We’ve been hard at work on the backer beta, working through some last blocker bugs to get it ready for you, and kept you updated on @wasteland2beta and the Wasteland 2 tumblr. To catch you up: it’s almost ready: We’re fully on track to put it in your hands next week!
As we’ve said before, the initial beta rollout is the first four major areas, the associated COPS maps (smaller maps), the world map and its random encounters, and character creation. As the beta progresses, we’ll roll out more areas, though we do plan to hold LA back for spoiler reasons. We’ll have more details on the beta such as remaining known issues next week, when we launch it.
With all late backer donations, we manually import pledge data roughly every 2-3 weeks, but we will ensure the database is up to date when the beta launches. The digital-only pre-order options will remain available though we may pull them too in the not too distant future, somewhere in time and space. Existing backers will still be able to upgrade, so as a backer you’ll still be able to move into a higher tier and get access to the beta later, it just won’t be available as an add-on.
We’re also progressing in other procedural matters as we get closer to beta. We’ve been testing both Steam distribution and the use of our CenterCode bug reporting site with a limited group of external testers, and both are looking good. CenterCode in particular will be instrumental to a successful backer beta run, it allows for bug reports to go directly into our system, so we can quickly and efficiently handle duplicates and assign bugs to the responsible developer. For our backers, it offers an easy-to-use, simple website that gives you direct access to providing us with not just bug reports, but also general feedback and suggestions. Depending on how things go we may launch the CenterCode site before the beta is out, to give you time to register, provide your PC info and get familiar with the site.
Keep an eye on our twitter or tumblr for more news, and expect more updates soon.
Got Wasteland 1 yet?
We released our polished up version of Wasteland 1 a while ago. We’ve patched it a few times since to improve issues like missing paragraphs, freezing bugs and a nasty bug with the cloning pods. It is currently available for Windows and Mac on GOG.com and Windows, Mac and Linux on Steam. We’re still working on getting another DRM-free option there, specifically for Linux backers.
If you did not grab your key yet, it’s still waiting for you in your Ranger Center account. Go get it! If you played it earlier but ran into some of the above issues, try again now.
All the Shirts
We’ve been expanding our Wasteland 2 merch offerings on J!nx, their Wasteland 2 catalog now includes new T-shirt options: the Blood Sausage, Toaster Repair, Priest and blue Ranger shirts, as well as a Ranger keychain. What’s more, they’re currently running a holiday sale (to December 25th) that includes a Wasteland 2 offer: buy any four shirts and get 25% off.
Pictures & Art
We’ve been sharing some fun quotes, production photos and other things on our tumblr, so be sure check it out. Among the new stuff are some new screenshots, so here you go:
And finally, here's a new piece of portrait art, an "old friend" making a return from Wasteland 1.
Chris here to announce that our re-release of Wasteland 1 - The Original Classic has gone Gold and has been submitted to GOG.com and Steam for platform approval. If somehow you’re unfamiliar with Wasteland: this critically acclaimed post-apocalyptic role-playing game was first published in 1988, and broke new ground as one of the first cRPGs to have an open, reactive world with persistent consequences to your actions.
The year is 2087, eighty nine years after an all-out nuclear war transformed the Earth into a hellish landscape where survival is a daily struggle against thirst, hunger, radiation, raiders and mutants. You take control of a band of Rangers, sent out to investigate a series of disturbances in The Wasteland and soon uncover a vast threat to all that remains of mankind.
This old school cRPG offers turn-based combat and top-down exploration, as well as tons of mood-setting texts and a colorful variety of enemy portraits. As we talked about before, we have enhanced the re-release, first and foremost ensuring the game will run on modern machines and higher resolutions. Furthermore, the game has been expanded to offer a music track from Wasteland 2 composer Mark Morgan, integrated texts from the paragraph book and manual, and additional save game functionality. It also offers many optional overhauls such as uprezzed portraits, paragraph voice-over and a choice of playing the game upscaled, smoothed or in the original resolution.
