Blog #35: March Community Update

In this month’s community update we’re working from home, welcoming several new hires to Lo-Fi and learning a bit more about performance considerations in Kenshi 2.

Developing from a safe location

As represented through parody on our Instagram, we’re encouraging everyone to stay at home if they can and as no exceptions to the rule, everyone at Lo-Fi has been working remotely. It’s taken us a little while to adjust but we’re now fully in the swing of things; our latest series of Kenshi 1 bug fixes have just been deployed to the stable branch and Kenshi 2 progress marches on.

Welcome reinforcements

To continue ramping up development for Kenshi 2 we’re excited to introduce some new faces to the team (starting remotely of course). Already hard at work, Victor Goossens, is our new Technical Artist and Sarah Keates, our new Office Administrator – both of which bring more structure to our workflow in the studio. Additionally over the next few weeks we’re welcoming Mohammad Rezazadeh as our Lead 3D Artist and Craig Tinney, as a Junior Programmer, each adding additional talent to push Kenshi 2 forward. Finally, with the popularity of the waterways picture shared in a previous update, fans will be happy to welcome back well known freelance artist Calum Alexander Watt.

Technically art or Artfully technical?

Joining us this month, Victor gives a better explanation of what a technical artist does along with a sneak peak of work that would make Bob Ross proud:

“Hi guys! I’m Victor, or Mr4Goosey (after my last name, Goossens)! I’m happy to say I’m Lo-Fi’s new Technical Artist (I’ll call it TA for short, so that doesn’t stand for Teaching Assistant here). Most of you are probably not really sure what that means, though. In a nutshell, my job as a Technical Artist is to be a bridge between the art department and the programming department. I do artsy things that are too technical for the artists, and I do technical things that are too artsy for the programmers.

I’ve been doing indie-development on all kinds of projects for years now. I got into game development as a programmer, but quickly developed a passion for creating beautiful things – bringing me to the specialized niche that is Technical Art.

Most of the work I do relates somehow to what your graphics card is doing while you’re playing games; I handle lighting, all kinds of color-balancing, and most importantly, I deal with shaders, the ‘code’ that tells your graphics card what every pixel on your screen should look like. Having specialized in Unreal Engine 4, a lot of the shader-work I do is actually material-based (using UE4’s node system). That doesn’t necessarily make the job much simpler (you still need to understand how rendering engines and graphics cards work), but definitely a bit easier to understand at a basic level. I also work with artists to work out any kinks in their work flow, as well as dealing with performance-budgets and optimization.

You might now be wondering what that means for Kenshi in the larger scheme of things. As you guys probably know we’ve decided to move to Unreal Engine 4 for Kenshi 2. Having years of experience in UE4, I’ll be working to smooth out the transition from Ogre, helping the team get used to Unreal’s way of working. Unreal Engine 4 has an incredibly powerful and versatile rendering engine – if you know how to work with it, because that power comes at the cost of complexity. The plan is for Kenshi 2 to be graphically above and beyond anything we could ever do in Ogre, and I’m here to make sure that we can actually pull that off. An easy example for that is what I’m actually working on right now:

Kenshi 2’s new Time-of-Day system, and primarily, its clouds! Kenshi’s fully dynamic lighting and environment is a massive challenge to represent properly, and it means things like clouds just cannot be left static. Kenshi’s new clouds grow, move and morph over time – all without melting your graphics card! Next up is just about every other material in Kenshi…”

The final piece

Last but not least, we’re still searching for a lead programmer to join us, keeping us on track to complete Kenshi 2 before all of this apocalypse malarkey. In the meantime, keep your eyes on our Twitter and Facebook pages for some new events and once again, if you prefer updates directly into your inbox, sign up for our mailing list here.

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