Taking from the Rich
Thursday, 28 February 2013 23:17

Underrail - Blood sucking frogs

I'm still working on the new content for next release (v0.1.7.0), but I also took a break from that to address more balance issues.

Now, before I hit you with a big list of changes, let me give you a brief intro about the subject at hand.

Looking at the current release version, the biggest issue with the game currently mechanics-wise is that it gets increasingly easier once the player gets past the early stages. One of the main reasons for that, which I've already addressed in the previous dev logs, is the (over)power of grenades and other AoE attacks. The biggest issue, however, is the game's economy. Namely, that the player quickly gets rich from the insane amount of loot that he can acquire. This dev log focuses primarily on that, as well as on re-balancing some other abilities/items that I've found to be a bit too good.

The biggest change here is that I've reduced the amount of loot that is available through scavenging significantly. The biggest offenders were mid-late game dungeons (I didn't mess with the starting areas, they are fine) and also somewhat corners of urban areas that were way to easy to plunder with impunity. For the most part I haven't removed any stuff from the loot table, but have rather reduced the amount of items you get (ammo, weapons/armor and especially components) and significantly reduced the chance. So basically most places that you've looted before still have some chance of holding loot in future games (very few containers are fixed to be empty), but they won't give you large amounts of loot every time like they do now.

This, coupled with item durability cost penalty should make the game more challenging and force you to manage your resources more carefully as you should no longer have unlimited amounts of grenades, special blots/ammo, psi points, batteries, etc. When it comes the time to release the new version, I'll have to test this new economy carefully with a couple of playthroughs, though, to ensure that I haven't gone too far or not far enough. After that, I'll be very interested to hear from you guys as to what your experience was in this new economy.

Also, I've increased the difficulty of some encounters in the Old Junkyard (Depot A) and also did some bug fixing. In any case, here's the full list:

 

  • Economy
    • Reduced the amount of loot significantly (mainly from dungeon areas and lightly guarded urban areas)
    • Wheeled bots and turrets leave loot now (ammo, scraps and sometimes more valuable things)
    • Reduce leather drop chances across the board
    • Reduced the value multiplier for certain crafted items (e.g. leather armor) in relation to their components; purchasing components from vendors and crafting them into finished items and reselling them should not be profitable (this would either force me to reduce the amount of components the merchants have or to reduce the restocking frequency and I don't want to do either); finding components and crafting them into items before selling them is profitable
    • Increased the cost of special bolts
    • Item cost penalty based on durability changed from linear function to power function; meaning that lower less and less durability and item has, the faster its value drops
    • Psi boosters now cost 5 mindshrooms to make
    • Increased deterioration rate of melee weapons by 50% to somewhat balance out them not requiring ammo
  • Misc
    • Added more mutated dogs to Old Junkyard because why not
    • Player now leaves a corpse after dying instead of turning into a backpack
  • Balance
    • Reduced the amount of skill points the player gets (-15 at the start, -5 per level)
    • Added activation cost to night vision goggles
    • Increased value of distance factor when calculating weapon to-hit chance
    • Weapon precision penalties (melee, on move) will now correctly be deducted at the end of to-hit chance calculation (it's no longer possible to mitigate these penalties through skill)
    • NPCs now have natural dodge and evasion bonus equal to twice their level (factor subject to change pending testing)
    • Reduced damage of shock, incendiary and acid bolts across the board; they should still be good but won't 2-shot most things in the game anymore
    • Precision bonus with special bolts removed from Marksman feat
    • Increased Pyrokinesis cooldown to 3 turns (up from 2) and reduced damage slightly
    • Premeditation now reduces the cost of your next psi ability by 50% instead of 100%
    • Increased the health of Mutated humans and restored them their normal movement points (was too easy to kite them)
    • Mutated human's AI tweaked to correctly use acid spray even when close to player if something is preventing them from engaging in melee
    • Increased mutant dog health
    • Resist chance calculations for everything (stun, entangle, etc) was previously bugged and couldn't drop below 20% no matter how powerful the attack/ability was and how bad the defense was. Also capped all resist chance at 65% (down from 80%), might change pending testing.
    • Reduced Neural Overload the damage that can be mitigated through resolve. It's also capped at ~40%.
    • Increased base psionic power of psi beetles and their synergy bonus; also their armor and health a bit (hopefully I get to watch them actually kill someone now)
    • Added some acid resistance to wheeled bots and turrets
    • Change trap detection mechanics to favor players investing in Traps skill in addition to having good perception; traps are also not revealed automatically if you beat the skill check but instead have a chance to be revealed every "tick" in real time / end of turn in turn-based mode; this will make traps a bit more dangerous than they are now for all characters
    • Changed stealth detection indicator colors for NPCs again: slowly fading in-and-out silver eye again means true-seeing again, while slowly fading in-and-out red eye means "stealth too low to hide from this NPC"; should be more intutive this way. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the stealth changes I made a while back (http://underrail.com/forums/index.php?topic=128.0)
    • You can no longer set traps, disarm traps, lockpick or hack in turn-based mode
  • UI
    • When placing traps with AoE effect, their range will also be displayed; this should make it easier for players to prevent chaining their own traps and blowing themselves up Wile E. Coyote style.
    • Toggling between all feats and only available ones should now correctly update the scroll bar
  • Bug fixes
    • Fixed the bug that caused players to die during transition and return as vengeful undead if they transitioned in turn-based mode with a damage over time effect that is about to kill them
    • Fixed lightning in some areas (GMS, Elwood's house)
    • Killing someone in a single turn will now correctly propagate hostilities to their nearby friends
Alright, this is about all the major balancing, bug fixing, etc, I was planning to do for this update. Unless I come across something major, of course. The economy will probably need more balancing closer to new version release, but until them I'll be focusing on new content.

