After The Collapse [devlog#11] Soon in Early Access

Before we get into it, I have a few announcements to make:

Firstly, a month ago I promised another update for Unending Galaxy. Sadly, this is not going to happen until After The Collapse is officially released and the first few emergency patches have been delivered. I’m already on a 12h a day / 7 days a week schedule. I just can’t find the time to get around it. As much as I don’t like to leave people hanging, I’ve to admit I’ve bitten a bit more than I can chew on that one. So my deepest apologies to everyone involved. UG will get patched, but only in a couple months.

Secondly, If you look at the After The Collapse menu on top of this page, you’ll see a Bug Tracker link. It’s a system used to keep track the development, bugs, and potential features. You can register there and post bug reports, ask for specific features, and so on. Not everything i’m doing currently is included there, as it wouldn’t make much sense before release, but this system will be the best place to post about bugs, issues, and keep track of the game’s development in real-time in the future.

With that out of the way, let’s dive into the devlog proper πŸ™‚

Game Trailer and Steam related stuff

The game and store page have been submitted to Valve. Unless anything unexpected happens, we should have a presence on Steam in a week or so. You won’t be able to pre-order (those are evil anyway) or do much, but we’ll open the forum and you’ll be able to wishlist the game. Please, do so, it will help us tremendously on release, no matter if you buy the game or decide to wait a while.

I also made a trailer, while not the definitive one, as it’s a bit boring and too “menu intensive”. It’s showing a lot of features, including bandit raids, a late-game base, and other details if you pay close enough attention to it (alongside some, already fixed, bugs).

Let’s call it an early access trailer for an early access game πŸ™‚

Ideally, After The Collapse should get released between the very end of September and the very beginning of October. I’ll keep you posted on the exact date. The game will be available on itch.io and Steam. Initial price will be at around $8.99 (price is different depending on the country, but that’s something I let Valve handle). It will gradually increase as new features and content is being released, until we reach about 20 dollars for the 1.0 release. We won’t do any major discount before 1.0 either. Basically, I’m applying the same pricing policy as Factorio or Rimworld: early adopters get a preferential treatment as they are willing to go through the usual problems and risks associated with early access.

Anyway, enough marketing talk. Let’s review what I’ve done during this month.

Event System

So, I just implemented what Rimworld is calling “storyteller” and other games might call difficulty level. Or what I called “Event System” in Unending Galaxy. At the start of the game you can select one in a list, and it will determine which events you’ll get, at what pace and under which conditions.

For instance, I currently have a Passive World, in which the only event you’ll get is “neutral survivors are asking to join your group”. It’s as boring as it sounds, but it’s pretty much ideal for testing and getting used to the game’s mechanics. I also have a more standard setting which will unleash raiders, zombies, sicknesses and other events at kind of a slow pace and depending on how well you’re doing. Adding or altering those settings is pretty easy as everything is contained in a single text file per event system. Well, it’s formatted in a particular way, but it’s easy enough to alter with proper guidance.

Right now the selection of event is a bit limited, but I’m adding more and the process to do so is pretty straightforward.

Embark Screen

In addition to the map generation, it’s now possible, and recommended, to start with some basic resources and equipment. Before the game starts, you’re given some money you can spend buying rations, water, resources. There are some presets in place, and I will add the ability to save/load new ones later down the line.

You can also select the initial size of your group, at no cost, because larger groups have more chances to starve to death before you can start food production. So “paying” for additional survivors wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense in that context.

