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Atavism Dev Log 17 – Ornithology Obsession

Update 17: May 31st – June 13th

Two weeks, more progress, as usual. On the personal side of things, I’ve recently beaten God of War – something I enjoyed way more than I initially thought I would and turned into one of the strongest emotional experiences a game has ever given me. I’m immeasurably happy with the reception the public has give it too, both in sales and appreciation for Santa Monica’s hard work. Aside from that, I took a bit of time off from development on Monday to watch E3 with my friends (with whom I still haven’t started that DND game), and I came out the end of it rather satisfied, but anxious for the distant release dates.

On the development side of things, I’ve modeled a giant bird. This week’s post should be fairly short, as I’d rather not talk about the nature of these birds and have little to say on the modelling process, but this also brought to light the issue of whether I should make dev logs over certain things at all. The tribesmen and birds, for instance, are encountered fairly early in the game, so I see them as both a marker for my progress in beginning the development of this game and a marketable point for the piece without delving too deep into it. As I start developing later parts of the game (or just critical parts of it), however, I’ll probably have very little to publicly say about them, requiring a longer-paced style of dev log.

In short, I looked at some other blogs like this one from Lucas Pope (who made Papers, Please) and Nightdive Stuidos’ kickstarter updates, both of which are narrative-focused games and post infrequently to reflect that. I think as I move into later parts of this project, especially after building unique encounters and levels begins, I’ll shed the bi-weekly obligation to preserve the mystery.



An early rendition of the bird with placeholder details to shape out the silhouette.

Bird Process

The progression of modeling and rigging this thing was, as I had hoped and planned for, much smoother than the tribesman. I spent a lot more time on this one collecting references (pictured below) and trying to identify where my inspiration was coming from – which made visualizing the model much easier – and I planned out the AI and necessary animations before I even opened Blender, which made modelling with animation and rigging in mind rather successful.


I was probably pretty much done with the modelling after week 1, which most of week 2 spent rigging it (a lengthy process after I decided I wanted to position the feathers individually) and properly UV-ing it (something I still haven’t done for the tribesman). It still needs a few touchups here and there, but it’s more than ready to start using, so I’ve already made a few gliding animations and such.

Here’s the current model the bird banking to its left in-engine.

Next Update

Between pretty much only working in Blender and and taking a break to watch E3 on the weekend, not much besides this got done. I’ve experimented with a few features behind the scenes, but I don’t currently have much to show on them.

I can probably say, however, that I’m already further along than I thought I would be, and that planning out the AI and animations suggests the Birds as a whole may not take as long as I’d estimated. It’s possible I could be done with their rough draft by the end of July, maybe even before.

Where last blog I was hoping to avoid repeating the mistakes from modeling the tribesman, I’ll be aiming for the next to avoid the mistakes of programming them. I’ve got a much clearer design document, a good layout of pseudocode on their full behaviors, and I think I can swing this one home without needing to fully rewrite anything.

Until next time, cheers.

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