 

 
Blood Sucking Frogs
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 02:45

Underrail - Blood sucking frogs

Right now I have 3 more creature models ready to be programmed into the game, but with everything else that needs to be done first they'll have to wait. For now you guys will have to settle with "Siphoners", which are essentially blood sucking frog-like creatures that can be found in the underground lakes and streams, waiting for their unsuspecting victims to come close to the water before pouncing on them. Their basic attack applies anticoagulation which reduces all healing effects, prolongs bleeds and increases the effectiveness of their blood sucking attack which, as you might have guessed, transfers your health to them. They also have head ramming attack that imbalances you and has a chance to stun you as well.

 

I've also implemented fishing. Actually, this was functional long time ago but due to some major changes to the game I had to disable it for a time. For now you'll only be able to fish for blue eels for a quest, but I'll add more fishing goodies later and probably some blueprints that make use of those. You also have a chance to fish out other random (and some not so random) stuff in certain places.

 

I've added a couple of new areas, a couple of new quests and a mini-dungeon with burrowers in it.

 

I've also made more some changes to other mechanics (I know I said I wouldn't for a while, but I lied):

  • Grenades and pyrokinesis will now deal their full damage near the center of the detonation and less and less damage the further you move from it. Something like this was already in place with frag grenade shrapnel (you'd get hit with more shrapnel the closer you are to the detonation), but now it affects all grenade damage
  • Pyrokinesis has a chance to miss the targeted tile in the same way as grenade do; the targeting precision is derived from metathermics skill

 

Next on the agenda: more quests and a couple more areas.

 
Grenade Changes and Item Durability
Friday, 25 January 2013 22:25

Two important changes to game mechanics in this update.

 

Underrail - Throwing a grenade

A lot of you have been complaining of how overpowered and game changing the grenades are due to how easy it currently is to deploy them exactly where you want even with no points invested in the skill, so I made some long overdue changes:

  • "Grenades" skill has been renamed to "Throwing". It will now be used when calculating precision of all throwing actions (such as tossing flares and using throwing nets).
  • Grenade cooldown no longer decreases with skill. A cooldown reduction feat will probably be introduced in the future.
  • Grenade range no longer increases with skill.
  • Throwing precision now increases with skill and decreases with throwing distance. The less precise you throw the farther the grenade will land from the targeted location (up to 3 tiles away).

 

Underrail - Mechanical Repair Kit

 

I've introduced item durability for weapons and armor pieces (helmet, torso armor and boots). Now, some of you might not like this but hear me out first.

 

My main motivation for introducing degradable equipment is to reduce the amount of money the player can accumulate past the early game. As you start delving into "dungeon" areas of the game, you start finding more and more loot. And there has to be plenty of loot because different characters need different things and you have to give every type of character a decent chance to find a weapon/armor that he can use. Furthermore, whenever you kill an armed NPC (or a bunch of them) you get to loot their weapons and armor.

 

So very quickly you find yourself with a bunch of spare weapons and armors sets that you can just trade for a heap of money and whatever your heart desires. It's not supposed to be that easy. So now whenever you find a weapon or armor in a dungeon or loot it from a corpse it will have reduced durability and hence the cost. You can then repair the item and use it yourself, you can sell it for a percentage of its total value depending on how damaged it currently is, or, if you are crafty enough, you can recycle it for "scraps" that you can then use to create repair kits. You can also purchase repair kits from merchants, they will be plentiful.

