After The Collapse 0.9.0: Happy New Year!

Hi peeps! Here’s the promised 0.9 content update!

This is the first draft for the 0.9x dev cycle. It contains most of the promised core features for 0.9 outside of the map/building editor and handcrafted maps (they go hand-in-hand). As with all milestone updates, despite a lot of testing, it might not be as polished or stable as the previous version, but all bugs and oddities will quickly be addressed.

I’ll talk about the future of the 0.9 branch later, but for now, let’s focus on the new features and changes. As usual, full changelog at the end. I’ll only cover the major changes in the article.

TL;DR

  • Deeper world map mechanics
  • Patrol zones
  • AI/Hostile hordes roaming the map
  • AI Factions sending their own expeditions
  • End-game’s Genetic Horrors faction overhaul
  • Mental breakdowns
  • Content, engine, UI, and balance pass

Patrol Zones

Patrol zones are a new type of zone you can define. It’s relatively self explanatory. You can assign survivors to a patrol zone, either as a permanent job or as a rally point when you switch to combat mode. People assigned to a patrol zone will attack any hostile in range automatically. This is a great way to reduce pre-raid micro management, as your soldiers will automatically go to the locations you’ve assigned them to. Additionally, setting up a permanent zone near your base entrance with a couple guards is a great way to defend against pesky animals.

Note that unless specified otherwise, people will still go to sleep, eat, drink and take breaks. You can prevent them to by checking the appropriate checkbox, just make sure you don’t forget, because they will starve to death otherwise.

Assignable Factories

It is now possible to assign a particular worker to a single factory or research station using the new advanced tab in the factory menu. Most of the time, this won’t be nearly as productive as just letting the survivors pick their jobs on their own (as you know, if there’s a single worker assigned to factory, that factory won’t be producing anything while the worker is on break). That being said, it synergize very well with robots as they don’t take breaks.

That warning out of the way, it works very well for research stations. Simply assign your best science guy to the research station and you’re all set. Before, you’d have to disable science on everyone else, which was pretty tedious.

World Map Combat Update

Until now, all the game had to work with to generate opponents in manual combat maps (or run automated battles) on the world map was just a single number per tile dubbed “opposition strength”. I had to extrapolate, from that single number, the number and type of enemies and what would be the result if you opted to do the combat automatically instead of manually. As you can guess, it didn’t make for a good or accurate representation with difficulty/results between manual and automated battles being completely disconnected from each other.

So, I rewrote the whole system completely, including AI factions’ logic, how the data itself is handled, how you reinforce your productions centers and how “offline” combat works, all that in a way that wouldn’t break mod or save compatibility. Now factions and the world map generator is using proper NPC to populate the map. Factions no longer send “points” to a production center, they send people. They don’t grow by points, they grow by adding new soldiers to their roster. Each faction grows at a different pace and have different thresholds when it come to select an action.

The first visible result is that instead of having a very vague pre-battle screen when looking at a hostile location, you’ll have the exact list of who you’re going to fight against. The offensive and defensive stats are shown both for you and the opposing party. And, finally, the automated combat results are a LOT less in your favor. Even a 100% victory chance might still mean that half of your party will be on the brink of death (when the combat is roughly balanced number-wise).

They no longer teleport always winning “numbers” to a location they want to invade, instead they send their own expeditions with a given amount of soldiers (deducted from the people at their base), which might or might not succeed. You can intercept AI expeditions with your own but I will cover that later.

Additionally, you no longer “build defenses” at your productions centers. Instead you recruit mercenaries. While in practice it serves the exact same purpose: boosting your ability to defend the location; in the near future, it’ll make you able to manually control your military forces during the defense of your production centers. It’s something that I will improve during the follow up 0.9x patches. For instance, it would be fun to have the ability to recruit different mercenary types you could unlock through diplo, quests or tech.

Hordes and AI Expeditions

As explained in the previous devlog, your expeditions are no longer the only things roaming the world map.

AI Factions will send expeditions to capture production centers. Expeditions that you can intercept with your own and potentially fight against. They aren’t using this system when attacking your own base yet (troops still get teleported and rely on the random event system), but this will likely happen in the next patch.

Additionally, naturally occurring hordes will gradually spawn in the world map, it might be infected hordes or herds of giant animals. They move slowly, aimlessly but grow over time in population (within limits).  They might take over or attack map locations, even capturing places you’ve cleared in the past. If they come across your base, this will automatically trigger a raid. Likewise, they can be intercepted by your own expeditions before they become a nuisance or for their loot. Hordes can be fought manually or automatically. Right now it’s using the same setup as with production centers, meaning that they’ll hide in buildings.

