Subsurface Games is Vesuvian Interactive

Subsurface Games is Vesuvian Interactive

Welcome to Vesuvian Interactive and Merry Christmas! This marks a new beginning and a different direction for the company. In this post I'm going to go over most* of what I've been up to over the last few months and what exactly this new direction is.

This will be a little long but it's going to cover some really important stuff; The vision for the company, concrete plans for the future, new ways of interacting with the community, and most* of what I've been working on. So let's dive in!


First of all, Survive is still going strong and nothing will change other than the development timeline and it will still fully support non-VR controls. I'll go into more detail on what exactly all this means later, but before that let's talk a bit about my vision for this company and it's creations.

Vesuvian will be built upon three core pillars: Passion, Polish and Precision. I believe that every truly great creation is built upon these three core principles and I want them to be the foundation for everything I do.

Passion 

Passion is everything. If you don't truly care about what you're creating and the people who will experience it then your creations will reflect that. Greatness only comes from true dedication and passion.

Everything created at Vesuvian will be something that we ourselves want to experience. Something that's missing in our own lives. What we create may not be for everyone, but that passion is vital.

Polish 

Polish cannot and will not be an afterthought. Take a look at the technology around you and notice how much of it is just totally broken. There are certainly notable exceptions, but the level of quality that we've come to accept in this world is sad. 

A true commitment to polish and quality is what creates amazing, fluid and seamless experiences. Something everyone should be striving for constantly. Things should just work and they should work all the time without fail. Releasing things that are buggy, broken, and inefficient is totally unacceptable. 

Precision 

As we advance our technology we are always getting more precise. The greater the precision of our tools the more powerful we become and the better experiences we can have. A perfect example of this is the iPhone. The iPhone was truly revolutionary because of the level of precision it gave you with the touch screen. That level of precision made many things possible that simply weren't before. 

Virtual Reality, or VR, is another example of this happening right now. The level of precision it gives you is absolutely remarkable and that is what makes VR revolutionary. It's not the presence or the immersion. It's the sheer amount of control and precision it gives you to do and experience things truly not possible before. Google Earth VR is an amazing example of this. The more precision in the things we create, the greater the experience and that's why precision is a core pillar of everything we do. 

The 3 lines represent these core pillars. 

The 3 lines represent these core pillars. 

The Future

That is my vision for this company. I truly believe in and care about these core pillars. Everything we do will be striving to meet these values. With that you now have an idea of where I want to take us, so let's talk about some of the more concrete plans for the future. 

Some of you may have seen that I attended Steam Dev Days a few months ago. During that event I was truly inspired by all of the Virtual Reality talk and the awesome people who are creating the future. Because of that experience I've decided to pivot and completely focus on VR going forward.

Survive will now be treated as VR first, but will still support the classic FPS non-VR gameplay for those of you that don't have a headset yet. I'm very confident that in only a few years most of you will a VR setup, but it will be fully playable without VR until you get there. Think of this game as a bridge into Vesuvian's VR future.

VR is absolutely the future and I promise you it's just a short matter of time before it's everywhere. The experiences that are already on the new platform are miles ahead of anything possible without it and that's where I want to be creating.

A true example of how the precision of VR is already making the impossible possible 

A true example of how the precision of VR is already making the impossible possible 

Overrun

In addition to this new VR focus I have also decided that Survive will be released on Steam early access much sooner than previously planned. Survive will initially be released as a VR only game with significantly reduced scope, but soon after that will have full non-VR support. 

I'm going to take the core experience of surviving hordes of zombies in one procedural house and do it in VR with a large focus on the precise combat. You must survive a constant onslaught of an ever increasing number of zombies using all the tools at your disposal. It will support barricading, traps, progression, and a large variety of random melee/ranged weapons.

This is all about getting to release as fast as possible. The faster we get there, the faster we can use that sweet sweet early access money to accelerate development! This new plan does this by reducing scope and going VR only. The reduced scope and focus on one procedural house at a time is a massive time saver.

Then with it being VR only initially we save a significant amount of time by not needing first person animations for new weapons or interactions. It will also let us get to the fun much faster. Stabbing a zombie in the head with an arrow, pulling it out and shooting it into another zombie with full motion controls is just inherently fun and really awesome! After release we can then use the money to pay a real animator for these animations. 

