Category Archives: Game Development

Auto Fire v06.25: Stable Stability

It’s been a month, so there’s a pretty chunky update this time.  The player now has access to a vehicle fleet, and as such starts with a pretty basic car until they can afford something better.  There is a vehicle stable at garages for swapping vehicles as well as weaponry, and then the citadel has a variety of cars you can purchase.  The UI has gotten a bit cleanup as well, with the garage, character and citadel screens looking and operating with a lot more similarity.

Since you start with just an Econo Stallion, I took the opportunity to kick off the story a little bit more as well.

Click to go to download Auto Fire! Still free to try!

Emergency Fixes:

  • Enemies were using your gas and ordnance to fire their weapons.  Oh man, had to jump on that immediately.
  • Fixed a problem where the automap would sometimes show as blank.

Vehicle Stable:

  • Added a vehicle switching “stable” where you can swap cars at a garage.
  • The player can now purchase new cars at any citadel.
  • Players should have a lot more information about the features (such as speed perks) of the vehicles they are driving.


  • The player starts with a single vehicle type, and must engage with the vehicle pool to purchase new ones.
  • Created purchasable versions of all levels of cars.
  • Special moves and speed perks were moved only to upper-level vehicles.
  • Added new vehicle types, the Plaza and the Falconer.
  • All vehicle prices are level-driven but adjusted to end with $xx95 for added Ameri-flavah.
  • Added and revised sales descriptions for each purchasable vehicle.
  • Revised curves for player vehicle health levels to not *quite* ramp up as hard as it did before (+15 per level rather than +20)
Everybody’s gotta start somewhere… This Econo Stallion was like a lifeline to you.


  • Adjusted the per-level data curves for item prices and cash drops.
  • There are now bladed ram plates which do extra damage to humans, and spiked ram plates that do extra damage to armor.


  • Revised the campaign launch screen in the frontend to tell more story and remove the vehicle selection.
  • Revised the appearance of the citadel, garage and character screens.  Information is displayed more consistently and is a lot cleaner.
  • Both vehicles and equipment now have a consistent “power” number displayed in the corner so that it is easier to sort through weapons and items.
  • When Damage is displayed, it should be appropriately multiplied or annotated to reflect a weapon that fires multiple shots.
  • Made equipment stat readouts more consistent in color and style.
  • Weapons now display crit percentage.
  • Built-in Ram Plates now properly show damage.
  • Fixed some issues with selecting items in some inventory slots, such as “vibrating” mouse conditions and text being obscrured inappropriately.
  • Adjusted the size and placement of the equipment info popup so it doesn’t obscure the UI so much.
  • Fixed the social feed so it scrolls all the way to the bottom when new content is added (and not clip it off on the bottom).
  • Fixed the automap so it looks correct if the aspect ratio is not square, such as highway maps.
  • Updated steering wheel emoji to black and white.
  • Health widget on enemies now uses the same color as other health meters.
  • Buttons that are auto-selected should highlight more prominently when screens change or popup dialogues like travel and leveling up happen.
  • Loadout selection should not as easily unselect when it pops up.
  • Button highlighting in loadout selection popup is revised, less ugly.
  • Loadout selection and vehicle stable now adjust their scroll bars as the player uses keys or gamepad to scroll up and down.
  • Adjusted loading screen delays to better display the help text in a readable way.

Garage Repair:

  • Increased the parts price somewhat to repair armor damage.
  • Fixed an issue that kept players from being able to repair the last bit of armor.

Map Content:

  • Fixed the footprint of the oil tank in tactical maps.  It should work more clearly and you can drive through the corners that are clear now.
  • Added some new shrub variants, and they should respond like the others when passed by a vehicle.
  • Fixed a bug in gas popup descriptions.
  • Flamers don’t drop at low levels, because players could get stranded in the starting location if they use up all their gas as ammo.


  • Al now has a revised portrait, his emoji will be more important as he gets new personality implants in the future.
  • Added animation controller to enemies, so that they have move, damage and attack animations.
  • Fixed some ugly flickering on the big orange explosion from mines and barrels.
  • Fixed ragdolls, which were detaching all limbs on death (causing them to stretch).
  • Added new enemy portraits to the roster.
  • Fixed some flickering shadow issues on highway map terrain.


