Christmas update preview

Posted On 17 Feb, 2018



We have a big update coming out next weekend which also happens to be the weekend before everyone starts taking time off work to sit at home in front of their computers drinking eggnog and playing space ship games. I want to release official patch notes after the patch is out, so right now I’m just going to group upcoming changes into categories and write summaries for them. We are busting our butts with testing and polishing right now as all of our planned content is in the game and just needs to be debugged.

New story content


In the previous update we overhauled a lot of the orange zone and replaced existing worldgen parameters of the orange zone with new content, new NPC interactions, new prefabs, and new quests and rewards to make the orange zone just generally better. In this update we are doing the same with the red zone.

We have remade pirate’s cove with some QOL improvements like a warp gate that will take you there instantly once unlocked, and we have upgraded it to serve as a proper quest hub for the new story content that is being added in this update. You will find new NPC characters of varying degrees of sobriety to interact with that will give you quests and things to do, and the existing stations and loot tables have been massaged to fit better into the story progression of the zone.

We have also added a TON of dialogue. I seriously probably doubled the amount of dialogue in the game, and I had a lot of fun writing it so if you enjoy the story elements of Zero Falls then you are hopefully going to enjoy the new writing. Of course you jerks who skip all dialogue will be glad to know that there’s still no pause between dialogue response clicking and the quest log should tell you everything you need to know in 1 or 2 sentences max.

Did I mention we have a proper quest log now? More on that later.

The red zone also has a massive space dungeon area added to it which is part of our goal to move the gameplay progression more in the direction of space combat. A lot of the story elements in the red zone will revolve around space combat, and your progression should be gated behind your ability to take out increasingly powerful enemy space ships. This is the first iteration of the endgame gameplay loop where we put the player up against increasingly difficult space enemies, and we don’t have any data yet on how it should be balanced, so we ask you to be patient with it, give feedback, and expect it to improve in the next big update once we have tester feedback.

New game engine features


We have done a lot of work on the engine as usual, here’s some of the important changes:

  • added some support for rendering quality settings that can be changed to affect performance
  • many optimizations, mostly around ship interior rendering
  • added a new framework that allows us to force sections of the game world to regenerate so that new content can be added in an update without invalidating past saves
  • currency items that drop when you blow up ships are now instantly collected and there is a new one that increases station construction capacity, goal is to shift the grind away from trading and towards space combat
  • Complete rework of save game logic which makes your saves into a file instead of a folder and allows you to maintain more than 1 save. Also uses compression so the files are small and easy to share
  • Added a new framework for attaching particle effects to the exterior of a ship via modules. Any module can have an arbitrary number of particle effects associated with it, and we plan to add 1 tile structure modules in the future which will allow decorating custom ships with particles
  • Many mechanical upgrades to the codebase such as ctrl-Z undo inside the editor, a working full interior screen-shot feature, and proper loading animation for long duration calculations
  • Many assets and module types secretly added for use in future updates which will probably immediately show up in workshop mods

 

GUI improvements


Jan has gone absolutely nuts with making the game look more professional. He has written a new GUI framework, and has been methodically going from screen to screen changing things in the order of what irritates him the most.

  • We have a quest log now!
  • You can actually zoom out to see more of your ship in interior view
  • All dialogue GUI has been replaced and made more readable
  • Text in general is rendered better now
  • The ingame menu and settings menu have been 100% replaced
  • There are new animations and sounds for some minor things
  • Check out the cool new stuff with the interior minimap and with repair guns
  • Switching between interiors of ships is faster and smoother now
  • Camera smoothing and screen blur transition effects

 

Early game improvements


I’ve also added a few new quests to the early game which will help the player with unlocking their first real ships and hopefully make the early game experience less painful. We know that the overall “feel” of progression in many areas isn’t quite there yet, and this is maybe 2 small steps in the direction of fixing that problem by giving the player more guidance at the beginning of the game and getting them past the hump of initial difficulty due to having a crap start ship. If you’ve got a save game where you already got to pirate’s cove, these quests probably don’t represent very much missed content, you can think of them as an extension to the tutorial.

Our goal with this update is that anyone, no matter the state of their save game, can load their existing game and immediately jump into the new story content, however we also expect many people will be trying the game for the first time with this update. We wanted to polish both ends of our beloved turd.

We hope you enjoy the new update, and have a happy holiday season filled with lots and lots of irresponsible capitalism.