After The Collapse 1.0

We’re finally leaving Early Access! After several years of development, After The Collapse is finally ready for prime time! While this doesn’t mean the development is going the stop anytime soon, it’s still a very important milestone. The 1.0 version will be released today on Steam and Itch.io.

I want to thank everyone who supported me, contributed in any way, no matter if it’s feedback, coding advices, bug reports, mods, or criticism. Without all this input, we wouldn’t be here today. You have no idea how grateful I am.

This post will detail the major new additions and will be followed by a note regarding my immediate plans following this release. As usual, the changelog is at the bottom.

Story Mode

This is the major new feature in this release. Story Mode is designed both for new players and those who’d like to have a more directed experience. In this mode, you go through an intro sequence establishing the lore, followed by a reworked (and optional) tutorial touching on most of the basic aspects of managing a base. It will then expand in a four chapters long story about you and the other factions.

This story follows a group of survivors who are fresh out of their bunker and who have to adapt to a strange post-apocalyptic world. It includes four world maps, a couple new factions, new mobs, multiple quests, and unique map locations to visit and conquer. As the story progresses, the more advanced gameplay options are explained as the need arises. As such, this mode is a good way for new players to familiarize themselves with the mechanics by following clear goals.

But this mode is not for new players only. It’s hard for me to go into details without getting into spoiler territory, but I really hope the more experienced players will enjoy the second to last acts. I don’t pretend to be a good writer or storyteller but I’m pretty happy with the different missions and obstacles put in your way. I also left space for future improvements (both mechanically and story-wise).

Faction Archetypes

Many of you requested this feature after I released the “Rise of the Mutants” scenario. Back then, I wasn’t entirely sure it was possible. Well, I was wrong. I’m even likely to expand upon it in future major updates. Simply put, you’re no longer forced to play as a boring bunch of technologically minded humans. There’s a whole new framework allowing me to define completely new archetypes with their own tech tree, events, maps, quests, and such.

In practice, in all sandbox modes and many scenarios, you get to choose between 3 completely different archetypes to play with. They determine the kind of survivors you’ll recruit and capture, your access to technologies, the type of random events you’ll encounter, and so on:

  • Survivors:  The default faction you’re already used to. Access to all techs, flimsy but talented humans. Some might start with a basic gun, some might start with nothing.
  • Mutants:  Big, green, mean and punch super hard. Limited tech tree, but immediate access to taming and expeditions. They are prone to infighting but don’t get depressed. They are pretty fun to play.
  • Cannibals:  Same as humans but all your recruits will be cannibals, you have access to decent early game bone weapons and to all techs. They are, overall, less skilled than the other humans and spawn with very bad gear.

The whole thing is, like most of everything else, moddable. From a technical standpoint, adding in new archetypes, with completely new tech trees, event selection and playable characters is pretty simple.

Combat: Control Group

Until now, it was a pain to locate and activate only a select few people (preferably holding the best guns) when you were under attack. Sure, patrol zones help a lot, but it’s not always an optimal solution. So, I added a “control group” hotkey. If you’re not used to the term, it allows you to save a group of people you want to use in combat mode and call them into action with the press of a single hotkey.

In practice, you select the people you want to act as your “emergency defense force” and press [ctrl]+[hotkey] to save this group (or [shift]+hotkey to add whomever you have selected to the group). And yes, you can add/remove from the control group directly from the population menu.

Once set up, whenever you need soldiers without disturbing the whole base, all you need to do is to press the hotkey. It’ll switch them to combat mode, ready to obey your orders. As usual, I updated the Encyclopedia to reflect the new feature.

Combat: AI and Balance Pass

I fixed a few problematic behaviors. One which was particularly annoying when moving many people at once. They wouldn’t stay in a tight pack on arrival to their destination, making it a pain to move more than a few soldiers through a building or sewers. Another issue was that people would try to “find cover” when shooting at something which can’t fight back. They don’t do that anymore: shooting down doors or windows will no longer waste ammunition and disrupt your group’s positioning.

