Welcome to this new Ghost of a Tale update! How time flies. Paul, Cyrille and I have been working like crazy on a lot of different things over the last months.
Work has been roughly divided between enhancing the early access (fixing the bugs, adding features) and working on the final game (new locations, game mechanics, etc…).
By the way, just to avoid any confusion: some of the screenshots displayed in this update are from new areas which are not yet open to the public! They’re just a taste of things to come… 😉
(In the screenshot below Tilo -or is it the famed Red Ranger?- has found an old place in the forest. Some say it dates back to the War of the Green Flame…)
The new build update available today provides a solid cushion for the new mechanics (to which I alluded in the previous update) which will be part of the final game. It also represents a clean slate of some sort.
Indeed after the last build update we took a long hard look at what could be improved and we found several areas where we could do better (from an artistic, visual and coding standpoint).
We knew that since those changes were so fundamental we would lose previous saves compatibility. We didn’t take that lightly but we assessed the prospective benefits and we decided that since the game is still in early access it was really worth it. And we hope you will agree with us!
Last time I alluded to performance improvements and I can confirm they are indeed substantial! As an example I tried running the game in 720p on a very old computer of mine which doesn’t even have a proper gaming card (it’s got an old Quadro) and while before it was struggling to reach a barely playable 20fps it now runs above 40fps!
Some other average machines that could barely run the previous build at 30fps in 720p can now do so at 1080p (or close to 60fps at 720p).
Finally on my powerful gaming machine the average framerate went from 90fps to nearly 150fps (which is admittedly a little ridiculous).
So all in all I’d say it was well worth the effort!
But that’s not all: We have implemented a new kick-ass sectioning system that allows us to streamline everything we display and I’m happy to report that there is no more stuttering or micro-freezes when transitioning between areas.
As you guys know Ghost of a Tale relies a lot on tessellation and I reworked all the tessellation shaders using a new shader editor for Unity by Amplify which takes care of the remaining issues in previous builds: transition with distance looks much better, all the micro-cracks/back-faces scintillating artifacts are gone and finally it does a much better job at showcasing the humidity and wetness of some materials.
(In the screenshot below you can also see the improved sub-surface scattering shader on Tilo’s ears and hands)
Plus you get new settings to change the tessellation’s amount and distance to your liking.
Some textures have also been doubled in resolution for a finer look and detail mapping now plays a much bigger role in delivering crisper textures when seen up close.
Tilos’ costumes are now directly affecting Tilo’s capacities as well as the guards’ detection. Cloth items now influence Tilo’s endurance, the rate at which he recovers his stamina, his sprint speed, auditive discretion and visual conspicuousness.
Costumes don’t affect Tilo’s health/stamina anymore, meaning there’s no issue anymore with losing health/stamina when switching between different costumes.
It feels much better because the new items now really have a discernible impact on Tilo’s skills. All this is in preparation for the upcoming game mechanic when you can find some costumes that allow Tilo to run around without being attacked right away by the guards.
(On the screenshot below you can spot Tilo in a suspended basket which works as a new shortcut between the top of the tower and the garden below)
There’s not a lot to report on that front unfortunately; we have submitted a build to Microsoft in order to enter the Game Preview certification process but that was a while back and we haven’t heard from them since.
Anyway, since this is totally out of our control we will keep concentrating on the PC version!
Regarding the new build I invite you all to go here to read the release notes for all the details.
Finally we wish you all happy holidays! Thank you for sticking with us throughout this year of development! And stay tuned for more Ghost of a Tale related news to come in 2017!