Weekly Update

Update #9: September 9th

Yoooooo we've been busy prototyping over the last two weeks making some off-the-wall stuff that either we dreamt up or was suggested to us by fans and playtesters. WARNING: what you see below is in no way polished or refined - they're prototypes, meaning that each one is only meant to be a rough proof of concept.

This is the Auto Rover, meaning that it moves around a level on its own. We liked this concept since it provides us the ability to craft level-flow more precisely and actually improves the pacing by taking that agency away from the players. We have a lot of other ideas for this bad boy, but we'll be deciding in a few weeks if we want to keep it as a feature. 

This is the Auto Rover, meaning that it moves around a level on its own. We liked this concept since it provides us the ability to craft level-flow more precisely and actually improves the pacing by taking that agency away from the players. We have a lot of other ideas for this bad boy, but we'll be deciding in a few weeks if we want to keep it as a feature. 

Eric, our AI engineer, has been working on recrafting our enemy AI. Before this upgrade, each individual enemy would lock onto a specific player and not relent until that player was dead. Now they switch to whatever player is nearest. We'll keep you updated with more AI stuff in the future. 

Eric, our AI engineer, has been working on recrafting our enemy AI. Before this upgrade, each individual enemy would lock onto a specific player and not relent until that player was dead. Now they switch to whatever player is nearest. We'll keep you updated with more AI stuff in the future. 

Another fun spin on the rover was giving the players the ability to drive it. While this concept is still in need of a lot of polish, it was fun driving the rover ourselves and gives us the ability to make large, open maps for players to explore. 

Another fun spin on the rover was giving the players the ability to drive it. While this concept is still in need of a lot of polish, it was fun driving the rover ourselves and gives us the ability to make large, open maps for players to explore. 

So we have three temp levels in the game and we made a level select system to be able to switch between them. It's still not perfect and we'll have to expand on it when we have more levels, but it demonstrates the diegetic direction we want to be going in for elements in games that are typically interfaced-with using UI.

So we have three temp levels in the game and we made a level select system to be able to switch between them. It's still not perfect and we'll have to expand on it when we have more levels, but it demonstrates the diegetic direction we want to be going in for elements in games that are typically interfaced-with using UI.

And lastly what you see here might be pretty confusing at first. We made a weapon tier system where as you collect certain amounts of Ore your weapons grow in size and power. So whereas a normal Mine Launcher isn't nearly as large and only shoots a single mine per trigger-pull, this upgraded Mine Launcher is huge, has a greatly increased fire rate, and spawns three mines per trigger pull. We prototyped this in order to give players tangible rewards throughout the level and to emphasize progression, but it will definitely change in the future. We made similar effects for all of the weapons, although nothing is set-in-stone yet. You can look forward to a lot of weapon changes coming soon. 

And lastly what you see here might be pretty confusing at first. We made a weapon tier system where as you collect certain amounts of Ore your weapons grow in size and power. So whereas a normal Mine Launcher isn't nearly as large and only shoots a single mine per trigger-pull, this upgraded Mine Launcher is huge, has a greatly increased fire rate, and spawns three mines per trigger pull. We prototyped this in order to give players tangible rewards throughout the level and to emphasize progression, but it will definitely change in the future. We made similar effects for all of the weapons, although nothing is set-in-stone yet. You can look forward to a lot of weapon changes coming soon. 

Those are about half of the systems we worked on over the last two weeks, the rest not being as easy to show or as fun to talk about. We're currently in another prototyping sprint that will end in about two weeks, so look forward to more news and rad Gifs. 

Update #7: July 19th

Get ready, this is a long one! So we've been super busy over the last 5 days. As mentioned last week, we've been preparing our game for a submission to a Tencent indie game competition and have made a ton of progress. This will also probably be the last sprint we do before our team reconvenes next month.  

To start, we massively changed how players pick up items. Players previously had to look directly at an item with a 45 degree grace angle and stand at a distinct distance in order to pick up an item. Now players can pick up items without looking directly at them and the tolerable distance of pickup has been increased. We've also moved the pickup button from B to LT so players' thumbs spend less time off the right thumbstick. We have also made it so that items will never overlap when dropped, and instead maintain a certain distance away from any other item.

We also dramatically changed the mining system of our game. Whereas players used to drop an automatic drill on a hotspot, wait unarmed, and have to pick it back up after a couple seconds, we've now made the drills function on a manual system so that players never have to put them down, and are always armed. With this new system players use these manual drills to gather Ore from hotspots by repeatedly tapping the A button. 

We've also massively altered the deposit and reloading functions of our game. Similar to our previous mining system, players used to have to drop their weapons and wait unarmed when depositing or reloading on the Rover. Now, both of those abilities are tied to an AOE zone system where players only have to step into the correct zone in order to trigger a deposit or reload. This new system means that I can go gather Ore armed with the drill, come back to the Rover, and deposit my bounty by standing in the Deposit zone, all the while having the ability to fire my weapon and defend myself against enemies. Another small change is that we've also tied this AOE reload system to players holding drills so that they can sacrifice some of their tank to refill the guns of nearby allies. 

