UPDATE: Don't got no time for readin? Watch our condensed feature-packed dev update in video form! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HrCDkq8Yl5M
Captives, spectators, and future contestants... please cease all activity and consume the information displayed on your nearest terminal. Failure to comply will result in immediate liquidation.
Alpha Launch Date, Pre-Alpha Pledges, and Tons of New Content!
Hello everyone! This month's dev update is quite a whopper so strap in and prepare yourselves for our biggest content update yet! We've got lots to cover so lets jump right in.
Our lead level designer, @ooParanoia, will be getting a lot of love this month as he's been kicking ass all over the arena (we don't think he sleeps). He’s created a new pre-queue area, revamped POIs, tweaked the terrain, replaced foliage, optimized assets, and made it his mission to take down any bugs plaguing the arena. He’s a beast!
Our old player pre-queue, where players wait and warm-up before a match starts, was basically a quickly thrown together medieval town located in the arena. That town has since been demolished to make way for our new, more lively medieval zone so we've made an entirely new level -- separate from the main arena -- to be used as our pre-queue! Not only has the scenery changed, but so has the gamemode. Say goodbye to Deathmatch and hello to Gun Game! Instead of scrounging empty-handed for weapons, now you'll spawn armed with both your Ion Blade and a Pistol and kill your way up to the Sako 85 sniper rifle. Oh, did we mention the pre-queue is staged on the ship you're being beamed down from? Check out the gif below for a little tour of the place.
Our Medieval area has been drastically improved! Our previous iteration was lacking in detail and immersion. We've taken a wrecking ball to this area and completely revamped it with new assets and POI's.
Our ancient swamp area was looking a little bleak before so we’ve added new assets, new POI’s and new foliage types to par.
Throughout our playtesting, grass has been the #1 performance killer and gameplay disrupter. Making it too tall can block your view from certain angles, making it too dense can drastically impact performance. It's a constant battle between fugly, thinned out, FPS optimized grass and beautiful, lush, performance killing meadows. Why can't we have both?! Well that's our current goal, and something Tom will be experimenting even more with. In our latest build, grass has definitely been thinned out and cut down to where it still looks great and plays well, but performance is still an issue and we'll be taking a closer look at things we can do to increase performance overall while retaining its verdant beauty.
Ion Blade Implemented
Our first melee weapon is in! The Ion blade is a starting weapon that can be equipped by pressing the "V" key or "1" by default. With max running speed and heavy damage, the Ion blade can quickly end your foes. If you manage to get the drop on your enemy and strike from behind, it's a one shot kill. Did we mention how fun it is to equip and use? Take a look! Credit goes out to @Cole for his fantastic animation work.
We've spent a good deal of time discussing our recoil system and overall shooting mechanics. What we agreed on was that they crossed that line from "challenging" to "frustrating" a little too frequently during play, so we added a subtle, but important mechanic called recoil decrease to all weapons. So far we think it's a big improvement! After firing, your weapon's recoil will decrease a certain amount, pulling you back (snapback) almost to where you originally starting firing from without any extra input from your mouse. This subtle mechanic might not seem like much, but makes all the difference in the world when you're trying to stay on target at mid-longer ranges.
Another fun addition this month are player nametags. If you get close enough to a player, you'll see their Steam name and player rank above their head. This also applies to fallen players so you can see which unfortunate fellow you're looting.
Body Impact Physics
How can we make taking out an enemy player even more satisfying? Well, we've got an answer to that one: body impact physics. Not only do you get that audible GUSH sound upon connecting a well placed shot with a head or the SPLAT that comes with a body shot, but now you're further rewarded with visual confirmation. This is still a WIP and we haven't merged it to our Pre-Alpha testing build yet.. but it'll be live very soon. Kill confirmation notifications next!
New and Improved Sounds
Our sound pro, @TomWrightSound , busied himself reworking all of our gunshot audio. They sound FANTASTIC and we're all very impressed with his work. Another thing he focused on was improving the shots you hear from other players off in the distance (attenuation) and creating indoor versions of all weapon fire. It's amazing how much proper mixing and specialization of audio can impact your level of immersion. He also did some very cool things with our new plasma field sound which you can hear below.
Dynamic Plasma Field FX
Sniper Rifle & Plasma Field: Crazy Match End!
Leaderboards and Player Stats
@Zenity, our fantastic UI coder has really cranked things up a notch this month and has implemented a functional leaderboard with a decent selection of stats so far. The only thing that seems to deter him is the fact that he lives in Bali -- which of course means that his internet router is crafted from twigs and powered by Zen. Our ranking system is essentially functioning as well, but definitely needs some of that AAA polish.
- Rank Points: Ranks are based on a simple point system that are distributed based on number of kills & your place.
- Total Kills: Shows the number of kills players have accumulated since their first match.
- Most Kills in a Match: ... this should be pretty self explanatory.
- Matches Won: Number of matches players have come in 1st place.
What you don't see in the Gif above is that if you click on a player name in any of the lists, you'll be presented with all of their public stats. Dan's working on getting a "your stats" column going so that you can easily compare your stats with anyone else's. Great for bragging rights!
UI designer @Deadpixel is making some good headway on our in-game inventory designs as well as nailing down the overall tone and mood that ION desperately needs. There's no reason you should be fumbling around in your inventory for extended periods of time, moving ammo boxes around or chucking out attachments to make way for an AR. We'll have a video demonstration when it's finally implemented, but here's a sneak peak of Brad's WIP:
We are also improving our map interface so players can quickly get their bearings with as little on screen clutter as possible. Here are the key points to our map system:
Pressing and holding "Q" (by default) will open your map interface
The character model on the left will display your character's appearance as well as their current HP and shield.
The compass at the bottom shows the direction you are facing.
The arrow and lines on the compass pulse in the direction of enemy gunfire.
The grid shows the map with your location highlighted easy recognition. D4 in this case.
The number at the top shows the remaining players.
The image shown above is a WIP, but here is a comparison to our current map:
Closed Alpha News
The time has finally come to give out our official, do or die Closed Alpha date. Since we delayed the game back in January, we have made enormous progress on all fronts of development. We are now confident to announce that Closed Alpha will officially begin April 28th. In our last update, we made a quick feature roadmap for Closed Alpha. Below, I'd like to go into more detail about some of those features we're looking to get in by that April 28th deadline.
Map Polish - The first pass on the map has essentially been completed. However, we're planning on extending the playable area by 100% so things don't feel so cramped with 50+ players. Not only that, but we plan on adding a boatload of more polish to our existing areas.
Ranking System Implementation + Global Leaderboards - We recently implemented our ranking system and leaderboards. They are currently being testing by our Pre-Alpha players. We'll be addressing any issues that arise to make sure the leaderboards and ranking system are ready to go by Closed Alpha. All stats will be reset before Closed Alpha launches.
New and improved character model - We are currently revisiting the character model and improving the look of the default armor. We are aiming to have basic character customization implemented for Closed Alpha, but this is not guaranteed for day 1.
More weapons and attachments - We are aiming to implement 2 more firearms and 2 more attachments for Closed Alpha, complete with polished sounds and animations.
First iteration of our melee system - Our first melee weapon was recently implemented and is currently being tested. We are adding an alt (right click) special attack with the Ion Blade and aiming to implement at least 1 more melee weapon for Closed Alpha.
Beam Drop Event System - The beam drop event drops a care package that will contain a heavy weapon along with medical supplies, armor and powerful attachments. The location of the care package will be clearly visible to all so expect it to be heavily contested! We are working on this being functional for Closed Alpha.
Inventory Overhaul - As discussed in our UI section, we are currently overhauling our inventory for a more user-friendly experience.
Optimization - With our recent map additions and improvements, we have surpassed 16,000 actors on our map and that number will only continue to grow as we keep chipping away. This means we are on heavy optimization mode from here until Closed Alpha. We want to bring performance up on mid-lower tier machines so more players can enjoy the beauty that is achieved on Epic settings.
Net Code Improvements - We are extremely happy to report that netcode and hit registration have been extremely consistent since we improved it last month. We have not received reports of any issues from our Pre-Alpha testers thus far, however, we will continue to monitor this and make sure it is silky smooth for Closed Alpha.
Streaming - The NDA will be lifted for Closed Alpha so you'll be able to stream as much as you'd like!
Voip - One thing we desperately need is a way for players to communicate with eachother in-game. Replacing the global text chat will be proximity voice chat!
Anticheat - And of course, last but not least, we'll be making every effort possible to wipe out any hacker as soon as they step into the game.
I think that about covers everything that we have planned for Closed Alpha. We're almost there!
Early Backer Elite
We've reopened our Early Backer Elite tier on our site! Now with more disclaimers!
Head to http://islandsofnyne.com/paypal.html to start playing now!
The great thing about this team is that everyone seems to have eerily good chemistry with each other. If you were to take a peek inside our team's Discord channel you'd find nothing but motivated and incredibly talented people discussing solutions to problems or proposing fresh ideas and improvements to gameplay. ...isn't that right guys?! pulls out bat. Taking that into consideration and the fact that everyone loves working on this project, it's not too much of a challenge piquing the interest of industry pros like our new programmer @Spectral and environment artist @jpeck. @Spectral brings with him not only a whole lot of UE4 programming experience but a duty to keep the community, you all, rightfully informed with any gameplay programming decisions we're making. He's been with us for less than a week and has already rooted up and stomped out plenty of pesky bugs. He's definitely a keeper and we're grateful to have him on board! @jpeck, our environmental artist slash concept artist slash level designer is another gem we found through the grapevine... and wow can he art! You'll be seeing more of his stuff throughout development and we'll definitely be giving him a section in our next Dev Update. Overall, we're incredibly humbled and proud to be working with such talent. There will be plenty more additions to our rambunctious bunch in the coming months when we start ramping up to Early Access!
Congratulations to our March 15th Dev Hunt Winners!
@Cutmyself (2 wins!)
- K3 DrPepper
@jikz (2 wins!)
@TaylorB (2 wins!)
Remember Pre-Alpha members: Every Wednesday and Saturday from 9PM-11PM Eastern Standard Time is our Pre-Alpha Dev Hunt event. Come join for your chance to be part of Islands of Nyne history!
Screenshot of the Month (Another Gif)
The bait and switch
We're Almost There!
Thanks again everyone for your support and enthusiasm about ION. We're almost there!