To a more controversial take now. I halved weapon damage across the board, it’s implemented through a global Damage Modifier option in the settings file (so you can revert this change, or customize it to your liking). The reasoning is as follows. As the game progressively got new weapon classes and as the average bullet-speed changed from glacially-slow to lightning-fast, combat became incredibly deadly. Initial placement and cover became the only things that really mattered.

This change slows down things so you can occasionally save a badly hurt soldier by repositioning them. Also, it’s putting a lot more pressure on your modern ammo production which, until now (when you knew what you were doing) was pretty much never an issue. It’s also justifying the existence of melee weapons as backup options.

Of course, the global damage alone wouldn’t be enough. Some weapons’ damage output has been tweaked/increased. Boss monsters got their bonus health heavily reduced. Advanced melee weapons like the “electric axe” or the “chainsaw” have been added. Some mobs, like the scorpions and crabs, got an armor covering both the head and the body (so they can no longer get one-shot by someone with a half-decent military skill).

Quests and Content

As announced previously, it’s no longer possible to research the robot building tech directly. Figuring out how to build giant sentient robots seemed a bit out of the realm of possibilities for a band of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world. Instead, you’ll acquire the tech through a random event that can trigger once you satisfy various requirements. It’ll be expensive and require you to go through a deadly bunker that will appear on the world map once you accept the quest.

I also tweaked some of the existing “mini-quests” you get while moving your expeditions around. Exploring the random loot building can now have negative consequences instead of just being a freebie.

Story mode includes a lot of new buildings to explore through the quest system, some of which will likely be incorporated (with tweaks) into the standard game in the future. In the same spirit, later stages of the main story contain a few monsters you won’t find the standard game. They will be incorporated in future updates.

I also added the option to manually defend your production centers when they are under attack. It works basically the same as a standard map battle (except this time you’re the one inside the building). It’s optional and can be set to always be automated in the gameplay settings if you don’t like getting interrupted by popups.

Map Generation

I improved map generation too. In maps where buildings are not bordering a road, said buildings are placed more intelligently. They won’t be placed over a river or blocked by a mountain range. As a result, villages in complex biomes look a lot better. It takes a few more seconds to generate the map, but it’s definitely worth it. I also added a couple more building types, and tweaked a few formulas, the usual.

I think we’re in a good place with those changes. City block generation is still a bit lacking, but I don’t think it’s a massive issue. I will likely continue to tweak and improve the various map/building generators for a very long time, it’s the kind of code I would write for fun anyway.

User Interface

New helpful articles are featured in the in-game encyclopedia, many context/help menus are more informative and have been updated to make sure they are up to date with 1.0. The weapon info panel show a lot more information.

A lot more things have been added to make all things “gel together” but listing every item would be a bit boring, you can refer to the full changelog for the whole list.

Notable Improvements

Well, I’m not going to list every single bug-fix in 1.0 here, you can refer to the changelog. I’ll address a few issues that were present in 0.9.8 (and before)

– The annoying short freezes that would happen sometimes and which would be “fixed” by reloading a save have been fixed. It was a pain to pin-point the root of the issue, but it has been eradicated. On top of that, the overall economy-related code has been entirely rewritten, leading to better performances in larger and older bases. Contrary to the previous iteration, it’s also thread-safe, eradicating one the last ways the game could crash.

– An issue with underground and indoor farming was causing plants to (very slowly) degrade when your camera wasn’t looking at the layer the farm was in. It was tied to more global issues related to the way I handled light sources. Game will also tell you when plants are dying so you can check what’s up.

– The world map was incorrectly handling location ownership, leading to locations flipping back to an incorrect faction after loading a save. This has been fixed. In practice, the late game “mutated horrors” (renamed to The Swarm) perform much better, AI expeditions and enemy hordes are much better at their doing their respective jobs.

