Swain here, folks! It’s been a hot minute since we’ve spilled the beans on our progress, so I thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about some of the new features coming down the pipeline for this update and the following one.
Firstly, our next big update will feature the prototype for true squad combat and management. In the current build, you can only hire mooks for $450 a pop and they stay with you until they’re dead. They’re not really much use except to harvest for the armor they spawn with, or to watch them die hilariously in the Murder Room 1 death fan. This was always just a placeholder system to have allies in the game for general combat testing, but we thought it was time to give it a real system at last.
And so the days of idiotic, wasted hirelings are past! You can now hire up to ten characters to your Headquarters, and add a number of guys to your current Squad based on your current highest Core Skill (much like Corpus). You can freely hire and fire characters from your roster, and death only puts them out of commission for a few minutes (or you can throw cash at the problem to bring them back sooner). And the biggest addition people have been shouting about that we’re finally rolling out for testing: Squadmate leveling. For the time being you’ll be able to manually spend a squadmate’s XP on skills, though eventually we want to invest time on a cooler system that lets NPCs pursue a sort of skill tree “destiny”.
As for the kind of things you can do with Squadmates, you’re not limited to telling them who to kill. You can command them to pickup items in combat, to follow yourself or teammates, to hold a point, or even to interact with objectives in a stage so you don’t have to! Now your boys will watch your back while you hack, or you can switch it up and let them do the computer work while you bash skulls in for all eternity.
Hirelings will also pull armor from the same list as you do when they spawn. Low level guys won’t have amazing gear anymore, and if you try to pull it off of them, it’ll destroy the wearable (they don’t want you taking their stuff, after all). The good news is that NPC armor only barely bumps up the cost of the goon wearing it when you go to hire him, making it cheaper to have heavily-armored allies if they came with the armor in the first place.
We’re also going through and adding all the NPC armor we can think of to the Quartermaster’s list. You might not get it all at once, but it’ll show up eventually.
The Headquarters got the biggest makeover this week. So far, it’s taken us over two years to develop this game. That means we’ve got two years of understanding the quality we expect of ourselves and the game, and some of the older stages needed to be brought forward to that newer quality standard. Overall, stages have gotten grittier and dirtier as Matt has designed them, and that means older stages were falling behind. We’re happy with the results, and think you’ll be glad we took the time to pretty up some outdated textures and UV mapping techniques.
Lighting got a little tweaking as well, mostly to clean up areas where color would leak through surfaces where it had no business doing so. The Headquarters and the Facility are reaping the greatest benefit from this so far, but all around, lighting and shadows are looking a whole lot cleaner than they used to.
Other Future Additions
As for what to expect in the near future, we’ve got a fourth Murder Room nearing completion. Matt’s already completed all the assets, Devin has pumped us full of SFX for the new hazards, and all that’s left is for me to code the little bastard to completion. Here’s a hint of what to expect: elevators, lasers, and electric floors. If you hate us after playing it, I won’t get mad.
I’ve also got to finish the Event System. I keep talking about it, but when it’s finally done, we’ll have a way to create all kinds of dynamic quests for Story Mode, and much more reliable objectives for Arena Mode. The game could even create randomized quest events for Zed Survival, and players could create their own missions (someday) via Steam Workshop. Without the Event System, objectives will be hard-coded and fixed, and difficult to change or update as the game evolves.
So that’s it for today, folks. I’ll try to keep the updates coming until the update 1.04 is live – we’ll be taking the weekend to test features, and hopefully have something Monday-ish. I’m stoked to have the new squad features in your hands, so I’ll be working overtime to make sure it’s functional after this weekend.
And here are a few bonus pictures of the office, why not! HAPPY FRIDAY, FRIENDS.