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APRIL UPDATE

HEY ALL

It’s been a week since we released Ether One, can you believe it? This past week has been crazy for us but it’s been so great to see everyone’s positive experiences & reactions to our game. Thank you all so much for investing time into a game that is relatively unknown. It’s so rewarding to see people playing the game along with all the great reviews we’ve received.

If you wanted to see what people have been saying about the game follow the link below. We’ve created a list of all the reviews we’ve received so far so that they’re all in one place! We’ve also added the audio interviews we’ve done here:

Ether One Reviews / First Impressions

POST-REZZED

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We had the privilege of attending the EGX Rezzed event this weekend and had a great time! The image above is from the event – It was very cool to have a big display of Ether One at the show. We were going to try and take the display home but sadly it wouldn’t fit in our cars! :( It always good to go to these types of events because it means we can actually get out of the studio and chat to you all about our game! You can tend to lose focus of the overall picture when sat in front of a PC in the studio all day so Rezzed was really good to catch up with everyone. We also met some really great developers there! We made such good friends at the show and we created a list yesterday of some of our favorite games at the show so be sure to check the link below:

Friends & Games from EGX Rezzed 2014

Rezzed is a really good event for anyone wanting to showcase their games. It’s such a friendly atmosphere, the staff running the show are super helpful and it’s an overall good experience so I would recommend it to anyone! Developers & gamers alike!

We got some great feedback on Ether One & it also taught us how to explain our game in elevator pitch form which is always helpful! We also had a few interesting meetings at Rezzed which leads me on to the next point..

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WE’RE OFFICIAL SONY DEVELOPERS!!

We found out at the weekend that we could say that we’re Official Sony developers! Such awesome news for us. We’ve been chatting with Sony for a while now & they’ve always provided support and saw the potential for a game like Ether One so we want to thank them for sticking with us throughout the development.

Over the next few weeks we’re going to be looking into getting Ether One onto the Playstation consoles (not sure which yet). It doesn’t mean that anything is confirmed yet though. We still have a few details to work out regarding how affordable it will be for us and whether we’ll be able to get it onto the console ourselves or whether we’ll need a bit of external help. We will be sure to keep you all updated with progress on how the console plans develop but we’re really excited to be working with Sony on Ether One. Sony have been so accommodating & understand that we want to stay independent and have control over our game. They have a great team in place to help small independent studios like ours so hopefully you’ll be seeing Ether One on the Playstation very soon!

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THE GADGET SHOW LIVE

I’m not sure how it happened but The Gadget Show Live thought our game was good enough to showcase there! It honestly looks like such a fun event and we’ve never been before so we’re really excited to head down there and show Ether One. If any of you are around the Birmingham NEC between the 9th-13th April be sure to stop by and say hi! We’re surrounded by some very cool looking indie games so it should be great to showcase Ether One there.

PATCH

We’ve just released an update for a few bug fixes this week as well as some more Oculus Rift code. You can find a list of the bug fixes here:

Patch Info: http://steamcommunity.com/app/265950/discussions/1/540738051168430126/

If you downloaded the game through Steam then it should automatically update for you. We apologise about the 300mb download, it was due to use adding some options on the menu which is part of flash and so the package size for those files is quite big! We’ll also work on getting the installers live this week if you downloaded it DRM-Free from other platforms. It’s been great to get the game out to so many people because it means we have a bigger pool of gamers to get feedback from. This is especially the case with Oculus Rift integration since we only had 1 headset and now we’ve got feedback from 100′s! We’ve been collecting feedback all week and implementing what were the most common requests. There’s still a lot more we can do though so if people did have any feedback regarding anything to do with that feel free to contact us at support (at) whitepapergames (dot) com.

THANKS!

I think that’s all for now. Remember that Ether One is OUT NOW through Steam, GOG, Humble & Gamers Gate. We’ll announce more events as we confirm them but we’re going to try and get Ether One out to as many shows as we can, funds permitting!