 

There are three types of durability - mechanical (firearms, crossbows, metal armors, etc), electrical (energy and electroshock weapons) and fabric (leather armors, tactical vests). Depending on the item's durability type, the skills used to recycle the item (and then create repair kit from scraps) are mechanics, electronics and tailoring respectively.

 

* * * * *

 

And now I'm done messing with game mechanics for a while. Next up, new areas and quests.

 
Version 0.1.6.0. released
Sunday, 13 January 2013 23:54

The game is updated to version 0.1.6.0 on Desura, soon to be updated in other places as well (GamersGate and Groupees). You'll find all the new stuff listed here and in the previous two dev logs.

 

Underrail - Len's Shop

 

  • Added creature respawning. Creatures in most places will respawn every two hours. Some bandits will also respawn, but most of the human enemies in the current areas will not respawn (since it wouldn't make sense in the context of these areas).
  • Merchants will now refresh their inventories every 90 minutes.
  • Reduced the frequency of base stat point gain. Player character will now gain an extra base stat point every four levels, instead of every two.
  • Fixed the problem with indirect kills not giving the player XP - all damage over time effects, ground effects and explosive barrels will now properly credit the player with XP.
  • Experience gains are now calculated against character's "potential level" which takes into account all XP gained to that point even if you stayed off leveling up.
  • Opening and closing doors in combat now cost 25 action points (up from 10) so no more open-shoot-close tactics!
  • Locked doors and containers will now display the difficulty rating on attempted use. Lockpicks and haxxors will display the max. lock difficulty they can handle in hands of the player character.
  • SGS merchants will now accept stygian coins (charons).
That's it for this patch. Be sure to drop by the forums and let me know what you think of the changes and the new stuff once you get the chance to check it out.
 
Wrapping up the Crafting Stuff
Monday, 31 December 2012 16:17

I've finished all the crafting updates for the next release:

Underrail - Health Hypo Blueprint

  • Renamed the "Extract Toxin" blueprint into "Extract Humour". It can now be used to extract various bodily fluids from organs of dead animals
  • Creatures will now drop organs when killed. Different types of creatures (animals, insectoids) drop different organs. Harder to kill creatures have greater chance of dropping organs (e.g. rathound alpha has a better chance of dropping adrenal gland than the regular rathound)
  • Added health hypo blueprint. You'll need to extract substances from both animal (cave hopper, rathounds, dogs) and insectoid (psi beetle, burrower) organs in order to create those.
  • Added adrenaline shot blueprint. You can extract adrenaline from adrenal glands which are a rare drop on most creatures.

Underrail - Acid Blob Trap & Caltrops

  • Added chemical blob trap blueprint you can use to create acid blob traps which entangle the victim causing high damage spread over a couple of turns.
  • Added acid bolts that you can create from the existing chemical bolt blueprint.
  • Added caltrops blueprint. When deployed caltrops deal small amount of damage to anyone who moves over them and drain additional movement/action points. They can also be coated in poison.

  • Added plasma pistol. It can be created from the existing energy pistol blueprint. Plasma pistols are high-damage energy weapons, but consume a lot of AP and energy when used which makes them a good power attack weapons (aimed shot /execute), but not the best damage per turn weapons. They deal equal amounts of energy and heat damage.

 

* * * * *

 

I've also added Morphine Shot to the game. It reduces damage taken from any source by 50% for 3 turns, but after it expires the user will take damage equal to 50% of their missing health. Basically, you can use it to absorb good amount of damage over 3 turns, but you better make sure to stabilize before it expires. It's also a good way to survive between health hypo usages in difficult fights.

 

* * * * *

 

I will be tackling the creature respawning feature next, and then I'll fix the problem with certain kills not giving XP to the player (damage over time effects, explosive barrels, etc). After that there's a couple minor tweaks and bug fixes to handle and the next release will be ready.

 

Happy New Year everyone and see you in 2013.

 
Importing Characters and More Crafting
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 21:39

Alrighty, now that the stuff around alpha release finally settled down a bit I was able to get some real work done again.

Underrail -Character Importing

I've added export/import character options so that you can restart the game with an existing character (and all their equipment) in the future updates. This ties up to what a lot of you have been asking about - the saved game compatibility between releases. Well, the saves usually won't be 100% compatible. I won't prevent you from loading your old saves, but your saved state might miss a dialog/quest flag, an object you should have picked up earlier, a new NPC that have been added to an area you already visited, etc. So in short, you can load an outdated save game and mess around with it (it shouldn't crash or anything), but if you for some reason can't progress with the quests, I won't be able to help you with that.