  • Fixed an issue that was making music not consistently play.
  • Loading cargo now uses a different sound.


  • Updated to Unity 2020.2

Auto Fire v0.6.23: Ammo Feedback and More

Trying to get that release cadence up, and good thing too since the holiday break is coming up and we hope to get a bunch more done.  Today’s release is smaller, with some quality of life improvements and a few oversights from the last release.  Most particularly, we revised the portrayal of reloading and ordnance in the UI.  

Feedback was showing that people misunderstood how reload cooldowns worked:  Most weapons are “free” to use, but cannot be used again until their particular cooldown is complete.  We’ve got more prominent meters in to help convey that.  There was also confusion around ordnance (which is a special type of explosive ammo that certain stronger weapons do use) because it looked like “bullets”, as in people thought it was required for all weaponry.  Hopefully some iconography and other changes should help out with that.


Changelist for Version 0.6.23


  • Fixed lack of hostile forces in SW Arizona (the first overworld sector after the starting area).
  • Removed (for now) the social chatter about drivers (rivals!) who are not the player, since their lack of introduction to the player makes it feel like a bug.
  • Reduced the starting ordnance from 25 to 15.


  • Zooming out, sounds and encounters shouldn’t start until a level is loaded and has started to fade in
  • Adjusted the compass graphics slightly as directed by our UI expert.
  • The Automap can now be dismissed via the automap button again (sorry), the character button is now what toggles the automap to the world map.  This is conveyed via UI.
  • Additional small tweaks to the UI.
  • Scaled back the distance blur, so that destination labels can be more easily read.

Addressing Reload and Ammo Confusion:

  • Replaced all instances of the bullets with a new “ordnance” icon that hopefully looks unlike a bullet.  That includes the emoji in the font, all UI, and flying icons.
  • Clock meters now expressly show (in a more visible way) how many turns until each wepaon reloads.
  • Targeting with ammo-consuming weaponry now play distinct sounds that match that resource’s pickup sound.
  • Warn the player when ordnance or gas is getting low after use.
Click to download Auto Fire for the price of freeeeeeeee

Auto Fire v0.6.22: Cruisin’ the USA

My company gave us the entire week of Thanksgiving off this year as a stress-relief gesture and the results were fantastic! I managed to get several long rests in (at least 30 hours of which involved beating up fools in Yakuza Like a Dragon), I installed a MFin’ sink in one of our bathrooms, cooked a lot, and still put a great amount meat into Auto Fire.

The campaign is slowly taking form! Some big ticket items include:

  • Sectors now take gas to move between! It is now your resource for long-distance travel as well as to scout out entrances to dangerous places. Don’t worry, if you return to a place you’ve already scouted out, you don’t have to pay again. Will have to make sure that spending gas on flamethrowers are worth it, because that fuel will be harder to come by.
  • A new sector world map is now stretched across the western United States! Still have to have the areas seed specific ruined cities, but you can see where you are in context and have a better sense of where to go with your cargo.
  • You now have a compass at the top of the screen that helps you find the exit or other things on the map. This replaces the edge-of-screen pointer, but provides a lot more information.
  • There’s now a resolution selector, and you can choose fullscreen/windowed, and even set your graphics quality levels in the main menu.
Click to go download Auto Fire’s latest update!

