It's been a great few weeks for us as we're working towards our gold master. After handing out keys to all of you along with Wasteland 2 doing well on the Steam Summer Sale, we saw an all-time high record for simultaneous player activity on the weekend of June 21-22. It's been great to see so many people jump in!
So now's a good time for us to report in and let you know about our status, progress, and plans for the upcoming months.
First and foremost, since this has been requested quite a lot, we are putting back in a local area map functionality! With our rotatable camera and wide 3D spaces this is kind of a must-have for navigating the world. It was pulled from the beta previously as we were beginning to work on the updated map code. The new one is in and both looking and working great. You’ll be able to spot visible enemies and NPC’s along with stores and geographic landmarks from area you’ve explored. NPCs and enemies will not be visible outside of your ranger’s current view range.
We're still polishing it internally, but here's a look at the local area map as it is in now, as part of the log book screen:
Quite a few things have been improved since the last beta build went out. We've done a huge pass overhauling the game's balance and loot drops. You’ll encounter a greater variance in loot drops now along with many new weapons being added, but we also made loot tables more set and less random. To aid that, we've added foot lockers in the Ranger Citadel in Arizona and Santa Fe Springs (Ranger HQ) in Los Angeles so you can store some of that precious loot.
Along with specific dropsets you'll now actually get items from repairing toasters. Many of these items are unique and can potentially be turned in to different NPCs throughout the world for even greater rewards. Additionally we're upgrading the usage of containers, with safes now having better loot than normal crates, while normal crates are now split into specific types: ammo, weapon, medic, general crates, or smaller junk crates. Many of these will be visually distinct which means that if you're scouting it out and see the crate behind some enemies or traps you can figure out if it's worth it for you to get to it.
Combat is also going through multiple balance passes, for example fixing the currently broken way jamming works. It will be much less frequent in the final game for general weapons. Some weapons will still have high jam rates, but these weapons tend to have a nice little bonus to offset the frustration of the jam (increased damage, reduced scrap cost…). Improving your training in weapon skills or creating some weapon mods can also reduce the jam rate so there are ways to get around high jam rates. Have we mentioned that we enjoy the idea of the trade-off?
We've also put in backer shrines, statues, locations, weapons, artifacts and NPCs. The statues are custom modelled and can appear on any gameplay map, while the shrines are in hard-to-reach world map areas and huge rewards (an attribute point per ranger) when discovered. Exploration is paid-off for those willing to veer off the main path.
Oh yeah, the citizens in the Wasteland have been busy putting up quite a few traps for your journey. Perception and Demolitions will definitely come in handy so train up! Opening a safe without getting hurt can sometimes require Perception to see the trap, Demolitions to disarm it and Safe Crack to open it. Alarm Disarm has similarly been getting more usage.
Energy weapons are back in as we finalize our particle and sound effect passes. Weaponsmithing has seen improvements, with new mods available. Silent Move has been out of the beta for a while, and it is in fact permanently cut. It became too easy to break game triggers, which would in turn-break the game. The plan we put together to find and fix all issues was already colossal with a game of this size and scope.
Traits/perks as well as aimed shots are two more features we have been strongly considering, but won't be in the final game. We love both systems and agree with the feedback that it would add a lot, however we also believe that badly balanced or overly simple versions would not be in the best interest of the game. Take aimed shots: to do it right means it would have a real tactical impact, AI reactions to its usage, and a carefully balanced pro-cons system, rather than just "decrease to-hit chance to increase critical chance".
A cool tweak has been made to Computer Science. This skill allows for the hacking of robots, turning them to your side. The difficulty of this depends not just on the robot's level but also on its remaining CON. The lower the remaining CON, the easier it is to hack. This creates an interesting trade-off where you can decide to bring down a robot's health to hack him but this leaves you with a less useful ally. It’s incredibly fun to beat a skill check and watch from the sidelines as your slicer dicer obliterates the remaining robots.
We've been upgrading UI art for things like the examine window, while also adding elements that improve the experience: for example the vendor side of the barter screen will now look like the player's side and allow for sorting. Additionally we added a Distribute button on looting, this button automatically gives weapons to the character with the highest skill for that weapon, ammo to characters with weapons of that type equipped, healing items to medics, and spreads junk over whoever has the most inventory space left. You can still loot all or manually move certain items to specific characters.
Optimization has been forging ahead by leaps and bounds: the install size on the disc has already been cut by at least 20%, we've done a texture pass that both improves the look and tones down unnecessarily large textures. And we’re significantly cutting into the game's memory usage. Good things across the board!
Wasteland 2 is 2x bigger than Kickstarter budget allowed!
Wasteland 2 is a hell of a project. One that is larger and more nuanced than we had imagined even when completed our Kickstarter campaign and knew what our budget was. We've had the good fortune of having a nicely selling back catalog, which allowed us to put a good chunk of our own money into making this the best experience possible. That along with some help from Early Access on Steam provided additional revenue along with a great influx of feedback.
We made this promise a while back and it still holds true. Every penny coming in from sales is still going back into making Wasteland 2. By this stage, it means we have doubled Wasteland 2's initial budget.
There was discussion when we put the game up on Early Access whether it was a good idea or not. I can promise that the game we are close to releasing would not have been the same without it. While Wasteland 2 would have been released months ago without Early Access, it would not have the polish, detail, and scope that we are bringing to you in very near future. The past few years have been one large learning and refining process for all of us, and in hindsight, we can measurably say this had a huge positive impact on the game. Nothing beats the feedback from tons of you playing the game and the resources and time to act on that feedback.
At this stage in production we are thinking about practical tasks such as getting a gold master version so we can start printing discs. We're currently aiming to have that done in late July, but that doesn't mean we wrap up the project. Some people will stay on (as others move fully to Torment) and continue working on the game until its release to provide a day one patch, and we fully plan on significant post-release support.
The most obvious of that will be the mod-kit and of course post-release patches. We do not have any expansions currently planned but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any in the future. We will keep an eye on feedback just like we have during the beta period and be open to taking another look at features that are highly requested. Basically, while we are nearing the release date and thus nearing "the end" in that sense, we are looking forward to working on this game for quite some time yet!
Divinity: Original Sin Releases
Despite the current Belgium-USA rivalry as our two national teams will be playing tomorrow, we still want to congratulate our Belgian brothers Larian with the successful release of their Kickstarted cRPG Divinity: Original Sin. Check it out on Steam or your local retailer!
Divinity: Original Sin is a massively fun, open-world cRPG with tactical combat elements. The world is very open and reactive to different approaches, and the co-op mechanics are unique and create a great RPG experience with friends. It's a ton of fun to get into an argument with a friend at a certain decision and see who wins out and what happens because of that choice! I’ve been lucky enough to play it for the last few months and can confirm that they’ve done a great job in over delivering on what they promised. It’s exciting to see other Kickstarter brothers and sisters succeeding and it continues to drive home the benefits of this type of game development…made possible through direct interaction with you, the fans.
Mark Morgan Battle Music
And as a final bit from us to you, we felt like we needed more battle music in Wasteland 2, and Mark Morgan delivered.
Twitter : @rangerkeenan