All our backers – whether through Wasteland 2’s Kickstarter, as a late backer through Paypal, or if you got Wasteland 2 through your Torment pledge – will be getting a copy of Wasteland 1 for free. You will receive your key by logging into your account on the Ranger Center (or the equivalent Torment pledge management system). They will be available as soon as the game goes live on GOG.com and Steam, which could happen as early as Friday, and we'll email our backers then. Access will be limited to backers only initially. You will be able pick between getting either a Steam or GOG.com key, whichever is your preference.
To briefly elaborate on our last update’s notes on this re-release, we got a ton of feedback based on what we showed you about our Wasteland 1 tweaks. We spent some time implementing a number of the changes our community suggested; a toggle to turn smoothing off, implementing swappable portraits, tweaking portrait art options, in-game manual text on abilities, stats and skills and ensuring it works on Mac and Linux.
The Early Beta is not quite ready yet, but we are almost there. We’ve received countless messages from backers telling us not to release the game until it’s ready. Even though it’s an early beta, we feel the experience has to be at a base level of satisfaction to us before we release it. There will still be plenty of time for you to give input and help us craft the game once the early beta is released. We are focused on getting it to a state where we can give you a meaningful impression of the game and allow you to give useful feedback. We’re working hard to get it there, but it does need a bit more love, and we’d rather get it right than rush it to you. As the beta progresses, we’re also testing distribution mechanisms with an external set of users via Steam, all in preparation to get the first playable in your hands.
Speaking of preparation, the official forums are being restructured and reorganized to support the Early Beta launch. We are also about to roll out the Early Beta issue reporting site, which will use the CenterCode platform. This way community members will be able to directly report issues into our internal bug tracking database. While CenterCode will be our main method of gathering bugs, you guys will of course want to discuss your experiences, share different Ranger builds, help each other out with possibly technical problems, and the official forums will provide the platform for that. We’ve expanded the moderator group with volunteers that have been on the forums a long time, and they will help ensure a smooth experience and assist in ensuring feedback comes through. On top of our existing moderators, RangerBen, Sxerks, SuAside and Tagaziel, we’d like to welcome Zombra, ffordesoon, Drool, paultakeda and Woolfe.
J!nx started shipping T-shirts as of last Friday. They should arrive at US addresses within a week, internationally please allow for a few weeks. If you’ve received an email from J!nx about your order shipping, that’ll most likely be your Wasteland T-Shirt (unless you have other outstanding orders from J!nx). Please feel free to contact us with any questions or if there appear to be problems with your shipment.
If you’re keeping an eye out for interesting projects to back, definitely give the Stasis Kickstarter a look. This 2D isometric scifi horror adventure game has the look of the best 2D top-down gaming had to offer, a mix of Fallout and Sanitarium in this bleak, atmospheric point and click. If you want to know more, an alpha demo is available for your perusal.
Raindrop is another fascinating project in its crowdfunding stage, worth a look from any fan of post-apocalyptic worlds for the aesthetics alone. It is a surreal, environmentally driven horror-survival game, with fully explorable levels and complex puzzles. It’s on its final few days with quite a chunk to go, so they could do with a good push!
Cries of a Dead World
And finally, to share something that’s just cool, gaming song maker extraordinaire Gavin Dunne AKA Miracle of Sound contacted us, interested in doing a fan made song for Wasteland 2. We put him in touch with Mark Morgan for some pointers, and he came back to us with this cool song:
Australian fans will want to keep their eyes peeled for issue #222 of PC PowerPlay, a survival-themed issue with one sweet-looking cover.
I’m Montgomery Markland, a producer on Wasteland 2. We’ve got three major items today. World Map, Early Beta and Rewards.
The World Map
Like Fallout or Arcanum, the basic experience on the world map is one of exploration and discovery.
Your travel on the world map is limited by both physical geography and clouds of deadly radiation. Within those constraints, you can travel anywhere in the region depicted on the map. You have two alternative means of exploration while in this game mode.
Primary exploration occurs in a 3D map that shows your immediate surrounding environment with representative scale and geographic features of the region. Significant locations, settlements and sites reveal themselves as you scout around. The 3D exploration is in the same style and pattern as Mount & Blade and Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir.
While in the 3D world map, you can press “M” to bring up a 2D map displaying the entire region. This 2D regional map automatically updates with locations you have either explored yourself, or have been informed of by another Wastelander. The regional map has been handed down from ranger to ranger over the previous century, each adding their own details to what was originally an old-fashioned roadmap from the 1990s.
