PC Development Update #17

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Hi there dear Fractal Space players!

We’ve done major updates for the PC and mobile version this month, with a huge amount of bug fixes and improvements! Let’s start πŸ™‚

Dynamic Reflections

The latest updates of the PC version now support a new Dynamic level of Reflections in the Graphics options:

Static reflections are precomputed and greatly optimized, so it should be fine keep Reflections to Medium or Low even with an integrated graphics card. The main drawback is that as the environment changes (a door opens, a screen changes color, etc.), these new changes are not seen in the reflections. It is a performance VS realism compromise.

The new Dynamic reflections level uses Screen Space Reflections and solves the issue stated above. However, it is resource demanding, and should be used only if you already have a good framerate. It usually lowers the FPS significantly on integrated graphics cards.

If you are on integrated graphics instead and not a dedicated GPU, you should keep Reflections to Medium or Low level.

New Electrified Grounds

The Electrified Grounds were only made of an electricity visual effect. We have improved them:

  • Optimized the electricty effect to have a lower impact on framerate – will be even more optimized later on
  • Water has been added below them, with the associated sound effects
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New Vent Doors

Vent doors were using a small regular door visual. This was temporary. They now all have been replaced with the new visual! They have been improved to:

  • Look better from both sides
  • New animation that avoids sticking out through walls and windows

Aiming Depth of Field

The Depth of Field effect can simulate the blur that can be observed by a real-world camera, when it is focusing on close or distant objects. If this effect is enabled, it will be used in the following cases:

  • Aiming Taser: The aimed at point becomes the focus. When aiming at close objectsdistant objects are blurred, and vice-versa
  • Taking Damage: The screen becomes blurry for a few seconds

This effect is demanding; if you have an integrated graphics card and a low framerate, it’s best to keep it disabled.

Aiming at close object: distant objects are blurred
Works if Depth of Field is Enabled
Aiming at distant object: close objects are blurred
Only works if Depth of Field is Enabled, and Reflections are set to Dynamic
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Reworked Taser Aiming

The aiming laser for the Taser -Gun has been reworked significantly to fix the following issues:

  • The laser was not always pointing at the exact position the shot would be performed
  • The laser point was sometimes positioned wrongly to the left or right of the laser line’s end
  • With a high Field of View setting, the laser would not be aligned with shooting final point (with default FOV, it was working correctly most of the time)
  • The laser line could be seen through some solid objects in some cases, making it hard to perform precise shots (ex: through pipes)
  • Aim Assist on mobile and PC would use the center point of the screen, resulting in sometimes locking slightly next to the target (because the laser end point cannot always be at a perfect center of the screen depending on the distance and angle with aimed object). It is now using the laser’s end point instead. This was much more complex to accomplish than it seems! Pfew!

You can see the issue described above, in the following image:

Laser end misaligned with point. Shot will not be at the center dot, but at end of laser.

With the newly reworked Taser aiming system:

  • Aiming laser always points exactly where the shot will be performed, regardless of the conditions or current FOV value
  • Laser point now has dynamic lighting: makes the Laser color from Taser Customization more visible, and allows easier aim in dark areas without having to turn on the flashlight
  • Aim assist will always perfectly lock at the desired target, regardless of distance and angle with the target

Here’s an image of the updated version of aiming, with these issues fixed:

New aiming laser point is 100% aligned with laser and shot, and has dynamic lighting.

Softlocks and Hyper-Speed

In the game, for quite a while, it was possible to get on the wrong side of some doors as they were closing; this would result in being softlocked, requiring to reload from last checkpoint.

New Door Type: Hyper-Door

Since we have introduced Hyper-Speed in Chapter 3, there were 3 major design problems to solve:

  • The player should not be able to skip all doors of the game by slowing down time using Hyper-Speed: only some that are intended
  • The player should not be able to use Hyper-Speed to go backwards while a door is closing. By doing so, he can get stuck behind a locked door, resulting in a softlock πŸ™
  • If a door can be slowed down with Hyper-Speed, it needs to be clear to the player, using a different visual for doors that are Hyper-Speed proof. This way, the player can plan his action accordingly, and doesn’t have to try skipping every single door with Hyper-Speed only to see if it will be slowed down by the ability or not

In order to solve the issues above, we have introduced a new door type: the Hyper-Door:

  • It always closes or opens at a constant speed, even if Hyper-Speed is activated.

