Progress Update August ’23

Progress Update August ’23

Hey guys,

We’re another month closer to our Early Access release, lets talk about the progress made since last time.

I see you peeking

As we mentioned in our previous update, we’ve started work on the line of sight and vision system for the game. This is a pretty major feature and as such it took up quite a bit of developer time to set it up.

The algorithm detects whether any particular agent can see a tile based on their elevation, obstructions and other factors. Vision happens in a cone in front of the agent, with binocular focus vision having higher range but a limited angle, while peripheral vision provides a wider but less detailed view. Depending on your target this may change your approach, for example deer have an almost complete field of view, but their focus vision is extremely narrow compared to humans. It also means approaching a target from an angle can give you a critical advantage in spotting them before they spot you.

That does not mean that the enemy is omniscient however. For dynamic movers such as animals and vehicles, there is a visibility factor that can modify the range they can be seen at. Lighting, concealment and current stance all play a role in how easy you are to detect, as does the sentry’s perception stat. Crouch down and stick to cover to gain the upper hand on your enemies.

Given that the terrain in Ascent of Ashes is very dynamic and destructible, as well as three-dimensional, creating an algorithm that can properly calculate line of sight without melting your CPU in the process is tricky. As such, this is a feature we will still need to put more work into in the future, both to iron out remaining issues and to improve the visual effects a bit. But for now we have a solid foundation we can build on.

Jelly and Ham Sandwich

Something else we’ve been working on is sprucing up the wildlife a bit. While we won’t have full-fledged animal mechanics until after our Early Access launch, we figured we can at least get the current crop moving. The Hamgrazers have been in the demo for a while, but now we got them herding together.

Another alien critter we revealed early in our promotion was the Aerozoa, a jellyfish-like alien floating through the air, providing bioluminescence at night and potentially blowing your cover if you get too taken in by the pretty lights.

While the original design garnered a lot of attention from our fans, it did look very much like a cartoon jellyfish took to the air. That’s why we decided we ought to give it a redesign before its ingame debut.

Our first step was to define our goal as a luminescent creature that looked passive and non-threatening, yet at the same time very alien to drive home the point that Acheron itself is an alien world. We actually had a similar creature in one of our previous projects, but we didn’t want to reuse designs and therefore decided to do something distinctive.

We drew up a multitude of experimental sketches, picked out a few we thought had potential and ran them past our survey group of players to see what reactions they would have. Unfortunately, none of the initial designs passed muster, as people perceived them as too hostile, dangerous or altogether different creatures. So we went back to the drawing board and carefully considered what design elements to put into the next concept to make sure it came across correctly.

It took us a while, but eventually we arrived at a design that conveyed the feeling that we wanted, looking alien yet recognizable enough that players would intuitively know what to expect when they encountered it in the game.

As with the Hamgrazer, their full implementation will have to wait until other relevant mechanics are in place, but for now you can enjoy these little creatures brightening up your night.

Closing out

There has been more work going into other areas of the game as well, such as a variety of bug fixes and UI improvements, but we hope you’ve enjoyed these two highlights. Stay tuned for next week, when we have a special post planned.

Until next time, stay safe and keep surviving.