Ready Or Not – Devblog 03 – “Going Dynamic”

Ready Or Not is alive and well. We’ve been very busy here at VOID Interactive, and plans haven’t changed. In fact, they’ve been expanded upon. Now let’s get to the good stuff. As is standard with all of our posts, the scenes are in-game and real-time, using the assets you’ll be playing with when the game is released (By the way, all of the watermarked “Ready or Not” images are 4K. You should be able to download them straight off the page).

Where have our updates been?
While the whole crew here are looking forward to showing you all of the content our game has to offer, showcasing this work takes a lot of time. It can prove difficult to put development on hold and focus on a devblog due to the size and specialty of our team. However, despite the size, this year is looking very exciting if you’re interested in Ready Or Not.

Artificial Intelligence

For the last year, we’ve been writing Suspect and SWAT AI that will challenge the player and act realistically. Our suspect AI can be surprisingly spontaneous and very lethal. For example, failure to restrain a suspect may result in them getting up when the SWAT are no longer around, and finding something to defend themselves with. Players will have to be strategic and mindful of their surroundings, and use the tools provided to ensure rooms are safe before and during entry.

For single-player, players will be placed in the shoes of the SWAT team leader with four officers under your command. The AI for our SWAT needed to be both robust and independent, in the sense that they will act in a manner that conveys a high level of tactical training whilst also being able to act dynamically if needed. This means realistic entry techniques, holding smart angles when waiting for commands, and so on. SWAT will drop chem-lights in cleared rooms, make arrests and collect evidence in their vicinity upon command if the area is clear.

In the below footage, the suspect falls and rolls behind the vending machine to take cover. As I’m transitioning from my sidearm to my rifle, one of the officers engages the suspect before he has a chance to shoot at me. There are a couple of other features you can see in this (ricochet, shell casings hitting the screen) that were entirely random and not planned.

As is standard with any police tactical shooter, the player’s team can also employ breaching methods such as C2 charges or door rams, as well as deploy grenades into a room to clear it before entry. SWAT will also start off in a “stealth” mode, where the ROE is shifted to force them to call contacts to the team leader before engagement. The officers keep their voices low in this state to ensure they’re not heard. They’ll also be less likely to initiate combat unless put in danger. During combat, the team will shift to dynamic mode, where the team will become more likely to engage targets if seen, and take more aggressive angles. This mode can also be employed immediately at the element leader’s command.

A new feature we’ve added to Ready Or Not is the inclusion of go-codes. Players can separate their element into “blue” and “red”, order them to take different entry points on a room (or rooms), and then initiate the breach as the element, known as “gold”. The breach can be initiated on a single group as well, allowing the remainder of the unit to cover a different location, such as a hallway or exit.

Naturally we also have a civilian AI system will act unpredictable during gunfights. Some will panic when shots ring out. If they find a clear exit, the civilians may try to run away from the combat to avoid being killed. It’s best to get a control of the civilians as soon as possible, by any means.

Our AI systems also take cover based on object height and strength, and will attempt to confuse the player by peeking out and then re-adjusting to find a better fighting position if possible.

Motion Capture
We’ve invested in high-end optical motion capture cameras used on titles such as Star Citizen, Metal Gear Solid 5, etc. Our animator has been hard at work setting up all of the necessary tools to record and process the vast amount of animations we require for Ready Or Not. So far the results have proven to be incredible, with a high framerate output and minimal cleanup. The plan will be to use these tools to their maximum ability, meaning we’re planning on also recording facial motion capture and recording some truly long and truly gruesome animations.

Below we’ve posted an example of the motion capture that we recorded on day 1. It’s short, but it’ll give you an idea of what to expect.

Our animations have been improved drastically. The team is aiming to make the game world feel even more real with a variety of new artistic features. On the first-person front, every animation is created at 240FPS, and the weapons models have been rigged so that they loosely shake and jolt in the appropriate locations during gunfire. This is inspired heavily by Killing Floor 2 and their first person animations. We’ve also introduced some procedural animations into our workflow. For example, our animations are layered with a randomized node-based system which creates a very realistic and very unpredictable method of shake when an officer fires rapidly. These can be adjusted based on the weapon, its weight, and what attachments have been placed on it, as well as officer condition.

