Barotrauma: status update & Steam release

Way past due to make a blog post and give a status update on what’s going on with Barotrauma!

Despite the lack of major updates (on the blog and on the game), a lot of stuff has been happening this year. Those of you who have keeping an eye on the GitHub repo may have noticed the dev branch we’ve been working on this past year. There’s quite a lot of new features and changes in the dev version, and in the coming weeks I’ll be making more blog posts about them and the things to come. But as a teaser, here’s some of the upcoming features (some already implemented):

  • Overhauled health system that’s closer to SS13’s one. Supports things like limb-specific injuries (like a broken leg that reduces movement speed), overdoses, poisons, antidotes, infections, addictions, mental health problems… And everything is highly customizable, so I’m eager to see what modders can do with this.
  • The campaign is being overhauled to give the player a better sense of progression. The levels and missions increase in difficulty as the player progresses, the world changes as new outposts are established and existing ones devastated by the sea monsters, and there’s an actual end goal instead of having the player wander around the map indefinitely. We’re also planning on making the outposts something you can actually dock your sub to and enter, not just menus with a list of characters to hire and items to buy. This is such a large feature to implement though, that at least initially the outposts will stay similar to the way they are (although with redesigned menus).
  • Improved levels. There are several distinct biomes with different sorts of environmental hazards: moving ice structures, water currents, sonar-disrupting sessile organisms, giant plants that can latch onto the sub, lava vents…
  • Improved and more easily customizable event system. The system can be used to adjust the difficulty and pacing of the rounds more accurately, for example by distributing monsters more evenly throughout the level, by creating random events when there’s nothing going on or by delaying additional monster spawns when the crew has just been hit by a disaster.
  • Visual improvements: many of the current sprites and animations will be reworked, menus redesigned, the lighting system improved and new kinds of structures added to give sub creators more to work with.
  • Better audio design and new music composed specifically for the game (along with a system that dynamically mixes the music according to the situation).
  • Steam integration: achievements, matchmaking through Steam, authenticating users based on their Steam ID (= ban evasion by changing your IP will not work anymore), downloading mods and submarines from Steam Workshop…
  • Improved crew AI and more ways to command the AI characters – playing with an AI crew doesn’t feel like babysitting suicidal crash test dummies anymore.
  • VOIP
  • In-game character and animation editor. So less tedious xml editing to create new monsters or mod the existing ones.
  • As usual, tons of optimization and bugfixes.

In other news, Baro’s development is about to switch to a higher gear: FakeFish, a game studio I’ve been working at for the past ~3 years, recently started collaborating on the development and now with the extra hands on deck on the code, art, design and audio side we should be able to progress towards the Steam release way faster. And it’s not just about getting the game ready for release faster; we’ve assembled a really solid team with over 60 years of combined gamedev experience that’s worked on over 70 titles (S.O.M.A, Cities in Motion, P·O·L·L·E·N, Ridge Racer Unbounded, Angry Birds (:D), Thief of Thieves and Iron Sky to name a few), and I’m quite confident we can take the game to a whole new level with this crew.

Regarding the Steam, something I’ve been mulling over is whether there should be an early access release or not, but now I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s the best way to go. I’m generally not a big fan of the early access model, but I feel like at this point it’d be beneficial not just for Baro’s development but also for the players. Steam and Steamworks make many things so much easier – distribution, updates, hosting servers, finding and installing mods and new subs, managing servers, client authentication… And of course getting a little bit of profit from the game is also a good thing for the development. I also think that Barotrauma is the kind of game that you could keep adding content to almost indefinitely, and if I were to wait for a point where everything I want to implement is implemented, it’d take forever before it’s “officially finished” – so I believe a good alternative is to release a good, solid and stable base game as early access and keep expanding it (and also let modders expand it with the help of Steam Workshop). And as a side note, the Steam release is going to be DRM-free, so if you feel early access is cancer, there are alternative ways to get the game, although you might not be able to use any of the Steam functionality if you get the game from an “unofficial” source.

