All posts by Patrick

I'm a game developer who's been in the business since 1993. I'm currently a Lead Designer at Hidden Path Entertainment.

Auto Fire v0.6.04: SIX Build Update!

On September 1, Auto Fire was demoed at the Seattle Indies Expo, a companion exhibition to PAX West in Seattle, held just down the street.  It was an exciting time and an exciting place to be, where 25 local game developers showed their stuff in a chill environment where players could interact directly with creators.  

The good news for those of you who didn’t make it out there is that there are a ton of updates that came in to make that demo play well, and you can now check them out for free on Itch.io!

Fame 

  • Made changeover of interactions in the direction of social media to start to push the build-your-following gameplay.
  • Fame is now “likes” and bosses now have their own followers that reflect their level of fame.
  • Dialogue is now flavored as a chat/twitter interface.  More of this to come.
  • A media drone can now follow the player and take shots of their kills for extra fame.  The specific drone loadout slot is coming soon.

Gamepad and Controls

  • Revised gamepad controls!  A button drives, B button brakes, B button enters location.
  • D-Pad will aim vehicle weapons if not in targeting mode.
  • You can now select all squares with the cursor keys or gamepad when the vehicle is aiming diagonally (it had “the bishop’s limitation” before this)
  • Improved the inventory and loadout to better work with keyboard and gamepad.  There still is a bug with the gamepad if you have a lot of items when loading out.
  • Gamepad buttons have cooldowns before auto-repeat.
  • Gamepad move marker now renders through the world if you are controlling next to a wall.

UI and Presentation

  • The speedometer is now centered onscreen, and the boost key is hinted when the player reaches the 40 mph “safe” speed.
  • Resources have been moved to the right side, and the armor is now in the lower-left, making for a less-cluttered interface.
  • Icons now fly to their locations onscreen with some more panache.
  • Easier to buy and sell in the store.
  • Loadout popup is easier to use.
  • Gamepad buttons are now prompted, and are put up instead of key tips if the gamepad is currently in use.
  • New key art is used for the title and loading screen.
  • Fixed some sounds in the store.
  • Cleaned up the targeting panel somewhat.
  • Tutorial dialogue and loading screen hints now include some gamepad hints.
  • Armor panel now uses an alternate visual
  • Offscreen objective pointer now pulses and shows over more UI elements.

Content

  • There is an invisible, harmless barrier behind the exit square on terrain maps.  This keeps players from moving “past”.
  • Loot drops now include a large variety of new drops, including some weapons with modifiers (such as high-density machineguns).
  • New levels of tires, armor, ram plates were all created.
  • The multi-rocket damage was brought down significantly, it was pretty silly.
  • Adjusted the price of repairs (chassis costs twice as much, armor costs half as much) and gas.
  • Large cities (the 5×5 ones) no longer generate in the overworld.  They were cool but just stupidly complicated to get through.
  • Fixed some agent names so that females don’t get stuck with a male surname that looks like a first name.
  • Fixed some bad results from the procedural boss quotes.

You can download the newest gameplay (linked below) or check out this quick video showing some of the revised gameplay/gamepad experience:

New art from an exciting guest artist!

​I just wanted to take a moment to crow about Auto Fire’s new title image, which was commissioned from legendary car combat illustrator Denis Loubet​!  

​This is super-exciting and my inner 1984 kid is absolutely nerding the hell out right now. He’s created art for a lot of my favorite things from that decade from Car Wars and Autoduel to Ultima and Champions. He did almost all the art for the original Car Wars​ pocket box, and created so many iconic works from that world. I feel like he was pretty instrumental in establishing what I thought was key to the Car Wars universe: The people and culture around the cars being as important as the cars themselves. It’s something that I think has been lost a bit and would love to be able to bring back.​

In another coincidence he also just so happened to create the cover art for the very first game I worked on​ (which I only participated on for a couple weeks), and I even met him when I interviewed at Origin waaaaaaay back in 1993.

Anyway, it was super-exciting to finally have a chance to work with him!  He did a fantastic job.

New Vertical Slice video!

It’s been a while since I put out a video illustrating the core features of Auto Fire, but a variety of reasons made me sit down and capture some magic.  Consider this a vertical slice, although edited for length:

  • Player customization
  • Intro scenario
  • Starting region
  • Tutorial combat
  • Overworld with roaming gangs
  • Garage repairs and loadout
  • Outposts and badlands maps
  • Citadels with shops and loading dock
  • Ruined city maps

Enjoy!

