News & Updates

Community Campfire for June 9, 2015

Howdy Descendents!

We have a truly awesome community here!

For instance, check out all of the awesome folks who've earned a Contributor Medal:

Stealthguy, Pleasure, Overwatch, dunkelza, JetRonin, melbourne, Winglet, grimfalcon, BeckAltarr, AC_Black, elfindreams, Xyphon, Groundhound, Wingman, Erio, Warlock, KnightsKilrathi, Gallitin, skuripanda, Viewmaster, Renegade-Shank, AngryPeas, JazAero, Skeletonbane, Strife, Jaxley, Fallarnon, Pops, Zenimer, DrHawk, Nelson, Stormwind, Mufossa75, Louhikarme, FireDragon, Grishord, ShoGun, Yoshimitsu

All of these people were awarded this medal after making a lot of positive volunteer contributions (usually over a long period of time) that are helping take Descent: Underground forward as a game.

Now it's your turn!


Starting tomorrow, and running until noon CDT (1700 UTC) on Monday, June 15, we are going to be running stage one of our BUILD-A-BOT contest!

That's right!

We want YOU to work with your fellow community members to design a bot for Descent: Underground!

This contest will proceed in two paths (Art and Design) comprised of four stages,...

...First Contact with the Main Hostile Force

Welcome to another exciting week of development on Descent: Underground!

Last week, I gave you a bit of a peek at the development of our first test map. (I will remind you that this map is not intended to be a final game map, but is instead a way for us to set up examples of each primary game system in order to test and balance them.)

My intention was to show the next round of progress on said map this week, but as the snippet of the quote from Helmuth von Moltke the Elder in the title indicates, that plan of operations did not quite survive the week. Instead, much of the week was sliced and diced by getting some more design information out in front of upcoming engineering tasks and complications arising from setting up a new machine with which I can better work on the game. (Phil did the main work of getting the machines built, but it is impossible to plan for hard drive failures, download failures, and other fun things that tend to come up when you're developing any software, so we all pitch in on setup to save on budget.)

Speaking of slicing and dicing, you might have noticed the early concept image of our laser grid countermeasure in the blog's image. Taking a first look at the concept, it may very well end up forming the basis for both the shield that protects each team's entry tunnel into the map and the actual laser grid effect for slicing and dicing tailgating enemies. If you're having trouble picturing how that might work, here's a bit of an animated image to demonstrate the effect. (It will be much more explode-y when it's the countermeasure version, of course.)

Posted Image

Speaking of surviving first contact, one of the more... shall we say "contentious"... bits about doing design...

Most Valuable Post for June 6, 2015


Howdy, Folks!

Our MVP award is given to members who actively contribute to making

Descent: Underground a better experience for us all!



Sliver heard us ask about ideas for the Descent: Underground retail box, and has been

posting awesome new ideas ever since.

Keep the creativity flowing!

Enjoy the MVP forum badge that will appear on your account!

You will also receive a shout out on our Facebook

and Twitter pages.

Everyone else, remember:

Our MVP badge is awarded to a member who

has supported the game in a positive way (creativity is encouraged!).

Our great moderation team picks a member each week who goes above and beyond.


Be sure to check out Rob Irving's Design: Underground on Monday!


Oh, and in case you missed it, here is yesterday's Wingman's Hangar:

Remember to LIKE and FOLLOW us to get the latest news!

Week In Review (6/5/2015)


The DU team, as usual, has been hard at work. And, as usual, this blog gives you a rundown of some of the stuff we've worked on during the week.

So here goes:

  • Some missile concept refinements. Last week, this blog showed various takes on the homing missile. After much discussion, the missile concept was reconsidered and this week, we have a new take on it. Check it out below!

  • Ship modification system. As you all know, eventually, you'll be able to replace wings, tail sections, nose cones, etc.., so we needed a system that can handle that. The ship is actually made up of several pieces and we needed a system in place that can manage those pieces. Well, that system, which started last week, is almost complete -- will be complete by next Friday.

