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Captain’s diary #14: Recipe book, navigation overlay, better modding support, time-lapses, and more

Hello everyone, Captain Marek here. In today’s edition of Captain's diary you will learn what’s new in Beta and how we are transitioning to Early access.


Beta update

We are super happy with how Beta is progressing. We are getting loads of great feedback from all of you who are participating. Based on your feedback we have already pushed 9 patches adding the most needed features and fixing issues. Let me go quickly over the major features added.


Recipe book

The very first big feature added was a “Recipe book”! You asked for an easy way to explore how products are created or consumed and this feature provides exactly that! By right-clicking on the icons you can easily navigate pages about different products. There are already several feature requests for the recipe book which we will focus on during EA.


Storage alerts

The next feature was storage alerts. Our players told us that they’d like to be able to get notified when products in key storages are high or low. This makes sense, so we implemented it. See an example below.

An example of storage with an alert set when it is below 25%.

Navigation overlay

We were receiving a lot of reports of stuck vehicles. Part of the beta was a completely new logic for vehicle navigation and we introduced very explicit notifications if a vehicle is not able to reach its goal. The issue was that in many cases, these were not bugs in path-finding but genuinely stuck vehicles blocked by buildings or terrain.


We realized that it was hard for players to judge what is enough space for a vehicle and what is not. To make everyone's life easier we have added a navigation overlay that clearly shows obstacles for vehicles, take a look!


Planning mode

We have decoupled construction pause from the regular pause and due to that, we could add a “planning mode” - which just essentially places paused buildings. This combines nicely with our pause tool in which you can drag & select an area to pause (left-click) or unpause (right-click) multiple buildings and machines at the same time. You can also use Ctrl to toggle this for transports.


Planning mode & pause tool in action

Improved modding support

The last big change I’d like to mention is improved Modding support. While it is super early for us to fully support modding, our community is very excited to start experimenting with mods and we’d like to make it possible. So, we’ve added support for loading assets from mods. This is a big deal since until now mods could only change and reuse existing assets. With this change, mods can add new 3D models, icons, textures, sounds, or other assets to the game!


Moreover, we have provided tools for exporting 3D model templates so that modders can define a new building via the game, export its 3D template, and create 3D models that exactly match all dimensions and port locations! This is the same pipeline that we use to make new 3D models.

Example of a boiler model defined in code (left), exported 3D template (middle), and final 3D model (right).

Timelapse capturing

Actually, there is one more cool feature that is going to be released soon and that is time-lapse capturing. We have seen so many amazing screenshots of factories and we’d love to see how they were built! The game does not support replays (yet), but the next best thing we could do was to simply save an image from a fixed location at a fixed time interval. And you will be able to set up multiple simultaneous time-lapses if you wish. We are looking forward to seeing some time-lapse footage!

An example console command that starts timelapse capturing in game.

Transitioning to Early Access

Beta is in a good shape and while it is not perfect, we need to move on and start working on the Early Access build. Similarly as during the transition from the alpha to the beta, we will stop updating the beta build and focus solely on the EA build. We need to make this “hard” transition since we will break save compatibility which allows us to do large changes, refactorings, and optimizations that would be impossible otherwise.


As Filip mentioned in the previous Diary entry #13 we are still trying to organize all the feedback and incorporate it into our EA roadmap. We will post an updated roadmap once it’s more stable since it keeps changing as new feedback is coming in.


Performance

We know that players are hitting frame drops for large factories in the beta and we are working on improvements that will come in EA. In case you had been reading our previous diary updates, you might know that we have been doing performance improvements since the press build stage. Every iteration we at least double the frame rate for end-game factories. But obviously, also the factories are getting bigger and bigger. So performance is a never-ending battle and we are committed to keeping improving the state and once we are in EA, we will be putting even more effort into it.


Update from the community

In Beta we introduced three new maps and one of them is called “You Shall Not Pass”. We call it this way because it features a relatively small starting area surrounded by very, very tall cliffs. These cliffs were 5-times taller than the tallest cliff in the CoI Alpha. We thought that people would simply not be able to pass through but oh boy were we wrong!


The very first day of Beta release, player “autocracy” was able to reach the top! And he was shortly followed by many others. Some content creators such as Aavak or Glidercat even decided to start their let’s play series on this map and they are doing great! There is also a neat YSNP build from BigWolfChris on twitch.


Later we realized that our vehicles are actually having issues navigating between the bottom and top of this map due to the very limited ways of getting up and down via the long and narrow ramp. So now we have an internal joke that “You Shall Not Pass” was actually for the truck drivers, not for the players! :D We might introduce a new “challenge” map in EA, stay tuned!


Autocracy's first-day victory on the “You Shall Not Pass” map. Notice the large ramp at the top center. He even placed a beacon as a status of victory!

And that’s it for today, thank you for sticking around and let us know what you think in our Discord server! Captain Marek out!