Finally, some large infected hordes (and a faction, more on that later), can “infect” a building. Infections are a special type of conquest. They change a location into another one, generally with the ability to spawn additional hordes. So, if a large horde infects one building in a cluster, the rest of the cluster will likely follow within a few days. Infected buildings can be cleared the same way you attack locations normally.

Genetic Abominations

The end-game threat of genetic abominations got a lot more dangerous. It’s taking advantage of all the mechanics explained above. Their numbers grow quickly, they send expeditions regularly and they infect conquered locations, spawning more hordes. They might spiral out of control in a matter of weeks if not dealt with. This should make the end game a bit more hectic.

I can’t really say it’s carefully balanced, as I didn’t have much time to test this. I will adjust if need be.

Mental Breakdown

It’s also something I explained in the previous devlog, but here’s the gist of it. The main goal of this feature is to make sure that experienced players can no longer completely ignore happiness. Contrary to popular belief, the “depression” trait has a minimal impact on gameplay and could be ignored while passing laws that would boost productivity and reduce food consumption at the cost of happiness.

Now, your survivors have an invisible gauge determining their sanity. Sanity slowly decreases when they are unhappy, and slowly gets back to normal when they are happy. If a survivor’s sanity reaches zero, they’ll have a mental breakdown. They won’t respond to any command and pick a detrimental action from a list. They might break some furniture, light something on fire, or flat out turn hostile. Assuming they survived, their sanity will be reset and resume work as usual. Note that, occasionally, they will pick multiple actions. More possible actions will be added over time.

The feature can also be tweaked or disabled in the difficulty settings. Still, this is not a very punishing mechanic, it takes several days of 24/24 misery for a survivor to have a breakdown. The goal here is to prevent an exploit and accelerate the process when a base is doomed, not to punish small mistakes.

User Interface

We have a proper loading screen now! Hopefully, this should help with people who [alt]+[tab] right at the moment where the game engine doesn’t support losing focus (when loading graphical data). More mood and activity dialog bubbles have been added to the menus and game to give better feedback. A vehicle comparison table has been added to the encyclopedia. It’s possible to remove people from combat mode using the multi selection panel. The “research completed” popup contains a button to open the research panel.

Oh, “forges” have been renamed to “smelters” which is more accurate, as someone mentioned recently.

Of course there are more minor changes, please refer to the changelog for a complete list đŸ™‚

Balance Pass

Your expeditions’ vehicles have HP now. It decreases very slowly while traveling naturally (or not so slowly when going over some hostile terrains) and can be damaged during events. Notably, the minefield event will damage the vehicle on failure (or when ignoring it). When the HP pool reaches zero, your expedition will automatically head home for repairs. You do not lose anything in the process. I might add a difficulty setting in the future to make it deadlier.

Firearms have been tuned. They got better looking sprites, bullet speed has been increased and standardized, damage output slightly tweaked. There’s 3 new guns: a revolver, a submachine gun and a combat rifle. Tomato cans, which was way too expensive to build have been tuned. You now get back the metal after consuming the can (it ends up in the inventory of whoever consumed it). Quartz is now used to build solar panels and CPU chips, justifying it’s very high trading price.

Engine Level Changes

I had to rewrite the whole way sound and music is handled, switching library. In practice, for 90% of you, it won’t make any major change. The audio settings gained a “master volume” gauge which adjusts all sounds at once. Large battles with a lot of sounds being played at once sound better thanks to the much better mixing. That’s about it. For the remaining 10%, your KN/N edition of Windows is now compatible right out of the box with ATC, no need to download the windows media player pack. And if you’re one of the last 3 people on Earth who still install those codec packs, ATC is now codec independent and your setup should no longer interfere with the game’s audio.

The low level DirectX interface / library has also been updated, I’ve not noticed anything really relevant in their changelog, but well, it’ll probably fix some edge case bugs or graphical oddities.

Save-game and Mod Compatibility

Old saves dating from 0.8.5 and later should be compatible, roughly, and believe me, given all the structural changes it’s kind of a small miracle. Not all features will be present, and I cannot 100% guarantee that everything will be working with older saves. Don’t yell at me if your save is not working, you can roll back to 0.8 from Steam (properties / beta tab) if need be.

Mods are generally compatible with 3 exceptions:

  1. Mods adding or editing existing factions are outdated, while they shouldn’t break the game, they might prevent some of the improvements from taking effect. It’s not possible to update or (fully) remove such mods mid game as faction data is loaded once when a new game is started.
  2. Mods altering existing firearms (beside purely textures) are outdated, but can be removed safely.
  3. Mods adding or altering sound effects MUST be in Stereo 44.100Hz mp3 files (also, music/effects are no longer compiled, ATC can read mp3 files out of the box).

