SITREP - Week 8, 2014
published Thursday, 6 Nov. 2014, 00:00 by ZPSPhyrefli
This week's SITREP talks about our progress towards Update 15, and the background work that's being done on Update 16 for December.
The new SITREP is an ongoing progress report where we publicly talk about what we've recently been working on, and what we're aiming to achieve over the next few weeks.
Briefing - week ending November 7th, 2014
We're almost half way through Update 15 at the moment, and things are starting to take shape. Update 15 is a content update, so the main aim is to provide additional maps and modes to play. Update 15 will have 2 current maps which are being retro-fitted with co-op and singleplayer missions.
We have also already started work on Update 16, which will have some new content along with new tech as well. That makes this sprint a lot more complex than Update 14 as we're juggling two sets of tasks and dynamically moving people between the two sprints.
(Lukas working hard on Colony)
Update 15 will have two additional maps which have both co-op and singleplayer modes added to them. Colony will have the Survival B game mode, and Mainline will have Elimination B. Lukas has been adding these for the past two weeks, and is now at the testing and tweaking stage. We've done some internal testing, and have asked our ITO testers to try out singleplayer versions so we can get an idea of performance.
We're aiming to have a wide variety of different challenges and game modes so players can choose what type of challenge they want to face. Eventually we'll pull all of this together into a consolidated game loop, add in stats and achievements and then let AI SARA loose to track and guide your development as an Interstellar Marine.
For the rest of the sprint Lukas will be focused on testing and tweaking Colony and Mainline. We'll be doing a lot of testing with ITO testers, and will very probably release a Spearhead test version so our Spearheads can provide feedback on the almost complete versions. It's been several months since we've been able to provide an early version for our Spearheads, and we'd like to give them some love.
(A screenshot from Unity showing part of the additions to Colony)
There has been much more of a "buzz" around Interstellar Marines over the last few months, and Thordis is the person largely responsible for that. Her job is to reach out to people and communities to raise awareness of Interstellar Marines. We've long focused on our own players, and I was very proud to be a community manager for such an awesome community, but we've never really reached outside of our own community. That's where Thordis comes in.
There are now many play throughs of The NeuroGen Incident on YouTube, as well as several articles about us on various websites. This all helps because it lets people see Interstellar Marines, and if they're interested then they may join our community. But if people don't know about our game, how can they know if they may like it?
And that's the conundrum of "marketing" and indie games. Marketing is often seen as a dirty word when it comes to indie games, but we all do it to one degree or another.
Thordis is continuing to work to let people know about Interstellar Marines, and has some very interesting projects she's working on (hopefully we'll get to tell you about them in a few months!).
(One of the more unique videos we've seen from an aspiring YouTuber)
One of the really cool things we're introducing in Update 15 is the ability to move and complete challenges using a stealthier approach. There are two sections we need to add to Interstellar Marines to enable this: the first is to make the AI more aware of light and dark so that you can hide in shadows, and the second is to introduce a silencer for both the SMG and Assault Rifle so you can fire your weapons without attracting as much attention from CTRs.
Ronnie has been creating the animations for the silencer for the past couple of weeks. The current iteration has been passed on to Miki to be incorporated into the game, and they're looking REALLY cool! We'll be testing the silencer, and also balancing it into the game, over the next couple of weeks until the release of Update 15. It'll be a fine line to walk as the silencer will affect certain parts of gameplay quite a lot, so we need to make sure it's done properly.
From the AI's point of view, adding the ability for CTRs to differentiate between light and dark also affects how they're balanced, and it also requires going back and re-working each map. The changes to the AI have already been added to Colony and Mainline, and we are aiming to have them added to Stronghold, Nucleus and Operation for Update 15. However we may not have time to do all those maps, so there is a chance it will only be Colony and Mainline which have this feature. As it will take many days of work to add it to The NeuroGen Incident, we're going to do that in a future update.
(Ronnie working on the animation for the silencer)
Now Update 14 has been released, and we're motoring on with Updates 15 and 16, things are a little more relaxed in the office. We're back to an air of calm, quiet efficiency with a lot of very motivated and intense individuals working hard to create the most awesome game they can.
The release of The NeuroGen Incident really took it out of the team, and a successful Update 14 launch was very good for us. From my point of view getting the team back up to their usual high spirits and energy levels is great to see. Crunches always leave an aftermath, and NGI's crunch was the hardest I've been involved in.
Oh, and we had a very successful Halloween sale on Steam, which is good news :)
So what's in the next two updates, and when will they be out? I've put some info below on the larger parts of the updates. As always there will be lots of smaller things that we introduce as well:
Content Update U15, November 20th:
- 2 new SP/co-op challenge maps
- Hopefully silencer (if not U15 then U16)
- Lots of foundation work for U16.
Major Update U16, estimated release December 11th:
- Brand new mission map for co-op/SP (roughly a third of the size of NGI) provided it is finished in time
- Brand new winter multiplayer map by Jess
- XMayhem gamemode returns
- Backend work on initial stats implementation completed
- + tons of other stuff!
Hope you enjoyed this SITREP - please let me know what you think!
FOR THE LOVE OF THE GAME,
Paul (Phyrefli) & the team at Zero Point Software