Calling all Heroes.
Heroes prepare yourselves; the latest Inside Nekovia is here! This quarter has been brimming with electrifying events, including the showcase of our Ai tool for Feline Design Garage and an adrenaline-charged Team Deathmatch mode Playtest. Each time we’ve been seeing you all clawing for more, and we’re ready to share much of what the team has been developing recently.
The latest updates are going to have you jumping (or ejecting) out of your seat with more cat-centric gameplay, abilities, fresh art in game, and a sound update worthy of a Grammy. That and we’ll show you our new reactive cat portrait system and talk about ways you’ll be able to keep all paws inside the mech at all times because we’re about to get this ride moving!
The environment art team has been purrfecting full-color concepts in line with our evolved art direction. The transformation from our maiden art designs to the now vibrant world of Nekovia is paw-sitively mind-blowing.
Next up? Diving into varied themes and collaborating with the 3D Art Team to translate these designs into reality.
A shoutout to our 3D Art Team, who’ve been fur-midable in refining our in-game assets based on feedback. A recent favorite? The Inca-themed cat sculpture (peek below!). The Character Art Team has also whipped up our debut 3D Kitten Model. Beware: it’s dangerously cute!
Build Pipeline Enhancement: Over the past quarter, our engineering team has been deeply engaged in a methodical overhaul of our game build pipelines. With an anticipated upsurge in demands for diverse game builds, the team has invested countless hours in R&D, testing, and optimization. Our enhanced pipeline now guarantees precision in versioning and perfect synchronization in client-server builds, positioning us for the increasing demands of the upcoming periods.
Strategic Integration with Epic Games Store: From day one of this quarter, we identified the immense potential of the Epic Games Store. Hence, we embarked on a multi-phase integration strategy. Through rigorous internal testing, feedback iterations, and early community-involved playtests, our collaboration with the platform has matured. The Epic Games launcher has now become an integral tool, streamlining distribution, version control, and community engagement.
Advanced Analytics & Telemetry — Playfab, Grafana, and Beyond: Understanding in-game dynamics and player behavior has been a focal point this quarter. Our analytics team has worked closely with developers, integrating tools like Playfab and Grafana, and customizing them to our unique needs. Months of data collection and analysis now offer us a holistic view of player interactions, server performance, and potential areas of enhancement.
Improved Matchmaking: Matchmaking remained a critical challenge we were determined to address this quarter. Through iterative design, prototyping, and testing, we’ve transformed the player matching experience in Nyan Heroes. The backfill feature, refined over the quarter, ensures swift, efficient, and balanced team formations, revolutionizing the way players engage with our game.
Foundations of the Comprehensive Item Catalog System: Our vision for a centralized item hub led to the initiation of the item catalog system this quarter. This was no small feat. Researching player preferences, understanding game dynamics, and ensuring seamless integration meant our development team had their hands full. As the quarter concludes, we’re proud to announce that the system is primed to house a plethora of items, ensuring accuracy and integrity in item distribution across player accounts.
It’s been another exciting and productive quarter for the audio team, with a wealth of new sound design work and technical developments keeping us busy, not to mention some great progress with the musical score.
Mechs: With the three core Mech characters playable in game, we wanted to dedicate some time this quarter to developing their unique sonic qualities. As a result, our Principal Sound Designer Matt has spent a fair amount of time pouring over our extensive SFX libraries, tweaking synthesisers and smashing various metal objects in order to bring these guys to life. With work still to go on animations and character models, our focus at this stage was to give an accurate representation of each Mech’s sonic identity, as well as making them clearly distinguishable through audio.
After some extensive playtesting and reviewing, this quarter has seen us dedicate further time to existing weapon sound design in order to iterate and polish. The focus in this instance was on the two core auto weapons, the Prophecy and Zephyr.
- Prophecy: We wanted to give the Prophecy a bit more ‘beefiness’, as well as take steps to make it sound a little more futuristic. The result is a chunkier, wider frequency approach to the core layer, with a clean, more defined mechanical layer and more focus on the synthesized ‘sci-fi’ elements, designed to draw attention to its ‘future tech’ aspects. We also modified the technical system to drive a much more defined and prominent ‘first shot’, which adds a satisfying kick to the firing.
