Early Access Update Fyrtiofem (45)
build id: 5CF67905
nornware AB is happy to announce a new update to Space Beast Terror Fright.
NOTE: Settings persistence has changed, you will want to check or reset your settings.
SYSTEM / UPGRADE DAMAGE
When mulling over ways to make the game feel like it has more progression / goals to achieve, I stumbled upon the idea of having non-fatal damage (i.e NOT beasts) do more things to the player.
Previously things like getting zapped by a creep, shot by a sentry (or player), or walking into a live fence would all damage a random "electronics system" of your HUD. I realized that if these events could instead have a chance of knocking out a random upgrade (while still sometimes doing systems damage instead), upgrades would no longer be permanent and there would overall be "more stuff to do" in the game.
While this might seem like a cheap shot, it seems to me in playtesting to have numerous advantages. It certainly causes more interesting scenarios; for example when you previously might have felt much more secure once you had acquired the short range motion tracker, now that "major" upgrade is suddenly no longer permanent but instead always at risk. Some player might recall that one of my long standing design tenets has been "extend the tension".
Another thing that feels good about this change is that it causes a player with many or all upgrades to have significantly more "effective health"; there are 37 upgrades available plus 6 systems, so a player with maxed upgrades has a much greater chance of surviving a lot of non-beast damage. On damage the game will roll a 50% chance of losing an upgrade over a system, and if that is the case having a lot of upgrades results in "having more hit points" effectively.
Note also that for upgrades that depend on each other (like motion tracker tiers), downgrades will always happen in the reverse order that upgrades happen, so in the motion track example you will lose long range before short range, and (now) short range before directional (see below).
All in all I think this is a very good change, and adds both to a constant sense of (potential) progression as well as adding some more constant risk to the game. Also it has the added twist of making a highly upgraded character much more robust to non-beast damage, something that I think is kind of cool and follows naturally from the concept of "being upgraded".
Note that when losing upgrades like ammo capacity and battery charge, the game will clamp your current values to the new maximum. There are also new character statistics for the number of upgrades gained and lost over the life of a character.
Finally, all upgrade and systems damage is now clearly announced in the HUD, just like when you gain an upgrade (as long as your text systems aren't knocked out...) I have also for clarity added a text display of what systems are functional at the bottom right of the screen, just so it is clear what is going on; this display will always function, regardless of text system status.
INFESTATION UPDATE / NEW BEAST BEHAVIOUR
I have worked on improving the overall quality and creepiness of infestation in the game. Improvements include:
Infestation color palettes now match both beasts and creeps, in the interest of camoflauge. They are now smart enough to not have skin colors that clash wildly with the infestation that they generate... :P
There is now a graphics setting that controls infestation quality, with the high quality being an experimental mode that allows the penetration fo penetrate more deeply into the geometry of walls. This of course uses more triangles and will probably be revised some more before the game is released. Note that this changes to this setting will take effect the next time a mission is started (the infestation meshes are "baked" like with the rest of the level geometry on mission startup).
There is now a plan option for "total" infestation, which means that the entire map is covered in infestation. This has more implications than you might think...
Breakers have always suppressed infestation, but this has been fine tuned to look much better than before (less blocky).
Players, scientists and beasts now have alternate step audio for when they are traversing infestation (squishy).
Moisture will now randomly drip from the ceiling in infested areas, with audio.
Infestation will now generate animated "Ridley Scott Mist" that I think really contributes to the overall spookiness / ickiness of the infestation.
Also, prepare to soil your trousers; beasts will now sometimes hide in the infestation, waiting to pounce on the unsuspecting player who fails to notice them. When they are doing this, motion tracking technology is not able to detect them, and audio cues such as music intensity are not affected either. Infravision might still useful however...
Also a small change that deserves to be more than just "miscellaneous"; sentry bullets now "daze" beasts for two seconds, during which time they cannot eat humans (players or scientists). The idea here is to avoid the unfair feeling of player deaths caused by sentry fire pushing beasts into players.
DIRECTIONAL MOTION TRACKER
I have added a new first-tier motion tracker, which shows motion in octants relative to the player. This is in response to some (rather old) player feedback that the short range motion tracker has often been too powerful. The upgrade path is now:
No Upgrade: Motion within 10 meters causes audio cues and text showing the distance to the nearest motion.
