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Summer Development Recap #3

Posted by [email protected] on August 12, 2016 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (4)

Alright! New update time!


So the past few weeks of development have been rather crazy; because we got around to adding one of the biggest, scariest, hardest things to add to our game:


ONLINE MULTIPLAYER.


Since we live in an age where most routers won't allow for port forwarding and paying for relay servers is ungodly expensive, this was quite the task for us (read: mostly Jordan working long days and late nights) to tackle. What we wound up doing, without going into crazy technical detail, is use a combination of Steam's provided use for matchmaking lobbies, and NAT Punch-through libraries to hook up online players with each-other directly, with Steam's lobbies providing a gateway to getting all the correct players information, and to provide an easy to use interface for players to create and join lobbies without needing to type in or know any goofy IP addresses, port numbers, etc.



Joining or hosting a game - now as easy as pushing a button!


The result is that we only have to pay for a cheap Facilitator server, and players don't have to do anything too wacky to play with one another online. This is by far the most exciting development of late, even if it's not 100% foolproof. We're still working out some major issues that have prevented some beta players from being able to join certain players' games, but overall it's already put our game way closer to being something we can feel comfortable selling. And all it took was for Jordan to lose sleep. :o


Other developments of late have involved a lot of new content! The first of which is our new upgrade crates!




We’ve been juggling around different ideas for aaaages on how we wanted to implement submarine upgrades. At one point it was going to be a merchant, another time we were going to make a dedicated console for it that required an entirely new resource to manage, but in the end we decided to try and keep it simple, and use it to help encourage exploration by placing these random destructible upgrade crates near the end of caves. They don’t always spawn mind, so not every cave is created equally, but those with patience and persistence will be rewarded with various submarine upgrades! At the time of writing we’ve only implemented the most basic of these, being incremental upgrades that boost various systems of the submarine. Here are the ones we have so far:


Hull Plating - Upgrades the max hull integrity of the sub, letting it take more damage before exploding.




Shield Power Cell - Upgrades the time it takes for shields to recharge after being damaged, making them more effective over time.




Engine Booster - Upgrades the base speed of the engines, letting you cruise at a faster pace.




Oil Bottle - Upgrades the cannon’s rotation speed, letting you be more accurate and a quicker aim with your torpedo shots.




In the future we hope to start adding more unique upgrades, like swappable weapons for the sub, swappable shield components, etc. to add more interesting choice-based upgrades to a run. These are going to be a lot more work to implement, so it’ll be some time before we can get to them.


The next major content update has been our recent addition of an entirely new enemy type we call Hazards! Unlike enemies, Hazards are attached to walls and are unable to move in order to harm the sub. But what they lack in mobility they make up in numbers and in variety. Here are some examples of some Hazards we’ve added:


Sea Weed and Anenomes – Two undersea plants that will give you a run for your money- while the thick seaweed will slow you down when passing through it, the anenomes’ static sting will disable your shields on touch!




Snapping Bivalves – Ensure you don’t veer too close to walls, because these Oysters will snap away at your hull in no time.




Ice Bergs – I mentioned a version of these last time, but unlike their floating counterparts, these massive ice shelves can’t just be bumped out of the way, and will often block your path entirely, requiring the crew to take action to shoot and destroy these barriers before getting killed by the local sea-life.




Wall Flowers – These massive flowers are a part of a new Prehistoric biome we’re putting together, and they don’t take prisoners. These things will fire their sharp seeds at the sub as it passes by, adding a new layer of danger to this jungle-like biome.




This new sub-set of enemy types has so far proven to be very versatile, and I’m excited to keep adding new rare variants to mix things up from play through to play through. More importantly, these hazards do something we’ve been trying to encourage for a while, and that’s keeping a slower and more cautious pace for the game. Our AI Dungeon Master will toss these at you in spades if you are cruising through the levels too fast, so players will hopefully be encouraged to take things one encounter at a time to help their chances of success.


