Some new vehicles have been added to the mix, and these have so many interchangeable parts that it’s been fun setting up some new enemies. Just a couple examples:
Of course, hooking up these vehicles and setting up all the enemy profiles to make proper use of them is a lot of work, and occasionally I might have messed up the scale… or are we looking at a feature??? Hmmm…
Could it be? A real update? Well since just writing the patch notes for this one took over two hours, I’d say the answer is yes.
So what do you have to look forward to? Here are the highlights:
The turn model is gone, we’re back to moving in sync where feel is king… The goal is to keep the feeling of driving as much as possible.
The HUD is extensively redone… The speedometer and bottom panels have a physical skeuomorphic design thanks to the work of a good friend, the the upper panels are going for a clean representation of your character and the boss in opposition to you.
There’s an entirely new skid model that uses the gauge on the speedo… let your grip drop below your speed and you start to lose control!
The Tablet holds your social media interactions as well as a number of other features.
The World is larger in many ways to better match the scale of your vehicle. City streets are wider and more fun, towers are taller, buildings are larger.
Terrain had a major overhaul with more interesting decor, 3D grass and system called Microsplat that improves the frame rate of terrain maps extensively.
The Camera is a bit more dynamic and conveys more information about your car’s speed and skid situation, but in addition it will adjust to keep things you’re aiming at in view.
Two new rough-n-ready vehicles for the gangs out in the badlands are here… the Crux and the Coyote. More to come.
Weapons are now mounted directly on your vehicle, reflecting your armament.
The story is getting a revamp to match the media-fueled world. Expect to hear more about your vehicle’s AI, your constant companion.
A ton of new VFX have hit prime time, including smoke, skids and explosions that better reflect their gameplay effects.
The UI and shell got a complete overhaul, with more to come!
That’s just the beginning. Get out your downloader and rev your engines! The full patch notes are below.
5 September, 2020 – Version 0.6.20
Updated to Unity 2020.1.6f
Replaced CTS terrain system (to make procedural terrain texture better) with Microsplat for improved performance and some new features.
Updated turn interleaving to no longer use the “turn-based” method. Instead an enemy will move in sync with the player if they are moving the same speed or less.
Thus there is no longer a “current team executing” concept. This is a little bit of backsliding into early 2019, but that’s okay. It plays much smoother.
If the player presses fire when no target is indicated, the targeting mode is cancelled rather than playing “error” and staying in the mode. Makes for more better-feeling experience.
Handling is now a completely new concept… the grip is measured on the speedometer, and it can’t drop below the current SPEED or skids will start.
Reduced the difficulty of the early boss a little. Damage and the flamethrower were a bit much.
Early watchtowers now only fire a single rocket rather than two at once.
The vehicle gameplay now uses Cinemachine for its dynamic camera. Allows for motion blur, some shake and tilt when at higher speeds.
Visual effects (red, shake) from skidding on camera.
Cursor now follows the camera so shooting behind the player in particular should not go off-camera.
Two new more rough-n-tumble vehicles to be used for gangs, the Crux and the Coyote.
Weapons are now physically mounted on vehicle bodies.
Weapons now use a special shader so they can be outlined.
Revised the taillights and visuals on vehicle bodies across all vehicle prefabs.
Fixed tire rotation on new vehicles, they should both rotate forward (without getting out of sync and “tumbling”) but also swivel left and right with maneuvers.
Tuned down some of the roll and pitch on vehicle bodies, because it was looking somewhat silly.
Revised the world props to be much larger and better match the vehicle size. The intent is to make everything less toy-like and provide more drama in the scenes.
Streets in ruined city are now double-wide, so the average road is 4 tiles across, which makes for a much more entertaining experience.
Alleys are now 2 across and wide boulevards are generally 6-8 across. All city blocks are expressed in 8×8 rather than 4×4. Props were increased in size to accommodate.
Roads now have modeled curbs, so an entirely new tileset was created.
Added new models for road edges: Ground, plaza, street/sidewalk.
Created a system that allows for tile models to span multiple tiles (so we can have 2×2 buildings), and added support to merging tiles together.
The drivable terrain now has height variation.
Terrain texturing is more sophisticated thanks to Microsplat, and there are new textures at work that provide more interest and clarity overall.
Revised grass to use a model rather than sprites. Makes for a lot more interesting view from above.
The high-tech citadel model is now in use.
Blowing sand now visible across overworld terrain
World roads in battlefields and outposts now use a new altas that is more like tire ruts. Those old roads looked really bad.
Revised how quests are managed. Opens the doors for a more varied set of quests throughout the sector maps as well as within missions.
Added Quest Management that is set up by sectors. More questevents that fire off encounters sometimes.
Your companion is now Al, your onboard computer rather than the publicity agent from the Homestead. He/it will be important to the story as things move forward.
Character default name is now “Rig” instead of “Driver”.
Citadels are now owned by corporations, of which three are generated at campaign start.
Mayor page in city now reflects the actual mayor and city owner, as well as some generated dialogue from the agent.
An entirely new HUD uses a mixture of modeled panels (such as the speedometer) and the digital info panels on the top.
HUD contains a tablet which houses many functions including social media (Toots), interactions, encounters, and other informational displays.
The combat log is now part of the social media display.
Revised the vehicle status display (in the HUD, targeting and garages) to use armor segments
Speed is now expressed in increments of 25MPH
Revised weapon and equipment icons to display in monochrome monitor style
The player’s current stats as the “hero” is in the upper left.
The upper right always shows the player’s enemy in this area with their fame so you can contrast it with your own.
The armor and health display on tne target panel works now and uses the same language as the player’s armor panel.
The player’s armor and acccessories panels have been reduced in size.
Armor is now expressed in 4 distinct panels, and progresses from there.
Toot that you have entered a location.
New chatter dialogue for locals about your actions.
Revised the sprite-based smoke and explosions to use a 3D shader that can cast shadows. Still some work to do but it makes Smokescreens and columns more compelling.
VFX Cleanup for smoke and explosions
Added wisp trails to bullets
Set up vehicles and overworld entities to have looping engine sounds with multiple gears.
Revised stingers and feedback sounds. Rely less on westerns.
Desert battleground now escalates its music properly over a battle.
The UI font is now Roboto almost entirely, rather than LeagueGothic. It’s cleaner and shrinks better as needed.
The UI screens now scale up and down with resolution, so items don’t get out of whack position-wise in those cases.
Default resolution is 1920×1080. No resolution picker in Unity anymore so I have to add in-game resolution choosing very soon.
The player now enters the citadel map, which means the vehicle is seen in the city. Opens the door for more location highlighting per city function.
New icons for all currencies and supplies
Updated weapon and equipment icons to not be so color-dependent, all monochrome now.
Menus should all support keyboard, gamepad and mouse input.
Move markers now match color of the move pips.
Move markers and grid now draw through the world and are always visible.
Character and garage is cleaned up and uses new font.
Popup labels at locations now show through obstructions and animate/fade better.
Revised the opening shell entirely to be more slick. Learning what things are good and bad to do in UI as a result!
Credits screen in shell.
Announcements page can hold patch notes and other information.
Display last character and max fame reached at top.
Main menu has quit button now.
Entity params (specifically how an encounter is defined on an instance) was not being saved and loaded properly.
Randomly-generated outposts are not placed on 45 degree increments anymore (90 only)
Revised the collision on the fuel dump.
Fixed bug with radial blasts not properly choosing the right side of the vehicle to damage
Fixed bug with targeting mode being entered before vehicles are done moving (causing blank squares to be targeted)
Make multiple attempts to redraw sites if we try placing one that doesn’t have enough room.
Fixed a poorly-placed camera listener (it was parented to the camera, that was a bad idea, caused shaky audio volume)
Vehicles now properly stop in overworld on encounter.
Fixed “Get those loot” and other such bad quote generations.
Fixed up buy, sell, loading dock pages in city.
Overworld enemy now properly dies if you defeat them in the battleground
Condition countdowns were actually working backwards, so oil and such wouldn’t last more than one move. Fixed.
Been working frantically over the weekend to iron out the last bugs on Auto Fire so that the newest build can be put out in time for Roguelike Celebration 2020. The changelist should be several pages. O_o
While you’re waiting, I took some screenshots for the virtual showcase hall they are going to have:
Hope to see you (once again, virtually) at the show next weekend!
It’s been a hell of a long time, but I’m finally gearing up to put out a big Auto Fire update. The visuals got a big overhaul, we’re getting a new UI, and there’s even the start of a new story. Lots to talk about, and maybe I’ll show a before and after, but for now I’ve got some last bugs to iron out…
It’s been a while! I’m about a month into ramping back up after the spring got eaten up by a much-needed personal break, and it’s been a while since I’ve shared the ongoing improvements to Auto Fire, so let’s get back to it! Getting things rollololling by pulling together the assets for some possible arena layouts and maybe even a racetrack or two… Been fun to explore!
