Lacuna Passage - Devlog #77 - Progress towards Backer access

We are getting very close to giving Kickstarter Backers access to our pre-Early Access version of the Lacuna Passage Survival Sandbox. I was desperately trying to get it ready before the end of 2016, but alas, life got in the way. I don't think I've mentioned anything about it here before now, but my wife and I are expecting our first child this coming March. So between spending time with family over the holidays and dealing with all the newness of preparing to be first-time parents, I was unable to hit my goal.

But the good news is that it won't be delayed very long. I'm still hard at work and I've made some great progress that I can share this month.

We now have temporary inventory icons for every item in the game. This was very important for testing so that every item has some unique identifier in your inventory, but obviously we will still be adding color to these sketched versions before the full release on Steam. If you are a backer then you will probably see many of these still in their black & white placeholder versions, but they will be updated over time. You can see how the final versions will look in our previous devlog.

Another thing I've accomplished this month is a simple death animation. I didn't have a chance to capture an example before this post, but it's nothing special really. Just a necessary element for a survival game as the final feedback on your failed performance.

While we are talking about things I can't easily show you, I'll also mention that we have our first deployable item - the portable solar panel. Portable solar panels can be used to power exterior modules just like small and large standard panels, but portable solar panels can also be "deployed" while you are out and about exploring. This will allow you to supplement your battery during the day time.

Some things I can show however are a bunch of new container types that you can discover while searching the terrain for remote supply caches.

As you might be able to predict, the different colors will help you identify what kinds of contents you might expect to find inside.

Another deployable item that I'm working on is the emergency pop tent. The deployable mechanics are still being worked on, but the model and textures are mostly complete. Below you can see the inflatable temporary habitat as it will appear in the environment.

Alright, so... things are going great and I feel like I'm in the home stretch. Stay tuned and I will have details for backers about how to get access to the Early Access beta test in the near future. Thanks everyone and happy new year!

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #75 - Inventory Icons, Habitat Status, and More

I don't really have a good intro for this month, so... Inventory icons! They're pretty cool.

I've been staring at placeholder numbers on the inventory screen for so long, so it's actually really exciting to finally have some finished art in the UI. The above images show the current 25 completed icons, but we should have roughly 100 total items in the first Survival Sandbox release.

I've also been working on several more integrated features between our habitats and their attached exterior modules. A simple addition of a new habitat status console in the airlock will allow you to quickly check all of your life support systems at a glance.

This will help you to make a game plan before you decide to exit the habitat for an EVA. Keeping tabs on your oxygen, water reserves, power and heat status will be very important.

As you can see above, this is a habitat that was just recently brought back online. Power is on and your reserse suit battery is being charged. The airlock is currently depressurized, but the interior temp is quite low still since the heater was just turned on, so it's probably best to let it get up to a comfortable temperature before entering. Most importantly, your water reclaimer seems to be offline. In this scenario all of the modules have been turned on, but it seems like there must be a component failure in the water reclaimer preventing it from collecting water. Which would be bad enough on its own, but unfortunately the reoxygenator also requires water to produce oxygen and with the water reserves empty it can't do its job. So you can see how this screen will be very helpful in evaluating any issues that might arise. The next step for our astronaut in this case would be to go on an EVA with some carbon filters, hoses, fuses, and maybe a circuit board in order to repair any component failures in the water reclaimer.

This kind of situation might be exactly what you face after finding your first habitat to take shelter in after starting a new Survival Sandbox playthrough. But before you get to your randomly selected starting habitat, you will spawn at a randomly selected landing site in an emergency landing pod. Eight of the 9 total habitats are possible starting habitats and each habitat currently has two possible landing sites which makes for a total of 16 possible starting positions for any one playthrough.

One of several possible emergency landing sites where you can start your playthrough...

A while back I showed some of our new rock and cliff models that I will be using to spruce up the landscape a bit and I've been slowly adding many unique formations to the terrain. Below are a collection of screenshots showing the new level of terrain detail with these added models.

Alright, that's it for the devlog this month. There's more that has been completed, but not much that would be fascinating to share right now. So back to work!

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #67 - Inventory and Container Management

As you may know if you have followed us for a while, every month we have two development blog posts on the site. One from Spencer where he details new art that he has been working on, and one from me (Tyler) where I go over the programming/system development. This last month our progress has been a bit slower than usual. Partly due to the fact that both of us and our families all took a vacation to Nashville to unwind for a week. Unfortunately, soon after I returned we received news that our new puppy has some serious health concerns that may be lifelong.

Gratuitous sad puppy photo

Gratuitous sad puppy photo

Naga - a dachshund, basset hound, jack russell mix - will be having a skin biopsy soon to confirm if she has vasculitis, a condition that impacts her immune system and causes a lot of discomfort. Over the last couple months we have been dealing with the symptoms and trying to manage the side effects of various drugs we've used to try and treat her. Hopefully we will have more answers soon, but the many doctor's visits and close attention she requires has been stressful and has impacted my work. I wish I had more development progress to share with you today, but sometimes life just gets in the way.