As you discover radiation zones they are marked on your map
In Arizona, locations generally match their canonical layout from Wasteland 1. The map is filled with key locations you will discover through regular playthroughs; but significant sections of the map are side exploration opportunities. There is plenty of space to wander around, discover hidden resources based on your character’s build, fight random encounters and discover minor sites that may be explored in normal game mode.
As you explore the region, you’ll discover three primary things on the world map: settlements, sites and resources. Settlements are major locations, such as Ranger Citadel and the Ag Center. Sites are minor locations such as an abandoned mine or a highway roadblock. Resources include oases where you can refill your canteen and hidden caches where previous Wastelanders have stored ammunition, weapons or other goods.
Exploration is the primary activity; but survival will demand some attention as well.
The Wasteland is a dangerous place, and there are several threats that can end your Ranger career prematurely.
Dying of Dehydration
In Wasteland 2, water management is challenging and important. Your water supply is based upon the number of rangers in your squad and the number of canteens among them. Depending on the type of terrain you are traversing, your water supply is consumed at varying rates. Desert terrain requires the most water, while grassland and highland are more forgiving.
If you run out of water on the world map, you do not immediately die, but over time your rangers will begin to take damage from dehydration. You will eventually die if you do not find a new source of water. Your Outdoorsman skill adjusts the overall water consumption rate as well as the length of time your squad can last without water before suffering from dehydration.
You will find water at hidden oases throughout the region. Oases are discovered as you travel the 3D map; you will discover them from greater distances with a higher Outdoorsman skill. Like settlements and sites, oases will reveal themselves in the 3D world map as they are scouted.
Other water sources are also available throughout the game, inside of major locations, such as Ranger Citadel and Highpool. These in-level water sources are automatically accessible if the level is a friendly location. Water sources in neutral or hostile locations generally require a mission or task to unlock. Once such a water source is available, it is always free.
Dying of Radiation Poisoning
You'll want to pay attention to your Geiger counter. Clouds of deadly radiation, remnants from the war, drift throughout the American Southwest. Your Geiger counter measures the radiation level in your immediate surroundings in Sieverts (Sv).
You will encounter varying levels of radiation. The lowest rad levels do not damage you, but rather warn you that higher levels are likely near. Damaging levels of radiation poisoning begin at 500 mSv and can reach exposure levels that are instantaneously deadly. Except in these extremely high doses, radiation will not immediately kill but it definitely packs a bigger punch than dehydration. Saving is recommended when exploring the unknown, far reaches of the region.
Equipping your squad members with rad suits will allow them to survive certain levels of radiation. You can also upgrade your rad suit later in the game to a higher quality version to survive higher doses; but remember that there are pockets of radiation in The Wasteland that are at such high levels that no one can survive, regardless of a rad suit. Proceed carefully.
Dying of Murder
You’re not the only survivors in The Wasteland.
Our random encounter system will throw a wide variety of dangerous animals, mutants, raiders and robots at you. Encounter chances are based on an overall percentage depending on terrain type and the general level of danger in the zone you are travelling.
Certain parts of The Wasteland are populated by particularly dangerous enemies. You are more likely to trigger high-level encounters while travelling in those areas. We do not conduct any form of level scaling in this regard; so if you wander off the beaten path you better be ready for a tough fight.
When a random encounter begins, you will have the option to either attack or attempt to run away. Your chance to successfully flee the fight depends on your Speed, Luck and Outdoorsman skill.
Random encounters draw from a wide pool of scenarios. Animals, mutants, raiders and robots will attack from a variety of positions and depending on your skills and abilities your squad may possess the high ground, if any, or your opponents may begin in an advantageous position.
Random encounter zones will match the terrain type you are travelling through and each terrain type has several different encounter layouts. Encounters generally consist of between one to six enemies, though that does not necessarily inform you of the difficulty; one Slicer Dicer will tear through your ranger squad well after you get to the point where six Supaflies are merely an inconvenience.
Skill and Abilities
Your rangers possess a variety skills to help you brave these many dangers. Outdoorsman is the most important for the world map, affecting water consumption, dehydration survival distance, scouting range for new settlements and sites, starting position for random encounters, your chance to run away from said danger, and more. Outdoorsman is the key skill for travel, but you will find uses for it in various other areas of the game as well.
