Category Archives: Auto Fire

Auto Fire v0.6.61: Citadels, Balance, UI and Optimization

In the last couple of months we’ve made a number of changes to UI, the combat experience, and those you meet at citadels.  It’s a beefy update but more to come.  Download the new build, and while you’re waiting check out the new teaser!

Release Notes

Advanced Sector Preview

  • There is a temporary button in the Campaign Start dialog called ADVANCED SECTOR PREVIEW
  • This will advance you to a sector slightly deeper into the game.
  • This is recommended for experienced drivers only!

Combat/Driving

  • Made hits impact the exposed side of the target rather than randomly within their square
  • Fire gang implemented for region
  • Gave fire gang bosses rocket salvos that drop flaming oil
  • Enemy vehicles can now use dropped weapons.
  • Fixed a number of reverse control issues
  • Towers fire double rockets again
  • Entrances to roadways and garages are no longer barriers to be collided with, you can drive through them if you want.
  • The Camera now now holds on your target until the projectile hits, so you can better see the results of your shot

Balancing

  • A lot of difficulty tuning.  Damage ramping isn’t nearly so crazy.f
  • Adjusted enemy aggro down a little so we didn’t get mobbed from everywhere
  • Reduced the population of most maps, the player could easily get swamped if they covered a lot of ground
  • Fixed burning damage to not apply the weapon’s base damage, which was causing massively OP damage when you or enemies are on fire.

Citadels

  • Added a progression of mayor quotes in the citadel.  It increases as you get better renown or accept new sector quests.
  • Mayor feed in the citadel ticks out like the quest panels do.
  • Changed the faction readout to show the relevant factions in the current sector, and have room to show their full name.
  • The citadel screen shows sector stars in a cleaner fashion.
  • Removed skills entirely.  Perhaps they could return later, but right now they are not sighted to add value to the game.

Social Feed

  • Added a feed to the loading screen so we can have a colorful quote from the populace as well.
  • Improved some of the macros to better support “they” pronouns.
  • Cleaned up some bad citizen tweets.
  • The leader of a citadel waits for the player to get done loading before teletyping.

Content/Generation

  • Massively improved and refined the city ruins block set
  • Added randomness to a lot of rubble prefabs in the cities
  • Reduced the ruincity population
  • Overworld roads are more diagonal and less derpy looking
  • The highway map doesn’t have a missing tile at the exit
  • The highway map has additional patches and population
  • Less damn trash bags all around, none in the desert

Gangs/Organizations

  • Updated the bandit naming setup for better results.
  • Corporate agents and duellists now named better.
  • Wrote some minor encounters for fuel and towers
  • Reduced base quests from 4 to 3 fuel dumps and watchtowers

User Interface

  • Added a pointer that indicates the next objective if radar is pressed.
  • The player is prompted to press radar when the encounter is completed.
  • Added visual quality settings to  the in-game popup.
  • Some visual improvements to tablet displays such as challenge and mission completion
  • The in-game settings menu has a visual update.
  • Gender selector is now He She They
  • A lot of gamepay fixes and support.
  • Added gamepad control to Gear usage menu
  • Revised the social feed phone mask
  • The social tablet fades out after a set amount of time, but fades in for key messaging

Environment/Visuals

  • Created a full set of cars with color variants red, blue, yellow, black, and apply them to gang types
  • Replaced some of the old awful rocks with more stylized desert-worthy obstructions
  • Added VFX, sound and hitstop to crit hits
  • Fog of War should be steadier and not have a weird lag.
  • Terrain visuals are adjusted and scaled between tactical desert and overworld
  • Revised VFX for scattergun (not great, but better)
  • Smokescreens are now effected by the force of the vehicles moving between them.
  • Smokescreens and fire oil now decays out properly rather than pop
  • Smokescreens have an intro that plays in unscaled time so that it doesn’t look weird when the game is paused.
  • Mines and oil barrels now blink in unscaled time so they stand out to the user.
  • Flamer doesn’t attach to the muzzle anymore, should look better
  • Speed lines are more prominent with when the player is boosted
  • Dust motes are now in the world and affected by vehicle speed.
  • Fixed long wires appearing as short wires.
  • Adjusted the bloom of oil splats and removed oil hit VFX because it was causing a weird square bloom thingy
  • Adjusted some sparks to use a brighter and more efficient VFX.
  • Water tower no longer peeks through the fog layer
  • Emplacements do not disappear when obscured

