We’ve been working really hard over the last month to finish up all the components of a0.9. We’re getting there, but there are still lots to do. Many players have asked for an exact date for a0.9, based on our current standing, we’re looking at sometimes in March. As to why we went from the original December date to now, it’s because we’ve decided to rewrite the items code as well so that the game can become easily moddable on all fronts. We like to joke around the studio about it, but a0.9 really is turning out to be PE 2.0 as far as programming’s concerned: every system except for voxel generation has been tweaked or rewritten. The bad part is that it’s taking up a ton of time and the results won’t be seen regularly like in games such as Kerbal or Space Engineers (they had more flexible and better programming structure from the start to allow for faster updates). We do sincerely apologize for that as it is a demonstration of our lack of experience when it comes to setting up the structure for this type of game (though in our defense, there weren’t a lot of smooth voxel games around as a blueprint). But we’ve learned a lot and we’ll make sure there won’t be a repeat of that for any of our future games.
Due to the late release of a0.9, we will be releasing an a0.87 version in February. A0.87 will again be mostly an asset update, with new cloth types, biomes, locations, procedural updates, and such. Now, as I said before, we have done a ton of work for a0.9, and we’ll be showing off the new stuff bit by bit as they come online. Today we’ll show you some of our progress on the Story Editor:
For people familiar with editors, this will feel right at home. You can pretty much do anything within the bounds of the game with the story editor, if someone wants to mod the editor itself for more, well, be our guest. We will have a decent documentation when this fully rolls out. Next are a few screens of the procedural Adventure mode:
We did some optimization and we’re able to allow 512m height on the terrain now. All of a sudden, the mountains look much better. We also tweaked the cave systems and added more procedural code. We’ll be working on this up to the release of the game.
On a final note, we’ll be crossing the 200,000 copies sold on Steam mark any day now. We’d like to thank you all for your support and we’ll make sure this game ends up deserving of such support.
We’ve just released the a0.86 build of Planet Explorers on Steam. For this build, we’ve included the World Editor. The current World Editor is fairly rudimentary, but you can see the direction we’re going with it. The current game won’t be able read the output maps from the editor until a0.9 though. We’ll try to release a tutorial/documentation as soon as possible. For now, the World Editor is Windows only. Also included in this release are story bug fixes for a0.85 and the block LOD.
Looking forward, we have a0.9 coming up as well as Unity 5.0. We’re not sure if a0.9 will be using Unity 5.0 or not, it depends on when that comes out. We do know that there should be some significant improvements to lighting, physics, and optimization once we make the switch.
As always, the stand alone version of a0.86 will be up once we’ve straightened out most of the immediate bugs in the release.
We’ve been having lots of meetings regarding the progress of A0.9 this months. So far, the main objectives of a new ai behavior system, a new player movement system, a new ui, the world editor, and their incorporation into multiplayer are all moving forward, albeit at different speeds. The world editor is fairly stable and ready for player testing now, while the rest are still a month away at the earliest. So, we’ve decided to put out an a0.86 build before Christmas with the world editor. Before anyone gets too excited, the game can’t currently read the world editor maps yet (the a0.86 build is still based on the a0.85 branch, not the a0.9 branch), but most of the editing functions are in. We’ll try to put in an early version of the story editor as well if we can get it to work smoothly, no promises though.
Another thing to be included in a0.86 will be the block building system LOD. What this does is to allow block buildings to show up at the farthest terrain setting. We’ll also be testing in the future to see if we can get the resolution of blocks down to .25 meters from the current .5 meters.
Here are the links to the standalone build of a0.85:
We’ve just released the a0.85 build on Steam. It’s mostly a Story mode build with some Adventure mode updates. All old saves are probably not going to work with the current build, so here’s a save package for you to download: SaveData.rar Below is the changelist:
Added player customization
Added several new face types
Added 11 new animal species
Added 2 new enemy types
Added 2 new locations
Added swamp biome
Added mountain biome
Added 7 new NPCs
Added Pujan wall
Added 2 new Pujan towns
Added 4 new rivers to story map
Added natural bridges to adventure mode
Added better town designs to adventure mode
Added new air boss to adventure mode
Added rainforest biome to adventure mode
Changed building block textures
Easier to pick up plants
We weren’t able to get the 64 bit version working with the current build due to the difference in behavior tree libraries, but it is already working with a0.9, so everyone will just need to wait a bit longer for that. We’ll put the standalone versions up on our site probably next week after we’re pretty sure the build is mostly stable and bug free.
Just some screenshots of the swamp biome (work in progress) to get you ready for the a0.85 build. We’re hoping to get it out this weekend or early next week.
Hope you still remember the World Editor we post a couple weeks ago. Today, we’ll show you more details about it with a video. To remind you, World Editor is one of the major things we’re working on for a0.9. It is a program that enables you to launch and edit a world map in the editor, or import maps from other editors such as World Machine. The main tools we’re going to introduce today are different brushes, auxiliary tools and the artifact, a kind of voxel brush that players can generate and share. One thing that we haven’t finished is that editor UI, so there are lots of empty icons, that will be fixed later. We’re still incorporating the Story and Mission editors into the world editor, so we’ll show those later.
One of our long time members on our community boards, Marauder, has recently gotten some serious health issues that has severely impacted his life and family. He wrote his situation here: http://www.gobeyondtherim.com/the-pleas-of-the-fallen/. If you can, please buy his son’s book at the bottom of that page and help him and his family out of a pinch. Thank you! In the meantime, we wish him a full recovery.
Another progress update on a0.85 and a0.9. Some (probably most, heh) of you are wondering why the current update is taking so long, let me clear that up first. Currently, we have most of our programmers reworking/working on several key system, including the UI, AI behavior, World Editor, and Player Skill/Animation systems. All of these are major systems and won’t be done until a0.9, but they do impede on our current progress on a0.85. For example, we have the character deformation system done, but since the UI system is still being worked on, the deformation system doesn’t have a working UI, so it’s inclusion in a0.85 was uncertain until a week ago. Now we’re pretty sure it’ll be in since that part of the UI’s done. A0.85 is also a major art asset update, so we’re waiting on some new scene assets to be done.
We have been doing some efficiency work as well, trying to get the frame rate of the game higher. One of the largest improvements so far is with AI collision detection. It used to be that we would update the collision detection of every ragdoll collider within an AI body at every frame, now we’re only updating the collision of the capsule collider surrounding the AI every few frames. What this means for you is an uptick of about 10+ fps depending on your setup.
Finally, here are some screenshots of the Adventure map procedural improvements, the current canyons look a lot better and we’ve added stone bridges over the waterways. We’re also working on multiple layers of water next as well as better sloping river banks and better town setups (no more flat towns). All of that we’re trying to get into a0.85 in the next couple of weeks.
We’ve been working on a lot of assets for the coming a0.85 build, including lots of new animals and bosses. Most of them are from the swamp and mountain biomes. For a0.85, we’re trying to get the basic animations for these creatures into the game, as well as most of their attacks. We’re trying to get several hundred enemy hit animations done as well, but they might take a while. Here are a few concept arts: