It's update time! 0.53 is now up on Steam and currently uploading to the members area.
This month's release is focused on the player. Looking at places where the game was falling down and seeing what I could do to immediately improve game-play and make everything more engaging.
First up is the brought-forward smelting mechanic. You now need to break down minerals to create building materials. The smelter requires interaction, so player actions are now closer linked to the building process. This also gives the player a better overview of their own production abilities, as it forces an awareness of materials and mineral stockpiling.
One very useful feature is the new manifest screen. I never want a big global GUI for the game, as of course it would never make sense to show “Amount of food” or “Litres of water”, when they can be in many forms, and many places, often entirely inaccessible. However I did want to have the colonist's keep a manifest of the people and contents of the base. So now the manifest screen provides a brief overview of the bases contents filling the information gap, and reducing the feeling of being swamped.
Air vents are probably the coolest addition for me, as they allow the player to take full control of the atmospheric simulation. You can vent in or out of a room, or circulate both ways. This lets you do interesting things, such as using the hydroponics as a big atmosphere generator, or vent a room out quickly to choke a fire.
Colonist skills and selection. Picking colonists is an important piece of player choice that I've been wanting in the game for some time. Now the colonists have over sixty skills, each having a small effect on game play. In later builds they will be able to learn new skills on the job, rounding out their personalities and giving you a reason to get more attached to them.
There's also lots of other small features, from several types of new lamps, to AI fixes, optimisations across the board and improved sound effects from Nick.
0.54 is now on the books. I will again be focusing on player choice, interaction and engagement, rather than getting hung up on completing the roadmap in a linear fashion. I think it will be a big leap forward towards completion.
I'm also getting Paul Dean back on the project to edit and consolidate all my recent writing efforts and to help bring together the ten hour campaign, so we can get you guys testing it.
As always. Do get in touch with any ideas, issues or concerns. I have a few emails from people with lost keys, that I've just spotted. I'll be sending fresh ones out shortly.