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3:00am Dead Time™

During March we've made tons of progress in the game, and now we are already starting with the first private tests for single and multiplayer. We are adding the last touches to the many scenes of Episodes 1 and finishing the second part of the episode, as well as adding and syncing the voices to the different characters. In this article we will talk about the new design for the main scene of EP1, the new scenery being developed for the story, the monster designs, new story bits, graphics improvements to our content and the engine. Let's start :

Designing the scenes for Episode 1

When designing the new map for Episode 1 we wanted to achieve a high quality scene with a lot of detail. The full map is a 6.5~ square miles landscape of open terrain plus several buildings, crops and forests all available to be freely explored.

Besides sculpting a custom, high detail terrain, we also modeled dozens of individual trees and plants which were then placed by hand in many key spots to create the best gameplay possibilities while also matching closely the moments required by our story.

Besides the main scene, we are also developing many secondary areas to explore and that will be crucial part of the story, along with their props and models.

But we have done a lot more than just props this last month.

Graphical improvements, IK and custom game frameworks.

As the development of the game progressed, we noticed a very serious limit on Unity's design, being this the shadow filtering used. Our scenes require many different dynamic point lights with shadows as the levels occur in many indoors locations. However, Unity's default shadow quality for point shadows is not anywhere close to the quality we required. After spending some time working with the default shaders and the rendering pipeline, we managed to add a custom soft filter to our shadows that greatly improves the quality and performance of the game.

But once we started changing the default rendering system of Unity, we decided to go one step beyond. After a couple of weeks of hard work we managed to extend the deferred rendering pipeline of the engine to support custom lighting models features such as skin rendering, anisotropic highlights, translucency... We also added dithered alpha mapping to many of our custom shaders to make sure all of our rendering pipeline works on deferred mode. In the end, this will give the game a great boost performance while also opening many new possibilities for our artists.

This month we also developed a custom biped and multi-limb IK system to help us achieve better and more believable movements in the human / animal / paranormal characters of the game while reducing the need for animations.

Currently, after all this work, we are also adding the new monsters and creatures for the game as well as adding tons of hints, collectibles and secrets that add more content and depth to the story.

On a more technical note, a good chunk of the development time has been spent in a full game framework used to simplify the development of 3:00am Dead Time and the addition of future content (EP2 through 6). This game framework is a complex development tool that handles multiplayer, Steamworks integration, networking and net code, game building, content databases, level streaming, AI procedural behaviors, scene design, game control, input, settings configuration, UI and audio extensions etc. While it is true that it had required a big investment on time and research, we are also seeing the results already. The creation of new playable characters, their IK configurations and world interactions can be set up in minutes, our dynamic rendering handling has also improved the performance by 60% even on the highest quality settings while the work pipeline used by it has made a lot faster to track bugs and iterate through different versions of the game.

For now this is everything on this month's recap, as we keep working on our private tests and getting ready for the upcoming release of 3:00am Dead Time, Episode 1. Stay tuned for our next article and recap, and have a great week!

The Irreverent Software team.

Welcome to a new monthly recap for 3:00am Dead Time. This last month was full of great progress in the development of the game, mainly on the art. While a good portion of this progress has some serious spoilers, we have a lot to show for this one. Let's begin.

Dynamic Normal maps in Unity3D

One of the techniques we researched and included in the game was the use of dynamic normal maps for all the character expressions. This technique allows us to add a completely new level of detail to every character, making their expressions produce different wrinkles and finer elements to make them more believable.

To develop this technique in a way that didn't compromise the performance of the rest of the game, we had to once again improve our skin rendering shader, adding real surface scattering as well as translucency and support for 8 different expression areas. The shader was also reduced to have a DX9 version, much simpler, to guarantee that low-end PC's can still have a stable performance.

Developing each expression map for each character means a new 3D sculpture made specifically for this purpose. It is a difficult and time consuming process, but the results are completely worth it. While we are using this technique for the facial expressions, we have plans to expand its use to the character's clothes, environment effects etc.

Hair modelling

One of the most difficult parts of modelling a human character is the hair. While designing our characters we considered two different approaches for this problem. We could either go with DX11 level hair simulation through tesellation or use a less demanding approach with polygon based hair cards. We chose the later, as it frees more resources in the hardware that will be used for more complex effects, while keeping the game's requirements low enough for a better range of PCs.

Hair modelling is, as we said, a very difficult task. Each character has its very own hairstyle with an average of 300 to 2,000 hair cards which are individually placed by hand. The hair textures we use are also hand painted and designed for each character.

Then, the hair is rendered using our custom made shader using simple Kajiya-Kay anisotropic highlights approximation, basic translucency and volumetric lighting, as well as soft-edged alpha tested transparency.

Main Characters & this month's development milestones.

Finally, to end this recap of February's development, we want to introduce you for the first time to the 5 protagonists of 3:00am Dead Time.

They are, from left to right :

Erik Villalobos (voiced by Mark Daane), Sarah Green (voiced by Libby Moffett), Danna Williams (voiced by Lottie Dance), Matt Rodriguez (voiced by Michael Karrangus) and Naya Jindal (voiced by Madison Lee).

These characters have their very own stories and motivations, their own attitudes and findings during the story. From Erik's troubled past, to Naya's inquisitive attitude or Matt's carefree spirit, each one of them have a lot to contribute to the team and the investigation. During the game, playing as any of them will provide you with a unique insight into the different story, a unique perspective that, in many cases, can change the course of a mission.

