After The Collapse 0.6.8 : Robotics

To finish the year with a high note, here is another very large update for After The Collapse focusing on late game, user interface and resource management. As usual, I’ll go over the major changes in this article and add the full change-log at the end for the complete picture.

And with no further introduction, let’s talk about our new toys 🙂

User Interface

For once, let’s start with the elephant in the room and have a look at our fresh new user interface. As you can see in the pictures the row of ugly buttons at the bottom has been replaced by a much nicer looking menu.

I also added a mini-map in the top right corner. And as you can expect with a proper mini-map, you can click or click&drag to move the camera accordingly. It can be toggled on/off in the Filter menu (the eye button). However, it has a small graphical limitation for now. While it shows the terrain and settlers/enemies properly, it doesn’t display walls and other “constructed” items for performance reasons. Additionally, some of the menus, like the depot, settlers’ jobs and zone building menu, scale vertically with your screen resolution now. For that to work, however, the User Interface scale must be set to its default value (also make sure your screen resolution is properly set if running in windowed mode. Yes I know, it’s a bit experimental at the present).

In combat mode, your survivors’ weaponry is now shown even when they are moving. Also, buttons have been added for the “Select All Units” and “Next Unit” keyboard shortcuts. And, finally, you can now Shift+Click or Shift+Lasso to add units to your current selection.

There’s a bunch more small improvements and tweaks regarding the UI, but those were the main ones.

Late Game Content

It’s not a secret that our tech tree was kinda short (hey, it’s early access) and the end result wasn’t offering something really new or interesting. Well, 0.6.8 is trying to address this problem with the addition of the Manufacturing/Robotics branch and the introduction of a whole new set of expensive manufactured resources.

Manufacturing

Situated after Advanced Electronics, this technology unlocks 2 new crafting stations: the Electric Furnace and the Manufacturing Bench. The furnace is an advanced version of the good old forge, which replaces charcoal by electricity as a fuel source. It does everything a forge does, but better. More importantly, the furnace is able to produce Steel at a slow pace (and hefty cost). The manufacturing bench converts steel (in addition to other resources) into gun parts, mechanical parts and processors.

The construction of late game factories, turrets and… robots (tada!) all require those new resources.

Robotics

As the name implies, this tech tree (5 techs in total) unlocks the ability to build and customize your own robots! But be warned, this is a lengthy and extremely costly process both in term of raw power and resource consumption. Anyway, completing the first “Robotics” tech will unlock the Robotic Lab pictured below.

This new menu is where you’ll build your new best friends. Robots are made out of 3 main parts:

  • Head: Determines what jobs the bot can or cannot do and its perception & intelligence stats.
  • Body: Determines its speed, and most of its other stats.
  • Arms: Modifier for some of the stats/skills and come with or without weaponry.

Each part can come with a different weapon/armor, stats or even traits (clicking on the associated button shows the details for the selected one). And, of course, each robotic tech unlocks new parts for you to play with. In the picture above, you can see a typical “hauler-bot” you can construct from the get go. With all techs researched you can construct robots for pretty much any situation from a medical bot to a near sentient kill bot wielding  a flame thrower (what could possibly go wrong?).

The menu is not extremely ergonomic, but it’s intuitive enough for now. When you’re happy with your selection, you can click on the “Build Robot” button and, assuming you have enough power and resources, a survivor with the tinkering job enabled will start the construction process. I cannot stress this enough: this will eat through your metal, stone and electric parts quickly. Rushing robotics when you only have a dozen settlers and are not ready to constantly run expeditions and trades is probably a bad idea. This is a late game tech.

How To Use Robots 101

While robots are handled like your other survivors, there’s a few key differences you need to be aware of.

Robots do not tire, get bored, depressed, hungry or sick. They never take a break and will queue tasks continuously, making them, on average, way more efficient than your lazy survivors. However, they do not improve at their job and they run on batteries. So, every once in a while, they need to charge on a Robot Charging Pad (which, of course, needs power). A robot on low battery is a bit slower, a robot with an empty battery cannot perform any job until it gets a charge. Each robot comes with a specific set of armor and weaponry you’ve selected when building it. It cannot be changed once built. On the plus side (and for practical reasons) they never run out of ammo.

