After The Collapse 0.8.6: Nature’s Wrath

Welcome to After The Collapse 0.8.6: Nature’s Wrath.

I know I said this update would be smaller than usual, while it’s still technically true it’s not by much. As usual, we’ll only go over the major improvements and changes. The full changelog is at the end of this article.

TL;DR

  1. Fire is a thing now (which we’re using extensively)
  2. Cycle of nature, trees and plants grow, multiply and die over time
  3. Massive performance boost during large raids and within very large bases
  4. New map generator and new biomes
  5. Improved combat AI script, Extensive balance, UI and bug fixing update

Fire

So, fire is a thing now. Not just the flamethrower effect, but actual fire that will propagate over tiles as long as there’s fuel to get it running. It’s not something you’ll encounter very often, but it can catch you by surprise. It can appear during heat waves when plants can catch fire, when using the flamethrower, the RPG launcher or other energy weapons.

Survivors (and prisoners) will automatically try to extinguish nearby visible fires. When in doubt, you can switch to combat mode and order your guys to “attack” the fire to get it under control. In the same spirit, rainy weather patterns will help by dousing the flames.

Survivors are generally pretty good at avoiding tiles on fire. But when trying to extinguish it or when getting trapped, they might get 1st to 3rd degree burns. First degree burns have very little impact and will heal on their own after a couple hours. 2nd degree burns are more detrimental and will need antiseptic to get cured. 3rd degree burns will make your survivors pretty miserable and will need antibiotics to get cured. Exoskeletons and fire vests will protect your survivors against those effects.

Tiles on fire apply fire damage over time to everything (that can burn) standing on said tiles. Tiles maxed out of fire intensity will “jump” to an adjacent tile with something it can use as a fuel source. In practice, dense forests with a lot of vegetation might get wiped out without your intervention. Constructed tiles (like marble or cement) are pretty much fireproof, but a house built on wood foundations will burn very quickly.

Cycle of Nature

Until now, trees would just “spawn” fully grown every month at midnight according to some arcane formula. It was a supposedly temporary hack implemented like 2 years ago. It’s time to let it go. Now, each plant is growing from a “sprout” to an “old” stage, visibly changing over time. They also reproduce according to rules set in their data files. Different tree “species” grow on different tiles and at different rates: for instance the newly introduced palm trees grow on sandy and ground tiles while standard trees will grow on the several variants of the grassy tiles.

The change is not just graphical, younger trees will give a lot less resources than fully grown ones when cut down. You can also collect sprouts and plant them to generate your own forests. Last but not least, I’m introducing the first wild tree you can use as a “factory”. By exploring farms or dealing with traders, you’ll find apples you can plant to grow an apple tree. Apple trees, once fully grown work as seasonal (15 days on/off cycle) self-replicating food production factories. You can make cider or pies out of the collected apples. Both item giving happy thoughts to your survivors when consumed.

All the trees you can plant yourself are in the new “Nature” tab of the building menu. Make sure you plant them on the proper tile type (a little guess work is needed), otherwise they will die off quickly.

Note that the cycle of nature is very slow, it takes a total of 50 days for a standard tree to grow from “sprout” to “dead”. And within that time it might spawn a few new trees. On the other side of the spectrum, bushes grow & die in a few weeks, spawning as many children as they can within their limitations. I tried to keep it relatively on par with previous versions when it comes to forest density and wood availability but given how different the system is, it’s something that will probably need some tuning over time.

Of course, all of this can be modded, new plant species can be implemented and existing ones altered.

Combat & Performances

I was technically supposed to add more buildings for the expedition manual combat encounters, that didn’t happen as I got sucked into a vortex of fixing several low level problems with the combat AI and given the end result, it was for the best. I rewrote the whole AI logic for what’s basically the “attack” order. Simply put, performances in large raids are about 10 to 20 times better. You can have 100 hostile raiders on the map without suffering from (too noticeable) slowdowns now.

