It’s been a hell of a long time, but I’m finally gearing up to put out a big Auto Fire update. The visuals got a big overhaul, we’re getting a new UI, and there’s even the start of a new story. Lots to talk about, and maybe I’ll show a before and after, but for now I’ve got some last bugs to iron out…
It’s been a few weeks since the SIX update, and there’s a lot of meaty gameplay work to show off. Ammo! Maneuvers! Slo mo visuals! Better ramming!
- One of the biggest issues of having a turn-based game with realtime visuals is that a lot of the time people don’t grok that the game is waiting for their next input.
- As a way to get around this, I added a slowdown when the game is waiting for player input.
- As a delightful side effect, it looks pretty damn cool.
- Had to move a number of UI inputs to use unscaled time so it ignores slomo. I might have missed a few, so will be on the lookout.
- Made a bunch of UI effects use unscaled time so they play at a normal rate even during slowmo.
- Fixed camera and a bunch of other elements that slowed down inappropriately during slowmo
- Special maneuvers appear as “equipment” (currently occupying gadget slot 3), but are eventually going to be baked into specific vehicle chassis, which allow you to take special actions in a crisis.
- This means that different vehicles will help with different playstyles.
- The first special maneuver is the Ram Piston
- This maneuver launches the car forward 2-4 tiles within a set arc and rams an enemy out of the way.
- You can also use it to get out of a jam by launching to an empty tile.
- It has a cooldown and also uses gas as its ammo, which you can find out in the field or purchase at a garage.
Resources as Ammo
- Players have always been able to collect gas, ordnance and parts around the battlefield. These items are now used as ammunition for some weapons and equipment.
- Mines and rockets use ordnance
- Ram piston, flamers and flaming oil takes gas.
- Many weapons do not require ammo (just a cooldown), so ammo-consuming equipment will be stronger for its limitation.
- When you highlight a weapon, it should explicitly say the ammo it uses, if any.
- If you’re out of ammo, hopefully it will be very easy to see and understand.
- There is a dry-fire sound when out of ammo.
- All game hints are now moved to middle-screen and important information such as being out of ammo also appears in that space as needed.
- Now that ordnance and gas are much more needed by players, I added significantly more drops of them to the loot lists.
- Loot dropped from cars and crates now has a new definition type, so every drop won’t have 5-6 items in them (it was just out of control)
- Ramming something at a high enough speed will now knock it to the side rather than stop you dead. It’s far more fun.
- The mass of an opponent or object now matters more. Your speed and your mass is factored against their mass.
- NOTE: More will happen with this in the future, since relative speed and resultant velocity aren’t all factored as they should.
Additional Targeting Changes
- Area-effect weapons such as rockets, shotguns and flamers can now be aimed at the ground if you want to position their blast for maximum effect.
- Some weapons and abilities now have a minimum range.
- Rockets have a min range of 2.
- Multifire rockets have a min range of 3.
- Updated the position of resources in the HUD.
- Revised frames in HUD to use a superthin frame.
- Updated skid meter and needle, and repositioned turn pips.
- Boost hint only appears when at max safe speed now.
- Cleaned up the UI camera for inventory and garage. It’s not blurry anymore.
- Fixed broken portrait from game startup.
- Revised the collision sound (hated the old one).
- Added a new wood break and revised rock break sounds.
- Edited the speed lines for movement and ram tile with a new graphic.
- Fixed some rare crashes
Hey! I’ve got some BIG BIG BIG NEWS: It’s official! Thanks to the assistance of some ✨incredibly✨generous✨folk ✨ , I’m all-in on Auto Fire… and it’s coming to Kickstarter in January! That’s just 16 weeks away… and there’s a ton of work to do! Back to it!
We’ve been working on some new special abilities for the vehicles in Auto Fire, including the Ram Piston. Different vehicle chassis types can have some crazy maneuvering abilities, although they’ll consume resources such as gas, so make sure to use them wisely!
The followup was transferring it to on-demand equipment, which didn’t have the ability to be aimed yet. The plan is to get some more moves in like bootleggers, side swipes, and some weirder stuff. Stay tuned!
Thanks to regular pushing from a friend, Auto Fire has finally gained a bit of new flair!
One of the challenges of the game for many new players is that they didn’t always grok how time progressed: That is, the fact that time is always paused when the game is waiting for your next move.
Now with some time manipulation, that fact is a bit clearer… and cooler.
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!
- 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.
- 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:
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.