Update 0.03

Hi guys,

Version 0.03 is now live. See the change log here: http://bit.ly/19hbUP7

If you’ve been following on the forum, we’ve mentioned in a few threads that a lot has been going on internally. We’re reworking a few things at the moment and focusing on laying a solid foundation for the future of the game. So while that’s happening, things around here are pretty busy and we might not have a chance to communicate as much as we’d like. We know that can be unnerving and some developers have let EA users down in the past, but we want to reassure people that we’re just as excited and committed to this project as ever :)

We’ve got a lot of feelers out at the moment to help cover some areas that we don’t specialize in. Our animation and audio systems are admittedly terrible and bulky. Neither of us are animators or audio guys, so we’re looking at hiring someone to completely overhaul these systems. We’re also on the hunt for some concept artists and illustrators to help expand our vision for new craftable tools, building structures and tropical environments to find and explore.

In the coming months, we’ll be looking into improving existing features and implementing more new features. We’ve been thinking about a skills tree, but we have no idea how we’re going to pull this one off how we’d like at the moment. We really don’t want a big bulky SKILLLS MENNNU! ..but it would also add a great way to progress and be able to improve your character’s abilities. So we’ll put our thinking caps on for that one.. We’ll also be looking into creating floating structures like house boats and better rafts. It’s been on our list for a while and seems to be a regularly requested feature. There’s also the more “behind the scenes” systems tied into the survival aspect of the game, like more advanced temperature and stamina systems. The systems are actually there and functioning already and are quite advanced for a game, we just need to implement them more fully with the player and environment. An engine upgrade to Unity 5.0 is on the list as well. We’ve got a tonne of ideas and couldn’t hope to cover them in this post, but there’s plenty of good stuff that we’ll be sinking our teeth into and gives you an idea of what we’re looking at.

But for now, the March update is here with Sea Forts, multistory building, some UI gameplay changes and plenty of bug fixes. Performance is also generally improved. Enjoy :)

 SeaFort_005SeaFort_001 SeaFort_002 SeaFort_003

 

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

Update 0.02

Hi guys,

Our latest 0.02 update recently went live which was shortly followed by 0.02H1 hotfix! You can see the change log here:

Heres a couple of screenshots showcasing some of the new (mostly underwater) content.

Planewreck

ReefShark

Stingray

Turtle

 

 

 

New Website – We want you!

We have always wanted to upgrade from our blog page and give Stranded Deep a dedicated website. If you are a web designer and are interested in working with us, drop an email at contact@beamteamgames.com with the title ‘Web Design’. We would love to see what ideas you have for our website and any relevant work you’ve done previously.

 

Updates

Its been an interesting last couple of weeks. Stranded Deep has done amazingly well and grown quite a following in such a short amount of time which has been very overwhelming! We have both decided that its very important to take some time to regroup and figure out what our priorities are with what we want Stranded Deep to become and the best way to achieve that.

Updates are likely to come monthly as anything less can be really restricting to our development. We know players will agree that they’d prefer much larger and meaningful updates monthly than random ‘bits n bobs’ weekly. This timeframe doesn’t include hotfixes, which we can release anytime to address issues in between updates.

We’ve also launched a trello board for some of the public development you can follow between updates https://trello.com/beamteam 

 

Thats it from us this time, busy busy busy!

Don’t forget you can follow us on twitter: @BEAMTeamGames And also on the steam community board: http://steamcommunity.com/app/313120/discussions/ We love hearing from you.

 

Stay Alive! :)
::Beam Team

CHECK IN

Just thought we should check-in to let everyone know we’re still here again! The launch went great and we are overwhelmed by the support and fantastic community that Stranded Deep has! Thank you all so much. We’ve decided to take a small break from the normal website updates while we put our heads down and focus on punching out as much content as we can in these early days. We’re also looking into a more dedicated website, so we’ll keep you posted on that one.

In the meantime, you can always chat to us us on twitter: @BEAMTeamGames And also on the steam community board: http://steamcommunity.com/app/313120/discussions/ We love hearing from you :)

 

Stay Alive!
:: Beam Team

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Stay Alive

Yes, we are still alive :P This month has been crazy!

We want to apologize for dropping off the radar this month. The response to the teaser trailer was amazing and we received a tonne of emails, tweets and comments! We don’t get time to reply to every comment and email immediately, but we do see every single one and we’re doing our best to get back to you. It’s something we’re working on and we’re trying to find a good balance between the time we spend with the community vs. the time we spend actually developing the game. Most of our fans understand that, but some new ones might not know how much we appreciate their support and patience :)

So to answer the most popular question at the moment – yes, we are releasing this January :)

The date will be announced very shortly!