There’s another limitation, in this current version, you cannot repair or scrap a robot. I fully intend to make that possible in the future. But, I can’t do that right now as I still need to write an interface to handle proper agent/agent interactions for that to work as intended. I could use something that looks to you like the hospital zone, except “for robots”, but that system will also be rewritten once i’m done with that interface. It’s to save time in the long run. Don’t worry too much, robots are kinda hard to kill.

More Content / Tree Growth

There’s a few other important changes/additions to take note of. In relation to the new late game content, I replaced the useless “Social” job by “Metal smith” which is used when working on the manufacturing bench, when making armors, ammo or building pipe weapons.

I also made cloth production a bit easier by making trees and bushes drop a new resource, Plant Fiber, which can be converted into cloth at a loom. It’s not fast or efficient, but it serves as a decent fail-safe in the early game before you get access to a cotton farm or other means of production.

Last but not least, plants and tree will grow on the map now. It’s a very rough system right now, but it’s there to serve a purpose. Every month, plants/trees have a chance to spawn a copy of themselves under specific rules (being on a fertile soil, aka grass, is one of them). They don’t slowly appear, they don’t fade in, they just spawn all at the same time at 2AM (when you can’t see very well). As I said, it’s a rough draft 🙂

Of course, I will gradually improve this system in future updates, hopefully getting something close to a somewhat believable ecological layer. I’m just taking advantage of the fact that I’m already breaking save-game compatibility with this version anyway. So, might as well add another save-game breaking thing so I don’t have to break it again too soon.

The idea behind this change (beside the obvious) is to make the terrain selection matter more. Until now, the difference between arid, grassland and mixed was just a matter of raw stone vs raw wood. And even then, with all the dead trees, it barely made any difference. Now, arid comes with a lot of very useful (long term) stone but won’t have much (if any) in terms of tree growth, while grasslands will provide a near infinite amount of wood but very little stone.

Resource Management

I made some important changes to the depots/storage zones which should make the more experienced “colony builder” fans very happy, while keeping the game easy enough to understand for newcomers. In short, I added both the ability to filter what a depot can store on a per item basis, and the ability to redirect production to other depots even if there’s one close by. And i kept all of that entirely optional so the UI doesn’t become unusable for newcomers (i hope, at least).

I’ll make the bold assumption that you’re already familiar with the previous system: depot can filter by item category and that’s it. Well, it’s still entirely possible, and it works exactly the same way as before. If you don’t want/need super detailed filtering, just check the categories for your depot as usual and ignore the new buttons. However if you want, for instance, a depot to be only storing a particular set of items, I have good news for you.

As you can see in the picture above, when a category is unchecked there’s a red or green “…” button next to it now. If you click on it, it’ll open a sub menu where you can select each individual item you want that depot to store. The button’s color indicates if you’ve set a filter or not. A category with a red button means that you’re forbidding the whole category. While, a category with a green button means that you’re allowing at least one item in that specific category. This way you can filter what goes where exactly as you see fit.

The other improvement is the new “Do not accept more content” checkbox in that menu. When checked, this depot won’t accept anything more being added to it, but will keep its settings (and work as intended). Its purpose might not seem immediately obvious, but it can be very useful. Let’s imagine you have a big “catch all” depot for fuel sources, but now want to have small depots near your generators to cut down on travel time. Well, now you can use that option on your “catch all” depot, so your settlers will be forced to put any new fuel in the newly built depots instead.

A clever use of both those new features can make your settlement way more productive. Still, it’s entirely optional, you can perfectly ignore those things and play the game as usual.

Other Notable Changes & Fixes

With electricity production being a very important factor in the late game (you’ll need thousands in raw power production to build robots), I made sure it was working as intended. Factories which are turned off or not queuing any order are no longer requiring power. I fixed several bugs that would make the grid unreliable when one of the generator is disabled or empty. Also turned off generators, relays and batteries have a proper icon and are no longer showing useless lines and circles in the electrical overlay, making it much easier to see what’s going on in that view.