Closing Words

I think it’s the first time I have so much of a branch todo list in the very first release, despite the time I had to waste replacing the sound library.

The obvious missing feature is the map editor (and all the content that would come from it), it’s being worked on but it’s nowhere ready, and I can’t really rush it. Also, I sorta had to get those world map changes finished first. I’d rather dedicate an update to this feature so I can write it properly without worrying about the other 50 items in my changelog. Base relocation ain’t there yet. It shouldn’t be a problem, it just didn’t make the cut. Same for manned turrets, all the underlaying mechanics are here, I just didn’t have to time to implement it.

Oh, I *might* have fixed that elusive teleportation bug thing. I noticed that after loading a save-game, the game would load the map and start running before the pathing information is calculated. So, for a few frames (depending on machine), all the map would be considered impassible terrain. While in theory it’s not a real problem, I suspect that under some rare conditions (lag), it might cause a survivor to run it’s emergency “omg I’m in a wall and shouldn’t be, I need to teleport somewhere else” script before the information is loaded.

Anyway, I hope you’ll like this release! While I probably added more bugs than I fixed (which is sorta the rule with milestone updates), I doubt it’s anything major or game breaking. Just report any problem you encounter and I’ll get it fixed ASAP.

And with that, I wish you all a happy new year! I’ll come back to Discord and stuff as soon as the year is over.

Cheers!