With this new door type and other changes to the door closing system, it is now impossible to go backwards behind a closing door and remaining stuck. This means many softlocks were solved.

If you find any softlocks while playing, let us know!

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New Upgrades

We have added 3 new upgrades to the game; the upgrades distribution has also been changed to reflect the new upgrades and a few new improvements were made:

  • All playable Chapters have the correct amount of Upgrade Terminals per level, using temporary Work in Progress Bonus Rooms
  • All work in progress Bonus Rooms have the intended Upgrade Terminal even if the rooms are not built yet.
  • Associated Bonus Room screen will now reflect the state Incomplete or Completed if the upgrade in that room has already been consumed
  • All Upgrade Terminals already consumed will now display the selected upgrade on this Terminal.

Upgrade 1: Scope

Allows to zoom while aiming with the Taser. Simply use the scrollwheel or Directional Pad Up/Down while aiming to start using the Scope. The Aim Stabilizer is disabled while using Scope to allow precision shots.

It has 2 levels of upgrade:

  1. Level 1: Moderate maximum zoom
  2. Level 2: High maximum zoom

Upgrade 2: Aim Stabilizer

Taser aim assistance module, which automatically locks aiming to the closest aimed at target. It has 2 levels:

  1. Level 1: Only works while standing still. Any horizontal character movement requested by the player will prevent the Aim Stabilizer from locking to targets
  2. Level 2: Works in all conditions and faster lock on targets

As this upgrade makes the game much easier, it is only available from Chapter 2.

This system is hard to make comfortable in all situations. At the end of this post, we have some additional details on how it works πŸ˜‰

You can see these 2 upgrades in action in the following video:

Upgrade 3: Safe Landing

This upgrade informs the player if it’s safe to land below him. It has 2 Levels of upgrade:

  • Level 1: Displays a notification when a hazard is detected below the player
  • Level 2: In addition, shows a view camera of what is directly below the player in realtime. This feature has not yet been implemented.

You can see this Hazard notification at the bottom of the screen:

It will be improved with animations in future updates
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Elevators

We have reworked and improved elevators in all Chapters of the game:

  • Ensure they open faster and earlier in case you are speedrunning
  • Ensure they move much faster in Speedrun Mode
  • Avoid elevator doors to “stick out” that could block you
  • Avoid activating an elevator switch if you are not inside: prevents having the lift leave without you

Chapter 1: New Elevator Skip

We have added a new Skip path in Chapter 1! It is located in the very first lift, and is only accessible after activating the elevator, using Dodge in New Game+.

The first time you try it, you might not be faster than the lift – however with a bit of training, high Speed upgrade level and Sprint ability, you will be able to get up much faster than the lift πŸ˜‰

In addition, this new skip path contains a Bonus Room (currently empty), in which you can acquire an additional upgrade.

Chapter 4: New Bonus Room

New Bonus Room in Chapter 4

A new Bonus Room has been added to Chapter 4, just before the Enhanced Camera. It allows you to acquire an additional upgrade.

This is one of the rare Bonus Rooms that will be accessible on the first run and not only in New Game+, as it doesn’t require a specific ability, and is only protected by a Breakable Window.

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Chapter 5

Work in Progress room of Chapter 5 on PC

We have been working a lot on the PC version of Chapter 5 in parallel. Progress is slow, but steady. It’s a complex Chapter, introducing quite a few new elements, similarly to Chapter 4 on PC.

We can’t give you too many details as we don’t want to spoil your first experience with this new Chapter when it’s available to play. Here’s what we can say:

  • It will be quite surprising
  • It will have a few new elements that you haven’t seen in the previous Chapters
  • It will start with new PC exclusive content, and end with a “similar logic” than Chapter 4 on mobile, but reworked and improved
Work in Progress room of Chapter 5 on PC

Level Editor

In parallel, we have also worked on the Level Editor, but we are still currently focusing on Chapter 5 and mobile updates, so it’s still not ready to be tested. Here’s a bit of news on the status.

