Dev Log


Energy Shields
Sunday, 02 February 2014 14:28

This has been long overdue but I finally got around to implementing energy shields. The main purpose of energy shields is to provide the player with kind of a health buffer, particularly against ranged opponents, so they can get into the fight and survive long enough to establish the control over the battlefield.

Underrail - Energy Shield

So the way the shields work is they block a certain amount of damage from each direct attack based on impact speed (very slow to very fast) rather than on damage type (mechanical, heat, etc). The amount of damage a shield can absorb in total is equal to its max energy times conversion rate. Shields also dissipate over time, so you won't want to keep them running unless they are needed to block damage. They cannot be recharged in combat.

The amount of damage blocked for each impact speed depends on the modulators used to craft/generate the shield emitter, but overall shield emitters are much more effective against higher impact speeds, so melee characters and, to a lesser extent crossbow users, will have an edge when fighting shielded enemies. Additionally, most types of melee weapons will ignore certain amount of shield (and some special attacks ignore it completely) so we can balance out their usefulness against the hard hitting sledgehammers - knives ignore 60% of energy shielding, fist weapons 80% and unarmed attacks 100%.

Concerning what attack has which impact speed - it's displayed for the weapons, but most other stuff (psi, grenades, etc) don't list it. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this, because I don't want to clutter the descriptions so maybe a better solution would be to list it somewhere else or have an NPC educate the player about it. We'll see, I haven't made up my mind yet. But until the, here's how it works basically:

 

  • Very low impact speed - Melee attacks
  • Low impact speed - "slow" projectile attacks, that is projectiles considerably slower than bullets, such as crossbow bolts and cryokinesis
  • Medium impact speed - bullets, shrapnel (from frag grenades)
  • Fast impact speed - super fast projectiles, such as those fired from sniper rifles
  • Very fast impact speed - lasers, plasma, electrical attacks
We still haven't done much balance testing regarding how effective shields are right now. I did some number crunching, but until we put it to test in a real playthrough and also have you the players have a go at it, it's hard to balance it out properly.
Also, characters skilled in electronics will be able to craft shield emitters and, with enough skill, they will be able to attach secondary modulators (which run at 50% efficiency) giving them a bit of an edge against character who have to purchase or find their own since those very rarely have the said secondary modulator.
* * * * *
In other news, here's the other stuff I've been working on:
  • Tweaks
    • Increased the block chance of riot gear shields to 30% (up from 20%)
    • Firearm ammo weight now varies depending on caliber
    • Indirect damage no longer removes incapacitation (e.g. poison)
    • Electroshock primary target damage, pneumatic hit damage and force emission hit damage no longer remove incapacitation in order to better synergies with Cheap Shot feat
    • Minimal hit chance for melee and ranged attacks is now 10% (down from 20%)
    • Increased the amount of item categories most merchants will buy per reset, included the missing categories and also changed certain categories to always be included for specialized merchants (not in the unlimited amount though)
    • Added more psi boosters to early areas to ease up the early game for psi characters who need those rather than bullets
    • Telekinetic Punch, tazing and pneumatic strike are now resisted through fortitude, instead of resolve
    • Melee skill now scales up with either Strength or Dexterity, whichever is higher
    • Boot springs now reduce stealth (will add stealth speedy boots later)
    • Aluminized cloth heat resistance increased and crafting requirements changed to 1 per quality (down from 1.5)
  • Bugs
    • Doppelgangers should now properly ignore target's resistances with their attacks
    • Fixed a very serious bug that caused ranged attacks to mostly ignore evasion rating of the target. Evasion should have much the same effect in avoiding ranged attack as dodge has for melee attacks. This will definitively affect the game's balance, both by increasing the difficulty of high evasion enemies and by buffing agility based player characters, so I'll be keeping an eye on it.
  • Items
    • Advanced Health Hypo added
    • Balaclava added (+10% cold resist, +5 intimidate, +stealth when crafted out of black cloth or +hear resist when crafted out of aluminized cloth)
Also, I re-balanced bunch of feats, mostly buffing those who were in need of a buff and maybe nerfing one or two overpowered ones. I tried to hit all the feats that needed love, but there are still a couple I'm not sure how to fix or just don't have the mechanics in place to do so yet. Anyway, here's the list of changes:
  • Dirty Kick - now works regardless of the current weapon, the damage is equal to 200% of unarmed damage
  • Premeditation - now also reduces AP cost of the next psi ability buy 100%
  • Psychosis - psi cost increment changed to 20% (up from 10%)
  • Tranquility - reworked: now reduces AP cost of all psi abilities by 10 while the invoker is at full health
  • Cerebral Trauma - reworked: now increases Neural Overload damage by 25% (up from 20%) and burns 15% of the target's max psi points when Neural Overload lands
  • Force User - now increases Telekinetic Punch damage by 100% (up from 20%) and Force Field duration by 2 turns (up from 1)
  • Lightning Punches - now works with fist weapons as well
  • Pyromaniac - doubled the chance it will trigger across the board and the exact chance is now shown for each individual psi ability; also the bonus damage has been increased to 100% (up from 80%)
  • Crippling Strike - damage increased to 150% (up from 125%) and it no longer costs additional action points, but has 1 turn cooldown
  • Grenadier - now reduces standard grenade cooldown by 2 turns (up from 1) and special grenade cooldown by 3 turns (up from 2)
  • Hypothermia - now reduces constitution by 1 (down from 2) and stacks up to 5 times (up from 3)
  • Thermodinamicity - instead of psi cost, now reduces action point cost by 50%
  • Evasive Maneuvers - now grants evasion equal to three times your movement points (up from x2)
  • Uncanny Dodge - now allows you to dodge next three melee attacks instead of just one, but cooldown is increased to 3 turns (up from 2)
* * * * *
As far the content is concerned, we're working on new areas, quests and creatures. One of the goals is to add more side quests to SGS (and surrounding areas) and Rail Crossing which we feel are most in need of those. We'll also be adding a major new station with the next update, but more on that in some future dev log (won't be Core City just yet, though). ;)

 

 
Version 0.1.10.0 released
Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:27

Hey guys, the new version has been released. It's available now on Steam, soon to be available on Desura, GamersGate and Groupees. For a preview of what's new you can check out this and past four dev logs.

Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing

You will now be able to travel a bit through Lower Underrail, either on foot or by train, and explore the town of Rail Crossing and the surrounding areas and face new types of enemies. The main story of the game starts in earnest with this patch, but I'm not going to spoil anything regarding that in this log :).

I also did a lot of polishing of existing game mechanics and added some new ones, as well as did a fair amount of economical re-balancing. After these couple days of internal testing I feel quite content where we're at now in that regard and while there surely be some more tweaking done in the future, I don't expect to do any major work on the existing mechanics in the future. With the future patches we will mostly be focusing on adding more content at a faster rate, which will as always include more areas, quests, enemies, items, feats, etc.

Anyway, have fun guys and let us know what you thought of the changes and the new stuff. Cheers.

 
Alternative Experience System
Sunday, 12 January 2014 12:40

The new version is complete and the build is running as I type this. Tomorrow we'll be starting the internal testing so you can expect the new patch to go live sometime next week. In the meantime, I want to present you with an alternative experience system I implemented and the reasoning behind it.

Underrail - New Game Options

Before we even begin I want to make it clear that, even though I consider the new system to be the "default" way to play the game, the old system is still available for those who prefer it. Upon starting a new game you will be able to choose which experience system you want to use and you can also choose between easy and normal difficulty. On easy difficulty player character will have twice the health and the healing consumables will heal for twice as much and have a lower cooldown.

With this change, I'm only trying to re-balance the experience economy and not anything else regarding the character progression. The experience economy concerns the way the player gain experience and how does that affect his character build and play-style.

Since the early development phase of the game I was set on the game utilizing this old-school linear level/skill progression system. I'm fond of this kind of system and I had a pretty good idea how I would handle various combat calculations within it. What I never liked about it, though, is how the games that implement it handle experience gains. The problem is similar to that presented in the previous dev log in regards to the trading economy. Most of experience you gain by completing quests and killing enemies. So in order to get as much XP as possible and progress through levels as fast as possible, the player is encouraged to resolve most situations by combat. With Underrail being a challenging game as it is, there exists a very real need for the player to maximize their power level at any stage of the game.