Full Changelog

  • AI: NPC and turrets using fire based weapons now take this damage type into consideration to determine which target they should focus on
  • AI: Several improvements to the other CPU factions’ overworld AI
  • Balance: Quartz is now used to build solar panels and CPU chips
  • Balance: Some world map interactive events have been tweaked to take new features into account
  • Balance: Expedition vehicle speed bonus on roads increased from 20% to 25%
  • Balance: If set to NOT recover death-drop items, items dropped from crates destroyed by fires will also be marked as not to be retrieved
  • Balance: In expedition, manual and automated combat are more on par, with automated no longer being a free win
  • Balance: Increased healing rate of idle expeditions + added much smaller healing rate during travel
  • Balance: Consuming a tomato can gives back the metal that was used to pack it
  • Balance: Desert Eagle penetration from High to very high, increased base damage, decreased RoF (so the revolver can fit the high penetration slot)
  • Balance: Standardized / Increased bullet speed for all gun type weapons (very fast for real guns, fast for pipe weapons, medium for bows and crossbows)
  • Balance: Tweaked damage output, RoF and reload time of several rifles
  • Balance: Removed blood-thirsty tag from antisocial trait (translation: they won’t ignore incapacitation settings anymore)
  • Content: Expedition vehicles have their own HP pool and can be damaged by events or during travel
  • Content: A vehicle with no HP will force the expedition to go back home for repairs
  • Content: Research and crafting stations can be assigned to specific workers (be sure to read related information/tooltips)
  • Content: Configurable patrol zones where people can be assigned to guard strategic locations
  • Content: Added internal “mental breakdown” meter to survivors which might cause a survivor to leave or do other more “fun inducing” actions
  • Content: Being happy reduces the “mental breakdown” gauge, getting/staying depressed increases it
  • Content: Added remote explosive collar pack (vehicle equipment), allows you to take prisoners instead of recruits during expeditions
  • Content: Added hordes/groups to the map: moving ‘points of interest’ which can appear naturally or as the result of random events
  • Content: Hordes grow over time and might trigger an attack when coming into contact with your base or another map location
  • Content: Map locations now inform you of their exact enemy content before battle (instead of a rough list of possible enemy types)
  • Content: New world map locations that will spawn hostile groups until conquered are making their appearance (either from start, or through random events)
  • Content: Large zombie hordes can infect a map location after a successful attack
  • Content: AI Factions send expeditions (which are visible on the map and which can be intercepted) to conquer map locations
  • Content: A couple new “random” events (horde spawn mostly)
  • Content: The defense of outposts is done using mercenaries that you recruit the same way you built defenses previously (work in progress)
  • Content: End game threat of genetic abominations turned up to eleven, able to infect buildings and spawn hordes on a regular basis
  • Content: Added Magnum .44, FAMAS G1 and FN-P90 weapons (just under slightly different names because copyright is a thing)
  • Engine: Minor code improvements and optimizations, update of the low level DirectX interface
  • Engine: New sound library, removing the need to use the unreliable windows media player library
  • Engine: Windows KN & N editions are now compatible with ATC right out of the box (no longer requiring the download of a media player pack)
  • Graphics: Replaced most of the older weapon textures by more detailed ones (handguns and most assault rifles)
  • Graphics: Added a couple faction leader portraits, replaced some older ones
  • Graphics: Exploding fat zombies have a new, easily recognizable, body
  • Modding: Ability to damage vehicle during interactive map events (see the minefield one)
  • Modding: Added horde data files
  • Modding: Added EventSpawnHorde event, function similarly to POI spawner event, see “data/events/horde_*”
  • Modding: Musics and SFX have respectively moved from Content/Music & Content/SFX to data/musics & data/sfx
  • Modding: All sound effects/music *must* be in 44.1kHz MP3, preferably stereo. Any bitrate.
  • Modding: Music and SFX no longer need to be compiled with the modding tools
  • Modding: mapgen/worlds files can define which hordes can naturally spawn on the map (and how many and often)
  • Modding: Spawn of events and hordes can be gated by variables set in an interactive event
  • Modding: Added ability for PoI to spawn hordes (see spawner_* poi files for details, technically same format as for spawner clutter or npc)
  • Modding: Faction data overhaul, all Strength* fields replaced, added new horde customization fields (see any main faction files)
  • Modding: Added “GiveItems” field to consumables, will add the items to the user’s inventory on consumption, (see tomato can)
  • Sound: Much better sound quality when a lot of effects are played at once
  • Sound: Added “master volume” setting to audio settings (alter all outputs at once, practical when you want to keep relative levels intact)
  • UI: Proper loading screen (which will be less confusing that the blank screen in fullscreen mode on a non-ssd drive)
  • UI: Added more mood/activity dialog bubbles in various menus/situations
  • UI: Renamed “Exploring/I am exploring” by “Idle/I am taking a break” which is more accurate
  • UI: High priority and new assignment settings have been put into the new “advanced” tab in the factory screen
  • UI: Added expedition vehicle comparison chart to encyclopedia
  • UI: Added Hit Point information to every vehicle/expedition related menus
  • UI: Added mental breakdown difficulty modifiers
  • UI: Multi selection menu can release a group of people from combat duty when in combat mode
  • UI: Jobs button in settler info panel is no longer greyed out in combat mode (only the military skill checkbox)
  • UI: Faction leadership change event got its own interactive panel with the ability to contact the faction directly (if you have radio tech)
  • UI: Added difficulty toggle to enable/disable naturally spawning hordes
  • UI: Research completed popup got a button to directly open the research screen
  • UI: More information on the expedition combat screen
  • UI: Renamed a few things so they make more sense: “Former Military” -> “Army Remnants”, “Forge” -> “Smelter”
  • UI: Popup message when a (player owned) production center gets taken/destroyed by another faction (optional, enabled by default, in game settings)
  • UI: Warning (in the log) just before a production center gets attacked
  • Fixed: Mood/Status dialog bubble were shown in menu displaying survivors
  • Fixed: Scrollbar occasionally placed off panel until panel is refreshed / mouse goes over
  • Fixed: The “yell for help” system (used when someone is attacked) could disrupt operations of nearby expedition goers or people trying to get to the hospital
  • Fixed: People selection menu in the garage had barely relevant and overflowing text due to change of description for scavenging skill. (regression bug 0.8.7.8)
  • Fixed: Long standing bug (no idea how it managed to stay unnoticed forever) which would lead to some mood/trait parameters to reset on loading a save
  • Fixed: Fairly large memory leak each time a savegame is loaded
  • Fixed: A couple extremely improbable (and never reported) potential crashes
  • Fixed: Stone tables and seats could catch fire
  • Fixed: Fire SFX would keep playing when the game is paused and the camera away from fire
  • Fixed: Recently introduced issue between with tile placement and savegames (was fixed in a non documented patch earlier)
  • Fixed: Possible crash on exit if a combat map contains an electric grid item (power relay and such)
  • Fixed: Mood modifiers from laws were not applied consistently
  • Fixed: Enemy faction soldiers would spawn with sub-par statistics
  • Fixed: A problem which could, in theory, teleport NPC semi randomly when loading a save-game (that might be the one that eluded me for so long, finally!)
  • Fixed: The last built path-blocking object, if 2×2 (or more), wouldn’t update the map information correctly until something else is built, which could confuse survivors pathing
  • Fixed: The initial/starting depot (which initially contains more than it’s allowed to) was interfering with the information given in the storage menu
  • Fixed: A couple minor issues in the user interface
  • Fixed: People being “force-pushed” when they are building/removing something while positioned at a tile with a door
  • Fixed: Couple small issues with animation selection (during combat, and yes, large melee enemies still look derpy when fighting, will be fixed)
  • Fixed: Some more typos (please report any remaining typo, suggestions for better sentences/descriptions are welcome now)
  • Fixed: [Ctrl]+[Right Click] wouldn’t allow to attack incapacitated hostiles

 

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