Portraits and Music
Tuesday, 28 October 2014 08:21

Hey guys. I've put the game mechanics aside for now and we're all focused on churning out content for the following update.

In this update we will be rounding up almost entire game world outside of Church of Tchort and Deep Caverns. Player will be able to learn more about the Protectorate and Free Drones and the conflict between them. Optionally, player can decide to throw in their lot with either the freedom loving partisans or the imperialistic lawbringers. There's also another secret faction offerring more opportunity for those observant enough.

Underrail - Portraits

In other news, I finally took the time to fill some long outstanding holes in the presentation department.

Firstly, I hired an artist to do the portraits. There's lots of them to be drawn so don't expect them all to be finished in the next update. In the screenshot above you can see the portraits are lit in the same manner as the characters on the map. I find that this adds to the atmosphere, but this can be disabled in the options for those who disagree. Players can also make their own custom portraits and the game will offer them on character creation if they have been placed in the appropriate folder and are of appropriate format.

Secondly, it was time to expand the musical repertoire. With only four tracks covering the numerous and diverse locations of Underrail, the music tended to get quite repetitive. As with the portraits, don't expect us to be able to cover the entire game with new music immediately. The sample above is the music for the Foundry. Enjoy.

* * * * *

Finally, here's the obligatory list of minor stuff:

  • Nice things
    • Enemies will now threaten and taunt you in combat. Currently all have the same collection of phrases, but we plan to customize these in the future for different characters/factions/locations. We'll be looking for feedback on these - do the taunts occur too frequently/rarely, is there some particular taunt that is repeated too often, etc. Of course, for those who don't like this sort of stuff, it can be disabled in the options.
  • Fixes
    • Electrobolts will no longer jump to passive objects that are completely immune to them (e.g. destructible rocks)
    • You can no longer load individual bullets during combat as stated by the tooltip
    • Removed various leathers that were way too high quality for their type from certain stores
    • Burst fire will no longer trigger hostilities against secondary targets caught in the burst cone unless they actually take damage
    • Arena commentator will no longer order everyone in Core City to kill you if you happen to aim your burst in his general direction
  • Tweaks
    • Crawlers buffed and their AI has been slightly tweaked

 

Let me know what you thought of the new stuff, guys. Cheers.

 
With Fire and Brimstone
Friday, 26 September 2014 14:46

Hey guys, we took a couple weeks off in August/September to recharge our batteries, but we're back now and we're kicking it into high gear. While we're also working on new areas and quests (we'll get to that in some future dev log), I'm taking this time to finally implement last of the game mechanics (not quite done yet). In this case that would be fire and gas.

Underrail - Fire Underrail - Poison Cloud

You will now be able to create fire bombs (such as Molotov cocktail) that set character, creatures and the ground on fire as well. The burning ground is very dangerous as it deals both flat and -percentage of max health- damage so you cannot ignore it even on high levels. The amount of damage dealt depends on the intensity of the flames (which depends on the power of the fire bomb, but can also stack if you throw multiple bombs).

You'll now also be able to craft gas grenades. The only type of gas grenade at the moment is "Toxic Gas Grenade" which deals flat bio damage. The damage dealt depends on the density of the gas (it's more dense at the source). While toxic gas doesn't deal damage quickly, the grenade does last for a long time and also bio resistance is currently not present on standard combat armors and if introduced later it will not be in generous amounts. Specialized equipment to deal with this and more powerful bio-hazzards will be added in the future. Also, players will encounter permanent sources of toxic gas in certain places (such as the one on the screenshot).

* * * * *

In other news, I've taken the time to do some UI improvements. This is probably the definitive list of the UI changes as I have tons of other stuff to get done before we release the game so I hope I answered most of your complaints/suggestions:

 

  • Added larger font options for everything (object labels, tooltips, quest notes, pop-up dialogs, combat log, etc)
  • Moves the combat log window slightly so it won't interrupt scrolling anymore
  • Added an option to auto-end turn when the player is out of MP and AP
  • Added more hotkeys (swap weapons, toggle shield, etc; might add more if necessary) and added keybinding options
  • Inspected containers that are empty are now marked as such
  • Increased the font in Combat Stats Overview window
  • Available component for a given blueprint will now be highlighted in the same manner as when trading
  • Double clicking (or ctrl clicking) a component will automatically transfer it to the crafting screen if appropriate blueprint is open
  • Clicking a crafting slot will automatically fill it with the first available component if empty, or clear it if full
  • ESC/ENTER and other intuitive hotkeys (such as Y/N) will now work inside confirmation boxes
  • While holding SHIFT player will not be able to issue move command as to prevent people from accidentally moving when they meant to shoot; keep in mind though that you'll still be able to issue a melee attack command that might require movement even when SHIFT is held
That's all for now dudes. Cheers.

 

 
Version 0.1.12.0 released
Wednesday, 06 August 2014 17:00

Hey guys, the new version is up. We're all very happy to have finally released this. It's the centerpiece of the game, our Athkatla/Sigil/Neverwinter. The main story still has places to go and we still plan on introducing more factions and sideplots, but expect the future updates to be a lot more focused and a lot less spacious.

We showed you bunch of screenshots already, so for this occassion we decided to make a short teaser trailer instead.

As before, we're releasing it to Steam first until we're sure it's stable and any potential major bugs that we missed during internal testing are fixed.

And because no dev log would be complete without a bullet list, here's an incomplete list of minor tweaks and stuff that were done since the last dev log:

  • Tweaks
    • EMP mine blueprint component requirements changed to be the same to that of the EMP grenade
    • Increased the amount of bear traps crafted when not applying poison to 10
    • Increased the amount of caltrops crafted when not applying poison to 10
    • Reduced the cost of metal plates and, by extension, some items that are crafted from them
    • Added an option to turn off automatic door opening
    • Removed the cooldown of Burst attack (don't know why it was there in the first place)
  • Bugs
    • Hopefully finally fixed the bug(s) that caused the factions to get all messed up after the Junkyard showdown event
    • Merchants will no longer roam while in bartering mode
    • Game will no longer crash when saving while mining
    • Chemical pistols have weight now
    • Action point counter fixed to work with extreme amounts of action points
    • Adrenaline shot will now always properly grant 20 bonus AP
    • Execute will no longer deal extra damage even if the target is not stunned/incapacitated
Enjoy the update folks, report bugs and let us know how you liked it. Cheers.
 
Blood Sports
Monday, 07 July 2014 06:40

Hey guys. We've been quiet lately, but that's only because we've been working hard on the biggest and the most difficult section of the game, center of the game world, the metropolis that is Core City.

Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City

The Core City is the place of extremes. On one hand we have the oligarch families and their associates who live lives of luxury (or at least what can be considered such in the world of Underrail) while on the other hand the slums are filled with the poor that perish daily from hunger, disease and gang fighting.

The masters of Core City know how to keep the masses complacent though. What started as place for gangs to settle their disputes has grown to become the most popular form of entertainment in the city and the whole of Underrail. We're talking about the Arena, the Roman style field of combat where they pit men against various deadly creatures as well as gladiator against gladiator. All for the viewing pleasure of the numerous Arena fans. Watching people die violently is the favorite pastime for the oppressed masses of Core City.

Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City

People from all over the Underrail pay for the privilege to watch direct broadcasts of these fights as well as take trips to Core City to watch the matches live, if they can manage to get hold of tickets which are always sold out quickly. The Arena and the its betting office have made the oligarch families rich.

Players will, of course, be given an opportunity to test themselves in the Arena and see if they have what it takes to climb all the way to the top and claim the title of Invictus.

Beyond that they will also have an opportunity to enter the Gauntlet, and new blood sport where the contenders race through series of rooms, each containing a unique challenge, to be the first to reach the finish line and claim the prize, or die trying.

* * * * *

This update will be taking us a bit longer than we expected, but in many ways this is the hardest section to develop. It encompasses more intractable NPCs than any other update, way more urban areas than any other city so far as well as multiple quest-lines. All this stuffs had us stretched a bit thin, but if we get this part of the game right it should be more or less smooth sailing to completion.

 
New Meds, Psi, and Weapons; Core City Sneak Peak
Friday, 23 May 2014 10:17

Hey guys. The development of the next city-state in the world of Underrail is in full swing. Core City, the metropolis of the South Underrail, is the largest of the urban areas this game will feature. Here's a little sneak peek:

Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City Underrail - Core City

* * * * *

I've added more firearms: one new pistol, one new SMG, two more assault rifles and two more sniper rifles. Also added two new crossbows. One model from each of the weapon categories (pistol, SMG, crossbow, etc) will be only available through crafting. This doesn't mean it will necessarily be stronger than the others, just different.

I've tweaked the base stats (damage spread, crit chance, crit bonus, precision, etc) of each of the firearm and crossbow models to diversify them further and make the choice between them more meaningful when crafting or purchasing. I won't be adding any more craftable firearms or crossbows to the game (though we will be adding unique ones), instead I'll be adding more weapon enhancements you'll be able to add to the mix when crafting your weapon of choice. These new enhancements will only be available through crafting, meaning, they won't appear (or will appear extremely rarely) on randomly generated gear.

Additionally, in the future I will be adding more character feats that will play on strengths of thoughtfully crafted and enhanced custom weapons. E.g. if you make a character build that gives you a number of ways to perform on-demand critical hits, you'll want to stack critical damage bonus and use a slow hard hitting weapon; while on the other hand if you have feats that give you extra on-hit effects (such as flat damage bonus) with critical hits and have high dexterity you'll want to use quick light weapons with high critical hit chance.

* * * * *

In other news:

 

  • Items
    • Added throwing knives - they are fairly inexpensive and their damage scales with your throwing skill. While they are unlikely to replace your primary offensive skill, they do act as a nice ranged supplement for high dexterity characters, especially when you use the poisoned ones.
    • Added electrical pistols - a type of energy pistol that shoots electrical bolts that stun the primary target and jump a few times (similar to electroshock bolts)
    • Added two energy weapon enhancements - only applicable through crafting; one increases the critical damage bonus, while the other increases the special attack damage
    • Added 5 new crafting only meds and appropriate organs and chemicals that are needed to produce them
  • Creatures
    • Added the deadly coil spider
  • Psi
    • Added Thermodynamic Destabilization (metathermics) - You tag a creature with a debuff. If you kill it within 2 turns, it will explode, dealing heat and mechanical damage to everything around it. The amount of damage dealt scales with the metathermics skill and the amount of health the creature had when it was tagged
    • Added Enrage (Thought Control) - Enrages a living target for up to 4 turns which causes it to turn hostile to everyone.
    • Reworked Force Emission (Psychokinesis) - No longer provides extra range, but works with fist weapons as well.
    • Added Telekinetic Proxy (Psychokinesis) - Moves the telekinetic proxy from its current location to the specified location, dealing mechanical damage to everything in its path. If the proxy is not present, is too far away, or doesn't have a clear straight line path to the destination, a new one will be spawned. Telekinetic proxy will mimic your single target telekinetic psi abilities and effects (currently Telekinetic Punch and Force Emission) if the target is within its radius. The proxy lasts 3 turns, but the timer refreshes with each move or mimic.
  • Bug fixes
    • Fixed the overly heavy boots (will only affect the newly generated/crafted items, the old ones will remain heavy)
    • Crawler poison component now correctly named (was "Cave Ear" poison)
    • Plot items can no longer vanish when attempting to transfer them to the trading window (oops)
    • Opportunity feat now works with wrestling/tacklling (they are considered slows)
    • Balaclava repair category changed to fabric
    • Armor penalty calculation rounding errors fixed (Nimble feat should now apply properly in all cases)
    • Bleeding wounds from boots/armor enhancements will now stack as they should
    • Weapons of wheeled bots and turrets now considered firearms so vests should work correctly against them now
    • Dirty kick now triggers hostilities as it does in real life
    • You can now reload chemical pistol from the quick reload bar like other weapons (cannot unload, that's inteded)
    • Combo feat will now properly stack when using armors or boots that provide extra damage
    • You can no longer use Expose Weakness to kill The Beast or other stuff that's immune to mechanical damage
    • No longer possible to beat up some creatures to the point their "armor" degrades
That's all for now. Cheers.

 

 
Version 0.1.11.0 released
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 00:00

The new version is here. It took a bit longer to release than planned, but I think you guys will be pleased with the amount of content added. The game now features two more urban areas (one major and one minor) and lot more Lower Underrail and cave areas. We also reworked some of the starting quests to make the early difficulty curve smoother. For the full list of changes see the text below as well as two previous dev logs.

Underrail - Arc Furnace

We will initially be releasing the new update only on Steam until the version stabilizes (we fix any glaring issues you guys find that we missed) after which we'll deploy it to other platforms as well. I'm sorry for the inconvenience this might cause to some, but it's just way too much overhead to deploy hotfixes on multiple platforms.

Aside from new areas and quests, we also added the following since the last dev log:
  • Item
    • Added new metal type for crafting
    • Added taser blueprint so electronics experts can protect themselves from hooligans and stalkers
  • Tweaks
    • Throwing nets made more useful now (no longer completely ineffective against opponents with decent or higher strength).
    • Carrier vests made more common as loot/merchandise.
    • Reduced the damage scaling of bilocation, neural overload, cryokinesis and electrokinesis. These abilities should be roughly the same power early game as they were before, but the idea is to prevent them from scaling out of control mid-late game. Also keep in mind that with all the buffs to psi-related feats they might end up even stronger than the last patch so further balancing might be required.
    • Completely most quests in oddity mode now grants some (usually small: 1-3) amount of XP. This should make completing quests feel more rewarding (especially those quests that don't involve exploration) without significantly affecting the XP balance in this mode.
  • Interface
    • Improved item management mechanics by adding sort button to containers and "transfer all" button to player inventory that can be used to transfer all the items to the currently opened container.
  • Bugs
    • Fixed the bug with certain secret monoliths not recognizing character's psi empathy
    • Increased the bear trap triggering radius so characters cannot pass in between two adjacent traps
We put a lot of effort in improving the narrative, quest hub area quality and game world cohesion, which I believe were up to this point the weaker aspects of the game. I hope you guys enjoy the update. Let us know what you think.
 
Foundry
Monday, 03 March 2014 08:41

Hey guys. We're still working on the new update and it will be a while longer because some of the new areas require quite a bit of graphical work. Here's a little sneak peek at the new major urban area - the Foundry:

Underrail - Foundry Underrail - Foundry Underrail - Foundry

In addition to that we're also adding a new minor quest hub in the cave areas south of SGS and couple more quests in SGS and Rail Crossing. Also, we reworked the order in which you receive the early game quests to avoid sending people to GMS too early and added some early game oddities.

* * * * *

In other news:

 

  • Tweaks
    • Reduced electronic crafting requirements for galvanic vests
    • Increased drops rates for all types of carrier vests
    • Boots now require a pair of rubber soles to craft
  • Bugs
    • Fixed the bug that caused the game to crash when attempting to set up the fishing rod on certain spots
    • TNT charges will now go off properly after loading a game in which it's been already set
  • Feats
    • Changes
      • Changed the AP reduction of Tranquility to 5 (down from 10)
    • New
      • Vile Weaponry - Whenever you cause a bleeding wound with a cold weapon, armor enhancement or trap you also apply infected wound which increases the damage taken from all sources by 10% and reduces healing effects by 25%. Stacks 3 times.
      • Expose Weakness - You can preform a special melee attack that deals normal damage and reduces target's mechanical resistance and threshold by 50% if it lands for 2 turns.
      • Steadfast Aim - Increases critical hit chance with a pistol by 1% for each base action point required to fire it above 10.
      • Spec Ops - Reduces action point cost modifier for burst attack from 300% to 200% when using SMGs. Also reduces cooldown of flashbangs by 1 turn.
      • Supressive Fire - Enemies caught in your burst attack cone (regardless of whether they've been shot) have their ranged chance to hit reduced by 10%, action points reduced by 5 and movement points reduced by 10 for 1 turn.
      • Quick Tinkering - Grants you an ability that when activated will allow you to arm your next trap instantly, even in combat in which case it will cost no action points.
      • Fancy Footwork - When you land a melee attack you gain up to 8 movement points, depending on your armor penalty. This can exceed your movement point maximum.
      • Taste for Blood - Whenever you attack a bleeding target with a melee weapon, you increase your melee damage by 5% and reduce action point cost of melee weapons by 0.2 for each bleeding wound the target has. This can stack up to 20 times. Expires after 2 turns if not refreshed.
      • Eviscerate - Grants you a special knife attack that removes all bleeding wounds from the target and deals 100% bonus damage for each bleeding wound removed.
      • Hypertoxicity - Increases damage done by poisons you apply by 100%.
      • Wrestling - When you strike a living target with fist weapon or unarmed attack you have 50% chance to reduce target's movement points by 8, action points by 3 and chance to hit with all ranged weapons by 7%. Stacks 5 times.
      • Combo - If you land three consecutive damage dealing unarmed or fist weapon attacks against a single target in a single turn, the third attack will deal 100% bonus damage and stun the target for 1 turn.
      • Pack Rathound - Increases carry capacity by 50.
      • Last Stand - Grants you an ability that when activated it will temporarily reset your health to your maximum for 2 turns. After the effect expires, your health will be reduced to 1.
      • Salesman - Increases the amount of goods merchants will buy from you by 1% per mercantile skill.
  • Items
    • Tabi Boots - lightweight boots that can be crafted from leather or fabric components
    • Components (these are all crafting only; that is items made of these cannot be found or bought)
      • Siphoner leather
      • Psi Beetle armor plate
      • Burrower armor plate
    • Super secret stuff

 

 
Energy Shields
Sunday, 02 February 2014 14:28

This has been long overdue but I finally got around to implementing energy shields. The main purpose of energy shields is to provide the player with kind of a health buffer, particularly against ranged opponents, so they can get into the fight and survive long enough to establish the control over the battlefield.

Underrail - Energy Shield

So the way the shields work is they block a certain amount of damage from each direct attack based on impact speed (very slow to very fast) rather than on damage type (mechanical, heat, etc). The amount of damage a shield can absorb in total is equal to its max energy times conversion rate. Shields also dissipate over time, so you won't want to keep them running unless they are needed to block damage. They cannot be recharged in combat.

The amount of damage blocked for each impact speed depends on the modulators used to craft/generate the shield emitter, but overall shield emitters are much more effective against higher impact speeds, so melee characters and, to a lesser extent crossbow users, will have an edge when fighting shielded enemies. Additionally, most types of melee weapons will ignore certain amount of shield (and some special attacks ignore it completely) so we can balance out their usefulness against the hard hitting sledgehammers - knives ignore 60% of energy shielding, fist weapons 80% and unarmed attacks 100%.

Concerning what attack has which impact speed - it's displayed for the weapons, but most other stuff (psi, grenades, etc) don't list it. I'm not sure how I'm going to handle this, because I don't want to clutter the descriptions so maybe a better solution would be to list it somewhere else or have an NPC educate the player about it. We'll see, I haven't made up my mind yet. But until the, here's how it works basically:

 

  • Very low impact speed - Melee attacks
  • Low impact speed - "slow" projectile attacks, that is projectiles considerably slower than bullets, such as crossbow bolts and cryokinesis
  • Medium impact speed - bullets, shrapnel (from frag grenades)
  • Fast impact speed - super fast projectiles, such as those fired from sniper rifles
  • Very fast impact speed - lasers, plasma, electrical attacks
We still haven't done much balance testing regarding how effective shields are right now. I did some number crunching, but until we put it to test in a real playthrough and also have you the players have a go at it, it's hard to balance it out properly.
Also, characters skilled in electronics will be able to craft shield emitters and, with enough skill, they will be able to attach secondary modulators (which run at 50% efficiency) giving them a bit of an edge against character who have to purchase or find their own since those very rarely have the said secondary modulator.
* * * * *
In other news, here's the other stuff I've been working on:
  • Tweaks
    • Increased the block chance of riot gear shields to 30% (up from 20%)
    • Firearm ammo weight now varies depending on caliber
    • Indirect damage no longer removes incapacitation (e.g. poison)
    • Electroshock primary target damage, pneumatic hit damage and force emission hit damage no longer remove incapacitation in order to better synergies with Cheap Shot feat
    • Minimal hit chance for melee and ranged attacks is now 10% (down from 20%)
    • Increased the amount of item categories most merchants will buy per reset, included the missing categories and also changed certain categories to always be included for specialized merchants (not in the unlimited amount though)
    • Added more psi boosters to early areas to ease up the early game for psi characters who need those rather than bullets
    • Telekinetic Punch, tazing and pneumatic strike are now resisted through fortitude, instead of resolve
    • Melee skill now scales up with either Strength or Dexterity, whichever is higher
    • Boot springs now reduce stealth (will add stealth speedy boots later)
    • Aluminized cloth heat resistance increased and crafting requirements changed to 1 per quality (down from 1.5)
  • Bugs
    • Doppelgangers should now properly ignore target's resistances with their attacks
    • Fixed a very serious bug that caused ranged attacks to mostly ignore evasion rating of the target. Evasion should have much the same effect in avoiding ranged attack as dodge has for melee attacks. This will definitively affect the game's balance, both by increasing the difficulty of high evasion enemies and by buffing agility based player characters, so I'll be keeping an eye on it.
  • Items
    • Advanced Health Hypo added
    • Balaclava added (+10% cold resist, +5 intimidate, +stealth when crafted out of black cloth or +hear resist when crafted out of aluminized cloth)
Also, I re-balanced bunch of feats, mostly buffing those who were in need of a buff and maybe nerfing one or two overpowered ones. I tried to hit all the feats that needed love, but there are still a couple I'm not sure how to fix or just don't have the mechanics in place to do so yet. Anyway, here's the list of changes:
  • Dirty Kick - now works regardless of the current weapon, the damage is equal to 200% of unarmed damage
  • Premeditation - now also reduces AP cost of the next psi ability buy 100%
  • Psychosis - psi cost increment changed to 20% (up from 10%)
  • Tranquility - reworked: now reduces AP cost of all psi abilities by 10 while the invoker is at full health
  • Cerebral Trauma - reworked: now increases Neural Overload damage by 25% (up from 20%) and burns 15% of the target's max psi points when Neural Overload lands
  • Force User - now increases Telekinetic Punch damage by 100% (up from 20%) and Force Field duration by 2 turns (up from 1)
  • Lightning Punches - now works with fist weapons as well
  • Pyromaniac - doubled the chance it will trigger across the board and the exact chance is now shown for each individual psi ability; also the bonus damage has been increased to 100% (up from 80%)
  • Crippling Strike - damage increased to 150% (up from 125%) and it no longer costs additional action points, but has 1 turn cooldown
  • Grenadier - now reduces standard grenade cooldown by 2 turns (up from 1) and special grenade cooldown by 3 turns (up from 2)
  • Hypothermia - now reduces constitution by 1 (down from 2) and stacks up to 5 times (up from 3)
  • Thermodinamicity - instead of psi cost, now reduces action point cost by 50%
  • Evasive Maneuvers - now grants evasion equal to three times your movement points (up from x2)
  • Uncanny Dodge - now allows you to dodge next three melee attacks instead of just one, but cooldown is increased to 3 turns (up from 2)
* * * * *
As far the content is concerned, we're working on new areas, quests and creatures. One of the goals is to add more side quests to SGS (and surrounding areas) and Rail Crossing which we feel are most in need of those. We'll also be adding a major new station with the next update, but more on that in some future dev log (won't be Core City just yet, though). ;)

 

 
Version 0.1.10.0 released
Thursday, 16 January 2014 10:27

Hey guys, the new version has been released. It's available now on Steam, soon to be available on Desura, GamersGate and Groupees. For a preview of what's new you can check out this and past four dev logs.

Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing Underrail - Rail Crossing

You will now be able to travel a bit through Lower Underrail, either on foot or by train, and explore the town of Rail Crossing and the surrounding areas and face new types of enemies. The main story of the game starts in earnest with this patch, but I'm not going to spoil anything regarding that in this log :).

I also did a lot of polishing of existing game mechanics and added some new ones, as well as did a fair amount of economical re-balancing. After these couple days of internal testing I feel quite content where we're at now in that regard and while there surely be some more tweaking done in the future, I don't expect to do any major work on the existing mechanics in the future. With the future patches we will mostly be focusing on adding more content at a faster rate, which will as always include more areas, quests, enemies, items, feats, etc.

Anyway, have fun guys and let us know what you thought of the changes and the new stuff. Cheers.

 
Alternative Experience System
Sunday, 12 January 2014 12:40

The new version is complete and the build is running as I type this. Tomorrow we'll be starting the internal testing so you can expect the new patch to go live sometime next week. In the meantime, I want to present you with an alternative experience system I implemented and the reasoning behind it.

Underrail - New Game Options

Before we even begin I want to make it clear that, even though I consider the new system to be the "default" way to play the game, the old system is still available for those who prefer it. Upon starting a new game you will be able to choose which experience system you want to use and you can also choose between easy and normal difficulty. On easy difficulty player character will have twice the health and the healing consumables will heal for twice as much and have a lower cooldown.

With this change, I'm only trying to re-balance the experience economy and not anything else regarding the character progression. The experience economy concerns the way the player gain experience and how does that affect his character build and play-style.

Since the early development phase of the game I was set on the game utilizing this old-school linear level/skill progression system. I'm fond of this kind of system and I had a pretty good idea how I would handle various combat calculations within it. What I never liked about it, though, is how the games that implement it handle experience gains. The problem is similar to that presented in the previous dev log in regards to the trading economy. Most of experience you gain by completing quests and killing enemies. So in order to get as much XP as possible and progress through levels as fast as possible, the player is encouraged to resolve most situations by combat. With Underrail being a challenging game as it is, there exists a very real need for the player to maximize their power level at any stage of the game.

One of tweaks I did in the past of ease this up a bit was to increase the XP gain from quests and reduce the XP gain from kills. It did help a bit, but in a game which involves a lot of combat you'd really have to go to the extremes when shifting the XP gains (from kills to quests) before they actually change the nature of level progression. Otherwise, it will still be heavily based on XP from kills, you'll just slow the progression down. You could go to one extreme and say, let's only award XP for quest completion. This is one way to go about it, and certainly some games have utilized this or something similar. I personally I don't like, though. I find it a mostly boring and non-dynamic way to progress and it also encourages you to complete as many quests as possible, instead of just those you want. In my opinion, you should only have to do quests that progress the story (or alter the game world) in the way you want or have other in-game rewards you desire, and not because it's the only way to become more powerful. For me, playing RPGs is about making choices based on preferences. Anything that limits this is bad.

 

* * * * *

 

What I wanted to do is reward player with experience for exploring Underrail, fighting new types of creatures (as opposed to farming easy ones) and just generally discovering and experiences more of the game world. Without them having to make optimal combat builds or finish the quest branch that gives the most experience.

Underrail - Protectorate Propaganda oddity item

The way the new experience system works is you only get experience from collecting and studying "oddity" items. These items are scattered throughout Underrail, mostly at points of interest. Some of them are gained by killing critters and other specific types of enemies, but since each oddity item can be studied a limited number of times, you can only farm XP from a single creature type to a certain point. Also, there are generally more instances of an oddity item type placed than you need, so you don't have to have 100% exploration score to get them all. Though, some of them will be unique and only awarded for discovering special areas or defeating bosses.

The main purpose of this system is to allow players to level at a similar rate regardless of what their build and play-style is. Going through the world stealthily, guns blazing (or in some cases diplomatically) or anything in between should now earn you similar amount of experience. People who build their characters better to their respective play styles will still naturally have an easier time and be able to venture to more dangerous areas. They will still do better than those who are still getting the hang of the game - the purpose of this is not to make the game easier, just more inclusive for different play-styles.

For those who like to race ahead of the difficulty curve and like to visit higher level areas early to amass experience quickly, let me assure you that the purpose of this system is not to prevent that either. Higher level areas will hold oddity items that give more experience, so skipping ahead to those will still accelerate your leveling, though admittedly not as much as the previous system.

 

* * * * *

 

So, in any case, the new update is coming soon and you'll all be able to check out all these major changes and let me know how it's working out for you. Our focus in the months to come will remain on providing more content to the game and less so on new mechanics, but I am still dedicated to making this game as mechanically and economically sound as possible, as I feel this is just as important.

 
Game Economy Changes
Tuesday, 24 December 2013 09:41

The level design is mostly complete for the new areas, but there's still some scripting and lots of dialog to be done, so it'll be a couple more weeks. Alongside working on the new content, I'm also doing major re-balancing of some game mechanics in order to improve the game economy, both in monetary sense and in other aspects. I'm going to talk about the former now and we'll leave the latter for another dev log.

Underrail - New Trading System

The first big change I made is I limited the type and amount of goods merchants are willing to buy from you. Merchants will now only buy certain type of goods depending on what their store deals in and they will require only a certain amount of each, with exception of certain goods they will always be looking to buy (such as bullets for example). The type and amount of goods they require at the moment is randomly selected from that merchant's "market demand table" so to speak and it's reset every time the merchant restocks their inventory (typically every 90 minutes). So you will no longed be able to sell all the junk you hauled from your latest raid to the first merchant you see.

And speaking of hauling junk, I've also implemented item weight system. You'll get the progressively higher movement speed and movement point penalties the more you carry above your capacity and if you carry way too much you will actually get rooted into place. This is something I've put off implementing for quite some time because I wasn't sure it'll actually add any value to the game. I dislike these mechanics in most RPGs, especially the party-based ones because more often than not they only result in more inventory management chores without having (or needing to have) much impact on the game economy. But in certain games where exploring and scavenging are the main concepts of the game and where economy actually matters, and I believe Underrail to be such a game, I feel that liming the player inventory in some way (either through weight or space) is beneficial to the overall gameplay experience.

And finally, to go along with these changes, I've reduced the price multiplier when purchasing items. I'ts currently at 175% (down from 350%), but might change further by the time the update is ready depending on how it works out when I get the time to do a real playthrough. I've also reduced the item durability penalty to its cost and have increased the durability range of items looted from corpses (they won't be near broken all the time now).

So why all these changes? Well here's my take on it.

The way the economy works in the live version of the game is like this: loot everything, get every piece of junk. No matter if you need it for crafting or not, no matter the price, just as long as it can be sold - pick it up (basically always hit "loot all" on every container). The more people you kill, more loot you get which directly translates into more wealth so you're always encouraged to handle every situation by killing as many as possible. And if you do not play like this you will get way less loot, and because the merchant prices and item durability penalties are balanced more towards this "optimal playstyle", you can easily run into money problems.

In the new system, you'll only want to hold onto the valuable stuff and the stuff you actually need (for crafting or consumption) because you can carry a limited amount and because can only sell so much in a given time frame. You might wonder won't the weight system just encourage power gamers to make multiple trips to a dungeon to get all the stuff out and store it somewhere to be sold later when the market demand resets? Well, they can do that, yes, and it will work to a degree, but in the time it takes to make multiple trips to the same (possibly remote) place you can do more fun stuff such as exploring new areas, doing new quests, gaining XP and by doing this, you will also get new loot to sell for when the merchants reset.

There will still be more efficient and less efficient ways to make money - it is not my intention to try to prevent that. Accumulating wealth is one form of power gaming and for a lot of people power gaming is one of the major motivations for playing RPGs. I believe this new system will be more fun to play with for everyone. People who want to get as much money as possible will now try to find the most expensive stuff to sell as opposed to as much stuff, while those who take the more casual approach to the economy won't be left hopelessly behind either just as long as they scavenge intelligently.

In any case, let me know how you guys feel about these changes.

 
Combat Initiative
Sunday, 01 December 2013 15:51

Hey, guys. We're still hard at work at producing new content for the next version. And while I'm not ready to show the new areas yet (except the attached teaser screenshot), there are a couple of smaller changes I wanted to talk about.

Underrail - Surprise Attack

The most significant change to the combat mechanics is the addition of initiative. Character's base initiative is determined like this: 5 + agility + dexterity. At the start of the combat, each combat participant randomly adds 1-15 points to the base initiative and the modified value is used when sorting the turn order. The only exception is when the player initiates combat manually (by pressing ENTER) or by simply attacking. In this case the player will always act first, but because of this, the AP cost of the opening attack/action will be deducted from his first turn. Additionally, this also applies to some other non-combat action performed just before entering combat, such as opening doors.

Also, player will no longer be able to quickly initiated combat manually when exiting a dialog to get a jump on their enemies, but I will be going through all situations that involve dialog initiated combat to make sure the player receives appropriate initiative bonus depending on the situation. That is, if you are having a dialog with someone who is already wary of you (such as GMS hostage situation) you do not get any initiative bonus (though you still "roll" standard initiative and may in fact play first), while in situation in which you surprise attack someone through a dialog you will get a substantial initiative bonus, effectively granting you first strike.

I think it's pretty clear what the purpose of this change is - I want to remove the ability (and the need) to "cheese" your way into attacking first, while providing a game mechanic that will allow you to do this in a more meaningful way instead using your reflexes. I think these changes will particularly benefit non-stealth characters who are often hard pressed to survive when ambushed by multiple attackers. For now the initiative is only dependent on the start mentioned above, but later on I plan to add feats/abilities/psi that will allow you to increase this base value. I'm also considering adding initiative modifiers to weapons.

In other news:

 

  • UI
    • Added a confirmation box when changing video settings
    • Added an option to scroll with mouse while holding the right button
    • Added an option to lock the mouse to screen in fullscreen mode (doesn't work perfectly though, sorry)
    • You can double click on your (non-existing) portrait to center back to your character
    • Game window will no longer process input while inactive
  • Tweaks
    • Shroomhead feat now restores 15 psi points each time you pick a mindshroom
    • Reduced base trap arming time to 7 seconds
    • Reduced the range at which the traps trigger when you step into their tile (should be more consistent with visual collision now)
  • Items
    • Added electrical knives (same crafting mechanics like with sledgehammers and gloves)
    • Added more belts (belts have fixed stats and are not craftable)
    • Added bear trap - a cheap early game trap that deals mechanical damage, roots the target and inflicts a bleeding wound; like caltrops, it can be envenomed
    • Added serrated crossbow bolt that deals additional 100% of original damage dealt through a bleeding wound over 3 turns, but incurs even greater damage threshold penalty than a regular bolt
    • Weapons can now have varying base critical damage bonuses (for now only depending on the weapon base type, but in the future modifiable through enhancements)
Let me know what you think about the balance changes and the new mechanics. Sorry that I can't give you guys a date of the next update, but what I can say is that development speed is picking up again and we're planning to release a new town in the next update as well as bunch of new enemy types.

 

 
Expanding the Business; Balance Changes
Thursday, 24 October 2013 23:06

Hey guys, here's an update on what's been happening since the Steam release.

It will be a while longer before a new version is ready, sorry. The reason for that is that I've been somewhat busy with trying to expand the business. The game did well enough on its Steam (pre-)release that I can now afford to hire some people now that will assist with content creation. Unfortunately, this means interviewing, office space hunting, taxes, logistics, and other stuff that's cutting into my development time. So while development is a bit slow until all this settles down, it will pick up pace and go even faster afterwards.

However, I did manage to add some more Lower Underrail areas and I also made a number of balance tweaks, bug fixes and the like:

 

  • Changes
    • Players will receive better armor at the start
    • Added more meds, ammo and such to the starting areas
    • Reduced explosive barrel health to 1
    • AP cost of using light weapons (knives, pistols, SMGs or fist weapons) or unarmed attacks is reduced by 4% for every dexterity point above 5. This is very much subject to change depending on how it works out. I want to make high dexterity builds feel more rewarding and this is just the first step.
    • Dogs now have 50% chance to apply Tackle effect on hit (down from 100%)
    • Skill requirements for recycling items reduced
    • Item durability increased, particularly for higher level items. This will make it less profitable (hopefully not profitable in most cases) to repair them for sole purpose of selling them. Also, crafters will be able to recycle them for more scraps them previously since the amount of scraps gained is based on current and max durability of an item. Rate of item degradation should remain about the same
    • Mark 2 repair kits now fix 500 durability points (up from 400). Cost increased accordingly; repair kit crafting requirements and components remain the same
    • Durability span of items looted from slain enemies increased to 5%-50% (up from 5%-20%)
    • Bandits in the "package delivery quest" nerfed
    • Minimal stealth requirements (below which player is automatically spotted) reduced
    • Increased the amount of special ammo that can be found as loot
    • Reduced the cost of amuples and syringes
    • Reduced the amount of explosive required to craft traps (it's now same as grenade recipe)
    • Increased chemistry requirements of Hexogen explosive to 50 (up from 22). Secondary explosives difficulty modifier in grenade and mine blueprint increased to 125% (up from 100%). Mark 3 grenades/mines are now crafted from 1 hexogen and mark 2 are crafted from 2 x TNT instead of vice versa. Reasoning behind these changes is that crafting high level explosives was way too easy and allowed you to obtain grenades that were meant to be used against level 20 enemies as soon as level 7 if not earlier.
    • Player character will no longer obscure targets behind them when issuing offensive commands (such as attacking or invoking offensive abilities)
  • Bug fixes
    • Exporting a character while trading window is open will no longer crash the game
    • Save/load window will no longer lose focus after deletion confirmation pop-up
    • Fixed the bug that would cause optional components to give different crafting requirements depending on order they are placed in
    • Galvanic vest added to random loot table (and hence the stores too)
    • Added missing female riot gear spritesheets (sorry ladies)
    • Fixed the bug that would cause the old man in GMS level 3 to repeatedly initiate dialog with you
    • Fixed the bug in Abram's questline where you could give Garren information you didn't actually receive
    • AP should now correctly be deducted when stacking up utility items during combat
  • Other
    • Added transition error log; it will be generated in Documents\My Games\Underrail every time there's a transition error. This should help us pinpoint any remaining transition problems
    • Removed Media Player requirement by popular demand (you will no longer have to have media player windows feature installed in the next version of the game)
That's all for now. Be sure to let me know what you thought of the balance changes so far.

 

 
Steam Achievements
Saturday, 14 September 2013 23:02

In the last two weeks I've been working on Steam integration, primarily implementing the achievements.

There will be 50 of them initially, but I plan to keep on adding more bit by bit with each future update. A lot of them are your usual "do something X times", but there are a number of more interesting ones and I'll also be focusing on those more in the future. Kinda wanted to get the basics done first. For those of you who are interested in Steam trading cards, I do hope to implement those at a later stage, once the character and creatures portraits are done and I have more graphical assets to work with as those require a lot.

In other news, I've also fixed a couple of bugs (along with some spelling errors, per usual):

  • TNT blueprint will no longer consume excess components
  • Tungsten steel boots icons added
  • New lens types will now be correctly generated with quality (all the current ones in the game are base quality; I'm sorry about that, but hey, at least their crafting requirements are low :P)
  • Crafting window will now remember what blueprint you had selected when you last closed it
Next I need to take care of some technical stuff and finish Steam release preparations. I'll let you guys know when it's coming out as soon as I have a confirmed date.

 
Version 0.1.9.0 released; also Greenlit!
Thursday, 29 August 2013 18:46

The long overdue update is finally ready. Also, in other news the game got greenlit for Steam distribution!

Underrail - Brawling

Okay let's cover the update first. It's currently up on Desura and GamersGate (soon to be available on Groupees website as well). Here's the list of what I've done since the last dev log, also be sure to also check out the previous three dev logs for other stuff that's new in this version.

 

  • Added TNT explosive charge that can be used to clear rocks. Many passages still don't lead anywhere even if you clear them just so you know though
  • Did bunch of AI work, enemies can now do the following
    • Use more special attacks: kneecap shot, pummel, crippling strike, execute, heavy punch, dirty kick
    • Use "yell" special ability
    • Use more drugs: adrenaline, morphine
    • Throw grenades: frag, HE and flashbang
    • Use more special bolts: acid, shock, incendiary
    • Use offensive and utility psi abilities
    • Kite their target (like psi beetles do)

 

Here's a summary of what I focused on in this update: I've added a bunch of areas to Lower Underrail (the place where the SGS metro station is). These are just "wilderness" areas right now so there are any new quests, but monsters to fight, traps to step, loot to collect and that sort of stuff. I also add a number of items and blueprints (gloves, riot armor) which should give you more options in building your character, as well as improved the arsenal and the AI of the existing enemies.

In the next couple of weeks I'll mostly focus on Steam integration and fixing some technical issues with the game before I move back to building content.

* * * * * *

Which brings us to other topic of this dev log. So the game has finally been greenlit. It's been up there just two days short of a whole year which is longer than I've hoped, but shorter than I feared. I want to send out a sincere thank you to everyone who voted for the game and helped spread the word. With the Steam distribution secured, the future of the game is looking brighter than ever. :)

Anyway, to answer the questions that a lot of you have been asking me:

 

  1. I am aiming to release the game for Early Access on Steam. When exactly - I don't know. It depends on how long it will take me to integrate it and what the rest of release process is like. What I can say for sure is that this will be my priority in the coming weeks.
  2. If you've purchased the game through Desura I would very much like to give you a Steam key as well, but I'm not 100% sure what the rule on this are and I'll have to consult both distributors involved before I can commit to anything. Please be patient and I'll let you guys know as soon as possible. Same goes for those that purchased the game through the Groupees bundle.

 

 
Combat Gloves
Saturday, 10 August 2013 20:17

As promised I've added a new combat option to the game for people who want to focus on brawling in form of combat gloves.

Underrail - Combat Gloves Crafting

Combat gloves can be crafting from leather or metal. The type of material used will determine the AP cost / damage payload, while the quality will determine the overall damage. You can also attach spikes, blades or more metal plating which will add extra damage in different ways.

Gloves can also have power modules, which will drain energy while performing a special on hit effect. The two modules currently available are electroshock generator (which functions in the same manner as when attached to a sledgehammer) and pneumatic hammer which, when combined with heavy punch or similar feats, can dish out quite a bit of burst damage.

When it comes to unarmed feat bonuses, some will transfer to fist weapons, while others won't. I think that currently going for gloves as opposed to pure unarmed will always be better, but I plan to change that in the future by adding more stuff for the pure martial artist type of character through feats and psi. Gloves/fist weapons should not make the pure unarmed obsolete, but rather provide an alternative path and also allow unarmed characters to overcome some of their big weaknesses such as lack of AoE and burst damage.

Other minor changes:

  • Added more lens types for goggles (+crit chance, +special attack damage, +detection)
  • Damage from spikes and blades from boots and armor should now apply on special attacks
  • Reduced the damage of electrokinesis (it will still do more damage than pyrokinesis against smaller number of targets, but less single target damage other single target nukes)
  • Changed the way shock sledgehammer is made, will now require a power core
  • Junkyard surprise nerfed (+1/2 to a stat, -1/2 to a stat) and made consumable on use
  • Repairing broken equipment while worn or getting the worn equipment broken will now always correctly update armor and special effects penalties
  • Fixed bunch of spelling errors

Next I have one more item to add and bunch of AI stuff to do before I can release this version.

 
New Armor Type
Monday, 15 July 2013 00:16

Hi guys, I'm still down in the cellar working on the Lower Underrail. Things have been a bit quiet and slow recently, but these times come and go and are nothing to worry about. To break the monotony of working on barren hostile areas all the time, I've added a new armor type.

Underrail - Riot Gear Armor

Riot Gear armor is a medium encumbrance armor that specializes against firearms and melee attacks (+100% damage threshold vs. firearms and +50% damage resistance and threshold vs. melee attacks). Like the tactical vest, it's crafted from a carrier vest and a ballistic panel and an optional overcoat fabric. You can also add metal plates to include a shield as well (will add other materials for this purpose at some point) which will increase encumbrance, but will give you a 20% chance to block certain amount of mechanical melee damage (depending on the quality of the material used). While using a riot gear armor that includes a shield you can only wield one handed weapons though (pistols, knives, crowbars).

Also here's a couple of minor changes and bug fixes:

  • Increased duration of thermodinamicity to 2 turns
  • Reduced damage of spikes and blades when mounted on a metal armor suit, but increased their damage when mounted on boots
  • Fixed spikes of doom bug
  • It's no longer possible to refresh the duration of stun, fear and short-circuit effects
  • Fixed the scaling of Bilocation psi ability
In the next couple of weeks I'll add few more items and creatures and probably do some AI work. After that I plan to release a new version. The Lower Underrail is not fully ready yet, but it should be fun to snoop around nevertheless.

 
Lower Underrail and Mad Hattering
Monday, 27 May 2013 21:53

I'm currently in the process of building the Lower Underrail.

Underrail - Lower Underrail

For those who don't know the Lower Underrail was the industrial/military zone of the big underground metro system before things went to hell, as opposed to the Upper Underrail which was the residential zone.

I have it mapped out on paper and am now going through each zone and constructing it in the editor. It's a lot of work without much to report so bear with me as I grind through it. At first, there won't be any quests or special points of interest (just containers, monsters, bandits, traps, and that stuff), until later I start adding the stations, dungeons and occasional random encounter. The metro train is also on the way. It will be connecting the aforementioned stations.

In other news, I've added psionic headbands to the game along with blueprint and components required to make them (creating them will require electronics and a bit of biology). These headbands can enhance one of the three psionic schools, but there are also universal ones that enhance all three (though those are generally weaker). Depending on what components are used, they can increase skill levels, critical chances, critical modifiers, and psi costs. I will add more components in the future that will have other effects or have greater effects (per quality) but with certain drawbacks.

 
Version 0.1.8.0 released
Tuesday, 07 May 2013 00:36

The game is updated to version 0.1.8.0 on Desura and GamersGate, soon to be updated on Groupees as well. You'll find all the new stuff listed here and in the previous dev log.

Underrail - Pyrokinetic Stream

As promised, I've added a number of new feats and psi abilities. With feats I mostly focused on melee combat and grenades, both of which were sorely lacking in that department.

In regards to new psi abilities you'll notice I've added an extra thought control ability. This means that there's now an equal number of psi abilities across all psi schools. You can learn most of the new psi abilities from the existing teachers (this might change in the future), with the exception of Bilocation for which you must look elsewhere (those who played through the whole game before will have a good idea where to go ;) ).

So without further ado, here's the list of changes since the last dev log:

 

  • New feats
    • Heavy Punch - Unarmed attack that deals 200% for 250% AP
    • Bone Breaker - Critical hits from your blunt melee attacks break ribs if they deal at least 4% of target's maximal health through mechanical damage. Targets with broken ribs receive additional 25% mechanical damage from all sources. This effect stacks up 2 times.
    • Cheap Shots - Increases critical damage bonus of your melee attacks by 50% and gives your unarmed attacks 15% chance to incapacitate the target for 1 turn.
    • Paranoia - Detection increased by 20% and chance to get critically hit reduced by 3%. Also your weapon damage is increased by 20% against stealthed targets (will be useful at one point).
    • Uncanny Dodge - Grants you an ability that when activated will cause you to dodge the next regular or special melee attack targeted against you.
    • Evasive Maneuvers - Converts all remaining movement points into twice the evasion for 2 turns.
    • Grenadier - Reduces the cooldown of fragmentation and high explosive greandes by 1 turn and special grenades by 2 turns.
    • Three-Pointer - Gives your damage dealing grenades 10% chance to critically hit. This chance is increased by 2% for each point in dexterity above 7.
    • Trap Expert - Reduces time required to arm traps by 70% and increases the detection difficulty of the traps you set by 25%.
  • New psi abilities
    • Pyrokinetic Stream (metathermics) - Creates a stream of fire towards the targeted location, damaging everything in its path for X heat damage every tick. The stream lasts for three ticks plus an additional tick for every 10 spare action and psi points remaining after the initial invocation.
    • Electrokinesis (psychokinesis) - Deals X electrical damage to the primary target and stuns it for 1 turn before jumping to a nearby target. It can jump up to four times, but the damage decreases by 15% of the original amount with every jump. It can strike the same target multiple times, but it needs at least two targets to jump between. Only the primary target is stunned.
    • Bilocation (thought control) - Creates a doppelganger of a human target bent on their destruction. The doppelganger is immune to all physical attacks and deals X mental damage that bypasses all shields and resistances. Last for 4 turns.
    • Mental Breakdown (thought control) - Incapacitates the target for up to 3 turns and reduces its resolve by 50%. If a detrimental thought control psi ability is invoked against the target during this period it will have double the effect, but will end the mental breakdown.
  • Changes
    • Game generates a crash log now in Documents\My Games\Underrail folder when it crashes.
    • Increased the amount of health hypos, bandages and ammo the player receives at the start of the game. Player can also find a mechanical repair kit in its room at the start.
  • Fixes
    • No longer possible to place the fishing rod on top of yourself
    • Game will no longer crash when attempting to disarm triggered traps
    • Game should work properly with windows on-screen keyboard now
    • Junkayrd gambling house staff and nearby Black Eels will no longer turn hostile after the attack on Scrappers
Let me know how you liked these changes and the new stuff.

 

 
Pickpocketing and Feats Changes
Wednesday, 17 April 2013 16:27

Hey, guys, sorry for the delayed update. I was out of country for a while on a vacation of sort. I'm back in the development chair now and here's what I've been doing.

Underrail - Pickpocketing

First of all I revamped the pickpocketing mechanics as I promised. The way it works now is that when you are stealing items from an NPC you are filling up their permanent "suspicion meter". If you fill up this meter to the max you will be detected and the combat will ensue. The game will indicate how much stealing a certain item will raise the suspicion meter.

The rate at which you fill this meter will depend on the ratio between your pickpocketing skill and the victim's detection. Since the detection scales off of character's level and perception, this basically means that you'll have to continue investing points in the pickpocketing skill (and ideally dexterity as well) in order to be able to steal (or steal more) from progressively higher level NPCs. Also, some items are harder to steal than others (e.g. heavy weapons and armors in comparison to smaller stuff like ammo and hypos).

The way this system is set up it means that, unlike lockpicking and hacking, the outcome is not binary. Depending on your skill-to-detection ration and the difficulty modifier of the item, you may be able to steal zero, one or more items from a given target. So investing more skill into pickpocketing will always be useful. Because there's no dice involved in the calculations, this will also eliminate the need for save scumming.

Pickpocketing does not require stealth, unless of course you're trying to steal from a hostile NPC.

* * * * *

The other major change I made is reducing the frequency of acquiring feats from one every level to one every two levels. The reason for this is that when I originally decided that you should get a feat every level I was planning on having the max character level set to 20, which would put you at 22 feats (+ some story extras), and since the total number of feats will be around a hundred having 22/100 feats seemed about right. It would mean you wouldn't be able to get every feat in the game you wanted/needed in one playthrough and the number of feats per character to the total number of feats ratio seemed like it would allow for a variety of different builds.

However, since I've increased the leveling rate a bit and decided to eventually change the max character level to 30, that would put the character at the max level up to 32+ feats. Now this is no longer a comfortable ratio, especially considering there might be expansion packs and the like that could raise the max character level. You'd be practically able to take every third feat in the game.

So now you get two feats at the start like before and one more feat each even level, which will put you at 17 leveling feats which is much closer to what I originally intended. I've also went back and buffed/reworked existing feats that were somewhat lackluster in order to make them a more desirable choice in this new feat economy:

 

  • Burglar - Reduces the time it takes to pick and hack locks by 75%, but also add +10 bonus to stealth when in controlled areas
  • Nimble - Reduces encumbrance by 15%, but also grants 15% bonus to dodge and evasion when on zero encumbrance
  • Ninja Looter - Reduces pickpocketing time by 50% and also reduces suspicion raised when pickpocketing by 25% when hidden from the target
  • Conditioning - Increased the damage reduction to 10% + 1% per constitution above 5, but also added requirement of having at least 5 points in constitution
  • Opportunist - Upped the damage bonus agains slowed targets to 20% (up from 15%)
  • Recklessness - Grants 10% increased critical chance with all weapons, but also increases the chance of you getting critically hit by 3% (up from 3%/2% I think)
  • Yell - Reduces enemy offensive skills by 35% of your intimidation skill (up from 25% I think)
  • Snipe - Increased the base damage bonus from 100% to 125%
* * * * *
And here are some other smaller, but not necessarily less significant changes I've made:
  • Bugs
    • Fixed the game crashing when loading 0.1.6.0 saves. It's still not recommended to play the old saves, but it shouldn't crash now hopefully.
    • Fixed the problems with Cliff's quest when he would die at inopportune times
  • Tweaks
    • Reduced weapon degradation significantly. The starting pistol should now be good for over 100 shots
    • Melee weapons no longer degrade on missed attacks
    • Reduced the cost of energy pistols
    • Dexterity now increases critical chance of melee attacks by 1% for each point above 5
    • Added "Already known" label to blueprints you... already know
    • Added more items to the SGS commoners to be stolen!
    • Reduced the pickpocketing cooldown to 5 seconds (down from 10)
Let me know what changes you guys like and disliked and why.

 

 
Version 0.1.7.0. released
Friday, 22 March 2013 21:37

The game is updated to version 0.1.7.0 on Desura, soon to be updated in other places as well (GamersGate and Groupees). You'll find all the new stuff listed here and in the previous three dev logs.

Underrail - Cave Bandits

The new patch is ready. As mentioned in previous dev logs, I focused on re-balancing the economy and area of effect attacks (primarily grenades). But I've also added new quests and areas, mostly in the vicinity of the Junkyard.

These quests should hopefully paint a clearer picture of the Underrail politics and tell you a bit more about some of the major factions, while still leaving many questions to be answered later in the game. They will also allow you to actively take part in faction struggles.

Without wanting to spoil too much for the players, I'll just say that one of the quests results in a larger scale combat encounter. I'm not particularly happy with this event for a number of reasons. First, the AI isn't very good in handling multiple enemies, it's been written so far to simply fight the one character that is the player and not to coordinate group fights. So you will see your companions and enemies alike to stupid things from time to time. Secondly, waiting time are just too long because I control only one characters in a fight with many participants. And lastly, in the real time sections before and after the fight there's too much pathfinding calculations going on that it can stagger the game a bit.

But despite all of this, I'm still including the encounter because it's a nice change of pace and because omitting it, or automatically resolving it somehow, would be very anti-climatic. But don't expect these sort of fights to be common in the future. The game was built with single character in mind and it shows.

Anyway, here's the full list of changes since the last dev log:

 

  • General
    • More quests added to Junkyard areas
    • Two new mini dungeons added
  • Economy
    • Toned down item degradation a bit
    • Melee weapons no longer degrade faster than ranged weapons
    • Reduced the base merchant price modifier from 425% to 350% to better suit the other changes to the economy; so basically everything will be a bit cheaper
  • Mechanics
    • Caltrops have a chance to miss the targeted tile in the same way the granades do
  • Balance
    • Change the mutants and mutated dog health up, down and all around; can't tell if it's more or less than what it used to be but it's balanced now I think
    • NPC natural dodge/evasion changed to 1 per level
    • Off-balanced, stunned, frozen and incapacitated enemies have their dodge and evasion reduced to zero
    • Rooted enemies have their evasion reduced to zero
    • Increased the damage of crippling strike and reduced the AP cost
    • Critical crippling strike applies 2 stacks of the debuff
    • Restored health modifier to all commoners to 100% (up from 50%/80%)
  • Fixes
    • High-density foam padding price now scales with quality and quality is also made relevant in all its crafting recipes
    • Fixed Telekinetic Punch to scale off of Psychokinesis instead of Metathermics
  • UI
    • Disabled Trade button when nothing is set to be traded
    • Turn-based combat path visualization should now work properly in all cases

 

 
Taking from the Rich
Thursday, 28 February 2013 23:17

Underrail - Blood sucking frogs

I'm still working on the new content for next release (v0.1.7.0), but I also took a break from that to address more balance issues.

Now, before I hit you with a big list of changes, let me give you a brief intro about the subject at hand.

Looking at the current release version, the biggest issue with the game currently mechanics-wise is that it gets increasingly easier once the player gets past the early stages. One of the main reasons for that, which I've already addressed in the previous dev logs, is the (over)power of grenades and other AoE attacks. The biggest issue, however, is the game's economy. Namely, that the player quickly gets rich from the insane amount of loot that he can acquire. This dev log focuses primarily on that, as well as on re-balancing some other abilities/items that I've found to be a bit too good.

The biggest change here is that I've reduced the amount of loot that is available through scavenging significantly. The biggest offenders were mid-late game dungeons (I didn't mess with the starting areas, they are fine) and also somewhat corners of urban areas that were way to easy to plunder with impunity. For the most part I haven't removed any stuff from the loot table, but have rather reduced the amount of items you get (ammo, weapons/armor and especially components) and significantly reduced the chance. So basically most places that you've looted before still have some chance of holding loot in future games (very few containers are fixed to be empty), but they won't give you large amounts of loot every time like they do now.

This, coupled with item durability cost penalty should make the game more challenging and force you to manage your resources more carefully as you should no longer have unlimited amounts of grenades, special blots/ammo, psi points, batteries, etc. When it comes the time to release the new version, I'll have to test this new economy carefully with a couple of playthroughs, though, to ensure that I haven't gone too far or not far enough. After that, I'll be very interested to hear from you guys as to what your experience was in this new economy.

Also, I've increased the difficulty of some encounters in the Old Junkyard (Depot A) and also did some bug fixing. In any case, here's the full list:

 

  • Economy
    • Reduced the amount of loot significantly (mainly from dungeon areas and lightly guarded urban areas)
    • Wheeled bots and turrets leave loot now (ammo, scraps and sometimes more valuable things)
    • Reduce leather drop chances across the board
    • Reduced the value multiplier for certain crafted items (e.g. leather armor) in relation to their components; purchasing components from vendors and crafting them into finished items and reselling them should not be profitable (this would either force me to reduce the amount of components the merchants have or to reduce the restocking frequency and I don't want to do either); finding components and crafting them into items before selling them is profitable
    • Increased the cost of special bolts
    • Item cost penalty based on durability changed from linear function to power function; meaning that lower less and less durability and item has, the faster its value drops
    • Psi boosters now cost 5 mindshrooms to make
    • Increased deterioration rate of melee weapons by 50% to somewhat balance out them not requiring ammo
  • Misc
    • Added more mutated dogs to Old Junkyard because why not
    • Player now leaves a corpse after dying instead of turning into a backpack
  • Balance
    • Reduced the amount of skill points the player gets (-15 at the start, -5 per level)
    • Added activation cost to night vision goggles
    • Increased value of distance factor when calculating weapon to-hit chance
    • Weapon precision penalties (melee, on move) will now correctly be deducted at the end of to-hit chance calculation (it's no longer possible to mitigate these penalties through skill)
    • NPCs now have natural dodge and evasion bonus equal to twice their level (factor subject to change pending testing)
    • Reduced damage of shock, incendiary and acid bolts across the board; they should still be good but won't 2-shot most things in the game anymore
    • Precision bonus with special bolts removed from Marksman feat
    • Increased Pyrokinesis cooldown to 3 turns (up from 2) and reduced damage slightly
    • Premeditation now reduces the cost of your next psi ability by 50% instead of 100%
    • Increased the health of Mutated humans and restored them their normal movement points (was too easy to kite them)
    • Mutated human's AI tweaked to correctly use acid spray even when close to player if something is preventing them from engaging in melee
    • Increased mutant dog health
    • Resist chance calculations for everything (stun, entangle, etc) was previously bugged and couldn't drop below 20% no matter how powerful the attack/ability was and how bad the defense was. Also capped all resist chance at 65% (down from 80%), might change pending testing.
    • Reduced Neural Overload the damage that can be mitigated through resolve. It's also capped at ~40%.
    • Increased base psionic power of psi beetles and their synergy bonus; also their armor and health a bit (hopefully I get to watch them actually kill someone now)
    • Added some acid resistance to wheeled bots and turrets
    • Change trap detection mechanics to favor players investing in Traps skill in addition to having good perception; traps are also not revealed automatically if you beat the skill check but instead have a chance to be revealed every "tick" in real time / end of turn in turn-based mode; this will make traps a bit more dangerous than they are now for all characters
    • Changed stealth detection indicator colors for NPCs again: slowly fading in-and-out silver eye again means true-seeing again, while slowly fading in-and-out red eye means "stealth too low to hide from this NPC"; should be more intutive this way. If you don't know what I'm talking about, check out the stealth changes I made a while back (http://underrail.com/forums/index.php?topic=128.0)
    • You can no longer set traps, disarm traps, lockpick or hack in turn-based mode
  • UI
    • When placing traps with AoE effect, their range will also be displayed; this should make it easier for players to prevent chaining their own traps and blowing themselves up Wile E. Coyote style.
    • Toggling between all feats and only available ones should now correctly update the scroll bar
  • Bug fixes
    • Fixed the bug that caused players to die during transition and return as vengeful undead if they transitioned in turn-based mode with a damage over time effect that is about to kill them
    • Fixed lightning in some areas (GMS, Elwood's house)
    • Killing someone in a single turn will now correctly propagate hostilities to their nearby friends
Alright, this is about all the major balancing, bug fixing, etc, I was planning to do for this update. Unless I come across something major, of course. The economy will probably need more balancing closer to new version release, but until them I'll be focusing on new content.

 

 
Blood Sucking Frogs
Tuesday, 12 February 2013 02:45

Underrail - Blood sucking frogs

Right now I have 3 more creature models ready to be programmed into the game, but with everything else that needs to be done first they'll have to wait. For now you guys will have to settle with "Siphoners", which are essentially blood sucking frog-like creatures that can be found in the underground lakes and streams, waiting for their unsuspecting victims to come close to the water before pouncing on them. Their basic attack applies anticoagulation which reduces all healing effects, prolongs bleeds and increases the effectiveness of their blood sucking attack which, as you might have guessed, transfers your health to them. They also have head ramming attack that imbalances you and has a chance to stun you as well.

 

I've also implemented fishing. Actually, this was functional long time ago but due to some major changes to the game I had to disable it for a time. For now you'll only be able to fish for blue eels for a quest, but I'll add more fishing goodies later and probably some blueprints that make use of those. You also have a chance to fish out other random (and some not so random) stuff in certain places.

 

I've added a couple of new areas, a couple of new quests and a mini-dungeon with burrowers in it.

 

I've also made more some changes to other mechanics (I know I said I wouldn't for a while, but I lied):

  • Grenades and pyrokinesis will now deal their full damage near the center of the detonation and less and less damage the further you move from it. Something like this was already in place with frag grenade shrapnel (you'd get hit with more shrapnel the closer you are to the detonation), but now it affects all grenade damage
  • Pyrokinesis has a chance to miss the targeted tile in the same way as grenade do; the targeting precision is derived from metathermics skill

 

Next on the agenda: more quests and a couple more areas.

 
Grenade Changes and Item Durability
Friday, 25 January 2013 22:25

Two important changes to game mechanics in this update.

 

Underrail - Throwing a grenade

A lot of you have been complaining of how overpowered and game changing the grenades are due to how easy it currently is to deploy them exactly where you want even with no points invested in the skill, so I made some long overdue changes:

  • "Grenades" skill has been renamed to "Throwing". It will now be used when calculating precision of all throwing actions (such as tossing flares and using throwing nets).
  • Grenade cooldown no longer decreases with skill. A cooldown reduction feat will probably be introduced in the future.
  • Grenade range no longer increases with skill.
  • Throwing precision now increases with skill and decreases with throwing distance. The less precise you throw the farther the grenade will land from the targeted location (up to 3 tiles away).

 

Underrail - Mechanical Repair Kit

 

I've introduced item durability for weapons and armor pieces (helmet, torso armor and boots). Now, some of you might not like this but hear me out first.

 

My main motivation for introducing degradable equipment is to reduce the amount of money the player can accumulate past the early game. As you start delving into "dungeon" areas of the game, you start finding more and more loot. And there has to be plenty of loot because different characters need different things and you have to give every type of character a decent chance to find a weapon/armor that he can use. Furthermore, whenever you kill an armed NPC (or a bunch of them) you get to loot their weapons and armor.

 

So very quickly you find yourself with a bunch of spare weapons and armors sets that you can just trade for a heap of money and whatever your heart desires. It's not supposed to be that easy. So now whenever you find a weapon or armor in a dungeon or loot it from a corpse it will have reduced durability and hence the cost. You can then repair the item and use it yourself, you can sell it for a percentage of its total value depending on how damaged it currently is, or, if you are crafty enough, you can recycle it for "scraps" that you can then use to create repair kits. You can also purchase repair kits from merchants, they will be plentiful.

 

There are three types of durability - mechanical (firearms, crossbows, metal armors, etc), electrical (energy and electroshock weapons) and fabric (leather armors, tactical vests). Depending on the item's durability type, the skills used to recycle the item (and then create repair kit from scraps) are mechanics, electronics and tailoring respectively.

 

* * * * *

 

And now I'm done messing with game mechanics for a while. Next up, new areas and quests.

 
Version 0.1.6.0. released
Sunday, 13 January 2013 23:54

The game is updated to version 0.1.6.0 on Desura, soon to be updated in other places as well (GamersGate and Groupees). You'll find all the new stuff listed here and in the previous two dev logs.

 

Underrail - Len's Shop

 

  • Added creature respawning. Creatures in most places will respawn every two hours. Some bandits will also respawn, but most of the human enemies in the current areas will not respawn (since it wouldn't make sense in the context of these areas).
  • Merchants will now refresh their inventories every 90 minutes.
  • Reduced the frequency of base stat point gain. Player character will now gain an extra base stat point every four levels, instead of every two.
  • Fixed the problem with indirect kills not giving the player XP - all damage over time effects, ground effects and explosive barrels will now properly credit the player with XP.
  • Experience gains are now calculated against character's "potential level" which takes into account all XP gained to that point even if you stayed off leveling up.
  • Opening and closing doors in combat now cost 25 action points (up from 10) so no more open-shoot-close tactics!
  • Locked doors and containers will now display the difficulty rating on attempted use. Lockpicks and haxxors will display the max. lock difficulty they can handle in hands of the player character.
  • SGS merchants will now accept stygian coins (charons).
That's it for this patch. Be sure to drop by the forums and let me know what you think of the changes and the new stuff once you get the chance to check it out.
 
Wrapping up the Crafting Stuff
Monday, 31 December 2012 16:17

I've finished all the crafting updates for the next release:

Underrail - Health Hypo Blueprint

  • Renamed the "Extract Toxin" blueprint into "Extract Humour". It can now be used to extract various bodily fluids from organs of dead animals
  • Creatures will now drop organs when killed. Different types of creatures (animals, insectoids) drop different organs. Harder to kill creatures have greater chance of dropping organs (e.g. rathound alpha has a better chance of dropping adrenal gland than the regular rathound)
  • Added health hypo blueprint. You'll need to extract substances from both animal (cave hopper, rathounds, dogs) and insectoid (psi beetle, burrower) organs in order to create those.
  • Added adrenaline shot blueprint. You can extract adrenaline from adrenal glands which are a rare drop on most creatures.

Underrail - Acid Blob Trap & Caltrops

  • Added chemical blob trap blueprint you can use to create acid blob traps which entangle the victim causing high damage spread over a couple of turns.
  • Added acid bolts that you can create from the existing chemical bolt blueprint.
  • Added caltrops blueprint. When deployed caltrops deal small amount of damage to anyone who moves over them and drain additional movement/action points. They can also be coated in poison.

  • Added plasma pistol. It can be created from the existing energy pistol blueprint. Plasma pistols are high-damage energy weapons, but consume a lot of AP and energy when used which makes them a good power attack weapons (aimed shot /execute), but not the best damage per turn weapons. They deal equal amounts of energy and heat damage.

 

* * * * *

 

I've also added Morphine Shot to the game. It reduces damage taken from any source by 50% for 3 turns, but after it expires the user will take damage equal to 50% of their missing health. Basically, you can use it to absorb good amount of damage over 3 turns, but you better make sure to stabilize before it expires. It's also a good way to survive between health hypo usages in difficult fights.

 

* * * * *

 

I will be tackling the creature respawning feature next, and then I'll fix the problem with certain kills not giving XP to the player (damage over time effects, explosive barrels, etc). After that there's a couple minor tweaks and bug fixes to handle and the next release will be ready.

 

Happy New Year everyone and see you in 2013.

 
Importing Characters and More Crafting
Tuesday, 18 December 2012 21:39

Alrighty, now that the stuff around alpha release finally settled down a bit I was able to get some real work done again.

Underrail -Character Importing

I've added export/import character options so that you can restart the game with an existing character (and all their equipment) in the future updates. This ties up to what a lot of you have been asking about - the saved game compatibility between releases. Well, the saves usually won't be 100% compatible. I won't prevent you from loading your old saves, but your saved state might miss a dialog/quest flag, an object you should have picked up earlier, a new NPC that have been added to an area you already visited, etc. So in short, you can load an outdated save game and mess around with it (it shouldn't crash or anything), but if you for some reason can't progress with the quests, I won't be able to help you with that.

 

Next, I've added an option to autosave on transitions for those who sometimes forget to save for a long time and die 5 areas later, losing all of the progress. I don't advise you to use this feature at the moment, because saving is a bit slow right now, especially when you get later into the game and you'll be changing areas frequently. But if you want it it's there. Also, you'll now have the option of using 'rolling saves' which means that the game will retain your (one) previous quicksave and autosave instead of overwriting it.

 

Now some gameplay changes.

 

I've changed the way the lockpicks and haxxors work. Lockpicks are now spent on successful lockpicking, so they work as a resource. They have distinct power levels and icons (+0, +5, +10) and are stackable. Haxxors work similarly like they did before, but also have distinct power levels and icons and require energy (batteries) to use.

 

Next up is the blueprint for chemical pistols that you'll be able to use to craft guns that fire various chemicals in various forms, if you have sufficient chemistry skill that is. A chemical pistol has two major components - collector, which determines the type of substance you can load into the weapon, and dispenser, which determines the way the gun fires the substance. For now you'll only be able to create Acid Blob Pistols, but there will be more in the future. There's also "Chemical Ammo" blueprint to accompany this. If you have sufficient biology and chemistry skills you'll be able to extract acid from acid mutants and make ammo from it.

 

* * * * *

 

I'm aiming for a new release somewhere around New Year. Not sure if it's going to be before or just after though, we'll see. It'll focus mainly on crafting. I'll be adding blueprints for new interesting gadgets as well as some existing stuff that you can't craft at the moment, such as health hypos.

 

Another major change will be adding respawn timers on creatures in certain areas. This will serve two purposes. First, if you ever find the yourself too weak to progress further with the quests, you can spend some time and hunt through the lower level areas. Now, I'm not saying this is something you'll have to do. The game won't ever require you to grind anything. However, the combat in this game tends to be a bit hard at times, so if you're not that good at it, you'll have this option. And secondly, you'll be able to return to previously visited areas to obtain crafting materials if you're missing on some of them (like you already can with the mushrooms).

 

That's it for now. Let me know what you think of these changes.

 
Underrail released on Desura and GamersGate!
Thursday, 06 December 2012 00:49

 

Underrail alpha version has just been released on Desura and GamersGate!

and

If you want to know what's new in this release (since the demo) you can go check out the dev log posts from the last couple of months, but let me just quickly recap the highlights:

  • Huge new urban zone consisting of 8 areas
  • Big new 'dungeon' consisting of 6 areas (twice as much as the last one)
  • A couple of 'mini-dungeons'
  • New quests
  • New feats
  • Traps skill
  • Some updated game mechanics
  • Re-balanced economy
  • Food
  • More weapons and armors
  • Updated crossbows (feats, special bolts, damage boost)
  • Various other smaller stuff

 

 

 
Alpha Release in Testing
Thursday, 29 November 2012 12:19

Finally it's complete. All the content I wanted to put in for the first commercial alpha release is in and we're now doing last bits of testing (getting our faces melted in the needlessly hard dungeons and toning the stuff down)

Underrail - Junkyard Docks

If you want to know what's new in this release you can go check out the dev log posts from the last couple of months, but let me just quickly recap the highlights:

  • Huge new urban zone consisting of 8 areas
  • Big new 'dungeon' consisting of 6 areas (twice as much as the last one)
  • A couple of 'mini-dungeons'
  • New quests
  • New feats
  • Traps skill
  • Some updated game mechanics
  • Re-balanced economy
  • Food
  • More weapons and armors
  • Updated crossbows (feats, special bolts, damage boost)
  • Various other smaller stuff
Also very recently I've changed pickpocketing mechanics a bit. It's not quite where I want it to be yet, so I'm going to revisit it sometime after the alpha release for sure, but I think this goes a long way in making it not completely useless. Namely, pickpocketing doesn't require stealth anymore and is just directly checked versus the target's detection. So you don't have to invest into two skills anymore and you won't be always detected because pickpocketing takes so long and stealth works terribly when you're too close to the target. In any case I'll be keeping an eye out for it, so let me know what you guys thought of this change.
Anyway, the testing is underway and after that I'll be sending the build to distributors for publishing and hopefully it won't take too long before it will be available for purchase.

 
More Quests and Feats
Saturday, 10 November 2012 13:15

I'm almost done with quest implementation for the new areas. There's still a couple smaller ones to go, as well as some support scripting and dialog to do, but that shouldn't take more than couple of days. After that I'm going to start the work on the next 'dungeon' area and that will be the last bit of content for this release.

I do intend to revisit these areas post-release and add more quests, but for now this will do.

Underrail - Junkyard Docks

I've also added some new weapons and armors:

  • One new model of each firearm type: pistol, SMG, assault and sniper rifle
  • One new crossbow type
  • Knives and sledgehammers made of tungsten steel
  • Tungsteen steel armor
  • Regenerative vest that slowly restores health but consumes energy (can be used in creation of tactical vests or steel armors)
  • Acid resistant leather armor (this will be useful in the upcoming dungeon)
Then there are couple of new feats I got to implement. It's not much because this release I'm more focused on new areas, so expect a lot more in the future updates. I implemented a couple of melee feats because they were sorely missing in the demo:
  • Pummel - sledgehammer attack that takes the target off balance, negating dodge and evasion for 2 turns
  • Crippling Strike - unarmed or knife attack that deals 125% damage and reduces target's strength by 2 (stacks 3 times).
  • Dirty Kick - Unarmed attack that deals damage and stuns the target for 1 turn (double that if the target is human male)
  • Hit and Run - After you kill an enemy, your movement points are restored to 25 (or your maximum, whichever is lower)
  • Yell - You attempt to reduce offensive skills (guns, corssbows, melee and grenades skills) of all surrounding enemies by 20% of your intimidation skill
  • Shroomhead - You regenerate psi points in presence of mindshrooms when below 35% of your maximum psi
All in all, this version is nearing completion and it will be done by the end of this month for sure. Can't say exactly when it will be release for alpha purchase, as I don't know what the process for that will be, but it can't be far off now.

 
Food and Balance Changes
Thursday, 25 October 2012 08:47

I'm currently mostly working on area designs for the new release. By the end of the week I should have most of it in place (except the new dungeon which I'll tackle later) and then it's time for quests implementation.

Underrail - Junkyard Underrail - Junkyard Underrail - Junkyard

 

I've added food to the game. You can consume different meals to gain (and sometimes also lose) different base stats for 5 minutes. You can only have one type of food buff on your character at any given time. Here are the meals I've prepared so far:

  • Rathound Barbecue: +1 strength
  • Cave Hopper Steak: +2 agility
  • Burrower Burger: +2 constitution
  • Eel Sandwich: +2 dexterity
  • Junkyard Surprise: +(1-3) random stat, -(0-3) random stat

 

* * * * *


I've also added a couple easy but important changes to game balance and mechanics.

 

First of all I changed a bit how stealth works. You'll still be detected over time depending on your stealth skill, enemy's detection, lightning and positioning like before, unless your stealth skill is too far behind the enemy's detection in which case you won't be able to hide from them at all. This will be indicated with a silver eye above the detecting character and the true-sight is now represented by a golden eye (previously silver). The problem was that even the non-stealthy characters were using stealth excessively to move around undetected (and have guaranteed combat initiation) and it worked as long as they didn't stay too close too long because of the way the revealing speed is capped. This change should prevent that while not changing how stealth mechanics work for stealthy characters (those who invest in stealth skill and wear light armors).

 

Also another minor tweak to stealth - I've added a notification when you bump into other characters and fall out of stealth for that reason. Some people were confused as to what was happening, but keep in mind that if they can't see you their pathfinding won't tell them to go around you.

 

I increased health scaling with levels, for both the player and non-player characters. Previously, the damage from weapons and other sources was far out-scaling the character health as you progressed in levels which ended up in very volatile fights. This change should ease that up a bit while keeping the early game unchanged. Keep in mind, though, that damage is meant to out-scale health to a certain degree because characters also have access to tougher armors and other protective stuff as the game progresses. Because of this change I've also increased the amount of health that hypos and bandages restore.

 

I've also doubled the psi point pool as well as psi restoration from psi boosters (also psi boosters now require three mindshrooms to make). This will allow the player focusing on psi abilities to have more sustain in combat. Some people felt like psi points need to regenerate over time, but I want it to be a resource you have to manage just like ammo and batteries. I'm considering adding other ways to restore limited amounts of psi outside of using boosters, though. We'll see.

 

I've significantly increased based damage multiplier of snipe ability so it should now be more powerful than aimed shot in the early game as intended (since it's a one time opening ability requiring stealth). This attack can no longer critically hit, though.

 

Keep in mind that none of this is set to stone. These are the changes I've arrived at by watching other people play and from hearing the feedback on the forums. Once the new version is released I will continue to keep an eye out and make changes for the sake of fun and balanced gameplay as best as I can.

 
Improving Crossbow Play
Thursday, 11 October 2012 01:08

One of the common complaints in the demo, and one of the things that I personally wasn't very happy with, is how the crossbows were playing out. Using crossbows as primary damage source was practically impossible, so I've taken some steps to bringing the crossbows up to par with firearms and making them a viable alternative.

First of all I've increased base damage of crossbows, so their straight up damage per turn potential is now about the same as 7.62mm pistols (which is another weapon class with 2 attacks per turn). Originally I kept the crossbow damage lower as I wanted to emphasize their special bolt attack strengths, but I went a bit too far there and they ended up being too weak, especially in the early game before the player could pick up any special bolts. Also, because crossbow attacks already incur more of mechanical damage resistance (125%) and have no way of overcoming that in regular attacks (no armor piercing rounds) there is no need to penalize them further by assigning them lower base damage.

The second problem was a lack of multi-target special bolts, so now I've added two of those. They fulfill similar roles but in different ways.

  • Shock Bolts - These bolts inflict additional electrical damage to the primary target, stun it (works on machines as well) and then jump to nearby targets dealing smaller chunks of damage (no stun on secondary targets) in similar fashion as strikes from Shock Sledgehammer.
  • Incendiary Bolts - These bolts deal heat damage to the target and have a chance to set it on fire, dealing more heat damage over next couple of turns (and, of course, panicking the living targets), but the bolt also burns everything it comes near on its flight to the primary target, dealing smaller chunks of heat damage. Keep in mind that this bolt is doubly useful against enemies that fear fire (such as rathounds).
As for the price and drop rate of these bolts, that's something I'll have to fine tune through testing.
Both of these type of bolts can also be crafted if you have enough skill points in electronics or chemistry respectively.
And the last thing I've added is the Special Tactics feat which gives you the ability that you can activate while you're out of combat to make your next special bolt attack cost no action points. The point of this is to give crossbows some burst potential in fights that you initiate.

I hope you guys like these changes and that they'll get more of you trying out crossbows in the future.

 
New Skill: Traps
Thursday, 27 September 2012 23:40

Originally I planned to add traps to the alpha demo but ended up postponing that to get the demo out earlier. They're in now, though.

Underrail - Land Mines

There are currently three types of land mines you can rig up: frag, high-explosive and EMP. When they're triggered they have same effects as their grenade counterparts. You can also craft these yourself if you have high enough chemistry/electronics. There will be more traps in the future and not all of them will be mines.

Except rigging up the area before a battle and luring your foolish enemies into minefields, I figure trapping will also be very useful in eliminating patrolling enemies. At least those not skillful enough to spot and/or disarm your traps.

Speaking of NPC behavior, I've also introduced a new concept to the game called zone control.

Underrail - Zone Control Indicators

I was thinking of how the game should handle player criminal behavior such as murdering people through various means. And more specifically, I thought about how NPCs should react to you placing traps everywhere and turning their private quarters into mine fields.

I want to prevent exploits such as carpeting an area with traps and killing off high level non-hostile NPCs in the middle of their home base without triggering hostilities and then promptly looting their kickass gear. But on the other hand I want to sometimes allow player to use traps as an assassination mechanism where it's actually appropriate as I think that can be a lot of fun. Ideally the NPCs would be very smart and once a trap has been set off they'd start an investigation and look for a culprit, etc. However, Underrail is not a simulation game and that kind of AI programming is way out of the scope of the game.

So I went with a simpler solution which is to tag each area with certain control level - full, partial or none, which indicates how safe it is for the player to mess around with traps (and in the future murdering, etc) and how the controlling factions of the area will react to your shenanigans.

The UI shows the zone control indicator in the upper right corner and you can mouse over it to see what sort of action you can get away with and what is too risky in the current area.

As far as traps are concerned:

  • In fully controller areas (such as SGS station) if someone from the controlling faction detects your trap, you'll immediately get in trouble with that faction;
  • In partially controlled areas you'll only get in trouble if someone from the controlling faction sets off your trap
  • In uncontrolled areas you can set traps as much as you like and if someone happens to set it off and get killed, no one will be able to trace this to you
One thing to keep in mind though that regardless of the zone control level, if you try placing traps too close to someone, they will take offense, or at least disarm them if they have appropriate skills.

 
Alpha Funding Model
Friday, 14 September 2012 00:44

I've hinted earlier that I'm considering alpha funding for Underrail and now I've officially made up my mind. I originally planned on launching a crowd-funding campaign but that turned out to have too many limitations based on where I was located, so I decided alpha funding is a better option.

The game will be available for purchase in its alpha stage on a couple of digital distribution websites, and who ever purchases alpha version will, of course, receive the final game at no additional cost when it's done. Also, I plan on releasing regular content updates throughout the game's development.

Underrail - Open Air Tavern

I'm currently working on the next major update that will be the first purchasable version of the game. It will include a major new quest hub (sneak peek above), a new "dungeon" area, more weapons, utilities and other items, new character skill, some updated game mechanics, and more.

I'm expecting the update to be ready sometime in October. Stay tuned for more info on the new stuff.

Also, check out this cool Underrail title screen fan alternative by Jason Seow:

Underrail Fan Art

 
Steam Greenlight; Bug Fixing
Monday, 03 September 2012 17:16

First let me just remind everyone who hasn't seen it yet that Underrail is up on Steam Greenlight now. So if you'd like to see it released on Steam eventually please hop over there and up vote and favorite the game.

 

These last couple of days I made a number of changes to the game, based on the feedback and my own observations. This is not the definite list of changes, though, but these are all the changes that will eventually get into the updated demo release, whenever that may be. Unless I uncover some critical game breaking bug I won't be updating the demo build beyond this. And of course there will be no additional content added to it. So here are the changes:

  • Tweaks
    • Buying prices are much higher than selling prices now so you won't be able to get rich quickly anymore; this also make mercantile more useful
    • Ammunition and some other resources are more expensive and scarce now
    • You cannot start combat immediately after transitioning into another area (5 second cooldown added); this should prevent most of the transition exploits
    • Critical hits are better distinguished in the scrolling combat text
    • Batteries now restore more energy, but are also more expensive
    • When attacking a passive object in real time the attack will stop after a single hit (no more auto-attacking)
    • Added more blueprints as static (non-random) merchant inventory
    • Improved some quest text to be more specific (number of outposts, barracks location, shooting practice)
    • Player movement speed slightly increased
    • Grenade damage increased
    • Flashbang duration increased to 2 turns
    • Enemy remains are now visible through walls at all times (don't have to hold down TAB or Z); this should also prevent them from being stuck behind a door or other usables
    • Added inventory sorting (merchant inventories are sorted now as well)
    • Added more item filtering categories
    • Items are unbound from action bar when they are all used up, dropped and such
    • Help option will now blink until you open it (so many people missed it completely)
    • Dragging items/ability off the action bar is made a bit less sensitive now so you shouldn't have that much trouble clicking abilities while the action is unlocked
    • A number of abilities are automatically bound to your action bar at the start of the game
    • When you mouse over an equippable item in your inventory it will highlight the slots in which the item can be equipped (this should help with the special bolts confusion among other things)
    • You can double click items to equip them / put them into the trading window
    • When mousing over an item you wish to purchase it will show the purchase value instead of the nominal value
    • Only currency will be used during auto trading
    • Auto trading will no longer try to trade currency for currency
  • Bug fixes
    • Saves and user configuration are now stored in Documents\My Games\Underrail so the game will no longer require admin privileges to run
    • Saving while transitioning out of SGS into the caves will no longer get you stuck between the two gates
    • Killing the sentry near the Mushroom Cove will no longer mess up the factions
    • Attacking SGS sentry bots will no longer mess up the faction and turn your own electroshock sledgehammer against you (it was dealing electrical damage on hit to you as well)
    • You no longer remain in stealth after attacking a camera or other passive object
    • Item duplication bug fixed
    • Rathound Alphas should now properly use their Rend ability
    • Lockpicking is no longer instant with Burglar feat, but this feat has been improved to reduce lockpicking and hacking times by 75% (up from 50%)
    • You can now power up outposts in the caves after turning in the quests
    • You can no longer acquire the Sprint ability without picking the feat
    • Reloading from quick reload bar will now load up the weapon with as much ammo as you have regardless of how it's split in the inventory
    • No more blue flashes on saving the game
    • Removed "computer skill" references
    • Path estimation in turn-based combat should now be drawn properly in all cases
    • Minor AI bugs
    • Other minor map bugs
That's it for now. Now I'm going to get back to making some new content.

 

 
Demo Feedback and the Future
Sunday, 26 August 2012 17:20

So it's been couple of days now since the alpha demo was released. People had time to play it and provide lots of feedback. So now is a good time to start addressing that feedback.

I'm happy to say that the impressions were very positive overall, but there are certain aspects that a lot of people felt could use some improvement. Here I will try to summarize the commonly recurring complaints that I gathered from forums (the official one and some others), direct feedback and from just watching other people play live and on the internet.

Technical problems:

  • Game crashes on starting a new game - The problem here is that during the development it was easier for me to just store the save games and other user data in the working directory of the game. This is bad practice because of the User Account Control feature of the newer operating systems prevents you from writing in the Program Files unless you explicitly run the application as an administrator. I completely missed this because every computer I tested it prior to the release had UAC disabled. I will definitely change this so that the future builds use My Games folder or whatever is the appropriate location on the three operating systems I'll be supporting (XP, Vista, 7). Currently, the workaround is to just run the game with explicit administrator rights.
  • Sometimes game would crash on transitions in the lake area - This is a semi-rare bug that can be fixed by applying this patch - http://www.indiedb.com/games/underrail/downloads/underrail-alpha-demo-v0141-patch.
Gameplay feedback:
  • You can get rich easily - With the exception of the very start of the game, money and other resources very quickly become a non-issue. This is mostly due to the fact that you can sell the stuff you scavenged at a very high cost. Also, some resources, such as ammunition, are currently too cheap and abundant. Resource management is an important aspect of the game, so be sure that I will be re-balancing the economy to make the players poor again.
  • There is no running option - The main problem here I think is that backtracking through the areas you already explored, as well as moving through the non-hostile areas, such as the SGS, is too slow. I'm not quite sure yet how I'll address it. Just adding a running option is not that easy as there's a lot of stuff to be consider there and it would also need new animation on all those character models, etc. I'll have to think on how to address this one.
  • Item usage issues - It was not clear enough on how grenades, special bolts and other utility items are equipped and used. I did add a quick tutorial screenshot that could be accessed from the upper right menu (or by pressing F1), but that usually got overlooked as well. I'll be sure to make it more clear what goes where in the next release (highlighting the equipment slots where you need to equip it when you mouse over an item, or something similar).
  • Object highlighting - You can press TAB or Z to highlight all usable objects on screens so you can pickup loot  or open containers obscured by walls, but some people missed this. As with the previous point, it's somewhat an issue of not having a proper tutorial. However, I'll also attempt to make this stuff a bit more intuitive, probably by having the loot show behind walls even without pressing TAB and such stuff.
  • Selecting NPCs - It's usually overlooked that you can actually select someone by right-clicking on them. this allows you to see their exact health and what buffs/debuffs they currently have. I'll see what I can do to make this more apparent.
  • Lack of melee feats - Sorry. There will be more in the future.
  • A way to regenerate health and psi points - Because of the imbalanced economy in the demo, this wasn't too much of an issue. Once I fix the economy, I reconsider adding something of the kind. However, keep in mind that resource management is an important aspect of the game, so don't expect to just be able to rest and heal after every encounter or some such.
  • Bartering interface - "Auto" option needs a bit more work. People didn't like it using their ammo as currency, for example, so I'll do something about that.
  • Same items with different qualities - It's not really obvious before you start reading the stats on different weapon/armor items that you can actually have, say, two "5mm Hawker" pistols that do different damage, or two "Rathound leather armors" that have different resistances. So I'll probably be adding a quality indicator of some sort to the item to make this more obvious.
  • Murdering - In games, people want to murder people and get away with it if no one is there to report the crime. I'm one of such people, so I'll definitely make this possible. Actually, there will be optional assassination quests that will require just that. Stay tuned to the development log to learn more about how this will work.
  • Pickpocketing - This skill needs rebalancing. It's way too hard to pickpocket right now.
Quest feedback:
  • Shooting range quest - This quest needs to be redesigned. It's one of the quests I made quite a while back when the game wasn't yet turn-based.
  • Retaking outposts quest - Doesn't specify the total number of outposts there are. Will fix this.

There's probably more stuff that I can't remember right now, but it'll pop up eventually, don't worry.

*  *  *  *  *

Another thing I wanted to briefly touch on is the prospect of the game being crowd-funded. Some may remember that back in June when the demo video was released, and after being pleasantly surprised by the amount of positive feedback it received I said that a crowd-funding campaign is likely to follow the playable demo release. Unfortunately, things got a bit complicated. Because of where I live, a lot of crowd-funding features are not available to me which limits the kind of campaign I'm able to launch.

I'm currently looking into other forms of crowd-funding, such as alpha funding on Desura.

No need to freak out, though, Underrail is still due to be released in the second half of 2013. even if I have to self-fund it all the way. It's just the matter that being able to secure some form of funding at this stage would really help me make the game as big and as diverse as I would like;and I guess that's something that a lot of you would like as well.

In any case, I'll get back to you guys soon to let you know how it all worked out.

 
Alpha Demo is Out!
Thursday, 23 August 2012 09:07

Alpha Demo

Alpha demo is finally out. You can download it from IndieDB.

Enjoy and be sure to let me know your thoughts on the forums once you've played it.

 
Forum is online
Thursday, 16 August 2012 21:00

This is just a quick update to let you guys know I finally got around to setting up the forum. So if you have any questions hop over to http://www.underrail.com/forums. I would especially appreciate if you take your time to report any bugs you encounter in the upcoming demo and, of course, provide feedback on various game aspects.

Speaking of demo it's now content complete. That is, I got all the content I planned for the demo done. Tomorrow, I'm having some friends over and we'll be play testing it throughout the weekend to ensure there are no showstopping bugs or glaring imbalances and also that the game and its individual parts are not too hard or too easy.

 
Optimized and Packaged
Wednesday, 08 August 2012 15:14

I've got the remaining audio stuff done rather quickly. I've added a few more atmospheric drones so that each area type (caves, lake, metro...) has its own now. They are not perfect fits, but they'll have to do until I get someone to do a real soundtrack. The only thing that is sorely missing is the main theme music, though I guess it's forgivable for an alpha version.

Next, I cleared up that pile of minor bugs that was sitting in the corner, and I also did significant optimizations in couple of areas in the engine:

  • I optimized the isometric renderer so it works a lot faster now and should have no problems rendering at higher resolutions where there's a lot of tiles on the screen
  • I've optimized the way the processing time is distributed between sight, lightning and pathfinding components; the major CPU hogger, the pathfinding, should now properly use the time unspent by the other components; this, coupled with freeing up more time by optimizing the renderer, should have game running smoothly at all times
  • The NPC now move near-instantly while out of sight of the player during turn based combat, so this should speed the combat up a lot in areas where there are patrolling NPCs
Underrail - Alpha Demo Installer
I've also got all the deployment stuff out of the way:
  • I've got the release build running once again and did some smoke testing. It works just fine and I only found a couple of bugs, which makes me a bit uneasy because I was expecting more problems considering how long it has been since I last ran it (my release config looks quite a bit different from the debugging one).
  • I've also made an installer and tested it on a clean WinXP SP3 install and it works (downloads and installs all the .NET prerequisites automatically).
Now that I've got all this technical stuff out of the way, I can get back to finishing that last bit of content for the demo which includes:
  • one more creature
  • couple of more quests
  • some AI stuff
This should be done by the next weekend (17th) when I have dedicated testing marathon scheduled. By the end of that weekend the alpha demo will be ready, but it will not go public until later that week.
In any case, it's on the home stretch now.
 
Title Screen
Saturday, 04 August 2012 15:51

I present you Underrail's title screen. Drawn by Diego Candia.

Underrail - Title Screen

 
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