 

Stay Alive!
:: Sam

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Teaser

After two years, we’re finally ready to show-off our first teaser trailer for Stranded Deep.
We are incredibly humbled by the response of our growing Stranded Deep survivors, so we hope you enjoy watching it us much as we did making it.

Without further ado…

Let us know which parts got you excited the most?

 

#stayalive
:: Beam Team

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Let There Be Light

This past week, I had to take a slight detour back to the fish system; Ben had been finishing up the functionality of the spear-gun and mentioned that “it’s going to be great when you can go proper deep sea fishing.”

“Yeah that sounds cool… oh wait…”

Derp.

It was something that had completely slipped my mind. The idea is that there are different fish populations for different biomes, depths, etc. Around the islands you’ll find schools of smaller fish, stingrays and the like. Go out deeper and you’ll be able to fish for the bigger, more rewarding species.

So as of this week you can actually do that!

Ben’s been finishing off the player buff system. I mentioned in a previous update that there is very little UI in Stranded Deep. We’re attempting to provide most of the in-game feedback visually and audibly from the player character themselves. You are able to actually see if you have a broken arm, cuts or infections.. You’ll hear your stomach grumble if you’re hungry, or your watch may give you the occasional beep to let you know one of your stats is low. Paying attention to yourself is going to be an important part of the gameplay in Stranded Deep as there will be no traditional UI constantly in your face.

The audio system and animation system also got a quick once over with some work to add in more customisation and variety for interaction between all the different items. As we clean up and finish more items, things are starting to look and feel better and better. One of Ben’s favourite new items is the lantern. It’s one of those items that reacts really well to the environment around it – walking around an island at night with your lantern leading the way. Per request last update, we thought we’d throw in a short clip of messing around with the lantern ..and the campfire burning away as well :) (The quality is a bit dodgy on the page so it’s best viewed on Youtube in HD ;) )

 

 

Stay Alive!

:: Sam

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Check In

Just a quick update this time around.

We’ve been doing a lot of the same things we mentioned last week – getting everything tied up, chasing bugs, squishing them, etc..

I spent more time than I should have trying to figure out why the highlighting system was broken.. In the game there’s an item highlighting system that helps you visualise what items you have selected or grouped together for crafting and building, etc. I eventually figured out that it was the LOD system we integrated last week – some items we’re flipping over to their next LOD level which uses simpler shaders… so yeahhh, there’s always fun things like that :P

I had to knock up a new burning system. The existing system is pretty great, but at the moment it’s a bit of a bulky monster. It’s likely to make a return, but there’s a few practicality/performance issues that need some more thought. So for now, a simpler burning and cooking system has been implemented and it’s working great :)

There’s a lot of boring loose-ends to tie up at the moment that doesn’t make for very exciting reading, but it’s all progress :)

Back to it ;)

 

BuildingBurning

 

Stay Alive!

:: Sam

 

 

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Balancing Act

This last week or so we’ve been consolidating all the items in the game.
There’s a long list of things to check off for every item – physics, LODs, layers, tags, names, materials, animations, audio, scripts and functionality, texturing, particles and more needed to be confirmed and tested working. Theres a few specific items to finish off, with more functionality we want to add, but even so there’s been a large, large chunk checked off the todo list, so that’s a good feeling :)

I’ve also been tidying up the shaders for our new terrain that Ben covered last update. The standard terrain shader softly blends between the different textures…

Terrain Blending_1

Quite simple.. and quite ugly :/ In real life, sand doesn’t just linearly fade into rocks. It falls into the cracks, filling them up, with rocks poking through. With our new terrain system, we’ve been able to incorporate better and more realistic methods to blend between textures while saving some performance at the same time. Win win :D ..add some displacement effects and things should really pop and look pretty sweet.

Terrain Blending_2

 

The long process of balancing items in the game has also begun. Variables like durability, health and damage need to be balanced against each other for all items. No doubt, this is going to be something that continues well into early access development, as we continue to adjust and tweak variables as the game progresses and more players give us their feedback.

We’ve also been nailing down the progression of the game; From your first moments on the plane, familiarising yourself with the controls and mechanics, to the first time you set foot on an island and need to find a crude cutting device to cut down a tree to create a fire, craft a better weapon, etc. The natural progression of the game is also something that needs to be well balanced. It is possible to get straight out there to find some awesome tools and weapons.. but if you haven’t set up some kind of home base, at least a basic food supply, etc, chances are you’re going to die pretty quickly.

So all in all, it’s been a productive few weeks, moving us ever closer to that release build :)

 

Cool shot

 

Stay Alive!
:: Sam

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Make It Terrain!

We made a big decision in the last few weeks to move away from using Unity’s built in terrain system completely.

Unity’s terrain engine uses height-map and splat-map data for displaying terrain heights and referencing texture blending that is plugged into a multi-purpose component for things like detail batching, trees, texture painting, and more.

