July Development Update 3!

Greetings Pioneers!

It has been another week of integrating and fixing this week, RMD – Tool modules with the build systems being the main focus. We want to be sure you can still work your way up to be the badass with the kinetic cyborg arm, even if you now start off with little more than an axe pulled out of somebody’s dead face…

Regarding the pending release…

Our initial anticipated release date was pointed out as the ‘end of July’, which is fast approaching, however as we said, it has always been a target estimate. We are super busy at the moment working on multiple projects and so we still feel we need more time to benchmark an enjoyable experience with the core mechanics, making them fun, functional, logical and the major game/fun-breaking bugs, fixed. This is unfortunately not looking likely for the end of July but John is assessing progress this weekend and will update you up with progress on outstanding tasks as soon as possible!

Some of the core links for progress are still flakey at this stage, we need more “wiring” in the world currently as a salvageable resource (for example!) in order for you to then easily craft the Repaired Emergency Build Module. In addition to this we need the new Kinetic Manipulation Module in the game to perform the functionality of the previous Kinetic Blast and Energy Harness modules (mining tool + Fuel as ammo), once you gather the materials and workstations to build it. Smash will now be the final upgrade to this rather than being available from the start allowing us to overpower it a little, balanced against fuel use.

The changes we have made to the progression, crafting and build modules are extensive as we shift the starting configuration to be more ‘left defenceless’ and less ‘left slightly damaged but still a supersoldier’. We hope this will lead to a more intense experience as you battle creatures in hand to hand combat with makeshift melee weapons being the staple for the start of the game; from survival to domination.

On the art and level design side of things, it has been all hands on deck to populate the world with clusters of material nodes and points of interest ‘jackpots’ for Pioneers to explore, discover and loot.

Multiple AI fixes have also been achieved, but in the process of fixing one of the core bugs, some of them have been temporarily broken, we’re working on it! They are really starting to come together now otherwise. The player customisation screen has also been in development this week, with new options for selecting options for the visuals of your character available at the start of the game.

Some of the major things left to fix:

Crashes in multiplayer
Broken AI
Hit reactions bugs
Not attacking – Some of the planners are currently broken + Balancing needed
Build tool
Picking up items being unforgiving
Player movement needing balancing
Player animation bugs
Player weapon and AI balancing
Cleaning up Build Tool so that it works as it does in the current Steam release

Major Features remaining:

Radiation zoning
Fuel in Utilities and Defences
Fuel in Tool Modules

There’s a new gameplay video coming soon… For now here’s what we’ve been up to this week in more detail:

John – Lead Designer

I’ve been running around in reviews all week, attempting to grab a spare minute to organise the remaining tasks and external team members. This weekend I’m going to be reviewing the latest build to check on player-facing progress and to prioritise our last remaining sprints.

Matt – Art Director

So we’ve done a huge optimisation pass on the whole Areas we’re looking at releasing, which included distance LODs and lighting tweaks. We’re now at a constant high frame rate across the game, which we’re still squeezing for more performance up till that last stages. We’ve been working through all the blockout assets left in the game as well as focusing on the quality of the mineral placement throughout the relevant levels.

Lee – Technical Director

So this week I found a rather elusive bug with our AI planners, which I fixed. Unfortunately this fix also exposed some underlying issues with the AI planners in blueprint, which I have been desperately trying to find time to fix. As it stands, I’m partially through fixing them, but not quite finished, which means Matt was a rather disappointed along with other members of the art team because they wanted to put a showreel together today with the AI, but alas its not to be 🙂

Katrine – 3D Artist

This week I finished up the axe materials and textures and added it in the game. Thanks for the feedback from the community! It means a lot to hear what the players think about the art we put in the game.

Tristan – Lead Developer

This week I have been going through code reviews and bug fixes galore. I have also been looking into getting the good old trusty tool back up and running as we don’t want to be taking the fun out of the game.

Joe – Lead Artist

More optimisation this week, specifically with lighting. I’ve also been reviewing and nosing around the awesome new art the guys have been working on. The world is really starting to come together!

I have also been populating one of the levels in the world, trying to make the landscape a beautiful journey with lots of minable goodies and open spaces to build bases.

Tom H – Designer

This week I have been going through one of the levels on the mpa to ensure the balancing of the minerals and mineable foliage is good, creating new rocky formations and soaring hills for you to explore!

Tidying up a lot of the landscape in these areas also means dealing with new ways to guide you through the world and find different locations within the level. Always looking to help you orient yourself in the world and fine new points of interest to interact with!

Charlotte – Concept Artist

At the start of the week I worked on refining some of the previous reticle designs which will need to be implemented, along with some additional discussion to how they would be animated when pointed at certain things.

Asides from this, I have also been creating more strange rock formations that could be mined, in addition to a new destructible build set which will include things like walls, windows, foundations, doors and stairs. We’re going for a more simplistic, slightly retro inspired look with this one!

John S – Developer

Submitted the rest of the work on the character customisation system for review with the rest of the team!

Ryan – Developer

Hey everyone, this week I have been developing craftable item notifications to help out new players. The notification will only display once and inform the player that they can now craft a makeshift item. I have also continued to fix bugs around the spears, weapons and inventory.

James – Environment Artist

Worked on populating an area of the map with wrecked ship debris set, placed rocks in such a way to break the skyline with an interesting silhouette, blended some rock debris texture with sand texture for a nice fade off from the rock assets. Added minerals for the player to go find, some in interesting spots, others perhaps in risky places.

Mike – Developer

This week I’ve been on bug fixes again. At the start of the week fixed the aiming system for the 3rd person control system and repaired a weapon which crashed the game. From wednesday onwards I was fixing a bug in multiplayer which withheld player identities and health bars. It’s not completely resolved yet but effect of the final edge case is relatively insignificant and to fix it may require some restructuring of the code. Next week I’ll be looking at new features.

Tom S – Developer

This week i’ve been tackling the issue of having to be pixel perfect when looking at items to interact with them – instead, i’m making it more forgiving. If the item in front of you is near enough around your reticule, you can pick it up.

John T – Environment Artist

This week I have mainly focused on replacing and enhancing certain areas of the map in terms of lighting, efficiency and narrative. Alongside this have been replacing old structural assets with the newly created ones. Overall this gives a better aesthetic to the designs we have created.

Will H – 3D Artist

Some of this week has been spent creating low resolution distance meshes for the landscape geometry. This is done to make sure that performance doesn’t suffer from keeping the high res meshes loaded. Currently, I am working on creating an elevator asset based on concept art, replacing the simple placeholder mesh that’s been there for a while.

Lauren – Lead Animator

This week I have been focusing on the AI and player animated interactions. This included many tweaks to the death, the the ragdoll and the reaction animations. We now have a different set of reactions for when hitting the AI from the front to when you hit them from the side. Along with AI fixes so they play the correct reactions, this will help make them seem more believable.

We’ve still to finetune the balancing for them and fix the remaining bugs. As it goes with game development sometimes it can be two steps forward, one step back but we are slowly making progress.

In addition to this I have been fixing up the 1st and 3rd person movement animations to try and get them looking nicer.

Andy – Lead QA

This week I have been liaising with the new members of staff and reviewing their progress. A lot of these tasks were bugs or art test 3D models.
I have also been working closely with Rich our IT guys to get members of the team up and running with the correct hardware

Jamie – QA

This week I’ve been gathering the most game breaking bugs and assigning the dev team to them to make sure they get squashed. I’ve also been having a look at trying to make sure all the issues to do with the build system are being dealt with. Then lastly I’ve been catching more bugs and crashes to do with multiplayer.

See you in the fray!

-Team Flix