Summer Progress Update

It’s time for a new devlog. I will mostly be discussing After The Collapse. And this time, I will be resurrecting a kind of devlog I used a lot with Unending Galaxy, the deep dive in a specific (soon to be released) feature. In this particular case, we’ll look at the expedition system. As usual with this kind of post, everything below is subject to changes during implementation. Still, the core principles should stay consistent.

Anyway, let’s get started! 🙂

Expeditions

Until now, expeditions were basically running in their own little parallel universe. You’d pick a destination from a list and your selected group would pretend to travel to that imaginary destination. All those places were incidentally at roughly the same distance from you, and would never run out of resources. While, sure, it worked as a placeholder, it’s no longer enough now that we have a proper world map to interact with. Let’s see what we can do.

Map Integration

So, the first step is to integrate those destinations into the world map, which I’m already doing. The 0.6.0 version had a few “military bases” icons laying around, more are being added to match the old list. Some, more generic, destinations (suburbs, city center, forests) can already be generated from the city map, based on the location (no road, heavy forestry leading to a Forest destination type).

This is very much a place-holder selection screen if that wasn’t obvious by the look of it alone.

Of course, just sprinkling the map with such locations wouldn’t be very interesting if we stopped there. But now, we have a way to attach more information to each destination. Firstly the position, meaning that each location is at a different distance from your base, modifying travel time accordingly. As such, placing your initial base takes a much more important strategic role. Will you place it in a dangerous location but close by to juicy resource centers, or in a remote, safe(ish) location, but making expeditions more difficult?

Additionally, given that the map will provide several instances of the same destination type, we can make them run out of resources after multiple runs, depending on the decay value of the cell they are in. Lastly, travel events can be influenced by the type of terrain your group will have to go through.

Logic and UI Changes

Of course, for all that to work correctly, I’m also changing how the expeditions will proceed.

Traveling to the destination is mostly unchanged technically. Still, the travel length will be proportional to the distance between your base and the target. The random events happening during your travels will change a bit: their likelihood of being “bad” and their difficulty will generally be determined by the current map location of the traveling group. I’ll also be adding a new setting, something like a “reckless/standard/cautious” selector which will influence your travel speed and the events further.

The new destination selection menu. The list has been replaced by a button to pick a location on the map.

When it comes to the exploration part, things will change a bit more. You will be asked to select how long you’ll be staying there. You will be able to loot nearby locations for longer as a result, which wasn’t possible with the old system. To balance this out, bad events will also happen during that phase. The intensity and probability will heavily depend on the location type and position. The general idea is to have events specific to each location in the long run. We’ll probably start with generic ones first, and expand upon it during the rest of the development.

Traveling back to your base won’t change much, travel time will be halved and without events as your group will already know which road to take. At least that’s the in-game explanation for it. In reality, it would be extremely bad form in terms of game design to wipe out your group when going back home with backpacks full of food and fancy weapons.

Tech Tree

All those changes are begging for an associated tech tree. Until now we only had a group size increase and the radio tech to send a recall order. I’ll be adding a couple more things. A pathfinder tech,with multiple levels that will increase your group’s travel speed seems like a good first candidate. Additionally, a mapping tech (again with multiple levels) will increase the max distance you can reach on the city map. In a similar vein, the group size increase tech will probably get a new level as well.

Expedition Types

I went over this in previous devlogs, but it’s a good place to reiterate and go into further details.

Right now we can only send completely automated scavenging runs. And until the above changes have been published and tested, we’ll stick to that. However, later during this 0.6 branch, we’ll be introducing two new types of expeditions which will have the option (at least once I’ve made the associated map generators) for you to manually handle your group during the encounter if you wish to.

1) The “claim location” run. You’ll be sending a group to a specific resource producing location, like a mine or a factory. Your group will have to clear the map from hostiles. Assuming they win, the location will switch to your ownership. That done, you’ll be asked to send some settlers (permanently) to maintain the location. Doing so will net you a regular daily resource income coming from that place. There’s a lot more to that claiming business, but that will be subject of another article.

2) The “raid location” run. This is for much later, so it’s only here for completion sake. To summarize, you’ll be able to attack other hostile (or soon to be, at least) factions’ bases and resource centers. It will work similarly to the above option, except that you’re there to trash the place. Assuming your group wins, you will come back with a lot of loot, and might remove their claim on that location. Later down the line, it will also be used to clean up mutant nests and other late game threats.

Notes and Other Ideas

Obviously, I am also updating the map screen and related menus to make all that a bit easier to manage and nicer to look at. You’ll be able to see your expeditions traveling on the map.

Now there’s a few more things I’d like to implement, but their ratio of “do want” to “code to write” isn’t the greatest. The ability to run multiple expeditions at the same time is the most obvious one, but that would require to edit a lot of things both internally and in the user interface. Another, more realistic, idea would be the ability to build/repair/fuel a vehicle which would in turn improve your group’s safety / travel speed and carry capacity for the run. I have the graphical assets for that, but I’ll still have to decide how the whole “car building” part would work. Another change I’m playing with is to add food ration requirements for far away expeditions.

Conclusions

That’s about all for the expeditions. Large parts (at least for the scavenging side of things) have been written already and should be made public in a couple weeks. Of course expeditions are not my sole focus for this 0.6 branch. Other factions will get busy too, doing the same as you (well mostly). The event system will also get updated. There’s a lot of fun things in store 🙂

Before we go, a quick note. As you might know already, After The Collapse got validated for access to Steam Cards. I was technically supposed to have released those by now, but that will have to wait for a little bit. I don’t want to make half-assed cards and icons, and there’s a lot (and i mean a hell lot) of images to provide to feed their system. It’s going to happen soon-ish, no worries, but actual development takes precedence over this.

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