Third person animations have received similar treatment, with a series of hit-reactions being added for SWAT, suspect, and civilian alike. This is based entirely upon where the subject is shot. This also includes death animations, which are currently works-in-progress.

The importance of expanding of our reload system became clear to the combat in Ready Or Not. Players can still swap mags by pressing the reload key, but now also have the ability to perform a quick-reload by double-tapping the same key. This will quickly eject the mag to the floor and allows players to quickly resume combat in the event they can’t afford to waste time replacing magazines in their kit. This reload technique is a lot faster (by about 35-60%), and the dropped magazines can be reclaimed once combat has ceased. On top of this, players can hold R to check their magazine capacity, as well as ammo-type. The magazines will accurately show ammo quantity and type, as well as providing a prompt with the weight of the magazine (whether it feels empty, feels light, feels full, etc.)

As such, we’ve done away with a lot of the UI shown in the Development Blog 02. Our philosophy is that “less is more”, in the sense that the player should be told this information passively if possible, or know it intuitively. In replacement of this UI, we’ve added a compass at the top of the screen to assist with direction-giving. We’ve also made adjustments to our speed system, which now uses a tiered system to go to certain speeds. This means units will be provided with five paces to choose from with their scroll wheel. While this may sound a little less interesting at first, it helps to coordinate speeds with your teammates, this still allows for a wide variety of movement options during combat.

We’re including four grenades in Ready Or Not: the Flashbang, CS-Gas, Stingball, and the Nine-Bang. These will all fill a very specific role in an officer’s kit, so choosing the right object for the job will be crucial. Our grenades can be thrown in both an overhand and underhand method. Some grenade effects can be mitigated by devices we’ve provided. For example, the CS-Gas can be negated with the selection of a gasmask during loadout selection. Some of the flashbang and stinger effects can be mitigated if the user has a ballistic shield equipped (this also acts to protect anyone behind the shield).

The particles we use for the grenades can create a very dusty and smokey environment for the team, similar to real life.

There are a bunch of other neat features we’d like to show, such as our sniper teams and their ballistics systems, but some of them are quite heavily work-in-progress, so perhaps it’s best if they wait for Ready Or Not’s gameplay trailer.

You may have noticed on our Instagram a bunch of new images showcasing our SWAT characters and Suspect characters for multiplayer. With advice from real SWAT units, we’ve developed a new, much more optimized officer with all the gear you could expect modern SWAT to carry. Our PVP Suspects have also been developed with a close attention to kit and wear. Loosely based off of images of masked IRA forces, our counter-operator to the police is apart of a rogue paramilitary organization with sinister motives.

The beginning of the year saw our investment into scanning equipment, allowing for the high-quality capture of real-world subjects for use in Ready Or Not. These tools have widely been used by industry giants such as Naughty Dog (when working on Uncharted 4). This equipment was immediately put to use making our new SWAT player models.

This equipment eventually coincided with a trip overseas, where we proceeded to scan a total of 128 men, women, and children for use in the game. This means a wide variety of characters per-level. More than we ever anticipated. You won’t be seeing randomized heads on a small number of bodies, but a massive number of fully detailed and lovingly crafted individuals suited for each level’s environment.

We’d like to thank each and every one of the people who came down to get scanned by our team, it was a great experience for us (and we hope it was a great experience for you too).

The core VOID team came together for four weeks in New Zealand to work on the game and bond. We set goals, connected with some associates, and overall had a good trip. One of the big aspects of our trip was playtesting, where we hosted a LAN and had a series of people jump on for some co-op and team deathmatch madness. The results we got from the testers was great. It’s one in a long list of trials we need to put the game through to get it to the standard we are going to reach. While there were numerous gameplay and design tweaks needed to hit the correct pace, we discovered Ready Or Not runs very smoothly on a variety of different setups. That is, in multiplayer expect to get good use out of your 144hz monitor. Note that this may change, but so far so good. The levels are able to easily handle from 50-70 AI as well, which opens up a lot of possibilities for the title and anyone making levels in the future.

Another huge aspect of our trip was finalizing our game’s story. We can’t divulge any information yet, but we think you’ll like it.

That’s it from the VOID team for now. We’ve got a very busy time ahead of us, but we’ll keep everybody up to date as best we can. Be sure to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram for the updates.

Signing off,
VOID Interactive