Lately we've had time to plan further into the future, as oppose to rushing from one chaotic milestone to the next. We're slowly laying out the roadmap for the rest of the year and so far we've got some exciting features planned for summer.
In terms of the update schedule, we got 0.13 slated for release next week. Besides the AT Rifle, we'll be getting an initial version of the North-South Conquest, which has been one of the most requested features from the community. This update also has some pretty big balance changes that will shakeup the meta in the coming wars. Prepare for some uncomfortable changes everyone :).
Looking further ahead, we got a major update planned for June that we'll start talking about in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Disclaimer: Any feature or piece of content shown here is a work in progress and subject to change in the future.
Foxhole has always been an infantry first game, but lately we've been seeing armoured vehicles proportionally being used more. We've also heard feedback about "armor spam" on more than one occasion. To level the playing field between armored vehicles and infantry, we're going to be introducing the Anti-Tank Rifle. This has also been a highly request weapon for awhile now from the community.
The AT Rifle is effective at suppressing armored vehicle attacks. It's the first weapon in Foxhole that deals armor piercing damage, which means double damage against armoured vehicles like Light Tanks and Half-Tracks. As a result, it effectively is less damaging to structures and other vehicles. Since this weapon does not require sulfur, we imagine it will be the go to weapon for fighting armor mid conquest. It operates much like the HMG so it can only be fired while crouched or prone. The AT Rifle won't be replacing the RPG though, which will still be the more effective weapon for destroying armored vehicles quickly. For some additional specs, the AT Rifle takes 13.5mm Ammo (new) and has a clip size of 8. It has a long range, equivalent to a normal Rifle and incurs heavy encumbrance.
Everyone has been shouting at us for weeks for this change. With 0.13, we'll be rolling out the first version of a North-South Conquest. It will be an early design, but more changes will come quickly in 0.14.
We initially made Conquest run in the West-East orientation because we planned for beach landings at the coasts to be the main method for maintaining an active front across 3 regions (which is mandatory to reduce over crowding). As we developed Conquest and started experimenting, we realized that Port Bases were a more viable solution at least in the foreseeable future. As many of you from the community pointed out, the current orientation also has much less potential for water travel. With the new Conquest, we're definitely a lot more motivated to revamp amphibious warfare.
There are two big map changes coming with North-South Conquest. First of all, the Upper Heartlands will be getting a major expansion and will be renamed to Heartlands. This change will allow for a more vertical battlefield, which is necessary for it to be used as a "Port Bases" region for the new orientation. Second, Weathered Expanse will be expanded to include a coastline. This is in preparation for some changes we have lined up in the coming updates.
Foliage Visual Revamp
The art team has been slowly chipping away at improving the environments in Foxhole. They started with the revamp of rocks (which is still being integrated into the game) and now they're taking a look at foliage. Adam was nice enough to do a write up of their process.
By Adam Garib
As with everything in Foxhole, modelling something that has an analogue to the real world always proves to be a challenge. The human eye is just not used to looking at objects from top down, and further complicating things, the in-game camera has a Field of view (FOV) that is different from our own. As soon as we see a new asset from our in-game camera, something in our brain snaps. It knows what the object ought to be, but has difficulty making out the iconic symbols that make up that object. If you’ve ever looked at a human face upside you will understand this phenomenon. Redesigning the trees in Foxhole were no exception, they needed to be abstractions of real life objects, but figuring out how far we need push an object is not an exact science and often takes many iterations.
Ultimately in the end we needed a few criteria to be met:
The Trees needed to maintain the technical limitations of the existing trees.
They needed to be able to clump together attractively and not feel repetitive.
The scale needed to be set by the artists not randomly chosen by the game engine (small deviations allowed).
We wanted the trunks to blend with the landscape more attractively, and focus more details on the lower third of the object.
The leaves need to feel like Foxhole without being too abstracted or too explicit.
There are always challenges to game development, but a few of them are unique to Foxhole. Scale is one of those challenges. Often we will build and test something with real-world scale, and find that it 'feels' either too small or too big and trees were no exception. Objects that are either too large or small may never fit in the world of Foxhole, as they just may look too 'cartoony' in relation to the player or so small that you can’t see it.
There was another question that we needed to answer as well. What happens when the trees are so full, that they create a thick canopy? Previously, we had a simple fadeout that was a fixed distance from the camera. This wouldn't work with more complex trees. So instead, we looked at how we show visibility during the night, and applied the same principles to the trees. So now, you will always see your character behind trees, at all times. Wherever the camera moves, or wherever you aim, you will be able to visualize what your senses might allow in that situation. Managing Level of detail and noise is also something that we fight against.
Our visual design lies somewhere between realism and full abstraction, so we have to utilize the philosophy of a painter; You cannot copy real-world details in paint as there is far too much information. You must learn to abstract it to the essential, add detail where you want the viewer to look and lead the eye with details
With this philosophy, and in particular with the help of Anthony, we built a subset of trees in the game using very simple modelling and texturing techniques boiled down to the essentials. We focused our random variations to the surface details (normal map), and we let colour to just remain as abstracted shapes that are relatively low contrast (albedo map). We learned that each model does not need to look stunning on its own, but rather work together with the of the game. Like the rocks, the trees are another part of the environment we are excited to bring up to the visual standard that we have wanted from the start. If we did our job correctly, you will never pay attention to these assets, they’ll just feel right.