Summer Development Recap #2

Posted by [email protected] on July 25, 2016 at 6:25 PM

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:



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.

Categories: We Need to go Deeper, Game Development

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