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!
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
Hitting a soft thing like a body plays a different ram sound than a heavy vehicle thing
AL now has his own message sound
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
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!
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
Adjusted night lighting settings (to be used in the future) for some experiements.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
There have been improvements to Auto Fire both big and small! There was a list as long as my arm of bugs and nitpicks that I discovered when showing off the game at the Roguelike Celebration. Quality of life improvements are always crowd-pleasers, and they happen to also be me-pleasers since I’m playing the game everyday.
More importantly, I started setting an eye to a longer play arc than I have now. That includes laying the foundation for loot, health and damage that’s defined by a progression arc. This means that I can balance numbers globally, as well as more easily drop in enemies and items to the game and have the system distribute them more easily.
This may not affect your experiences that much just yet (aside from some new items dropping!) but I’m looking forward to bulking up the content soon. (If you’re impatient, here’s the download link now)
Rams are more sophisticated in their detection now! They now check relative speeds, and factor in the ram plate only when your front is colliding with the enemy.
The relative mass and levels of the vehicle are also factored into the damage that is done.
The Cricket’s Bootlegger now executes a stun burst upon completion! (Like it’s supposed to!)
Sectors are now set up to control the challenge within them! This gives me the first tools to really smoothly lay in progressively advanced content.
There are now tables that control the base amounts of health, damage, fame, item value, vehicle value, and various resource drops.
Varying the content from this baseline will help generate new content and help balancing as the content grows.
This was waaaaaay harder than it should have been, except it’s because vehicles have a fairly involved way of installing themselves on various vehicle chassis. Players do it differently than enemies, but they all use the same basis.
Loot tables now spawn based on the challenge level of a map or opponent as well. Items are now set up to drop in quickly via a spreadsheet, allowing content growth to be much easier!
Part of the result of this is that there are some new tires, engines, blast gadgets, and weapons that took a few minutes to whip up. A significant improvement.
Adjusted the fire trail from exploding barrels and vehicles to be more flamboyant.
Added physics objects to destructible entities.
Fixed orientation and camera angles of special moves.
The overworld vehicle is a tad smaller now, to better fit the other elements within.
Automap is (finally!!!) closed with the Escape key
Objective Pointer improvements!
Objective pointers now can point to things that can be killed in the map if there are more than one.
When there are multiple objective targets, only show the ones that have been seen so far.
Pointer flashes regularly and is pushed slightly further inward for better visibility.
Pointer starts in the center and moves out when changed.
Revised the feel of the ground, leaning a little bit in the direction of more detail. I don’t want it to get too busy but it was blandtown.
Experimenting with grass, textures, some more boundary variance, and so on.
Outposts now have some slightly more interesting walls.
There can be breaks on multiple sides, and now the break isn’t always predictably on the south end either.
There are some corner variants now, just to mix things up.
The walls have a bunch more variance and they are not always rail-straight.
Wanted a little more verticality, so I made the guard tower and water tower taller.
Physics objects like exploding cars now have sounds when they collide with the world!
Some sounds are no longer affected by slowing down time, because they sounded pretty dumb (like the “clink” of a dropped item)
MasterAudio (my sound system) was logging all sounds, spewing into the text log. Turned this off, which could improve performance slightly.
It turns out I wasn’t reading my data files in an internationally friendly fashion. PC’s with Russian language, for example, would have empty levels and no weapons. Derp. This should be fixed with new parsing improvements. Hopefully Russian computers can run the game better now!
When attacking with a ground-only weapon or special move, don’t snap to an enemy.
Vehicles now have their special moves and speed perks built-in as vehicle defaults. This makes them not part of the inventory and not removable.
Fixed some targeting issues caused by weapons with a minimum range calculating incorrectly.
The Steamworks library has been added to the game! It doesn’t do much yet, but it’s a start!
The game has been updated to Unity 2019.2.9f, and now uses Unity Plus. This means no more Unity splash screen for extra Pro Points(TM)
As always, you’re welcome to try out the current build at Itch.io!
It’s been a couple weeks since the last build, but a lot has happened due to things that I’ve wanted to get in for the Rogue Celebration 2019â€‹, which I’ll talk about in another article.
For Auto Fire, RogueCel primarily meant that I had a lot I wanted to do in proving out playstyles. This manifests in the player’s vehicle chassis selection… It includes speed perks (passive effects triggered when driving at 60 MPH or higher), and special maneuvers (gas-consuming all-in-one moves that launch the vehicle to a new location and affects everything around it.
As always you can check out the state of development for free on Itch!
Cached Line of Sight: I used to do a pretty dead-simple Line of Sight test… I traced from one tile’s center to the other. Sounds simple, but there are a ton of edge cases that come about from testing that way.
To get it right requires a couple extra tests, primarily tracing to each far corner of the tile.
This allows you to see tiles that are partially obscured by walls, as well as being able to target walls themselves (such as when shooting the destructible outpost borders).
To reduce the load of this, I cache the results of these multiple line traces in all directions out to 15 tiles (this is tunable). That way I can look at the offset from the viewer and quickly retrieve all the tiles I need to query for blocking. Is it done in the most efficient way? Not yet, but it definitely is an improvement so far.
Improved item gathering: Vehicles now automatically pick up items from the ground adjacent to the vehicle, rather than requiring the radar to be used. It feels so much better!
The player also automatically picks up adjacent items in the overworld!
One thing I really needed was to introduce more playstyles for players to choose from. I decided to bake in special abilities into various vehicle chassis.
To facilitate this, I created the ability for equipment to have passive effects when installed, and remove them when uninstalled.
Effects have an ambient effect on their target, and can also trigger gameplay or visuals as a result of having triggers on its target… such as being hit, losing control, or colliding.