 

Next, I've added an option to autosave on transitions for those who sometimes forget to save for a long time and die 5 areas later, losing all of the progress. I don't advise you to use this feature at the moment, because saving is a bit slow right now, especially when you get later into the game and you'll be changing areas frequently. But if you want it it's there. Also, you'll now have the option of using 'rolling saves' which means that the game will retain your (one) previous quicksave and autosave instead of overwriting it.

 

Now some gameplay changes.

 

I've changed the way the lockpicks and haxxors work. Lockpicks are now spent on successful lockpicking, so they work as a resource. They have distinct power levels and icons (+0, +5, +10) and are stackable. Haxxors work similarly like they did before, but also have distinct power levels and icons and require energy (batteries) to use.

 

Next up is the blueprint for chemical pistols that you'll be able to use to craft guns that fire various chemicals in various forms, if you have sufficient chemistry skill that is. A chemical pistol has two major components - collector, which determines the type of substance you can load into the weapon, and dispenser, which determines the way the gun fires the substance. For now you'll only be able to create Acid Blob Pistols, but there will be more in the future. There's also "Chemical Ammo" blueprint to accompany this. If you have sufficient biology and chemistry skills you'll be able to extract acid from acid mutants and make ammo from it.

 

* * * * *

 

I'm aiming for a new release somewhere around New Year. Not sure if it's going to be before or just after though, we'll see. It'll focus mainly on crafting. I'll be adding blueprints for new interesting gadgets as well as some existing stuff that you can't craft at the moment, such as health hypos.

 

Another major change will be adding respawn timers on creatures in certain areas. This will serve two purposes. First, if you ever find the yourself too weak to progress further with the quests, you can spend some time and hunt through the lower level areas. Now, I'm not saying this is something you'll have to do. The game won't ever require you to grind anything. However, the combat in this game tends to be a bit hard at times, so if you're not that good at it, you'll have this option. And secondly, you'll be able to return to previously visited areas to obtain crafting materials if you're missing on some of them (like you already can with the mushrooms).

 

That's it for now. Let me know what you think of these changes.

 
Underrail released on Desura and GamersGate!
Thursday, 06 December 2012 00:49


Underrail alpha version has just been released on Desura and GamersGate!

and

If you want to know what's new in this release (since the demo) you can go check out the dev log posts from the last couple of months, but let me just quickly recap the highlights:

  • Huge new urban zone consisting of 8 areas
  • Big new 'dungeon' consisting of 6 areas (twice as much as the last one)
  • A couple of 'mini-dungeons'
  • New quests
  • New feats
  • Traps skill
  • Some updated game mechanics
  • Re-balanced economy
  • Food
  • More weapons and armors
  • Updated crossbows (feats, special bolts, damage boost)
  • Various other smaller stuff



 
Alpha Release in Testing
Thursday, 29 November 2012 12:19

Finally it's complete. All the content I wanted to put in for the first commercial alpha release is in and we're now doing last bits of testing (getting our faces melted in the needlessly hard dungeons and toning the stuff down)

Underrail - Junkyard Docks

If you want to know what's new in this release you can go check out the dev log posts from the last couple of months, but let me just quickly recap the highlights:

  • Huge new urban zone consisting of 8 areas
  • Big new 'dungeon' consisting of 6 areas (twice as much as the last one)
  • A couple of 'mini-dungeons'
  • New quests
  • New feats
  • Traps skill
  • Some updated game mechanics
  • Re-balanced economy
  • Food
  • More weapons and armors
  • Updated crossbows (feats, special bolts, damage boost)
  • Various other smaller stuff
Also very recently I've changed pickpocketing mechanics a bit. It's not quite where I want it to be yet, so I'm going to revisit it sometime after the alpha release for sure, but I think this goes a long way in making it not completely useless. Namely, pickpocketing doesn't require stealth anymore and is just directly checked versus the target's detection. So you don't have to invest into two skills anymore and you won't be always detected because pickpocketing takes so long and stealth works terribly when you're too close to the target. In any case I'll be keeping an eye out for it, so let me know what you guys thought of this change.
Anyway, the testing is underway and after that I'll be sending the build to distributors for publishing and hopefully it won't take too long before it will be available for purchase.

 
More Quests and Feats
Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:15

I'm almost done with quest implementation for the new areas. There's still a couple smaller ones to go, as well as some support scripting and dialog to do, but that shouldn't take more than couple of days. After that I'm going to start the work on the next 'dungeon' area and that will be the last bit of content for this release.