Thank you all so much for your support over launch. Whether it’s watching people play Ether One on Youtube, reading reviews or chatting to people on the forums it’s really been awesome to see everyone enjoying our game (minus a few small bugs ;) ). Hopefully over these next few weeks Ether One will continue to gain momentum.

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- WPG Team

 

ETHER ONE REVIEWS / FIRST IMPRESSIONS

Ether One

HEY ALL

Here you will find all the interviews and reviews from Ether One since it has been released. A lot of people are asking “Is this game worth buying?” since not many people have come across Ether One before. We obviously think it’s a good game but we’re going to say that right? :) So hopefully you’ll find enough content here to base a good decision off & we’ll update the list as they come in.

If you want to chat to more of the community the Steam forums are a great place to chat to people that are interested in Ether One also:

Steam forum: http://steamcommunity.com/app/265950

AUDIO / VIDEO

Joystiq stream
http://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/01/joystiq-streams-losing-our-minds-in-ether-one-with-white-paper/

The Axe Factor podcast
http://epicbattleaxe.com/profiles/blogs/the-axe-factor-152-just-unravalled-the-universe

Joystiq podcast
http://www.joystiq.com/2014/03/28/super-joystiq-podcast-090-metal-gear-solid-5-ground-zeroes-inf/

REVIEWS

Joystiq
http://www.joystiq.com/2014/03/26/ether-one-review-off-to-see-the-wizard/

Killscreen
http://killscreendaily.com/articles/news/ether-one/

Rock Paper Shotgun
http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2014/04/03/impressions-ether-one/

Strategy Informer
http://www.strategyinformer.com/pc/etherone/2313/review.html

Sidequesting
http://www.sidequesting.com/video-game-review/ether-one-review-no-time-to-lose-your-mind/

All That’s Epic
http://www.allthatsepic.com/game-reviews/ether-one-review/

Gamezone
http://www.mweb.co.za/games/ViewNewsArticle/tabid/2549/Article/12341/Review-Ether-One-The-dark-caverns-of-the-mind.aspx

Duuro
http://duuro.net/ether-one-review/

NEW FRIENDS & GAMES FROM REZZED 2014

HEY ALL

We had such a fun time at Rezzed this year that we wanted to share with you all some of the games we had fun playing. Some are hidden gems and others you will have heard of. Regardless of the size, these games need your attention!

OVERRULED

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The guys from Dlala are absolutely great & super friendly. They have a very addictive co-op game that’s coming out this year so be sure to check their site and follow them on Twitter. They’re going to be at the Update show next weekend in Manchester too so anyone in the area be sure to stop by and play their games with your friends! Overruled created a lot of hype at Rezzed over the weekend and everyone came away smiling from their experience so you have no excuse not to give it a go!

Website: http://dlalastudios.com/games/overruled/

Twitter: @dlalastudios

 

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Dream

Dream has been in development along side Ether One. We’re both first person games in the Unreal engine. Both teams trying to tell an interesting story with unique worlds and lots interesting puzzles! If you’re a fan of Ether One be sure to pick up this game now on Steam early access! They’re great guys working really hard on their first game!

Website: http://store.steampowered.com/app/229580/

Twitter: @hyperslothgames

 

CP

Containment Protocol

I was really excited to get my hands on Containment Protocol at Rezzed and it didn’t fail to disappoint. This game has a great way of building tension through the game design whilst asking the player to stay relaxed when things start to go wrong. If you react in the wrong way then it’s game over. It has a really good control system and Byron, the designer working on CP, was really great to chat to about games! It’s still in development so be sure to follow to keep up to date!

Website: http://www.xiotex-studios.com/

Twitter: @xiotex

 

Biome

We already knew Joe Grainger before we went to Rezzed – I didn’t want to play the game when he was around though. I thought it would somehow detract from the experience if he was watching me play. So I sneaked off to play Biome without anyone noticing. I soon found myself completely lost in the game. There is a strange tranquility to be found from this game and watching the world change around you from a simple button click creates something you rarely find in games. There is a sense of great creation at the point of destruction. It’s an interesting concept & if you can get your hands on a build of this game I would highly recommend it!

