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Captain’s diary #10: More beta updates

Ahoy! Captain Filip here. This is our 10th diary, woo-hoo! I would love to cheer with a drink, but I have to stay sober to finish this blog post, haha. So let’s jump right in!


Firstly, thank you all so much for your support. It means a lot to us. We might have been a bit silent on our Discord over the past few days but trust me, we are working super hard on getting beta done. Many things are currently happening behind the scenes, such as progress on our soundtrack or our efforts to hire software engineers. And that is all happening thanks to your support. Without our community funding, we would be limited in what we could do. So this kind of initial crowdfunding really matters for indies like us. Although I read opinions that we should just jump into early access, we still want to polish the game before opening early access to everyone. And I think our incredible current velocity is an outcome of the fact that we have a smaller and very engaged community. And also, let’s not forget that early access (especially in our genre) has a high bar.


And speaking of supporters, we will close our alpha pledge offering on our website by the end of the week so we can intensely focus while entering into our final crunch phase for the beta. I just wanted to announce it here, so it does not come as a surprise.

Look at this beautiful factory by Dave9911, who shared his refining plant on our Discord server with the comment, “Waiting (not as patiently as one could hope) for Beta, that will be fun.”

Settlement Tier 3

The beta will have much more game content, which will raise requirements for the number of people you need to take care of. To help with this task, we are adding Tier 3 settlement to the game! It can house nearly double the number of people compared to tier 2.

Tier 3 settlement houses next to tier 1 and tier 2.

Tier 3 used to be our end-game settlement version. Still, since our supporters unlocked the housing stretch goal, we will be adding an extra tier 4 settlement to the early access release to allow even higher population density.

Detail of tier 3 settlement houses.

Difficulties

As we have promised in one of our previous blog posts, we have implemented difficulty modes. Currently, there are three modes. The middle one is how we play and balance the game, and the other ones are made to make the games easier or on the contrary, more challenging. We are looking forward to seeing how this evolves. We will rely on our beta community feedback to fine-tune the difficulties and maybe introduce extra experimental modes.

New UI for difficulty selection. Players can also modify any option independently on the preset to create their own unique gameplay experience.

Maintenance & quick build

We have also removed “quick build” and replaced it with “quick delivery”. This means that the player can no longer “cheat” resources. Quick delivery will just “teleport” resources from storage. Which means it can still speed up critical constructions.


We have also implemented reduced maintenance for idle machines and vehicles. It is set to consume 33% of the regular consumption.


Anaerobic digester

We have added an anaerobic digester. This machine converts food (later it will convert organic waste as well) and sludge (product of water treatment) into biogas and digestate. Biogas can be used to power a boiler or to produce diesel fuel. And digestate is a valuable fertilizer.


Nuclear waste storage

Since we are adding a nuclear power plant into the beta, we need to store all the spent fuel. Spent fuel can’t be stored in regular storage due to its radioactivity (using long conveyors is discouraged as well, haha). So we have created special dedicated storage that stores your spent fuel safely under the ground for the next centuries to come.

The spent nuclear fuel storage. Stores sefaley all the radioactive waste and also leaves some legacy behind you for the next generations ...

Revamp of serialization infrastructure

Not every player realizes that something so common as game saving and loading is a challenging problem for developers. A single incorrectly written or read value can prevent saved games from being loaded. Moreover, new versions of the game must be able to load many old versions of save files.


We have written our solution for game state serialization since all the third-party we considered were not well suited for our use case. Namely, our engine of choice, Unity, has relatively poor support for serialization and was unfortunately not useful for us.


When designing and writing our initial version of serialization infrastructure, we omitted a few things that proved to be reasonably necessary later on. Still, we could not easily change things due to backward compatibility and the sheer amount of work it would take to improve it. For example, our save file did not contain information about what island map is being played on, even though the game could launch on different island maps. Or, to keep save files backward compatible, we sometimes have to do a lot of extra work because of how things were loaded.


Long story short, we have concluded that now is the time to pay the technical debt and rewrite our entire serialization infrastructure, and while it took some time, it is DONE! Here are fundamental changes that will affect all players:

  1. Save files are now self-contained. This means that the island map is part of the save file, and we can support more than one map to play on!

  2. Saving is now 3-4x faster, which means less lag during auto-save. Our large test map saving duration went from 4.6 to 1.6 seconds!

  3. Mods are part of the save file, so you can have two saves, one with mods and the other without, and they will both load correctly without any need for toggling mods!

  4. We improved backward compatibility capabilities. This means that we can make changes without breaking save files more easily now. This will surely save us time that we can use for other features!

To celebrate our progress towards Beta, community member Yandersen shared this unbelievable screenshot with the comment, “Behold! The Golden Temple! Almost 60 layers high of gold!”. Yandersen, you have won the alpha!

And that’s all we have in store for you for today. Thank you so much for reading! See you here in December for the next post!