BLOGCAST

Hey everyone, several of you have requested another audio-focused dev stream and we are happy to comply! This Friday, Alex will be working on some music on-stream, so come check it out and bring along your game audio questions. We’ll go live Friday at 2pm PDT on the Insomniac Twitch Channel.

Also bring along your name-ideas. We had so much fun discussing names for Esteban that we want to do it again, this time for our primary antagonist, the wily Bullcatcher.

bull-catcher

She is bound and determined to catch Esteban and kick him off her lawn, and nothing stands in her way! Except maybe water. She doesn’t like water. Like we did with Esteban, we’ll gather up suggestions in stream and the team will pick a name next week.

Other Developments

As we get further and further into development, we’ve been revisiting some earlier art concepts now that we’ve had a chance to play with them in game. The transparent water walls of the beach area weren’t working out so great – making them look good while overlapping was problematic – so we redid the beach walls as sand dunes and macaroni shells. To get water back into the beach, we wanted to be able to see the ocean around the perimeter

This effect is done with two things:
1. A script to translate the offset of a tiling water texture so it moves around
2. An alpha mask shader to block out the area of the level where we DON’T water to show. The level mask images come in handy once more!

Speaking of level masks…

Pixelated Rorshach Test

What did Twitter see in this level mask?

SpeedBitTraining

@leelo124: Pea shooter from Plants vs Zobmies Garden Warfare :)
@TechyZeldaNerd: An awkward thirteen year old girl who just had a guy run away when she tried to kiss him.
@SugaoKC: I see Qbert
@audiosprite: a minimap and I wanna go left
@syntheslice: Looks like a bad idea for a Super Soaker that just might accidentally spray water back in the user’s face.
@AndyGainey: A frightened and very worried elephant. With an inexplicable spot on its forehead.
@darthbator: Doom 1, Hangar, overhead view.

Follow @SlowDownBull to see more!

As we continue towards this Fall, we wanted to spotlight various members of the Sunset Overdrive team with some questions you hopefully haven’t seen answered elsewhere. Get to know the Sunset Overdrive team. This week we talk to Director of Project Management Bryan Intihar.

brianiHow did you end up at Insomniac?

Ryan Schneider (our Director of Marketing and Brand Development), that’s how. During my days at Electronic Gaming Monthly (EGM) I worked very closely with Ryan whenever it came to writing about Insomniac titles. Ryan—along with Ted—always went above and beyond whenever I had a request and I really enjoyed visiting the studio.

When I got the itch to move into game development, Ryan was the first person I called and was fortunate that he had a position open on the community team. After about a year I moved into production with Ryan’s blessing (if you can’t tell already, he’s one awesome guy).

I know it might sound cliché, but I truly do have the greatest job. That doesn’t mean things don’t get tough/stressful at times, but it’s still amazing to see on a daily basis how these games come together.

How did being in games media help you in your position now?

Well, let’s start with how it didn’t help—I COMPLETELY underestimated just what goes into making these things. I’ve written a lot of articles and been on numerous gaming podcasts, and when I think about at some of my comments/criticisms I’m like “wow—you really had no idea how difficult it can be to do what you’re asking.”

However, I feel like being part of the games media did allow me to give the dev team some insights  on how people might react to , say, a new game feature or initial impressions of a demo build through the eyes of a journalist.

Sunset Overdrive Character Grouping by Julien Renoult

Sunset Overdrive Character Grouping by Julien Renoult

What’s the biggest challenge when guiding roughly 200 people making a game?

Communication, communication, and—oh yeah—communication. Sunset is easily the biggest game we’ve ever made at Insomniac, which has led to us staffing up appropriately. But when you have team size this big, it’s a constant challenge to keep everyone in the loop. Luckily, I have an amazing production team that keeps the flow of information going throughout the studio.

Any “ah-ha” moments on Sunset Overdrive?

I would say the first time we got actually shooting-while-traversing working in the game. Early on Steve Ryder—one of our animators—did some pre-vis work about what it could feel like running through the city like in those parkour videos yet blasting away OD with such unbelievable style. The day I grabbed the controller and said “it’s just like Steve’s video,” I knew the team was on to something pretty special.

How many different departments go into making a videogame?

Lots! You have the ones that you might expect: Design, Programming, Animation, Audio, etc. However, there’s also several that I like to call “unsung heroes” that go into making this game (and studio)—tick, such as our QA staff, community team (who are rocking it these days with our weekly Sunset TV episodes), and yes—even HR. Our HR group is always doing something special for the studio to keep things fun even at the most difficult times at the project.

OneHandedDragon_E3trailer

How is Insomniac managing Sunset Overdrive differently than other projects?