Additionally the attack script is a lot better at what it does. Hostiles should be a hell lot better at understanding what they can attack, what they can’t and what door they should break to get their ways. It’s literally night & day in terms of performances and efficiency. It’s not perfect of course, and I’m sure that the old script was covering a couple edge cases this one ain’t yet, but on average it’s definitely a lot better.

The optimizations are not limited to combat encounters either, the game’s performances are a lot less tied to the size of the map you’re playing on. Deletion/Addition of path-blocking items on gigantic maps no longer trigger a small slow down. Same goes with your own population and previously very CPU intensive calculations are a lot smoother now. I’ve seen save-games with 120+ survivors running at barely below 60fps.

Balance Pass

There’s a couple balance changes worth talking about.

Firstly, the Food/Drink consumption difficulty settings work differently. Instead of making your survivor eat more often, it changes how efficient is the food. At the highest difficulty level, a settler will need to grab 2 meals instead of one to achieve the same result. The big difference being that it won’t impact the base’s productivity nearly as badly. It makes those settings a lot more viable. Given how common “too much food” is a complaint from the more experienced players, I encourage you to experiment with it.

Secondly, a new “World Map Loot” setting has been added to the difficulty settings. It does what it says on the tin, and alters how much loot is available in the world map. The default value correspond to roughly half of what was previously available. The rational behind the change is that there was too much loot in the world, making the cheap generic loot run pretty pointless compared to the more costly focused one.

Procedural Generation

I added desert variants of the Riverlands and Lakes biomes, coming with the new palm trees. Those biomes are also easier to spot on the world map, as they’ll have a small body of water on the tile.

 

I also added a new world generator: Rocky Desert, taking advantage of those new biomes.

User Interface

Here’s the highlights.

First, a long overdue change. I rewrote the water collecting barrel’s menu entirely. It looks and works like a standard factory menu now. You can set limits to how much dirty water you want to collect, change priority, the usual. In the same spirit, all lamps (no matter if normal or grow lamps) can be toggled on/off from their respective menus.

Secondly, thanks to a very good suggestion from BallC, I’ve implemented a new keyboard shortcut to c[o]py whatever object your mouse is hovering, ready to be build. Works with walls, furniture, crafting stations, doesn’t matter. You can change the shortcut in the settings, as usual.

Bug Fixes

I don’t normally list bug fixes in the articles, but I’m happy to tell the old guard that I fixed 2 of the oldest bugs in the game. Namely, a build order would complete but the target building wouldn’t be created and the resources would still be consumed. It was as rare as it was annoying, but it’s finally over. Same goes with a bug where an animal or human would still use a recently deleted stair.

That’s on top of 30 other fixes ranging from incredibly minor to sorta annoying.

Savegame & Mod Compatibility

There’s no major change to modding only additions. As such, mods should work as usual.

This version is technically compatible with saves dating from 0.8.3 and over, however plants in existing saves won’t grow or multiply until you start a new game.

Closing Words

This version is pretty solid. Handling large fires and thousands of plants on very large maps was kind of a challenge, but I am very happy with the results, performances have never been that good and the game is very stable. No doubt I will be proven wrong by someone within a few days, but that’s what hot-patches are for. You can expect a few small weekly patches before the next large update as there’s still some features and improvements I’d like to make.