  • Level Design and Construction. I mentioned last week that Rob had completed the layout of the first map -- which he showed in Rob Irving's Design Underground (featuring Rob Irving). Well, that was handed off to one of our environment artists and he's taking it even further. Not ready to show this week, but look for some renders next week.

  • Lots of project management stuff. In addition to the normal scheduling, tracking, prioritizing, etc, we're evaluating a new tool (new to us) TargetProcess. Any of you have experience with this tool? I'd love to hear about it.

  • Loads more art. Lasers, explosions, shield/hit effects -- OH MY! Rather than show those as screen shots, I think we'll do it with video. Coming soon.

  • Ship Stats. In next week's Design Underground, Rob will be discussing ship stats. For those of you, like me, who love min-maxing, this will be a great episode. Don't miss it!!


Tech Update #5

Hello Descendents!

It's been a hectic time in engineering at Descendent Studios since the last tech update! Here are some of the highlights:


NVIDIA visited our office recently and gave us the low-down on current and upcoming graphics tech they have available. Being a small team we have to be very conservative with what we can spend the time to integrate (and of course anything already integrated with Unreal Engine 4 is much easier for small developers like us).

Given the above, we were particularly interested in HBAO+ (Horizon Based Ambient Occlusion+), VXGI (Voxel Global Illumination), and Gameworks VR.

VXGI demo video from NVIDIA and Byzantos:

In addition, some tech NVIDIA developed like PhysX and APEX destruction are already integrated into Unreal Engine 4 making their use easy for UE4 developers.

(Older) APEX Destruction demo video from NVIDIA:

And don't worry - we'll make sure the game works great with video cards from all the major GPU vendors.

Game Engineering

Game development continues on the Modular Ship System, which we are revamping to work better, have many more features, and be easier for artists and designers to use compared to the previous iteration of the system seen in the crowdfunding videos. We've planned...

Community Campfire for June 2, 2015

Howdy, folks!

This picture is an updated version of a concept for the drone bay user interface (UI) that we showed to the Underground last week. The art team has been checking out the Undergrounders' feedback and we now have this newer version to share with you.

Last week, I wrote about the way that your megacorporation is a bit like a nationality, or at least a culture and a heritage. In this image, you can see your corporation in the upper left.

If you look closely, you can also see that the company logo is painted on the back wall behind the Typhoon. Yes, I know the description says "Predator"- this IS just a work-in-progress (WIP), after all.

You can also see a ship customization screen on the left. On the bottom would be your ship selector and a pop-up for quickly selecting different configurations if you want them.

That way you can switch from your clan style to your personal samurai warrior style (or whatever) without having to manually reconfigure the ship each time. It's just another way we're trying to support player groups and individual tastes.

Speaking of supporting player groups- Organizations, clans, etc. are important to a vibrant game community and we are working on ways to do that, both on our community website and in the game.

We plan to ask our Advisory Board for, well, advice on the topic. After that, we'll be taking the top suggestions from them to our Undergrounders for feedback, and then presenting a plan to the community at large for comment.

Oh, and that contest I mentioned awhile back?

It's still coming...

Keep watching this blog for more on that, and take a look below...

Underground Design and Design Underground

Hello, Descenters,

For those of you who might not be all that interested in reading about design today, you could check out the pretty pictures in our brand new image gallery instead, but who isn't interested in reading about design? The gallery will still be there when you're finished, and we'll be continually adding new content as it becomes available.

In between bouts of checking out our new gallery for spiffy desktop wallpapers and the necessary weekly administrative goings-on, work on the test map for our game functionality is pretty much wrapping up its first phase. You may have noticed the perhaps-unfamiliar line drawing in this blog's image. That's a rough wire frame of the current gray box version of the map.

For those of you not in the know, the gray box is a blocked out layout of a level that helps us to test out the way that the level flows, plan specific locations for object placement, and give the artists a bit of a canvas upon which to paint much prettier versions of how they think that the level should look. The blockiness of the level is due to the fact that it was built almost entirely with Unreal Engine 4's BSP tool, which is simply a way to create primitive shapes to quickly sketch out an overall shape.

