Monday Dev Update #22

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Hello everyone and welcome to this new Dev Update.

Unfortunately this was a very long hiatus that left you without much information at all as to all the things that have been going on behind the scenes over the past few months. We've long been struggling with work overload and the difficulties of running a superscale project like this on the one hand, and the day to day realities of living life, both to sustain oneself and to make sure the work gets what it needs. So communication is always the first casualty of hardship. While I would personally love to finally reach a situation where things can occur much more smoothly and with much more regularity again, this is where we are at the moment, so please bear with us. Which is why the first thing I would like to do as of this post is thank you for your patience, and thank our saintly patrons and supporters, who for a very long time have been showinh so much understanding and goodwill.

Today we're going back to talking about Camping & Wilderness. We begin with a graph showing you what exactly we've been working towards in the sense of all our efforts of the past few months to half a year have contributed to building some aspect or other of the graph below:


Wilderness Gameplay Loop

So this is the logic for the Wilderness gameplay loop and all the steps contained within it. To explain it quickly:

A regular Wilderness gameplay session is, roughly speaking, a day in the life. That day begins with the opportunity to further define your character's backstory. Contrary to most RPGs, where Character Creation is a contained step in the beginning, before you actually play, and then all you do is Character Progression, in Winterfall, defining your Character's backstory is part of Progression. You flesh it out over time, diving deeper into past episodes and building the bigger picture of your Character's Lifepath, until said Lifepath so far catches up with the present.

So in this case, before each new day, as the character sleeps, you get to dive into their past and help define and refine it.

Then the new day begins. You Assess your Character's Situation, which is both the Character's overall State, as well as their Whereabouts: depending on how well they slept that night and whatever else may be going on, they may already be up and active as the day begins, or maybe they're still in bed and it's up to you to wake them up.

This is the more "Life Sim" aspect of Winterfall, besides the traditional RPG dimension. You're not just dealing with stats and numbers but also with states and mindset, which the Character generates independently, according to the combined logic of their personality & circumstances.

Expeditions

You then set your goals for the day, the thing(s) you care most to achieve, from the local selection of available tasks and opportunities. The wilds teem with those, whether ruins you want to explore, resources you want to collect, some target you want to take down, things you want to build, etc. Those appear all around you within the environment, and the more intelligence you have on said environment, the more of those opportunities will appear, or the more clearly they will.

This aspect of the game can be automatized or played manually: you can send your Character on an Expedition somewhere, or you can play that Expedition yourself. The possible outcomes and opportunities will differ based on your choice.

Of course, whether you run Expeditions manually or automatically, there is ample room for free, open-ended play: Winterfall is a game exalting freedom, exploration and discovery and while you have clearly identified, specific goals to pursue through existing opportunities, you can also chase and fulfill those goals freely, or even pick entirely different goals. The Goals/Expeditions system is an armature upon which to track progress and structure a game experience but it's a bit the same as, in regular RPGs, leveling through Questing vs leveling through Free Roaming. Questing makes tracking goal, risk & reward easy, Free Roaming may be sometimes more of a gamble but may prove more surprising and have more amplitude in rewards & satisfaction.

Another thing is that which Expeditions are available and their likelihood of success depends on character skills and abilities, whereas Free Roaming into gameplay is much more permissive, based only on your curiosity and manual, personal ability.

Pre-Camp Phase

Along the way, features your Camp. We've spoken of that in previous updates: the Camp is the constant marker of direction and progression: you will seek out Campsites, set up Camp there, do what you have to, then move to another Campsite. They dot the wilds in specific, predetermined areas. Most actual Campsites will let you have a cozy stay as you build the necessary furnishings and facilities, while some less welcoming spots will still let you rest, while affording you less freedom or comfort. So some of your journey will be a balance of seeking proper Campsites and halting very temporarily at resting spots. This is dealt with through the Hearth Mechanics: the ability to build a fire, set it as your Hearth, and use it as your Respawning point in case of woe.



Camp Phase

As explored in a previous update, Camps will offer you activities based on what Furnishings are available there (some pre-built, some built by yourself). Those Furnishings will allow you to improve the Campsite's basic features (comfort, shelter, concealment, etc) and will rule the quality of your stay by determining what type of events may interject, their severity, etc. Your Character's personal Traits will also make available lesser activities called Pastimes, which may yield resources, effect stats or provide various benefits... there's always a risk of them going sideways and incurring unexpected costs, so watch out.


Sleep Phase

This all leads to the Sleep Phase. We literally implemented a Sleep simulator of sorts, where based on various parameters both of the Campsite itself and actions performed throughout the day and their impact on the Character's state, each hour of Sleep will go through checks determining how much rest is achieved or whether there is some sort of interruption or Hazard, Camp-based (an invasion, for example) or Personal (Nightmares, bad posture, etc). This determines the state in which the Character wakes up (ideally) the next day, and where they will start their adventures from.

The type of logic that goes on behind something as simple as Sleeping



So that is an overview of how we've been dealing with the Wilderness gameplay Loop. May was focused on the Camp-Building Mechanics, June was focused on the Camp Life Mechanics, now we are spending July over Pastimes & Expeditions.



General Work

Alongside that, general updates, developments & improvements have been performed on the following mechanics and systems:

  • Character Mood Mechanics (how the Character feels, dynamically, throughout the day's events)

  • Combat Controller Improvements (Dodge, Kick Transition to Attack, etc)

  • Sprint & Sprint Cooldown & Field of View Changes while walking/jogging/sprinting

  • Obstacle Navigation

  • Slope/Stair Climbing & Feet IK (still requires some improvements, looks funny)

  • Conditions UI Info

  • And as ever, salvaging and cleaning up pieces of the world from which most screenshots come. Pretty difficult task, to be fair, as it's thousands upon thousands of manually placed objects, some with their parameters sometimes broken, etc. But it's coming together slowly.

Thank you for your patience.