– Complete French Translation. It’s no secret the French language was left a bit behind during Early Access. ATC contains a lot of text (enough to fill a large book), most of which went through several revisions. As such, keeping the translation up to date was just not cost-efficient. This is corrected. Everything has been translated properly. I can’t promise that there won’t be any oddities or the occasional overflowing text in some menus, but the game is perfectly playable and understandable in French.

What Now And What Next?

Well, I’ll stay around for a couple weeks to handle what I assume will be a deluge of bug reports and complaints regarding years old systems I didn’t explain fully, forgot about, or assumed easy to guess. I’ll publish the inevitable weekly hot-patches accordingly. I’ll also try to add Steam Cards. The game has already been verified by Steam, so it’s just a matter of motivation. Then, I will take some time off. This year has been quite eventful, both online and offline, and I really could use some.

After all that, I will get back to coding. I have no todo-list to offer right now. For once, I’ll be able to code it on the fly instead of going through a checklist, and that’s generally where I shine. The rest will depend on how well received is the game. A graphical and audio makeover ain’t out of the question, but that’s for much later. Just know that more free content updates will follow. I have the habit of working on my projects long after their 1.0 release, ATC won’t be an exception.

A Few Words

So (potential bugs aside) 1.0 is pretty much what I wanted ATC to become. Of course, there’s still room for improvement, plenty of it. But the overall formula of feeding your late game base through world map exploration and domination is working pretty well. Especially as it can be expanded upon by adding new world map quests, secret bunkers, or other late game events.

To any newcomer who read through all this, I sincerely hope you will like the game and give it a fair chance. And, If not, no hard feelings, that’s what refunds are for. I can’t please everyone and that’s okay too. 🙂

Full Changelog

So, this is the whole changelog since 0.9.8. It’s… quite… long 😀

Artificial Intelligence

  • Combat AI no longer tries to find cover when attacking something that can’t fight back
  • Large group of combat-mode survivors move in tight packs when given a move command, making navigation and combat a LOT easier
  • Survivors properly recognize which seat is in use, meaning that undersized dining rooms will make people unhappy
  • Pets (the combat friendly ones) are more reactive to their owner being attacked, targeted or killed
  • Survivors will check if there’s any doctor beside themselves before going to the hospital and whine about the lack of doctor if there’s none
  • Settlers will no longer ALWAYS pick the nearest break room (75% of time instead), this will help them use all the facilities in a multi layer base
  • Improved AI and navigation of world map hordes and AI factions’ expeditions
  • Enemy raiders will no longer try to clear infested buildings for you and generally try to ignore the hostile fauna (no more “free” map clearing)
  • Survivors are much better at using all the dining rooms if there are multiple (using the nearest first if seats are available)
  • Survivors handle tiles with a LOT of content to pickup more efficiently (multiple people can work on the task)
  • Water supply job for farms will automatically set itself to high priority if the farm ran out of water completely
  • Ability for AI faction with high aggression to send overkill-sized raids when targeting production centers (only if hey have the manpower)

New Content

  • Story mode, a story with 4 chapters spanning several maps with unique missions, monsters and mechanics, teaching you every system you should be made aware of
  • The mutant faction archetype can be selected in the sandbox modes (surface dweller, bunker inc, custom map)
  • A more ‘fleshed out’ cannibal faction archetype has been added (on top of the standard humans and mutants)
  • Optional defensive combat when your production center are attacked (can be set to always auto in game settings)
  • Melee weapon tree expanded to add new and fun melee weapons (chainsaw, superheated blade, electrified weapons)
  • New factions to meet in story mode, older factions being fleshed out
  • The ambulance vehicle (in expeditions) provides passive healing on the move
  • Added “Field Medicine” item, can be put on an expedition vehicle, give passive healing no matter if moving or not
  • Manufacturing Bench can produce armor pieces (it’s a lot more expensive than breaking down armors, but more practical)
  • The “mutated horrors” special end game threat has been renamed as the “Swarm” and associated units/buildings have been renamed accordingly
  • The “Swarm” fields more unit types, including a deadly bloater who’ll release a bunch of poisonous swarmlings on death
  • Multi layer building can be explored in world map’s combat maps (seen in act 3)
  • The whole Robotic tree has been moved out of the standard tech tree. It can be acquired through the event/quest system (after Manufacturing).
  • Several new world map quests/dungeons will pop up as the game progresses (mostly in story mode)
  • Added 4 achievements for completing each part of the main story

