I think we made a lot of ground on Experimental ItemV2 vs Master this week with some serious performance upgrades with the introduction of potato mode amoungst various fixes. We have decided to stick with the 2 week release cycle for experimental, as with the weekly content drops we were chasing our tail a bit.
For this cycle we will be starting with a quick bug fix patch today or tomorrow, then focusing on on completing the hit feedback upgrades followed by diving deeper into rarity, environmental effects, loot generation and progression. Expect to see rare creature spawns with different effects, that drop rare loot, and more diverse blueprint generation.
This week I will be finishing off the hit feedback system I started work on last week. There was a bug in the initialization step of the effect asset list that caused the effect system to shutdown completely if an effect was played while loading into the game (a pretty common scenario in a real server). This means the impact feedback and hit sounds would have been broken for most people. I will push out a patch tomorrow with a fix for that and finish off fleshing out the effect and sound configuration. A key part of this is the seperation of impacts on you, impacts on others by others, and impacts on others by you. A problem with the old system was that the same sound fired when you landed say, a headshot on someone, as the sound that played when you are getting killed. These should be different so your brain can create a negative and position ascosiation with the effect and not sit in a confused middle ground.
Since last blog I’ve been finishing up the non-performance related changes that went into 0.4.1.4.
This includes adding repairing to the fabricator machines, adding the vehicle wrench, a bunch of little bugfixes and working on the early game balance.
Now the early game is in a place where you can make a pickaxe, hatchet and spear easily and getting your first base up is cheaper and more accessible than ever only requiring 1 rare scrash drop (the ItemV2 equivalent of amber).
I also made hunger less of a concern, now players start with more nutrition, there are more owrongs in the starting zone, normal shigis now always drop meat and forest shigis have an increased chance (of dropping meat). With all these changes staying well fed is maybe a bit too easy but I’d rather stick on the safe side of this balance in the early game, dying before you’ve gotten a base up and having to start over from scratch is pretty harsh so we want everyone to be able to get themselves established without too much trouble.
The next real speed bump in progression is getting your protection gear which in the current setup means killing a whole lot of creatures to get the blueprints you want.
Right now we think this process is too hard and too random and so for the next experimental update we’ll be introducing a way to craft basic blueprints of common rarity.
This means you’ll be able to craft a basic cold protection top without having to get lucky finding the correct drop.
Being of common rarity will mean the item will only provide its basic function (eg. elemental protection for gear, mining power for pickaxe etc), extra stats like swing speed and bonus yield will be reserved for higher rarities coming from blueprint drops.
As well as fleshing out the rarities for items I’m also planning to do a similar pass on the creatures to allow them to spawn at different rarities affecting their stats, sizes, abilities, colors and loot.
So there’s not a lot for me to say about last week. I created the fabricator, which is an amalgamation of two existing heavy fabrication machines. The bottom part being a roller/bender for putting curves into long lengths of metal. The top part is a kind of grinder that I fitted onto the bender. Real world machines are the best for references for these machines as they really have that necessity over design, functional look. These references are a great basis for anything that you might want to look like it has an actual purpose.
Very happy with how it came out and how it is in game. I think the Furnace and Drill will get a similar treatment down the line. For now though I am going deep on the AWM and starting the texture work on that.
This week has been a full one for me. Working on getting custom trees into the game that utilize Unity’s built in wind and terrain tools. This has been a rather large learning curve as it’s not just the Unity tree;/wind system I need to understand it’s also the very under appreciated art of making good looking trees. There’s many steps involved in this process and I’m still learning the work flow but it’s definitely come along way from the time I started when my trees looked naked and half dead. In this video you can see the latest iteration of the new tree, this video shows the swaying and leaf flutter to give them some life and not just sit there totally still.
I’ve learnt a fair amount of tricks for making trees sine starting this little project, one of the main problems with my first trees was the vertex normals on the leaves shooting off in all different directions causing the lighting and shadowing to look random and horrible. By projecting the vertex normals outwards to a half sphere it causes the light and shadow to look much smoother and realistic giving the tree a fuller look. You can see here how sharp and jagged the tree on the right is.
Another thing I’ve realized is how much better the tree looks with some ambient occlusion baked into it, gives it some nice shadowing and adds some depth too it which is always good. Still feel I have a lot more too learn but so far it’s going pretty well. The whole point of this process is so we can add in some more biome specific trees that give each biome a unique feel, it may not seem like it would change all that much but it will really add to the feel of each new area.