Luck is likely the second most important ability or skill while travelling on the world map. Luck impacts what kind of hidden caches you discover in The Wasteland and how much loot they contain, as well as your likelihood of escape if you try to run away from a random encounter. There are also certain resources and events on the world map that you will only be able to discover if you are extremely Lucky.
Finally, Speed has obvious impact in relation to random encounters, as mentioned above, and several of your other abilities and skills will reveal hidden caches, high value items, unique encounters and undiscovered oases with greatly increased water supplies.
As with all of the challenges facing a ranger on the wastes, we modulate difficulty according to your settings. We provide a specific Travel Difficulty slider, which controls the overall challenge of the world map as well as the level of hinting and signposting present in the HUD and on the map. In easy mode, navigating The Wasteland is simple and does not require much thought. In hard mode, a simple factor like water management can be brutal and challenging. Medium strikes a balance; challenging but with enough freedom to wander and explore.
You’re all no doubt anxious to get your hands on the Early Beta and we’re anxious to get it to you! We’re now in the stage where we have distributed standalone copies of the Early Beta to a small group of external individuals as a test run. This is the final stage where we ensure it is up to our standards and runs on a variety of machines, and we’ll then be ready to get it to you.
Early Beta will only be distributed through Steam, as called out in the original Kickstarter reward tiers. The final release will – of course – be available through a wide variety of channels; but running the Early Beta through Steam is the optimal option. Any other solution would require a non-trivial investment of resources into Early Beta distribution; we feel those resources are better spent on the general quality, stability and scope of the game.
We’re seeing steady progress on the various rewards you’re due. We’ve got specific information on Wasteland 1 and T-Shirts today. We’ll have more detailed information on other rewards, such as the coins, medals, patches and miniatures very soon.
We noted back in Update 33 that Wasteland 1 would be getting a standalone release.
Where is it!
First, we’re ensuring it runs on modern machines, higher resolutions, faster processors, and all that jazz. We’re also giving it some polish for rerelease including a Mark Morgan music track, integration of the original paragraph texts into the game, and optional paragraph voice over & uprezzed portraits (both of which may be toggled on and off). We've spent a very limited amount of time on the WL1 portrait uprezzes and if possible we'd like to open up the ability to customize the WL1 portraits to the community themselves. We’ve also added support for multiple save games – now you don’t have to wipe the game clean to start over.
Wasteland 1 will be made available for free to all backers (including late backers as well as people getting it through the rewards associated with backing Torment: Tides of Numenera or Project Eternity), and sold as a separate title on GOG and Steam.
Responses to the t-shirt survey have been processed and shirts will be shipping out very soon. We’re also switching to a new system for any t-shirt stragglers; you’ll receive a code on Ranger Center which you can redeem at the J!nx website.
Thanks for reading. Thanks for backing. And thank you for your impending feedback and bug reports during the Early Beta.
Chris Keenan here to talk about the most recent progress on Wasteland 2 and what to expect in the upcoming months.
We last spoke about skills in Update #20 in December of last year. Since then, our team has made incredible progress on all fronts. I can say, without a doubt, that we’ve been more efficient as a team than on any project I’ve ever worked on. Much of this has to do with a clarity of vision and getting feedback early and often to make sure we’re focusing on the most important things.
Now is a good time to talk about the core character systems (attributes and skills) since in the very near future, you will be playing with them during the early beta. Some functionality of the attributes and skills have changed during the iterative process and will continue to do so as we get more feedback from you, once the playable is in your hands.
Attributes are the starting values that define your character. You allocate them at character creation and while they can be upgraded during the course of the game, opportunities to do so are sparse. Attributes are key in determining the core characteristics of your ranger. They affect things like how many action points you have, how much movement each action point allows, how many survival points you gain per level, your carry weight, and many other variables. We’ve always said choices and trade-offs are a main design focus and character creation certainly supports this. Attributes have a cap of 10 and you will start with a smaller attribute pool than you may be used to. Each attribute point has a dramatic effect on your ranger, which leads to some very different feeling rangers based on how you distribute them.
If a specific attribute is very low, that may cap the related skill or could mean the character is incapable of using some items with attribute requirements. Of course, we will be balancing attributes and skills throughout beta, so some of these might be modified further. Outside of the core uses, NPCs in the world will react to specific characters based on their attribute make-up.
The attributes are (with some but not all uses listed):
Coordination (CO): General coordination and ability to operate firearms. Determines action points (AP) and increases your critical hit chance at range.
Luck (LK): Luck of the roll. Improves crits with weapons, gives you a chance to get an additional AP during your turn and affects many other interactions throughout the wasteland.
Awareness (AW): Ability to notice events happening around you. Increases initiative in combat (turn order), increases evasion rate.
Strength (ST): Pure physical strength. Increases your maximum constitution earned per level, increases close combat damage, increases carry weight.
Speed (SP): Physical speed and movement rate. Increases movement per AP in combat, reduces length of skill usage progress meters.
Intelligence (IQ): Knowledge, wisdom and general problem-solving. Increases skill points gained per level.
Charisma (CHR): Charm, personality and swagger. How NPCs perceive your likeability or persuasiveness.
Also making a return from Wasteland 1, but still not exactly an attribute, is maximum constitution (MAXCON), or the maximum number of hit points. MAXCON is derived from strength and upgradeable when you level-up.
After selecting attributes, you will be able to place Survival Points (SPs) into your many skill options. Skills start off at a zero value, meaning they are unusable. After unlocking a skill with SPs, you can place additional SPs into the skill to increase its level and functionality. Skills have a maximum cap of 10 similar to attributes. Skills are upgraded in tiers, with a total of 10 skill levels. Roughly speaking, skill levels 1-3 mean novice, 4-6 mean competent, 7-9 mean proficient and 10 means expert. Each skill level allows you to take on more significant challenges, increasing your chance of success and level of rewards as you use the skill. Skills can also be increased from use. Some skills provide additional bonuses as you reach the various levels of competency.
Combat Skills Increasing skills here will increase your chance to hit with that specific class of weapons. In addition, mastery of those weapons increases with your skill level, allowing you to manipulate and clear it quicker when jams happen.
Blunt Weapons: Generally have higher damage but a tighter damage range.
Bladed Weapons: Have lower damage but a greater range and higher crit max.
Anti-Tank-Weapons: Generally do massive explosive damage but ammo is rare and blast radius makes them hard to use in certain combat situations. Can also be used to get through some pesky doors.
Submachine Guns: Have a lower range and lower critical chance, for a more hail-of-bullets approach. Ammo tends to be cheaper and more plentiful than for the higher caliber automatics.
Shotguns: Have shorter range but great stopping power.
Energy Weapons: Usefulness varies based on your opponent, as energy weapons are less effective against flesh. If your opponent is heavily decked out in metal armor the weapon heats up his gear. The higher the armor of your target, the more damage it will deal. Think pressure cooker. It’s nasty.
Assault Rifles: Are very versatile and powerful weapons, but ammo is harder to find. Assault rifles use higher caliber rounds with more penetration value than smaller arms.
Sniper Rifle: Ideal in open fields due to their long range and heavy damage, but not necessarily stellar in cramped corridors. Ammo is very expensive. Make your shots count as the AP cost is very high.
Handguns: Includes pistols and revolvers. Like SMGs, ammo is common enough to make this the go-to weapon for many rangers, but they are single shot only, trading that for a higher crit value.
Information / Knowledge Skills Your chance of success with non-combat skills depends on the difference between the challenge and your skill level. For an expert at lock picking facing a door with a very simple lock, there is almost no chance to fail. A novice surgeon may find it very hard to remove the effects of a dangerous strain of toxin or a serious injury that renders your ranger in mortal condition. If the skill difference is too significant, especially for untrained rangers, it may simply not be possible to accomplish the task.
Picklock: Chance of success and speed at picking conventional locks.
Safecrack: Chance of success and speed at picking safe locks, including on vault doors.
Alarm Disarm: Ability to disarm alarms, but also to fix faulty wiring on security doors and open them directly.
Toaster Repair: Fix broken toasters and who doesn’t need that?
Computer Tech: Skill at hacking computers, which gives access to a variety of possibilities. You can gain information you couldn’t otherwise, or remotely activate a security system or camera. Some computers may give you the ability to activate or reprogram security doors.
Synth Tech: With synth tech you can repair and reprogram synthetics and other robots, turning them to your side in combat.
Demolitions: The ability to use demolitions in and out of combat. Out of combat, its most common use is to break down doors or clear barriers that do not give way to picklock or brute force, but this unsubtle means of entry is sure to be noticed. In combat, lots of destruction.
Brute Force: Determines your skill at applying your raw strength to break some things. Lacks the subtlety of picklock and the raw force of demolitions.
Move Silently: The ability to sneak around unnoticed.
Salvaging: How effective you are at finding usable items in what would normally be considered piles of junk. A ranger who is good at salvaging can find many useful items that might be skipped over by a normal person.
Kiss Ass: Dialogue skill involving flattery, seduction, and well… ass kissing.
Hard Ass: Dialogue skill involving intimidation and aggressive speech.
Smart Ass: Dialogue skill involving persuasion. ***The “Ass Trio” names are placeholders but somehow they’ve taken hold around the office.***
General Skills General skills have a variety of uses. Some involve breaking down materials that you find in the Wasteland, while others provide much needed medical care. These tend to be support skills and help you manage and solve problems.
Barter: Ability to negotiate for better purchase prices and higher sales prices for your goods.
Outdoorsman: Primarily used on the world map to determine your ability to conserve water as you travel, as well as expand your options for when you spot random encounters.
Leadership: The ability to lead a team, best used by a single PC who gives a buff in combat to PCs and friendly NPCs around him. Multiple leaders around the same skill level can cause a negative reaction. Also determines how much companion NPCs will listen to you vs. doing their own thing.
Cliff Clavin Backer Skill: The skill exclusive to the early backers of this project, it adds flavor text to the game world.
Animal Whisperer: The ability to influence animals into staying passive, running away or following you.
Field Medic: This skill lets you quickly patch up guys during combat, recovering some CON by using medical equipment.
Surgeon: Allows you to provide help to rangers who have major status effects or have gone unconscious or worse. Can be used in combat but due to the amount of time it takes, will force you to protect your surgeon from being overly exposed.
Weaponsmithing: The ability to craft and mod weaponry to increase its performance.
Field Stripping: The ability to strip weaponry you find into parts to use for improving your own weapons.
Perception: Can be used actively to notice enemies through thin walls, uncovering them for a short period of time. The skill also shows you the perception cone of enemies to help you sneak or get to a better starting position prior to combat. As a passive, it helps to identify things that might be out of the ordinary, including finding booby traps.
?????? - A few other skills that can be unlocked throughout the game.
What may stand out to you is the variation in the perceived level of usefulness of skills; animal whisperer is unlikely to be used as much as handguns. We purposefully designed skills that would not be used universally. Each skill has a variety of uses throughout the game and various levels of rewards. Lockpick might more often used, but you never know when something like Alarm Disarm will give you a huge advantage (or reward) that would be otherwise unobtainable. This level of granularity is an advantage of party-based systems and we fully intend to exploit it. We want you to build a varied, multi-skilled group of rangers who play off each other’s strength to become a kick-ass team.
Here’s a few more screenshots we wanted to share with you. As you can see, there is a wide variety of diversity amongst the environments you will travel through, both in aesthetic and environment design (full size here and here).
It is now October and we are close to getting this game into the hands of our beta-eligible backers. We’re currently cleaning things up, fixing the largest issues and working on a first pass of balance across Arizona. Have we mentioned that this game is massive?
The short-term plan is to continue iterating and fixing bugs found by our internal QA until the game is stable and playable through the sections we are opening up for early beta. This process will take a few more weeks. Once we get there, we will have a very small group jump in to get a feel for if it’s ready to release to our patiently waiting beta backers. The plan is to distribute the beta for Windows PC, as we know we can get standalone builds to work in Windows. We have not forgotten about our Mac and Linux backers and will soon do some tests to try to get a standalone executable for those versions as well. Many months back we tried a Mac test in Unity and it built great with about 30 minutes of clean up. If history repeats itself, those versions will be available as well for the early beta (what’s the worst that can happen, right?).
To prep for early playable, let’s talk a little bit about what we hope to give and get from you. The game will be in an early beta. Much of the systems and content will be in and working but it will be crude in some areas. Some systems won’t be fully polished, there will be weird bugs, and balance will be far from final. We will be fixing these things throughout the beta – we promise the game won’t be released before the game plays beautifully. It’s been difficult for me to get used to personally, but we’ve fully embraced getting screenshots and demo videos out before we feel they are truly ready and polished. I’m much more at peace with it now as this has helped us get great feedback early, and give us time to pivot when necessary. This early beta is no exception.
There are two major goals for us here; bug-hunting and gathering feedback on everything from mechanics to mission design to level design. We’ve enlisted the help of the great people at CenterCode to facilitate this process and make sure that we get the best feedback possible, and are able to effectively cull the large amount of information into an actionable format. It won’t be mandatory for you to opt-in for generating feedback, but we hope that you will participate as it will only improve the final product. More info on that will come as we get closer to the early beta launch.
For us, the most important thing you can do is provide us feedback. What elements do you like? What things need more work or, in your opinion, just aren’t fitting properly? We want to know what you think of our game, the writing, the flow, the mechanics…everything. We will be updating the game on a consistent basis (approximately every 2-3 weeks) and continuing to improve Wasteland 2 throughout this process.
Initially, we will be releasing the first 4 large areas and all associated COPS maps. COPS maps are smaller scenes that can be accessed through the world map and tie into the main areas. We won’t be putting the full game into beta to prevent spoilers that would become widely known before Wasteland 2 is finished. We’ll implement game-wide changes stemming from your feedback from the first areas, and continue our extensive internal bug-testing during this period.
We surveyed all our backers for their addresses soon after the Kickstarter, but a lot of you have moved or are moving since that day. We also received messages through Kickstarter about address changes. Please be aware we do not change our address listings through Kickstarter messages. All backers, whether through the late backer store or Kickstarter, have an account on our Ranger Center pledge management system. You can keep your address updated there, and the address listing on your account at the time of shipping is where we’ll ship to. We’ll send more reminders about this, but please make sure to check your address and make sure it’s up to date as we get closer and closer to release.
If you’ve gotten this far in the update, thanks for giving us your time! We will provide more info on when the early beta will be ready in the near future. The team is excited to get the game in your hands and show off what we’ve been working on!
It’s Chris again to talk some Wasteland 2. We received a lot of feedback from the demo video of the Prison with many strong and important opinions that continue to help us craft Wasteland 2.
Our philosophy on this project is to put out videos when we have a decent amount of new features to show off. That way, we can follow the discussion threads and see what elements are working and what needs improvement. It allows us to see the most hotly discussed topics and react before the game is too far along to modify systems that might not be as good as they could be. Sometimes this means we aren’t able to iterate and polish as much as we want before it goes live, but we feel it’s well worth it for the valuable feedback you’ve all provided.
We will note a few below and let you all know our plan of attack for the ones that received the most comments.
Graphics and Animation
First and foremost, many of you had notes on the graphics, or more specifically animations. There were some obvious issues that we fully plan on fixing. We have to balance the trade-off between showing something that looks good enough while not impacting our schedule and production pipeline negatively. In a normal game production process, there is a HUGE amount of time wasted creating demos. We opted to instead show an actual snapshot of the status of the Prison map. Our fans were clamoring to see another update which means we weren’t able to get to some of the more detailed polish items. We know they’re there and we will continue to iterate and polish.
The floaty look of the rangers running was oft-noted. This is a height mesh issue that we are taking care of. We identified this as a risky item to fix prior to the demo as it affects multiple areas and didn’t want to slow down the teams working on other areas. The choice was made to not delay the video for some of the graphical fixes. In a wider sense, these aren’t “final” graphics. The Prison is a more polished area relatively but we’re still several passes from “final” on geometry, normal mapping, textures and post-processing.
As for the UI, the main game HUD is on its fourth pass and we will continue to make improvements. In particular the AP counter is a point we agree needs some work and it has already been updated. Other UI elements will get some work too. Consistency amongst menus is something we are working on right now. The dialog UI in particular is a work in progress. In the last video we showed, it didn’t have a field to type in keywords yourself, but be assured that mechanic is still in.
On to some of the gameplay points. One often seen discussion was the change from hex grid to squares. This is one of those points where crowdfunded games are unique; in a standard development cycle you would not get to see how mechanics like that work until they’re fully tested, iterated on and polished.
Here is a little backstory on the change. Originally, we didn’t intend to have any hex or square grid during combat. It was going to be more free form movement. One of our engineers added a hex grid as a debug test to approximate spacing of characters in combat encounters. When we saw that grid turned on, our mouths watered. A few days prior to recording the first video, we made some tweaks to get our movement working with the hex grid. It worked great for our early combat. One unfortunate side effect was that since it wasn’t in our original design, we didn’t account for it from the beginning of development. We had already done tests and created our tile set sizes, including doors and surrounding props. We could have redesigned the size of the tile sets and doorways (which would have been a huge amount of work since we had grey boxed many of the levels) or look into other options. Squares came next. We had introduced cover at this point and squares lined up nicely with the doors and cover.
Of course, while the advantage in positioning, production time and map layout is there, many of you justifiably pointed out you’re losing flexibility in movement, from a grid’s six-way movement to a square’s four-way movement, and that creates undesirable situations where you move four squares east and four squares south to move to a relatively close position. With the help of backer suggestions, here are two points we have already implemented to improve the mechanics and feel:
Moving around the world in combat is much more free form. Your player won’t just follow the exact grid, which created an unnecessarily artificial look. They will take the shortest unblocked distance from the point they are standing to the point you are moving to. Movement is still calculated based on an underlying (optional on/off) grid and is displayed to you in your AP cost.
Moving diagonally in the calculation costs 1.5 times as much as a straight movement. Do note that your speed attribute changes the AP cost used as movement for all characters, so the calculation is never very simple.
Another pattern we saw discussed had to do with stances as a tactical choice in combat. Stances may not seem like a big deal to implement, but it is a deceivingly large amount of work to do correctly in our game. There are a few issues to consider when evaluating this as a feature. First, is the amount of work necessary to get it done vs. how much it will add to the game as a whole. It involves additional code to simply implement the base feature, UI work to get the HUD elements, a large amount of AI to have enemies react to it differently (assuming we don’t just have the rangers use it…which would be lame), design work to fit it on to all applicable humanoid enemy NPCs, gameplay balancing, bug testing and the finally largest risk comes from animation. Our animation system is pretty robust. We’d essentially be adding 2 additional states (crouching and prone), which need to have our full suite of animations related to all weapon skills. 9 skills (or 7 without melee skills) doesn’t seem like a lot but when you break them down, it gets unwieldy quick. Each weapon has firing, jamming, equip/unequip, reloading, aim up/down, multiple player damages from that pose (i.e light, medium, heavy, crits) plus all of the blends in and out that make them smooth from different player states. In all it turns into around 15-20 animations per skill, per stance. Finally, there would be visual issues from our 6 foot tall rangers with a 3 foot long sniper rifle lying prone. Weapons would clip through the world props all over the place. As we continue iterating and polishing, we will evaluate all options as they are available, but as you can see, this is not a particularly easy decision to make.
And as a final note, a few said that this early part of the Prison in the demo gave an impression of linearity. This is mostly due to it being a demo run, with us having a specific path and sequence in mind. Wasteland 2 is incredibly varied in regards to the feel of the levels. Some are more town based, others are underground maze/cave-like areas. We have large interiors of buildings, huge canyon areas (like prison) and more desolate plains. There is no template that is universal to Wasteland 2.
We’ve made sure to design a ton of missions that will take you all over. Many are optional, meaning that you will be able to do them or not do them as you wish. Others will open up (or be shut down) based on decisions you’ve made before. There will be no lack of exploration and discovery.
I’m going to link to this page on our tumblr, where you can find all the GamesCom previews rounded up as they come in. GamesCom is a very international event so you can find previews in a huge variety of languages: English, German, French, Italian, Spanish, Polish, Hungarian, Danish, Japanese and Dutch!
And finally, we’re still loving what Mark Morgan is doing for the Wasteland 2 soundtrack, so here’s a new piece we wanted to share.