Devblog 104

This week we've added atmospheric new lights, rebooted melee, polished up armor, squashed bugs, optimised, crafted more new arrow heads, touched up Hapis, and more.

31 March 2016

The prerelease branch is limping forwards. This week I played with reconfiguring the HUD and making it more apparent when you're getting XP. This isn't done, yet but it gives a rough idea of intention.

We're still battling a Unity crash in the animation system in unity 5.4. I'm going to work hard this week to try to get a repro so we can take that out of the equation and playtest properly.

One thing that has become apparent that we need here is an indication of when items are unlocked. This is something that will matter less the more that you play, because you'll know what's coming. But when you're playing you want to know what's coming and when, so you can plan ahead. So this is stuff I will be working on next week.

We talked about crunching next week and pushing the XP update out with the wipe on the 7th. We quickly decided that it'd be a stupid thing to do. People are already going to be rallying against the XP system, so putting it out untested and unpolished will make that even worse. Its current status is: don't expect to be forced to use it any time soon. But if you want to check it out then switch to the prerelease branch on Steam.

Our new baby is due near the start of May. I'm still working, but we're preparing for a period of me not being able to work. Maurino (Helk) is in charge of the majority of stuff now. This means that when you write a post on Reddit complaining please replace "garry" with "helk".

I went through some of the old art we had and decided to implement the Ceiling light. It ended up being a lot more involved than I thought it would be but I’m pleased to say the results are quite good. We don’t have electricity yet so they function the same as the lantern does, using Low Grade Fuel and an on/off toggle. I’m excited to see how people use them to light up their bases. Pictures speak a thousand words so take a look:

Syringe has been nerfed to only provide 5 health instantly, and heal the other 30 over time. I feel as though the mechanic of spamming medkits in combat was played out in 2004, so let's see how this goes. I look forward to the constructive criticism on reddit!

We have an ancient script that toggles shadow casting on light sources in a somewhat smart way and smoothly fades between the shadow casting states whenever things have to be switched around. This script had a couple of issues that made it behave very strangely in certain situations. It also made all lights start with shadows disabled and slowly faded them in, even if there weren’t enough light sources around to disable the shadows on the newly spawned object. All of those issues are now fixed, and to top it off I added support for spot lights like our new ceiling lights, which are load balanced independent of the more expensive point lights of campfires and lanterns.

You know how lanterns casted this disgusting wall penetrating yellow light making your base look awful? Well that is now partially fixed! The light should look a lot more natural and should actually have shadows now. If you have more lights than your max light settings you’ll still get some light bleed through walls but this should be much better than before. I’ve also changed the mesh to use something a little more transparent so you can see the flame effect, and you can now place the lantern on top of deployables. They also use Low Grade Fuel instead of wood now. Hurrah!

The armor changes implemented last week had some problems and it was by no means complete. I’ve made a bunch of changes and armor is a lot closer to how it should work now. For the armor worn overtop of clothing, such as helmets or vests, a condition value has been added. Think of this like hitpoints: when the armor protects someone against damage, that damage is now absorbed into the armor and reduces its condition by that damage value. When the armor reaches 0 “health” as it were, it becomes broken and only provides 25% of its original protection value. Eventually I’d like to add some texture overlays to indicate the health of armor, but I couldn’t get that done in time and it’s not exactly critical to the new functionality. So with this new system in place I’ve made a bunch of changes to existing armor, the major changes are as follows:

  • Roadsign armor more effective against melee, less effective against bullet
  • Wood armor buffed substantially, but breaks after being hit 1-2 times. Not repairable
  • Helmets overall more effective against melee
  • Metal facemask/chestplate slightly cheaper, but break after 5-8 shots
  • Bone armor nerfed (looks stupid anyway don’t use it

This is still a work in progress and balance changes will most definitely be needed, but I think it’s important that crafted armor doesn’t just sit around in the game forever and you need to invest resources to have that protection. I hope you guys agree and enjoy it. I look forward to the feedback.

It’s no secret that melee combat has never felt quite right ever since we added it to the game. One of the biggest reasons for that was that you would constantly hit your opponents hands or arms since they were flopping around your line of sight, even though you could clearly see his body and the tip of your spear was practically directly inside their torso. To remedy this, we changed the hands and arms to have the same damage multiplier as the torso so it didn’t matter. This worked fine until we realized that if you were wearing armor that didn’t protect your limbs, the limbs then became your weak spot.

For this reason we decided to implement a new hit detection for melee combat. First, we lowered the damage multiplier of the hands and arms again. Now the new system analyzes all body parts in your line of sight and deals damage to the most significant one rather than only checking for the first intersection and taking that. To us this feels a lot more natural, but since words can only do so much to describe it it’s probably best you give it a go yourself.