The sheer size of this game has forced us to improve our tracking methods. There are so many features/assets/etc. that you really need to be buttoned up as a production team so things don’t fall through the cracks. We’ve made some tremendous headway in this area on Sunset, but it will continue to be a point of emphasis on future projects, as well.

What are your three most vital tools that you couldn’t do your job without?

  1. My legs: People always laugh at me I’m usually seen speed-walking around the office trying to track someone down. I’m not a fan of communicating via e-mail or IM; it’s all about the face-to-face.
  2. My team: The production team (Heather, Kevin, Peter, Scott) along with my QA leads (Doug, Joe, and Ricky) make it possible for me to do my job. I ask so much of them on a daily basis and even when I put new stuff on their plate they always find a way to deliver.
  3. My Insom family: Insomniac is more than just a job for me. I’ve always described this place as a second family and I’d do anything to help it succeed. For as much time we spend here making these games, you better really like and respect the people you work with—and that’s exactly the case here at Insomniac. It’s an amazing place to be.

I hear you’re a Browns fan. How’s that going?

Such a loaded question! No matter what, I will always bleed orange and brown. #Believeland

What faction do you honestly think you would be a part of in Sunset City?

Hmm, great question. If it were up to me, I’d be a rebel and try to be part of TWO factions at once—Troop Bushido and the Fargarths. And thanks to our customization system, in Sunset I can sure look the part!!!

The Sunset Overdrive team dresses up to storm the green carpet at the Xbox E3 Media Briefing in 2014

The Sunset Overdrive team dresses up to storm the green carpet at the Xbox E3 Media Briefing in 2014

Check out all of our Before Sunset interviews here.

Greetings all! If you missed last week’s stream of Dave creating the art for our matador character, you can watch it here. As a reminder, there will be NO STREAM THIS WEEK as our entire Community team is off in Cologne for gamescom. But we’ll be back the week after and hopefully with a much-requested audio stream. Follow our Twitch Channel and/or @SlowDownBull on twitter to keep notified.

Current Status

We continue to stay very busy on the project as we balance assimilating feedback from our weekly builds into our schedule of work that still needs to be done. It can be somewhat of a juggling act, especially when great ideas show up that are just beyond the scope of the time we have left. Sometimes we’re able to find ways to incorporate the core of those ideas without using them in their entirety, but some just have to be let go in the interest of getting things done. It’s always a tough decision!

This week Dave finished up one of our last environment concepts, check out the pieces:

area4

This is intended to be the last week that Lillian puts in any new big systems, and she just hooked up some more macro-facing things, like a way for me to set up tutorial screens in levels with new mechanics, and a big iteration for how we present in-level progress to the player. Most of it involves a lot of UI hookups. UI is one of those things that always takes up way more time than people tend to plan, so if you are an aspiring game developer, keep that in mind! Never were there so many edge cases that need solving as in UI! That’s my opinion, at least :)

More Pixelated Rorshach

I continue to probe the minds of the Twitterverse to find out what people “see” in these level mask images:

ArenaWithSpikes

@aptigertheory: key with a tail
@edlago: a key with some kind of cloth/fabric tied in the head o.o
@MikeTiv: A key with a shadow.
@CholidSnake: a mutan fetus with a key attached to his forehead
@syntheslice: It’s one of those “glasses with the fake mustache underneath” things. But horribly deformed.
@jakesones: The dragon from Adventure on Atari 2600. http://t.co/6a79i68TmM
@csgeorge: An unnecessarily intricate key.
@leelo124: An elephant with a weird trunk on a planet with 2 moons :D Or.. Some sort of mech pointing his machine gun arm at something.
@zhiwiller: Key on a bazooka (Sorry everyone is saying key).
@SleepyBeeMon404: Overhead view of a person cooking an egg in a pan.
@IndieKylo: Definitely a phonograph.
@tolicious: A key that somebody smashed head first into a wall. Why would you do that :(
@naveen_pcs: A key with something come out of the bottom right corner of it.
@SugaoKC: A slug smiling dementedly?
@TechyZeldaNerd: A river key.

With this one I did a couple of artist interpretations of the… interpretations

PossumTrainingNew

@syntheslice: Definitely a dragon. Head is the right bit, extended wing to the left, and the tail curled up in front.

dragonrorshach

@danielsound: first thing that came to mind was platformer level with wall jumping, before actually reading the tweet
@leelo124: I got nothing on this one :P …ET and a praying dinosaur back to back maybe ? lol

ETrorshach

@regisRquoi: Waw, this one is hard. Maybe a desk with a computer on it I think (with a 90° rotation). No? :O
@csgeorge: Ok, that’s a snail. Total snail.
@llnesisll: A squirrel sitting down, it’s tail off to the left. Brain, I don’t even.
@Infinit777: a face… Am I a psycho?
@TechyZeldaNerd: A headshot of a two headed dragon.