Another major feature that we’ve long been planning but has only recently come into fruition is our biome-based water effects. Basically, for a while we’ve been planning for certain biomes to have different effects when leaking into the sub, but only one biome has done this recently- being the barnacle biome with its barnacle-growing mechanic. Now all of our current biomes have their appropriate water effects! For the Arctic biome the water can freeze doors shut which must have their icy exterior busted through, for the Stormy/Haunted biome we have the torturous spirits of fish spawning inside the water to terrorize players, and for the Prehistoric biome we have flowers, vines and plants that grow inside the ship to give you trouble. With these things in place the game is starting to really take shape, and the number of possible threats/interactions at any given time have finally started to reach the variety we envisioned so long ago.




Freezing doors in action.


Finally- as silly as it sounds, after 3 years of development for the first time ever we now have…


WORKING BACK BUTTONS!




Yes that’s right. For the past 3 years we’ve always disabled these things because functionality behind back buttons when your systems are as interconnected and network-dependent as ours is a pain in the butt. And it was indeed a huge pain in the butt, but we have them now! Now you can actually back OUT of hosting an online/LAN game without everything falling apart. While stuff like this doesn’t seem as exciting as other content-based updates, it’s all necessary for a polished project and we’re glad to finally have them thanks to Jordan once again taking the mantle to buckle down and get this kind of thankless work done.


Oh, and a penguin. We also made a penguin.



 

Summer Development Recap #2

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2016 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (0)

Well it's been quite the productive couple of weeks since the last post I must say; after The Leo we've been readjusting some of our plans and expectations for how players' bust through our content and how they approach it, and every new addition makes me feel all fuzzy inside.


The most exciting of these developments to me personally, has been Jordan's recent implementation of what we call "Living Portholes" - basically, the illusion that the players are running around inside a submarine has been made all the more powerful with the addition of exterior cameras placed outside of each interior porthole, making them act like actual windows to the outside world! The difference this has made in making interior players feel integrated and involved with exterior events is unmistakable. Just check out these over sized GIF files:

 

CLICK TO SEE A REALLY BIG GIF: http://i.imgur.com/RT8C5dT.gifv




Is that awesome or what?

 

Some more invisible developments have also been making a fairly large difference, as many adjustments have been made to our ever-evolving difficulty manager the AI Dungeon Master. Notably, he now "staggers" enemy types based on depth, so instead of stints of silence being followed by getting every enemy type hitting you at once, things are a lot more paced out now - with schools of weak sharks attacking you one moment, and getting your shields disabled by a singular sticky Duopus the next. It's a small difference, but we've noticed that staggering out content like this not only keeps players from getting overwhelmed too quickly, but also serves to make each enemy encounter feel a little bit more special.


Speaking of enemy encounters, we've also recently been working on adding new rare variant encounters to better help distinguish our three beginning biomes from one another. I hope to keep adding these as often as we can, because I want to be sure the beginning of our game doesn't start out too samey each time you play. With variants, you're never too certain what kinds of encounters you might have when starting out, hopefully keeping people a little more on their toes. With that in mind, here are some of the notable new rare variants we've added to each zone:

 

Atlantic Waters - Killer Clownfish



You may have noticed this fella attacking the sub in one of the porthole gifs above. Despite his silly appearance, this clownfish is a tough customer. Slower than sharks, he's only able to charge and bite you in short bursts. But like his smaller brothers, his mucus-coated skin allows him to ignore your electrically powered shields. (COUGH! Liberal science fiction interpretation of clown fish’s natural ability to resist anemone stings, far-fetched I know)

 

Arctic Waters - Ice Bergs



Big floating chunks of damaging ice debris occasionally litter the undersea pathways, giving drivers a run for their money when deciding to blindly charge at high speeds. This has seemed to benefit our intended overall pace for this region, as players have to slow down to avoid crashing into these things at high speeds.


Stormy Waters - Hammer Dead Shark



This one is a little less special I must confess, simply because the special variant I had in mind for the stormy area is going to be a lot more work to implement, but I wanted to make sure each area had at least one special variant in time for a recent miniature showcase to Jordan's family. But alas, here he is for now. The Hammer Dead shark is basically functionally the same as a regular Hammerhead shark, though bigger and with more health. And without his head.


