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Weekly Journal - 22/09/2017 - District 0

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Hey everyone,  

Another crazy week in the studio. We welcomed 3 new members to our team, we tore down a wall and our level designers have finished blocking all of the levels! It is of course far from being finished but this is a very cool milestone.  

We are also in the fun phase of designing merchandise which is really tricky because not everyone has the same tastes. Do you design something that you like or something you think others will like even though it is not your style? Both? Subtle or more on the nose/fun designs? We would love to have your opinion on this. In our opinion, as long as it is classy.  

What is District 0? That is our new tutorial area which the team will explain below :)



Now that we have everything blocked in (aka all our levels are in the game and mostly functional), this week saw David and G conducting reviews of our playthroughs with our level designers. This is an exciting time, because now we can get more accurate information on how long playthroughs take, how they feel, where the player direction issues are (eg does an encounter tell you enough about what you need to do), etc. It’s the time where we really begin the assessing/polishing, as we decide which parts of the game deserve more love, and which parts are good as is. For example, while we are not building new encounters at this point, we are creating a new area to help introduce players more gradually to the procedural world (see Eric’s post below). The goal is that players will no longer feel abandoned at the beginning of the game, and will have a longer introduction to the game world.  

We can also now test the playthroughs for blockers and beginning to ramp up the QA team at Gearbox. Because the game is quite complex, with a procedural world, 3 characters, multiple platforms, different game modes, different playstyles etc, we need a pretty big QA team to look at it. We’re ramping up to 25 people, who will be full time on the project until we ship. We also brought on two more QA people internally here at Compulsion, meaning that we have a solid team now to help us ship the game.  

Finally, the team remains as ever in a frenzy of integration. Audio, UI, animation, art, design, tech, it’s all a hectic machine. T-5 ish weeks until content complete.

Oh, and we opened up the wall and expanded the office late last Friday! Here’s a picture of the new narrative/QA area. It needs some love, but at least we can breathe.





Narrative Team - Alex and Lisa 


Busy week today. Working till sleep time most days. Recorded 220 lines with Miss Thigh Highs, about 120 with the brilliant Joe Sims doing a variety of voices, and about 45 with an older gentleman with a menacing voice. 

Actors are funny critters. There are all flavours of good actors. Some are easy to work with and give you what you want just by reading the line. Some get where you want with just a line or two of direction. Some are hard to get where you want, but when they get there, they are very, very good. Some will never give you what you thought you wanted, but they have so much charisma that it kind of doesn’t matter. They just steal your character and run off, and if you’re wise, you let them. 

Then there’s range. A certain terrific actor we have cannot sell a joke. Another cannot play stupid. 

I once saw Pierce Brosnan say, “Some actors can carry off almost any role. The rest of us have this one thing that we hone, and hone, and hone. I, for example, can wear a suit.” 

Sometimes an actor will just not get a line no matter how much direction I throw at them. Sometimes you can just tell that the words don’t make sense to them -- intellectual sense, of course, but they are not understanding the emotion driving the character. In that case, I rewrite. It helps that I’m the writer, the voice director, and the editor. A very fine award-winning actor was having trouble with the line “You know the way out.” When I changed it to, “I think you know the way out,” it clicked. Go figure. 

We are also refining our barks system so people will be much clearer why they hate you. This will integrate with refinements we are making in our conformity systems so that you will, hopefully, always feel like you’re hiding in plain sight in enemy terrotory. 

I think I meant to write “territory” above, but I’ll leave it as is. 


This week I wrote environmental narrative that reveals the surprising backstory of a character you’ve already met. (Don’t you want to know who? Of course you do!) I also worked on a jaunty little guide called How to Be Happy, which Wellington Wells distributes to all its citizens. Then I wrote “death screens” for both Miss Thigh-Highs and the Mad Scotsman, so that when your character dies, you’ll see cheeky articles about how and why they went on holiday. Each mode of death gets a different article. (Collect ‘em all!) And, of course, I wrote other things that I can’t tell you about until 1.0. We’re working very hard on story, yet I see folks on Reddit who wonder if the game will have a story at all. It feels sort of like planning a surprise party for someone who thinks you forgot his birthday. Can’t wait till April, when you’ll all get to see what we’ve been up to! 

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Animation Team - JR, Remi, Vincent, Mike P and Jules  


This week I worked on combat animation! So now our NPCs have their 3 different levels of attack integrated. The light which is already plugged in the game. And now the Medium attack with a medium windup and two strikes (like a double swing for example). Also, we have the Heavy attack, bigger windup, one only strike but watch out. You must parry it if you want to survive ! So that's my week, tweaking animation timing and posing. Test it again and again into the game. Really exciting stuff, and the greatest point for me is that it highlights our parry and block system. With this update, you can't just full spam your left mouse click and think you’re going to survive.  

Mike AKA. Danger Mike (In some regards less dangerous than last week and in others more)  

Where to start. This week has been a whirlwind through the trying to finish some animations and get them integrated only to find out there are some complications, then spending a day in spreadsheet land and ending in a takedown animation. Oh and now back to trying to fix and integrate animations. Yep, I think that’s about it. Learned a lot :D It’s going to be great though! Tune in next week, same Bat Time, Same Bat Channel.

Design Team - David, Hayden, Antoine, Adam, Ben, Eric, Roxanne and Benji  


This week has been fun. It has been mostly bug fixing the main Arthur playthrough, and doing some story content for that. One of the things I’ve been working on is a new island. Thanks to Roxanne for helping me with these bugs on the core story playthrough, there were a lot, and my task list was scattered across many high priority things this week.  

Welcome to Flat Holm! It’s... er… not as flat as you’d assume? Or maybe it is!  