This one has been pretty fucked up for a ridiculously long time. We did hotfix a number of exploits related to the weak sides of building parts, but people kept finding workarounds or new ways. I decided to completely redo the system with better checks for the weak spots of building parts and the new system appears to be much more solid.

As you can see cases that would previously be exploitable like the foundation or wall sides are now protected by the outer building shell and only hits that are clearly on the weak side are counted as such. Let’s see how it works out.

I finished the train carriages this week and they should release with next week’s update.

I have a few tasks left to do in our industrial dungeons, but it’s getting close to being done. I’m going to start the production of the dungeons buildings now. Once these buildings are done we’ll get much closer to where we want to be in those places.

We are looking into ways to improve the overall look of the game, getting our heads together to address all the aesthetic issues that currently plague the game without sacrificing performance.

I've been looking for ways to improve the billboard rendering which looks wrong in many ways. These past weeks we've disabled shadowing on billboards because, frankly, they looked hard as balls. I brought them back this week with some minor tweaks to give us some more depth.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be looking to fix issues related lighting. Billboards first, then across the board.

Hard transitions from river to ocean kinda of bothered me for a long while now, but since it wasn't high priority I just left it alone. I had it fixed before for normals but now I took some time to finally fix for water volume color as well. Also fixed a small lighting related bug causing a connection seam.

Most of the map-related issues on the bugtracker have been cleaned out. That means ladders can now be climbed, sewer tunnels can be entered, and you can no longer hide inside concrete rubble piles -- to name a few.

Biome tints were also synchronized with procmap, meaning you will see darker rocks in the tundra and snow biome.

Other than that, we also have some sweeping environment improvements brewing, but more on that later.

I continued my work on the next iteration of our procedural maps and did some good progress related to mountains, cliffs, roads and rivers. I also experimented with a new way to generate texture maps for the terrain that could potentially make things a lot more believable in that department, but I don’t want to promise anything specific at this point. I’ll go into more detail on all of this next week when it actually goes live.

I fixed an issue that could make the server flood the client with a bunch of building stability updates all at once when destroying a huge base, which depending on the client and server hardware and internet connection could escalate far enough to make clients time out. This appears to have been slowly introduced when making the server side stability refresh faster, so more and more iterations were done per server tick and more and more network updates had to be sent.

Building stability now only sends an update to clients when a final result is available instead of sending it whenever an updated temporary result is available. This also speeds up the stability refresh on the server even more since it has to do a lot less bullshit in every iteration. Good news all around.

As you may have noticed the small powerlines next to roads have been missing from our procedural worlds for a while. This wasn’t intended and made finding roads and therefore monuments a lot harder than usual. I put together a hotfix that doesn’t require a wipe for this week’s update and will do the proper fix next week.

  • Hapis Island bugfixes.

    Hapis Island tint scheme synched with procmap.

    Clients are kicked on exceptions

    Fixed not being able to select/deselect the chat bar

    Injure command is admin only

    Reduced wounded immortality time

    Fixed missing vegetation in DX9

    Fixed view full story on main menu news items not working

    New and improved melee combat hit detection

    Ping is shown when convar perf is 4

    Added ping concommand (prints ping)

    New and more reliable building weak side system

    Convar perf is saved

    Fixed an issue where servers would flood clients during stability refreshes

    Fixed an exploit related to hopping between networking groups

    Fixed various light source LODing issues

    Added spotlight support to light source LODing

    Lantern visual improvements

    Lantern placable on other deployables

    Campfire collider size reduced

    Fixed some items costing too many BP frags to research

    Added ceiling swinglight

    Many armor balance changes

    Syringe insta-heal nerfed to 5, HoT increased to 30

    Armor now absorbs damage and lowers its condition until broken

    Brought back the small powerlines next to roads

This will probably be the last racial variation before the new model goes into the game. I'm hoping to add a tonne more as time goes on, moving towards the goal of each player being easily recognisable by their face and skin colour alone. This means that even once the female model is in, your race is still likely to change every couple of patches.

This one isn't quite ready to go in engine yet, but I'll be merging into pre-release this week to get some testing on the new player model.

I fixed an exploit where people would intentionally hop between networking groups to see the entities that are inside buildings for a short period of time while the building walls were disappearing. Players could use this to spot loot rooms or even fire at other players inside those buildings.

More work on the new arrow head variations. At the moment, we have the standard arrow, stone/flint, bone, metal, and metal & cloth (fire arrows!) arrow heads completed. Take a look below!

There’s a lot of potential in these variations, leading us and you to a more tactical combat experience. At the moment I’m working on the poisoned/irradiated(?) tipped arrow, and should have that finished by tomorrow. There’s a couple more I want to investigate, to see if they would have any point in the game. But this is about making the bow a more useful low-tier weapon.

If you have any suggestions then drop some words on reddit, or wherever else!

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