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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:07
Alpha demo is finally out. You can download it from IndieDB.
Enjoy and be sure to let me know your thoughts on the forums once you've played it.
Thursday, 16 August 2012 21:00
This is just a quick update to let you guys know I finally got around to setting up the forum. So if you have any questions hop over to http://www.underrail.com/forums. I would especially appreciate if you take your time to report any bugs you encounter in the upcoming demo and, of course, provide feedback on various game aspects.
Speaking of demo it's now content complete. That is, I got all the content I planned for the demo done. Tomorrow, I'm having some friends over and we'll be play testing it throughout the weekend to ensure there are no showstopping bugs or glaring imbalances and also that the game and its individual parts are not too hard or too easy.
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:14
I've got the remaining audio stuff done rather quickly. I've added a few more atmospheric drones so that each area type (caves, lake, metro...) has its own now. They are not perfect fits, but they'll have to do until I get someone to do a real soundtrack. The only thing that is sorely missing is the main theme music, though I guess it's forgivable for an alpha version.
Next, I cleared up that pile of minor bugs that was sitting in the corner, and I also did significant optimizations in couple of areas in the engine:
- I optimized the isometric renderer so it works a lot faster now and should have no problems rendering at higher resolutions where there's a lot of tiles on the screen
- I've optimized the way the processing time is distributed between sight, lightning and pathfinding components; the major CPU hogger, the pathfinding, should now properly use the time unspent by the other components; this, coupled with freeing up more time by optimizing the renderer, should have game running smoothly at all times
- The NPC now move near-instantly while out of sight of the player during turn based combat, so this should speed the combat up a lot in areas where there are patrolling NPCs
I've also got all the deployment stuff out of the way:
- I've got the release build running once again and did some smoke testing. It works just fine and I only found a couple of bugs, which makes me a bit uneasy because I was expecting more problems considering how long it has been since I last ran it (my release config looks quite a bit different from the debugging one).
- I've also made an installer and tested it on a clean WinXP SP3 install and it works (downloads and installs all the .NET prerequisites automatically).
Now that I've got all this technical stuff out of the way, I can get back to finishing that last bit of content for the demo which includes:
- one more creature
- couple of more quests
- some AI stuff
This should be done by the next weekend (17th) when I have dedicated testing marathon scheduled. By the end of that weekend the alpha demo will be ready, but it will not go public until later that week.
In any case, it's on the home stretch now.
Saturday, 04 August 2012 15:51
I present you Underrail's title screen. Drawn by Diego Candia.
Tuesday, 31 July 2012 13:14
I finished updating all the existing areas and creating all the missing interconnecting areas, updated dialogs and added a few more encounters.
New creature type has been added to the lake areas. Psi Beetles can invoke a number of psi abilities. They have a passive ability that increases their psionic skill levels and allows them to invoke more powerful psionics the more of them are around (the only reason I'm fine fighting against three of them on the screenshot below is because I used cheats).
So basically most of the essential content is now in the game. Now I've got some audio stuff to do before I start working on a pile of minor bugs and improvements. After that I'll get the deployment preparation stuff done - making sure the release build works well (don't remember the last time I ran it), make an installer, etc.
After I get all that technical stuff out of the way, I'll get back to content making. There's still a few quests and areas I want to add, as well as another interesting creature type.
Monday, 23 July 2012 00:52
I finished laying out all the areas in the home station (South Gate Station) as far as the demo is concerned. The parts that are not done will be locked off. I've also done some supporting dialog and updated all the merchants (and added new ones).
Now, just keep in mind that for most of these areas this is not their final state and I intend to improve them after the demo. The cantina and the medical sector in particular suffer from the lack of appropriate furniture assets, but they will have to do with what I have just now. I wouldn't want to delay the demo further by drawing those assets now.
This means that the bulk of work in the phase two is done. I still need to do a few things around the home base, such as update some dialogs and scripting, before I move to the cave areas.
Caves shouldn't take this long to update, as they are mostly all layed out and just need some more details added, loot tables updated, encounters balanced out (I haven't played some of those areas since I've switched to turn-based), etc. I'll likely add a few more smaller cave areas around the existing ones, but those are really easy to make.
And there are also those two new creature types I mentioned earlier (you can see one of them on that last screenshot).
Sunday, 15 July 2012 20:53
I've added a bunch of new feats. The grand total is 37 now, which should be enough for the demo. I tried to cover all the major areas (ranged combat, melee combat, stealth, psi, even some crafting stuff) as well as add enough general feats.
This about concludes the phase one of the demo preparations. The only things left to do are add two new creature types, but that'll have to wait for a few days (models are not quite ready yet).
Now I'm moving into phase two which involves:
- adding some more areas
- improving existing areas (adding more details, more scripting where required, etc)
- updating old quests to work with the reworked (simplified) quest tracking system
- adding more quests
- adding more NPCs and dialog in general
- restocking merchants with the new goods
- making the starting areas and quests more cohesive
- probably doing a bunch of smaller stuff I can't remember now
This shouldn't take as long as phase one, though it probably will now that I said it.
Thursday, 12 July 2012 00:41
I'm done with items for the demo. I'll surely add a few plot items here and there once I start working on the areas and quests again, but no more blueprints, components, usables, etc.
Just a quick explanation of the inventory image above. I mentioned utility slots a long while before, I think, but doesn't hurt to brush up on the subject. Some usable items are expected to be used by everyone, such as healing medication and other restorative items, non-combat items, etc. You can use these items directly from the inventory at any time (they might have cooldowns though) or by dragging them onto the action bar.
Other items are special usable items that each can have great impact on your playstyle, particularly during combat. These are 'utility items' and to use them you must first equip them in a utility slot (on the left), the number of which is limited. You have two utility slots to start with, but can get more from gear or feats. The idea is that you must make a choice of what additional tools you are going to bring into combat depending on what playstyle you are going for and also what kind of enemies you might face.
For instance, if you're going to fight robots, you'll want EMP grenades, but you won't need poison bolts. If you are going to fight multiple enemies, it's good to equip frag grenades. If you want to avoid combat altogether, go for a cloaking device, tranquilizer bolts, flashbangs, etc. I want the player to have to think and adapt to the situation. There is no perfect set of tools for every encounter or every character build.
Anyway, here's the list of the stuff I got done in this last batch:
- Special crossbow bolts
- Poison bolt - applies stackable poison effect that deals bio damage every turn (currently there's only one type of poison, but there will be more; you can extract poisons from glands of poisonous creatures with biology skill)
- Tranquilizer bolt - puts the target to sleep; the less constitution the target has the longer it sleeps
- EMP grenade - deals irresistible electrical damage to machines and disables them for 2 turns; also, drains all the energy from the target's equipped electronic devices and deals electrical damage equal to 50% of the energy drained
- Cloaking device (powered) - doesn't make you automatically invisible but greatly increases stealth and somewhat increases evasion;
- Bandages - heal lights wounds when out of combat (can only heal above 65%)
- Antidote - removes 3 stacks of poison
- Flare - lights up an area for 30 seconds; also reveals all stealthed creatures when it lands
- metal / leather
- springs - movement bonus
- spikes, blades - extra unarmed damage
- Utility: +2 utility slots
- Bullets Strap: +1 utility slot; reduces AP cost of reloading firearms; minor intimidation bonus
- Doctor's Belt: +1 utility slot; reduces AP cost of using medical consumables
- Metal helmet - minor resistances bonus; reduces chance to get critically hit
- Goggles - increase perception; can support night vision module (powered)
Ok, I think that's all.
Next I'll be adding up a bunch of new feats (perks).
Sunday, 08 July 2012 01:21
I think I fixed all the existing game mechanics that needed fixing for the demo:
- Fixed the stealth calculations; most notably, it's not possible any more to slip under other characters' very noses no matter how high your stealth is (if you're standing right in front of the NPC, he WILL detect you); I've also restricted how quickly you can be detected at different ranges so you'll always have time to react and move away if you are near the edge of the sight range; All in all, it works much better now
- Made the unarmed attack damage scale with level and strength; that is in addition to scaling with skill level; since you can't swap out your arms for a shiny new pair (maybe in a sequel), this should make up for gear progression that you get with other types of weapons
- Fixed the flickering lights affecting hit chance in turn based combat - it doesn't matter now if you fire while the light is on or off, the mean lightning value will be used
- Allowed swapping out equipment during combat but only weapons and utility items (not armor and other clothing pieces); unequipping an item is free; equipping costs 50 AP (whole turn); Used to be very tricky if you ran out of ammo with both weapons and couldn't swap to your unarmed attack
Ok, boring stuff over. Here's some new stuff I added:
- Explosive barrels - self-explanatory; shoot the barrel and get a free fireball pyrokinesis
- Setting people on fire - with the right feat, your pyrokinesis will have a chance to set the targets on fire; besides dealing damage over time it will also make the living targets run around in panic
- Three new psi abilities
- Frighten (Thought Control) - makes your target run away from you unless it passes a resolve check
- Force Emission (Psychokinesis) - toggled; while active, your unarmed attacks do additional damage and have a short range, but each attack costs 5 psi
- Force Field (Psychokinesis) - A very useful ability. Creates an impenetrable force field that lasts 10 seconds / 2 turns. You can use it to split up your enemy forces, isolate yourself until you can heal, cut off escape routes or thwart your pursuers, etc. It actually might be a bit too good in its current form, so I might nerf the base version a bit and require the player to pick up a feat to improve it.
Next on the agenda are more items and after that more feats. Getting close to completing phase one of the demo preparation.