It’s been three months since the last update. And many things have happened… but before delving into the dev update, some general announcements.
First off, the name of the game is now NovaMundi. Expedition is now the underlying engine (players will likely never know about it). We did some heavy branding work for it, as you can see on the new website.
We are also now in Steam, where players can now wishlist us! we created a brand new trailer to launch there (Soundworks by QuietGecko and voice by Nash Makado), as well as a pretty detailed gameplay video (which went quite well for not having any script, except there was no combat).
It’s hard to make an interesting 3 months changelog, so I’ll focus on the more visible aspects (but of course there was a lot more work in tweaking and fixing stuff under the hood).
We improved the display of shorelines with a better transition to grass and undersea terrain.
After many iterations, we are back to displaying the full party in the overworld, which I think looks great! You can also now rotate the camera by dragging with the mouse, making full mouse control much better.
We added back the fog effect with some special controls so that it’s only triggered up in the mountains and doesn’t conflict with the sea.
As usual, lots of work with lights and postprocessing, including some important fixes with the rotating Sun and Moon’ lights to prevent objects from being lit from below, and more tweaks to make nights look good (not too dark, blue instead).
Another big thing we restored was the dynamic zoom for the field of view, getting rid of the vignette effect in favor of this to avoid wasting a lot of screen space. This will come with challenges to make sure things look good at different zoom levels but we are up for it.
We also worked on trying to add more variety to the terrain including some efforts to add grass objects (so far no good results and we had to pull them back, mainly because billboards not working well with our tilted perspective) as well as adding color variations to the trees (but we ran into some issues to make it work with our current tree models)
Interaction with the Natives
Native towns are now populated with a chieftain, who shares info about the culture of the settlement, as well as nearby animal species, plants, and tribes. You can also initiate barter with the chieftain, whose inventory stocks daily based on the production values of the town. Offers are now evaluated based on the perceived value of the items and an expected trade margin.
We also redesigned the “dialog” interface, it’s no longer a floating popup but it’s anchored to the bottom of the screen, and the portraits are bigger. More “fragments” for native populators were integrated and we fixed them so they would look to the front.
The camping visuals were improved for both the dialog and the actual display of the expedition camping (instead of the full fade to black). Forced camping was also removed so it’s up to you if you’ll drag around your tired companions for days and nights.
AI was improved to attack back when attacked (instead of just standing there), and we fixed pathfinding, making battles flow much better.
UI was also improved by showing a panel with the summary of units when multiple units are selected and allowing selecting all units of the same type by double-clicking.
We also created a visual effect for the arquebusier firing and integrated the corresponding sound effect.
You can now mount horses (need one for each expedition member), increasing your movement speed in plains. We are still working on the visual model for it (using a placeholder for now).
The map is now shown full screen and you can zoom and pan it. We also did a complete redesign of it, changing how forests, mountains, settlements, land and sea are portrayed. This also including drawing a border around the discovered area instead of relying on color contrast.
Added back gold veins and the ability to create mining camps, adapting them to the latest changes in settlements (so you can transfer people and food into them). They now generate gold based on the number of workers until they deplete.
Outposts now consume and produce food, and heal units stationed on them. Also added a new visual model for the outpost.
The “Transfer Items” window was completely revamped on its appearance. We also added buttons to transfer all items from one side to the other, and only display the categories for which there are items,
We also now display the reason why you cannot close the window some times.
The appearance of the Discovery Journal was also overhauled, we even made an animated 3D model for it but decided not to integrate it yet.
We added discoveries when entering a native town or the temple ruins, and started adding their definitive visual representations. So far we have 3 different animal species and 2 places.
Discoveries are now integrated into the “Events” flow too, so you can discover animals from events such as attacks in the jungle.
We also added quests with rewards for discovering part of the map or reaching a number of discovery stars.
Saving and Loading
We did one first big push for game persistence, including starting a cleanup of our objects’ structure to make them serializable and allowing saving and restoring their state.
Settlements and natural resources are now placed in a more smart way; valued stuff is now more likely to be placed high in the mountains (away from the landing point) so that there’s more incentive for the player to explore. Likewise, dangerous stuff is put in the middle so that you are not killed immediately as you make landfall.
We also added three new kinds of native settlements into the world: Advanced cultures with stone buildings, Nomads with round tents, and Farming people with wooden houses. This included adding a “capital” type of town as well as a smaller town for each.
We changed how the “Temple Ruins” work, removing the battle (for now) and streamlining the menu-based exploration, and integrating its music track.
Exploration radius is based on the explorers you have in your party (however we are still working on tying everything together so that it also applies to the main map window (maybe))
We added random events when exploring (Sickness, Accident and Animal Attack), and also are experimenting on when to show them.
Items and Units
Naval units such as Sailors, Officers, and Ship Captains have been removed for now, since we need to improve the sailing facet for them to have a reason to exists. We also added Mules that you can use as pack animals and balanced the cost and weight of the trade goods.
We expanded the source of names and last names for Spanish units, using this as a reference.
Reactivated the helper character in the home town, extending it so that it provides tips and information about the different units and items