Full Changelog

  • AI: People will generally try to navigate around the fires when possible
  • AI: RaiderAI and attack jobs have been rewritten, much faster and slightly better at what they do
  • AI: Melee combatants should get less confused by inaccessible ranged enemies (like turret walled off by barbed wire)
  • AI: Settlers and prisoners will try to extinguish fires around them
  • Balance: Exoskeleton type armors negate the “Heavy Equipment” debuff
  • Balance: Food and Drink consumption difficulty settings alter how efficient are meals instead of modifying how often people have to eat/drink
  • Balance: Default values for “Loot Left” in world map locations have been tuned down significantly
  • Balance: Heavily encumbered survivors (carrying a lot of stuff) move a bit slower. This can be counter-balanced with a high Hauling skill
  • Balance: Due to the recent performance boost, you’ll keep receiving new settler events organically until your reach 50 people, instead of 40
  • Balance: Game starts with preset settings for cattle (auto milk, collect egg…)
  • Balance: Slightly reduced max loot from 1×1 “large rocks” and full grown trees
  • Balance: Reduced direct damage of flamethrowers (to balance out the additional damage from flames)
  • Content: Fire has been added. It can spread over the terrain, objects and people. Praise Zorg!
  • Content: Flamethrowers, RPG/grenade launchers and similar weapons will cause things they hit to catch fire
  • Content: Heat waves will occasionally cause a tree/plant to catch fire
  • Content: Rain helps against fire
  • Content: Attacking a fire in combat mode will order people to extinguish it, which is useful when a fire starts way outside the base
  • Content: Added World Loot setting to the difficulty settings, alters the quantity of loot in the world map
  • Content: Scorpions can be farmed for their poison (like spiders)
  • Content: Trees and plants grow over time replacing the monthly spawn of full grown trees
  • Content: Palm trees can be found in arid and new sandy biomes
  • Content: Fires, on top of the HP damage will cause different levels of the new “burnt” medical condition
  • Content: Second degree burns can be cured with disinfectant, 3rd degree burns require antibiotics
  • Content: Exoskeleton and fire vest protect from heavy burns
  • Content: Trees can be planted (by harvesting or buying sprouts/saplings). They will die if not placed in a proper terrain, though
  • Content: Added apple trees and apples. Apple trees alternate between 15 days of fruits production and 15 days of downtime
  • Content: Apples can be used to make apple pie (food & mood bonus) at a kitchen and cider (drink & mood bonus) at a still
  • Engine: Massive performance boost when large amounts of raiders/zombies are attacking your base
  • Engine: General performance boost in bases with large population and in large maps
  • Engine: Other minor code and performance optimizations
  • Engine: Added “MinGameSpeed” & “MaxGameSpeed” fields to settings.json (modifying those values past the default ones is *NOT* officially supported)
  • Graphics: The more fires on screen, the more the ambiant lighting will move toward red (mostly visible by night or underground)
  • Graphics: River and lake type biome tiles on the worldmap have a small amount of water making them easier to spot
  • Graphics: Small plants & bushes become brown when they are about to die
  • Modding: Added “GenerateFire” (true/false) to weapon files, determines if a weapon will causes fires whenever it hits something
  • Modding: Added “SpawnFireRate” (float) to weather files: if set to > 0, it will spawn fire over a plant. 1 is every hour, 2 every 30 minutes, 0.5 would be every 2h
  • Modding: Added “SpawnFireChance” (float) to weather files: likelihood of the spawn fire above to be successful
  • Modding: Added “DisableDeathMessage” (true/false) to NPC files, allows to disable the message posted when said NPC dies
  • Modding: Added “PlantData” folder to define wild plant/tree species and added “PlantData” field to clutter data files (see clutter/plant_* files)
  • Modding: Added “RemoveTraits” field to traits: when trait applied, remove all existing traits in this list (while OppositeOf offers protection but doesn’t remove)
  • Modding: Data validator now checks for a lot more potential errors (notably with traits)
  • ProcGen: New desertic/sandy variants of the riverland and lake biomes
  • ProcGen: New world map generator (desertic world which is definitely not New Vegas themed, nope)
  • ProcGen: Different worlds have different modifiers for vegetation and mountain quantities (Eden has more trees, desert world has more mountains)
  • ProcGen: Giant mushrooms can appear in more underground biomes
