This article will be serving a dual purpose. Firstly we’ll go over After the Collapse‘s monthly progress report. This time, we’re finally getting into the meat of the game with weaponry and technologies. Secondly, I will address a recurring comment I get, be it on Reddit, here or on the Steam community forums, and by that, I mean the inevitable comparison to RimWorld. So without further introduction, let’s get to it 🙂
Weapon and Ammunition
Weapon and ammunition maintenance and handling has been fully implemented. You can see below the first few weapon models we’ll be using. And, yes, you’ve read correctly, ammo is a thing in After the Collapse. Thankfully, your survivors are pretty self sufficient, and will pickup the correct type of ammo (if available) by themselves.
To keep with our “salvage” over “mining” theme, you do not build your own firearms (well, at least not until very far in the tech tree) in this game. You’ll have to find and repair damaged ones left behind by your enemies or during scavenging runs. Ammunition, however, it can be both. You’ll find boxes of ammo in the world, and you’ll be able to craft your own using more basic components with the right technology. Additionally, our overall system is fairly complete, and leave the door open for weapon mods and customization later down the line.
Of course, I also taught the survivors how not to run straight at the enemy anymore. To achieve that, objects on the map (be it trees, rocks, walls) now provide some cover from weapon fire. As such, during combat, survivors will gradually move toward the point the with most cover, within ideal firing range and with line of sight toward the enemy. It’s not ideal yet, but at least it doesn’t look too silly and it means your people can hold their own against minor threats without having to micromanage every move.
This one is pretty much self explanatory. We now have a basic tech tree. Advanced items and recipes will be unlocked by different techs. It’s a standard combo you’ve already seen in multiple other games: tech tree and research station. There’s an interesting bit, however, some technologies can require the player to own a specific item (on top of any other prerequisite tech) before being unlocked. Items we’ll happily hide in danger ridden buildings. The user interface side is lagging a bit behind on this one, so you’ll have to wait a little while for screenshots.
I went back to the crafting/factory menu. Individual orders can be repeated instead of a global repeat for the whole queue. More importantly, it’s now possible to have a job stop when you reach a given amount in store. As such, it makes things like maintaining a decent quantity of food or ammunition in store much easier. The list itself and menu design is still a bit rough around the edges, but it’s improving. The “settler list” is also more graphic now, and showing more information from the get go. Filters, sorting and other quick options are still missing, but it’s going somewhere. We also added basic support for dynamic factions, which is opening the path toward diplomatic actions, visitors, caravans, raiders and so on.
Since After the Collapse’s official announcement, I very often get to read people citing (the most excellent) RimWorld as a comparison point. With comments ranging from “poor man’s rimworld” to “rimworld killer”. Those two statements are equally terrifying from a developer’s perspective. For once, their game has been in an immensely popular early access for 4 or 5 years. ATC hasn’t, and I know how easy it is to forget how rough and content starved were the first releases. Secondly, as much as RimWorld is obviously a source of a inspiration (alongside many other base builders), it’s not very high in my list. If anything games like STALKER and State of Decay have a much stronger influence on what i’m aiming for.
This puts me in a difficult position. On one hand, I don’t like over-promising or announcing features before they are being actively worked on. On the other hand, people genuinely want to know what will happen and why they should follow this project. So, let’s strike a deal: I will list those differences and mid/long term “non rimworld-ish” features and you’ll accept they aren’t set in stones. Some might get discarded, others changed beyond recognition, and the order in which they will be added might change.
Those are planned for the EA release or soon after. They are practically “sure things” but actual implementation details can change. Also, note that I’m only listing things that are clearly different from RimWorld. I am skipping things like commerce with other factions, bandit raids, and such.
- Ammunition Handling: Self explanatory and this one has been implemented.
- Larger Scale: This one will get gradually implemented over time, as it’s more a principle than a feature per say. We aim for a larger population and higher mortality rates.
- Scavenging: While your starting map will have enough resources to build a small, starting base, resources will run out, scavenging teams will have to be sent elsewhere to secure more resources. It will initially be menu driven, but thanks to our multi-threaded engine, in term, you’ll have the option to micromanage those runs. On your starting location, some of the existing buildings might be closed off. Those will contain goodies, but also dangers. You’ll be able to conduct some basic risk assessment before breaching in.
- Underground Layer: Depending on your base’s location, you’ll be able to explore and exploit a dangerous underground layer (be it a sewer or a cavern). This particular feature is unlikely to make the cut for the initial EA release, but it will definitely happen soon after.
Those are features that will be fleshed out between EA and 1.0. As such, I can’t go into much details, and the community will have its say in it when the time comes. Some of those features are in RimWorld, but I’m aiming at different end goals.
- Environmental Threats: I’d like the steer away from the bandit and zombie-like enemies tropes a bit. It’s not like there won’t be such things, but games like STALKER paved the way for more varied threats. Radiation clouds moving around the world map (closing and opening paths to other locations) is the first example coming to mind. And with radiations come mutations (because video games) good and bad.
- Dynamic World: This is another of those that will likely be expanded over the whole development cycle. But, I’ll mostly focus on it during this phase. The general idea is that players will be able to control some territory and eventually repair production centers (ammunition factories, for instance) to supply your base. Locations will change hand. Nests of mutants will need to be cleared out before they start creeping into your base, and so on.
- Diplomacy: I want something a bit more subtle than the more or less fixed allied/foe settings for inter-faction relations and with a bit more variety than just raids and trading caravans.
This is for post 1.0. As you may know if you’ve been following Unending Galaxy’s development cycle, 1.0 is just a number to me. It just mean that I think the game has enough features to hold its ground on its own. It definitely won’t prevent me from continuing the development “as usual”. In any case, we’re entering hypothetical territory here.
- Light 4X: I guess it’s gradually becoming this studio’s identity. Simply put, I want to put the world map to good use. Build new bases in increasingly dangerous territory, take over your neighbors, rebuild a civilization. You get the general idea. I have some experience in that domain, but it’s a tall order nonetheless. Our UI system isn’t as flexible as was the previous one, so there are some hurdles to overcome.
- Story Mode: Entirely optional, obviously. But a general complaint with base building games is that there’s no ending per say. That’s a subject I would be interested in tackling by adding interlocked quests. The idea is to push the player into more dangerous territories and toward a big confrontation and an end state. Actual content and goals have yet to be determined, of course.
What NOT to expect
And obviously, there are things Rimworld do (or don’t) and which I don’t feel like they’d fit the bill. They might be too costly in development time or don’t work with our theme. Multiplayer is out, for the same reasons it’s out for every other game in this genre. On the base building part proper, I intend to keep things focused on what make sense in a post-apocalyptic world. So no HD TV or dozens of different crops for your farms. Those are things which can be added through modding anyway. The medical system probably won’t be as deep (no bionic limbs), but that one is still being evaluated. While relations between your settlers will definitely be a thing, it will be more a case of getting rid of the black sheep than building some kind of utopia where everyone is constantly overjoyed.
Well, that was a much longer article than expected. I thought it was necessary to clear the air about common misconceptions, and, I feel like linking to this post will come in handy in the future. Anyway, we’re getting close to the Early Access phase. Next step is to refine what I’ve implemented this month, add some kind of director to dispatch raids, add RTS type controls for firefights. Then, I’ll look into medicine to heal wounded soldiers.