effect depending on the biome you are in, which we'll talk about here, but the basics are the same. Seasons change the length of the day/night cycle, the growth of crops, the enemies you'll see, and even the temperature. They are not something to mess around with but there are plenty of ways to counteract them. Check out this conceptual GIF of seasons in Nightfall and the graphic below to learn more about what seasons effect.
Oh, I've got a spring in my step when it's spring (Cheesy, I'm done I promise). The flowers are blooming, the weather is nicer, albeit there's some rain, but things are better in the Spring. It's the season right after Winter so I'd sure hope so. Spring is the time to plant your crops and emerge from your winter hidey-holes. Spring is the time to gather plentiful food and enjoy the warm sun as the days get longer again. Overall although, Spring is one of the two more mild seasons for sure. This is your time to not really have to worry about anything being too different from a biome's defaults. Check out a more detailed list of Spring's effects in the graphic below.
Oh boy, oh boy, it's Summer! Summer is warm, summer is bright, but you do need to be careful. If you're in the wrong place Summer can be intense. During the Summer, you'll want to avoid generically hot places and bring along ways to cool yourself off if you do choose to visit during this season. Summer also bring's out a lot of our cold-blooded friends who no longer need to hide during the Winter. They'll want to bask in the heat too ya know! Summer is a great time to grow your crops as there's not too much effecting them, just make sure to keep them watered! However, thunderstorms will probably do that quite nicely as well, just watch that you don't get stuck in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Fall is another pretty average season... it is harvest season though! This is your time to finish stockpiling your winter food supply and watch certain trees turn pretty colors. But, no, seriously, don't spend all your time watching trees, you'll need to gather food to make sure you're ready to go. Of course the days are beginning to get shorter, and Winter is around the corner. There will also be some seasonal creatures to face off against during this time as well. You can learn more about the effects fall has on the environment in the graphic below.
To put it simply, Winter is f*#$^%g terrifying. If you don't move to a warmer climate, you're probably going to have a hard time in the Winter. First of all, you'll have to stay warm, the opposite of what you had to do during the summer. Winter will kill your crops, or at least almost all of them, as it will be too cold to grow anything. You'll have to move your livestock indoors to keep them warm and find ways to keep your belly full if you didn't stockpile. You'll also face off against unique Winter enemies and face intense weather conditions from light snowfall to thick coatings and even Blizzards.
In the case of serious snow, it's probably best to hole up and avoid the outdoors entirely. Winter is a good time to go underground and hunt for resources there as Nightfall has an extensive underground system with unique generation and- you know what, let's save that for another time.
If you'd like to learn more about the effects Winter has on the environment, check out the graphic below.
Wow! That was a lot of information!
Gee, thanks! No, but seriously, this is only the beginning of what we have to share with you. We're actually limiting what we ARE sharing right now as there's so much that we've finished conceptualizing but what to process more before we're ready to present it to make sure that we can pull it off for you. We hope you enjoyed your first real look at some concept art for the game in it's seasons, weather, and enviornment and you betcha there's more to come.
Where are you in the development process?
Ah! Our first directly programming related information in this DevBlog and it only took an hour and a half of writing to get to.
As we've said many (probably obnoxiously many) times in this DevBlog so far, we plan to be totally honest with you in our development and that means down to the nitty-gritty of where we currently are in development. This section of the logs might not always be interesting as we may end up going into too much detail, so you're welcome to skip it, but I would suggest reading today's as it's rather simple and provides answers to a lot of commonly asked questions.
Yes, we've decided to go the Unity route.
Yes, we are aware there are few to no successful block games in Unity.
Yes, we have Unity experience.
No, I personally do not like tacos but other people on the team enjoy them a bit too much.
