Hi everyone. It has been a while since our previous IndieDB update, and a lot of progress has been done on pretty much all fronts. As such, it's likely a good time to summarize our goals for the project, detail our progress and announce our release date.
First and foremost, we often have to respond to people drawing comparisons with RimWorld, which is equally flattering and terrifying. This is something I addressed in a recent article posted on our official website (second part of the article). The TL;DR is that even it has some obvious similarities, we're aiming toward very different goals.
With that out of the way, After The Collapse is a base building game set in a post-apocalyptic near future, featuring urban environments and focusing on repairs, scavenging and trading instead of mining. Another particularity of the game, and thanks to our home-made engine, we're able to manage multiple play areas simultaneously. As such, during the Early Access process, features such as an underground layer to explore (caverns, sewers), the ability to build forward bases, raid other locations on the map and so on will be implemented.
Later down the line, we expect to integrate some light strategical elements, with the ability to control some territories (which will produce resources), and conduct various forms of diplomacy with other surviving groups.
A lot has been done since the last update, I'll go over the most important points, then I'll cover what we still have to do before the Early Access release on Steam.
A lot of time has been spent on refining the user interface. It still might not *look* very good, but it's responsive, non blocking and easy to use, which are my core principle for this game's UI. Accessing an information screen about any item is always a right-click away (as shown below with the shotgun from the inventory screen).
Each action has an associated, optional, hotkey which can be rebound easily. The game's running speed can be set between 25% and 200%. The camera's movement are smoothed. And last but not least, the whole user interface can be resized freely, allowing the game to be readable on most resolutions, 4K included.
Of course, there's still work to be done, and a lot of empty space to fill in the menus themselves, but it doesn't make the game any less functional and it's progressing steadily.
Production and Crafting
We've built most of the early game's production loop. You initially order your survivors to search the map for loot, you disassemble existing, damaged, buildings and furniture to feed the construction of your own base and initial production structures.
For that part, it works pretty much like any other base builder, transforming basic resources like wood, metal, coal or electronic parts into more useful things like weapons, armors, ammunition and medicine.
An interesting feature is that you can not only loop and queue production orders in your various crafting stations, but you can also tell them to produce something until you have a set amount in store. It's especially practical when you want to make sure you're not over producing some things.
I'm also, at this moment, writing the final lines of code for an electrical grid system. More advanced crafting stations, gun turrets, and lighting systems will require power to work properly and you'll be able to feed them using various types of generators (fuel or solar based). Contrary to RimWorld, you won't have to draw lines all over the map to do so. Instead, we're using a system similar to Starcraft's Protoss pylons. Simply put you'll build power relays at regular intervals to extend your coverage. It's effectively the same, but requires less micromanagement and visual pollution than drawing power lines,
Of course no good base building game (well, beside Dwarf Fortress) would be a thing without a research station. As you can guess, you research technologies to unlock new buildings, furniture, recipes and crafting stations, simple enough.
There's one interesting feature, though. I'm not using it yet, but it's the ability for technologies to require a specific item in the hands of the player's faction. For instance, we could add a mission to raid a military base in order to recover the schematics of a some kind of high-tech weapon, unlocking a new branch of the tech tree in the process.
Each survivor is unique, with a different list of traits, physical attributes, and skills. We also integrated a 'moodlet' system, akin to what you can see in Dwarf Fortress, with different events increasing or decreasing their mood accordingly.
Our survivors have also learnt how to handle ammunition (because, yes, weapons are using ammo in After The Collapse) on their own, trying to keep a decent amount on them whenever possible. They've learnt how to fight using the terrain as (effective) cover. Well, it's still a bit of a work in progress, but they won't charge at the enemy and will prefer to stay behind some kind of cover whenever possible.
It's still pretty basic for now, and I have yet to design a world map generator. I made good progress regarding making interestingly shaped buildings as I detailed in this article (a good read if you're into this kind of things).
It's still an important step in itself as After The Collapse will feature a lot of urban and semi urban environments. That being said, it's not yet my priority, it's an area of coding I know well, so i'd rather focus on the game's mechanics first.
Before the game's Early Access release in September 2018, there are quite a few things for me to complete, here are the main ones:
Supply and scavenging runs
This one is more tricky, it's the ability to send people to "out of base area" mission in order to scavenge for resources. Technically it would require a world map and a decent local map generator, Both are time consuming and i'd really rather focus on the base building part itself first. However, given it's a core part of the game, it will be either implemented via a menu driven system, or via basic procedural maps with no connection to the world at large.
Factions, trading and raids
I've already done the code to handle different factions and relations, but I have yet to setup events like bandit / creature raids and trading caravans. It shouldn't be much of a problem, in itself, at least in a basic form.
Audio and Rendering
Simply put, and due to unforeseen budget constraints, our graphics and music aren't at a point I'd like them to be, nor do they have a chance to get much better until we earn some funds from the Early Access process. Still, I'll be able to replace many placeholder items, improve the tiles' quality, add special effects and ambient sounds before E.A.
All things considered, the progress made in the last few months has been considerable, and the game itself is infinitely more stable than Unending Galaxy, our previous game, with a much more manageable code-base. Hopefully, we'll be able to deliver a game many of you will be able to enjoy.