Summer Development Recap #3

Posted by [email protected] on August 12, 2016 at 7:05 PM

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:


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…


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.


Categories: We Need to go Deeper, Game Development

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