One of tweaks I did in the past of ease this up a bit was to increase the XP gain from quests and reduce the XP gain from kills. It did help a bit, but in a game which involves a lot of combat you'd really have to go to the extremes when shifting the XP gains (from kills to quests) before they actually change the nature of level progression. Otherwise, it will still be heavily based on XP from kills, you'll just slow the progression down. You could go to one extreme and say, let's only award XP for quest completion. This is one way to go about it, and certainly some games have utilized this or something similar. I personally I don't like, though. I find it a mostly boring and non-dynamic way to progress and it also encourages you to complete as many quests as possible, instead of just those you want. In my opinion, you should only have to do quests that progress the story (or alter the game world) in the way you want or have other in-game rewards you desire, and not because it's the only way to become more powerful. For me, playing RPGs is about making choices based on preferences. Anything that limits this is bad.

 

* * * * *

 

What I wanted to do is reward player with experience for exploring Underrail, fighting new types of creatures (as opposed to farming easy ones) and just generally discovering and experiences more of the game world. Without them having to make optimal combat builds or finish the quest branch that gives the most experience.

Underrail - Protectorate Propaganda oddity item

The way the new experience system works is you only get experience from collecting and studying "oddity" items. These items are scattered throughout Underrail, mostly at points of interest. Some of them are gained by killing critters and other specific types of enemies, but since each oddity item can be studied a limited number of times, you can only farm XP from a single creature type to a certain point. Also, there are generally more instances of an oddity item type placed than you need, so you don't have to have 100% exploration score to get them all. Though, some of them will be unique and only awarded for discovering special areas or defeating bosses.

The main purpose of this system is to allow players to level at a similar rate regardless of what their build and play-style is. Going through the world stealthily, guns blazing (or in some cases diplomatically) or anything in between should now earn you similar amount of experience. People who build their characters better to their respective play styles will still naturally have an easier time and be able to venture to more dangerous areas. They will still do better than those who are still getting the hang of the game - the purpose of this is not to make the game easier, just more inclusive for different play-styles.

For those who like to race ahead of the difficulty curve and like to visit higher level areas early to amass experience quickly, let me assure you that the purpose of this system is not to prevent that either. Higher level areas will hold oddity items that give more experience, so skipping ahead to those will still accelerate your leveling, though admittedly not as much as the previous system.

 

* * * * *

 

So, in any case, the new update is coming soon and you'll all be able to check out all these major changes and let me know how it's working out for you. Our focus in the months to come will remain on providing more content to the game and less so on new mechanics, but I am still dedicated to making this game as mechanically and economically sound as possible, as I feel this is just as important.

 
Game Economy Changes
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 09:41

The level design is mostly complete for the new areas, but there's still some scripting and lots of dialog to be done, so it'll be a couple more weeks. Alongside working on the new content, I'm also doing major re-balancing of some game mechanics in order to improve the game economy, both in monetary sense and in other aspects. I'm going to talk about the former now and we'll leave the latter for another dev log.

Underrail - New Trading System

The first big change I made is I limited the type and amount of goods merchants are willing to buy from you. Merchants will now only buy certain type of goods depending on what their store deals in and they will require only a certain amount of each, with exception of certain goods they will always be looking to buy (such as bullets for example). The type and amount of goods they require at the moment is randomly selected from that merchant's "market demand table" so to speak and it's reset every time the merchant restocks their inventory (typically every 90 minutes). So you will no longed be able to sell all the junk you hauled from your latest raid to the first merchant you see.

And speaking of hauling junk, I've also implemented item weight system. You'll get the progressively higher movement speed and movement point penalties the more you carry above your capacity and if you carry way too much you will actually get rooted into place. This is something I've put off implementing for quite some time because I wasn't sure it'll actually add any value to the game. I dislike these mechanics in most RPGs, especially the party-based ones because more often than not they only result in more inventory management chores without having (or needing to have) much impact on the game economy. But in certain games where exploring and scavenging are the main concepts of the game and where economy actually matters, and I believe Underrail to be such a game, I feel that liming the player inventory in some way (either through weight or space) is beneficial to the overall gameplay experience.

And finally, to go along with these changes, I've reduced the price multiplier when purchasing items. I'ts currently at 175% (down from 350%), but might change further by the time the update is ready depending on how it works out when I get the time to do a real playthrough. I've also reduced the item durability penalty to its cost and have increased the durability range of items looted from corpses (they won't be near broken all the time now).

So why all these changes? Well here's my take on it.

The way the economy works in the live version of the game is like this: loot everything, get every piece of junk. No matter if you need it for crafting or not, no matter the price, just as long as it can be sold - pick it up (basically always hit "loot all" on every container). The more people you kill, more loot you get which directly translates into more wealth so you're always encouraged to handle every situation by killing as many as possible. And if you do not play like this you will get way less loot, and because the merchant prices and item durability penalties are balanced more towards this "optimal playstyle", you can easily run into money problems.