As I said previously, we've really been in the more formal part of conceptualization for the better part of a month and only this past week sat down to begin what you'd consider the true development of the game -- even though I'm hesitant to word it like that. We have a very clear picture and a very clear goal in mind right now. This week was spent setting up all of our collaboration tools and specifically outlining the three major hurdles right now for us to tackle before we can begin to break down the content of the game and really flesh it out. These three prongs are;
1. Terrain Generation
2. Network Integration/Multiplayer Functionality
3. Rendering System
These three prongs, ESPECIALLY, the first one, are our main priority right now. While this may not mean much to the larger part of the audience reading this blog post, this is the most crucial groundwork to the game and will take the most time. We've already more or less worked out Multiplayer Functionality, but Terrain Generation is a beast in itself and will take us the better part of the next month or more to figure out the exact right way to do it -- and that's being optimistic. The reason why this will take so much time is because we don't want to screw ourselves for later. It is important that we lay this framework with the future in mind so we are able to provide new features down the road without having to overcome difficult or impossible limits we set on ourselves in the past. We are confident that we will be able to work out these three prongs -- and are already doing so -- and lay the groundwork for Nightfall, but will need your patience while we do so. In return, we promise to keep you entertained and interested with these Dev Blogs and other content on our Discord, while being one hundred percent honest with you where we are in the process.
Discord, Patreon, and Social Media
We would like to take the time right here to again shout out our incredible community. It astounds us to already be able to say that but in reality we are not surprised to see such an interest in a game we ourselves so badly wanted. Our Discord, which was created less than 72 hours ago, is already almost to 100 members and we've already had our first Patron on Patreon. This is incredible. The support you guys have shown makes us want to create this game even more. We're going to leave some links here and tell you a bit about each one of these things but if you've already joined or aren't interested, go right ahead and skip this part of the DevBlog. Don't worry, we won't be offended... (although we'll make Winter harder by 1% for every person who does )
Use the link above to head on over to our Discord. This is the absolute BEST way to communicate with myself, any of the Developers, and the community. We have dedicated areas for you to suggest features, give feedback, learn more, and most importantly - ASK QUESTIONS (and get an answer too!) This is the easiest (and free!) way of supporting us and we are so happy to see so many of you already taking advantage of this by joining, talking to each other, suggesting features, and grilling us with questions! It's been great! I've already heard the argument from one person that this is preemptive and too early to be doing - but we wholeheartedly disagree. We WANT to hear from YOU from the BEGINNING. It's the best way to create a game that we'll all love. The only way this works though is if you participate and if we are honest with you, which is something we value you. We won't embellish things in order to get you to contribute or become over-hyped for the game. We'll simply lay things out how they are and go from there.
Honestly, we're new to the whole Patreon scene, but you can pledge to monetarily support us monthly here. We do have various tiers of support that each provide unique rewards like special roles on our Discord server, access to even more direct communication with Developers, and of course, eventual early access to the game to help us test. You'll also get bonus development content and an even closer peek into our development process directly through Patreon and Discord when you subscribe!
After three days of the Patreon existing, we've already had someone pledge to us! This was on the first day too before we've shared anything! We truly do appreciate the support! Thanks Nedac16!
This one is pretty simple. It's just Twitter. If you click the link, it'll take you to our page and let you follow along with what we do there. We'll share similar content updates there along with more information or if we're ever looking for help. Click the link and give us a follow if you're feeling generous and help support Nightfall!
In the next DevBlog, we'll have some more information/content for you on building mechanics, unique structural items, player survival (health and hunger), and some more concepts in both art and features! We'll also have more environmental concept art and we'll have an update on where we are in the development process!
And night is upon us...
Well if you've made it this far and truly read every word... Thank you! From the bottom of our hearts the entire development team over at Venatus appreciates you! We're looking forward to Nightfall as much as you are and can't wait to share more content with you here, on Discord, and through Nightfall itself. In the next few months, we'll be sharing oodles of information with you and interacting with you on Discord so you can help shape the game while it's in its early stages. This first DevBlog is monumental for us as it means that Nightfall and what it represents will finally be a reality... and we promise to work hard until it is. We ask that you're patient and understanding with us as we take these first clumsy steps until we reach a point where we can not only walk -- but run. It will be here sooner than you think and we hope you're around to see it. But with that said, night is upon us and we better get inside before it's dark.
Thanks again for reading!