Game Balance

  • Reordered some of the technologies and associated unlocks
  • The construction of exoskeletons relies on the rare lootable tech coupled with manufacturing (instead of robotics)
  • Removed wooden water well (ugly looking & too quickly outclassed to be relevant), moved normal water well to carpentry
  • Bone weaponry is under the Bone Tools technology which is available to both mutants and (human) cannibals now
  • Reduced traders’ buying prices (at least for most of them)
  • Metal smelting recipe at basic smelter produces twice the metal and require a bit less than twice the resources and time to reduce job spam
  • Halved fire environmental damage + tweaks (having a group wiped in seconds because someone caught fire was a tad too much)
  • Better placement of initial spawn, vehicle won’t be planted in a wall or a mountain and should leave room for survivors to move around
  • Reworked some numbers to make automated combat in world map more on par with manual combat (still a work in progress)
  • The ammo crafting station can craft the artisanal ammo, like the artisanal weapon bench, to facilitate base organization
  • The amphibious combat vehicle can carry 8 people instead of 6
  • The lack of constructed tiles will decrease the value of a room (this is relevant to private bedrooms and break rooms)
  • Tweaked prices of a few items
  • Added weights to map exploration loot tables (factories more likely to give actual resources, fuel stations give more fuel and so on, modern weaponry is a lot more rare)
  • Armor of many animals and end-game mutated horrors apply to both their head and their body
  • Critical damage decreased from 100% to 50% additional damage, lowered chance on ranged weapons, especially rapid firing ones
  • It’s no longer possible to evacuate or reinforce an outpost while it’s under attack (was too easy to exploit)
  • Added DamageMultiplier  to game settings file. This is a ‘incoming damage multiplier’ which is applied to everyone. It dictates the pace of battles.
  • Halved all damages using the above multiplier, causing a much needed increase in ammo consumption while making the actual fights more engaging
  • Slightly tweaked many weapon and armor values
  • Reduced the health bonus many mobs get to compensate for the lesser damage output and armor related changes
  • Many crafting recipes have been tweaked either in components or execution speed
  • Slightly reorganized mobs’ weaponry (melee spiders have a bite attack instead of using “claws” and so on)
  • The “Can Attack incapacitated enemies” is the default setting when starting the game to reduce confusion
  • Force attacking (ctrl+right click) an incapacitated enemy will set their invincibility timer to zero so ammo don’t get wasted
  • People with 0 perception would be unable to see anything farther than 1 tile, which gameplay-wise, led to problems (increased to 5).
  • Slightly improved the gear mercenaries (defenders of production centers) can spawn with
  • In progress constructions can no longer be used as “perfect” cover (in other words, they can be shot and destroyed)

Game Engine

  • Heavily reduced CPU cost of “combat mode activated” survivors under your control (no more slowdowns at 50+ fighters in your combat group)
  • Restructured all the economic/logic system, saving tons of CPU cycles in the process, and nullifying the risk of threads colliding
  • Final code optimization pass, slightly better overall performances. Also removed unused and duplicate data/asset files.
  • Better code for combat map scene generation, allowing basic “go there” missions instead of just “kill all things” (used in story mode)
  • Overall better handling of lights, especially when a light source is moved to a different layer