Preliminary VR support in the Titan Engine

Preliminary VR support in the Titan Engine

With this new plan we can get to a level of fun and quality that I'm happy with releasing in early access much faster. Which I think is going to be a great thing for the game, even if you don't have a VR yet. That being said, one of my highest priorities after release will be getting it to fully work with classic first person controls. So unfortunately you may have to wait a bit to play the latest builds, but in the long run you'll be playing my grand vision for Survive much sooner than before.

This new game mode will be called Overrun and It will be a fully separate self contained game mode that will be developed alongside the main Survival game mode. The initial release will also come with Atlas(our level/world editor) and full steamworks support. This way you guys can make maps for all of us to play while the procedural building generation is being refined.

Basically the only things changing are the order that features are going to be implemented and the addition of a short dark age where those of you that don't have a VR won't be able to play. A small price to pay to significantly accelerate overall development. I hope you agree.

Community 

I think that in an ideal world you have one account on one website where you can interact with all the different communities you care about in one place. Lucky those places already exist so I'm doing my part by moving all our community efforts to Reddit, Steam, and Discord going forward.

That's why the forums will be shut down with all forms of community interaction moving to these places. Running custom forums does nothing but split up the community and force another account on you. In addition to that, the significant effort to maintain and build forums is a total waste when other places already do it better. Finally, it's also another unnecessary avenue of feedback that I have to spend time checking. The less places I need to check and maintain, the more time I can spend developing the game and actually talking with you guys.

Procedurally generated neighborhood with procedural houses.

Procedurally generated neighborhood with procedural houses.

Now with the forums in the grave, let's take a quick look at these new channels for community interaction. First there's the new Vesuvian Subreddit where we can talk about Survive and anything else we're working on. I think Reddit is one of the best places to have discussions and I'm excited to have it as part of our community.

Next we have the new Discord Server where we can all chat. I think this will be a cool new type of communication that we haven't really had before. You guys can always add me on skype or steam and we can talk 1 on 1, but now with discord we can all talk as a group.

Finally we have the good old Steam Forums where many of you are already active. Why not go where the people already are? The steam forums will always be one of the main forms of community interaction, so if you don't like this other stuff feel free to just stay there! 

Vulkan

Now let's talk a bit about what I've been up to over the last few months. Some of you will know this if you've been following real time development on Trello (you should be!), but ever since the last update I've been working insanely hard on porting the engine from OpenGL to exclusively use Vulkan.  Vulkan is just another graphics API like OpenGL or DirectX. The big difference being that it's much more low level giving me more control and power.

I'm working on another blog post describing in detail what Vulkan is and why exactly I'm making this move, but the basic idea is it will significantly improve performance for everyone, eliminate hitching from world generation streaming, and allow for much more efficient and advanced graphics algorithms.

This would be well over 60 FPS with Vulkan!

This would be well over 60 FPS with Vulkan!

This port is more than just a new graphics API it's required me to completely restructure the renderer and improve many different engine systems. I've done so much to restructure and improve the engine over the last few months that it should be a 2.0 release. I can't stress enough how improved the core base of the Titan Engine is now. It is significantly more powerful, clean, stable, and efficient.

A commitment to the core Vesuvian pillars is part of the reason it's taken so long to do the port. The foundation of our technology needs to be absolutely rock solid and if it takes a little more time to do that, then so be it. Quality is always more important than release dates and that's just the way it's going to be here.

Like I said, I'll go into more detail on why I think this is the right decision for the future soon, but just know that the technology base of the Titan Engine and all our future games is strong.


I can't wait to get the VR stuff I've been working on out to you guys. *There's some other exciting stuff coming that I didn't mention here, but that's all I have to say about that. Right now i'm off to work on finishing up the Vulkan port and If you want to see what i'm working on in real time you can check out the Trello Page. Big stuff coming, stay tuned. 

We live in exciting times and I am beyond excited for the future. VR is a big part of that future and I am intent on being a part of it's growth. We have a serious journey ahead of us as everyone is discovering this new medium together and and I can't wait to go on it with all of you. As always thank you for the continued support and let me know if you have any questions!