User Interface

The “population” menu got expanded. You can sort your survivors by skill, attribute or needs, and toggle skills on/off directly from this menu without having to go to each person’s individual menu. The depot menu, on top of displaying the individual content for each depot is also displaying everything you have in total. The save/load screen shows a screenshot for each individual save-game. There’s a lot more on that front, but I don’t want to turn that post in a meaningless feature list. Point is, it’s more or less ready for prime time. πŸ™‚

Rendering & Sound

Armor and helmets are now visible in-game. Well there’s more to it than that, a lot of work have been made behind the scene to the way equipment and body parts are handled. Weapons won’t be rendered, tho, at least not until later, there are some obstacles and minors bugs to overcome first on that front. Those changes also allow me to add a lot of variety when it comes to the survivors’ appearance.Β 

On top of that, settlers properly align themselves with the crafting stations instead of just being in their general vicinity. A (basic) weather system has been added, with visible rain, fog, clouds. Each weather pattern comes with it’s own dynamic ambient sound layer (wind, rain, thunder, general soundscape). I also added a few pretty decent music tracks from Incompetech. Given it’s free music, you might have heard some of the themes already, but I tried to select appropriate songs.

Medical System

As promised in the previous devlog, I completed the medical system. The doctor and patient jobs are implemented. While it’s still in its infancy, and will get a rewrite for a more complex system later down the line, it does its job.

Your survivors can get wounded when hit by weapons, and various events will trigger and spread illnesses, they can also lose health by starving, being sick, and so on. Simple health damage can be fixed with time in a hospital bed and a doctor treating the patient. Wounds and illness can be cured with specific items produced at the medical station, they can also heal on their own, or, well, get much worse.

Currently the selection of sicknesses and wounds is pretty limited, which is pretty much constant for all new features. The code works, but the data still need to be filled. This is a good problem to have, though, as adding new items is pretty easy when the code handling it is solid.

Gameplay

As you probably know by now, people are defined both by attributes (strength, endurance, etc.) and skills (how good at a job they are). Until now both were kept separate, but with the addition of wounds which could alter a survivors’ attributes in a massive way, I had to find another system. Someone with a missing arm and an agility of 20% is probably not going to be a very good surgeon, even with all the skill in the world to back them up. There was also the problem of innate vs learned behaviors to take into consideration. Anyway, out of a maximum of 1000 points for a particular skill, 300 are defined using the person’s attributes (different attributes with different weights for different skills), and the remaining 700 are being attributed through their former job, potential positive/negative traits, and experience (survivors gain relevant skill points by completing jobs, crafting, etc.).

In combat, cover is better handled. For instance, in the screenshot above, the turrets can fire through the metallic cover next to them with no issue, while bullets from enemies at a distance will have fair chance to hit the cover instead. NPC are generally smarter when it comes to deciding where to go during a battle. It’s not perfect, far from it, and taking manual control of your guards will always be the better option, but it’s still decent.

I’m skipping a lot of more minor improvements and tweaks, generally because it’s not touching anything I’ve been over into details in previous devlogs. New settlers can be recruited during specific events, raiders come to raid you from time to time, technologies and items are gradually being added and tweaked. Not mentioning that there was a serious focus on getting everything running with the less amount of bugs, improving performances, and all those general pre-release steps, as I’d rather get something relatively short on content for EA than something buggy or unplayable. I’m not saying it will be entirely free of issues, because it’s a base building game, and fully testing solo something with hours upon hours of playtime is pretty much impossible, but I want to make sure it’s stable.

Work left to be done

The list is getting smaller. Manual combat controls are being worked on at the moment, should be done with that in a few days. After that, I still need to implement trading caravans, this one will be a bit more difficult, will probably take a whole week. I also hope to include a basic tutorial through a list of scripted events, it should make the cut, but it will probably be quite basic. And finally there’s the map generation, it’s currently half done, and building variety is lacking. While it’s complex, difficult code, most of the hard part is already written.

Speaking of map generation, note that the world map and the underground layer system won’t be included in the initial release, this is a MAJOR feature size and complexity-wise, not something I can just make when under the current amount of pressure i’m under as the deadline is closing in.

Outside of that, well, the more data/content I can feed to the engine, the better, but as per usual, the priority is the completion of the promised feature set.

Well, that’s about it for now, expect more information coming very soon πŸ™‚

Cheers!

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