Graphics and Sound

  • Upgraded a few item textures
  • New textures for the basic smelter, armor forge, and tweaks to a couple other buildings
  • Wild plants and trees no longer spawn perfectly aligned to the grid, leading to a more natural look
  • Some headgears (exo and specops helmets, construction hat) will emit a cone of light in front of whoever is wearing them
  • Additional sound effects and variations for grunts, weapon fire and reload, item building, object razing

Modding

  • Support for custom playable faction archetypes (like humans and mutants here), see “data/playableraces/*”
  • It’s possible to prevent a faction archetype from receiving free recruits, or exploring for recruits/prisoners by keeping related fields empty
  • All relevant game data can be fully translated (support for travel events, cutscenes, laws, scenarios and encyclopedia articles)
  • Travel events and hordes can be gated with the same parameters as normal events (including difficulty and mature tags)
  • Added “TechBlacklist” field to travel/normal events and hordes, will prevent them from happening if said tech is researched
  • Melee weapons can use ammunition properly now
  • Expedition vehicles and items can provide passive healing while moving (on top of when resting), see ambulance and field medicine
  • Travel events can open the diplo screen with either a specific faction or the one owning the current tile
  • Travel events skill/stat testing can check a previously set variable instead of using a set number (see main_radiotower_battle and _battle2)
  • Local trader visits’s event files can set a min/max inventory count with “MinProducts” and “MaxProducts” fields
  • Added “Weight” field to loot tables, make item(s) in this filter more likely to be picked (like weight = 2 is the same as having 2 times the same filter)
  • Added system in map files to force the player to spawn in a specified location (see main_act2 map)
  • Added “ForceCanAttackWalls” (true/false) setting to raid event settings, will override the player’s difficulty setting
  • Added “DeathSpawn”, “DeathSpawnChange”, “DeathSpawnCount” fields to NPC, allow to spawn other NPC on death, see mother_spider
  • Map POIs can be set to force manual combat, which is useful for the “go here” type ones
  • Researching technologies can set global variables (see main_robot_data)
  • Added “IgnorePOI” to faction def files (string list), used to prevent a faction from targeting specific POI
  • Added “LightSource” and “LightSourceColor” to all items which can be equipped, adds cone of light to wearer (see specops helmet)

Procedural Generation

  • Village type maps no longer spawn buildings over water and mountains, leading to much better looking results
  • Better spacing of cities in world map generation (and more reliable at spawning the correct number)
  • A few more building and room types

User Interface

  • You can now define a set group of people you can put in combat mode with the press of a button, useful in small fights and clearing building
  • You can zoom out further (only really useful in gigantic maps, and yes it might be a tad laggy at max zoom out on busy map)
  • If there’s nothing left to research, the research screen will show a message explaining that some techs can only be found through exploration
  • Scenario menu’s faction tab altered to take the new playable races into account
  • Weapon encyclopedia/info panel displays a lot more information about the weapon’s properties
  • Encyclopedia’s weapon comparison table can be sorted by any of the categories
  • Innate equipment (animal claws, turrets’ weapon and such) can be filtered out in the encyclopedia’s comparison tables
  • Flamer ammo renamed to fuel capsule (as it’s used by the chainsaw too)
  • Reworked some tooltips, added contextual help screens and warnings (like plants dying of poor health)
  • Complete French translation (there’s a few oddities left but it’s an enormous improvement compared to previous versions)
  • Updated the “Combat UI” encyclopedia page with information about the new control group hotkey
  • Added article about “Relocating your base” to the encyclopedia, explaining all the associated systems
  • You can now (re)load a game while in a manual battle
  • The Filter button/widget is no longer hidden in combat mode
  • Most interactive events after conquering a POI are automatically triggered so you don’t have to attack and then press explore (which was a bit awkward)
  • In interactive events/quests the % chance of success and/or conditions are shown as tooltips instead of taking a lot of space in the menu
  • In the menu associated with map locations, the items being produced can be clicked to open their respective encyclopedia/info panel
  • All interactive events/quests properly pause the game
  • Right clicking the upgrade button will show the the upgrade’s info/encyclopedia page