Audio

  • Hitting a soft thing like a body plays a different ram sound than a heavy vehicle thing
  • AL now has his own message sound

Bugs/Optimization

  • Upgraded to Unity 2020.3.40f
  • Quality Settings adjusted to default to High rather than V High or Ultra.
  • Fixed bug where scattergun could target itself(!)
  • Automap cleans up better and avoids memory wastage.
  • Fixed an issue with defining battlegrounds, we risked a crash when getting into a combat encounter.
  • Fixed camera view for vehicle in stable or character view.
  • Fixed an issue with the car stable sometimes showing improper buttons.
  • Deferred lighting is being used
  • Optimized some materials for draw efficiency and hitches
  • Cleaned up issues that occurred if the campaign is repeated multiple times in a single session
  • Hopefully fixed tires that could sometimes get out of sync and pop out of their wheelhubs
Click here to find it on Itch.io!

Auto Fire at the Seattle Indies Expo

A couple of weeks ago, Auto Fire got taken out for some air at SIX, the Seattle Indies Expo.  This show was an in-person event in conjunction with PAX, and featured indie games from around the rich development community around the Seattle area.

Check out the other games that were displayed at https://six.seattleindies.org/

It was really fun to get the game into people’s hands and take feedback, to learn about what got them excited, and of course where more work had to be done.  In all it was a great show for all.

There’s a corresponding online event on Saturday Sept 24th, that will be going live on Twitch!  https://www.twitch.tv/SeattleIndies

In preparation for the event I assembled a new teaser filled with updated footage and cool stuff.  Hoooo boy that’s a tougher job than you think… It took the better part of a couple weeks, but I think it paid off. Enjoy!

Auto Fire v0.6.55: Citadels and Renown

Some great new updates to Auto Fire this month.  The UI got another level up with some improved screens and a more lived-in look.  You can now go to the citadel and help those people out, building renown with that city.  Citadels are a little more solid in their representation also, with one of only a few corporations keeping control of the populace across the country.  Finally, the visuals took an uptick with better lighting, new desert terrain visuals and cleaned up foliage.  The time to check it out is now!

Click here to find it on Itch.io!

Content:

  • Sectors now have a renown level that gates new sector quests.
  • Tutorial also now uses renown sector quests.
  • Cleared up the skull rating and show it on the challenge tablet app.
  • Cleaned up factions signficantly.  At campaign generation there  are only four corporate factions, two military factions, one citizen and one duellist faction.
  • Set up each sector now with a consistent resident and enemy faction.
  • Changed enemy and sector definitions to be able to be controlled on a per sector basis, allowing for better channeling of content across the overworld maps.
  • Quests now have a clearer faction reward and renown award for sectors
  • Fixed up sector leader quest arcs.  The player can eliminate an enemy entirely from the overworld of a sector.
  • Quests now have a goto step or a load cargo step.

Citadels:

  • Each citadel is run by one of the 4 corporations.
  • The mayor or citadel leader will dole out a quest for you, which gives you an opportunity to increase your sector renown
  • The player can now abandon cargo in a citadel and it will be returned to the quest list
  • The player can even abandon sector quest cargo and it is returned to the sector quest list.
  • Cargo cannot be returned for salvage profit unless it doesn’t have a quest attached.
  • The player cannot accept a cargo quest unless they have room to haul it.

HUD:

  • Dashboard elements now have schmutz on their frames as well as the glass
  • Sped up zooms and added functionality to make any panel zoom, plus zooming recenters the view based on the visible portion of the screen.
  • Improved the Travel and reward tablet app visuals
  • New Challenge popup when entering a combat area
  • Fixed up the quote panel in the upper right.
  • Quest steps now read out as crossed out if completed in quest list

Menu:

  • Mayor feed in the citadel ticks out like the quest panels do.
  • Revised automap and travel panels to use the same look
  • Menus and screens also have some schmutz added for a bit more lived-in look
  • Added macros for if the player chooses the gender “they”, so we can say “who [is] [he]?” as “who are they?”
  • Added a feed to the loading screen so we can have a colorful quote from the populace on the current situation.

Visuals/VFX:

  • Fixed up quality settings in the settings panel, as well as setting the default quality to high.
  • Revised all desert terrain textures to something a bit more stylized and cleaner (Deep Desert Pack asset)
  • Fixed up all terrains to properly display grass again (broken links abound)
  • Adjusted lighting to not overbright, and made sure all views use deferred lighting so that VFX lighting shows up more effectively.
  • Put dirt decals under shacks so as to make them a bit clearer as obstacles.
  • Zoom makes a whoosh sound

Bugs:

  • Fixed improperly LOD’ing models by a windmill
  • A courier quest to a combat area now can complete and the combat quest continues properly.
  • Fixed bug that if I killed the sector boss, the game would eventually crash
  • Boss camera on encounters now zoom into the proper target again.
  • Fixed several bad citizen tweets, some of which sounded extra dumb and others crashed the game(!)
  • Fixed crashes based on occasionally building battlegrounds.

Tech:

  • Adjusted night lighting settings (to be used in the future) for some experiements.
  • Updated to Unity 2020.3.33f

Auto Fire v06.52: Cleaning Up and Paving the Way

Some cleanup updates today, just paving the way for setting up new content in the future.

Gameplay/Content

  • The tutorial encounters aren’t as punishing as they were.  Sorry! 
  •  You don’t have to fight as long to reach the boss in the first outpost. 
  • Significantly more parts are awarded on the field.
  • Flamethrower line can now target the ground.

Settings

  • Did some fixes to how I was handling settings for those of you with laptops and unusual screen limitations.
  • There is now a minimum allowed resolution (Horizontal at least 1024, Vertical at least 720)
  • Graphics Settings should properly record your selected resolution.
  • Music and audio should also set and record properly in the main menu.

VFX/Visuals

  • The floating text and the pillars showing at an exit was creating a pretty bad experience.
  • Adjusted location labels for visual appeal
  • Made label ping show through world for visibility (hard to see the exits in canyons)
  • Location labels do not obscure your view when you enter a zone.
  • Fixed up flamethrowers on player as well as enemy flamers

Bugs

  • Entering combat in the field (via random encounter) now works properly.
  • Buying and selling at the citadel now properly supports stacks of items.
  • Repairs now work properly, you can’t get free repairs if you are near zero resources.
  • Small visual fixes and typos
  • Impassable outpost entrance now fixed (the outpost generator wants a larger palette to place protective walls)

Big UI Update! (it’s about time)

It’s been a long time coming, but Auto Fire is back in action with a bunch of updates and improvements!

There has been a major UI revision for just about all of the supporting screens and menus. Consumable gear was added so you can manually heal up in the field if you have the right items. There is a significant and growing tutorial that pops up how to play the game as situations present themselves. (And yes, you can turn them off in the settings!) More is in the works, including the long-promised arenas, hope you enjoy!

Loadout, repair and all the city interfaces are revised and much cleaner and easier to parse.

Gameplay

  • Some garages and repair outlets have a limited amount of gas or ordnance they can sell you.
  • Consumable gear was created that can repair your internals, drop mines or smokescreens, or basically enact any normal equipment’s function.
  • You can also target yourself on specific sides for armor repair gear, and the UI reflects it on your armor display.
  • When you complete an encounter, the loot is generated immediately rather than waiting until you move.
  • Radar is now a dedicated equipment type and slot called “Sensors”.  All cars have a default radar sensors package, but this can do a lot of different things.

Combat

  • Desert encounters now include combat moments that will drive you into a fight.
  • AI Updated for more responsiveness when spotting the player.
  • AI consider facing when planning their navigation routes, meaning that vehicles will plot paths more naturally and loop around their targets.
  • The line flamethrower can now target the ground.