A few other things of note - we now have parallax rock backgrounds, which obviously help a lot in fleshing out the feeling of depth in the exterior world, in addition to helping empty zones without many walls nearby feel less disorienting when moving.




We also have started implemented a proper auto-saving/loading system for unlockable items, along with some new fancy UI to let you know about your achievement and the Meta progress being saved mid-play through:




All in all, some fun stuff has been coming down the pipe, and the team is feeling legitimately excited again for the first time in a long while! It feels good to be adding NEW stuff again after 2 years... Next up Jordan's cracking down on official ONLINE play via Steam Matchmaking, which is when things are really gonna start heating up, and is our major wish list feature before finally sending this stuff out to pre-Early Access beta testers.


Err… alpha testers I guess?  For the record everybody, didn’t "Alpha" traditionally mean a build for "INTERNAL testing," so anytime you see a so-called PUBLIC alpha, that's actually a Beta by virtue of being public? We can be real good at fudging definitions sometimes.

Summer Development Recap #1

Posted by [email protected] on July 12, 2016 at 11:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Oh my word, where do I even start? The past two months of development have frankly been insane, and most of it is a blur at this point. But out of it, we’ve gotten ourselves something we’ve been churning away to get to for years now; a new functional demo build! 



We showcased it just recently at a local museum called The Leonardo to much success. Even though it pushed us back a whole 2 years now, I’m happy to say that switching engines was all in all the right move, as this recent build is vastly more stable than our old version, not to mention way prettier and runs way smoother. Whereas the last time we went to a public convention to showcase Deeper, we were literally scrambling to fix and patch things all the way up to and DURING the convention, this time the game just worked the way it was supposed to, and that’s something I find quite comforting in the midst of all our delays.


So, what’s new? Well, lots of things, most of which relate to simply ensuring all of the basic mechanics we’ve had in the past are now back in and networked properly, which was no small task, and for which Jordan in particular worked his butt off to achieve in time. But the most notable of which being a new area we’ve been fleshing out for The Leonardo build, and one I’ve been personally the most excited for us to implement for some time; The Infected Waters!



We’ve got it all - strange floating Barnacle Mines outside, which when hit have a chance of spawning an even more deadly Barnacle Infested shark, Barnacles that grow slowly inside the ship wherever the Infected Water happens to be touching, and eventually hatching into a variety of frightening Barnacle Crabs that terrorize players on the inside, and a giant mine-spewing Barnacle Hive boss to end out the area with!



Being able to finally implement and test this new area has been quite a blast, and watching players react to these terrifying new creatures even more-so, with folks at The Leonardo scrambling to shoot pesky barnacle crabs off the ceiling while keeping the water leaks at bay.



Another benefit of this new area is a new marvelously fun musical track we got from our composer David in collaboration with Jordan for the Barnacle Hive boss fight – which y’all should check out here:


https://soundcloud.com/deli-interactive/the-brood-of-the-hive



Among the many new additions, of course, are many, many tweaks and improvements, and a whole lot of juicing. I’ll list off a bunch of notable stuff that I can think of:


- Sound effects! Not only are sounds back in, but now we have a system that low passes sounds (takes out their high end and makes them sound muffled) based on whether you’re looking at the exterior or interior world. So if an explosion happens outside and you’re looking inside, you’ll hear it the same way you might if there WERE actually a thick metal sub between you and the outside world.


- Camera shake! In further interest of making you feel like you’re really inside this big hunk of metal, we now shake the camera anytime the sub has an impact of hull breach to keep players on the inside feeling the action happening outside. The one in this Gif is the result of a major impact caused by a swordfish piercing through the sub's hull:



- Sub health UI! In past play sessions, we noticed that despite putting the sub’s health on a console inside the submarine, no one ever paid attention to it and the sub would often blow up seemingly without warning as a result – now in the interest of clarity, all players will be able to see the sub’s health through a new UI component. It’s up all the time for now, but eventually I hope to only make it pop up when it becomes relevant.