Bugs Fixed

  • Redesign of the Military Base’s main building was too big to spawn (regression bug 0.9.8)
  • Issue evaluating how long a base survived in the game over screen (regression bug 0.9.8)
  • People wouldn’t drop their melee weapon on death (regression bug 0.9.8)
  • Underground farm plants could lose health when the camera is not underground (regression bug 0.9.?)
  • Minor issue that was preventing eating/drinking sound effects from playing correctly (regression bug 0.8.5.3)
  • Weird game freezes in specific conditions (tied to people taking breaks in lounges and using classrooms)
  • Potential crash when attacking a horde with an expedition and clicking the attack button just the moment either of them move to another tile
  • Extremely rare crash tied to pathing (not sure it could happen outside of debug mode tbh)
  • Non crashing exception in attack script
  • Micro freezes and other rare crashes caused by the economic layer
  • It was possible to put the game’s UI in a non functional state by clicking some of the elements while the pause menu is up
  • Game log wasn’t cleared during defensive/offensive manual combat map, allowing the player to break game logic by clicking on it
  • Melee weapons using ammunition were non functional (there was no such weapon in base game until now, though)
  • Wrong sound effect being played when a door is destroyed
  • When loading a save where a trader was exiting the map, it could cause them to go back to trade zone and disappear
  • Multiple minor issues with the way interactive objects are claimed and unclaimed
  • The result of AI vs AI map location takeovers wouldn’t be properly registered when saving/loading a game
  • Missing feedback message when a horde fails to attack one of your outposts
  • Typo in attack script which could cause ranged attackers to freeze at a door under some conditions
  • A couple issues with pastures & butchers which couldn’t always recognize that whoever is working for them died
  • Relocating a base would reset the date causing issues with events and game logic
  • Relocating a base could reset pet ownership
  • Minor inconsistencies depending on how you toggle combat mode
  • The “Escaped Prisoners” event could trigger on factions not intended to work with said event
  • More grammatical and spelling errors (so many of them. I’m sure there are plenty more left, be sure to notify me)
  • Genetic Horrors’ map spawners would incorrectly spawn zombie aligned hordes
  • In Population menu, sorting by skill wouldn’t place people who can’t use a particular skill at the bottom
  • Issue when a Technology is dropped on the floor (result of expeditions) alongside other items, it would prevent the settlers from storing the tile’s content
  • During manual battles, time would (partly) continue to pass on the world map (hordes would move and so on.)
  • Small metal spikes were using the wooden version of the sprite
  • Some autosaves not displaying a screenshot in the save/load menu (different bug from “not taking the screenshot at all” which is still a thing)
  • Cosmetic issue where you could still click the attack button in the expedition menu while your attack is already under way
  • Small issue with the way civilians try to get to the safe zone in combat mode
  • Some oddities with pathing when adding/deleting building orders (generally with walls)
  • If a map location has no loot table and no associated quest the explore button was not greyed out (only relevant to modders)
  • In some very specific situations, AI factions would ignore undefended production centers they normally could take.
  • Some map events’ loot could drop items that are not meant to be accessible normally
  • Bug/Exploit where you could repeat a stage in a quest/travel event by closing the menu at the right moment
  • Rare issue where a dead mob would still run the fighting script for one update cycle, potentially causing an error
  • If someone was supposed to water the farm but got taken away to occupy a production center, the farm wouldn’t be able to get water until save is reloaded
  • Very large path-blocking factories/interactive objects would cause issues with pathing (it wasn’t really an issue until a specific building was added in this version)
  • Problem with factories in very low resource situations
  • Using the copy command/hotkey on an occupied tomb would create a tomb that is also occupied

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.