Content/Tuning

  • Starter car only has 1 plate of armor all around, and no minedropper.  You’ll have to buy your own upgrades to get the good stuff.
  • Equipment crates now drop more items (versus from normal vehicle drops)
  • Crates on the field should never be empty.
  • First outpost in the starter sector now requires some vehicles to be killed before the boss emerges.
  • Old instant repair and armor pickups removed from drops in favor of the repair consumables.
  • Desert sectors should no longer have random encounters, only emplaced ones (that is, glints and smoke columns rather than just rolling dice)
  • Adjusted grip recharge rate to be a bit more generous.
  • Significantly more parts are awarded on the field.
  • Controls:
  • Big cleanup to allow for gamepad control of menus without losing focus.
  • Made accelerating into a skid work better, should not infinitely skid if you thrust against it.
  • Acceleration now waits until the next move to reduce your move’s time slice, so as a player you cannot reach max speed in a single turn the way you previously could.

HUD

  • Rework of the HUD colors and aiming interface.
  • Shrank the HUD components (gear, armor, social) slightly to allow for more playable space.
  • Changed social feed to dark mode, because the bright display was distracting from the gameplay.
  • The boss is removed from the HUD once you wipe them from a location.
  • Event-based tutorial popups appear when the player experiences various events, from taking damage to skidding to picking up gear.
  • The player’s challenge is now expressed with skulls, which is conveyed in the travel/gas popup to tell you what you’re getting into.
  • Added a real date display that updates based on player turns.
  • AL has a new look.

Menus

  • Complete rework of the character and loadout screens.
  • Complete rework of the repair experience.
  • Complete rework of the vehicle stable, to show all stats for all vehicles.
  • Complete rework of inventory, buy and sell screens to add categories and better controls.
  • Complete rework of the loading dock experience to show a map where you must deliver your chosen item.
  • Automap re-envisioned to use a higher quality smooth shader.
  • Automap locations are now interactive and can be hovered for popup info, and they ping indicating where quests are directing you to go.
  • Quest display revised to display a map telling you where you must go.
  • Quest steps are now crossed off in the Quest character panel.
  • Faction and skills are now shown in the character panel.
  • Entirely new inventory icons, for a punchier and yet colorful look
  • All item UI buttons are have a new shiny shader.
  • Items now display with level badges, indicating the raw progression tier the item has.
  • The loadout view shows pips that indicate when a higher-level item is available to be slotted in that location.
  • The inventory view shows pips that indicate when an item is new and has not yet been examined.
Cleaner HUD and gameplay interactions

Visuals

  • Enemy shouts appear in bubbles both on the HUD and over the enemy vehicles in-world.
  • Agents no longer echo their encounter dialogue into the social feed (it was cluttering the experience too much).
  • Zoom in moments happen after the level fades in rather than zooming when you can’t see.
  • New power lines, cargo containers, and other assets
  • Adjusted lighting on tail lights.

VFX

  • New explosion and fire VFX from toon explosion to a better stylized/realistic hybrid.  (It doesn’t block the player’s view as much)
  • Revised fire oil, burning objects and flamethrower VFX
  • Revised occupation VFX
  • Added decals on the ground from gunfire and explosions.

Audio

  • Vehicle audio uses Realistic Engine Sounds package and adjusts and shifts gear based on speed.
  • Use audio mixer to duck car audio when waiting between turns.
  • A new stinger or tutorial popups and specific informational moments.
  • Revised boss music slightly to stutter less, and use a continuous loop sometimes for quality’s sake.
  • Audio is set properly on startup from the prefs now

Bugs

  • Fixed several bugs with how bosses dole out their quests and get resolved at the end of a combat.
  • Fixed several screens where their text didn’t align properly.
  • When returning to a previously visited map, we handle the population correctly.
  • Fixed speedometer flashing visuals to properly flash at the end of a turn.
  • Made reverse skidding work better, it had some really bad behavior.

