^ Back to Top

Ether One July Update

Hey everyone!

It’s been a while since we last did a large update regarding Ether One and White Paper Games, and for that we apologise greatly.

There has been so much going on since we got back from Rezzed with people talking about Ether One, including some interviews with the White Paper team and articles!

First up! There have been a few previews of Ether One that talked in detail about the demo that was shown at Rezzed.

The article over at Indie Statik by Chris Priestman said…

“Ether One wants you to take it slow. It’s the “buy me dinner before ramming your tongue down my throat” of first-person experiences in games, and when you do take the time to consider its form, it won’t hesitate to jump into your mind and reward your contemplative patience just as you’re getting snuggled up to it.”

A fine opening statement for any preview – check it out over at Indie Statik and give it a read!

Another preview of the demo can be found on PC Gamer by Tom Hatfield. Here is a quote…

“Playing Ether One has left me with more questions than when I started, but they’re the good kind of questions. I don’t doubt it’s possible to make a first person story without violence, I just want to know how it’s all going to end.”

The article is excellent and well worth a read so made sure to check it out.

Secondly we have also been doing some great interviews with great peeps such as The Killer Bits and Prescription Pixel where we talk about Ether One as they play the game, letting us know their thoughts.

Here’s the Killer Bits video – plenty of in-game footage here.

…and here is the Prescription Pixel video which is also well worth a watch.


Watch live video from prescriptionpixel on TwitchTV

 

Finally we have also decided to release a couple more screenshots of the game for you guys to see/ download. So please enjoy!

Screenshot_Rezzed_04

Screenshot_Rezzed_06

We will also be throwing out tid bits of info now and then starting with a two part Rezzed dev diary that should be coming very soon.

Thanks for catching up and we will post soon!

The White Paper Team

Posted on by Ben Hill

Comments Off

Ether One at Rezzed

Ether One at Rezzed

Well!! Rezzed is over and what a crazy weekend it was! We had so much fun showcasing Ether One for the first time and thank you all for being so supportive and dropping by to check out our game! Especially those of you who waited in line for 2.5hrs to check out the Rift integration!!

We met some awesome developers with some great games! It was a true privilege to be selected to showcase among them. The guys (and now friends) from That Dragon, Cancer, Luminesca, Gone Home and Montague’s Mount were all super nice and it was awesome seeing our friends from Nyamyam (Tengami) and Greenly Studios (Quick Draw, Glow Tag etc) doing so well showcasing their games at the show also. A huge thank you needs to go to our friends that travelled all the way to Birmingham just to check out Ether One! You guys really made the show personal and it was so nice to see all of your faces! And Lastly thank you to everyone involved with the Rezzed Game Show and especially David Hayward for being so awesome and helpful. It was the first event we had ever done as a studio and you made us feel really welcome!
Whilst we were at Rezzed the WPG got to spend the downtime hours hanging with Pete, Jemma and Aaron from Lunar Software. They’re close developer friends of ours and it was great to catch up with them and check out what stuff they’re working on with Routine (which is truly EPIC by the way).

1011454_10151417499667030_662211613_n

Over the next week or so we’re going to do a couple of big updates showing how we went about designing the demo to showcase at Rezzed and also a little more about what goes on at the WPG studio from day to do. We’ll also be posting some videos from Rezzed and some in-game footage and screenshots from the Ether One dem

o for those of you who weren’t able to come down to the show to play it! We had a really warm reception for the demo so hopefully you’ll all enjoy seeing it! We’ll try to get the first one up this week for you to check out.

1044484_10151417500287030_2030210262_n

Now that the big milestone of getting a playable demo of Ether is done, we’ve now got to work on finishing the game!! Lots of heavy lifting will be done overhauling a full art pass and from gaining tons of valuable feedback for the gameplay from the show, we’ll work on tweaking and re-pacing the game so that we can make a game that we’re all proud of.

Thank you all truly once again. This weekend was so much fun for us! When you spend all day everyday in the studio working on everything that is wrong with the game it’s hard to see the bigger picture. Being at Rezzed this weekend showed how supportive you all of Ether One and that we might actually be on to making a decent game! We’ll do our hardest not to disappoint for the finished product! Look out for an update soon!

- All the WPG team.

1044072_10151417500732030_1882215089_n

ETHER ONE HAS BEEN GREENLIT – HERE IS A THANK YOU MESSAGE!

Hey guys,
So.. It’s official! We have now been Greenlit!! Wooo!! Thank you all so SO much for voting for us and pushing our game out to all your friends and to anyone else that would listen. It’s such a relief for us knowing that we’re now going to be releasing on such a huge platform such as Steam. It came as a total surprise to us all and kind of caught us off guard. We’ve been waiting and watching through many different Greenlight batches and seen some awesome titles get through. Thanks to the guys at Valve, our time came this week!

The development has not stopped though and we’re not celebrating just yet! We’ve got the Rezzed game show coming up next weekend (22nd + 23rd) down in Birmingham, UK where we are showing the first playable demo of Ether One as part of the Leftfield Collection! This week we’ve been making lots of tweaks to a (roughly) 45minute playable demo along with a small Oculus Rift demo to showcase at Rezzed too. We’re hoping to see lots of you down there and it will be a great chance for us to chat with you all about what we’re working on and what we’re trying to achieve.