  • Settings: The “Antialiasing” graphical setting has been removed (it was not functional and the game already has basic AA)
  • Settings: Added “Higher Luminosity” accessibility checkbox to graphical options (makes night & caverns a LOT less dark)
  • Sound: Fires produce an ambient sound effect (volume varying with intensity)
  • UI: World map is accessible from Combat UI (both button & shortcut) and going back to base from map will restore the correct UI mode
  • UI: The menu to select a person for a room will show people who need one first
  • UI: Added search bar to the encyclopedia’s item screens
  • UI: Clicking “Items” (without selecting a sub category) in encyclopedia will open a searchable list of *all* items
  • UI: All lamps (connected grow lamps, normal lamps) can be toggle on/off
  • UI: Skill info added to single recipe crafting stations
  • UI: Overhauled the water collector menu (works the same as the factory menu, also prettier)
  • UI: Pharmacy moved to utility section and camp fire moved to crafting section of the build menu (makes more sense)
  • UI: Added game log message when the base is revealed (basically when you build a stair to the surface from your underground bunker)
  • UI: Added keyboard shortcut to make a c[o]py of the selected furniture, crafting station or wall (shortcut can be changed in game settings)
  • UI: Added “Nature” tab to build menu (for the new and future buildable trees)
  • Fixed: Some minor issues with the way people in expeditions were stored in memory
  • Fixed: It was technically possible (not sure in practice) for seeds/crops to get stuck inside a farm without being used
  • Fixed: Rain droplet quantity wasn’t consistent with zoom level, roofs also made it inconsistent
  • Fixed: The item category dropdown in the Stocks menu was cut short by the menu’s border
  • Fixed: Exo skeleton armors/helmets disassembling recipe had a typo resulting in them giving out less items than expected
  • Fixed: Floor removal jobs aren’t saved when saving/loading a game
  • Fixed: The expedition vehicles could, incorrectly, be selected in the new game setup screen
  • Fixed: Giant spider queen spawning as male
  • Fixed: Job templates are not applied to people being made prisoners, again (I apparently tried to apply cattle settings to them instead, oops)
  • Fixed: In manual expedition battles, mood and need debuffs for lack of bed and other social stuff were still applied
  • Fixed: Disabled needs would still count toward mood calculations (this was affecting prisoners the most)
  • Fixed: In the New Game menu, switching to/from the inventory panel would reset the player’s selection
  • Fixed: In very rare occasions, a build job wouldn’t spawn the designated building on completion
  • Fixed: If no one is coming to take care of a knocked out prisoner, they might end up waking up and still hold their weapons
  • Fixed: A rare case where a raider could try to attack something that cannot take damage (stairs and such)
  • Fixed: Multiple minor issues with pathing logic which caused the game to query the pathfinder more often than necessary
  • Fixed: Cattle’s newborns could escape confinement on birth by spawning a bit too far away. they’ll spawn on their mother’s tile now
  • Fixed: If a pregnant cattle was in a fully walled off 1×1 pasture, it could cause a crash on baby birth
  • Fixed: If no player built bed are available, and the map has bedrolls, settlers would (incorrectly) use them
  • Fixed: Switching layer while the game is paused wouldn’t update the ambient lighting
  • Fixed: Traps could be moved around from the clutter menu (which wasn’t the intended effect)
  • Fixed: Tribal beds would upgrade directly to beds instead of upgrading to sleeping bags
  • Fixed: Floors can be laid multiple times in the same space
  • Fixed: On new game, decay was applied to the starting underground bunker which could lead to broken lamps and such
  • Fixed: Rain collectors’ job was prioritized over all other jobs (very old “optimization” that is now hurting more than it’s helping)
  • Fixed: Stair deletion wasn’t taken in consideration for pathing purpose for a while, allowing mobs/people to use recently deleted stairs
  • Fixed: Disassembling skill wasn’t taken into consideration when razing some of the structures
  • Fixed: Starting a second game after one that was going for long while could prevent weather from changing properly
  • Fixed: Player’s underground base would get automatically revealed when loading a savegame
  • Fixed: Inconsistency between max game speed set by keyboard shortcut and by the UI buttons
  • Fixed: Equipment supposed to protect from sickness/wounds could also (incorrectly) cure them whenever used

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