Auto Fire v0.6.26: Talkin’ about my Generation

Another update is inbound!  This one is focused on revising the world generation methods for more interesting and playable maps.  This lay the system foundation for new types of biomes and better overall map layouts moving forward.  You’ll see the biggest example of this with the walled outpost maps, which are entirely revised and much more look the part.

There were also a lot of stability and quality of life improvements along the way…  You can shoot mines!  Car control and skidding interact a bit better, armor repairs cost less parts.  There was a bug with missions that people who liked to haul cargo ran into.  For keyboard and gamepad players, the dialogues should not lose their selection (which required you to touch the mouse if it happened)

Gameplay:

  • You can now shoot mines!
  • Cars no longer get to move immediately upon being knocked to the side…  It looked strange and could cause some popping.
  • Tuned an issue where sometimes the car would not be able to regain their grip by accelerating out of a skid without easing off the gas pedal.  You can power through these now.
  • Repairs at station now cost 2 parts per 5 armor

Bugs:

  • Fixed a big issue with quests…  it turns out that if you filled up your car with cargo, the game would reject kill quests such as the basic ones when you encounter a gang in the overworld.  This should improve quest stablity a bunch.
  • Ramming a high cliff should damage the correct side of the vehicle.
  • Ramming backwards should not heal the vehicle anymore.
    The interactive location now spans the entire width of 2-lane highway exits, so the player can exit via either lane.
  • Fixed an exception that occurred if the player completed a quest and returned to the quest panel.
  • Fixed a couple of dialogue typos in toots and encounters.
  • Fixed an issue with rigidbodies generated on destruction, sometimes they would not work properly or even cause exceptions (which could result in cascading gameplay issues).

Environment:

  • Completely revised the desert buildings and shacks to use a double-size scale to better match the car’s scale.
  • Added wires to a telephone pole asset and for hanging.  Only used in specific biome patches.
  • Added real cargo containers to walls, which looks far better.
  • Wrecked car piles are now scaled up to be more in proportion with real gameplay cars.  Doesn’t look as weird.
  • Spindly shrub now doesn’t block line of sight.
  • Revised dirtroad decals to use more alphaed components… the tire ruts look a bit better.

Map Generation:

  • Completely revised how outposts are created.  They now use a combination of terrain and the city blocks biome (with a block size of 4).  Looks so good!
  • Revised the patchgenerator to also support terrain use, which makes the above possible.
  • A crapton of new clusters and crafted blocks for the new desert set were created.  Focused on single-lane alleys for that meandering dirt road look.
  • Revised desert ground to be more rolling.
  • Added in a smoothing function to make desert ground not roll too violently, as well as not allow roads to move diagonally along cliffs.
  • Fixed an old-old-old swapping bug with collision upon rotating certain long vehicles and buildings. DAMN that was written two presidencies ago(!!)
  • Added trash sockets to patches so that refuse can accumulate in logical places, with more accumulating within the walls.
  • Added deadend detection to avoid having a map seal itself off too easily before the road tree really flourishes.
  • On the same note, added intersection detection to encourage a map to branch out early for a good target number of roads
  • Mountainous borders now coexist with exits better.

VFX:

  • Revised Break parts VFX (which is on boxes, lamp posts and a bunch of stuff) to not be a giant obscuring cloud.
  • Fifle and machinegun muzzle flashes were teeny-tiny and not really visible.  It felt like something was missing there, got those fixed!
  • Improved bullet projectile trails.
  • Pumped up the visibility of location labels.

UI:

  • Fixed multiple issues where buttons would get deselected and the player had to mouse-click rather than navigate using mouse and keyboard.  It was really annoying because some basic dialogs like leveling up had this going on.  Should feel a whole lot better now.
  • Default buttons (such as in conversations and popups) should now consistently light up rather than be “invisibly highlighted”.
  • Damage numbers don’t appear on harmless or fluff hits (like loot crates).
  • Fixed flying resource icons to go to the right spot in both the game and the garage.
  • Resource icons fly back to the vehicle if spent.
  • Better icon/delta feedback on money/parts spent even in cities/garages
  • When missions are completed, the objective says head to the exit.
  • Picking up Health (which fixes chassis health) says “Repair” now.
  • Target kill feed is verbed by entity type (killed, wrecked, destroyed)
  • Fixed prestige display in main game screen, which just had a default of 11.
  • Added a Vertigames logo to bootup

Audio:

  • Garage reload ordnance and repair sounds are not scaled by timescale anymore (which sounded terrible).

