Category Archives: Auto Fire

Auto Fire v0.6.21: Refinement

It’s a simple description of what was done, perhaps not as electrifying as some, but apt and important.

This new update focuses on further working on UI and art, as well as cleaning up some bugs and rough edges related to moving between areas.  Cars and worlds look better. I also started down the path of improving load times, and took some first steps towards upcoming content revisions. 

It’s a great time to go check it out… Just click on the hothothot Jupiter Cricket below!

Click to go download Auto Fire’s latest update!

Version 0.6.21 Release Notes

Gameplay

  • Armor is now expressed in terms of “plates”, 1-4 on each side.  Each plate has a fixed armor level defined by the level of the enemy or the chassis model.  This gives players a much clearer view of what sides are the strong ones on an opponent, and it also is how armor is upgraded on their vehicles…  by finding models with more plates on the sides they want. 
  • Armor now costs only 1 part per 5 points to repair, rather than 2.

Gangs

  • Created an entire flavor of bandit gangs, the “Wild” gang.  Paves the way for more themed gangs as we move forward.
  • “Wild” agents have names and quotes that match their theme.
  • Cleaned up some character names and quotes. 

UI

  • Armor is more prominently visualized on vehicles, including the adaptation of the “plates” listed above.  This includes when you are NOT aiming at them, but the display is made more visible when the player is targeting a vehicle.  
  • Removed the solid backdrop from the two agent panels in the upper left and right, trying to separate the “vs” data shown normally and the “targeting” data when you are focused on an opponent.
  • Moved the targeting box to the upper left.
  • Got some new icons dropped from Scott Rays. 

Social Feed

  • Tweets from bosses shouldn’t appear before the map even appears anymore.
  • Put anon and boss tweets into chat bubbles.
  • Removed name and colors from keywords in tweets for readability.

Bugs

  • Fixed a irritating bug with entering cities when certain quests were active. Sorry about that one.
  • Player can’t move past an encounter by keyspamming anymore, they should stop immediately.
  • There was an issue with the camera sometimes zooming in after completing a mission and staying there.  It turns out there was a conclusion encounter that wanted to play and just wouldn’t give up the ghost, even if you moved to new areas afterwards.  It should now play properly.
  • Quelled the double-intro from bosses with quests attached.
  • Fixed some issues with allowing input not working properly with some popups.
  • Cleaned up issues with restarting the game after player death.  Should properly go back to the intro and restart without hassle now. 

Tech

  • Updated to Unity 2020.1.6
  • Added Addressables Package and converted a number of sounds to addressables.  Started on the road to speeding up load times.
  • Stripped out a few libraries including CTS in favor of Microsplat, which has been much more performant.

Camera

  • Cleaned up issues with camera focusing or stuttering between transitions and encounters.
  • Fixed camera looking at target sideways during starting cutscene
  • Changed the camera post processing to add focal length and bloom. 

VFX

  • Cleaned up a bunch of stuff around vehicle explosions, the particles were too large and the hierarchy made some stuff look terribad.
  • Cars now throw tires and other large parts as part of their death. 

Vehicles

  • Revised some of the vehicle manufacturers and names.
  • Cleaned up Battle Car package with up-to-date toon/outline shaders.
  • Put in a number of new car models and created enemies that will use them.
  • Cleaned out the rough and out-of-date MadCars vehicle library (the predecessor to the Havolk cars) 

Audio

  • Revised sounds for UI, including menus, reward panels and chat barks
  • Fixed some issues in how soundtracks and boss music was playing (and sometimes re-starting).

Environment

  • Shrank the size of the single barrel because it was yuuuge.
  • Grass wasn’t appearing in some terrain maps.  Cleaned up the references and got rid of some old terrain libraries. 

Content

  • Small rewrites of quests, aligning things for a larger revision.
  • Completely reorged the gang definitions to give gangs stronger themes.  Wild, Fire, Stone and Tech themes are now taking shape.
  • Started to revise the handling of quests, with an eye towards completely overhauling the overworld organization into a real U.S. map.

New Cars Added

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:

The Jupiter Crux is a common vehicle that gangs use to cruise the badlands for easy prey. Lucky for you they usually only mount a junkthrower and have extremely weak armor… Light ’em up.
Mad Jane rolls with her crew, decked out in an Ace Predator with a basic Ram Plate and the High Noon Industries Bolt Carbine.
Image

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…

I guess we’ll find out.

Auto Fire v0.6.20: Back in Black

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

Tech:

  • 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.

Gameplay:

  • 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.

Camera:

  • 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.

Vehicles:

  • 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.

World:

  • 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.

Terrain:

  • 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.

Content:

  • 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.

HUD:

  • 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.

Social Panel:

  • Toot that you have entered a location.
  • New chatter dialogue for locals about your actions.

VFX:

  • 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

Audio:

  • 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.

UI:

  • 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.

Title Shell:

  • 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.