One of the biggest changes I’ve been working on is a scale revision which will open up those cramped streets and other areas for more driving fun, as well as giving more impact and drama to features such as buildings, walls and streetlights.
I’ve also got some help from a talented friend in a much-needed overhaul of the UI. Just to whet your appetite, here’s a quick peek at one part of the dashboard… I’m already in the midst of revising the grip/skid meter to tie it all together a much clearer package in this new speedo.
About a year ago, I pitched in on a Kickstarter that was near and dear to my heart… the reprint of a vast library of early-80’s games from Steve Jackson Games. Many of these games came in a specially designed “pocket box” that was more durable than a ziplock bag and were the perfect size to fit on paperback book racks in stores.
These little guys held the first copies I owned of Car Wars and its supplements as well as other titles like Ogre. The manuals were small, and inside were super-folded maps as well as thin sheets of game counters that you cut out yourself. Perhaps these weren’t the honkin’ miniature-heavy boxes you see nowadays, but it was amazing how 5 bucks could buy you in to a whole world back then.
So today a big ‘ol box showed up. It was bigger than I thought it would be, although I did recall pledging the mammoth $200 “Car Wars and seven more games” package as a tip of the hat for everything SJG gave me in 1983. While I bought nearly everything from the Car Wars line back in the day, a number of cross-country moves separated me from my collection, and only a precious few pieces remained… This was a chance to get them back into my grubby little hands.
The first thing that struck me when taking the first of the contents out was how chunky big these new pocket boxes are. They were streamlined to remove the now-unneeded clasps and hooks, but they’re also a lot thicker.
The first set is the classic boxes of Illuminati, along with some Illum-themed folders as a bonus. We’ve got Illuminati Deluxe, but it’s great to have the real deal.
Ogre and its sequels/spinoffs/addons! Yes! What classics, and I’d always wanted a copy of Battlesuit in particular. I love these folders as well.
I’ve certainly never owned a copy of Undead or Kung Fu 2100, and it’s been soooooo long since I’ve played Awful Green Things (I think literally since it debuted in Dragon Magazine?). These are some awesome treasures.
Finally get to compare a new Pocket Box with the old. I put an original copy of Ogre against the new one… It appears about double thickness.
Now I should say that all those other SJ games were great, but I was eager to hit the star attraction and crack open the vaults of Car Wars loot. Look at the size of these crates!
Opening box #1… With Convoy peeking out at me like a long-absent friend.
And so it begins… Car Wars, Truck Stop, a couple expansion sets, the arena book, Convoy, GURPS Autoduel and a spare pocket box to put the expansions in. It starts strong!
I’m so glad to have a printed copy of this version of GURPS Autoduel. I have no problem with Darryl Elliott’s cover for the 2nd edition, but Denis Loubet’s original cover is my absolute favorite Car Wars illustration ever.
Convoy was one of the best supplements, as sort of choose-your-own adventure with Car Wars battles along the way. Whenever I wanted to immerse myself in that world or think about Auto Fire, I’d page through a bit of this guy. The book was one of the hardest losses from the move (or whenever it disappeared), and the PDF was I think my very first purchase from Warehouse 23.
I cracked open the bonus pocket box for the first time and it feels nice and solid. Feels similar to a slightly-undersized clamshell VHS case (for those that know what those feel like).
Once again, comparing old (right) versus new (left).
Comparing the old with the new here (new on top), the inside was lovingly recreated with all the usual inserts, with some bonus surprises including a set of two d6’s (which conveniently fit in the larger boxes!).
The new edition (right) is pretty much a direct scan of the original books (aside from a small note in the header), so this is as close to 1983 as you can get. This does mean you should expect whatever typos and game-balance quirks existed at the time.
My old copy (left) has a promo for Sunday Drivers for $5, while this reprint advertises Crash City (Sunday Drivers’ revised name) for a slightly higher price. The reprint also promotes Car Wars Deluxe, which was released closer to the mid-80’s. Not sure of the exact year of each.
These tiny little bonus notebooks they tucked into each pocket box are delightful.
Keeping with absolute authenticity, there are uncut counter sheets included as the originals had, but there are also die-cut versions of every counter so you don’t have to crack out the scissors.
The die-cut counters have a bit of extra thickness to them, which is great: The original 1/2″ x 1/4″ counters in particular were so thin and light that they were very hard to handle, and don’t you dare sneeze…
Moving on to treasure trove #2!