I do intend to revisit these areas post-release and add more quests, but for now this will do.

Underrail - Junkyard Docks

I've also added some new weapons and armors:

  • One new model of each firearm type: pistol, SMG, assault and sniper rifle
  • One new crossbow type
  • Knives and sledgehammers made of tungsten steel
  • Tungsteen steel armor
  • Regenerative vest that slowly restores health but consumes energy (can be used in creation of tactical vests or steel armors)
  • Acid resistant leather armor (this will be useful in the upcoming dungeon)
Then there are couple of new feats I got to implement. It's not much because this release I'm more focused on new areas, so expect a lot more in the future updates. I implemented a couple of melee feats because they were sorely missing in the demo:
  • Pummel - sledgehammer attack that takes the target off balance, negating dodge and evasion for 2 turns
  • Crippling Strike - unarmed or knife attack that deals 125% damage and reduces target's strength by 2 (stacks 3 times).
  • Dirty Kick - Unarmed attack that deals damage and stuns the target for 1 turn (double that if the target is human male)
  • Hit and Run - After you kill an enemy, your movement points are restored to 25 (or your maximum, whichever is lower)
  • Yell - You attempt to reduce offensive skills (guns, corssbows, melee and grenades skills) of all surrounding enemies by 20% of your intimidation skill
  • Shroomhead - You regenerate psi points in presence of mindshrooms when below 35% of your maximum psi
All in all, this version is nearing completion and it will be done by the end of this month for sure. Can't say exactly when it will be release for alpha purchase, as I don't know what the process for that will be, but it can't be far off now.

 
Food and Balance Changes
Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:47

I'm currently mostly working on area designs for the new release. By the end of the week I should have most of it in place (except the new dungeon which I'll tackle later) and then it's time for quests implementation.

Underrail - Junkyard Underrail - Junkyard Underrail - Junkyard

 

I've added food to the game. You can consume different meals to gain (and sometimes also lose) different base stats for 5 minutes. You can only have one type of food buff on your character at any given time. Here are the meals I've prepared so far:

  • Rathound Barbecue: +1 strength
  • Cave Hopper Steak: +2 agility
  • Burrower Burger: +2 constitution
  • Eel Sandwich: +2 dexterity
  • Junkyard Surprise: +(1-3) random stat, -(0-3) random stat

 

* * * * *


I've also added a couple easy but important changes to game balance and mechanics.

 

First of all I changed a bit how stealth works. You'll still be detected over time depending on your stealth skill, enemy's detection, lightning and positioning like before, unless your stealth skill is too far behind the enemy's detection in which case you won't be able to hide from them at all. This will be indicated with a silver eye above the detecting character and the true-sight is now represented by a golden eye (previously silver). The problem was that even the non-stealthy characters were using stealth excessively to move around undetected (and have guaranteed combat initiation) and it worked as long as they didn't stay too close too long because of the way the revealing speed is capped. This change should prevent that while not changing how stealth mechanics work for stealthy characters (those who invest in stealth skill and wear light armors).

 

Also another minor tweak to stealth - I've added a notification when you bump into other characters and fall out of stealth for that reason. Some people were confused as to what was happening, but keep in mind that if they can't see you their pathfinding won't tell them to go around you.

 

I increased health scaling with levels, for both the player and non-player characters. Previously, the damage from weapons and other sources was far out-scaling the character health as you progressed in levels which ended up in very volatile fights. This change should ease that up a bit while keeping the early game unchanged. Keep in mind, though, that damage is meant to out-scale health to a certain degree because characters also have access to tougher armors and other protective stuff as the game progresses. Because of this change I've also increased the amount of health that hypos and bandages restore.

 

I've also doubled the psi point pool as well as psi restoration from psi boosters (also psi boosters now require three mindshrooms to make). This will allow the player focusing on psi abilities to have more sustain in combat. Some people felt like psi points need to regenerate over time, but I want it to be a resource you have to manage just like ammo and batteries. I'm considering adding other ways to restore limited amounts of psi outside of using boosters, though. We'll see.

 

I've significantly increased based damage multiplier of snipe ability so it should now be more powerful than aimed shot in the early game as intended (since it's a one time opening ability requiring stealth). This attack can no longer critically hit, though.

 

Keep in mind that none of this is set to stone. These are the changes I've arrived at by watching other people play and from hearing the feedback on the forums. Once the new version is released I will continue to keep an eye out and make changes for the sake of fun and balanced gameplay as best as I can.

