Today we take a look at the Location Editor Paint Tool, the Grassland Animals Kit ( coming in 0.2.2.0 ), both the female and male Human Miner characters ( coming in 0.2.3.0 ), and a review of the 0.2.x release cycle including the planned features and content of each patch.
Towards the bottom of the blog is an overview of Sandbox vs. Campaign ( not covered in the video ), and how we plan to strike a balance between the humorous storytelling of the Tutorial and the open play of Sandbox.
All being well we're just a few days away from the release of Patch 0.2.1.0.
As well as a number of community requested improvements, the new Paint Tool provides a significant productivity boost. We've removed the need to place individual mud and cobblestone versions of tiles ( where only the texture differed ) and now have just one set of tiles that can be painted. Unfortunately this will visually break some of your previous designs, and you may need to patch up the holes that will appear in your Location designs where the old mud tiles used to be.
Each tile is now divided into four invisible quadrants. Painting may not be quite as fine as voxel-based terrain systems, but it does provide for some nice blending between the different terrain textures as shown in the visual above.
Following the Christmas holiday, work commenced on the Human characters, with both female and male versions produced in parallel. In Patch 0.3 the overlooked female Peasants will - as promised - be able to take up occupations in an equal society.
We're focused on early-stage characters needed for Patch 0.3 - the resource collectors ( Miner, Woodcutter, Stonecutter, Farmer, Peasants, Hunter ) and the City Guard. Once we've delivered Patch 0.3.x we'll then add the required characters found in the Tutorial with a view to migrating it to Sandbox technology, before adding any remaining Human characters such as the Butcher and Weaver.
Back in Dev Blog 12 we highlighted the new character customization system that introduces variety into character appearances. All new characters are being produced using this system, and in the visual above we've randomized the facial features and tinted both the skin tone and hair. More attentive readers will note they are missing eyebrows, but even those are now randomized along with facial hair.
We had a minor issue with certain hair styles when an outfit included a helmet, with hair poking through the helmets. We're solving that by having a preferred outfit hairstyle. For example, a female peasant with long hair will have it temporarily restyled ( just as in real life food workers have to put long hair into a bun under a hair net ). Demoting her back to Peasant will revert her hair back to her normal style.
Grassland Animal Kit
The Grassland Animal Kit is now finished and scheduled for inclusion in a patch once Spawn Points and/or Buildings become available.
Chickens lay Eggs at the Chicken Coop which once collected by a Farmer can used by the Bakery to make Pies, a special recipe yielding a higher than normal profit.
Grassland streams and ponds provide for a rich source of Fish, which the Fisherman catches and takes back to the Fishing Hut for smoking, before selling to your Peasants.
Bunnies are there for gratuitous violence and a spot of beauty. Need some Siege Weapon practice? Guess who's going to be in the cross-hairs. Aww, but they're soooo cute. Kaboom.
Mrs Squirrel is another beauty creature who from time to time roams too close to Hunter's Traps. Much like the Rabbit, the Squirrel is designed for those beautiful scenes of tranquillity, providing a juxtapose of rural peace against an invading goblin horde that you'll be facing in Patch 0.3.
Sandbox v Campaign
In the last few weeks there's been some debate over in the forums regarding the switch from Campaign to Sandbox game following the community poll back in December 2012, and the impact that change will have. Many campaign fans were left feeling that a lot of the storytelling, humour and strong characters found in the Tutorial will be lost with the move to Sandbox. I'm pleased to say that is definitely not the case.
It is true, that when we originally scoped Sandbox, we had considered providing player-designers with tools to add their own quests. But this would essentially have left text-only quest descriptions, without the niceties of voice acting or cinematics to communicate story and humour. We've since evolved the design and plan to introduce Encounters into the Location Editor. An Encounter is a pre-packaged interaction with a specific named character in a specific environment with cinematics and voice over. Slavemaster Urzal from the Tutorial for example can be packaged up into an Encounter and dropped into a jungle ruins Location design.
The key to making this work will be to provide a broad selection of Encounters, as well as attempting to tackle multiple outcomes for each story. That way each world can be varied, and even if you have previously played an Encounter, the second time around you may take a different path resulting in a different outcome.