Inside Nekovia — Fall 2022

Calling all Heroes.
We have been working diligently to make sure that we progress with the development of Nyan Heroes. From the expanded lore of Neo Nekovia district, to the newly pristine underground station, or Meowtro, rather, to the fully actualized Guardian Garage to the synthesized layer of the Jaguar Pistol to setting OKRs for 2023. As you can see, there are plenty of treats within this read.

To wrap up this year, we give kudos to all our Nyan Developers who are molding the world of Nekovia with their human hands. We’ve had a lot of successful moments and many learnings that we’re grateful for, and we owe it to them!

ART

The developers were hard at work trying to build an amazing city with a modern infrastructure. The Meowtro is state-of-the-art that helps Nyans and their mechs move about.

Building façade look and feel exploration

FOLIAGE — Our concept team explored various foliage. They’ve added some green and pink leafy goodness for Neo Nekovia! The temperature control pods could help the plant grow and add so much more cyberpunk feel to the game.

BIOME To build a stand-out game, the team is implementing as much modularity as possible into the levels. At the same time, we need to ensure that there is enough variation, so it does not look like they are not all just duplicating the same look.

GUARDIAN GARAGE — The team worked through the idea that the Nyans have mech garage stations to maintain and repair their mechs. In the coming months, we are looking to incorporate gameplay in these garages.

WEAPONS— The designs of our guns, the Prophecy Rifle, and the Jaguar Pistol have undergone a number of iterations and problem-solving. From the style changes to general functionality. One of the challenges we faced is ensuring every Guardian Mech can hold and use the guns, so we adjusted the grip and overall shape, and it has been rolled over many times. Our goal is to get these weapons to look as shiny and deadly as possible.

OUR NYAN MEDIC — Our 3D Character Artist, Elijah Sparshott, has been hard at work to make a model with our Nyan Medic which has now entered the texturing stage. As we continue to explore ‘fur’ cards to add the layer of high fidelity we aim for in our game, we also improved the look and shape of the bionic arm.

DESIGN

We’ve put together three design-led strike teams to tackle our most pressing prototype gameplay areas: Signature Locomotion, World Design Pipeline, and Battle Royale Mode.

The signature locomotion team is led by our Principal Combat Designer, Danil Radchenko. The team worked on cat-like movements of the mech, such as vertical movement abilities — Jump, Wall Run, Climb, and Launch. Our mechs are built by cats, and they must resemble their creators.

The World Design Pipeline team worked on an area from the Battle Royale map, Nekovia Square. Led by Niles Sankey, our Lead Level Designer, the team built the square from scratch and tested ‘final-looking’ art assets to test the pipelines for art deployment into a level and establish performance benchmarks for our assets.

The Battle Royale team is headed by our Principal Technical Designer, Tom Bolton. The team is responsible for setting up the core Battle Royale ruleset. They also make sure that we close the loop on a full game session, so we can playtest all the cat goodness by shooting each other in the face!

Last, but not least, we worked on updating our Game Vision document. But do not be alarmed, we’re still making the same cool game. Vision updates are generally for a better definition of high-level goals, so the team members working on them have a better understanding of the requirements.

ENGINEERING

Blockchain Foundations — We believe everyone who is involved in the success of Nyan Heroes should have ownership of their content and be rewarded for their contribution. To this end, we are continuing to build blockchain-based foundations into our game technology. We cannot say too much about this yet, but watch this space for exciting developments.

Studio Operating at Scale — New ideas and concepts are what will make Nyan Heroes exciting and fresh, so the engineering team has been working on tools and technology that help teams to collaborate on development and share work in progress with their colleagues. Engineers have been enhancing systems and tools that let people see who is working on what part of the game and lock certain parts that need to be kept from changing. This means many people can work on different parts of a level without changing other parts of the game that someone else may be working on.

World Building Using Cutting-Edge Technology — We are building our game using the latest version of Unreal Engine, this provides us with exciting new technology such as Nanite and Lumen that enable the games to look better than ever. But with new technology comes new challenges, we need to make sure that we are creating assets and building our world in a way that works best with the new technology. We have been evaluating the performance of content that is being created to make sure the game runs as smoothly as possible but still looks great. We then use this knowledge to help the art and design teams to establish new guidelines and processes, along with tools that enable them to fine-tune their work-in-progress assets before they go into the game. This means lots of time looking at graphs, charts, and colored screenshots of the game:

NARRATIVE

Did someone say LORE? Nothing is more iconic than Central City, embracing the golden age of Nyan civilization in the heart of Neo Nekovia. Variety is the spice of life, and Central City offers everything and more.

