Day and Night in Apotheosis City

This video shows off the current state of the game map, especially the new day/night cycle effects on the look of the city.  In order to give you the best sense of just how good this change looks in-game, we’ve sped up the total day/night cycle from 3 hours to about four minutes.  It’s important to note that we are still working with the key parameters of the cycle, including how dark is too dark at night, the overall level of light, and the length of the cycle.

Meltdown flies across the sky (center top) while other heroes cheer him on from a rooftop at sunset.

We’ve improved other elements of the city as well.  For example, we’re adding civilians to paths in several areas, including the Science Park and the Warehouse District, with more planned in the future.  We’ve also added more cars to the map.  Players now have the ability to turn off nametags for NPCs and other players, and there are a few bunches of enemies standing around so that we can test combat with the new improvements.

Warehouse District at night.

This video was not a carefully planned production.  A couple of us were in-game, working on some new features, and we were just flying around, having fun.  It occurred to us that our community might want to share that experience, so we made this video for you.

Meltdown framed against the city lights at night.

Lighting in an MMO is complicated to get right.  In the video, Meltdown flies around the city at night looking at the cars.  We’ve given car headlights an emissive light source, so they appear to be shining, as well as an actual light pool in front of each vehicle.  We are experimenting with streetlights using the same properties.

Meltdown flies into the oncoming traffic at night.

Sunrise and sunset are really beautiful in Apotheosis City.  The changing color of the light and the dynamic nature of it make SoH a truly modern game; the Unreal engine allows quite a bit of graphical power to be applied.  We’ve also turned off Distance Field Occlusion at night for this video, which is the engine feature that makes distant buildings look misty to improve performance.  We are considering whether to make this a permanent change for SoH maps with a day/night cycle.

Sunrise in Heroic Plaza.

As you may have noticed, we have the first version of the train working in-game now, at least to the point where it travels around the city rail circuit.  We’ll be jazzing up the train model, and increasing the number of cars, in the next few months.  Right now collision is off on the train, so we cannot stand on it and ride it around, but that can be changed.

The train is operating in Apotheosis City.

The nighttime look is very modern with the emissive windows in the city.  Notice that we have attempted to not have repeating patterns in the windows, again enhancing the unique realism of Apotheosis City.

Downtown at night.

Technical Notes:

As is usual for us, we filmed this video in a real client/server arrangement exactly like what a player will experience when the game is launched.    We used IBM Softlayer for this test and video.

Dodging the cars shows the emissives and lights from vehicles buildings and streetlights.

Not everything is completed perfectly in the city, but this video shows the exact same scenes that we see when we work in-game, on a test server.  In fact, that is where this video was recorded.

A view of downtown from the park near to the Warehouse District.

Most sections of the city still need to have NPCs added to them.  And the same thing applies to cars.  We’re working on these items as we develop the game.  In addition, the flight animations are schedule to be upgraded (again) in the future.  But those of you who watched the combat alpha video will recognize the location below.  Those mercenaries are still there!

Yekus mercenaries take a shot at Meltdown as he flies past.

Currently we are working on multiple efforts in order to integrate a couple of upgrades into SoH  for the future.  We intend to fundamentally test our CROM system to determine just how much of an FPS advantage it gives our players.  Similarly, we are completing a major –and unscheduled – round of player-character optimizations and improvements.  These two activities have pushed us back from our original schedule, but we’ll be showing and quantifying the positive effects of these changes in the near future.  We don’t often see dev teams being transparent about what they are doing on the technical side of a project, but we like to show quite a bit more detail than is common, and we will continue to do so in the future.

The next big thing will be a Login Test, which will occur before the end of the year.  Please keep watching and giving us feedback on the forums.