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27 May 2023

Skywatch #1 - Take to the Skies

Welcome to our first Skywatch

Whew, what a week! We want to start by thanking everyone who's joined our community since we announced Lost Skies a little over a week ago. Your outpouring of love and the overwhelmingly positive comments we've received have only cemented our belief in the game that we are making, so from the bottom of our hearts - thank you!

Skywatch is a format we've been using internally since early development began. The original concept was an internal Google Slides presentation that was presented in real time via a call for our teams to share what they'd been working on over the course of that development sprint, now that Bossa is a fully remote workforce. We liked the idea (and the title) so much, that we've decided to adopt Skywatch for our development diaries!

During this phase of development, our Skywatch releases will follow a weekly release format and will offer an insight into what's being worked on and how the game's shaping up, in the form of concept art and sneak peaks at mechanics and features - note that the content that we're sharing with you is curated and some of it may be quite outdated. Lost Skies is in early development, so nothing should be considered final at this stage. With that said, we hope you enjoy what we have to show you!

Art Team.

First up, a look at what our art team has been working on! 

Below is a look at an early version of the Manta Ray model, looking to add more detail over the original creature model taken from Worlds Adrift - players can expect to meet the creatures regularly on their adventures, as they soar through the skies. Don't be fooled by their elegant appearance however, the Manta is a vicious predator and is attracted by sound. We wanted to use the emissive patterns on the Manta's body to help show the moods of the manta, as well as telegraph some attacks, which can be seen in the animated gif below.

The bottom two images are experiments with how the Atlas stones imbued within the Manta's body should be shown visually. Our Manta has come a long way since this earlier version.

Here's a super early look at work on the Manta's behaviour pattern/AI development by our development team - Circling the player while avoiding obstacles.

Next up from our art team, a look at some early concept work for our Saborian island turret designs. Whilst the design may not be final, the idea of different states of unpacking is something we want to keep going forward. We also experimented with different colour schemes and different levels of wear and tear.

Below is a look at some of the early concepts for our Saborian ship engines - Using familiar shape language to inform the designs and keep uniformity across the Saborian culture. You'll see similar shapes across other Saborian ship parts, as well as Saborian outfits and Island Creator assets.

Next up, a look at some of our early engine model work. The image below show a general overview and result of the modular material layering system, intended for use on the vast majority of props for the project.

Please note that the character model in the image is our old character model and has now been replaced with the model shown in the reveal trailer. Also, the material look and art direction are not representative of the final art target. Consider these as placeholders, purely for the purpose of testing the surfacing system and workflow.

Due to project constraints and requirements around certain aspects of art production, the image below shows some preliminary exploration undertaken for solutions / workarounds to overcome these limitations. One key constraint imposed on art for ship components, environment assets and general props as a whole is to avoid (as much as possible) bespoke asset textures.

To get around this, modulated vertex colours are used to expose with a fair amount of artistic control different generic material layers, that can be combined and blended in interesting ways. Looking at the lower image, the red vertex colour in this example is used to expose a rust layer.

The image below shows a fully assembled engine, each using a single material, with all components subjected to the same asset pipeline.

Moving over to character design, below are some early character design and model work. The images below shows some early Saborian mask and outfit exploration.

Finally from our art team, the image below shows early 3D modelling work of one of our Saborian outfits and grappling hook.

Animation Team.

Our animation team has been hard at work over the past few months with laying the groundwork for the many character animations that will make our movement system feel fluid and satisfying. The gifs below demonstrate a range of early animation work - crouch walking animations, crouch idle animations and dive roll animations from both standing and running.

The animations below contain a selection of locomotion loops utilising single handed and two handed weapons (weapon models not final).

Each walk and run animation set has 8 directions and variations such as an aim state or relaxed.

These animations will work in conjunction with the in-game character system and enable a wide range of traversal and combat options.

And finally from our animation team this week, the bottom gifs show a set of directional climb animations that will be used for the free climbing system.

And that's a wrap for this weeks Skywatch! We really hope you've enjoyed this little sneak peak of how the game's shaping up. As mentioned at the start, a lot of this content is now quite outdated, but we still wanted to share it with you so that you get a picture of how the game is being developed. We'll be releasing a new Skywatch every week on a Friday from hereon out, at least for the foreseeable future so please do check back to see what we've been working on!

If you haven't already done so, please go add Lost Skies to your wishlist on Steam to show your support and make sure you join the Official Lost Skies Discord Server too. We'll have more to share with you next week!