 
Improving Crossbow Play
Thursday, 11 October 2012 01:08

One of the common complaints in the demo, and one of the things that I personally wasn't very happy with, is how the crossbows were playing out. Using crossbows as primary damage source was practically impossible, so I've taken some steps to bringing the crossbows up to par with firearms and making them a viable alternative.

First of all I've increased base damage of crossbows, so their straight up damage per turn potential is now about the same as 7.62mm pistols (which is another weapon class with 2 attacks per turn). Originally I kept the crossbow damage lower as I wanted to emphasize their special bolt attack strengths, but I went a bit too far there and they ended up being too weak, especially in the early game before the player could pick up any special bolts. Also, because crossbow attacks already incur more of mechanical damage resistance (125%) and have no way of overcoming that in regular attacks (no armor piercing rounds) there is no need to penalize them further by assigning them lower base damage.

The second problem was a lack of multi-target special bolts, so now I've added two of those. They fulfill similar roles but in different ways.

  • Shock Bolts - These bolts inflict additional electrical damage to the primary target, stun it (works on machines as well) and then jump to nearby targets dealing smaller chunks of damage (no stun on secondary targets) in similar fashion as strikes from Shock Sledgehammer.
  • Incendiary Bolts - These bolts deal heat damage to the target and have a chance to set it on fire, dealing more heat damage over next couple of turns (and, of course, panicking the living targets), but the bolt also burns everything it comes near on its flight to the primary target, dealing smaller chunks of heat damage. Keep in mind that this bolt is doubly useful against enemies that fear fire (such as rathounds).
As for the price and drop rate of these bolts, that's something I'll have to fine tune through testing.
Both of these type of bolts can also be crafted if you have enough skill points in electronics or chemistry respectively.
And the last thing I've added is the Special Tactics feat which gives you the ability that you can activate while you're out of combat to make your next special bolt attack cost no action points. The point of this is to give crossbows some burst potential in fights that you initiate.

I hope you guys like these changes and that they'll get more of you trying out crossbows in the future.

 
New Skill: Traps
Thursday, 27 September 2012 23:40

Originally I planned to add traps to the alpha demo but ended up postponing that to get the demo out earlier. They're in now, though.

Underrail - Land Mines

There are currently three types of land mines you can rig up: frag, high-explosive and EMP. When they're triggered they have same effects as their grenade counterparts. You can also craft these yourself if you have high enough chemistry/electronics. There will be more traps in the future and not all of them will be mines.

Except rigging up the area before a battle and luring your foolish enemies into minefields, I figure trapping will also be very useful in eliminating patrolling enemies. At least those not skillful enough to spot and/or disarm your traps.

Speaking of NPC behavior, I've also introduced a new concept to the game called zone control.

Underrail - Zone Control Indicators

I was thinking of how the game should handle player criminal behavior such as murdering people through various means. And more specifically, I thought about how NPCs should react to you placing traps everywhere and turning their private quarters into mine fields.

I want to prevent exploits such as carpeting an area with traps and killing off high level non-hostile NPCs in the middle of their home base without triggering hostilities and then promptly looting their kickass gear. But on the other hand I want to sometimes allow player to use traps as an assassination mechanism where it's actually appropriate as I think that can be a lot of fun. Ideally the NPCs would be very smart and once a trap has been set off they'd start an investigation and look for a culprit, etc. However, Underrail is not a simulation game and that kind of AI programming is way out of the scope of the game.

So I went with a simpler solution which is to tag each area with certain control level - full, partial or none, which indicates how safe it is for the player to mess around with traps (and in the future murdering, etc) and how the controlling factions of the area will react to your shenanigans.

The UI shows the zone control indicator in the upper right corner and you can mouse over it to see what sort of action you can get away with and what is too risky in the current area.

As far as traps are concerned:

  • In fully controller areas (such as SGS station) if someone from the controlling faction detects your trap, you'll immediately get in trouble with that faction;
  • In partially controlled areas you'll only get in trouble if someone from the controlling faction sets off your trap
  • In uncontrolled areas you can set traps as much as you like and if someone happens to set it off and get killed, no one will be able to trace this to you
One thing to keep in mind though that regardless of the zone control level, if you try placing traps too close to someone, they will take offense, or at least disarm them if they have appropriate skills.

 
Alpha Funding Model
Friday, 14 September 2012 00:44

I've hinted earlier that I'm considering alpha funding for Underrail and now I've officially made up my mind. I originally planned on launching a crowd-funding campaign but that turned out to have too many limitations based on where I was located, so I decided alpha funding is a better option.

