Dev Log


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.

 

 
Expanding the Business; Balance Changes
Thursday, 24 October 2013 23:06

Hey guys, here's an update on what's been happening since the Steam release.

It will be a while longer before a new version is ready, sorry. The reason for that is that I've been somewhat busy with trying to expand the business. The game did well enough on its Steam (pre-)release that I can now afford to hire some people now that will assist with content creation. Unfortunately, this means interviewing, office space hunting, taxes, logistics, and other stuff that's cutting into my development time. So while development is a bit slow until all this settles down, it will pick up pace and go even faster afterwards.

However, I did manage to add some more Lower Underrail areas and I also made a number of balance tweaks, bug fixes and the like:

 

  • Changes
    • Players will receive better armor at the start
    • Added more meds, ammo and such to the starting areas
    • Reduced explosive barrel health to 1
    • AP cost of using light weapons (knives, pistols, SMGs or fist weapons) or unarmed attacks is reduced by 4% for every dexterity point above 5. This is very much subject to change depending on how it works out. I want to make high dexterity builds feel more rewarding and this is just the first step.
    • Dogs now have 50% chance to apply Tackle effect on hit (down from 100%)
    • Skill requirements for recycling items reduced
    • Item durability increased, particularly for higher level items. This will make it less profitable (hopefully not profitable in most cases) to repair them for sole purpose of selling them. Also, crafters will be able to recycle them for more scraps them previously since the amount of scraps gained is based on current and max durability of an item. Rate of item degradation should remain about the same
    • Mark 2 repair kits now fix 500 durability points (up from 400). Cost increased accordingly; repair kit crafting requirements and components remain the same
    • Durability span of items looted from slain enemies increased to 5%-50% (up from 5%-20%)
    • Bandits in the "package delivery quest" nerfed
    • Minimal stealth requirements (below which player is automatically spotted) reduced
    • Increased the amount of special ammo that can be found as loot
    • Reduced the cost of amuples and syringes
    • Reduced the amount of explosive required to craft traps (it's now same as grenade recipe)
    • Increased chemistry requirements of Hexogen explosive to 50 (up from 22). Secondary explosives difficulty modifier in grenade and mine blueprint increased to 125% (up from 100%). Mark 3 grenades/mines are now crafted from 1 hexogen and mark 2 are crafted from 2 x TNT instead of vice versa. Reasoning behind these changes is that crafting high level explosives was way too easy and allowed you to obtain grenades that were meant to be used against level 20 enemies as soon as level 7 if not earlier.
    • Player character will no longer obscure targets behind them when issuing offensive commands (such as attacking or invoking offensive abilities)
  • Bug fixes
    • Exporting a character while trading window is open will no longer crash the game
    • Save/load window will no longer lose focus after deletion confirmation pop-up
    • Fixed the bug that would cause optional components to give different crafting requirements depending on order they are placed in
    • Galvanic vest added to random loot table (and hence the stores too)
    • Added missing female riot gear spritesheets (sorry ladies)
    • Fixed the bug that would cause the old man in GMS level 3 to repeatedly initiate dialog with you
    • Fixed the bug in Abram's questline where you could give Garren information you didn't actually receive
    • AP should now correctly be deducted when stacking up utility items during combat
  • Other
    • Added transition error log; it will be generated in Documents\My Games\Underrail every time there's a transition error. This should help us pinpoint any remaining transition problems
    • Removed Media Player requirement by popular demand (you will no longer have to have media player windows feature installed in the next version of the game)
That's all for now. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the balance changes so far.

 

 
Steam Achievements
Saturday, 14 September 2013 23:02

In the last two weeks I've been working on Steam integration, primarily implementing the achievements.

There will be 50 of them initially, but I plan to keep on adding more bit by bit with each future update. A lot of them are your usual "do something X times", but there are a number of more interesting ones and I'll also be focusing on those more in the future. Kinda wanted to get the basics done first. For those of you who are interested in Steam trading cards, I do hope to implement those at a later stage, once the character and creatures portraits are done and I have more graphical assets to work with as those require a lot.

In other news, I've also fixed a couple of bugs (along with some spelling errors, per usual):

  • TNT blueprint will no longer consume excess components
  • Tungsten steel boots icons added
  • New lens types will now be correctly generated with quality (all the current ones in the game are base quality; I'm sorry about that, but hey, at least their crafting requirements are low :P)
  • Crafting window will now remember what blueprint you had selected when you last closed it
Next I need to take care of some technical stuff and finish Steam release preparations. I'll let you guys know when it's coming out as soon as I have a confirmed date.

 
Version 0.1.9.0 released; also Greenlit!
Thursday, 29 August 2013 18:46

The long overdue update is finally ready. Also, in other news the game got greenlit for Steam distribution!

Underrail - Brawling

Okay let's cover the update first. It's currently up on Desura and GamersGate (soon to be available on Groupees website as well). Here's the list of what I've done since the last dev log, also be sure to also check out the previous three dev logs for other stuff that's new in this version.

 

  • Added TNT explosive charge that can be used to clear rocks. Many passages still don't lead anywhere even if you clear them just so you know though
  • Did bunch of AI work, enemies can now do the following
    • Use more special attacks: kneecap shot, pummel, crippling strike, execute, heavy punch, dirty kick
    • Use "yell" special ability
    • Use more drugs: adrenaline, morphine
    • Throw grenades: frag, HE and flashbang
    • Use more special bolts: acid, shock, incendiary
    • Use offensive and utility psi abilities
    • Kite their target (like psi beetles do)

 

Here's a summary of what I focused on in this update: I've added a bunch of areas to Lower Underrail (the place where the SGS metro station is). These are just "wilderness" areas right now so there are any new quests, but monsters to fight, traps to step, loot to collect and that sort of stuff. I also add a number of items and blueprints (gloves, riot armor) which should give you more options in building your character, as well as improved the arsenal and the AI of the existing enemies.

In the next couple of weeks I'll mostly focus on Steam integration and fixing some technical issues with the game before I move back to building content.

* * * * * *

Which brings us to other topic of this dev log. So the game has finally been greenlit. It's been up there just two days short of a whole year which is longer than I've hoped, but shorter than I feared. I want to send out a sincere thank you to everyone who voted for the game and helped spread the word. With the Steam distribution secured, the future of the game is looking brighter than ever. :)

Anyway, to answer the questions that a lot of you have been asking me:

 

  1. I am aiming to release the game for Early Access on Steam. When exactly - I don't know. It depends on how long it will take me to integrate it and what the rest of release process is like. What I can say for sure is that this will be my priority in the coming weeks.
  2. If you've purchased the game through Desura I would very much like to give you a Steam key as well, but I'm not 100% sure what the rule on this are and I'll have to consult both distributors involved before I can commit to anything. Please be patient and I'll let you guys know as soon as possible. Same goes for those that purchased the game through the Groupees bundle.

 

 
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