I fixed several (I really think “ALL” here, but i’m sure someone will prove me wrong) cases where a settler’s AI would get stuck for pathing or economical reasons. There was another case where a crafting station with a queued list of items wouldn’t switch to the next item in the list which got fixed. I don’t think I’ve encountered a single big AI or production issue in my “full tech tree to first bot produced” test run.

I also fixed several problems with individual bedroom attribution, added a button to remove a claim on a room. Also, Settlers with the “experienced” trait will automatically claim their own room assuming one is available, cutting down on the micromanagement.

And as usual, I fixed, improved and changed a bunch of stuff you’ll see in the change-log which I strongly advise the more experienced players to read.

Save-game Compatibility

Due to the extensive changes made in this version (robots, filtering, tree growth), 0.6.8 is not compatible with saves from previous versions. As usual, you can roll back to 0.6.5.4 in Steam (beta tab in the game’s properties) to finish your game. Sorry, normally there’s a larger time window between structural changes, but there was no way around it this time. On the plus side, I *think* the current system is future proofed enough for a while.

Personal Notes

The robot building part is fun to play with and fully moddable (yes, I don’t have a much needed modding documentation yet, I know), so expect a bunch more parts and techs soon. Right now it’s only for bulky high tech bots, but it could be extended to more low tech drones in the future.

If you’re a follower of mine, you might have noticed that the whole “take over the map & production centers” part is not included in this update. Sorry, I couldn’t fit that in and keep the release more or less on schedule. It’s a bit of a shame because without that part, building robots is quite the grind. Numbers have been roughly balanced around the idea that, by that point, you’d be controlling at least a few factories, and normally the tech would only be available if you did. It’s still manageable, though, just need to trade and explore a lot instead.

Still, once that last feature in the 0.6x branch is implemented, it all should click together. In a “take over factories at the cost of many lives. Get enough production going to build robots, send robots do the dirty work instead, take over the world” kind of way 🙂