Two more expansion sets, Crash City, an Autoduel Quarterly collection and one of the Uncle Albert’s Catalogs, along with Zombietown and another bonus pocket box. Zombietown USA for GURPS Autoduel is one I’ve never owned and am eager to dig into.
Opening Box #3!
There’s some beefy stuff in here: Autoduel Champions(!), Chopper Challenge, the vehicle counter expansion set, another Uncle Al’s, and the AADA Vehicle Guide. A couple bonus pocket boxes and two folders are also tucked in here…
This book is iconic to me, and I’m super-glad they reprinted it with the foil cover… It’s so pristine it feels locked in time. (The AADA stands for the American Autoduel Association, natch).
The vehicle counter expansion set is chock full of game pieces for all the vehicles in the AADA guide above. They’re double-sided so you can flip them when destroyed. You can see from comparing the cut-out to the die-cut sheets that it wasn’t just a quick job to transfer them, they had to completely revise the layout to switch over.
Comparing new with the old again… Autoduel Champions was a crazy supplement that added Champions-style superheroes to the game, although more importantly it was the only way to get helicopter rules at the time. Notably, it also served as a Champions supplement, providing autoduelling rules for that game. I had completely forgotten that it included giant vehicle and helicopter counters for play to match the larger Champions scale.
While I loved all the color cover art, this piece by George “Speed” Webber was my favorite piece of interior art (Sorry Denis!). When I was a kid I must have recreated this drawing half a dozen times in varying media including pixel-plotting on my Apple II plus.
Finally to bundle #4!
Good ol’ Off Uncle Al’s maks a couple more appearances (so great to have all four together again!), another arena map expansion as well as the offroad duelling supplement. One of those cool bonus folders along with one last pocket box fill the gaps, and finally a copy of Boat Wars! That’s one of the few supplements I never owned, should be fun to check out.
The off-road expansion was lovingly crafted, with those cool trike counters and one of the very few color maps they printed. I also loved getting full-sized expansions because the maps didn’t have to be folded a dozen times over!
Looking back on all the Car Wars loot, I feel it’s money well-spent.
And with all those other games I think it might have been an alright deal for $200 even back in the 80’s… The platypus seems to agree.
One last peek at the rad little notebooks from the Car Wars packages…
…and a look at the bonus pocket boxes once I got stickers on them to hold my expansions. The stickers were extremely hard to peel from their backing, but I got them on okay. The stickers are a bit narrower than the boxes themselves, however, so I can’t say they’re particularly centered.
Anyway, feels good man. My collection is finally back to beefy.
It’s been about a month since the last update of Auto Fire, and I’ve been focused on the content arc. In between hitting “refresh” on the Kickstarter page for Car Wars Sixth Edition (really excited to see car combat come surging back), I managed to assemble a build with a good chunk of stuff.
The upcoming goal is to really focus on content generation, bulking out how sectors are laid out and how quests are encountered within them. This helps draw players through the various sectors and really gives some needed context and narrative to the play arc.
Some notable elements below are a larger emphasis on characters… They are more prominent in encounters and they now are equipped to refer to each other in dialogue (which will continue to grow). The player’s “feed” takes the place of a traditional Roguelike combat log, fielding tweets by your opponents as well as residents of the current sector.
More gameplay-relevant is the introduction of highway maps between the various overworld sectors. These will continue to evolve and reflect the hazards of traveling long distances. Eventually they will be the setting of convoy missions, but first things first…
I’ve been doing development streaming on Twitch lately, and it’s been pretty enjoyable actually. It’s early afternoon for me, Tuesday at 1PM Pacific, and it’s been fine. I worried about the cats disrupting things but I just embraced the cat break. I worried about boring people with some noodly code problem on camera but there’s always something I can pick up that’s interesting to work on and talk about. I’d like to think that people are learning things about game development as well, which it turns out is part of what it’s about.
I’ve saved some of these streams on Youtube, which has been good since there are sometimes concepts that I want to convey to people that are helping me out… and having a demo of its use is super-handy.
In stream #2 I showed off how patches are created in-game, and punch up some in-game objects. (The first stream was unfortunately lost to the fact that Twitch doesn’t save broadcasts by default). We also got our first visit from Sam.
Stream #3 started pretty weird because I had the mic off for a good chunk of the start. In this I actually crack open the very improved Blender after only an hour of watching tutorials and use it to update and break up some models, to improve the physics impact of destruction. Then we cut loose with some rockets.