It's been a while! Happy new year everyone, I'm excited to see plenty of familiar faces still supporting this project. Hats off to you folks. I hope what you'll read below will be satisfactory for at least some of you.
Below I'm going to list the most vital features developed since the last time we were bold enough to write down an article. What we'll go through is quite a chunk of milestones and the most vital features being implemented into the game.
The Player now can build his base. The base system was designed in a way that a player has full control over location. By putting up a tent in an encounter, the player takes over the map and can place buildings, containers, workbenches, furniture, and defenses.
The player can also salvage resource nodes and clutter in an encounter to free up more space. You're able to set up car parking lots, player spawn points, and quicker exit points from the map.
In the future, we can use the same system to create public player towns or player-driven events like PVP Arena. This is a core change we've been working on and improving the engine to support live tile (floor and roof) placement.
Crafting was designed anew, we wanted a clearer, less cluttered crafting system.
The main goals of the new crafting system were:
- Max 4 crafting components per recipe.
- Reduce the amount of crafting resources, for example, require leather instead of gecko skins or brahmin leather.
- Crafting resources consist of ~8 basic materials and ~3 advanced materials.
- Remove randomness from crafting, which means getting rid of the re-crafting process for better rolls.
- Allow players to craft in bases, let the player build workbenches.
- Provide recipe-specific workbenches and detect them nearby during crafting.
A new in-game system was made from scratch, involving completely revisited resources and recipes.
The Player now can craft inside his base by building a workbench, workbenches do not have to be interacted with, they just have to be nearby. A recipe shows if the required workbench is available. Currently, there are 4 types of workbenches. General, Ammo, Chemistry, Gunsmith.
A manageable worksheet lists all the recipes, and we can convert them to game data with a click of a button.
Quest-based crafting. The system also supports unlocking quest-related recipes, giving us another tool in storytelling.
Randomly Generated dungeons
A flexible dungeon generation system is developed to allow constantly evolving, never-ending dungeon delves. Similar to Sierra Caves, this dungeon generates loot, enemies. More importantly, it randomly generates whole floor layouts, generating rooms, corridors, lighting, traps and quest-related NPC's, interaction spots.
The dungeon system is composed out of 2 types of structure, corridors, and rooms, with a little chaos involved, no dungeon floor will ever be the same, rooms will be filled with enemies or treasure, or occasional neutral NPCs, while corridors might be a simple walkway or a treacherous puzzle/trap.
Without getting into too much detail, a party of players can delve into a dungeon, first preset we've made is early game city sewers, the player can continue going lower and lower with his party, the deeper he goes, the difficulty improves, it's up to them to decide when to leave and use one of the exits that appear now and then.
The randomly generated dungeon system, like most of the things we're creating, is fully versatile, So with some balance tweaks, scenery changes, and new room modules, we can create new types of dungeons easily or even PvE challenges. A Temple of trials challenge was brewing in my mind for years by now.
Randomly Generated encounters
Worldmap encounters now go through multiple layers of randomization. The Biome is picked based on player position in the world. Every Biome e.g. Mountains, Desert, Forest contains a list of premade maps and available resources. Resources and structures and loot are generated onto the preset map, giving a fresh feel every time a player spawns in.
We also do plan a grid-based traveling between encounters, allowing the player to just keep on wandering without the need to exit to the world map, who knows, enhancing things on longer consecutive delve sounds like a good plan.
Randomly generated encounters and some of the dungeons contain resource deposits. The system is open-ended and allows us easily create Resources and assign them to game locations.
Resource nodes might require tools, e.g. Pickaxe for minerals, some items support more tools than just one.
Some resource nodes are replenishable, like computers in vault 15, some are limited and can be harvested multiple times before permanently fading.
These changes rebalance the approach to scavenging, harvesting, in the current season it is far better to scrap gear than to gather raw resources. Amount of items per encounter and weight, ability to have own Resource Node farms in the base should tweak that gameplay standard a bit.
A friend list allows you to add players when both sides agree.
Added players can see each other's location depending on their privacy setting. Players can also chat and invite each other to a party.
This adds necessary support for solo players, currently, an often scenario happens where players separate before sharing contact information and one random death might lead to a split. Staying at the party and adding each other to the friends list makes it less necessary to be involved within a big group.
The player can notify his party members with a ping system. Pings can be placed on the area, critter, or even the player himself. This allows for far more tactical coordination.
Pings placed on critter or player follow and update position as long as it remains within player's sight, upon reentering player's sight ping reappears on the target.
The player can place three pings - Attack, Move, Defense. Pings do not overlap between players. For example, Player A and B can both place attack ping and both will be visible for everyone.
We are improving locations to provide a more intricate and tactical approach on PVP maps and extra convenience to community locations. A lot of work went into redesigning in-game cities and dungeons. The final goal is to modify every core location with improvements based on both our and player experiences.
The unprotected towns need to support a new guard system, new planned PvP game modes and feel less linear. Map layout for combat is something that the community knows better and we're working closely with experienced contributors, trusting them with the redesign process.
Retro artstyle aim
We've been experimenting with rendering in the game. We have improved some shaders and changed the way how engine rescales sprites. We've settled on a more old-school-like system, which additionally gets rid of all the artifacts like the checkerboard floor and makes 3D critter renders feel better merged with the environment.
A player can launch the minimap button to see surrounding buildings and NPCs. The minimap can be dragged, resized, and zoomed.
In the future, we wish to recreate this to show quest markers as well as color players based on name/faction colorizing. For now, that'll do.
That's not all!
There are plenty of minor improvements to list down, but there's no point in making this list look like a changelog or digging deeper into engine reworks and tweaks.
Most of the major gameplay loop features were designed and implemented into Season 4. We're drawing closer with every month and some features require just a small polish. The game feels more and more complete with every passing feature.
I could say that we just need to finish up the combat system and character development and release Beta, but I don't want to throw any promises or feel rushed, so I'll keep my mouth shut!
Thank you for reading through. I'm very happy to share the Season 4 progress, especially since some of those features were in development for over a year with no display to the wide public. I feel relieved that the community could finally witness some of our collaborative efforts. Even if it leads to a post-apocalyptic desert.