Auto Fire v0.6.03: Gamepad has arrived!

Auto Fire has been going through a lot of work focusing on making the game more approachable for someone that might want to sit down and play.  This is specifically useful in preparation for the SIX show in Seattle on September 1.

In particular, I put a fair amount of work into adding Gamepad Support to the game. Yeah it’s still turn-based, but driving with the stick feels pretty good.  Here’s the quick rundown, assuming you have an Xbox-style stick:

  • Hold the Left Stick in a direction, and you’ll get a preview of the result:
    • Up/Down:  Acceleration/Deceleration
    • Up-Left/Up-Right:  Swerve Left/Right
    • Left/Right:  Turn Left/Right
    • Down-Left/Down-Right:  Hard corner Left/Right
    • Centered:  Coast (if moving) or wait.
  • The Left Trigger will commit the move and advance the turn.
    • If you hold the left trigger you can move multiple times in a row.
  • The Left Shoulder will Boost your vehicle, allowing acceleration over 40 MPH.
  • Tap the Right Stick in a direction and you will target the nearest enemy that uses that weapon.
  • The Right Trigger will fire any available weapon at the nearest target, or the targeted enemy if one is already being targeted.
  • The Directional Pad can adjust your aim target.

Additional functions:

  • The A Button will Activate an entrance.
  • The B Button will Brake.
  • The X Button activates the radar.
  • The Y Button brings up the Character screen.
  • The Right Shoulder and A/B/Y will use the appropriate Equipment slot
  • The Start button brings up the settings menu.
  • The Back button brings up the Automap.

The game is still the same at its heart, but holding a controller just immerses you just that much more, plus you’re not stretching your fingers over the keyboard.  I’d be thrilled to take any feedback you might have on it.

In addition, there should be a lot more information in the game about speed and what direction everyone is travelling in.  As is natural, a common player instinct is that if a vehicle isn’t moving onscreen (while the simulation is waiting for you to make your next move) that it is not currently moving at speed.  The wheel motion, dust from the tires and indication of speed changes should help you digest what the simulation is up to!

As always, there’s another grab bag worth of things that happened along the way:

  • The HUD adjusts the key prompts based on whether the player is using the keyboard or gamepad.
  • Radar now uses the R key (and resides in vehicle equipment slot 4).  It has a separate spot on the UI.
  • Enemies now do not shoot every possible chance they get (rather than move).  They are just as likely to try maneuvering than shooting.
  • Improved AI will not try to move directly in front of your vehicle anymore.  This was really frustrating because they’d keep forcing you to maneuver around them to keep from colliding, rather than shoot them.
  • Enemy cars are more likely to get moving rather than sit-n-spin.
  • Fixed issues with auto-targeting with specific weapon sides.
  • Adjusted some female surnames so I avoid generating women named “Scott” or “Howard”
  • Control remap interface is temporarily disabled until it can be properly revised.

I hope you can check it out!

Check it out!

See Auto Fire at Seattle Indies Expo!

On PAX Sunday (September 1), there is an special event at the Motif just down the street from the Convention Center… The Seattle Indies Expo 2019. In this magical place you will find a great selection of local developers showing their newest stuff and I’m super-excited to say that Auto Fire was selected to be among the games featured!

The Seattle Indies group is a vibrant community that supports the work of game creators across the Pacific Northwest. It’s a pretty amazing group, and it’s exciting to see such strong support for game development in the Seattle area.

The SIX is separate from PAX and free of charge, so it’s a great chance to slip in and see games that you won’t find anywhere else. I’ll be there demoing from noon to 9PM with the most polished auto combat yet. Some rad games have kicked off here, so if you’re in the area, come on down and check everything out!

DISCORDATION

So this blog continues to be a main platform for documenting the things that I’ve been working on, but I wanted more immediate access to enthusiasts for the car combat genre. A new Discord has been launched as the answer to this.

Not just for Auto Fire, I wanted to participate with fans of Car Wars, Gaslands, Dark Future, Mad Max, and any other type of media where a motor vehicle shoots at another motor vehicle. Click below to join up!

Click here to join the Auto Combat Zone Discord!