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Monthly Treeverse Update #15
The fifteenth edition of monthly Treeverse updates. Read below for some game development insights on what we’ve worked on in the last month.
This update is quite different from the previous monthly updates. It will talk less about what we did, and more about the significant changes we have made internally.
We recently laid off some team members from Endless Clouds. The layoffs are part of a series of changes we have introduced in the company to improve our trajectory and momentum. Our team still sits at 30+ talented individuals. Full update here.
The intention for all changes is to significantly improve our output and speed of development, minimise waste and help the company deliver product at a significantly faster pace than what has been so far. This will help us reduce shipping risk significantly more than just flogging a dead horse.
Going forward, we are radically changing the way we design and engineer the game. For the past year, we’ve designed the game around the idea of systems and overall structure, which really made us lose focus on the true spirit of designing and engineering a product from the ground up to service the needs and journey of our end users - the players.
From a team morale perspective, the new approach we are taking to build the game shifts our mindset from one that sees tasks as “tickets” on a sprint board to instead something that actively services the needs of our intended players and ourselves. This approach has really cut through a lot of the fat in our previous design and engineering process.
As you might have seen from the update, the EC team is going through significant changes. However, these changes have largely not affected the art team. We are adjusting to these changes while continuing to move forward to build more awesome art of Treeverse. For the month of February, the art team is focusing on some of the performance issues with our art assets that we have encountered in pre-alpha.
The issues rest mostly with our trees and grass. We realized in large numbers, it affects performance heavily, especially on lower-end phones. Our 3D artist is working hard with our technical artist to make sure that our assets still perform with a minimum of 30 fps on lower-end phones. Besides technical work, our concept artists are working on some IP exploration centering around our little goat creature, this is again some of the world-building which we mentioned in our last month’s update you can see some of the work below.
A look at some more monsters we have designed.
As said in our previous monthly update. We are focusing on developing the IP of our character Baafi/Baafy. Here are a few more sneak peeks.
We aren’t just building a game, we are building a universe.
Engineering And Design (Going Forward)
Our new approach combines both design and engineering together inextricably. The systems and features in the game are created entirely based on the experience and journey we want our players to feel as they go through our game. We are writing an internal memo, or what we like to call a proto-game that journals exactly what we want our players to do, experience, feel, and learn as they start their journey in Arboros.
We then create the simplest versions of each of the systems required to facilitate that journey. Instead of spending countless man-hours designing games based on imagination, we aim to get them into the hands of our team as fast as possible and to test them in reality. We avoid building out contrived, bloated and over-designed systems and instead build things out of necessity to enhance and facilitate the player’s journey through our game.
The main engineering is going fairly smoothly. We have 2 to 3 engineers building out the core codebase of the MMO according to the proto-game specifications. It is multiplayer and works with minimal issues at the moment. We’ve learned from experience that it's exceptionally important to reduce the friction in the engineering process and that adding more than this number of engineers to work on a fresh codebase is counterproductive and slows the speed of development down significantly. Our approach to developing the game in this way is very low-risk and extremely efficient.
However, it does come with some costs. Since our architecture runs the game servers as a headless Unity build on the server side, it’s got some limitations on the CCUs and scale of the world we can produce. Some quality-of-life impediments for the player like loading screens in-between areas should be expected, and some fairly significant overhead with dev-ops when moving players between servers is something we’ll need to tackle internally.
It’s always been our dream to be able to produce a game of the calibre and scale of RuneScape. A single, continuous, open world with no loading screens, supporting a large-scale world and thousands of concurrent users. Producing something like this is exceptionally difficult without the budget and time that only top AAA studios can afford - and even then they can fail.
However, with Unity DOTS in pre-release, it is very achievable. We also have two engineers looking at the viability of using Unity DOTS on the game server side. It’s significantly higher risk - since development speed is a huge question mark and it’s fairly novel, but we have already confirmed that it can handle the world scale and CCU counts we hope for. Unlike previously, we will minimise our risk and downside on this by ensuring that the main engineering is kept separate and isolated from the R&D of this - until it catches up at the very least, or proves significant developer productivity.
We are very excited to share what else we have been working on this year. 2023 will be a big year for Endless Clouds.—Loopify
Disclaimer: Please note that anything written in this document should not be taken as financial advice. Endless Clouds is dedicated to producing a fun, enjoyable game that integrates NFTs. NFTs are a new and highly experimental technology and should not be bought for investment purposes.