Vehicles now have two new equipment slots (which are not player-editable): Speed Perk and Special Maneuver. This equipment will in most cases be baked into the chassis itself when used.
A minimum speed can now be defined for effects, allowing for things like speed perks which trigger whenever the vehicle is traveling 60 MPH or over.
The stun condition keeps an AI (or player) from firing or controlling their movement until it wears off. This means pedestrians stay in place while vehicles will continue forward at their existing speed (or until they hit something).
The focus condition increases the subject’s ability to hit targets and inflict crits.
Turret fire (the F key or the gamepad triggers) now can launch any weapon or special ability. It also won’t attack the ground the way it used to.
Ram Blast (Stallion): Speed perk that triggers an explosion whenever the vehicle collides at high speed.
Ram Piston (Stallion): Special maneuver that launches forward and bashes through the selected target, knocking it aside.
Advanced Radar (Stallion): The Stallion has special radar that has a bigger radius than other vehicles.
Hyperfocus (Panther): Speed perk that increases the hit and critical chance when at high speed.
Jet Thruster (Panther): Special maneuver that launches forward and puts the car at max speed, leaving a trail of fire behind.
Jet Wash (Cricket): Speed perk that stuns vehicles and foot soldiers that are passed at high speed.
Bootlegger (Cricket): Special maneuver that launches forward and spins the car around, ending with a large stunning pulse.
Note: Special Maneuvers all consume gas!
Created new shader for the fog of war that scrolls and has interesting edges.
This was only my second or third foray into Amplify shaders… It’s been great to be able to the work in the editor rather than have to code them, since I really did a lot of experimentation here.
The main goal was to create something more dynamic on edges and more particular to have fewer tiles obscured by half-opacity textures, which made things feel extra floaty and mushy on a large part of the screen.
Destroyed vehicles now do not fly into the air as ridiculously far. It was fun but you often never even saw the vehicle because it flew so high.
Adjusted the color of the ordnance and gas can icon and model to be more prominently colored, so they are easier to spot.
Added glinty materials to pickups to make them catch the eye better.
This is mostly by cranking up the brightness of the specular in the toon shader I’m using for gameplay objects. It looks pretty nice when the objects spin.
Adjusted the loadout of starting vehicles to match playstyles.
Updated start screen to give more description of cars.
Updated some tutorial text to match the new control method.
Fixed bug with effects such as dropped items. One symptom was smoke and oil overwriting each other. This may also eliminate some of the mysterious crashes I’ve seen.
It turns out that in a specific case I was passing a single dictionary around for effects rather than properly instantiating it for each instance of an effect. That caused some serious weirdness, glad to have tracked that down.
Fixed a problem with firing while stationary, which remained in slomo during execution.
Changed the ragdolls for humans and dogs to move smoothly.
Added audio mixer slowdown when slowing down time.
When destroyed vehicles are flung into the air, they now play sounds when falling to the ground.
Added a techy burst sound for the bootlegger.
Targeting squares are more yellow now, rather than green.
The (A) button prompt disappears when the player centers the gamepad stick.
A small update coming down the pike today, but one big one comes along for the ride. Objective pointers! When a boss appears, the game will help guide you to the opponent, and once the boss is destroyed, you will be pointed to the exit. It’s a frequently-requested feature, and it will only get more robust as time goes on.
Objective pointer appears when boss appears and then the exit gets a pointer when the boss is dead.
Game doesn’t slow down quite as long when an enemy dies, and it doesn’t slow down at all if the victim is offscreen.
Rebuild some shader files to reduce hitches.
Visual quality defaults to Very High rather than Very Low(!). (Auto Fire is 3D but it’s not that taxing on your machine…)
Fixed the spacing for the inventory/buy/sell screens a little, and a few other quirks.
The loadout and settings screens had some fixes to make them more usable with a keyboard.
Fixed some things interfering with the cargo screen when used with a mouse.
Fixed some bugs when using the repair screen.
Removed a rare combat result in the loot crate encounter for the time being. (Caused you to get stuck in the encounter popup)
When expanding the feature set of Auto Fire,Â an important element was to finally makeÂ the overworld play more of a role in the game.Â As a first step, the badlands now have roaming gangs that run convoys from place to place (having an agenda that will grow over time).Â These clouds of dust have an unknown number of cars in them, and eventually they will hold a variety of characters within, including lone drivers, hit squads, innocent settlersÂ and good ol’ cargo convoys.Â
Each roaming enemy gang has a generated miniboss that runs it.Â If they see you, they’ll interrupt what they’re doing and come after you.Â If they reach you you’ll be dragged into full combat with their crew… but if you take down the boss you’ll earn yourself some extra fame.Â Â Make sure you defeat themÂ orÂ they’ll come back to haunt you…
Some other changes with this build:
Created overworld bosses (as described above). These roam the world using a FSM via the Unity Animator (unorthodox but seems to work fine).
Added a lot of infrastructure to make free bosses and track the player’s kills in each faction.
Bosses now have a “spotted” shout that occurs both in the overworld and in combat.
Cleaned up the UI for weapon aiming.Â The player can’t accidentally advance the clock by targeting empty ground.
Buffer keystrokes now so that the player cannot target when the enemy is still in the middle of its move.Â The result was a bunch of misses due to bad UI… Ugh it was driving me nuts! Fixed now, yay!
Revised the combat hit resolution from an older system, which was Diablo-like (and tended to create more misses and less impact due to bonuses), to one that is more of an opposed roll with positive and negative modifiers (more like D&D).Â It creates a more distinct feel to good and bad weapons and situations.