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Breakdown of April milestone for Simulacra. The sprint focused on system updates intended to give the player more engaging decisions and context for the encounters.

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April Milestone Report

Happy Friday everyone!

Today is the end of the April Milestone so there is a new build available. Progress was definitely good, both in the raw work accomplished but also in further defining the type of game I would like Simulacra to be.

This Milestone - What happened?

  • Power System - The new power system came together pretty quickly and I’m happy with the layer of decision making it is beginning to introduce. In a nutshell, machines can be connected to power nodes that once cycled can enable or disable their children. This gives the player more control over the battlefield but also will make the player need to think about their choices as shutting off the power may also remove a benefit. The shield machine for imprisoning the villagers was the primary impetus for this, more on that below.
  • Weapon System - Previously the player’s weapon was hardcoded into the main player blueprint, but has now been refactored to stand alone. I reworked it so it may be customized into multiple recognizable weapon types, such as a rapid fire or shotgun style, and this will continue to expand as the weapon mod system continues to develop
  • Encounter Management - Encounters were pretty lackluster previously, with enemies just kind of chasing the player but no real defined goal. My initial thought was to define the encounters in such a way that I could spawn a villager or something once all the enemies were defeated but I realized that type of gameplay wasn’t really what I wanted. My hope is that the game can be open enough to accommodate the player’s own story telling, so if they manage to sneak around or somehow circumvent the encounter, they shouldn’t be punished by a lack of reward. So right now, villagers are used as the main “reward” for the encounters, and will be found either imprisoned and needing rescue, or hiding nearby in shrubs.
  • General Updates
    • Refactored Menus - This should be pretty transparent but the menu system needed some refactoring to reduce bloat and make it less prone to error. Waaay cleaner now!
    • Art updates - I’ve been working on getting better at hard surface modelling and though still rough, the pylon model is a pretty decent representation of where I would like to head with the machinery
    • Bug fixing - This past week I’ve been doing a lot of user experience testing, fixing both errors and streamlining things for the player. Managed to cull out something like 300 build warnings so the game should be a lot more stable.

April 2016 Milestone April 2016 Milestone April 2016 Milestone April 2016 Milestone

Next Milestone - What’s going on next?

The next milestone is planned to be a bit more free form than previous ones. I have a queue of tasks in HacknPlan that I would like to dig into, both improvements on existing systems as well as experiments. Like I mentioned in the previous milestone summary, the game’s biggest weakness right now is its lack of progression and context and though I think this milestone did a good job taking the first step, there is still quite a ways to go. Ideally I would like to hook up the weapon system into a more rich UI so the player can start actually purchasing upgrades and modifications for their gun. Similarly I would love to get more storytelling happening in the base, but that may need to wait until I find a better dialogue solution. The current one is too complex and prone to error. So we will see what the current milestone brings!

Misc. - What’cha playing?

Currently in my free time I have been playing the early access game, How to Survive 2. The first one was decent if somewhat bug riddled. I have to say I have been enjoying this one quite a bit more, the free-form base building is a welcome addition and seeing how they are implementing and refining things gives me a lot of ideas for improving Simulacra. I have also gone back to Magicka and been playing through that with a good friend. The raw chaos of that game is so awesome and I really enjoy how each element both modifies your own abilities but also how you go about using them. We tend to die a lot trying to revive one another while soaked (water + electricity = bad), or hit each other with lightning bolts.

Thanks again for tuning in, let me know what you think about the build and have a fantastic weekend! - CJ

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