Update 0.53 Patch Notes – 18 April 2018

These changes should be live right now!

Reputation & File Lockers

Reputation is the currency of the GRID. Without it you’re nobody. You need it to get access to new software, create proxies and heal brain damage; it’s also good for bragging rights too.

You can gain Rep by taking over networks, completing objectives and releasing files you’ve liberated to the public.

You can find files in File Lockers. Each one must be broken open revealing the vulnerable file; you can now download a copy of the file to your local system. Be on your toes though as the network security don’t take kindly to strangers downloading things without permission – you’ll have to defend yourself.

Downloaded files can be found in your File Manager after a Run where they can be uploaded and cashed in for Reputation.

Discord

There is a Squid In A Box <a href=https://discord.gg/b4uYczM>Discord</a> now for anybody who wants to hang out and talk about the game with other players and the Developer (me!)

Patch Notes

– General
● Improved Game Thread performance.
● Pickups will no longer timeout during travel.

– Arcade Mode
● “Tiny Cube” is now in all game modes.

– GRID Mode
● Starting a new game provides a choicee of 2 Avatars with unique skins and loadouts.
● Files can be downloaded from File Lockers which can be found in all systems.
● Downloaded Files can be “Uploaded” using the File Manager to earn Rep.
● Rep is rewarded for completing objectives and controlling systems.
● Rep can be spent in the GRID Loadout Editor to unlock items (temporary).
● GRID Leaderboards now track Reputation.

– UI
● All settings screens redesigned.
● GRID Networks are now displayed vertically to save room.
● GRID Game Manager Screen redesigned.
● GRID New Game Screen redesigned.

Waves 2 Alpha 5.2 Patch Notes

These changes should be live right now!

New Enemy!

Introducing the Tiny Cube (Better names on the forums please).

Currently only spawning in Survival Mode as they are something of an experiment the Tiny Cube is the first of many new eneemies to go in the game. I’m planning on rolling them out one or two at a time so I can gather feedback on each one as I balance them.

Tiny Cubes are slightly faster than their larger cousin but cannot Charge and are not guarenteed to kill the player on touch. They have a large health pool and high armour with a slow regeneration. They explode on death damaging enemies within 500 units. They sometimes get stuck in walls when they spawn (known issue).

There will be more forms of Cube enemy being added to the game in the future with the Tiny Cube being the smallest, least dangerous and cutest.

GRID Changes

This update will invalidate GRID save games as the new data structure isn’t compatible with the old one.

The Administrator AI has a new ICE deeck to play with. This version is more modular with more low-cost cards for it to play. This should mean that there is more variety in the exact kind of enemies that get spawned on each Server. This will be a constantly changing process over the rest of development so is by no means final.

Bonus Objectives

Each Server now has 3 Bonus Objectives to be achieved. Similar to the very first version of GRID that ever existed theese objectives are currently stat driven although I have plans for more complex objectives later on.

Whenever a Server is generated the Admin will play 3 unique Objective cards on it to create that servers Objectives. There are currently only 4 possible objectives available but this number will increease in the future. Ideas for future objectives are welcomed so please post them in the forums.

Progress towards an objective is saved so you don’t have to complete them in a single run.

Wanted Level

GRID mode no longer uses the same dynamic difficulty system as Arcade mode and instead now uses a Wanted Level system.

At Wanted Level 0 only Passive enemies will spawn representing the Server at rest. Once you start damaging subsystems however they will send out a call for help pumping the Wanted Level up to one and allowing the AI to start spawning more aggressive enemies.

If you don’t attack any Subsystems for a while your wanted level will decrease and it can eventually return to zero. This is unrelated to the Trace mechanic which can only be halted by disconnecting.

Wanted Levels are reduced by:

  • Player Death
  • Building Control Nodes
  • If 20 seconds has passed without an increase to Wanted Level.

Changelist

General

  • Camera now tries to keep important actors on screen such as Subsystems and Triggers.
  • All Enemies that follow the player can now use Navmesh Pathfinding if they cannot reach the players location.
  • Cube Avoidance has been improved.

Arcade Mode

  • Can now choose which type of Arena to play in on the Arcade mode screen.
  • Added new “Tiny Cube” enemy to Survival Arcade mode (experimental).

GRID Mode

  • GRID now uses a “Wanted Level” system for controlling Enemy Spawning.
  • All Servers in GRID now have Bonus Objectives that can be attempted.
  • Server ICE has been rebalanced.

UI

  • Time Extend message now correctly displays the time.
  • Keybinds settings screen added for keyboard and controller.
  • Added on-screen prompt for triggers that need to be “used” to activate.
  • Objective tracker added to GRID HUD.
  • Controllers now use a virtual Cursor to interact with the menus.

Bug Fixes

  • Fix for potential crash when using Emergency Teleport when being Charged by a Cube.
ToDo

These are things that look like bugs but in fact need to be implemented (usually because the UI already has space for the feature).