The game will be available for purchase in its alpha stage on a couple of digital distribution websites, and who ever purchases alpha version will, of course, receive the final game at no additional cost when it's done. Also, I plan on releasing regular content updates throughout the game's development.

Underrail - Open Air Tavern

I'm currently working on the next major update that will be the first purchasable version of the game. It will include a major new quest hub (sneak peek above), a new "dungeon" area, more weapons, utilities and other items, new character skill, some updated game mechanics, and more.

I'm expecting the update to be ready sometime in October. Stay tuned for more info on the new stuff.

Also, check out this cool Underrail title screen fan alternative by Jason Seow:

Underrail Fan Art

 
Steam Greenlight; Bug Fixing
Monday, 03 September 2012 17:16

First let me just remind everyone who hasn't seen it yet that Underrail is up on Steam Greenlight now. So if you'd like to see it released on Steam eventually please hop over there and up vote and favorite the game.

 

These last couple of days I made a number of changes to the game, based on the feedback and my own observations. This is not the definite list of changes, though, but these are all the changes that will eventually get into the updated demo release, whenever that may be. Unless I uncover some critical game breaking bug I won't be updating the demo build beyond this. And of course there will be no additional content added to it. So here are the changes:

  • Tweaks
    • Buying prices are much higher than selling prices now so you won't be able to get rich quickly anymore; this also make mercantile more useful
    • Ammunition and some other resources are more expensive and scarce now
    • You cannot start combat immediately after transitioning into another area (5 second cooldown added); this should prevent most of the transition exploits
    • Critical hits are better distinguished in the scrolling combat text
    • Batteries now restore more energy, but are also more expensive
    • When attacking a passive object in real time the attack will stop after a single hit (no more auto-attacking)
    • Added more blueprints as static (non-random) merchant inventory
    • Improved some quest text to be more specific (number of outposts, barracks location, shooting practice)
    • Player movement speed slightly increased
    • Grenade damage increased
    • Flashbang duration increased to 2 turns
    • Enemy remains are now visible through walls at all times (don't have to hold down TAB or Z); this should also prevent them from being stuck behind a door or other usables
    • Added inventory sorting (merchant inventories are sorted now as well)
    • Added more item filtering categories
    • Items are unbound from action bar when they are all used up, dropped and such
    • Help option will now blink until you open it (so many people missed it completely)
    • Dragging items/ability off the action bar is made a bit less sensitive now so you shouldn't have that much trouble clicking abilities while the action is unlocked
    • A number of abilities are automatically bound to your action bar at the start of the game
    • When you mouse over an equippable item in your inventory it will highlight the slots in which the item can be equipped (this should help with the special bolts confusion among other things)
    • You can double click items to equip them / put them into the trading window
    • When mousing over an item you wish to purchase it will show the purchase value instead of the nominal value
    • Only currency will be used during auto trading
    • Auto trading will no longer try to trade currency for currency
  • Bug fixes
    • Saves and user configuration are now stored in Documents\My Games\Underrail so the game will no longer require admin privileges to run
    • Saving while transitioning out of SGS into the caves will no longer get you stuck between the two gates
    • Killing the sentry near the Mushroom Cove will no longer mess up the factions
    • Attacking SGS sentry bots will no longer mess up the faction and turn your own electroshock sledgehammer against you (it was dealing electrical damage on hit to you as well)
    • You no longer remain in stealth after attacking a camera or other passive object
    • Item duplication bug fixed
    • Rathound Alphas should now properly use their Rend ability
    • Lockpicking is no longer instant with Burglar feat, but this feat has been improved to reduce lockpicking and hacking times by 75% (up from 50%)
    • You can now power up outposts in the caves after turning in the quests
    • You can no longer acquire the Sprint ability without picking the feat
    • Reloading from quick reload bar will now load up the weapon with as much ammo as you have regardless of how it's split in the inventory
    • No more blue flashes on saving the game
    • Removed "computer skill" references
    • Path estimation in turn-based combat should now be drawn properly in all cases
    • Minor AI bugs
    • Other minor map bugs
That's it for now. Now I'm going to get back to making some new content.

 

 
Demo Feedback and the Future
Sunday, 26 August 2012 17:20

So it's been couple of days now since the alpha demo was released. People had time to play it and provide lots of feedback. So now is a good time to start addressing that feedback.

I'm happy to say that the impressions were very positive overall, but there are certain aspects that a lot of people felt could use some improvement. Here I will try to summarize the commonly recurring complaints that I gathered from forums (the official one and some others), direct feedback and from just watching other people play live and on the internet.