Directional: Adds motion octants, showing the general direction where motion is occurring relative to the player.
Short Range: Adds positional blips for motion within 10 meters.
Long Range: Adds motion beyond 10 meters as small blips around the periphery of the map/tracker.
BATTERY CHARGE NEAR BREAKERS
I wasn't happy with the manual aspect of recharging the player battery at breakers, so now just standing near a breaker will automatically recharge the battery. There is now also ambient audio for breakers (which incidentally helps you somewhat to find them during power outages). Also, all charging of the player battery is now accompanied by an audio cue, both when charging at breakers and during interactions with datacores / armories / repairs / sentries.
The idea of having some kind of "control room" has been bouncing around for a long time, and as it fit the fantasy of the game I wanted to give it a try. I knew right away that it should include a kind of map-table (hello James Cameron), and I proceeded to adapt the map/tracker code from the player HUD for this purpose. I was also thinking that the room should have some kind of functionality that empowers the player, like manipulating doors, fence, and sentries.
However when I actually implemented that kind of stuff it didn't feel like it added much to the game, but rather detracted from it by making it a bit too controllable (for example if you closed all the doors and turned on all the fences and sentries). I did think it looked cool though, so I just left the map-table in there; players might find still find it useful as it shows everything in the mission, but you can't take it with you... :)
MISSION LAYOUT / FEWER LABS
Many players were feeling like there were too many labs being generated in the maps and that they were messing the general flow of the game. I agreed, so labs are now constrained more to the center of the available space, resulting in far fewer labs total and a generally better feel to levels (and making the game generally a bit harder). I have also compensated by doubling the chance of panic rooms occuring in labs, so there are still scientists to be found.
There is now more fidelity in plan settings. Complete options are now:
- Infestation: none / less / more / total
- Doors: none / more / fewer
- Fences: none / more / fewer
- Barriers: normal / inverted
- Rooms: empty / filled / pillars
- Sentries: none / more / fewer
- Datacores: more / fewer
- Armories: more / fewer
- Repairs: more / fewer
GENERAL SETTINGS / MISSION SETTINGS UI
In general I have tried to compact all settings user interfaces (general settings / mission settings). Combos / drop-lists have been compacted, and anything with only two settings works like a binary toggle (no drop list). Sliders now also fit the style of everything else, resulting in a cleaner look overall.
- Sparks now have lensflares.
- Library layout is now compacted a bit.
- Options are now called Settings consistently.
- Predator is now the default infravision mode.
- UI text now includes drop shadows again.
- Added more character names at the request of Ian Urquhart.
- There is now only a single legend for all door types in the mission setup plan preview.
- The aiming reticle now animates when firing, increasing feedback.
- Added columns of steam around the reactor.
- I finally smartened up and started calling civilians scientists... :)
- Bullet marks on doors now shake along with doors, and also now properly stick to to panic room doors.
- Bullet marks have been optimized / limited to a rolling buffer of 256 instances. This is so that really long firefights won't adversely affect performance.
- Sounds have been optimized; channels won't play or stop when a call comes in with zero volume, saving mixing resources as well as avoiding cutting off sounds that are still playing.
- Sentries are now rendered using classic mesh skinning, optimized to render in a single call.
- Meshes in general have been optimized at import time to use fewer vertices.
- The player light is now called 'lamp'.
- Gibs sizzle at a slightly lower volume.
- Gibs are now rendered filtered.
- Gibs have been optimized / limited to a rolling buffer of 1024 instances. This is so that really long firefights won't adversely affect performance. As a result I have also removed the 'gibs stay' setting.
- Blood drips now have audio effects.
- Fixed plan bugs where panic rooms could occur right next to a door or a fence.
- Science upgrades now announce more visibly.
- 'Reloading' is now called 'Re-Arming'.
- Beasts now have better collision bounds, so that shooting them from the side is more accurate.
- Lensflares are now rendered properly in infravision mode.
- Lighting is now updated properly when sentries run out of ammo.
- All buttons in the user interface now have audio for 'cursor inside' as will as 'button pressed'.
As always, thank you for your support and patience.
/nornware AB c/o johno