We’ve been using these components in re-usable terrain tiles for displaying our procedural generation data, which was not intended for runtime manipulations.

We wouldn’t go as far as saying we’ve created our own terrain engine, but rather a new way to display our procedural data in a much more appropriate and efficient manner for our scenario.

Shore

 

Mesh

Because the procedural and visual calculations are separate systems it made the switch fairly simple to convert the heightmap data into mesh data by assigning height values to each vertices.
 

Textures

Texture splatting is now solely based off the height-map data with different height graduations for the individual layers (coral, wet sand, dry sand, grass, etc). This means we were finally able to scrap the multiple splatmap texture lookups in the terrain shader which was really eating performance! Now, all the work is done inside the shaders. This has also freed up some resources so we can have much better blending effects between texture layers and some more fancy displacement effects.
 

Details

One reason we hadn’t made the switch earlier is that Unity’s terrain engine does quite a good job at batching and rendering all the terrain details (grass, small rocks, etc) ..but it is also very memory-heavy.

I made the decision to incorporate terrain details into a previously made grid-based spawning system for random world debris (similar to the world generation). This actually helps a lot with memory consumption, as objects are being recycled and only generated around you based on seed values.

TerrainDetailShifter
Reefs

 

So what does all this mean for you?

Well, the system is fresh and far from optimised at the moment, but we’ve seen equivalent or better performance compared to the old system with a boost of roughly 20 frames per second in parts and a significant decrease in overall memory usage.
There used to be a slight hitch transitioning between world tiles with the old system, and it’s barely noticeable now. There’s still some work to do to the new system. Things like terrain mesh LOD and culling; detail batching and LODs, will all help with the overall performance. We can also look at pushing detail into small areas with tessellation and all sorts of funky shader stuff. So it might seem like a weird late change at this point, but it’s definitely one for the better.. more importantly, it means we know our systems inside and out so if anything breaks, we know exactly what and why.

To celebrate the new terrain system I dabbled in some terrain textures, here’s a couple of them :)

Coral_Texturejpg
RockTexturejpg

It’s been a slow couple of weeks for us this time around.. but everything’s moving forward. It’s down to a lot of annoying fixes and small changes now..
So that’s it for this update. Be sure to stick around for more updates and announcements!

— Ben

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Two by two

A lot’s been happening since the last big update and it’s hard to put it all into one showcase so we like to break things up a bit.

 

Lets Talk Animals and Biomes.

As a lot of our followers know, Stranded Deep is infinitely procedurally generated. Along with this generation, a variety of different biomes and habitats are also created that our animal system heavily relies on.

The conventional way to populate worlds in a lot of games is a “spawn in system” – a player triggers a zone or event and a spawning system kicks in. However, we’ve gone into a little more detail, creating a system that incorporates population, breeding, and territories. We really want to put emphasis on your resource management and the visual impact you can have on environments; You can strip an island bare for wood, extinguish the crab population, eradicate reefs of fish, and even push back shark territories.

Crab_Killer
To survive in Stranded Deep you have to be smart and care for the environment, giving it time to heal and replenish or even aid in its development. Sure, you can think short term and stock up on crab meat, but long term when your fridge runs dry and there’s nothing to populate the crab holes things may get a little scary.

 

Sharks.

No ocean survival adventure is complete without them. We’ve spent a lot of time developing sharks behaviours and one of the biggest challenges was balancing how they’re portrayed. Let me run through some of these behaviours:

Sharks are assigned territories within biomes and are continuously exploring these areas as they would in the real world. You can find tiger and reef sharks scavenging the shallows and great whites ruling the depths.
You might randomly stumble upon a shark’s course or you could lure them with careless activities such as spear fishing or bleeding out.

Shark Raft_wm

All sharks have different traits, some are more curious than others whilst some are completely frightened of you. If a shark is interested in you during an encounter, it is likely to start circling, trying to get an idea of what it’s confronting. It might lose interest and continue about its day or depending on the circumstance, build aggression for an attack. What happens from here is something we wish players to experience first hand. We believe we’ve depicted sharks as realistically as possible, not as careless killing machines but as the curious creatures they are.

This is just a small glimpse of Stranded Deep’s wildlife; birds, turtles, stingrays, sea snakes, the list goes on and we might get to cover some more in a future update. With the help of Early Access we can continue to balance and develop new exciting systems that will all impact your survival.

 
That’s it for this update. We get asked a lot of questions about hunting and wildlife so hopefully this gives you a bit of an insight. We appreciate everyone’s support and absolutely love reading your thoughts! Exciting times ahead during these final preparations before release :)
Be sure to stick around for more updates!

 
:: The Team at Beam

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