- Zephyr: The Zephyr has benefitted from more of a push towards a laser/blaster aesthetic in order to bring more focus to its energy-based power and to also distinguish it further from the more traditional ballistics of the Prophecy. The sound’s composition now features a fully synthesized core layer, cleaner and lighter mechanical layer, and more detailed audio representation for the ‘post-fire’ hardware behavior. We also took a similar approach to the ‘first shot’, designing a much punchier sound to kick off the firing on each trigger press.
- Bullet Impacts: Once we had a clear picture of art on the main map, we were able to go in and implement physics audio across the different materials. One of the main points of focus was on the sound of bullets impacting the various surfaces throughout the world. With a huge array of different materials (stone, metal, plastic barrels, storage crates… the list goes on…), not to mention whizz-bys, ricochets and whoosh-ins, the result can best be described as a frightening ensemble of beautiful chaos, which really drives the panic when you’re taking heavy fire!
Occlusion & Obstruction: We’ve also recently made a start on what is one of the key technical systems in a game such as this: Occlusion & Obstruction. To put it in layman's terms, these are two terms that relate to the behavior of sound in and around geometry. With a game in which the location of opposing fire is so important to player strategy, it’s crucial that the appropriate audio systems are in place to support that. And so, this month, our Senior Technical Sound Designer, Sonso, has begun work on a prototype. The following video features a closer look at the progress so far, as well as a much better explanation of the concepts by Sonso herself:
Music: And finally, this quarter we’ve made a proper start on preliminary musical compositions. After the mood board work from last quarter, our next step was to team up with a lead composer, in this case one Alistair Kerley (Horizon: Call of the Mountain, The Persistence). The first port of call was to carry out some initial sketch work, using the mood board for reference, in order to help define tone, mood, instrumentation and potential thematic elements.
We then moved on to development of a series of key music cues, including work on the Front-end (title screen/main menu) and In-Game
Frontend This music needed to be quite subdued and ambient for the most part but at the same time it still presented a good opportunity to explore the harmonic and melodic material developed in the sketching phase. In terms of direction, we wanted to create a gentle atmospheric bed, with harmonic textures weaving in and out, and subtle melodic motifs ‘floating by’. With the arrangement, we start out with this slightly richer and more melodic section, as the game starts. After which we move into (and subsequently loop) a more ambient variation to sit a little further back, as players navigate the menus and wait to join a match:
In-Game As we were working with a simple Team Deathmatch game mode, for the in-game music we wanted to focus primarily on building tension through the end game moments and out into the match finish. However, to make things a little more interesting, we used this opportunity to explore ideas for dynamic implementation, enabling the music to adapt in real-time to what’s happening in the game. The key points from the brief we as follows:
- Score key events of the game mode
- Help communicate progress & developments
- Mood: Driving energy, exhilaration & tension
- Palette: Percussive approach, with support from electronic rhythmical motifs and world/orchestral flourishes
- Explore ethnic/tribal rhythms and less conventional time signatures
The resulting dynamic system involves the music being broken down into four increasing ‘intensities’, which are then ‘stitched together’ in game, increasing the intensity of the music as the game progresses (a concept known as ‘Horizontal Sequencing’). What happens in practice is that the music starts when the first team reaches 16 points. It will then remain looping around the first section (intensity 1) until another point is scored, at which point it transitions to the second section (intensity 2). This then continues through the remaining intensity increases until the winning team hits 20 points, the match is over and the music transitions to a crescendoing end flourish.
Weapon, Abilities, and Better Weapons
Our combat designers are currently focusing on expanding our toolbox of destruction. We want to give a full range of action shooter weapons to players for maximum fun potential. This means introducing iconic choices like the Rocket Launcher, Shotgun, and a plethora of bullet-spewing devices. Alongside our expanded weapon lineup, we're also adding to the player abilities roster. Teleport, Rocket Barrage, and Heal bot is just the tip of the iceberg of where we plan to take our abilities systems. We’re experimenting with new ability ideas we’re calling the "Citadel", "Ragnorok", "Zenith Grenade", and other fresh concepts. What will these abilities do? Stay tuned and find out more.