Technical problems:

  • Game crashes on starting a new game - The problem here is that during the development it was easier for me to just store the save games and other user data in the working directory of the game. This is bad practice because of the User Account Control feature of the newer operating systems prevents you from writing in the Program Files unless you explicitly run the application as an administrator. I completely missed this because every computer I tested it prior to the release had UAC disabled. I will definitely change this so that the future builds use My Games folder or whatever is the appropriate location on the three operating systems I'll be supporting (XP, Vista, 7). Currently, the workaround is to just run the game with explicit administrator rights.
  • Sometimes game would crash on transitions in the lake area - This is a semi-rare bug that can be fixed by applying this patch - http://www.indiedb.com/games/underrail/downloads/underrail-alpha-demo-v0141-patch.
Gameplay feedback:
  • You can get rich easily - With the exception of the very start of the game, money and other resources very quickly become a non-issue. This is mostly due to the fact that you can sell the stuff you scavenged at a very high cost. Also, some resources, such as ammunition, are currently too cheap and abundant. Resource management is an important aspect of the game, so be sure that I will be re-balancing the economy to make the players poor again.
  • There is no running option - The main problem here I think is that backtracking through the areas you already explored, as well as moving through the non-hostile areas, such as the SGS, is too slow. I'm not quite sure yet how I'll address it. Just adding a running option is not that easy as there's a lot of stuff to be consider there and it would also need new animation on all those character models, etc. I'll have to think on how to address this one.
  • Item usage issues - It was not clear enough on how grenades, special bolts and other utility items are equipped and used. I did add a quick tutorial screenshot that could be accessed from the upper right menu (or by pressing F1), but that usually got overlooked as well. I'll be sure to make it more clear what goes where in the next release (highlighting the equipment slots where you need to equip it when you mouse over an item, or something similar).
  • Object highlighting - You can press TAB or Z to highlight all usable objects on screens so you can pickup loot  or open containers obscured by walls, but some people missed this. As with the previous point, it's somewhat an issue of not having a proper tutorial. However, I'll also attempt to make this stuff a bit more intuitive, probably by having the loot show behind walls even without pressing TAB and such stuff.
  • Selecting NPCs - It's usually overlooked that you can actually select someone by right-clicking on them. this allows you to see their exact health and what buffs/debuffs they currently have. I'll see what I can do to make this more apparent.
  • Lack of melee feats - Sorry. There will be more in the future.
  • A way to regenerate health and psi points - Because of the imbalanced economy in the demo, this wasn't too much of an issue. Once I fix the economy, I reconsider adding something of the kind. However, keep in mind that resource management is an important aspect of the game, so don't expect to just be able to rest and heal after every encounter or some such.
  • Bartering interface - "Auto" option needs a bit more work. People didn't like it using their ammo as currency, for example, so I'll do something about that.
  • Same items with different qualities - It's not really obvious before you start reading the stats on different weapon/armor items that you can actually have, say, two "5mm Hawker" pistols that do different damage, or two "Rathound leather armors" that have different resistances. So I'll probably be adding a quality indicator of some sort to the item to make this more obvious.
  • Murdering - In games, people want to murder people and get away with it if no one is there to report the crime. I'm one of such people, so I'll definitely make this possible. Actually, there will be optional assassination quests that will require just that. Stay tuned to the development log to learn more about how this will work.
  • Pickpocketing - This skill needs rebalancing. It's way too hard to pickpocket right now.
Quest feedback:
  • Shooting range quest - This quest needs to be redesigned. It's one of the quests I made quite a while back when the game wasn't yet turn-based.
  • Retaking outposts quest - Doesn't specify the total number of outposts there are. Will fix this.

There's probably more stuff that I can't remember right now, but it'll pop up eventually, don't worry.

*  *  *  *  *

Another thing I wanted to briefly touch on is the prospect of the game being crowd-funded. Some may remember that back in June when the demo video was released, and after being pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback it received I said that a crowd-funding campaign is likely to follow the playable demo release. Unfortunately, things got a bit complicated. Because of where I live, a lot of crowd-funding features are not available to me which limits the kind of campaign I'm able to launch.

I'm currently looking into other forms of crowd-funding, such as alpha funding on Desura.

No need to freak out, though, Underrail is still due to be released in the second half of 2013. even if I have to self-fund it all the way. It's just the matter that being able to secure some form of funding at this stage would really help me make the game as big and as diverse as I would like;and I guess that's something that a lot of you would like as well.

In any case, I'll get back to you guys soon to let you know how it all worked out.

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 Next > End >>

Page 3 of 6