- Boss health UI! With the introduction of our new boss, we decided it was high time we have a way of showing players how far along they are in boss battles, so they can better tell how close they are to success. We whipped up this new fella to serve that purpose.




- Trench tops! While not the most important thing in the world, we realized that for the longest time we’ve never had an in-game context for how this trench looked at the top. So, I decided to make some assets to showcase where the players are before they dive. That is to say, between TWO mysterious islands! Because Jules Verne.




- Underwater overlays! This one’s a bit more subtle, but we wanted for a while for our underwater stuff to feel, well, more underwater. While things like refraction shaders are costly, we decided to implement a hazy textured and colored vignette over our exterior underwater cameras to give our world a more distinctly underwater feel. I was skeptical about this at first since I feared it would mess with my carefully chosen color palettes, but it did a lot to tie the sub in with its surrounding environment, as well as being good for general atmosphere and with the painterly texture applied, gives a nice subtle extra effect to the hand-crafted feel of our art direction.

 

Before and after the overlay:




And finally, one last major announcement is that our Steam Store page is now officially live!


http://store.steampowered.com/app/307110




Getting the assets together for this has been no easy task, and we wanted to make sure we made a nice first impression once our game hit the storefront. With this you’ll notice we have now posted our official plans for Early Access, and how we plan to go about involving the community, along with a tentative winter release date. Time will tell how these things evolve but it feels good to be out there and showing off our game again! Be sure to go wishlist/follow our game page if you so desire, and now I’m gonna get back into the trenches, since there’s plenty more work to be done!

Summer Development Begins! Also a Special Announcement!

Posted by [email protected] on May 9, 2016 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)

So as we've banged on about several times before, our fall and spring seasons tend to be overflowing with college studies and commission work, and so we all die down online and go quiet until things start to open up for us. Which, generally speaking, starts during the Summer.


With that said, Summer has indeed started and we're all trying to hit the ground running this year with We Need to Go Deeper development, which I'm happy to report is inching ever closer to being something we're feeling comfortable letting people get their hands on again since we started rebuilding in Unity! All the disparate pieces are starting to come together, and within the first week of full time development we've already managed to nail down some of the core things we've needed for some time, especially in regards to networking. As the weeks progress, we'll try to clue everyone in on what's goin' on here, as I'm really trying to buckle down about being present on social media this year, now that I've finally joined the modern age and gotten myself a smart phone.


But first, let's talk about that juicy announcement I teased in the title there - which for a lack of ability to pace out this post, I'll just spit out in the next sentence.


WE NEED TO GO DEEPER IS GOING EARLY ACCESS!


Steady on there, though. Not straight away. What I mean to say is, we're GOING to be in Early Access as soon as we're ready for it. Hopefully this year. Maybe. Who said that?


Also, let me address this first, since I know someone's eventually going to bring it up:



So yes, these are things I said. I also meant these things at the time I said them. However, this is back in the days before I really saw any evidence of Early Access being a model that can be done RIGHT. At the time, we were all pretty against early access since it seemed that pretty much any game on the service seemed to be either an entirely broken product, a money grubbing sink hole, or both. We are still super against this kind of model that takes advantage of players, which is why we want to ensure that if we do it, we'll do it RIGHT! I'm not gonna go over the specifics just yet, but I will say that the Early Access development models of Nuclear Throne, Don't Starve Together, Darkest Dungeon and others have been a huge influence and are something we aspire towards. Also, past me spelled "privilege" wrong, so clearly he's an idiot.


As for WHY we decided to pursue the Early Access model, the reasons are many and varied, but the advantages eventually managed to outweigh the disadvantages for us.


For one, Early Access is a great model for a game that changes and molds itself off of community feedback. Being a multiplayer game made by fewer people than there are fingers on your hand, we will absolutely depend on the community to help shape Deeper into what it will eventually become. While we have all these great ideas and mechanics that we personally think are great, there's no real way to tell how they'll fare until we throw em into the wild. And Early Access provides a way to do that early and often, and help fund development while doing so.



