Summer Progress Update

Summer Progress Update

Hey guys,

its been a busy couple months for us since the demo release and I figure its time we give you an update on the current state of affairs.

As you know, we released a first-glance demo to content creators to help grow the community and give people a first look at what AoA gameplay is actually meant to look like. This was quite a challenge, because the core gameplay of AoA is relatively complex, involving a number of different features: you have to build up your base, manage survivor needs and work assignments, send expeditions to find loot and fight hostiles of various types.

To get this many features represented in the demo with only a few months development time we had to work extra hard and focus on only the most essential tasks. While we did succeed in creating a solid core for the gameplay, we had to take a lot of shortcuts and skip over some important functionality that we’re now catching up on. After the demo was out we got to work on various code optimizations to improve performance, fix reported bugs and crashes, and set up developer tools which will make our work (and that of future modders) much easier going forward.

The ability to easily draw debug information is important to facilitate development

We’ve also implemented some not very flashy but nonetheless important features, such as saving and loading a game, a menu to adjust player settings and a framework for handling translation. These features aren’t strictly relevant until the Early Access release, but they’re the sort of thing that gets harder to put in the further along the game is, so its good we got it done now instead of in October.

With this foundation in place, we’re now back to focusing on features. However, where before we were focusing on getting as many features represented as possible, we’re now fleshing out the base that is currently there, adding much needed polish and deepening the existing gameplay. For starters, we’ve worked on the building aspect to include functional doorways and multi-level structures.

To get these working properly we had to make some adjustments to the pathfinding. Before, we were using Unity’s built-in navmesh system. It was decent enough for the demo, but even there it showed some rather severe weaknesses with agents bumping into each other and getting stuck quite a lot. Further, Unity’s system is designed for static, pre-built maps that don’t change very often, meaning it had performance issues with the highly dynamic environments of AoA.

To solve this, we implemented our own custom navmesh pathing. The key difference is instead of turning the entire world into one big mesh to navigate, our solution splits it into separate interconnected regions. We can now very quickly determine if for example a specific room or clifftop is unreachable, and when changes occur, for example a wall being built, we can recalculate pathing for that region only instead of having to rebuild the entire map. There are still some kinks we need to iron out, but having our own solution means we can adapt it to fit the needs of the game more precisely than using stock Unity.

The new pathing system is fully aware of doors and elevation.

Finally we’ve also implemented a new designator system, allowing the player to queue orders to chop specific trees, deconstruct certain structures and so on by simply dragging their mouse over them.

With the construction in a good place, we’re now working on one of the more vital aspects of combat in AoA: vision and stealth. In the demo, the player had more or less perfect vision of their surroundings, but with this next feature vision will play a much greater role.

As the map will start concealed by Fog of War, requiring careful scouting to find the best terrain. Dynamic Entities like hostile raiders and animals have further modifiers to the distance they can be seen at. Depending on their stance and any concealment they may have you may not spot them until very close, or only see an obscured outline. The player, in turn, can utilize this mechanic against the AI to sneakily scout their positions, maneuver into cover and open up from an ambush.

Highlighting visibility and the effects of concealment.

We’re very excited to show you this mechanic in more detail as we continue progress. All of these improvements and more will soon be released in an upcoming update to the demo, so stay tuned!

Until then, stay safe and keep surviving.

Tags: ,