Stare in wonder at the massive skyscrapers of Neo Nekovia, inspired by the Pre-Cataclysmic hypermodern architecture movement.

Visit the faithful recreations of Old Nekovia in the historical district. Enjoy endless shopping inside the many megamalls or corporate pop-up stores. Take a cat nap in one of the many parks. Fly through the skyline aboard luxury Aerocraft taxi transports.

And most prominently, visit the Battledome Livestream Arena — where the biggest Battlefans come to watch and support their favorite pilots as they duke it out beyond the city.

Central City is the place where dreams spring to life!

AUDIO

The current plan, at least for the next phase of development, is to collaborate with an outsource studio for a big chunk of the game’s sound design. Ambitions are high, so we’ve spent a fair amount of time sourcing the right team. I met with quite a few down at Develop Brighton in Summer, narrowed down a shortlist, and we’re now at the point where we’re down to the final two, so I’ll share some details with you guys:

Formosa UK — These used to go by the name of The Noiseworks and were originally formed by a couple of sound designers from Creative Assembly. They were recently bought out by the behemoth US post-production company Formosa Group and now operate as their UK studio.

Rev Rooms — Rev Rooms is a fairly new outfit set up by a trio of veterans from games, film, and TV. They’ve recently completed work on a suite of studios down in Brighton that offers mixing from 5.1 to Dolby Atmos. Notable past clients include Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm; game credits include Forza Street, For Honor, and Sniper Ghost Warrior 3.

Power perceived between each weapon

Weapons — One of the first areas we wanted to focus on in the game was the weapons. Still just using the stock Lyra sound effects, the two main guns were well overdue for some attention. First up is the Jaguar Pistol. We wanted to really push the perceived power and give this weapon a lot more weight, in keeping with the design’s request that it be more akin to a Magnum than a standard-issue pistol. Given that the Jaguar is based on real-world, traditional weaponry, for the most part, we leaned heavily on real gun recordings for the sound design. However, we also layered in some subtle synthesized layers to compliment the sci-fi aesthetic and give it more of a unique identity. One thing I really want the sound to consider going forward is how real-world weapons might sound in the future that has seen advancements in new technology.

For the Prophecy AR, we took a similar approach, this weapon representing the equivalent of a military-grade assault rifle. However, with this being an automatic weapon, we wanted to give more thought to how future technology could be driving the firing mechanics. The resulting audio features a combination of conventional assault rifles and subtle energy sources, with the latter powering up and down alongside the firing sequence. We also added a short blast of energy to the initial shot to give more kicks to the firing’s start.

Nekovia City — The other main focus for us at present is to support the development of Nekovia City. We’ve implemented ambient audio and reverb zones for the main city, hangar, and metro station, as well as looking at the key traversal objects, such as the Grav Lift and Jump Pad.

PRODUCTION

The Production Team has been doing a lot of workflow-related groundwork in parallel with development to prove out Locomotion and world art.

Building production pipelines and processes

RACI: As a team of producers, we divided responsibly, so the team is clear on who owns what. For that, we have built a RACI Matrix (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) for various areas of game and admin work.

PM TOOL

JIRA: We have overhauled the JIRA setup to have better workflows and use of issue types within JIRA. This being our main Project Management tool, we needed a structure that is agreed upon by all producers and is easy to use, and is scalable.

ShotGrid: ShotGrid will be used for art management both for internal and external teams, which is now up and running. This will be our primary art review and content approval tool. Once an asset is approved, then we will plug it into our main pipeline into JIRA and ADO. We aim to get more automation in ShotGrid next year

OKRs and Plan for Q1

The studio is busy drafting OKRs (objectives and key results) for next year. Our aim is to ensure all required work is understood across the team, along with what is happening now and what is needed for the future. This is going to be our North Star and will help us drive delivery with clearly defined key results that will involve all departments coming together in a planned, organized, and methodical manner.

Keep the Meowtropolis clean with the help of Zamboni Bot minions

Wrapping Up

Thank you for tuning in to INSIDE NEKOVIA.

We wish you a Happy Holidays and New Year! See you in 2023.

For more updates, please stand by for future transmissions.

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