Road to 1.0

Hi peeps!

Here’s the promised devlog, barely a few hours late.

So, let’s start with the basics. This is a devlog, any new feature I am talking about here, no matter how detailed it is, is subject to changes, improvements, or even plain cancelation depending on how the implementation goes before it’s actually being released. In short, don’t assume that everything I’m going to talk about here is going to happen exactly as planned. It’s still a relatively accurate guideline for the future. With this obligatory introduction out of the way, let’s get to it 🙂

0.9 Major Update

The 0.9 release is the next major update for ATC. From an user perspective it probably won’t be as massive as the Expedition overhaul or the Dig Deeper update. Still, it’s going to introduce the final touches so everything else can be completed. From a modder’s perspective it’s going to be fun, though. Of course, I’m skipping the usual UI tweaks, minor improvements and bug fixes.

Map & Building Editor

As much as I’m happy with the current state of the procedural generator, I have to admit that a few hand-crafted maps and buildings wouldn’t go amiss. This is where the editor comes into play. It’ll allow me (and anyone else) to build expedition combat maps, spawn locations or scenario maps with ease. Additionally, I hope to be able to integrate the hand-crafted buildings in the generators proper: aka the ability for such buildings to spawn in city, roadside and village maps. This should pave the way for “building/map” mods.

And last but not least, It will allow me to design more interesting scenarios with very specific starting maps and I’m not gonna miss the opportunity to add a “trapped in a mall/prison/hospital surrounded by zombies” scenario.

Patrol Zones and Manned Turrets

One system that’s currently missing internally is the ability to assign a survivor to a particular task and that task only (basically preventing them from querying the general job list while assigned to this task). Once implemented, I’ll be able to add commonly requested features: namely the ability to setup patrol zones and manned turrets.

Patrol zones will be configurable, you’ll be able to assign any amount of survivors there, and decide if you want to guards to stay there all the time (except when eating/sleeping, obviously), which is a good way to guard your gates against roaming critters, or decide to only make it active in combat mode (good for kill zones).

Same idea with manned turrets. Don’t get me wrong, automated turrets are fine and dandy, but they probably should be put much higher in the tech tree (and require some beefier construction costs). Manned turrets could fill a mid game defensive role before you’re swimming in modern guns, money and ammo, offering some decent firepower and some cover to whoever is assigned to it.

More Expedition Stuff

With the two above features completed, I will be able to put the finishing touches to the expedition system. Manual vs Auto combat will get (at least somewhat) balanced. The generic combat maps will be replaced by hand crafted ones. Some enemies will start patrolling around their base instead of all waiting in rooms. Expedition vehicles will get their own pool of HP, which might be impacted by travel, terrain and events. An expedition with a car out of HP will be forced to return home.

You’ll also get more options when dealing with enemies attacking your production centers. You will likely be able to resolve those battles manually or bribe your way out of some of those encounters. I still need to think how I am going represent the money put into “buy defenses” in such combats, though. But, I’ll figure something out or replace that sub-system completely.

World Map Animal Herds

Some of the mobs will also start to visibly roam the world map. They’ll generally be relatively passive, but will still move from time to time. If your base or a production center is in their way, it’ll trigger an attack. Herds will be interactive, you can send expeditions their way to either get rid of them remotely, or you might even be able to lead them toward your base intentionally. Why would you want to do that? Spider queen eggs don’t grow on trees and the chance of a spider queen attack to happen normally is incredibly low.

Animal herds will be an introduction to “moving” map locations. It’s likely that I’ll expand the system to other things and couple it with “spawner-type” locations. It’s also very likely that the abominations will be a prime candidate to mix all of those systems together into a proper end-game threat. That last part goes beyond 0.9 proper and extends into 1.0.

Base Relocation

Simple enough, the ability to pack up & leave the base for greener pasture, retaining all techs, people and some resources. It won’t have a massive gameplay impact in 0.9 proper. Sure, it will be nice to be able to relocate in order to hunt for exoskeletons and other goodies only available in some biomes. It’s still a feature that I will mostly need for the 1.0 storyline, so might as well implement it now.

1.0 Release Plans

First of all, I’ve said it already but it’s worth repeating for the newcomers: 1.0 is not the end of the line. All it means is that I consider the game to be ready to get out of Early Access. That it’s feature complete compared to the goals I’ve set years ago (and let’s be honest here, we’re already way past those goals :D). And that it’s in a decent shape stability and performance-wise. Development will continue post 1.0, just at slightly more relaxed pace (and after getting a proper vacation). Those last few months have been really intensive, and it’s probably not a healthy rhythm to maintain forever. But you can be sure that there will be more major updates after that.

Beside the addition of raw content (items, weaponry, armors, mobs and events), 1.0 will pretty much entirely focus on the addition of a main questline: Story Mode.

Story Mode will technically replace the tutorial slot in the new game menu. It will integrate a (probably optional) tutorial section, and give general tips during the whole playthrough, but it will also contain multiple quests similar in concept to what you’ve seen in the rise of the mutant scenario. Some quests will flesh out the lore, others will unlock techs or deal with the other factions or give you special bonus. All those quests will merge toward a conclusion.

I’m sorry if I’m being very vague on the actual details here as I don’t want to write spoilers. Also, please, don’t expect some revolutionary stuff here, I’m in no way a great writer (English is not even my primary language) and it’s pretty much my first attempt at storytelling. I just hope it’ll be entertaining to play through. 🙂

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, the first draft for 0.9 should be available before New Year Eve. I don’t expect many problems with it. The editor will be the most time consuming thing to deal with. Not writing it proper, because you know, it’s technically already there, being a base building game & all. It’s the integration of those custom maps/buildings that will be more of a pain.

1.0 is scheduled for February/March 2022. I’m not entirely sure I will be able to keep this exact deadline, but it shouldn’t be much later.

Price-wise. ATC will reach it’s planned official price ($14.99) when I start working on 1.0 proper. Due to the way Steam works, it’s not possible to change the price & discount the game without leaving a month in between those two actions. Given that I will apply a day 1 release discount, price has to be raised slightly in advance.

I think I’ve covered everything I wanted to talk about. 🙂