The design team has also started the weapon progression plan. Players will earn mech and weapon upgrades throughout the match. Performing well and exploration will earn you better upgrades. We’re hoping the new weapons, abilities, and upgrades will elevate the strategic depth and excitement for the gameplay experience.
Any Expanding World and Objectives
The August playtest showed the “Fracking Facility”, which is merely a glimpse into the expansive world we're creating. Our level design team is diligently expanding the level to be several times the size of the current arena. This includes the introduction of new thematic elements, unforgettable locations, and vast landscapes that beckon exploration. With the larger battleground, effective coordination and teamwork will become paramount for success.
Cats in Mech
Ever wondered how your cat prepares before leaping into a roaring mech and heading into the battlefield? Picture them customizing and upgrading their gear in their personal Mech Hangar. Assume the role of your cat pilot as you roam around, customizing, equipping, and admiring your collection of Mech builds. When you're ready, select a mech and embark on your next mission.
But wait! What would a cat do if their combat mech was on fire and about to explode? Well obviously, they would eject! We’re working on the ability to run around the battlefield as your cat pilot. Certainly a small cat is no match for another cat piloting a mech… But there are other ways to cause mayhem outside of your mech. What sort of mayhem are we hinting at? Stay tuned to learn more!
Greetings community! We’ve been on an exhilarating journey from every corner of the globe to serve all you cat fanatics the purrfect multiplayer experience. Thanks to your invaluable feedback, early matchmaking hiccups were swiftly ironed out with a hotfix. The camaraderie and zest of our players never cease to amaze us. Hang tight, as we’ve got tantalizing updates lined up soon!
🐾 Teaser Alert: Our next update is set to be a whisker-twitching delight! Immerse yourself in captivating cat themes, finessed gameplay, and the dawn of player progression. And yes, we’re introducing the first-ever 3D kittens to the arena! This isn’t just about the gameplay; it’s about real-world impact. As our mission goes beyond the virtual realm, these kittens will pave the way for players to actively partake in real-life cat rescues. Our passion for our furry friends drives us to create meaningful experiences for all.
🤖 Mechs & More: While our mechs, with their wall-running and skyscraper-leaping skills, remain the heart of the battlefield, we’re ushering in a deeper bond between players and their feline pilots.
Introducing the Reactive Cat Portraits — your in-game cat avatar will now react in real-time to your gameplay achievements, celebrating victories and sighing in relief during heal-ups. It’s a delightful touch, emphasizing the player-pilot connection, and we’re eager to evolve this feature further.
🛠 Enhancing the Arsenal: Our recent game update brought distinct abilities for each mech class, giving pilots more strategic depth. Brace yourselves, as we’re amplifying this! New class abilities, throwable arena gadgets, and a comprehensive progression system are on the horizon. Upgrade, enhance, and personalize your mechs to be the ultimate arena champions. With an expanded player toolkit, we anticipate a dynamic gameplay meta that’s ever-evolving and always surprising!
Stay claw-some, and prepare for the epic feline frontier ahead! 🐱🚀
What a thrilling journey it’s been, unveiling these development insights! The recurring theme in this update? Growth. Whether it’s our weapon arsenal, dynamic abilities, sprawling levels, or intricate features, Nekovia is constantly evolving, becoming richer and even more electrifying. We eagerly anticipate your participation in our next playtest, where a sneak peek into these upcoming features awaits.
Stay at the edge of your seats for more behind-the-scenes glimpses from our dedicated dev team. Your unwavering support propels us forward, and we’re grateful to have you alongside us.
About Nyan Heroes
Nyan Heroes is a multiplayer shooter that combines fast-paced, competitive gameplay with a real-world impact. Developed by a remote team of seasoned game developers and powered by Unreal Engine 5 and blockchain technology, Nyan Heroes pays homage to cats and offers a AAA multiplayer experience with epic mech character classes, thrilling cat-like movements, and unique gameplay abilities.
Learn More: nyanheroes.com