Website: http://www.joegrainger.com/

Twitter: @Joegrainger

 

AI

Alien Isolation

Needless to say – Alien took Rezzed by storm. Long queues, a lot of scares and a great development team! The guys from the Creative Assembly were great with everyone there and they also managed to stop by the smaller indie games whenever they weren’t busy. You got a sense that they just wanted to make the game as good as it could be as they were constantly asking people for feedback on the experience. The Lead Designer Gary Napper also mentioned how much of a massive fan he was of our friends at Lunar Software’s upcoming title Routine so they’re clearly on the right track!

Website: http://www.alienisolation.com/

Twitter: @xopsx

2015

There were so many more great games at Rezzed this year. We’ve had fun both years that we’ve been there so we’re really excited for what next year has to offer!

Be sure to check out the titles listed above and chat to the developers involved. All of them come across as really passionate, excited people just wanting to make awesome games!

 

Until next year!

Posted on by Pete Bottomley

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ETHER ONE MARCH 25TH 2014 RELEASE

HEY ALL!

We wanted to update you on how things are going at White Paper Games at the moment, with the impending release of Ether One on the 25th March!

Firstly, we have some exciting news for you! The Ether One page is now live on Steam! Be sure to add it to your Wish List so that you get notified of the release on March 25th! =) They have a handy countdown timer on there to remind us that we have to get the game finished and in your hands soon, so no pressure! 

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PRE-ORDER AND PRICING OF ETHER ONE

The base edition price of Ether One will be £14.99 ($19.99). When you pre-order Ether One you will automatically receive the Deluxe edition with all the content listed below, plus a 15% discount!

A Deluxe Edition of Ether One will also be available after pre-orders end for £22.99 ($29.99).

  • The OST of Ether One
  • The Strange Tale of Byron Spencer – A comic by Mark Penman and Andrew Tunney
  • The game script
  • Exclusive artwork

 

Pre-orders for Ether One will be available on Monday 17th of March at 1pm to buy direct from www.Ether-Game.com (using the Humble widget) and Good Old Games (GOG).

 

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NEW ETHER ONE RELEASE TRAILER

We ALSO have the brand new Ether One Release Trailer going live this Monday 17th March! We’ve worked really hard on this trailer to make it even better than our Restorer trailer from last year. We’re excited to show you all what we’ve been working on and to share more of Ether One, so be sure to watch out for it at the start of next week!

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HOUSE KEEPING

We would love you all to share, tell friends and just anyone who will listen to you about Ether One! We’re going to try and build as much momentum as possible over the coming weeks, but we definitely can’t do it without your help! We also have a couple of nice surprises to share with you next week which we’re excited about!

We’ve decided to remove the @Ether_One twitter account, and just use #EtherOne along with the @WhitePaperGames account. It’s much easier to reply to you all when chatting as it keeps everything in one place, so we don’t miss any of your feedback and comments,so be sure to follow @WhitePaperGames if you aren’t doing already! =) Both Ether One and White Paper Games Facebook pages will stay live though!

Thanks again for all your support. As of writing this, the countdown for Ether One is… 1week, 5 days, and 3 hrs! We’re really excited to get the game out and hear your thoughts!

Scary but exciting times! Not long now!

White Paper Games

Ether One Teaser Trailer + Release date!

March 25th 2014!

So it’s finally here. We’re really happy to announce that we have a brand new teaser trailer with the date of March 25th for release!

We’re really excited to finally start showing you all what we’ve been working on for the past couple of years, and the wait is nearly over! We’ve been working hard to polish the game up for the last few weeks, and we feel like we’re in a really good place. It may seem not too far away (because it isn’t!), but we wanted to make sure we weren’t rushing anything, and we were 100% ready to release Ether One into the world.

We really hope you enjoy checking out our teaser trailer and be sure to let us know what you all think!

ETHER ONE

Here is a link to our revamped Ether One website and trailer:

http://www.ether-game.com/

We will also be releasing a follow up trailer coming next week which shows a lot more of the game’s environments off, so be sure to watch out for that. On the media section of the Ether One site is also a section for you to download some free wallpapers of the game, so be sure to check those out also!

