NovaMundi is still available on Steam Early Access! GET IT NOW (or wishlist it) if you like what you see!
It’s been six months since the last Early Access version release. There are still lots of things to Polish but I figured a release was in order for players to know we are still alive. We will continue working to complete the game and improve the players’ experience.
During these months, I have been discussing the possibility of partnering with a company to help complete the game and market its full release; there were some good developments but ultimately nothing has been decided.
Following are some highlights of the changes of the newly available version: 0.38.2
Audio – Wwise and Environmental sounds
We are pretty advanced in the process of migrating the audio implementation to Wwise; QuietGecko had been campaigning for this for months, and I gotta trust him it’s going to be worth it for the project.
After an initial setup and some smoke tests to make sure it wouldn’t cause issues with the game (version 0.38.1 was distributed internally for testing). Gecko then set forth to migrate all the sound effects, ambiance, and music.
This included the environmental bird songs, and the town spot ambiance (including adding variations depending on the size of the town), as some first points where Wwise would provide value. And also, the first real new development with the addition of environmental sound for each “biome” being explored by the player.
Some UI elements, like the volume sliders in the settings, were also hooked into the new system.
The migration is still not 100% complete, so you may find some sounds off around (especially for the dynamic music). We are working on fixing that.
After the release of 0.37.0, I set myself to add a first iteration of zoomed locations, “dungeons”, dangerous caverns you could explore optionally if you wanted to risk for some good loot. Initially populated with giant animals, the idea is to eventually fill them with mythic creatures from the Muisca culture.
A lot of work went into this so that caverns with random loot could be generated procedurally, with enemies and rewards placed on them. Beyond an initial, simple procedural generator, changes were needed in the commands system to make this “zoomed exploration” mode work well besides the normal Combat mode (with which it shares many components).
Tweaks were made in the Enemy AI to work inside sprawling close spaces like cavern networks, which work pretty differently compared to open spaces like the overworld combat areas.
Some issues with pathfinding, usability, and required additional content caused me to halt development on it and switch to other stuff; it proved to be too challenging and depleted my energy to work on the project for some weeks. I marked and internal version, 0.38.0, with my progress, but still didn’t make these caves readily accessible to the players, exception for a single cavern you need to visit to complete the main game quest, visit it at your own risk!
I am still deciding if this is going to be a priority for the next release, or if we should ditch the work and focus back on the overworld.
Miniquests and Dialogs
It had been almost one year since Stoltverd designed a bunch of side quests to spice up the player experience within the game, so I decided it was about time to implement them. Initially, we implemented four side quests in which you will help tradesmen around, making contacts or neutralizing menaces threatening their business.
Besides all the dialogs related to the mini-quest-related characters, implementing them demanded improvements in the quests and conversation systems, like being able to mark dialog options as hidden based on flags, create groups of mutually exclusive dialog options, or hide quests that are just sub-stages of a quest (or just should not be visible to the player initially).
One of the side quests required reviving infrastructure for “Eliminate Enemy” type of quests, which introduced a pretty hard-to-track bug since these used to work in the pre-Early Access times (when we didn’t have Save/Load game working).
Additionally, the dialog system was improved with the ability to have hidden “unlocks”, so that options can appear without being explicitly mentioned in the parent dialog fragment, and the layout was changed to support dynamic dialog options (it had been hardcoded to 6 due to a previous redesign); this also required rethinking the layout of the conversation overlay, so I took the chance to make portraits bigger.
New traders were also added to some towns which had too few inhabitants, instead of having the procedural wayfarer do everything
Procedural Terrain and Exploration
There are not a lot of new developments on this aspect, however, I addressed three issues that had been in the backlog for long enough, haunting me,
The first one was fixing the “meteor holes” that were happening randomly in the high mountains; I finally found this to be caused by accidents when an additional Perlin noise applied to the existing geography pushed too deep. The solution was simply reducing greatly the strength of that additional noise so that it still added variety to the terrain but didn’t alter it that much.
Another fix was preventing mountains from blocking rivers, which didn’t look very good.
And finally, something that was haunting the game since a long time ago and for which we already had a solution in place at some point in time but deactivated for design reasons: the map borders.
The way I have solved them is by increasing the margin at which the party will hit the invisible wall of exploration, so you will not be able to get that close to the edge of the terrain to see the underlying artifacts. I had hoped we could come across a better solution like adding a procedurally generated mesh that would follow the slopes of the terrain and be painted either in full black or with a cross-section. But due to time constraints with so many other things on the table, I doubt that will ever happen.
In any case, I don’t completely dislike the current solution since it still gives the impression the map continues instead of being cut short. It’s just you cannot go there because of plot reasons.
User Experience Tweaks
Finally, a couple of tweaks originating from Stolverd’s playtesting sessions: Allow deselecting units and items by clicking on them in the inventory, and allow adding and removing items freely from barter offer regardless of carry capacity, with a check at the moment of the deal.