Happy New Year everyone! We might have been a bit silent during the holidays, but now we’re back to developing with full force. In this blog I will talk about some of the upcoming features in January - we have quite a few new toys for your sandbox.
New player experience improvements
This one was promised for December, but didn’t quite make it, so we’re deploying it in our next patch, on Wednesday the 11th. The improvements consist of a brand new tutorial assignment line, which will now feature an initial general line, which unlocks a separate combat and industrial line. We’re also improving the level 0 assignments, which are meant to provide a stepping stone until you reach level 1s, or lose your first light robot and have to fall back to an Arkhe.
Improved NPC AI
Creating a perfect AI is no easy task, so we’re constantly experimenting with it in the hope to make our NPCs smarter than a jellyfish. This latest iteration will give them the ability to manage their own accumulator properly, and also make them more aware of line-of-sight issues. In practice this will mean that they won’t deplete their energy anymore by trying to shoot players hiding behind walls, and thus become easy prey for them. They also get a much improved pathfinding algorithm, so they will be less prone to getting stuck, and it will be even harder to shake them off. The changes will mostly affect higher ranked NPCs, as the lower ones are slow anyway or didn't have accumulator management issues.
Inter-island mobile teleports
These new deployable teleports will function just like the existing ones, the difference is that they can quickly move you and your squad to a fixed teleport tower on another island. They will have of course a higher price tag, and a distance limitation too, but if you need to quickly move troops to another island, they will probably come in very handy.
These teleports would likely be a bit overpowered if there wouldn’t be a means to counter them, so to that end we’re introducing proximity probes. These probes can be deployed from your robot’s cargo to the terrain, and function a bit like remote security sensors. They will detect anyone coming near to them, and notify you with alerts on your world map and optionally via the event messaging system too, regardless where you are.
This system somewhat ties in to our upcoming territory control and player-built settlements (PBS) system, so it will be only usable within corporations, and with a limited number of assigned users per probe. Naturally you can also destroy enemy proximity probes, although they can only be detected from a very short distance. Last but not least, these probes are basically the first deployables that are fully persistent, meaning they will stay on the terrain forever, until they are destroyed.
Also as an early herald of PBS, we’ll give you the possibility to build persistent walls for passive defense of your territory. The particularly interesting part of these walls is that they are using our existing plant-growth system: they pretty much work as if you would plant a noralgis-incubator. When deployed, they first start out as small flagstones, and the included tiny nanobots will slowly build them up to high columns, so they can block the way and provide cover.
Walls can be only deployed on beta islands outside a 1km distance from terminals and teleports to prevent unwanted pool closages, but other than that you’re pretty much free to build anything you want with them. (Somehow I feel I will regret saying this...)
Again, a new toy needs a fitting counter-toy too. Although you can tear down walls with your guns as well, it won’t be very efficient due to their relatively high hitpoints. So we thought it’s high time we brought in some WMDs.
Once deployed and activated, plasma bombs will unleash the biggest boom you’ve ever seen so far on Nia. Their main role is to wipe an area clean of walls and plants, but they will also deal substantial damage to anyone foolish enough to stand around when they go off. In theory it’s possible to use them in battle too, but their relatively long activation time provides for ample getaway time, and it’s pretty easy to shoot them down too, so utilization there might be a bit more tricky.
We are having a lot of fun with them on the devserver, so we made a (not too realistic) video too (warning: profanity inside).
So to summarize, the new assignments and the improved NPC AI will be a part of the patch on Wednesday. The proximity probe and the new teleport will come shortly after that, followed by the walls&bombs package, likely inside a two-week timeframe from now.
Meanwhile we’re finalizing the concept of the terraforming and player-built settlements system, so a blog about that will pop up soonish, too.