Heya folks. This week I worked on getting the new Mangatang map out and working, and ironing out some of the workflow in map making. I’m pretty happy with how Mangatang worked out, and with a bit of polish I reckon it could be really fun. Probably the biggest issue with it right now is something that has been an issue in Diemensland, which is memorability. I made the map, and even I get pretty lost on the ground level. There are two main ways I see of solving this problem. The first is by changing the flow of the map, so there are more direct channels that lead from one biome to the next. Secondly, there needs to be significantly more unique features. This is exacerbated a bit by our reuse of stamps in the level, which lead to what was unique in the stamp becoming mundane in the map. We’ve talked a bit internally about what these features could be, and hopefully we’ll have many more distinct rock formations, more small outposts and cool little geological structures so that players can build up a much better visual/spatial knowledge of the map. There’s definitely some other things we could try, like being able to place more markers down for your beacons, or maybe even a minimap. It’ll all have to be some experimentation and a lot of playtesting, which is what I’ve been doing today. I’ll definitely be working on increasing the variety and uniqueness of the stamps we have, and reducing the reuse down to a minimum.
On the technical side of things, the map tools are capable of creating a cool map, and it’s going to be very easy to change things around to how we want them. However, there’s a lot we could do on the performance and QoL side to just make sure that things don’t break when you use them in an unexpected way, and that big maps can be quickly altered. It currently takes about 6 minutes to completely reapply the whole stack of the map, which isn’t a huge amount, but it’s enough to slow things down if you’re not careful about doing partial recalculations. I think the biggest potential comes from what I’ve mentioned previously, Compute Shaders, and these will take a bit of work to get up to scratch.
So I’ve finished the first Scope for the AWM, I got the Magazine finished also. These are both looking great. Now the AWM has much more of a complete feel. Today we a did some more testing in game also to get a feel for what major things need fixing. We have been listening to everyone’s posts about game breaking issues in the new map/progression. Was nice to get valid feedback which we can use to sort out the progression. Now, here is a nice bunch of shots of the new parts. 🙂
Spent this week fleshing out the Grasslands biome I’ve been working on. It’s starting to feel pretty nice to run around in, I plan on adding focal points and little structures as a test to see how it feels when you have some small land marks mixed with big ones. Making a map feel interesting is definitely a challenge as it can be restricted by gameplay mechanics. Varying types of ground textures have helped this test biome a lot in my opinion, the grassy ground is mixed in with an underlay of dirt on top of that I can add a yellowish dead zone with dead looking grass to break it up and then to top it off I have more dirt covered areas under thick clusters of trees where light wouldn’t have much of a chance to hit the ground. I’m planning on placing more rocks that fall in line with how the erosion of the earth actually happens and also changing their colour a bit to sit nicer in the environment.
In this image I’ve done a paint over of a radio tower with a few shacks and a couple other things to see how it would feel to have these small land marks. I feel like these sorts of things add a lot of interest to the map and stop it from feeling like a series of never ending hills. It’s similar to looking at a noisy picture with no place for your eyes to rest, it can become extinguishing without points to settle at.
This week I’ve been working on the recently released 0.4.3.0 update. Although it has some quite severe bugs and other balance problems I think it is our best progression model so far (until mondinium anyway) and it’s a good base for us to move forward with.
I’ve been configuring most of the item progression so most values are derived from other reference values (eg. A bor’s health is based on a percentage of average creature health per tier and a weapons damage is set by a different percentage of creature health per tier). This allows us to make sweeping changes across many items by altering the reference value. It also allows us to easily create new content by not having to lookup a whole lot of values, we can just express things like this item should cost 15 minutes of mining farming and 10 minutes of creature farming to craft.
I know a lot of these costs are currently pretty out of whack but thats just a matter of tweaking the percentages or the reference values themselves depending on the scope of the change and we’ll be starting to fix these very soon.
Before that though I’ve been focusing on the real show stopper bugs, I’ve got a fix for mondinium resource nodes not being minable (as well as the strange rubber banding and getting stuck around them) and a fix for the bug that lets you get an original workbench that you aren’t supposed to get anymore.
I’ve also got a fix for the general crafter machine showing up as the ammo machine and then lying about what it can craft.
These fixes will go out in a patch very soon along with some needed balance changes such as reducing the crafting cost of concrete and creating an easier way to craft gasoline.
This week has been all on content design, we’ve been fleshing out a framework of item gathering and crafting balance that should allow us to continue to build for many months to come. Part of this is a shift in our approach to focus our experimental builds into something greater than what we can achieve in 2 weeks. Over the last two weeks I feel that we developed much better language to describe the meta elements of survival games, giving us a much better understanding of how and why things work, allowing us to have a much better idea of how something will play before playing it. This should take a bit of the guess work out of our iteration.
Hotfix should go out today
We will be pushing out a hotfix today to fix up blockers and balance issues with the last patch which should leave it in a decent state.
Goals for this iteration
We had a good play session this patch and ran into a few major flow issues with the current gating mechanics and also how resource hotspots are working in the new map. We will be aiming to restructure these focal points to be more frequent, smaller and more obviously a good place to farm. The separation of construction and hotspot zones isn’t really conveyed strongly enough due to their large size and no visible change other than the NoBuild binary effect. We will be iterating on these mechanics this week.
We will aim to have the heat side of the progression added to the map for the next wipe cycle which will include a parallel progression through the hot biomes with completely separate loot, craftables and creature variants.
I will also do my best to get TehSplatt’s new biome implemented in procedural generation, so we can refine the scale of things to a point that it works well with the Hurtworld gameplay and push it into the next map.