This next week will be crazy busy for us but it’s also an exciting time of development for us all. We are hugely grateful and excited to be considered as one of the titles to be Greenlit and although we may not be able to reply to all the comments and enthusiasm you guys are sending our way, we do read them all and it really drives us to keep making sure we’re delivering the best game we can to you all.

We wanted to make this thank you a little more meaningful so we cleaned the studio and hid all the leftover food wrapper to create a video that shows just how thankful we are to you all!

Enjoy!!

Ether One Status Update

Hey everyone – it’s been a while since we last gave an update on Ether One – so in this post we are going to cover a whole load of info such as Greenlight, Development Progress, Interviews as well as FAQ’s.

Greenlight

So for those of you guys that are unaware of our current Greenlight status – we are now in the top 30 on Steam Greenlight with current ranking of 29 in the top 100. Lots of comments, votes and support have really helped us get closer to our goal of getting Ether One green lit for Steam and we really owe everyone who has shown support for us a big thank you.

Green Light Rank

Development Progress

We are currently pushing into the later stages of developing Ether One with many of the structural elements of the game being present – as we continue to build the game up to its release we will be showing some more content, and screenshots whilst releasing more information about some of the more impactful elements of game play interaction within the game. Keep posted soon for a more detailed update on this.

Ether_Screenshot_02

Interviews

Following the release of our latest trailer (which can be viewed below if you missed it) we received a substantial amount of press attention – from this we did a few important interviews that are worth reading for more juicy information on Ether One and White Paper Games. These can be found below:

Game Zone Interview

Rock Paper Shotgun Interview

 

 

 

 

FAQ

We have been getting a load of questions regarding specific things over the past month and I think its best that we answer some of those here for you guys – so that everyone gets the correct info about some of our development goals.

  1. Linux – Lots of people have been asking us about a linux build for Ether One and we do hear you. Currently the game is being developed with UDK which cannot be used for Linux builds – with this in mind we are looking into other ways that we can bring the game to Linux – so keep your eyes peeled for more information on this in the coming months.
  2. Oculus Rift – The Oculus is something that people are really raving about at the moment and after the recent announcement of Oculus having UDK support it is something that we are actively looking into right now and we feel that our type of game would work very well with it.
  3. Release Date – We haven’t set a release date for the game yet but as stated in our latest trailer – summer 2013 is our aim – with a heavier emphasis on late summer. Again more info on this will surface soon.
  4. Controller Support – Ether One will come with full customisable controller support as well as a whole host of features for you to customise your game play experience.
  5. Localisation – At this very moment in time Ether One is slated for English and Spanish language options due to the native tongue of our team members – yet we again are researching heavily into expanding this so that we can cover as many languages as possible.

Obviously this is a smaller update post and doesn’t feature much more about in-game content – this will be coming soon. Again thank you for all the support that we have had from you guys – it has been absolutely invaluable in our development as well as the hard work each member of our six person team is putting into creating this game to the best possible standard.

Posted on by Ben Hill

Comments Off

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!

Ether_Screenshot_01

Ether_Screenshot_02

Ether_Screenshot_03

Ether_Screenshot_04

Ether_Screenshot_05

Ether_Screenshot_06

Posted on by Pete Bottomley

Comments Off

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

Comments Off

WPG: 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

Comments Off

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

Comments Off

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!!

WPG: December – Development of Sci Fi & Conception

The work in December consisted of fleshing out the prologue to Ether One and working on the hub world for the game.

The shot above shows the hub world in a very bare form. Me and my fellow artist James sat down and planned out how we could make the environment more interesting.  We discussed how a large structure in the center of the dome would help bring the environment together. Like a sauce for linking Jeans memories with the player.

The images above are quick silhouette concepts James drew up.

The images below show 3 stages of creating the concept for the hub world.

This is how we intend the level to look once it is complete.

The Ether Institute and other Science Fiction environments are based in the 1950/60s so all of the reference images for computers and technical equipment come from that era. Me and James also visited the museum of science and industry in Manchester and found some really nice circuit boards and old computer systems.

Below are the texture sheets for the Electric equipment.
The shot above shows a test scene I created to demonstrate how the environments could look in game. I also created some placeholder textures for the walls, floors and ceilings, these textures will be finished at a later date.
Wall
Ceiling
Tiled Floor
Lights
Ether Chair
Silo
Silo 2
The shots below are high quality renders taken from a level in Ether. This environment is some kind of institute so it has a sterile cold feeling to it.

The Ether Chair that was textured at the Futureworks presentation is the focal point for this room.

The shots Below are taken from the living quarters I was working on in the last post, this time they have the right textures and assets in place. These environments are still a work in progress, but none the less a step in the right direction.

That’s it for the art from Ether development in 2013. Hope you all found it interesting!  Next up we’ll be showing some of the technical art side of things.
If you enjoyed the post we could really use your vote on Greenlight!

If you have any questions leave a comment and thanks for reading ! :D