In the Valley of Gods

发布者 Campo Santo
The studio
Choosing their own adventure

It’s not surprising that storytelling sits at the core of Campo Santo. The team, which includes alums from Telltale, Irrational, Double Fine, and Lionhead (among others), lives at the crossroads where place, people, and stories meet. “One of the things that drives us is our fascination with how transportive games can be,” says Campo Santo co-founder Jake Rodkin. “It’s not just about telling a story, it’s about making the person playing it feel a real connection to the character and story being told.”

Indeed, one of Campo Santo’s main design philosophies is making sure players comfortably settle into the skin of the main character. Ideas like body awareness and intricate animations for hands help make that connection between player and game, allowing them to get lost and adopt the character’s perspective as their own.

The self-described “scrappy” Campo Santo team in San Francisco

The self-described “scrappy” Campo Santo team in San Francisco

Campo Santo learned a lot developing their first title – the award-winning narrative adventure Firewatch – making them confident embarking on the even more ambitious In the Valley of Gods, where they’re introducing an AI-controlled actor who has many adventures. And while their focus is currently on how the story unfolds, Campo Santo is taking steps to ensure it’s truly compelling with plenty of meaningful character interactions.

The project
Out of the trees and into the desert

In the Valley of Gods tells the story about the challenges of friendship, placing players in the boots of Rashida, a documentary filmmaker in the 1920s who is trying to get her career out of a slump. Though her boots are covered in Egyptian sand rather than the dirt of Firewatch’s mountainous Wyoming forests, the character still brings all of the rich and complicated history and baggage you’d expect to find in a real person’s life story.

As with Firewatch, character development is central to In the Valley of Gods

As with Firewatch, character development is central to In the Valley of Gods

With this, their sophomore effort, Campo Santo is hoping to refine and improve the techniques developed in Firewatch to connect players directly to Rashida, while introducing even more complexity via Rashida’s companion character Zora, a former friend whom Rashida had vowed never to work with again.

The revived relationship progresses as players interact with Zora, who responds based on player choices. “In Firewatch, Henry’s relationship with Delilah was really great and fun, but having a disembodied voice along with you for yet another story could wear thin. There are probably only so many times you can get away with that,” remarks Rodkin. “We knew the next big step was introducing a fully animated, emoting NPC that reacts to player actions. Zora isn’t just there to staunch the feeling of loneliness, but to offer a more impactful way to express the story and the characters’ relationship.”

观看 In the Valley of Gods 预告片
The reveal
The luxury of planning

With In the Valley of Gods, Campo Santo has spent the majority of the game’s early development in preproduction: Fleshing out the story and characters, building out visual style, and developing the unique tools they need to deliver on their aspirations, which you can see in the trailer released during the 2017 Game Awards.

This is different than the approach they took on Firewatch, where all phases of development happened more or less at the same time. Once production got underway, most of the gameplay and level design was built side by side with story and dialogue. “Though that was partly just a necessity. A big reason we developed Firewatch that way was because the simpler design of that game allowed us to.” For In the Valley of Gods, the team has aimed its sights at achieving lofty goals, which tend to require meticulous planning.

“The development of the scenes for the trailer was a way for the people working on art, tech, and rendering to figure out how to take the concept paintings and make them a reality in-engine, and they really ‘knocked it out of the park.’ Now we’re busy taking all of those learnings and improving on everything even more. We’re working with Unity fairly closely on much of this, with the hope that what we’re doing will make its way back into the community, and hopefully Unity itself – if not our literal code then at least our discoveries.”

Research leading to better options

Most of what we’re looking at in the trailer, while already running in real-time in Unity at a high frame rate, is merely a first pass that allowed the team to work on the look of the game and explore new technologies and shaders.

The companion character Zora was particularly eye-catching. Not only for her smooth animation and memorable silhouette, but also for facial animation and her dramatic hair, which looked as though it had real volume thanks to some custom shaders and interesting baking techniques to get the rim light to look exactly right (you can read about it here).

Zora 头发的逆光测试

And while the hair was hand-animated for the trailer, if you look closely, you can also see a preview of the simple physics spring system in Zora’s earrings, which will eventually provide a more realistic and dynamic bounce to those beautiful locks.

Even sequences eventually cut from the final trailer were beneficial to levels planned for the final game, including one that had the two characters wading through waist-high, fully simulated water in a flooded underground tomb. “It was one of the most technical pieces of the trailer but it didn’t really fit with the story we wanted to tell at the time so it was cut,” says Rodkin. “It’s something we’re very excited to evolve as we go farther down the development road.”

简约设计同样可以创造成功

宏大壮观的视觉效果令人震撼:漂亮的环境、细致入微的人物以及生动逼真的光照和阴影,让玩家情不自禁地融入游戏中。但是很多时候,成功也可能隐藏在小巧而简约的技术特性中。Campo Santo 制作的精美人物动画就是一个典型的例子。基于 2017 年逐渐推出的 Playables API,他们从为《Firewatch》中的 Henry 使用的大型动画状态机过渡到本地化状态机、单一动画和时间轴。

“对于 Firewatch 中的 Henry,我们的动画师确实希望一直使用全身体验,这意味着当您从第一人称视角向下看时,您会看到一个完整的人物在四处走动,攀爬绳子,拾取物体等,”Rodkin 解释说:“《Firewatch》是一个大型连续空间 – 它没有加载刷新游戏部分的屏幕和机会,只是因为您已经走过游戏世界。与此同时,这意味着要使用 Mecanim 状态机的巨鸟巢来处理在游戏中随时可能发生的各种交互,这会导致玩家难以阅读和操纵。”

 Like Zora, the team has its eyes on the horizon

Like Zora, the team has its eyes on the horizon

对于外行来说,Playables API 提供了一种在跨多个功能组织和共享数据源的方法。游戏脚本、动画和声音均可以通过图形进行可视化,从而确保功能之间到数据整洁有序。

“现在的机制意味着角色包含的数据比以前少得多,也意味着世界组织更加容易,还意味着对象可以快速高效地共享数据。您仍可以将所有动画混合在一起,但是现在可以将数据捆绑到特定对象。”

“例如,如果您希望坐在一把椅子上,那么当角色与对象交互式时,您可以共享椅子动画混合。幸运的是,这意味着动画状态机小得多,而不需要错综复杂且难以跟踪线索的大型网络。我们仍在努力整理管线的细节,但是早期探索成效卓著!”Rodkin 总结道。

It’s a long road

The development journey of In the Valley of Gods has only just begun. Keep your eyes on this page for details as the game progresses, and we’ll also share how Campo Santo is using Unity’s new features to make this already stunningly beautiful adventure come to life in 2019.

Campo Santo 使用大量 Unity 功能,使得 Rashida 和 Zora 的角色活灵活现。

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