It’s arrived… a big update, worthy of a full point! Auto Fire has had a lot of work put into it over the last month, not the least of it being the revised onboarding (that’s fancy-pants dev talk for what a new player experiences). A lot of players’ first experience with Auto Fire was tough, because there were some really dangerous enemies out there in the badlands, and you were just as likely to meet them while you were still trying out your training wheels as any other time.
In the spirit of making the game more playable and easier to understand, there’s now an intro that eases you into things a bit… and sets up the conflict against your (generated) rival down the road! Clear out those bandits and get back to civilization!
The game also tailors that early experience when you’re stuck with a couple of junkthrowers and not a lot else, so that you are less likely to encounter enemies that want to come punch you in the fun bits right away. This way you can pick up some loot, head to the garage, and upgrade away!
In addition, the player can now customize their character more fully upon startup. You can choose your portrait, and the dialogue (even the procedurally-generated stuff) will adjust for male, female, etc.
There are a ton of changes that came in, but a lot of it is nerdy stuff that only I care about… Oh, hey, here’s some cool stuff you might actually notice!
- There’s a new encounter system that extends the random encounters in the game previously. You now can see your opponent, they can call you by name, and choose a course of action.
- The game starts with some intro encounters that help give you a sense of what you’re doing there and what to do next.
- Character customization has been extended to support player portraits as well as choosing gender.
- Both enemies, players and any NPC can now be male or female. Dialogue is set to use the correct language to address them as it comes up.
- You now have a (soon to be) publicity agent and a rival that are generated on campaign start. These are referenced and used throughout the game.
- Agents are now handled outside of factions. Thus agents (any NPC) can join you, an opposing faction, or be an independent operator like the player.
- A story manager presents basic encounters that drive the initial experience forward. This will hook in as more cause-effect things happen with the player.
- Naming has been adjusted to better fit categories of civilians, punks, drivers and corporate suits.
- Female names have also been added since we can generate those NPC’s now.
- Chests now break open when moved onto in the overworld.
- Weapons now start with a higher amount of damage (junkthrower starting around 10) but don’t increase as drastically (the maximum is about 250% of the minimum, rather than the former 1000%)
- Weapons have less of a randomized spread in their damages (used to be 70-130%, now is 80-120%)
- Armor for the player’s vehicles have correspondingly been increased, from 100 per side to 150.
- Armor repair kits now repair 15 per side rather than 10.
- When the player is ambushed into a battleground, they start in the middle of the map rather than near the entrance.
- There’s a new intro cutscene that sets the situation when the campaign is started.
- Because I know dying would be a chore if it couldn’t be, these can be skipped.
- Encounter text also has a teletype-style reveal, which again can be skipped if the player is impatient.
- Portraits can show or not show in encounters, and can even show as a transmission.
- The loading screen shows hints and has a spinner so you know if the game is live.
- The cursor keys have been remapped to work properly within menus. Key navigation of menus still needs improvement, but it should be better than it was.
- Fame/Prestige is displayed properly on character and city menus.
- Adjusted a bunch of buttons to be more visually interesting.
- Cars now don’t kick up much dust when travelling on roads.
- The gas can in the world is now red, matching the icon(!)
- There is a quick stint of slow-motion when cars are destroyed, and the same effect is back when the player died.
- Revised some of the stingers when entering maps.
- The turn-end sound was revised to be less in-yo-face.
- Button presses have more audio feedback in more cases.
This coming month will be all about adding variety and continuing to improve the interface. If I demonstrate the game at a show, what will draw players in? What will it take for them to understand what’s going on? What last flourishes or abilities would really sell the whole package?