All that being said, we have still managed to make some very important progress with our inventory management system. I thought it might be kind of fun to do a more informal development video covering these features where Spencer and I discuss some of our design process. As with everything else in these blogs, nothing is final, but the discussion featured in the video might give you some insight into the kinds of conversations we often have when trying to shape how the game will function. Sometimes we don't always agree on how something should work.

Progress has been made in a few other areas including terrain tile loading and game state saving, but unfortunately none of those aspects are very visual so they don't make for very interesting blog posts. Let us know what you think about the inventory UI in the comments.

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #61 - Terrain Updates, Inventory, and More

The holidays have been a busy time for us and our families, but we've still made a good deal of progress this last month. As we move closer and closer to an eventual Early Access release for our survival sandbox mode we have been evaluating every aspect of the game that we think is necessary to make a good first impression.

Terrain Updates

Even with Early Access we will really only get one chance to show the potential of the full game, so we decided that the terrain was such a large part of what we are trying to do that it needed to be at a higher level of quality. To do that we have officially transitioned to using the new terrain shader that we mentioned last month. And as an added bonus, the new terrain shader has allowed us to increase the fog distance so that there is even more visible terrain while exploring.

We still need to randomly place our new rock models and modular cliffs, but the setup of the textures and shaders was more than half the battle. We can now quickly iterate on the general topography of the map and all of our settings for texture coverage can be regenerated based on our complicated ruleset in World Machine which you can see below.

It's not a simple process, but it is streamlined and optimized to allow us the most flexibility when prototyping new terrain features. We will be shooting for a terrain equal in size to what will comprise the final game map for the story mode (roughly 20 square miles of explorable terrain), but this will be a distinct and separate map with the potential for multiple maps after release.

Inventory Additions

Over the holidays we also worked on expanding our internal inventory database that will dictate what kinds of items you can expect to collect, craft, and consume during the course of the game. That list is now well over 100 items long with many more additions yet to come. Some mechanical changes have also been prototyped, including nutritional differences between ingesting raw food packets versus prepared food packets. Here is a tease of our spreadsheet for managing these items and the impact they will have on your gameplay.

New Unity Asset Packs

Last month we posted about how we began selling our own cliff and rock models on the Unity Asset Store. This month we started posting some supplemental music content to the Asset Store that will eventually be promoted as part of our Song Seed music plugin for Unity. Our composer, Clark Aboud, has been working on some amazing music unrelated to Lacuna Passage and we thought we would try to sell some of that music to help support him and our continued development. We have now released two dynamic loop packs that can be used with any game, but will work particularly well with Song Seed when it is eventually released. As a demonstration of how these loop packs can be used, you can play the tracks below which are complete songs composed entirely of these perfectly looping clips.

If you are a game developer, or know someone who might be interested in these loop packs, you can visit our Unity Asset Store publisher page which has links to purchase either pack.

TIMEframe Holiday Sale

As the holiday season comes to a close we did want to remind you all that our other game TIMEframe is still currently on sale for our lowest price since launch. Of course, if you were a Lacuna Passage Kickstarter backer you should already have your free copy, but perhaps you would like to buy another copy for a friend or just to support us as we continue to work on Lacuna Passage. We are quite proud of our 86% positive review average on Steam. If you have already played the game we would love to hear what you think. Visit our store page and leave your own review. Every little thing you can do to spread the word about our projects helps immensely. And for those of you who have already left a review, thank you!

Game with the Devs - Play Heroes of the Storm with us!

Spencer and I are working very hard to bring you Lacuna Passage, but we still take time here and there to relax and unwind a little. Over the last few months we have been enjoying Blizzard's MOBA, Heroes of the Storm, during our lunch breaks. We are big fans of the game now and we thought it might be fun to bring fans of TIMEframe and Lacuna Passage into the mix. It doesn't matter if you are a DOTA2 or LoL grizzled veteran, or if you don't even know what a MOBA game is. We would love to have you join us for an occasional match and if you are new we can help show you the ropes. We are by no means professionals, but when you work from home with a very small dev team it helps to be reminded of the people you are making games for and interact with them on a more regular basis. I just recently upgraded my internet connection (I live in the middle of a nature preserve) so hopefully we can even stream the games and participate with Twitch chat too. Come play with us! You can use our referral links below to get started with the game and we will announce our play sessions over Twitter with info on how to join us.

Spencer's Heroes of the Storm Referral Link

Tyler's Heroes of the Storm Referral Link

That's it for this devlog. Thanks for reading. We've got lots to do!

Lacuna Passage - Devlog #55 - User Interface Updates

I just posted a new devlog video covering some of our new Datapad features including our work-in-progress Inventory and.... Crafting features! That's right. We have been kinda cagey on the whole crafting thing, but we think we have finally figured out a way to do it that fits the context of the game. That being said, the devlog video is very very rough. A lot of stuff doesn't look quite right yet with the Datapad UI and things bug out a little even during the short video. I almost didn't want to share it with everyone until it was looking better, but you guys deserve to know what we are spending our time on, even if it doesn't look great or have all the kinks worked out yet. All we ask is that you don't use these videos as a measuring stick for the quality of the final game. Don't share videos like this one to convince your friends how cool the game will be. It'll get better... I promise :)

So here it is. Let us know what you think!