Another large change is our character orientation system. Now the direction that a character faces and aims is tied to the direction that character is moving (the direction the player is holding the left thumstick). Players can use the right thumbstick to gain greater control over aiming or if they want to move and shoot in separate directions - however their character will move slower. 

In addition to these three massive changes we've also done a ton of tweaking and balancing. Characters can now dash (clicking-in the left thumbstick) while holding weapons. Enemy health has been reduced and character health has been increased. Enemy respawn rates have greatly increased. Weapon ammo capacity has been greatly increased. The capacity of the Rover's tank has increased from 10K to 25K. Mineral hotspots now disappear when exhausted. We changed the Ore color to green for improved readability. WE MADE ICE SLIPPERY! We altered the lighting of both scenes. We increased overall weapon damage. We increased the rate of fire of the Chemical Rifle. We gave all items glowing outlines so they're easier to see. We fixed the Mine Launcher indicator. We altered the behavior of the Mine Launcher Projectiles. We altered enemy behavior so that the swarming enemies explode sooner and the crawler enemies only have a single, reliable attack. And we did a whole lot more. Check out the video below for visual representations of pretty much everything mentioned above. 

We made a massive amount of progress and the game now feels buttery smooth. But we still all look forward to tearing it apart again next month!

Update #5: June 5th

Hey everyone, 

So as you might have noticed, communication here has been pretty lax over the past couple of weeks. There are a couple of reasons for this, and we want you to know that it's absolutely not because we've lost interest in the game or feel as though we don't owe you guys. In truth, many of us are taking a bit of a break from development over the summer. As mentioned before, a good chunk of our staff are off at internships at AAA game studios creating the next multi-million dollar best seller. Many others have returned home to spend some time with family and friends. And some of us have been fortunate enough to get part or full-time jobs here in Utah as well. Ben, Jeremy, Isaac, and Bryan - four of our phenomenal artists/tech artists - are doing some amazing 3D work at Rockwell Collins, a company that specializes in military simulations. Hayden, Stephen, and Tyrone are all working at the GApp Lab on the University campus making therapeutic games and apps. Dean just got a job at castAR doing QA work. The general idea here is that many of us are taking this summer as a time to develop and refine many of our disciplinary skills. And, as mentioned in previous posts there are still a handful of our crew who are here in the office making strides on the game. Jeff is often in the lab getting company logistics figured out and reaching out to otherworldly forces that can help support the game. Dylan is always churning out some crazy cool concept art and developing ideas for where our cosmonauts will land in the future. Regardless, we'll all be back in August to work on the game and are going to be even more motivated to finish strong having already been approved on Steam Greenlight! We promise that we'll keep updating all of you guys with more info as features and prototypes are developed, it just won't be on a weekly basis.  

We thank you all for your support, and remember: we love you <3 

Update #3: May 4th

So this week has been pretty calm around the studio. After the madness of our EAE Launch demo we are slowly putting the office back together and gaining momentum on future plans. We have a BIG announcement this coming Monday (May 8th), so stay tuned for that. Otherwise we've been working on a couple other things, namely the big thing on Monday, but some other stuff, too. 

First of all, to back up a bit, we're happily celebrating the summer departure of a handful of our staff who were fortunate and hard-working enough to land internships with some premier studios. Karan and Eric, two of our our engineers, got internships at Avalanche and Insomniac respectively. Sarah, one of our designers, heads off to Irvine, CA in a week-or-two to work with Blizzard on World of Warcraft. Ming and Ruohan - a married powerhouse of tech art and art - are going back home to China where they will be working for a large mobile games company and an art outsourcing company for Naughty Dog. We'll miss all of them and hope that they enjoy their summers working for larger, more experienced game developers and return with a breadth of knowledge and wisdom to share with the team. The rest of the team (17 of us) will be around SLC working on the game by creating unique features and testing ideas to present to the whole team once we're united again in August. 

As for progress on the game, we have implemented a title screen into the build so it is a complete demo experience. We're also in talks with a handful of local game dev companies about coming out and presenting our idea to them in order to gain industry-level feedback and criticism. Hayden, a producer, has also been hard at work making our first game trailer. In addition, we're about to start our live-stream dev blog where we actually show ourselves playing the game, take some questions, etc. We'll hopefully have more news on that on Monday as well.

We'll also be shifting workspaces  soon so there has been some prep and planning for that, we're in the stages of legally forming our corporation, and we've been continuously expanding our presence online across various platforms. Speaking of which, we'd like to extend a huge thanks to the phenomenal donors that have contributed to our Patreon account - we're already past our first goal and about to reach our second so things are looking great!

That's all for this week but make sure to keep an eye out for our Facebook page on Monday to hear the big news!