Tech:

  • Upgraded to 2020.2.4f
Click here to find it on Itch.io!

Desert Generator at Full Power!

Something that is really enjoyable to me, believe it or not, is refining ways to generate cool maps. To see the result of a mad pile of code and some assets turn into something you can play can be a bit addicting. I’ve certainly got a lot to do for entirely new content, but since I was working on creating new types of maps, it was worthwhile to look back at how I was generating outposts.

I was really happy with how the new outposts came out.

Auto Fire uses a few different generators, one for rolling terrain, one for piecing together city blocks, one for populating hand-crafted levels… Originally I had been using the straight terrain generator that I use for battlefields and the overworld maps… a method of laying out blobs of varying terrains using Voronoi regions. If you’re unfamiliar those may sound froo-froo-fancy but for grids they are almost embarrassingly simple: Throw a bunch of spots down on the map that have a particular terrain type: mountains, clearing, rough terrain, etc. Test every tile on the map and mark it as part of whatever spot it is nearest. Add some noise and various other properties of each spot/region, plow roads to get you from place to place and you’re pretty far along. It’s at least enough for stuff like the overworld, where the specific terrain isn’t so important.

The desert overworld, using Voronoi regions

For outposts, however, that was only part of the equation… I needed walled areas, I needed an “inside” and “outside” area. I wanted buildings to make the interior more interesting. I managed to piece together features like the walls and special setpieces like water towers and little dwellings. In the end the placement of buildings were random, which created a lot of unbelievable areas and many dead-ends… a curse for a driving game where speed is king.

The buildings were also single-tile affairs… This scale mismatch was deliberately set on early in the game’s development for cities, but have since been changed to a double scale that allows buildings to be more interesting and for roads to have more width in cities.

What I realized is that I had a really refined measure of control in cities, with varying width roads, support for passability and large crafted areas, and just overall a less random feel.

The revised outpost uses larger buildings, but also build from an entirely different generator structure.

Cities are constructed using 8×8 blocks (which was 4×4 back when buildings were single-tile) that are crafted to hold a 2 or 4-lane road connector or a 1-lane alley (either left or right side). Each block has one or more exits, and a bunch of places where optional exits can be punched through if the system needs to create extra loops.

So why not do this with desert maps? Walls can be made this way of course, but we don’t want a desert map to look like Manhattan… Luckily there are a ton of tricks to keep roads from being straight and buildings falling in irregular patterns. This generator set used 4×4 tiles and almost entirely 1-lane roads, which can meander within a block like a Carcassone tile to keep things from looking too precise. One set of blocks can be used for the inside of the walls, and another for the lighter desert features outside. Everything’s great except that terrain needed to come back into the fore.

And so it did! Parts of the terrain generator came over to the block generator to give the map a more natural appearance… considering it was largely giant squares. With it we got terrain rendering thanks to Microsplat and some pretty nice grass from Advanced Terrain Grass. Our road-plowing routines guaranteed passability and some other code helped give the driveable spaces a little bit of vertical rise and fall.

So “why now” might come to mind… “You’ve had outposts for years now, so what’s the big deal about revising them now?” Fair question. The main reason is my recent investigation into new map types: Industrial parks! Dueling arenas! Race tracks! I have some examples that I’ve hand built with assets I have, but I want to get those generating also… and this same method will work for all of them.

Highways are also a culprit, because they are okay maps, but the road is arrow-straight and can’t really incorporate curves. With my current overworld system I can’t draw two-lane roads without using this block method. Also, a road that curves gently like a highway or race track is best laid out on an 8×8 tile… or even a 16×16. These things are all possible in our brave new world!

That’s the big news of February… a new build will be coming out tomorrow. Excelsior!