We’ll be nailing down details closer to release about prices and such once we’ve 100% confirmed them. We have also just confirmed that we will be showcasing Ether One at EGX Rezzed on the same week as release, so if you haven’t got your tickets yet be sure to grab them and head down to Birmingham, and come say hi! :)

Thanks for all your support so far and be sure to let EVERYONE know that Ether One will be out in March!

From all the White Paper team!

 

 

Ether One: The Restorer Trailer

Hey guys,

We’ve been working pretty full on for the last few weeks trying to get a new trailer together for you all to check out.

A lot of hard work went in to it and we’re really happy with the results so we hope you will be too! The main aim of the trailer was to showcase the best of our gameplay in a contained amount of time – quite a hard tasks for a game such as ours which really requires you to immerse yourself in the world.

We hope you like the results and let us know any feedback you have!

As always, please Share, Tweet and VOTE for us on Steam Greenlight!

We really appreciate all the support we’re getting at the moment and you have no idea how much it all means to us so we thank you all very much!

Until the next update!

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Posted on by Pete Bottomley

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WPG: Particle systems in Ether

Particle systems in Ether posed pretty much the same problems as everything else so far. How to make them fit the Ether style? How can we make them quickly? Bellow you will find some of the particle systems I created for Ether and how the process was.

One of the main issues with VFX work is that it can be very time consuming. The other issue is, when making Ether in a hand painted style, you almost want to stray away from using technology too much and avoid normal maps or anything too “techy”. When making particles this was to be the same, however, since we didn’t have much time to meet our deadlines, We allowed technology to do most of the work for us. I figured, as long as the textures look like they belong in Ether, that’ll do!

The first particle system is the Flies that hover around the port’s lamp posts. This was simply made by creating a soft edged 16×16 texture of a yellowish dot. After that, I just applied an orbit module to the particles and adjusted their velocity and spawn areas. A very simple yet efficient particle system.

The second particle system is the chimney smoke. To make this I used a flipbook technique, in which I divided an image in 16 parts (4×4) to create the different steps of the animation of smoke from its birth to its expansion and eventual disappearance. This allowed me to make the smoke look hand painted and fit the ether style, while not having to worry about actual animation for the smoke. When importing, it’s important to check the “Flipbook” option. After that, I edited the material and applied it to the particle system, and after a few tweaks I got the effect I wanted.

For the wind particle systems, we decided to go with something more painterly, as if an invisible brush was drawing the strokes of wind within the world. To do this, a simple, soft edge 16×16 texture was used and a Ribbon Particle system was created. This allowed us to animate the particle system and move it around the level as it leaves a trail of paint on the world. The results are surprisingly nice for such a simple particle system!

The last particle system I wanted to look at is a prime example of how to create workflows that are efficient and fast for small teams. In the case level, the team had the idea of having birds flying around the level. Since creating 3d models of these and rigging them and then animate them would have taken up too many resources, I decided to tackle the problem with a particle system. I applied the same Flipbook principle I used for the chimney smoke and made a texture with the different stages of wing span of a bird’s flight. This allowed me to create hand painted textures of the birds, and after that, I was able to use an orbit module in the particle system to recreate the flying of the birds. The results were convincing and far cheaper than making a 3D version with animation.

You can find a video breakdown of the particle Systems of Ether here:

Particle Systems in Ether (click)

Thanks for  keeping up with our progress, it’s really motivating to see the support! Makes us want to work even harder! Keep the questions and comments coming and we’ll try and get a few more lined up for you :)

REMEMBER TO VOTE YES FOR GREENLIGHT! :D

Ether One Greenlight Page

Posted on by Pete Bottomley

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The trees of Ether

When setting out to create the trees for Ether, the team had the idea of being able to change the seasons on the fly, so for example, one minute it would look like a summer day, the next it would turn to autumn. From the get go, I had this in mind and I was able to create a system that allowed for us to do that, by slightly tweaking the grass shader I made earlier on in the development process.