Abdul Bezrati (Senior Engine Programmer) presented “Real-time lighting via Light Linked List” as part of the Advances in Real-Time Rendering in 3D Graphics and Games at SIGGRAPH ’14.

Description:
This is a brief description of a new rendering technique developed at Insomniac Games called Light Linked List or simply LLL.
The LLL technique stores dynamic lights in a linked list accessible per-pixels for all the elements in a game scene.
The LLL not only speeds up real-time dynamic lighting it also makes it possible for transparent effects and particles to receive both lighting and shadowing.

Light Linked List.pptx

This week on Sunset TV, delve into more details about our brand new enemy – the Fizzco bots. How can you kill them? How can they kill you? Why is their opinion on 18th century Russian literature? Most of those questions will be answered! Oh, happy day!

SUBSCRIBE! for weekly shows: http://bit.ly/SOYouTube

Follow us on Instagram for more Sunset TV and all things Insomniac.

Be sure to send your questions or comments to sunsettv@insomniacgames.com to join in on the fun!

Hot off the presses (computers?) is this brand-new Sunset Overdrive trailer. It was unveiled at the Xbox Gamescom press conference – an event we are at in full force! Get a first-look at new gameplay footage and enemy types. You’ll meet new mutant variants that you’ll be battling in the dangerous world of Sunset City – as well as the new Fizzco robot security force. They are sent into the city after the outbreak occurs and tasked with covering-up Fizzco’s little-big mistake. That means murdering every living thing in sight. Efficient!

The trailer also introduces you to Floyd – a character you’ll be getting to know in Sunset Overdrive. He used to be a Head Fizzco Scientist, but has since left that position because – well – everything went to hell. Now, he’s helping you kick ass the in wonderful world of the apocalypse. How sweet.

So, get your eyes and ears ready for more Sunset Overdrive. And let us know what you think about it in the comments!

Enjoy!

Pre-Order Sunset Overdrive Today!

SunsetOverdrive_060

Big news: Sunset Overdrive is getting bundled with a white Xbox One! Surprise!? This is also the first time that the public has the chance to grab the white edition of the console. It looks pretty snazzy! It comes out on October 28th and will be $399.99. That’s means you are basically getting the game for free. And free is better than not free!

The Xbox One Special Edition “Sunset Overdrive” Bundle will include the following:

  • White console and controller – available to consumers for the first time
  • Full game download token for “Sunset Overdrive”
  • All Day One Edition in-game content, including the Nothin’ but the Hits gun, a custom Fizzie outfit and the Hardcore! Hammer

Not bad, eh?

The Xbox One Special Edition Sunset Overdrive Bundle will be available at retailers in worldwide Xbox One regions while supplies last, beginning with the game’s North America launch on October 28th.

We also just released a new trailer for Sunset Overdrive showcasing the variety of insane enemies you’ll be pitted against in beautiful Sunset City – including new mutant types and Fizzco’s robotic security force. Check it out here.

That’s about it for now. If you’ve been waiting to get an Xbox One for Sunset Overdrive – might we suggest this bundle?

Sound good? Good! Enjoy!

Pre-Order the Bundle Here!

Snowstorm US Box

When we first revealed footage of the game, some people thought the grinding speed was too slow. So, we did something about it! Watch to see what! Also, we answer fan questions about communication and changing your character at any time. Finally, we’ll be at gamescom next week, so if you’re there – come play! And get ready for some new reveals… Especially the reveal of [REDACTED].

SUBSCRIBE! for weekly shows: http://bit.ly/SOYouTube

Follow us on Instagram for more Sunset TV and all things Insomniac.

Be sure to send your questions or comments to sunsettv@insomniacgames.com to join in on the fun!

Ahoy ahoy! Things are ramping up on Slow Down, Bull as the team has started making weekly builds for internal playtesting, and so we are busy busy! In last week’s stream, Lisa built a level from scratch and answered more of your fantastic questions. You can catch the archives here if you missed it: Part 1, Part 2. I do want to take a moment to say that the whole team has been really impressed with the questions you ask each week, thanks for being awesome!

This week we’ll likely be doing an art stream on Friday, so if you haven’t already, follow our Twitch channel to get notified when we go live. Meanwhile, check out these schoolcraft “spikes.”

spikes

Names and Rorshach Tests

We are still waiting for the final legal checks before being able to commit to our bull’s new name, but Esteban is leading the charge, followed by Reginald, Blue, and Quinton as backup. Thanks for all of your suggestions!