We have started to create a basic user interface (currently, all icons are the same) to add objects, and edit selected objects, in addition to a customizatble Quick Access hotbar:

Work in Progress Level Editor

Functional

  • Placing/deleting objects
  • Changing “floor”: construct on ground floor, or at higher / lower levels to build vertically
  • Placing walls, grounds, windows
  • Placing doors, buttons, cubes, pressure plates
  • Placing Lasers, Mines
  • Customizable damage for lasers and mines, and option to make blinking lasers
  • Saving/loading a work in progress level
  • Hooking events to ensure buttons/pressure plates can interact with the environment
  • Testing a level instantly: not perfect yet, a few bugs, but mostly functional

Not Functional – Required

Here’s a list of what we need to work on before a first version can actually be tested or shown:

  • Checkpoints must also save while “really playing” a level
  • Placing checkpoints, saws, invisible triggers
  • Placing invisible killzones
  • Placing collectibles: Taser Ammo packs, Healthpacks
  • Placing Jetpack, Taser collectibles
  • Customizing player spawn point, player stats (health etc) and if player starts with Taser / Jetpack and which upgrades
  • Improving the user interface (many functions are only on hotkeys currently)
  • Interface to load different levels (only 1 level supported right now)

When we will have the features above ready, we will either upload a video or livestream a demo of these basic functions before it can be tested by players πŸ˜‰

Bugs & Crashes

We have fixed hundreds of bugs in the last few updates; one major victory was made on mysterious crashes some users were experiencing every time the game was trying to reload the latest checkpoint.

Fixed Crashes

The crashes upon last checkpoint reload were linked to some Graphics Cards not supporting some specific instructions.

After a lot of work and testing of special development builds from these users (thanks again for helping out!), they are finally fixed and these users can enjoy the game again without crashes!

Important Bugfixes

  • Jump: If the character was standing on an edge (half on the ground, half in the air), he would sometimes refuse to jump
  • Reflections: There was a bug that could cause LOW or MEDIUM level of static reflections to not be displayed
  • Cameras: Destroying a camera while the room was in lockdown could result in a softlock. Other bugs were fixed with Cameras.
  • Interface: Many interface elements adjusted to reduce pixelization, including Dodge Cooldown widget, center crosshair and objective markers
  • Performance Guide: Has been updated to explain and describe the new Dynamic Reflections and Depth of Field effects: http://bit.ly/2DRceY4
  • Steam Leaderboards: Were not updating properly in Chapters page
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Pocket Edition: Major Updates

In the last 2 months, we have worked a lot on many updates for the mobile version of Fractal Space, on both Android & iOS!

You can see more details about what is new in the Pocket Edition by checking the dedicated Changelog page here.

Aim Stabilizer Details

Here are a few additional details about the Aim Stabilizer system:

  • Disabled while using Scope
  • Works with both mouse and gamepad aiming
  • Does not snap to breakable windows or breakable walls, as they are large targets – all other targets can be locked
  • If you start aiming with a target next to the center of the screen, it will immediatly lock it
  • If you move your aim next to a target while already aiming the Taser, it will start locking after a short delay (this delay is to avoid snapping to the wrong object while moving the camera to find your desired target)
  • While locked to an object, shooting or moving the camera (a certain camera movement threshold is required) will cancel the lock. If a lock is cancelled in this case, it will not try to lock again until you aim somwhere else and then aim again at this object or release aim button (this is to avoid repeatedly lock an object you have just explicitly stopped aiming at)
  • While aiming is locked to an object, any visibility obstruction will cancel the lock. Example: wall or moving platform coming in between
  • However, in this case, it will auto-lock again to this target immediatly when it is visible again

That’s it! Thank you all for reading and see you next time! Happy gaming,

Charles from Haze Games

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