Version 0.6.22 Release Notes


  • Highways and hostile locations now use gas to move between.
  • Exits now show a popup (the travel panel) when run into explaining the gas usage and what’s ahead, and do not play any collision VFX.
  • Players can now just move into an entrance or exit to cause a prompt to appear. The prompt warns the player about the sector ahead and allows them to head forward or decline. These are used for garages and citadels as well.
  • Pre-seeded the entire canmpaign to be placed across the western US.
  • Sectors are named appropritely to their location and have had their difficulties adjusted. Still have work to do, since ruined cities aren’t named for their real-life locations.
  • Starting sector has been rearranged to introduce the player to the idea of gasoline for travel.
  • Encounters explain the need for gas to travel between sectors, and directs them to an outpost to get them.
  • The starting sector has a citadel in it, blocked off by roadblocks (simple encounters), to explain the intro and background. The exit heads east towards Arizona rather than north towards Vegas.
  • The upcoming level is “conned” against the player’s fame level. Too high or too low might be “Impossible” or “Embarrassing”.
  • Starting Cricket now starts with an oil jet instead of a flaming oil jet (because it consumes gas). You can still find one out in the field.
  • All vehicle special moves no longer consume gas (for now).
  • Garages no longer sell gas. You didn’t think it’d be that easy, did you?


  • Updated to Unity 2020.1.14f
  • Added in a resolution selector, fullscreen setting, and sound/music sliders to the front end menu.
  • Rearranged some audio assets to stream in, which should help load times slightly.


  • The screen-border pointer has been removed in favor of a compass at the top of the screen with blips for various bits of content.
  • The automap has been revised to use new monochrome icons, which are mirrored in the compass.
  • A Worldmap page of the automap has been added that shows all sectors and highlights the one that youre in.
  • Campaign can now show a date that is based on the curDay that kicks off a fixed future date that starts the campaign.
  • The social feed now receives and prints encounter dialogue. The player can even tweet to the social feed as part of the encounter dialogue.
  • The set of emojis have been revised for more variety and to get rid of some terrible ones.
  • Changed in-game damage text and location labels to use the Roboto font, consistent with the rest of the game. It should display through obstructions in the world.
  • Location labels now have new VFX and use a font that shows through all obstructions.
  • Location labels always glow now, even when the player isn’t nearby.
  • The citadel, garage and character screens have been better consolidated.
  • I removed the distracting background behind buy and sell pages. You never mistook sell for buy, but god that was ugly.
  • Revised mileage estimate calculations between two areas. These are used for transport gigs as well as displaying distances for gas consumption.
  • Fixed the text in the reward panel to not be as cramped.
  • Consolidated the line thickness on vehicles and gameplay items better.
  • Cut the screen shake when skidding in half. Sorry that was so extreme.
  • Made some adjustments to the camera angle in zoom.
  • Cleaned up the fades after dying and returning to the front end.
  • Floating delta text above stats like fame and ordnance don’t fly as far anymore (was waaaay too far).
  • Adjusted the snappiness and easing of the tablet moving onscreen.
  • The front end has a new settings menu with a items within… More to come there.

Map Generation:

  • Tweaked entrance placement during map generation to stretch to the end of a zone a bit more prominently.
  • Terrain maps now place entry points right along the edge rather than in the form of a “tunnel”.
  • More gracefully recover from situations where an entry point is not found… Pick a spot no matter what rather than straight-up fail.
  • This should fix a number of bugs with map loading or unplayable maps.
  • Audio:
  • Added Master volume on top of effects and music volume
  • Set default volumes lower (they were loud).
  • Collision sound not playing when hitting stuff that is harmless, like a loot crate or an exit.
  • Updated heavy chat sound.


  • The Buy button now works again in the citadel!
  • You can do transport missions again!
  • Removed ability to ESC out of main menu at frontend.
  • Cleaned up issues with player death not suitably rebooting the simulation afterwards.
  • Fixed some camera blips again when entering certain regions or on restart.
  • The camera zoomed in after mission completion and got stuck 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.
  • Fixed a bug with entrances, specifically exaggerated when on an EW highway.
  • Fixed a bug where the more sites we accumulated, the slower quest updates would be (oops)
  • Don’t crash if a macro isn’t set during dialogue lookup.
  • One car readout showed a speed of 4 as being 80mph rather than 100mph. Fixed.
  • Fixed a bug that caused delayed gas or ordnance displays would crash when entering/exiting a map immediately after pickup.
  • Put in a failsafe to catch a piece of equipment getting used without first targeting. (Was a hard-to-repro case during combat).

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


  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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.


  • 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. 


  • 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. 


  • 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) 


  • 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).


  • 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. 


  • 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.

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


  • 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.

Social Panel:

  • 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.

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.