You can see in some of the far right portions that the BSP geometry is already being converted into more complex geometry - a test bed for the map kit pieces that the modeling team will be providing to build more complex levels as quickly as the BSP map. This lets us test for gaps in our toy box of building blocks, so we can continue to flesh out that set.

So now the artists can run off with the level to make it into something pretty, while design can switch focus to setting up proper tests for game systems.

It's all...

Most Valuable Post for May 30, 2015


Howdy, Folks!

Our MVP award is given to members who actively contribute to making

Descent: Underground a better experience for us all!


Skeletonbane & Khrull

Khrull and Skeletonbane collaborated to turn two HUD feedback threads

into one super thread of awesomeness! That's the kind of constructive

and cooperative community we love!

Enjoy the MVP forum badges that will appear on your accounts!

You will also receive a shout out on our Facebook

and Twitter pages.

Everyone else, remember:

Our MVP badge is awarded to a member who

has supported the game in a positive way (creativity is encouraged!).

Our great moderation team picks a member each week who goes above and beyond.


Be sure to check out Rob Irving's Design: Underground on Monday!


Oh, and in case you missed it, here is yesterday's Wingman's Hangar:

Be sure to LIKE and FOLLOW us to get the latest news!

Week In Review (5/29/2015)

Happy Friday Descenters,

Lots happened this week:

  • The first Advisory Board meeting. Lots of great discussion about control schemes for various input systems. The Advisory Board also had some excellent insight regarding new player outreach.
  • The last of our ship concepts (Warlock and Auger) have been approved. More shots of them next week.
  • A great meeting on the map construction process. There's lots of moving parts involved in map construction, so we spent some time fine tuning the process.
  • The first round of missile concepts are in and ready for review. You can see those below.
  • We've revised the Panzer special move a bit. More on that next week.
  • We also have a new Drone Bay UI pass to show. See below for that as well.
  • Last, but not least, a new programmer started this week -- Tyler Pixley. Tyler will bring his talents to bear on game systems.

Beyond the bits and pieces of everyday life, we also spend time thinking through longer term plans. Although we can't cover all of it in this blog, I can tell you we've nailed down a big milestone. Our goal is to have a vertical slice of the game by the end of June. The VS will have art that is very close to final -- in some cases final for sure. We should also have most of the core game-play systems in by then -- at least in a playable state.

Our VS plan:

  • 3 ships and one special for each ship. The ships: Panzer, Typhoon, and Wasp
  • Introductory mining
  • Our first map. This map is designed for 4 v 4.
  • Ship HUD will be complete (with the exception of a VR version)
  • One match type. The match, which we are temporarily calling "Blow the Core", will be a team based match type. The goal for each team will be number of kills and a team can end the match by destroying the Reactor.
  • SFX for everything in the VS
  • Probably a first look at some music
  • Some first pass weapons: Lasers (with multiple levels), Missiles (homing and concussion), gadgets (laser grid)
  • VFX. Lots of hits and explosions.


The power of the 9!

Hello Descendents!

What a project so far, we have had a wonderful work week, and have gotten a ton of work done, as well as honed in further on our vertical slice playable level for the end of June.
A vertical slice is either an entire level, or a portion of one, that has nearly complete game play, it is a way to focus the team on a quick goal and get something playable that will help us balance out and test some of the game play ideas that sometimes sound great on paper but need a lot of testing to implement correctly.
This will be the one we let users come by the office and try, but more on that later.

Also this week we had our very first advisory board meeting, and we discussed control schemes, for all types of game controllers from Hotas to Keyboard and mouse, we even mapped out a nice XBox360 controller. There was a lot of good input and we are lucky to have such dedicated folks helping us along the way.

Make sure to set your watches to 11am CST for the next episode of Wingman's Hangar.

We got to meet the team behind Starfighter Inc, and discuss their new upcoming space shooter - WE NEED MORE SPACE GAMES !

Thanks and see you all - underground.


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