Full Changelog

  • AI: When doing a “remove tile” job, survivors will look for more tiles to be removed nearby instead of doing a lot of back & forth
  • AI: Disassembling jobs take the current health of the thing flagged for removal into account (something already half dead will take less time)
  • AI: Settlers will automatically try to claim a bedroom if one is available after receiving the ‘Experienced’ trait
  • Balance: Repair recipes for high tier weapons and armors all require 2 damaged ones now (for consistency sake)
  • Balance: High tier resources have a higher trading value
  • Balance: Top tier weaponry and armor is now tagged as “Rare”, making it less likely to show on traders and scavenging runs
  • Balance: Altered some high tier recipes to take new resources into account
  • Balance: Increased power input/output of batteries (small: 150->200, large: 250->400)
  • Balance: Vehicles can no longer go through doors (including traders)
  • Balance: Added debilitating “Exhausted” trait gained when the need to sleep is maxxed (to make sure you build those beds)
  • Balance: Slightly reorganized tech tree (weapon maintenance requires electronics)
  • Balance: Tweaked what other factions buy & sell for a bit more diversity
  • Balance: Slightly increased production speed of the loom
  • Balance: Electrical crafting stations which are paused or not queuing anything no longer consume power
  • Content: Robotic Lab allowing to build your own custom robots
  • Content: More trees and plants can grow on grass every month granted you haven’t cut down everything
  • Content: Replaced unused “Social” job by “Metalsmith” which is used when crafting pipe firearms, armors, ammo and some late game resources
  • Content: Added a new trait to the settler generator (weapon smith)
  • Content: New resources: Steel, Mechanical Parts, Plant Fiber, CPU
  • Content: New item category “Manufactured” for upgraded basic resources (steel, mecanical parts, gun parts, leather, electronics, fabric, cpu)
  • Content: New late game “Robotics” tech tree
  • Content: New late game “Manufacturing” technology
  • Content: Electric Furnace (forge without coal requirements + slow steel production)
  • Content: Manufacturing Bench (produces robotic and gun parts)
  • Content: Bushes and trees drop plant fiber which can be converted into cloth (at a loom) or wheat/fodder (at any kitchen)
  • Content: Robot Charging Pads, which are basically beds but for robots
  • Content: Added very late game events (after manufacturing tech and with a large population: a few large raids and a new trader)
  • Content: Depots can now filter what they can store on a per item basis
  • Content: Added option to prevent a depot from receiving any more content
  • Engine: The game can differentiate easily between sentient beings, animals and robots, making it possible to have specific beds, feeders, etc. for each category
  • Engine: Needs can impact and be dealt with differently depending if it’s for an animal, robot or sentient being
  • Engine: Passive items are now compatible with power requirements (making it possible for a door or a bed to require electricity to function properly)
  • Graphics: Natural lighting sources very lightly flicker
  • Graphics: More professional looking bottom menu
  • Sound: Gauss rifle got its own sound effect
  • UI: Optional mini-map in the top right of the screen (can be toggled on/off using the filter button, can be clicked to change camera location)
  • UI: Shift click/lasso to add people to your current selection in combat mode
  • UI: Added “select all” and “next unit” buttons in combat mode (previously only had keyboard shortcuts)
  • UI: The combat overlay no longer hides your settlers’ weapon when an order has been issued to them
  • UI: Depot, zone and settler job menus scale with vertical screen size (but only if you keep the UI scale to default size in the settings)
  • UI: Updated Depot menu to filter either by whole categories or on an item per item basis.
  • UI: Added button in Room menu to remove ownership (for individual bedrooms)
  • UI: Added room ownership information to settlers’ character info panel
  • UI: Turned off generators and batteries now get the same icon as other turned off factories and relays
  • UI: In electrical grid view mode, turned off items are no longer showing confusing circles/links to other items
  • UI: Clicking on the speed panel number toggles pause on/off
  • UI: Other minor tweaks
  • Fixed: List items in several menus weren’t always perfectly aligned (OCD people, you’re welcome)
  • Fixed: The stock menu was showing “unused” meta item categories (agent and tech)
  • Fixed: Hovering mouse on an animated objects (bushes/grass) wouldn’t highlight it
  • Fixed: Potential memory leak when switching from an UI to another (switching between map, combat and build modes)
  • Fixed: Entities not normally affected by specific needs could still occasionally suffer from them to a small extent
  • Fixed: Discord integration could crash the whole game if it managed to crash itself (because it’s apparently a thing with discord now…)
  • Fixed: When the UI is not scaled to 1 (very small/large screen resolution), tooltips’ background panel isn’t sized properly
  • Fixed: Save/Restore patrol location would only work in the active map layer
  • Fixed: Neutral/hostile animals could open random doors (those present on the map from the start)
  • Fixed: A case where a diagonally moving agent could get stuck in the corner of a structure/wall preventing it from moving until the structure is destroyed
  • Fixed: French & English recipe names for flamer ammo were switched
  • Fixed: Practicing some jobs (repairs, medicine, butchering) wouldn’t increase their respective skill
  • Fixed: Disinfectant & alcohol were sharing the same texture
  • Fixed: Female settlers would generally use male names
  • Fixed: Repair zones would try to issue repair orders for things that have been marked for disassembly
  • Fixed: Small graphical glitch with lights & walls
  • Fixed: If several different items are on the same tile but one can’t be stored anywhere, settlers might ignore the whole tile.
  • Fixed: A case where a factory’s queue could get stuck on a recipe for which there’s no longer enough materials
  • Fixed: Occasionally, unassigned bedrooms would all get assigned to the same settler when loading a savegame
  • Fixed: Plants which would be giving only one ingredient wouldn’t give more than one seed in “Harvest Seeds” mode
  • Fixed: Traders could sell stuff at $0, things like arrows or pipe weapon ammo
  • Fixed: Rare case where a settler could freeze because it no longer has enough cargo space to complete a pickup job due to a new trait / stats change
  • Fixed: A couple issues with electrical grids
  • Fixed: Farms’ loot table was missing food ingredients

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