As for the release date, we’re currently aiming for February 2019. It’s not set in stone yet and it might turn out we have to stretch it a bit, but in any case we’re starting to get close!

More in-depth posts about the new features coming up soon!

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21 comments

  1. It would probably be completely pointless but imagine if we could have something like Rimworld. Individual fingers, toes, ears, noses etc. going missing as a way for us to note which characters have survived longer than others haha.

    1. The Mac version is being worked on, I’m not sure yet whether we’ll be able to release a free alpha before the Steam release but it’s coming!

    1. At the moment it’s not easily available, but you can download individuals layers of the music from the GitHub repository: https://github.com/Regalis11/Barotrauma/tree/dev/Barotrauma/BarotraumaShared/Content/Sounds/Music

      It’s mostly minimalistic, drone-based dark ambient along the lines of Lustmord. Do note that the files in the repo are just individual layers, and what you’ll hear in the game is a mix of multiple layers that changes dynamically according to several factors, including the “intensity” of the current situation.

  2. Good news! 😀

    Hopefully the VOIP system is able to feature proximity and radio chat (IMO best with an immersive radio voice effect) for longer ranges :) The current ingame chat is actually very good but since I play mostly with friends only, we just use Discord. It’s easier especially in case of emergencies and just more fun for us. If we had proximity, I can imagine it would be much more immersive and a lot of fun, especially if there’s a traitor.

    But anways, I can’t wait for the game and keep up the good work! :)

  3. With what @dorion said, how soon do you expect VOIP to be a reality? Proximity voices along with radio would make for a killer immersive co-op match.

    (Make sure you add some built-in VOIP radio cutout for longer ranges. Would make my day)

    1. I’d guesstimate a month or two, but like the rest of the additions in the dev version, it won’t be in the public version until the Steam release. And yes, proximity effects and radio cutout are a must!

  4. Hey regalis! I’m a huge fan of barotrauma and I’m really exited to see te game come out on steam! I’ve been following the games development and I really like the new textures and sprites. Everything looks really good!

    I play mostly modded barotrauma (BTE) and I’m hoping you’ll add some of the more roleplay focused items to the game. There are tons of stuff from BTE that would be awesome to have in the game, but ultimately it’s your call.

    I do think you could use more anti griefing measures in barotrauma (having steam id will help) i think it could benefit from a more refined karma system. I’ll post my idea to the github

    Anywho, keep up the great work!

    1. Thanks for the kind words! I agree that BTE is doing a great job expanding on some of the more lacking aspects of the game, and we should definitely look into integrating similar features into the vanilla game. As of now we’re mostly focusing on improving the core game mechanics and general usability, and adding new items or devices has not been a high priority, but as soon as the “groundwork” is done we can start looking into that side as well. Anti-griefing is also on our todo list, the most important part being refining the karma system into something more robust.

    1. The exact price point has not been decided yet, but if I had to guesstimate, probably somewhere between $15-$20. Don’t quote me on that though! :)

  5. Hey, man. I absolutely love your game. In my top 5.

    But you SERIOUSLY NEED TO WRITE GENERAL UPDATES MORE OFTEN!!! When people stumble upon the game and see the last blog post was posted in 2017, well… It makes people lose a lot of interest. I have a dedicated group of people who play this game with me, so I’m not worried about the player count, but I would hate for this game to flop simply due to a dead community. Honestly looking at it all, you haven’t been doing a very good job advertising the game, but I understand that this is costly and that you’re more concerned with development itself. Just know that once you release it to Steam early access, I really suggest you invest in some form of advertisement!

    1. You’re absolutely right, I’ve neglected the blog for far too long. Especially now with the approaching Steam release we really need to step up our game, not just by writing blog updates more frequently but by putting more effort into marketing in general. Now with FakeFish on board we’ve started to make some more progress on that front, with proper marketing plans and preliminary talks with publishers, but still there’s a lot more work to do before and after the release.

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