Speaking of funding, while it's not a part people LIKE to talk about, keep in mind that we never had any kind of Kickstarter for Deeper as seems to be the case with many games on Steam, and because we're also struggling students trying to make our way in the world, the well of passion time runs lower every year, making development take longer and longer, and making our wallets smaller and smaller as we take time away from doing things that would otherwise be making us money. So Early Access provides us a way to keep development afloat, and to justify all the time we're putting into it. Unfortunately, making games takes a lot of time and effort, and the bills simply don't pay themselves, so unless we want development to last a lifetime of weekends and holiday breaks - which basically means none of you will ever get to play it - realistically money is something we now have to worry about as the college loan pile gets higher and higher.


It's also a model that is well suited to games that CAN grow and expand in complexity and fun with frequent updates, which, being a roguelike with randomized elements and unlockable content, We Need to Go Deeper certainly is. What's exciting about it to me, personally, is that it means if the Early Access model goes well for us, the game can grow even further and become even better than what it might have become had we simply developed and trimmed the fat on our own, with what would have been a much smaller test audience.


Because the fact is that Early Access CAN be a very exciting development model for players, so long as it's approached with them in mind. For Deeper, I can say we're definitely gearing towards our Early Access release to being a big community fueled process, and one we're not content with limiting to posting bug reports on Steam Forums. We live in an interconnected social age now, where behind the curtains development is no longer the only or even the best way to do things, and it's something I hope we can embrace in a way that will be beneficial to everyone. I'm excited to start talking about more of this soon as we come closer to our Early Access release and I want to thank everyone who has been so patient and supportive of our development thus far, and I hope you continue to do so!


Now let's see how those water physics are coming along:



Perfect. Ship it yesterday.

 

Bells of the Jingle and Taco Variety

Posted by [email protected]m on December 15, 2015 at 4:30 PM Comments comments (0)

So despite our college-ing pretty hard recently, some cool stuff has been happening recently with the Deli Interactive team. Not the least of which deserves a little announcement of its own - that being that We Need to Go Deeper was selected as one of 20 winners of the Taco Bell Indie Game Garage! Woo hoo! 




So what does this mean? Well, aside from Taco Bell supplying the Deli Interactive team with $500 in Taco Bell food fuel, we're also getting access to a cool secret indie society forum full of other Taco-worthy devs along with Jessica Chobot of IGN, members from the comedy group Rooster Teeth, and Twitch streaming heroes Swiftor and Jericho!  We'll also be able to start posting blog posts directly to the Indie Game Garage blog. This is a pretty awesome opportunity for us, as hopefully it will help get We Need to Go Deeper out in front of the eyes of yet more people! 




The link to the official site is here: https://www.indiegamegarage.com/, so be sure to go and check us out there as well as some of the other winners!  I've talked with quite a few of em already, and they're a great bunch of devs all making extremely awesome games. We're all still trying to sort out the official blog so it's admittedly pretty bare at the moment but pop by here and there and hopefully you can start having a handy place to keep track of all these taco-worthy indie games.


Speaking of official websites, we have a new one now! WENEEDTOGODEEPER.COM is hip and jive and LIVE!  Come one come all and witness Nick's college HTML coding experience at work. But seriously, if I do say so myself I think it's pretty rad and certainly way better looking than our previous one. It also features a PRESSKIT page, which is designed to be a handy source for those who want to talk about our game, with video links, official logo and image downloads, background, basic info on the game etc.


So check it out and let us know what ya think! I'm not the best web designer in the world, but hopefully this will make visits from people who want to learn more about our game more easy on the eyes. 




Oh, and to justify my pun title here, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from Deli Interactive! Have fun doing Holiday stuff and freezing your buns off this winter.  Unless you live in a warm climate, in which case enjoy basking in your beach holiday, you lucky duck.


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