Hello there! For once, I’m roughly on time for this month’s devlog. I will mostly discuss After The Collapse’s development and pricing. I will also go over the Steam Summer Sale debacle. For those of you who receive this post through our newsletter, the versions 0.5.8 and 0.5.9 got released in the last couple weeks, you might want to check so posts as well.
Anyway, let’s start! 🙂
After The Collapse
First, let’s get the commercial stuff out of the way. After The Collapse is 15% off on Steam during the Summer Sale. This is, most likely, the last big sale before the next price increase. The game will move from $9.99 to $10.99 during the development of the 0.6.x branch, the exact date will be announced a few days in advance.
Anyway, as you might already know, the 0.6.0 update has been delayed by a few weeks. Simply put, the map and associated features are not up to the standards set by the recent updates and improvements yet. There’s no “show stopper” per say, it’s just taking slightly more time than anticipated. Also, a lot of the secondary content that was planned for this update has been implemented in the two last large patches instead. Consequently, I will have to take some time to add more.
In any case, it’s probably a good time to go into details about this new development branch. As I said, it’s going to focus on integrating the world at large, from the city map to the factions living there. As per usual with design posts, the following info is not entirely written in stone. Some features might change slightly, or be shuffled around.
Early 0.6.x Releases
The goal for the early release is to setup the basis for the world outside of the playable area. So far, we can generate the overall city and its surrounding. It’s also saving an unique seed per region (in this context a region is a play area). Under the hood it’s also storing a few values like the amount of hostile creatures, forestry, roads and amount of hostile creatures, and so on, for each region. Basically all the parameters required to generate playable areas. With that, the player can select a place to start on the map instead of using the custom map generator (it will still be available, don’t worry). All that, outside of a bit of menu and graphical design, is done.
What’s missing, are special locations. The idea with the city map is that it will contain various locations and production centers for you (and AI factions) to take control of. Of course, the ability to control such locations will be added a bit later. However, I still need to write a proper code structure for it even if you won’t be able to visit them yet. Same goes for other factions’ HQ and zones of influence. Which, in turn means that I need to add the data for each proper faction (covering equipment, logo, various stats, and the ability to generate/save/load all of that at will).
None of that is terribly difficult to add, it’s just time intensive. But while required and justified, it’s not something that the player will recognize as inherently new. Outside of the “level selection”, pretty much everything else can be considered as “behind the scene” work. If this wasn’t a commercial release, it wouldn’t matter. But here, we need to add some of the interactions with the map. Preferably something that’s both simple and often requested.
Trading with friendly factions
This is probably one of the most requested and easiest features to implement in that context. It also gives me an excuse to start working on that faction screen. Simply put, with the Radio tech and some radio equipment in your base, you’ll be allowed to contact other factions for trading purpose and ask them to send some specific type of traders your way. The trader’s travel time will depend on the distance between both locations. And, of course, not all factions will be interested in buying or selling all possible item categories.
It’s a simple enough interaction, and while it uses the map to some extent, it doesn’t require massive changes to the game’s structure. Depending on how much time it takes, I’ll probably add a few diplomatic actions, like the ability to pacify an hostile faction for a while (or anger a friendly one).
Raids from hostile factions
While we already have generic bandit raids implemented via the random event system, it would be nice for that system to start using nearby (hostile) factions instead. Tied to the basic diplomatic options, it could give options to the players in how they want to tackle opposition. One could opt to generate a lot of money through trading and pay the raiders to leave them mostly alone, making combat and base defense less of a priority. Another could do the exact opposite and go on full on militarized, selling back the loot from defeated raiders. Or even lure in trading caravans and destroy them.
0.6.x to 0.7.0 Releases
Most of the development time will be spent integrating the expeditions into the map itself and writing procedural generators for special locations. I will also begin the process of making the map more dynamic. By that, I mean adding things like nests of creatures (if left unchecked those would expand and attack nearby settlements) and similar active content. The general idea here is to write and assess the game logic and UI when “visiting” other parts of the city.
The procedural generation for specific locations (faction bases/camps, factories, farms, and so on) will take the bulk of the development time. It will serve a dual purpose, though. One, it will allow for expeditions to (optionally) morph into more action oriented phases where you can send teams to explore / loot / clear part of the city. Two, it will create more variety regarding the starting locations. Do you want to start in a safe but remote forest area, or in the middle of a military base with already established defenses but that you’ll need to clean up from hostiles? Or anything in between?
And finally, we’ll be introducing the ability to claim parts of the map. Resource and technology production centers basically. I’ll give an example here. Let’s imagine there’s a sawmill on the map, but it’s infested by a bunch of bandits or creatures. You’ll be able to send an expedition there. If you clean the map from the baddies, you’ll be given the choice to send people there permanently in exchange for a regular supply of wood. Of course, other factions will do the exact same.
And of course, I will be adding some content to the base building game proper, especially to the mid/late game. I’m not going to make a list here because that would be too long, and those are generally self contained features that can be added at any time. But, if you’ve played the game a lot recently, you might notice that there are raids from crazed military bots now. The idea is to add a late game technology tree (and probably requiring to secure a specific building in the city) to produce your own customizable bots (to complete military or simple utility tasks).
The Unending Galaxy themed SHMUP I talked about in the last “progress update” post has been put on the back burner until the first few versions of the 0.6 branch are released. So do not expect much on that front until 0.6. It’s still planned as a small, cheap (and hopefully fun) game, not as a major project.
Steam Related Stuff
Hopefully, this doesn’t become a recurring chapter in those posts. But as you might be aware, this Summer Sale 2019 is kind of a fiasco, at least for mid-tier (and even many high tier) indie games. Where to even begin?
Oh, the meta “racing” game, of course!
People, this is why I’m happy that Valve has given up on making Half Life 3. This is the worst sale meta-game they ever made. It’s convoluted beyond reason and needs a wall of text and a whole FAQ to explain itself. Cardinal sin, it’s not even filling its intended purpose: to give an incentive to browse the store. Usually, you can at least browse the discovery queue to gain a few points, or badges, but not this time. Instead, it’s basically asking people to play F2P and games they already own to farm achievements in the hope of unlocking enough to gain a meager 5$ coupon. A notable portion of the customer base apparently deleted everything but one game in their wish-lists too, misunderstanding the rules. Valve even had to write a PSA on twitter and their blog to tell people not to do that. At the time of this writing, the event already got 2 additional mechanical “fixes”. In other words, this is a mess, that, if anything is distracting people from the sale.
Starting the event a Tuesday was also kind of a weird choice, and the “wishlist” emails seem to be dispatched at a very slow rate. I assume that Valve is trying to limit the early traffic so their servers don’t constantly crash (like they usually do during large sales), and it’s true that it’s a more stable than usual. But with both those events combined, and the clear focus on AAA games, everyone who’s not already rolling in money is suffering quite a massive loss of income compared to the previous summer sale. I personally can’t run a comparison, given that ATC wasn’t released back then and that UG had already its feet in the grave, but a simple look at the developer forum shows that this time, it’s not only the asset flippers getting hit but pretty much everyone.
A Few Words
It’s not going to change much for us regardless, I’m obstinate like that. However, it has been made pretty clear that the best course of action is to have multiple active projects. While I don’t except the shmup to do very well financially, it will still be something. It’s not costing much to produce and with 3 games, we can diversify the offers and sales. My apologies if I sound a bit grumpier than usual in this post. Between the heat-wave and this summer sale, it’s hard not to 🙂