  • Upgrades display not currently functioning.
  • No Gameover when fatal brain damage incurred during GRID.
  • Attached Hardware display not functioning.
  • Clicking on Installed ICE doesn’t do anything.
  • Nothing is awarded for clearing Servers.
  • Dive mode doesn’t use Harder Room Styles as Player gets Deeper.
Known Issues
  • Some AMD Graphics cards crash on Startup. This is related to UE-51650[issues.unrealengine.com] There is nothing I can do about this at this time.

Unreal Engine 4 – Sorting by Arbitrary Properties

When creating the File Manager and Inventory screens for Waves² I found myself needing to sort lots of arrays of various types by largely arbitrary properties. I adapted this snippet to be able to sort arrays of either objects or structs by almost any UProperty within them. You’ll have to implement sorting by structures yourself but this took care of sorting tables full of strings or numerical values. Continue reading

Waves² – Items and Files

Disclaimer: This topic has nothing to do with Arcade (soon to be renamed to “Arena”).

In case the giant “Coming in Alpha 5” on the Inventory screen wasn’t a big clue I’m working on the Inventory and RPG parts of GRID for the next update.

I just today got the Shop fully functional and wanted to solicit some opinions on the bit that comes next.

The Marketplace

The Marketplace is where Items of all kinds are sold to aspiring Hackers. The primary Physical items are Hardware and Boosters and the Digital Items are Scripts and eBooks.

Physical Items must be delivered before they can be used while Digital items are added to your Purchased Files instantly.

Whenever you sell anything (be it physical or digital) you will instantly receive payment and the Item or File will be removed.

Continue reading

Alpha 4 – Soon. Also Gifs.

Assuming nothing terrible happens Alpha 4 drops next week.

I will be updating the Preview branch with an Alpha 4 RC hopefully tonight (Sunday the 12th of March) so those of you who enjoy finding crash bugs can go to town on it and do all the things I never thought to try.

Alpha 4 changes around game balance quite a bit so there will be a Leaderboard wipe to accompany it’s release.

It also looks more spiffy.

Continue reading

Waves² Alpha 4 Preview and Card Game AI

The “Unstable” branch is no more! Long Live the “Preview” branch!

Since Unstable was originally created for testing the Shipping build of the game (which is now the standard version everybody uses) it has been removed and replaced with a new branch called “Preview” which is going to be used to test upcoming major updates.

Anybody can use the Preview branch and there is no password required. Just be aware that things are far more likely to not work correctly/be balanced/be fun in this version.

To kick everything off the Preview branch has been updated with the first Alpha 4 Preview build.

After many weeks of work the Card Game AI system and Modular game modes tech is in place. From the point of view of the players you won’t see any obvious differences. What you do as a player hasn’t changed AT ALL. The main difference is in how content is authored and how enemies are spawned which I will go over below. Continue reading

Waves² Alpha 4 – What is it?

Alpha 3 has had it’s final patch today bringing the total number of Items up to 36 and thee total number of Item combinations to 46,656 (not counting the ways you can distribute the Upgrade points which I don’t know how to calculate but is immense).
 
That means I’ve started working on the Alpha 4 update today and wanted you all to know what’s going to be in store.

Now as a quick aside I’d like to mention that there is a backstory of a sort to Waves² it’s just never really been a prominent part of the game. The idea is that the game itself is an operating system used by hackers to navigate Cyberspace. That’s why enemies are called Bugs and Viruses and why every Arena that gets generated expresses it’s seed value as an IP address (that plus they are much shorter and easier to remember than 32bit integers).

Continue reading

On Loot

Lots of very boring work has been going on here in Squid Tower, but I’m closing in on a working Vertical Slice of game and the possibility of an Early Access release on Steam this year is looking good.

Loot

The number one thing I’ve been thinking about is loot. It turns out that Waves: Arena Tactics is all about loot and while that was never my intention at the beginning it’s how it’s ended up.

Loot can be bought from the shop, crafted (eventually) but mostly it is found during Dives. The reason you try to get deeper into a system is because that’s where the good stuff is kept. Deeper you go the better the loot and therefore the deeper you can go. It’s circular. Get deep enough and maybe you can crash the entire system and gain immense Notoriety (essentially experience points).

The idea I struggled with for a long time was that all loot should be fair and balanced; an ideology that was a hold-over from working on MMOGs for so long. This ideology is complete hogwash in a roguelike dungeon crawler like W:AT. Depending entirely on the players own skill level to improve over time is “pure” but results in most people just giving up out of frustration. There is also a physical upper limit on what a player can achieve meaning levels can never get more dangerous than that. Increasing quality of loot is what makes a Roguelike work and I am embracing it entirely.

Loot is digital in nature in W:AT. This is a world of bits and bytes not swords and treasure. When you pick something up it gets added to your download manager and queued up for download. Should your connection be terminated before the download completes then you’ll lose the loot (although leaving through the level exit will always complete all downloads instantly). Considering that the best loot is guarded heavily an unauthorized download attempt might cause a significant system response. Picking something up is only the start of your job collecting loot not the end of it.

I’ll go over all the types of Loot in the game and give some examples.

