Dev Transmission (June 2023)
Hi everyone, here’s what we’ve worked on this month:
Our top priority in June has been to create the Upgrade system, which is responsible for unlocking and upgrading weapons, deployables (our name for traps & turrets) and abilities.
This is an extremely important feature that involves a lot of user-interface tasks as well as setting up how the economy works. This is one of the critical systems that will help drive how engaged people are when playing the game long-term, and we’re confident we’ve made something cool!
While we’ve set up our existing unlocks and implemented three weapon’s upgrade paths, over the coming months we’ll be rolling this out to all other weapons, deployables and abilities.
As part of proving out the upgrade system, we expanded our pistol roster by two. We already had a Burst Pistol (the left-most gun in the concept image below), the secondary fire for that switches between single shots and burst mode:
The two new pistols have upgrades that allow them to either have remotely detonated explosive bolts or a zoom mode.
Sean has finished the latest level in greybox form, which is called ‘Air Exchange’ and is a convoy-based level where you must prevent the enemies from escaping.
As it’s based on a giant air-conditioning and circulation theme, this area has giant rotating fans which are an ideal place to locate some push-traps and utilise your Vortex Glove ability (which throws enemies back):
Now that the greybox part is done, it’s handed over to Alex so she can do the environment art for it (most likely in July).
A while ago we made an enemy archetype called ‘Drone’ (placeholder name!) – this idea was based on an enemy that is very zombie-like, with a melee-only attack and able to sustain a decent amount of damage unless you hit it in a weak spot, which is ordinarily the head on most enemies, but for this creature would be on a cyst that is spawned in different parts of the body.
Originally we created something literally zombie like based on infected colonists (something you may have seen in the odd video we posted on social media), but this didn’t feel right alongside the enemy roster, so we revised the model into something more appropriate as this concept shows:
We also implemented their cyst behavior, which expands in size as it gets shot; ultimately gibbing the enemy once the cyst has received enough damage.
Last month we talked about the Navigator, one of the layers that drives the campaign. We spent time implementing some additional visuals to communicate ship movement, planet rotation and other aesthetic niceties. We also created a Fog of War system and some homing missiles, which hunt your vessel and provide some impetus on your escape.
We’ll show both this and the Overview modes later down the line – they really help structurally differentiate SENTRY from other FPS and Tower Defense games 🙂
Every month we do tons of smaller changes that don’t necessarily warrant a section to themselves, so this is where we list some other interesting/noteworthy stuff!
- New kill indicator audio – super early in the project we made sound effects to indicate when you were hitting and killing enemies. At that point in development we lacked sufficient feedback so the kill sound overcompensated – but now we have a host of systems providing a strong sense of combat feedback, we finally got round to revising the kill sound. The old sound effect was something that we tended to ignore after hearing for so long, but it’s good to have this much more appropriate new one (and we added options to disable these for those that want to).
- We also added different footstep sound effects while moving through vents. This was always on our to-do list, but with a part-time sound designer other audio had taken priority up until now. Can we call ourselves a FPS if we don’t have the iconic vent footstep audio?!
- We continued expanding our basic soldier class enemy (see the May update for more details), this time with a variant that carries a personal energy field. This needs to be destroyed before you can harm the enemy, the shield staggering them as it breaks, before recharging after a period. This all helps provide interesting target prioritisation as well as making an enemy that has some initial resistance to deployable damage.
And just for fun!
In our new level with the giant fans we thought it would be cool to have them controlled by panels accessible by the player. While they spin constantly and are lethal for anything that falls (or is pushed!) into them, for a small cost you can activate an overdrive mode which drags anything walking nearby into the fan. Sucks to be this guy: