Lacuna Passage - Devlog #74 - Gameplay Randomization and Release Window

This past month has been a lot of coding and very little asset creation. Which means that this month's update will not be that visually interesting, but it also means that we are getting to a very good spot with the development of the Survival Sandbox. And when I say we, what I really mean is I. I am the only full-time developer on the project right now and I handle a few other small contracted contributors. My brother Spencer who was working as our full-time art director has moved on to other employment since we have reached a point in development where a majority of the remaining work is not art related. He is still assisting with a few art tasks, but for the most part we are moving forward and looking ahead towards our release on Steam Early Access.

We have made mistakes in our development and hit unseen roadblocks that have set us back multiple times. We apologize to our followers and to our backers. Thankfully we are reaching the release horizon. A few months ago we put out a Development Roadmap that you can view to check our progress. But today we want to take that a step further by sharing our current release goals. Our hope is to have the Survival Sandbox released to our backers by the end of the year and available on Steam Early Access by April of 2017.

Since we are such a small team there is certainly a chance that something could come up that would prevent us from hitting our release goals, but I am doing everything in my power to deliver. No one wants you all to play the game more than I do. So, that being said, let's talk about what I've been working on to make that happen.

A huge part of the Survival Sandbox mode will be providing randomized gameplay so that players will have a highly replayable experience. In the past we have discussed some of these randomization details and this month I've finalized some of the time consuming aspects of the habitat randomization. I have just completed placing every solar panel mount, every habitat exterior module, every cabling flag, and every habitat support wheel. The status of every equipment component is now being randomized. Each of our nine habitat locations is now integrated fully into our randomization system. Only three of those nine will be spawned for any specific playthrough. Below is a collection of screenshots that highlight the variety of terrain that surrounds each of the nine possible spawn points.

I am also working on the randomization of all the elements you will discover on your journey. Like I mentioned last month, I won't be sharing a lot of details about these discoveries since we want there to be an element of surprise for players, but I will show just a simple look at the tools we are using to fill these locations with interesting items for you to manage in your inventory.

I won't get into the technical details, but you can see how we are working within randomization constraints to provide a compelling replayable experience. In the coming weeks we will be randomizing the interior of the habitats and filling in all the various discovery locations with interesting things to find.

Ultimately our goal is to provide a game that let's you experience a view of Mars that comes as close as it might feel for our first planetary explorers. And we really can't wait until you all get a chance to play it. Thanks for hanging with us.

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #71 - Exterior Module Components and Output

We have put a lot of work into the exterior modules this last month. So let's cover each one and how they will impact your life support systems in the habitats.

The Water Reclaimer and Reoxygenator Modules

The water reclaimer and reoxygenator are very closely related. Both require many of the same components to function and their output is connected.

Here you can see the circuit board, pressure pump hoses, and just below that are the fuses.

As with all components in the exterior modules they have the potential to fail. Above you can see an obviously broken fuse. Broken components can be replaced, but the slot it's in will need to be repaired as well. If a diagnostic had been done on the above module the slot damage could have been identified and repaired before the component failed. Unfortunately now the fuse is lost.

Every broken component has a visual identifier. Above you can see how the hose on pump number two has lost pressure and is no longer pumping.

Carbon filters are important for both the reoxygenator and the water reclaimer. Above you can see a broken filter, a functional filter, and a third empty slot. Not all slots must be filled with working components. Some can be inserted purely as a backup in case another slot fails.

If all components of the water reclaimer are functional it will slowly produce water from the soil which can be accessed as a resource in the habitat storage under the "Consumeables" category.

I mentioned that the reoxygenator and the water reclaimer are tied, and that is because you can't produce oxygen on Mars without H2O. If the reoxygenator is functional it splits the H2O from the water reclaimer and extracts the oxygen.

Above you will see the tanks that can store water and oxygen. Each module has their own tanks. However, if the water reclaimer breaks then the water remaining in the tanks will be slowly depleted to produce oxygen. Of course if you have multiple oxygen tanks you could always turn off the reoxygenator to preserve your water supply. Or perhaps if you have multiple water tanks installed then you will have plenty to spare. Of course, new storage tanks can be crafted... so long as the hab has power.

The Electrical Module

The electrical module only covers the interior and exterior lighting in the hab, power to the crafting bench, and the recharging capabilities for your suit battery. Each module has its own power supply (solar panels or RTG) for their own respective functions. All doors can be manually operated so you will never be locked out even with no power to the electrical module.

Above you can see how the exterior lighting is affected without power, which might be a navigational hinderance if you are trying to find your way back to the hab at night.

Inside you can still rely on your flashlight to get around and access your storage or sleep in a bunk. If you're afraid of the dark you could always salvage some components from other modules to keep the lights on and then move them back when you don't need to be inside.

One unique component of the electrical module is the simple electrical wire which you can see in the image above.

And last but not least...

The Heater Module

The heater's one unique component is the heating element. Above you can see that they are positioned similar to the carbon filters on the water reclaimer and the reoxygenator.

If too many heating elements are damaged or missing then you will definitely start to feel the chill inside the habitat. The interior temperature will slowly decrease over time to match the freezing Mars temperatures outside the hab. Although, as long the electrical module has power you can keep your suit battery recharged and stay warm inside your suit.

As you can see, the exterior habitat modules are a vital part of your life support system in Lacuna Passage. Your suit may be your first line of defense during an EVA, but the habitats are an oasis in the vast Mars desert where you can plan your next move. You must keep a constant inventory of all the required components so that none of these important systems breaks down at an inopportune moment.

TIMEframe Currently on Sale!

In other news, our game TIMEframe is coming up on its one year anniversary of release and is currently on sale for 50% off in the Steam Summer Sale! If you haven't had a chance to check it out yet, now is a great time. If you already received your free copy as a Lacuna Passage backer, consider picking up a gift copy for a friend. And please leave a review!

Hope you all have a wonderful 4th of July here in the states and thanks for reading!