Apart from that, making trees that would hold up to the Ether style in a fast and efficient manner would prove to be quite hard. Modelling trees in an singular fashion, creating enough variation and making sure Uv mapping them in the traditional manner would have taken an extremely long amount of time, and since we’re a team of 2 artists, I had to figure out a system that would allow me to create trees in a fast manner, UV map them with ease, and for them to allow for an almost modular approach in their creation workflow.

The following explains how I go about making the trees for Ether and how I managed to create an efficient workflow for a small team.

The first thing I did was create a spline that would define the shape of the tree. Each branch would become a separate spline. After this is done, I made a cylinder and edited it to make it resemble a tree trunk or branch. Once this was done I UV mapped this piece. The idea behind this method is that we will now duplicate our cylinder and create an INSTANCE of the original. This will ensure that every time we need to edit our branches, we can just edit the original and not have to worry about akward rotations or positions that our branch will take.

Once we have our instanced cylinder, we apply the “Path deform” modifier and stretch the cylinder to follow the shape of the branch. After making a few of these branches, we will have the skeleton of our Tree. Now we can paint the texture for the bark. In this case, for the Oak, I made the following texture:

Now it’s time to make the textures for the leaves. One thing I must note is that when texturing the leaves, I didn’t want to create extreme colour variations. The reason behind it is that to ensure the transition between summer and Autumn doesn’t end up having unrealistic coulours like blue leaves!

Once this is done, we can create a plane that is Vertex painted (in order to work with the wind expression) and apply our leaves texture. With these planes, we can now create a clump of leaves that we can place as branches and create the canopy of our tree.

The final result in UDK is:

And to show the season changes:

Here is also a Forested area created with the trees and foliage:

Here you can find a video explaining the tree making process:

Trees of Ether (click)

Thanks for checking out our work. We’re getting more and more hits everyday so be sure to pass it around to anyone you think might be interested!

And as always, we still need that ever important Greenlight vote!! so be sure to vote!

Ether One Steam Greenlight

Next up we’ll be showing some of the particle stuff in Ether!

Posted on by Pete Bottomley

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WPG: Tech art – The foliage of Ether… so far… and mostly the grass!

The next challenge of Ether was foliage, specifically the Grass. As always, the grass needed to be optimised to its full potential, and of course, not compromise the ether style at all.

The original approach I took was to create 3D blades of grass using planes, and then use those shapes to paint over in the texture. Since the blades of grass were going to be very thin, utilising the line-work and loose brush style of Ether wasn’t much of an option, and this was very obvious, especially when looking at the grass from close up. However, this first approach became a good starting point for the wind simulation and subsequent foliage approaches… at least now I knew what NOT to do! (in terms of texture and shape!)

And it is the wind expression that became very important. To bring life to the environments, we wanted the grass to move with the wind.

For this, I began using the same expression as I did with the ocean waves (the mesh would be pushed in different directions, but it’s the same basic concept)… the problem was that I needed the base of the grass to stay still and I wanted for us to be able to change the direction, strength and speed of the wind on the fly, without having to make major changes to the material. On another note, I needed this material to work across the board when it comes to foliage, so I began to put a system in place so that all foliage would work with these rules. It took a long time to get it to work, but I believe the amount of time it will save down the line will be priceless to a small studio with only 2 artists like WPG.

To get the wind to work, I needed to introduce “Wind Direction and Source” into the material. The basic concept is to convert this information into a vector (to specify the direction and strength of the wind) so that we could change it on the fly. This is multiplied by the wave expression and voila! It doesn’t work! … Sadly, one of the things I overlooked was the fact that doing the wind in this way would displace the whole mesh… so even the base of the grass was moving… this resulted in a very unconvincing, almost comical version of the grass that was floating and moving around the environment. The good news is that it was easily fixed! All I had to do was multiply that expression by a vertex colour… in this case, the red colour. This way, any verts in the mesh that are coloured in red will move, while black ones will stay still. This meant that I had to go back and edit all my grass plane meshes and vertex paint them accordingly. Once this was done, the result was much more convincing!