Bug fixes:

  • 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.

Coming up for air

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.

Can’t wait to show you more.

Auto Fire v0.6.08: Toots on the Highway

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…

As always, you can download the work in progress at Itch.io…

Try out the newest developments!

Gameplay

  • Rockets from watch towers now take a number of turns to reach their targeted destination.
    • When you’re trying to take them out, make sure to keep moving!
    • Rockets will aim for a spread around the intended target when sighting in.
    • Some (but not all) delayed projectiles can even predict where you’ll be when they hit, forcing you to keep maneuvering.
  • Various world objects are now destructible and break apart using physics.
    • Guard tower, water tower, trash pile
  • Line of Sight for firing now properly checks sight rather than actual blocking which means that crates and little things won’t block your shots (finally!)
    • Added Line of Sight blocking to several buildings and entities that were not blocking.
  • Extended the sight radius for vehicles. They now check in a square radius rather than a circle…  which results in cars pursuing you from a good amount away.
Those windmills were just meant to be knocked down…

Visuals

  • The overworld no longer slows time because it’s already an abstraction and doesn’t need even more… this is only reserved for combat maps.
  • Occupied (combat) locations show explosions and smoke to help players know that they will be driving into a combat zone.
  • When a player clears a map of hostile forces, they are informed with “Cleared!” upon returning to the overworld.
  • Adjusted the camera so it lags slightly when moving.  Is it good? The jury is still out on this one…
  • The machinegun muzzle flash ejects bouncing shells.
  • Adjusted where rockets come out of a watchtower.
  • Adjusted the default quality level, which was for some reason defaulting to ultra-low Atari 2600 mode.
  • Revised overworld explosions since they are, again, abstractions.
  • Lowered some mountain terrain that was poking up through the fog of war.

Environment

  • The map generator works with maps chopped into multiple terrain chunks rather than a single one, helping performance on some larger maps.
  • Fixed the placement of the highway in highway entrances.
  • Highway entrances are now skinnier than they would have been.
  • Revised environment items:
    • Skid decal for danger zones.
    • Added some new shacks for the desert to replace some of the trash ones I was using.
    • The watchtower and other points of interest in the desert have been beefed up a bit with some new breakable elements.
    • Barbed wire is chunkier and easier to see.  It breaks with physics also.
    • Ground decals under watchtowers, outposts, garages and homesteads are more transparent and hopefully less… ugly?
  • Fixed some issues with setpieces when they are laid out in desert combat maps.
Clever maneuvering or collateral damage?

Content

  • The tutorial is spread out to include special encounters where you can get instructions on how to play.
  • Overworld sectors are now connected by long highway maps that must be traversed, which have some barricades and watchtowers along the way.  
    • More to come with these.
    • Highways now generate appropriate names and state highway numbers.
  • Population is now more aggressively associated with faction, so that dropping a new gang into an existing map changes the experience.
    • The boss quests are also determined by the faction, so each faction can have its own quests based on what location they might find themselves in.
  • Overworld enemies now explode immediately after you finish an encounter rather than one move later (which was confusing)
  • Introduce a new intro encounter for bosses when encountered in the field.
  • Camera zooms in on intro boss when played.

User Interface

  • Added highway signs indicating what sector we’re heading for.
  • The Highway designation is seen when entering a highway map.
  • The combat log is now the equivalent of a social media feed, bringing in more of the publicity elements that will ultimately define your quest for fame.
    • The feed contains information about kills and items that are acquired.
    • Boss barks now manifest as Tweets (or “Toots”)
    • Added new citizen tweets about various agents and parties.
  • Adjusted the encounter portrait to use large portraits now.
  • Improved the ability of quests and encounters to refer to you, locations and other characters.
  • Improved the automap title information to show the map and its current difficulty level.
  • When a contested area is defeated, display CLEARED! floating text.
  • All popups use black borders rather than metal.
Hitting the open road!

Balance

  • Adjusted weapon drop rate down in general.
  • No weapons dropped at tutorial.
  • Tutorial cars and tutorial level crates no longer drop weapons.  The only weapon you get at the very start is the single weapon you get after beating the first battlefield.
  • Adjusted the bosses after the tutorial so they don’t kick you in the nuts.

Audio

  • Properly called TargetSpotted when a vehicle spots the player.
  • Spotted sounds now use a cooldown in general so there aren’t honks all over the damn place.
  • Adjusted the default music volume, which was previously too damn loud.

Miscellaneous

  • Cleaned up a bunch of stuff to reduce the size of the game on disk and memory.
  • Fixed bugs with returning to conquered maps.
  • Fixed a variety of bugs related to killing things before their projectile lands.
  • Fixed issues with tossing loot
  • Added collision to city road tiles so physics works properly with them.
  • Fixed a variety of issues with grass
  • Added killall and noclip console command for development.
  • Try to avoid accidental triggers of entrances.

Dev Streams!

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.

See you on Tuesday!