Apr 1 Weekly Update! [Not April Fool's]


#1

Morning everyone! No jokes here, just spreading the news…

EDIT: As of 3:33pm ET April 1 2019, we are aiming for this FRIDAY to launch Update 3. Just confirmed with our producer and internal QA.
EDIT2: Wednesday April 10th is the new Update 3 estimate!

So as you all know, we’re working on Update 3 this week and trying to release it as soon as possible. A couple of roadblocks have come in, particularly as we only have 1 week to submit features for Update 4 before we give it 4 weeks of QA time. (Update 4, which I’ve hinted at in previous posts, is meant to include more NPCs, different quest types related to these NPCs, and UI improvements.) “Meant to” is the key word here, since our deadlines are getting tight, and we are trying to align Update 4’s release with the final build we turn over to console.

One of the biggest questions in the office as we work with update 3/4 issues is how to work with what we have.

For example, the issue of swimming has resurfaced again. Our level designer has designed some more puzzle and reward rooms scattered throughout the levels that are meant to be discovered and accessible after lowering the water levels with the Materia Modus. However, because swimming is currently enabled, the player can bypass the Modus usage and skip straight to the reward rooms. We’re trying to figure out what’s the right move here: disabling swimming would make the player feel as if things were taken away from them, even if matches the original design intent. On the other hand, keeping swimming means that players may feel cheated if they actually use the Modus system as intended, and discover that all they had to do was swim under a couple of roadblocks in order to discover rewards.

Currently, we’re leaning towards keeping swimming in. Turning it off would mean we may re-introduce new bugs or trap the player again, but would unfortunately mean we need to figure out how to make the puzzle rooms worth it. etc.

On top of this, we’re really trying to squeeze in some combat changes, including more opportunities for the player to learn about strategies and how to play the game IN-GAME. We’ve noticed a lot of players were unsure how to parry, or how to direct their swings in general, and there have been a lot of proposed improvements to combat that we need to test and act on fast. It’s going to be a tight week, so you may not hear from us while we work on these.

And of course the creatures we’re working on have been chugging along… I’ve shared some images in our private Discord channels, since I don’t want to confirm any work that may not make it into Update 4 at this time. It’s one of our many priorities, and I’d be elated to see these things running around in the Abyss and giving some more variety to the player experience, personally, but scope is always a factor we need to keep a sharp eye on. If we don’t make the deadline for Update 4, that would mean console and PC players would get radically different versions of the game, and we would rather launch just 1 definitive version for both.

I’ll check in on the status of Mac and Linux ports again. I know you’ve all been very patient on this front. Last I checked, we’re aiming to get these out in time with Update 4 as well, if we can, but they’re currently being ported by an external company, so I’m not as familiar with the timeline.

Happy Monday!


#2

You could create hazards in the water, such as whirlpools or undertows, where player cannot swim to gate content.


#3

We’re trying to think of easy solutions that would require not too many man hours… usually better for us to work with what we have rather than risk introducing new features, which might bring new bugs in too :’(

considered, however! ie water-specific hazards…


#4

How about an undercurrent that will push a player away from the rewards area if they try to dive? Or a water force field that disappears if the water disappears?


#5

Or just include an obstruction that lowers with the water. Water grate on bouys, debris piles, etc.


#6

What systems are in place for drowning? Can the path be lengthened, with a sense of “you’ll want to turn back now?”


#7

I thought with Unity, porting to Mac or Linux was very easy ? What’s with the game “being ported by an external company” ? Can you elaborate on why you guys seem to be struggling in this area ? Isn’t the engine supposed to take care of all that stuff for you ?


#8

You know, this really is an excellent idea. It solves most of the problems in a way that is both plausible within the world and restores (if sparingly) a feature from the original Underworld games.

I make no comment regarding how hard this might be to implement. :grin:


#9

From our Lead Engineer, Will, from Dec 2017 explaining the Mac and Linux situation: (full post here)

And then following up with him this morning, he confirmed this is still the case. It takes man hours away from Will from fixing bugs and working on the core game experience to build for Mac and Linux and then test them. We don’t have any in-house dedicated Mac and Linux at the moment, and it seems that the biggest issues tend to be shaders not porting over correctly. In order to alleviate pressure on Will, we’re hiring out an external Mac and Linux porter so those issues can be worked out at the same time as us working on the game.


#10

I’m passing along the drowning and undercurrent ideas to Justin, who’s wrestling with the water situation right now :slight_smile:
Tricky to say what is easier to design / code in without introducing issues, but we’ll work with what we can.


#11

+1 for undercurrent.


#12

I think it’s okay if the player can work around the intended solution to reach a reward, it just ought to be challenging. Add some piranhas or something to make it tricky.


#13

Undercurrent, or plain flow… It has worked well before.


#14

Wooden obstructions. Planks, etc.
You can’t fight underwater, which means you can’t smash them.
You can’t use fire underwater, so they won’t burn.


#15

Thank you! Good luck with Update 4.


#16

Thanks everyone! Saving this week’s weekly update with more Update 3 links and information, since we’re slating Update 3 to be released sometime tomorrow (Wednesday, April 10) around noon - 1pm ET. If not tomorrow, should be this week. We’ll be releasing the soundtrack and digital novel at the same time too.


#17

I’m guessing that poison or corrosive water for that room alone won’t work?


#18

I don’t want to spoil too much about these puzzle rooms, but essentially you can “see” the entrance to it underwater in a larger area, so the idea is that you would be inclined to use the materia modus to unlock access to that room and seek out its treasures.

Changing the property of the water would be an interesting change, but I don’t think it would be fair if we ONLY made those areas corrosive water, since they would essentially look the same as areas with non-toxic water…

…Unless perhaps we changed the shader of that water for those areas… hmm…

I believe Justin (our Lead Level Designer) has decided on some kind of undercurrent and/or changed the level geometry around so it’s harder to access without using the materia modus first, but it wasn’t a bad idea!


#19

Man, if changing values is all it takes to change the appearance, that’s much easier than applying different textures. If it’s meant to look like contaminated water, than color differences would be enough. Opacity values wouldn’t even need to be necessary.

Elegant solutions, least number of steps… But then, players can really surprise with their reactions, eh?


#20

I have an idea for a puzzle room: put somebody in a library with two clearly marked exits. You have one hour to get out.