Now I had the grass working, however, I couldn’t get past the fact that the grass did not follow the Ether artistic style, so I had to take a new approach in terms of the type of mesh I used.

The new meshes were thick, had a much better view from above and allowed me to paint the textures following the artistic style of Ether…All of the vertex painting rules had to be followed, but knowing that in advance made the workflow that much faster… I’m really happy with the results and I think it does justice to Ether’s artistic direction.

Now, although the grass was looking good, and I had created a system that could be used across the board in all foliage, the actual meshes themselves weren’t too reusable… if we wanted to make an autumn scene, we had to repaint the textures all over again, costing us a lot of time and a lot of memory!… this needed to be fixed, not only on the grass level, but across all foliage.

Luckily, it was an easy fix, and a rather functional one! All I had to do was multiply our diffuse texture with a Vector Parameter… then we can create an instance of the material, and we have completely versatile grass colours on the fly.

Here is a video detailing the grass shader and its reusability, as well as other types of foliage:

Foliage in Ether (click)

Now we have the shader out of the way… now we can focus on the rest of the foliage…  Having discovered that thin shapes don’t go with “Ether” style, creating the rest of the foliage was an incredibly fun and enjoyable experience… I still haven’t finished, but a lot of it is in place!

Here are some pictures of some types of foliage and a video to see them in action:
In this edition of foliage, I have chosen not to put any trees in, although a more in depth explanation of how I am making the trees for Ether is coming very soon!

Although I feel that the grass shader is getting close to being finished, I still want to introduce some stuff for decay and burning foliage…

Thanks for taking the time to stop by and read! If you have any questions, please ask!

Next up: Particle Systems!!

Posted on by Pete Bottomley

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WPG: Tech art – Water… a lot of it!!

The first challenge at White Paper Games came in the form of water. Replicating realistic water is quite a feat on its own, however, for Ether, we required the water to make sense with the world and follow the artistic style that we had already established for the game. This created a number of challenges that needed to be solved:

- How do we make the water hold up to the visual style of Ether?

- How can we make water using the minimum amount of resources possible?

- Can we make the water reusable and applicable to non-ocean instances?

- How can we animate the water without any physics simulations?

This set of questions had to be answered and here is the result we have come up with:

The first and foremost concern I had was to keep the visual style of Ether intact. Therefore, the normal map that would create the ripples would have to be hand painted.

I used Corel Painter for this instead of Photoshop. In Corel, you can adjust the amount of paint added to the brush and make it lit so that it feels thick and painted on canvas; I felt this was crucial in order to get a good painterly effect on the water. The result was pretty bad for the first set of tries but I ended up getting an effect that was quite nice:

Now I just had to mix a couple of sets of normal and pan them in different directions and a subtle effect was created!

Now that the ripples were sorted, I needed to focus on animation… an ocean has waves and this couldn’t be simulated with physics considering our limitations, so a workaround had to be found. I started doing a lot of research into how to solve this and began to create a solution to this problem.

Using the world displacement node in the material, I could displace certain parts of the mesh based on a mathematical expression. The fastest way to do this was using a Sine wave. In short, it creates a wave that varies from black to white, making everything that’s white push up, and everything that’s black go down. The good thing about this is that it’s extremely cheap (only 4 instructions in the material). The only downside to this is that it works based on the amount of verts the mesh has, so it meant our water shader had to be quite highpoly. In the end, we went with a 2048 triangle mesh, which is still pretty low poly for a whole Ocean!

The next problem was to make the oceans depth believable and also make the foam for the water when it hits other meshes.

For the foam, using a depth biased alpha with a foam texture worked fine. For the translucency, playing with a few values did the trick and the results were quite convincing.

Here is a picture of the full material expression and couple of videos, one explaining my approach, another just showing the wate rin action, inside the game:

Video of Ether water 01

Video of Ether water 02

This expression is highly reusable, in fact, it became the base for all foliage and wind based materials in the game! So I’m very happy I took the time to make sure this material was spot on and game ready as soon as possible.

Next, I will begin to talk about the foliage for Ether!

Stay tuned!!