Equipment

All equipment is stuff that you can equip to your avatar. Fairly self explanatory. The majority of Loot is equipment and comes in 3 versions (V1.0 to V3.0) and each version is just flat out better than the previous one. Most V1.0 equipment can be bought from the shop as your Notoriety increases but the better versions need to be found by Diving deeper. V3.0 equipment tends to only be found in the most secure systems at the deepest levels guarded by the nastiest programs. Eventually crafting will allow you to create alpha and beta versions giving you an incremental increase towards the next full version by combining your spares (therefore v3.0b would be the best equipment you can get).

Your Avatar has several slots you can put Equipment into. There are 3 Program slots (Primary Weapon, Defence, and Super Weapon) and 5 Upgrade slots (3 Accessory slots, a Modification slot and a Booster slot). I did toy with the idea of borrowing Eve Onlines slot system but found it was quite cumbersome on a joypad, there are however similarities between the two.

Programs

Your Programs are the only way you can directly interact with the programs populating a system. They should be fairly self-explanatory but I’ll go over them anyway.

Primary Weapons are your basic attack (gun). Primary weapons use no energy and are always available. They are the bread and butter of the game and take one of 3 forms (I’m working on a fourth but I’m not committing to it yet) – Projectile, Beam and Thrower. Projectile weapons all launch a projectile that takes time to hit its target and often have an explosive element, high rate of fire and a large spread. Beam weapons all fire continuously and have zero travel time hitting instantaneously, they’re great at single target damage. Throwers are very short ranged but require very little aiming and often have a secondary effect like burning, stunning or knock back.

Defences are non-damaging programs that are intended to keep you alive a little longer. Defences always use up energy and may have a cool-down period after using them. Once a Defence is triggered it lasts for a fixed duration of time so knowing when to use them is critical. They can however save your life. Examples of Defences are the “Slow Field” which slows down everything around you, the Energy Shield which makes you temporarily invulnerable, self-heals, cloaking devices, teleporters, EMP blasts and sometimes they just give you massive buffs (for those that believe attack is the best form of defence).

Super Weapons (New better name suggestions welcomed) user up energy in order to kill things very efficiently. Smartbombs are the simplest example being great for removing all the chaff you may find yourself swarmed by. Some Super Weapons just do lots of damage or clear the screen while others are more about area denial such as lightning storms which last for a while striking enemies randomly inside their area of effect.

Upgrades

Upgrades are passive bonuses and can be used to tailor your Avatar to a particular play style.

Accessories manipulate the 8 base Stats in the game and define your Avatar: Health, Attack, Defence, Speed, Energy, Health Regen, Energy Regen, and Hacking. Health and Speed  are obvious, Attack  multiplies the damage of all your weapons while Defence absorbs some of the incoming damage your suffer. Energy is used to run Defences and Super Weapons and Hacking is used to crack open files and databases you find in the game (some files need a higher hacking stat to access at all). Health and Energy Regen just represent your avatars ability to passively regenerate those two stats.

Accessories come in many forms the most basic of which is just a single stat modifier like +10 Health. More complex forms might offer a larger single stat increase at the expense of another such as the Turtle which offers +15 Defence at the expense of 10 Speed. Others may offer small gains across many stats which is only useful when you have 3 of them stacked up. With 3 versions of every Accessory there are already over 100 Accessories in the game and the potential for even more in the future.

Modifications offer passive buffs that can be quite game changing but always come with a significant downside. A lot of the team buffing auras are modifications such as Healing Auras which increase the Health Regen of everybody within a certain range. Other modifications like the Vampire regenerate your health as you cause damage to enemies or they might just add a secondary effect to your attacks like a stun or burn effect. The downsides might just be sacrificed stats or debuffs (the Vampire Mod has a negative Health Regen so it might kill you).

Boosters only last a single level but provide a massive bonus during that level. The only way to gain extra-lives is by equipping an Emergency Backup Booster giving you a single life that lasts for one dungeon level. Other Boosters may give you a huge bonus to your stats or negate the Downside of a Modification. Boosters being consumable means that there are a lot of them out there and simple versions are readily available from the Shop.

Passkeys

Every level contains a number of Passkeys which are required to be able to unlock the level exit and in some cases well protected files. They aren’t very fancy but they are required to get deeper into the level. Passkeys are only ever contained in Databases which must be hacked (staying within proximity of the server until the security is broken down) which has a tendency to draw the attention of the system defences. Not all Databases contain Passkeys but they always contain something worth your time unlike Files which sometimes contain nothing at all or even worse Viruses.

Money

Yep Money. However we’re not talking gold coins as this is a digital universe. As a hacker sometimes you’ll find data that somebody might want to pay for (or will pay a ransom for). When this happens the offending files are converted into cash as soon as they finish downloading. These files might be a database of user names, payment details, credit card numbers, nude cell phone pictures or CCTV footage of illegal nuclear waste dumping. Whatever form it takes it’s worth money to the right (or wrong) people. Eventually I’ll add Bank systems that only ever contain large quantities of money but that’s for a different time.

Pickups

Pickups are temporary little boosts dropped by programs in the system as they get terminated. You can also find pickups inside files.  The most common pickup dropped by all programs is energy. All programs use energy to run so when you terminate a program you can steal the energy before the system reassigns it. Some pickups might boost your stats temporarily as well.