One thing to note about the pic, that’s debug map art, it’s not final.

This new island is meant to be a little bit of an introduction to the game, its mechanics, and also to transition from the intro into the larger more open part of the game. All said, it should make the introductory bits of the game much smoother and more intuitive. Right now it’s barely stubbed in, but all next week I should be tackling this pretty hard.

Antoine didn’t write anything because he’s busy working on feedback, but he’s been fixing bugs on the core playthrough he’s working on, and now he’s working through feedback to make it extra good. Antoine is a beast. Just, uh, fyi.

Adam The Mad  

I have been hounding Alex and Valentino to write/record/import like… 500 lines I need for my part of the story. They have come through swimmingly, and I’ve plugged in 4 or 5 missions worth of dialogue. After finally doing that and playing through the missions, I realized a lot of shit just didn’t make sense anymore, so… a few tweaks and redos here and there, and we’re finally getting somewhere.

Engineering Team - Matt, Serge, Michael, Lionel, Rob, Evan, Maarten, Celine, Neil and Guillaume (sometimes)  


I have been helping to integrate some new attack animations from Jules which are part of a design pass on the combat experience. NPC Attacks will now have different strengths: Light, Medium and Heavy. The new animations should make it obvious what is a stronger attack, and also have a longer “tell” before the attack lands giving you more time to block, dodge or parry. It’s early stages right now, but it’s already looking like it will add a nice amount of depth to one of the game mechanics which us non-conformists playing the game are spending a lot of time doing.  


I have also been working on adding in support for tweaking the abilities of the different player characters in the game. For one thing, they’re not all as strong as one another, so we need to be able to differentiate this by allowing them to throw things further, take more damage from the same attacks, or have less effect using the heavier weapons.


Hello lovely people ! I am Céline, a new programmer who just started on Monday, and I will be helping the gameplay team. I am very excited to work on We Happy Few and I am ready to tackle features and bugs ! This week, I built my desk, played the game, fixed small issues (eg, now when you respawn after death, we refill your health/hunger/thirst up to a minimal level, so that you won’t get stuck in a repeating death loop), and have been observing a ghost which likes doing weird trajectories just to enjoy a longer stroll.  


Hello World! My name’s Neil and I’m also a new programmer proud to be joining this team! My very first task was to learn the systems behind… vomiting. There were issues in the past that would make the player character get stuck if they began to throw up at the wrong time. These issues were quickly patched up at the time, but I have the honour of ...cleaning it up. As I’ve said to my team, it’s been nothing but warm welcomes here at Compulsion, and I can’t wait to see what else they have in store for me!  


Things are looking good in Linux-build-land! Those third party libs sure were a blast - especially the ones that are basically older versions that come without Makefiles or equivalent (not looking at anyone in particular *cough* PhysX). I also hit a roadblock trying to set up a cross-compile toolchain that matched UE4's toolchain versions. Luckily I found an old Fedora 13 image that did the job nicely - 2010 to the rescue! I'm happy to announce that today I finally have a running game on Linux, running smoothly and with no (platform-specific) issues. Next up I'll try to streamline the cooking process for Linux - no ShaderCompilerWorker should need 12GB RAM to compile anything ;)

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Art Team - Whitney, Emmanuel, Tito, Marc-André, Sarah, Guillaume, Cary and PH  


This week I kept working on… guess what? Story stuff I can’t show! I’m pouring all my heart in creating the best house interiors (and exteriors) possible, and I’m sure you guys will be very happy playing the and story missions. I particularly enjoy doing ‘s huge mansion-house, since it has a different style from the houses I worked on before: more victorian - and very gold. 


As usual a little bit of everything, have been working in some character variations, textures variations, new props, fixing old props, making new machines, and playing with layout for some of the locations of the other characters. Again can't show anything ): , but it has been super fun to work on all these things! 


Recently I’ve been polishing different Story Missions by adding meshes the level designers needed and doing some lighting pass. At the end of this week I started blocking the art for one of the last story missions. I think you guys are gonna have a ton of fun playing this one thanks to the gameplay mechanics Antoine created and the story/atmosphere of it. 


This week, I made some british style umbrellas. Lots of talk with the team because they will have a very special purpose for the player. Then I moved on to a doctor’s bag and as always, I like to collect a lot of references to create something very accurate. I’m actually working on the leather of the bag to match We Happy Few art style.




This week was mostly a UI focused effort for me, but it did involve some environmental narrative work as well! Here's a groovy Newton poster I made for a special location. ;)


Editor's note: Here is another gif of Sarah. This is her face after I yell at her, for sending me her pictures for the update at the wrong address, EVERY FRIDAY. Sarah_02.gif

QA Team - Lee, Stephanie, JP  


Hello! I am a new QA guy here at Compulsion. This week I started acclimating myself with the game and getting my kit set up. I found and added a few bugs, but otherwise my week was focused almost entirely on beating my first Sandbox playthrough on Wednesday, and I began my first Story Mode playthrough.

Publishing - Steve, Jeff, Mike C, Mike R, Austin, Meredith, Elisa, Kat, Kelly, Nicole, Sean, Brad, and Erick (and more)  


Hey! I’m one of the artists on the marketing team here at Gearbox Publishing. This week, the team and I went out to a printing supply and production facility to explore ways to enhance the physical copies of the game. We checked out some cool packaging ideas that we could use to add a unique touch to the physical copies, and ran through some options for enhancing the material of the game case. That could mean anything from adding a sleeve over the game case, to using different materials beyond cardboard or plastic to help emphasize elements on the cover.   


Thanks for tuning in and see you next week!  

Compulsion Games

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