In the new system, you'll only want to hold onto the valuable stuff and the stuff you actually need (for crafting or consumption) because you can carry a limited amount and because can only sell so much in a given time frame. You might wonder won't the weight system just encourage power gamers to make multiple trips to a dungeon to get all the stuff out and store it somewhere to be sold later when the market demand resets? Well, they can do that, yes, and it will work to a degree, but in the time it takes to make multiple trips to the same (possibly remote) place you can do more fun stuff such as exploring new areas, doing new quests, gaining XP and by doing this, you will also get new loot to sell for when the merchants reset.

There will still be more efficient and less efficient ways to make money - it is not my intention to try to prevent that. Accumulating wealth is one form of power gaming and for a lot of people power gaming is one of the major motivations for playing RPGs. I believe this new system will be more fun to play with for everyone. People who want to get as much money as possible will now try to find the most expensive stuff to sell as opposed to as much stuff, while those who take the more casual approach to the economy won't be left hopelessly behind either just as long as they scavenge intelligently.

In any case, let me know how you guys feel about these changes.

 
Combat Initiative
Sunday, 01 December 2013 15:51

Hey, guys. We're still hard at work at producing new content for the next version. And while I'm not ready to show the new areas yet (except the attached teaser screenshot), there are a couple of smaller changes I wanted to talk about.

Underrail - Surprise Attack

The most significant change to the combat mechanics is the addition of initiative. Character's base initiative is determined like this: 5 + agility + dexterity. At the start of the combat, each combat participant randomly adds 1-15 points to the base initiative and the modified value is used when sorting the turn order. The only exception is when the player initiates combat manually (by pressing ENTER) or by simply attacking. In this case the player will always act first, but because of this, the AP cost of the opening attack/action will be deducted from his first turn. Additionally, this also applies to some other non-combat action performed just before entering combat, such as opening doors.

Also, player will no longer be able to quickly initiated combat manually when exiting a dialog to get a jump on their enemies, but I will be going through all situations that involve dialog initiated combat to make sure the player receives appropriate initiative bonus depending on the situation. That is, if you are having a dialog with someone who is already wary of you (such as GMS hostage situation) you do not get any initiative bonus (though you still "roll" standard initiative and may in fact play first), while in situation in which you surprise attack someone through a dialog you will get a substantial initiative bonus, effectively granting you first strike.

I think it's pretty clear what the purpose of this change is - I want to remove the ability (and the need) to "cheese" your way into attacking first, while providing a game mechanic that will allow you to do this in a more meaningful way instead using your reflexes. I think these changes will particularly benefit non-stealth characters who are often hard pressed to survive when ambushed by multiple attackers. For now the initiative is only dependent on the start mentioned above, but later on I plan to add feats/abilities/psi that will allow you to increase this base value. I'm also considering adding initiative modifiers to weapons.

In other news:

 

  • UI
    • Added a confirmation box when changing video settings
    • Added an option to scroll with mouse while holding the right button
    • Added an option to lock the mouse to screen in fullscreen mode (doesn't work perfectly though, sorry)
    • You can double click on your (non-existing) portrait to center back to your character
    • Game window will no longer process input while inactive
  • Tweaks
    • Shroomhead feat now restores 15 psi points each time you pick a mindshroom
    • Reduced base trap arming time to 7 seconds
    • Reduced the range at which the traps trigger when you step into their tile (should be more consistent with visual collision now)
  • Items
    • Added electrical knives (same crafting mechanics like with sledgehammers and gloves)
    • Added more belts (belts have fixed stats and are not craftable)
    • Added bear trap - a cheap early game trap that deals mechanical damage, roots the target and inflicts a bleeding wound; like caltrops, it can be envenomed
    • Added serrated crossbow bolt that deals additional 100% of original damage dealt through a bleeding wound over 3 turns, but incurs even greater damage threshold penalty than a regular bolt
    • Weapons can now have varying base critical damage bonuses (for now only depending on the weapon base type, but in the future modifiable through enhancements)
Let me know what you think about the balance changes and the new mechanics. Sorry that I can't give you guys a date of the next update, but what I can say is that development speed is picking up again and we're planning to release a new town in the next update as well as bunch of new enemy types.

 

 
<< Start < Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Next > End >>

Page 6 of 18