Before the end of this article, let's us recall this month's milestones for the development of the game :

  • Full gamepad support for the game.
  • All shaders and graphics code was moved to DX11. The old features on DX9 are still supported as a fallback for low end PCs.
  • Localization system fully functional. English and Spanish languages are available in the game, with just the subtitles being added right now.
  • Voice acting for the first episode completed.
  • Facial animations and syncing to the voice acting is right now in progress.
  • New graphics code and rendering upgrades for the scenes and environments (in progress)
  • Paranormal creatures for Episode 1 are now ready, rigged and in the animation process.
  • Interfaces have been improved to work with gamepads and to be easier to navigate.
  • New character controller systems, more responsive.
  • New shading techniques for better facial expression, cheaper hair rendering and better lighting/shadowing.
  • New dynamic rendering system to improve the game's performance in ~60%
  • New dynamic settings adjusting to improve the game's performance.
  • New post process effects added.
  • 5 main characters finished, another 10 secondary characters for episodes 1 and 2 are in progress.
  • Animal characters ready.
  • AI in progress.

The plan for this month is simple. The artwork of the game will keep being developed at full speed, both in the secondary characters and the environments (pictures coming soon). We are developing several new techniques to improve the overall look of all the levels of the game. After this, private testing will start for the full Episode 1 to get it ready and as stable as possible for the Early Access Release on Steam.

We hope you liked this Development Diary, it was a really long one, while we keep working at full force and speed in this game and hope to see you by the end of March with another recap.

Thank you very much for reading, and have a great week :

The Irreverent Software Team

December 4, 2016 - Irreverent Software

To everyone :

To start with this announcement, we want to first thank all of the people who sent their auditions to be part of our game. We were overwhelmed and incredibly humbled by the enthusiasm and interest that you showed towards our project, and we were also constantly impressed by the talent of the different actors and actresses. It was an amazing experience for us, and we hope that it was also a great experience for all of you.

As a tiny team of developers, with only 4 members working on the game and only 2 of them being able to work on it on a regular, daily basis, the road has been full of challenges. That's why we want to give a warm welcome to all the voice actors and actresses that now form part of the game, as we know that with their great talent and motivation the game will be greatly improved and reach its potential.

To select 23 actors from more than 300 different auditions we received was an extremely difficult task. To all the actors and actresses that we could not include in our game, we encourage you to keep doing the amazing work you do, to keep using your talents. We know that any project, either a future one from us or from any other developer, will be greatly improved with your work. Again, our most sincere thank you to all of you for being part of this audition process.

Main Characters :
The investigation team :

  • Lottie Dance as the character of Dana Williams
  • Libby Moffett as the character of Sarah Green
  • Madison Lee as the character of Naya Jindal
  • Mark Daane as the character of Erik Villalobos
  • Michael Karrangus as the character of Matt Rodriguez

The support team :
  • Joe Armstrong as the character of John Aron
  • Dorothy Jean Thompson as the character of The Producer

Secondary / Episodic Characters :

  • Kyle Wallace as the character of Collins
  • William Harmar as the character of the Sheriff
  • Carlos Moreno as the characters of the Doctor and Father Joseph
  • Angelina Marie as the characters of Paula and Kevin
  • Manuel Benavidez as the character of Michael Emhart
  • Courtney White (aka Misty Carter) as the character of Amy
  • Ali (AliVentura) as the character of Roger
  • Kelsey Mata (aka Kalaska) as the character of the Mother
  • Danny Alexander Barrera as the character of Kyle
  • Matyas Job Gombos (aka OldManCricky) as the character of Ethan
  • Shon Green as the character of Neil
  • Sarah Dunham as the character of Susan
  • Ice Queen as the character of the Interpreter / Female Guide
  • Zelda10001 as the character of Cemetery Guide
  • Nina Sumter as the character of Amanda
  • Tom Doughty (aka The Uncertain Man) as the character of the Englishman 1

Once again, thank you to all the voice actors and actresses members of this cast, we look forward to start working with you and make 3:00am Dead Time become a reality.

Please read the full announcement and article here.

Thank you for reading,
The Irreverent Software Team

November 24, 2016 - Irreverent Software

Hi there,
In this small update we want to share with you an interview made by Ellie Punn from The Orange Bison about our game 3:00am Dead Time. If you want to know more about the game, the development process behind it as well as some news on upcoming features and stories, you can check the interview here :

An Interview with the Irreverent Software Team on 3:00am Dead Time[]

Thanks for reading!
The Irreverent Software Team

November 1, 2016 - Irreverent Software

As we get closer to the Early Access releases and the work on the further episodes keeps going on fast, we have started the auditions to get the voice actors for the different characters. At the moment, 8 roles are available with more coming soon, as we finish polishing the last secondary characters for the later episodes.

You can read the full announcement here :


To keep with the work for EP 1, and now that most of the core features for the game are being finished, we are focusing on developing new 3d assets and polishing the sound design as fast as possible. Making new tree and foliage models, new buildings, better characters, re-texturing assets, etc.

In the last few days, we have been also performing many multiplayer tests with the game :

Our entire workflow has been re-adapted and thousands of lines of code written to make tools that will help us to streamline the Early Access releases and the bug fixes, allowing for faster, more frequent updates.

Many of our old shaders are being reworked as well, to gain a performance boost, and part of the funds collected through the IndieGoGo campaign have also been used in Unity plugins to further improve the quality and performance of the game, and reduce the development time.

The work keeps going as we prepare as fast as we can both the first Early Access release and everything we need for all further episodes. Remember to follow us on Twitter (@IrrSoft / @3amDT ) for the latest updates and news on the game.

Thanks for reading!

The Irreverent Software Team

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