We’ve started 2022 with a lot of feedback from the Prologue Demo and a sharper vision of what the final game will have to be like. After the festival we took the time to do a lot of behind the scenes planning and organizing, which wasn’t very glorious and news worthy but vital for the final stretch of development. Still, even with all this housekeeping we pushed on with the actual game development. The Prologue of the game has been integrated in the main campaign and has received a well earned polish that includes a functioning, upgradeable Shelter. First tier of the main campaign is in development, also, to be completed soon. Anyway, long story short, here are some of the new things we’ve worked on:
The Shelter map layout has been optimized to receive the entire system of upgrades; your refugees will soon enjoy fresh tomatoes before their gym routine or a night cap at the biker pub. Some of the upgrades will be built from scratch, some will take advantage of the old structures on the site. For example an old office can be either a biker bar (with its own moonshine still in the back room), an army hospital complete with surgery tables or a peaceful cultist prayer room, with a small hydroponics for growing soothing herbal plants and nourishing mushrooms.
Just do not forget to upgrade your defenses. The basic electric fence will help you against zombie stragglers only. One of these days you will get a large horde on your doorstep and these fortifications will need to hold them back or you and your pals will be just another nutritious meal for the undead.
Prologue Story/RPG Changes
People complained the Shelter stole their hard earned loot from the intro sequence so Mayor Adams had a change of heart and now you will be able to recover your stuff from the Sheriff’s office. Speaking of the Sheriff’s Office meeting, everyone is a tiny bit less edgy now, nurse Lucy in particular. The girl has a heart of gold hidden somewhere, if you can go past the murderous look in her eyes.
The three faction representatives, Father Joseph (cultists), Honest Joe (bikers) and Sgt. Kowalski (army) will have the chance to rule their own domain, if you allow them to settle near the Shelter. If not, you’re welcome to piss everyone off. We’ve reviewed and streamlined all their scripts too. Honest Joe now has an actual reward for you, he sends Bubba Gimme to open a nicely stocked shop right in the Shelter and furthermore, he will upgrade Bubba's inventory each time you do good with the bikers. Father Joseph can now be freed at your leisure, during day/night time. He warns you that daytime is more dangerous, but you be you and play the game as you see fit.
And finally, Sgt. Kowalski said he doesn’t like his desk job so now he’s blissfully happy doing what every drill sergeant wants to do: yelling at recruits all day.
New Code, Mechanics and Tools
Another big update is that of zombie spawners. Instead of having a manually placed population of zombies, now we can control the zombie generation with a spawner (think of it like a mass grave/body pile someone forgot to get rid of).
We can set how many zombies are present by default, how many will raise if they get alerted and how many in total will be spawned. The type of the zombie generated can also be controlled so you will see some of the enemies you thought you dispatched come back to haunt you later. The spawner can be shut down with explosives or fire, when you locate it.
New Loot Mechanic
In the demo, loot used to be attached to various assets (containers) placed throughout the maps by level designers. This is how we ended up with 10 or more lootable cars per map, because each time level design required a car to be placed, it also added to the available loot.
The new “Area Based Loot Distribution” system detaches the loot generation from graphical assets and ties the loot table to custom defined Loot Areas. A house could be one Loot Area, for example. Inside the Loot Area you will have assets that are defined as Loot Containers (bathroom cabinet, kitchen cupboard and dresser, in our example house) but instead of each container coming with its own preset loot, now they fill up with items set in the Loot Area table. And they pull those according to preset filters (medical items will go into the medical cabinet, kitchen stuff in the kitchen cupboard, etc).
This way loot gets assigned automatically to the proper container and adding more cabinets, cupboards and dressers to the house doesn’t run the risk of loot inflation. Furthermore, the total loot available stays true to the campaign design and the needs of the economy.
Migration to Unreal Engine 4.27
Many of the technical shortcomings reported during the Steam NextFest playtest were due to the fact that we had locked the development on Unreal Engine 4.18 (released in 2017). This version was clearly showing its age, especially when people ran the game on new 4k hardware, but porting an already developed project on a new UE version is quite a challenging undertaking. It took us the first part of the year to port and bugfix the code in order to have a 4.27 version (last stable before UE 5) running smoothly. It came with a risk and a cost, but the upgrade made the project viable and compatible with new hardware for years to come.
Modding Tools 2.0
Some time ago we showed on our website an early version of a tool that would allow easy scripting of missions and other RPG events. After the upgrade to UE 4.27, we had to upgrade the tools too so here’s the newest scripting system ready to be used (internally and by our future modders).
Its biggest advantage over the previous one and over a standard UE blueprint is that it’s more than a dry layout of functions and classes, it actually displays the quest dialogues and allows you to follow the entire RPG logic. You do not appreciate this to its full potential until you return to bugfix a quest a couple of months later, when you completely forgot who said what and why.
Expect more detailed info about the specifics of the first tier of the main campaign in the next dev update. The battles in this stage will take place over the domains of six local warlords, from all the three major factions.
UNTIL NEXT TIME!
PS: Thank you for the continued support and if you have made it this far down the text, why not add Urban Strife to your wishlist? And get more people to do it, it really helps!