This After the Collapse devlog might sound a bit unfocused compared to the previous ones. It’s the result of me starting to glue together all the parts (detailed in the previous devlogs) together. While it is still very bare-bone, it’s definitely heading in the right direction. And by that, I mean it starts looking and playing like an actual game.
Menus and user interface
We now have a basic start menu, with the ability to setup the map, select how many survivors to start with. It’s pretty much a placeholder to be replaced by a world map and an embark screen later down the line. But for the moment, it’s serviceable for testing purpose. I also edited the user interface’s skin a bit so it doesn’t look as dull as before. It’s still below my standards, but not exactly a priority right now.
More importantly, I added a “storage” menu. It’s, again, basic, but it does its job. It displays your total amount of the various basic resources (wood, metal, electronic parts, etc.) and a list of your storage zones. Without quitting this menu, you can modify said zones, and view their content. It’s not a pausing menu and it’s updated in real-time. Obviously, selecting a storage zone will move your camera to its location. Same goes for the new survivor list. Right now, it’s extremely basic, but it will be updated to a much more informative table when i’m done… well.. writing the table component. 🙂 Meanwhile it’s still practical as it permits to follow survivors around and quickly get to someone’s specific “character screen”. I also improved the build menu: objects are put into practical categories. That way, utility buildings aren’t lost in a sea of furniture.
We basically have all the required elements here, at least in their basic form. I’ll iterate on them as progress is being made in other areas.
Gameplay and feedback
Survivors can now display speech bubbles to convey needs and general mood information without having to rely on the menus. For instance, in this screenshot we can see a bunch of starved survivors waiting for a meal to be cooked. Right now it only give feedback for the basic needs and each time they receive a positive or negative mood modifier, but that’s an area i’ll expand upon as more interactions are added. Other behavioral improvements have been mostly confined to moving resources around properly. While it was already technically working, survivors could get distracted fairly easily and end up with a bunch of useless junk in their inventory. Now, they make sure to empty their pockets during breaks, alongside various other changes to make the whole system work better.
It’s also now possible to replace the ground level terrain, it’s still doing it auto-magically, until i adapt the build job to handle terrain in addition to furniture and factory type buildings. A basic map generator is in place too, right now it’s spawning a bunch of buildings alongside a road over either a grassy or arid terrain, with configurable amounts of initial resources. It’s not up to my standards yet, but it’s good enough for testing purpose.
And last but not least, and people who played Unending Galaxy will be happy to know that, this time we can change the game’s speed. I’ve implemented the feature properly, so going at 2 times the normal pace won’t require twice the CPU power, just marginally more. It has some upper limit after which the movement handling just give up. But given that anything between 25% and 200% speed seem to work well, it’s not much of a concern.
I replaced the most basic sprites by more appropriate and higher quality ones, as you can see in the screenshots. Graphics are still a bit of a mishmash, of course, but we made notable progress since the initial announcement. Also, and contrary to my previous game, I smoothed the camera’s movements, so moving it around the playable area feels fairly nice. And, as usual, i’m still making sure everything is stable and running without crashes or esoteric bugs.
The list of things to finish up before we get to the fun part is starting to get small. Hopefully, I’ll be done with that in a month or two. The major missing things are the ability to setup patrol roads, equip survivors with specific gear, and the ability to give them direct orders (draft in DF or RW). Nothing very complicated about that. When done, it will be time to put the military to the test and add hostiles. And then, start with features that are unique to After The Collapse.
Also, after spending so much time tweaking the economy and storage, I’m starting to have some doubts about using a zone system for storing items. I might be slightly OCD about it, but having hundreds of items laying around on the ground feels just wrong and a bit wasteful. As such, I will likely experiment with fixed size storage “buildings” in the coming weeks as well.