And speaking of stream audience participation, last week when looking at level masks on stream, RegisRquoi suggested they looked like “Pixelated Rorshach tests”, and we all thought it would be fun to post them and see what people “saw.” Maybe we can even use the ideas for inspiration for level names! Here was the first one:

BasicLevelPyramidMap

(for those that missed the stream, this is a mask overlay for a level that helps us decide legal spawning positions for powerups and pathing for the bullcatcher). And here’s what people “saw”.

@naveen_pcs: 2 trees stacked on top of each other. The bottom one has a face. On top of the higher tree, a zombie from minecraft with its arms extended outwards.
@regisRquoi: It looks just like a fan art for the game FEZ. but.. You know, kind of… upside down Style \o/
@BMac_Attack_64: It’s clearly a top down view for a level of some sort haha
@syntheslice: Looks like a weird inverted snowman on a stick.
@csgeorge: Some kind of tower. Like a skyscraper.
@MikeTiv: An ant on a tightrope.
@MattDwny: it’s not quite symmetric, but I’m gonna go with a kebab.
@leelo124: Sad decapitated robot head on a pike :(
@rojomojogogo: Utter disdain for everybody else not wearing a fancy hat.

I’ll be posting more of these during the week, so follow @SlowDownBull and keep an eye out for them if you want to participate!
-Lisa

Office Space, 20th Century Fox (1999)

Office Space, 20th Century Fox (1999)

Hiring is always a battle of good and evil. It’s trying to find the best candidate for the spot. Hiring managers anguish sometimes over which candidate to ultimately hire. It’s not a decision that we at Insomniac Games take lightly either. A lot of time, energy, conversation, training and money goes into every new hire here. And when its right- it’s like the clouds part and the sun is shining, birds are singing, and flowers are popping up. And when it’s wrong – and everyone makes a wrong choice once in a while, it can be like “The Shining” (kidding – it’s never been that scary here). But that’s a story for a different day. We’re here to talk about the initial application you submit for your dream job and what happens on our side once you hit submit when applying through an applicant tracking system. Yes, its resume and reel review time!

We recently had and opening to fill in HR. Our HR Assistant/Front Office position was vacant and we needed to find a qualified candidate. And so the recruiting process began; we went through all the questions about what would best fit our group, what skills we were ultimately looking for, and what role this particular opening would fulfill. We reviewed the job description, making sure to hit all the key responsibilities, chose assessment questions to help us assess relevant skill level and experience, and then waited. We did not have to wait long. Resumes came rolling in, in classic fashion. We saw candidates that were qualified, over qualified, under qualified and then not qualified at all. The worst offenders were guilty of what I’ll kindly refer to as application SPAM. APP SPAM is applying for a job the candidate is not really interested in or qualified for – case in point the environment artist or the game designer that applies for an HR Assistant/Front Office Administrator. WHY? Why would you apply to an HR job when what you really want is to be an artist or a designer? That has never really made sense to me and yet, it happened repeatedly throughout our most recent hiring process. I have heard hiring managers lament the strange candidates they get, and I have moved candidates from one job posting application to another when they have accidentally applied for the wrong position, but I’ve never really seen blatant random applications like this. We had animators apply, artists apply, and marketing people apply – for an entry level HR spot. Don’t get me wrong – HR IS where it’s at – but just because you want to work in games, heck, just because you want to work at INSOMNIAC GAMES, doesn’t mean you should apply to every position we have available. With a shotgun approach you’re only going to end up shooting yourself in the foot! Case in point – those people who thought – “Oh man- once they see my resume – they are TOTALLY going to see the talent here, and offer me a job regardless of what position I applied for”. Unfortunately, what actually happens is that you screwed yourself out of being an Insomniac job candidate for the next 12 months.

rejectWHAT?!?! Yup, you heard right. Why? If we reject your application, as being unqualified, we won’t review your resume for another 12 months. Think we’re taking a hard line? Perhaps we are but this is what it looks like on our side of the fence…we are going to see that you applied for HR, and art, and animation, and programming – all just hoping to get your resume seen by someone – anyone. What it shows us is that you are confused and perhaps a spammer of resumes. Did you read the posting? Did you really think that your skills were a match for the job? I’m not talking about the people who apply for a gameplay programming spot and also apply for a mobile gameplay spot. These jobs are similar and clearly have some similar skills and knowledge overlap. I’m talking radically different skills for each job. I don’t hire a plumber to work with electrical wiring in my house… even if s/he is an AMAZING plumber. Here’s what ultimately matters most: Do you have the skills to do the job? Is this the job you want to have? Did that artist really want to be in HR? Nope. Not when their objective stated – “to be a part of the Art team at Insomniac Games.”

The point is this, we want to hear from you, when our job openings match your skillset. Be a sharpshooter, not a shotgunner.

Until next time….