Bright Memory is a fulgid example of what a talented developer can do with the power of the Unreal Engine. Xiancheng Zeng, a talented 3D artist from China, managed to come up with an impressive vision for this high-intensity FPS/action game hybrid and brought it to life without having to rely on any programmers due to Unreal's Blueprints system.
We had a fairly long chat with Xiancheng Zeng (Owner, President and CEO of FYQD-Studio), where we discussed, among other things, the estimated release window for Bright Memory Infinite, the implementation of raytracing, and the likely move from current-generation to next-generation consoles. Enjoy!
Zeng reached out after the original publication of this article to amend some errors in his answers that were due to Chinese-to-English translation. The article has now been updated with the correct answers.
First of all, tell us about the journey of Bright Memory's development. For how long did you work on the game before receiving the first Unreal Dev Grant from Epic?
The development of “Bright Memory” started in April 2016. The first DEMO once was done and I applied for the Unreal Dev Grant via the Unreal official website. Through EPIC of China area business manager’s recommendation, I got the fund in September 2017 successfully.
I remember that back then, you were only using Unreal's Blueprints to make the game. Is that still the case?
Yes, I am still using Blueprints to work on my game development. Because I have only worked as a 3D environment artist but I have no programming experience. So I am also very grateful that the Unreal engine supports a strong Blueprints system.
The release of Bright Memory on Steam Early Access was overwhelmingly positive. How did you feel about that? Was the feedback useful for the remainder of the development?
About the game reception, there are many positive reviews which are supporting and encouraging my personal development. There are still many shortcomings or plot arrangements in the game. That’s why I released Bright Memory Early Access on Steam. In my view, Bright Memory is still like a DEMO. The feedback from players so far is pretty good and I also agree with the players' feedback. At this moment, I can now get more time and enough money to make the game better and better. But, players' feedback will not help much with developing Bright Memory: Infinite since all the combat systems and story will be completely new. To all the fans, please keep your eyes on Bright Memory: Infinite that will bring much fun for all of you!
How many developers do you have at FYQD-Studio right now? Do you want to expand further, particularly if Bright Memory Infinite sells well?
At this moment I have not hired another developer, I just invited some artists to help me make some 3D models.
The framework of Bright Memory is a pure Blueprints project, I cannot hire programmers to assist me in making Bright Memory. I expect if I have another new title in the future, I will invite more members to join me but not now.
If Epic now offered you deal to move Bright Memory Infinite to an Epic Games Store exclusive (after paying you for it, of course), would you think about it?
Since the Epic store was announced at the very beginning, I contacted the Epic staff and applied to the Epic Games Store immediately if I can release the Bright Memory (Early Access). But Epic staff responded to me that they do not support developers to actively submit games to the Epic store by themselves in 2019. They need to contact me in person and then I have a chance to be on the Epic store.
Regarding Bright Memory Infinite, I have promised to Steam players they will get it for free if they got the Bright Memory Early Access version, so it is impossible for Bright Memory: Infinite to be exclusive for the Epic store, but we are interested in synchronizing the sale on Epic and Steam platforms.
Do you have any plans to officially support Virtual Reality devices (Pimax, Valve Index, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift)? I remember that you originally had plans to support the Oculus Rift, at least.
The VR version of Bright Memory was actually developed simultaneously. At first, I wanted to develop Bright Memory as a pure VR game, but VR technology was not good enough in 2016. The development continued for a year, but in the end I decided to give up supporting VR, but I hope to make another VR game in the future.
Bright Memory Infinite was confirmed last year to be in development for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, too. Is that still the case with PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X coming later this year? Would you rather target next-generation consoles (which will support raytracing) now?
Yes, because the console version is not developed synchronously, I need to finish the PC version first. If the next generation of console will be released before the release of the PC version of Bright Memory: Infinite, I am happy to port it to the next generation consoles
You've recently released the GTC raytracing tech demo on Steam. How was your experience with NVIDIA's RTX platform? Did you find it easy to add RT to your game?
Creating RTX is not a very difficult thing. The difficulty is how to distinguish it from traditional SSR reflections. For example, the quality of SSR reflections on some water surfaces is very high, after RTX is turned on, the difference is not very large. So how to distinguish RTX is a challenge.
That’s why I added more extra content that SSR cannot reflect in the scene. For example, when the player passes through the cave, he can see the reflection of the flame in front of them. When the player needs to squat in the game, the front of them the field of vision is limited, and players cannot use SSR to see the flames with a small space. At this time, the characteristics of RTX can be clearly displayed.
Do you plan to further optimize the performance and quality of raytraced effects by the time the full game is released?
Yes, as I continue developing, I will keep updating to the latest version of each release of Unreal Engine, so I can always use the latest engine technology. The latest version of the engine will continue to help developers optimize the performance and performance of RTX.
Are you considering whether to use NVIDIA's Deep Learning Super-Sampling (DLSS) too?
Yes, on January 15th, Bright Memory received an update that added support for DLSS.
AMD is also expected to release PC graphics cards with hardware-accelerated raytracing later this year. Do you expect that the raytracing effects will work well on AMD hardware under the DXR API by Microsoft?
I am very much looking forward to seeing AMD's take on raytracing with their new GPUs, Ray tracing in Bright Memory was written to the DXR standard. We expect any hardware that supports the API to run.
Back to the game itself. Did you think about adding multiplayer to Bright Memory Infinite, even if just cooperative instead of competitive?
Multiplayer modes are not my strength. I may need to hire some programmers to assist in the development. I am afraid there will be no multiplayer mode in Bright Memory: Infinite.
Do you see Bright Memory as a franchise potentially worthy of a sequel in the future with a bigger world and story, or would you rather work on something new next?
Looking at the game script, I hope that Bright Memory can have more episodes (sequels), but from the perspective of game development, I can't achieve a game flow of more than 10 - 30 hours. This is not possible for independent games. But, I will try to create more episodes for the players.
Finally, the big question: will Bright Memory Infinite be available before the end of 2020?
According to the current development time schedule, Bright Memory: Infinite will be completed in December 2020. Of course, I am an independent game developer and cannot be as accurate with release dates as major companies. I will try to finish the development of Bright Memory: Infinite in 2020. Thank you for your attention and support!
Thank you for your time.