DEV LOG #3 – MAJOR UPDATE

Hello there!

We have been continuing the development of Wild Rails here in Oulu Game Lab and we have lot of new features to share with you! Our team has also participated in some really interesting events this autumn. But let’s go through these new features in more detail!

Shaders

Our team leader Justus has been updating the shaders of the game. Finally, we have implemented see-through and other custom shaders to the game. Now a transparent effect on objects and walls will activate when the player characters are behind them. This allows you to see your character in action all time!

New camera

Another helpful change was the new camera system. Our project manager Mika used Unity’s Cinemachine plugin to modify the camera in a way, that when the player characters are far from each other the camera will zoom out. Now players can follow the action a lot easier.

Respawning

After a lot of feedback, we finally implemented one of the most requested features: player character respawning. Even if the system is still work in progress, in our latest build, players can use 5 lifes – shared between all the characters – to respawn and continue the mission.
We are exploring other ideas regarding the respawning, that would fit better with the co-op mechanics of the game.

Horde mode

We decided that to give a real sense of pressure, just a simple timer in the level wouldn’t be enough. That’s why with our lead developer Juho, we designed and implemented the horde mode. With this new system, when the timer runs out, the player will still be able to complete the level, but a horde of enemies will start spawning intensively. The players can keep fighting, until the mission is complete, or the players are defeated. The horde mode is not just a pressuring mechanic, but it also proved to be extremely fun!

Edge climbing

During our playtests, one of the main feedbacks has always been that it was too easy to fall off and die when dashing from platform to another. We implemented a feature that allows the player to grab the edge of the platform if they fall off. This prevents the accidental and annoying deaths. The player will lose health while trying to climb up to the platform. Rapidly pressing the indicated button will allow you to climb up and continue playing.

Character selection screen

At the beginning of the mission, players can now select their desired character with a new selection menu.

Safe and opening system

In the latest build, we introduced a new alternative way of collecting loot: The safes. To open the safe, the player must press the indicated button with the right rhythm. When opening, depending on its dimension, the safe will release a certain amount of coin bags. This gives more variation to the looting mechanics.

Explosive crates and dynamite

Finally, one of the most exciting features has been implemented: Explosions! Now players can use dynamite to deal damage. They can also cause explosions by shooting at nitro and dynamite crates found around the wagons. Now wooden crates are destructible, so you can use these explosions to your advantage when progressing through the mission.

New playable characters

John ‘Mr. Bull’ Duncan, gentleman and heavy lifter, and Jessie ‘Mountain Lion’ Joyce, combat expert, join Ms. Piggy as playable characters.

New enemy

The Hyena, dynamite thrower

Overall audio implementation with FMOD and new horde music

With our composer and audio designer Dario we decided to start implementing the middleware FMOD in the project. It gives more control on all the audio features in the game and it allows a dynamic and more professional approach. To enhance the sense of pressure during the horde mode we implemented a new soundtrack for it. Here you can listen to a little preview!

Marketing and events

With the goal of expanding our network and meeting potential publishers, our team leader Justus participated at the Gamescom in Cologne. Oulu Game Lab also organized a trip to the Tokyo game show and we were lucky to be able to send our 3D artist Lauri to represent our team there. He was able to showcase our game demo and receive feedback.

At the end of September, we organized a road trip to participate at Nordic Game Summit in Kajaani with most of our team. We also had the chance to attend lectures from the experts in the gaming industry.

We have many features we are currently working on and we can’t wait to share them with you!

-Offset Games team

Dev Log #2 – Road to demo

Hi again! In this post blog we’ll show you about our progress towards our first official demo event that was held April 26th at Oulu Game Lab premises here in Oulu, Finland. There was good amount of developers showing out their games and people playing them and through the event we got valuable feedback, so thank you for coming and testing our and other people’s games!

Before the demo event we had to polish the demo level as it still was quite crude with placeholder models and textures.

The topmost image shows progress before demo event. In the middle one there’s updated models and textures, and the last one has the added vault room.

First Demo version included only 2 enemy types, Revolver, Shotgun and Health Pickup. On second version we added new wagon textures and tested out a grappling hook but ended leaving it out for now. On last Demo version we also added 1 new enemy type, a Rifle and a Machine Gun and also a Shield Barrier. We also made the level a bit longer and added a vault room in the last train carriage where there’s masses of valuable safes for players to loot and complete the level.

Basic gameplay was completed for the Demo which includes looting trains, basic gun combat, pickups and different enemies. Here’s some examples you can expect from the game (work still very much in progress 😉 )

Players have to carry and throw loot from trains to their Heist Wagons to meet the target amount of money.
Player 2 clears the way with Shotgun while Player 1 carries a loot chest.
Player 2 picking up and using a Rifle which is a powerful one shot weapon requiring accuracy from the player.
Player 1 protecting with (placeholder) Shield Barrier while enemies push towards players.
Players must use Heist Wagons as platforms to move between trains.
Players clearing a passenger carriage with narrow corridors.
Getting rid of enemies with Machine Guns spewing sprays of lead.
In the end there’s a reward in form of masses of valuable loot to claim as your own.

Next steps in development to upcoming build will include polishing. Game controls still need work like finding the optimal button layout and smoothing out aiming which was a problem for some players who were not accustomed to twin stick shooters. Demo map needs a more refined environments and a better tutorial. Shield Barrier will get a new model and sounds. All the sounds and animations in the game are being polished. Some bugs are still being fixed but the progress looks great.

Take care and well see you next time!

Dev log #1 – Welcome to Wild Rails

Hello dear reader! Welcome to our development blog where we write about our journey of making a game called Wild Rails.

Wild Rails is a fast-paced twin-stick shooter game for 1-4 players where objective is to complete different kinds of missions taking place in levels that consist of multiple randomized trains. Players have to defeat enemies with an arsenal of different weapons and carry valuable items and mission objectives back to safety of their Heist Wagons.

The game depends on player co-ordination and efficient use of different items (like grappling hooks and shield barriers) that allow players to overcome obstacles in multiple ways.

The idea for the game came from basic premise of hectic multiplayer action happening on moving and changing platforms that players have to navigate while trying to defeat enemies and carry stuff to safety. Moving platforms quickly evolved to cartoonish trains that can have unrealistic train carriages allowing more movement and interesting variations and features. As now we don’t have to keep things too much grounded in reality, we can throw in multiple parallel train track “highways” that allows us to place more than one train side by side for players to navigate and wage mayhem in.

Screenshot from a prototype we made for the game.

To take the cartoon aspect further we decided to make characters of the game to be different kinds of animals to easily give them bit more personality and differentiation. It started from an idea about connecting Wild West theme with “wild” animals and after first iterations which included some kinds of mutants as end results of human-animal hybrid experiments we just went with good ol’ regular cartoony anthropomorphic animals inhabiting the game world.

Concept art for one playable character in Wild Rails.

Right now we are working hard to make the first playable “demo” version of the game ready for summer after which we aim to complete and release full version in the early 2020. We will be updating this blog as development progresses so stay tuned!