Campaign mode improvements

I thought I’d make a little update about the changes we’ve been doing to the campaign mode (+ a few things that also affect other game modes)!

As you may have noticed, the current campaign is quite bare-bones. Personally I’m not satisfied at all with how it works: it feels like playing randomized mission rounds one after another, with the only major difference being that the changes to the submarine, items and characters are persistent. But there’s so much more we could do with it! Our main goal has been to give the player a better sense of progression, to make it feel like they’re gradually advancing through increasingly challenging areas and missions towards an ultimate end goal. We’ve also wanted to make Europa feel more like a living, breathing world that’s affected by the players actions. As to how we’re doing this, here’s some of the new and upcoming features:

New map

campaignmap

The campaign map doesn’t just look better, there’s been a few changes that should make things a lot more interesting. The map consists of 6 concentric rings, each representing a distinct biome (more about that later). Difficulty increases for each successive ring the player passes into, making sub and crew upgrades a necessity the deeper the player ventures. The end goal is to make it to the center of the map, and survive a literal and metaphorical dive into the heart of [REDACTED].

Biomes

There’s 6 distinct biomes, with different sorts of layouts, vegetation, creatures and environmental hazards. For example, the Hydrothermal Wastes are filled with sonar-disrupting sessile organisms, strong water currents and lava vents, the Great Void is a wide-open space where the player must avoid floating ice chunks and large predators, and the Europan Ridge is dense with smaller creatures, vegetation (including ones that latch onto the sub) and tunnels too narrow for the submarine to fit inside.

Note that many of the sprites in these pics are not final:

The Aphotic Plateau

The Aphotic Plateau

Lava vent

Lava vent

Europan Ridge

Europan Ridge

Water currents

Water currents

Sonar flora

Sonar flora

 

New event system

With the overhauled event system I mentioned in the previous post, we have much better control over the difficulty of a given round. Previously the monsters spawns (and the spawn positions) were essentially random, and if you were lucky, it was possible to pass a high-difficulty level without even running into a single monster. With the new system we can guarantee that you will face various challenges in each level. The way the events work now is somewhat similar to Left 4 Dead’s AI director – it can delay additional random events when you already have your hands full with an attacking sea creature or a fire, or create new challenges when everything is going smoothly. There’s still a fair amount of randomness though, so this new system doesn’t mean that you’re safe from additional monster attacks when a catastrophic breach has flooded the sub, nor that you will be bombarded with random disasters when you’ve got everything under control.

In short, now the difficulty of a given level has a much more noticeable effect on the gameplay.

Dynamic world

Initially, colonies exist only on the outer rings of the map, with research outposts, military outposts and outposts scattered around the next inner rings, and bosses, natural formations and ruins occupying the rings further in. As the player explores subsequent rings, there is a chance of new outposts being created at newly claimed locations, as well as colonies further towards the outer rings gradually transitioning into colonies. There’s also locations called “breeding frounds” which host large numbers of wildlife and boss monsters. Outposts situated next to active breeding grounds may get attacked by sea creatures, and if the player doesn’t help them deter the attack, there’s a chance that it gets overrun and turns into an uninhabited location until it’s reclaimed.

While the dynamically changing locations don’t have such a noticeable effect on the gameplay now when the locations are simply menus with possibly some hireable characters and purchasable items, it will have a much greater impact when we implement…

Explorable locations

Outposts will be actual physical locations you can dock your submarine into and enter, and uninhabited locations will be places with a higher monster count and a high chance of a boss encounter. I don’t want to say too much about this feature yet, because it has not been fully designed and unfortunately will not be included in the initial early access release on Steam, but it’s coming for sure. I think it has a huge potential for interesting random events and interactions with the world and it’s inhabitants: imagine a renegade agent sneaking into your sub while you’re purchasing supplies from the outposts, a husk outbreak in a military facility, grabbing a beer at the pub while looking for new submariners to hire, exploring a flooded section of a research outpost…

Military outpost concept art

Military outpost concept art

Mining outpost concept art

Mining outpost concept art

Habitation outpost concept art

Habitation outpost concept art

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19 comments

  1. I also would like to ask is if after a campaign round will the items that player had be kept? Its supper annoying to have to buy extra things because we did what we had to.

    1. Yep, the characters and their inventories are persistent even in the multiplayer campaign, meaning that you get to keep your items and the experience you’ve gained until the character dies (or until you “discard” the character and create a new one).

    1. Yes, and actually we’ve already done some major improvements and tons of bugfixes to the crew AI in the dev version, and a new interface that makes it way faster and easier to give orders. The AI crew can also talk now: they’re able to report things like breaches and fires, and let you know how the task you’ve assigned them is going.

  2. All of these changes look great! I’ve actually been playing some of the development version, and I’m really enjoying the campaign so far. The AI does seem pretty sketchy right now, but I love the conversations and communications that they give out. I really like the new textures and the GUI is way more navigable. The coilgun is pretty fun to use. Overall it seems far more polished than the current version.

    One suggestion that would improve the campaign mode is to add some sort of organization method for the sub during or in between rounds. My least favorite part of campaign mode is the organization part. After a few rounds, the inventories in your sub are completely scrambled, and its not very fun to organize it back into the cabinets. Plus, the new AI seems to just drop stuff everywhere. Maybe give the AI a “clean up” directive and have them put equipment that was on the ground in the containers they were in last round.
    The ship autopilot could also be fixed, it seems very prone to crashing into horizontal walls for no reason. Not sure if this is intentional or not

    Other than that, the game looks great so far! I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!

    1. No, and currently we’re mostly focusing on improving the existing gameplay mechanics instead of adding new content. We’re keeping an eye for Barotrauma Extended though and will definitely take some inspiration for features we’ll add to the vanilla game.

    1. At the moment we have no plans for NPC-controlled subs (the AI characters are not really competent enough to manage a submarine completely by themselves), but perhaps at some point in the future!

  3. Regarding the customizability of the new event system, will some of it also be true on the player side, either through adjusting various parameters by settings, or perhaps modding? I feel like going through an area with little to no monsters, or being bombarded with everything at once, can add to atmosphere and immersion (if anything, one might expect that bad things happening in the sub could attract predatory lifeforms :) ).

    1. The system is pretty easy to mod: there’s an xml file that defines all the potential events and the conditions on when they can occur. Basically there are several “event sets”, which can be stuff like “spawn 4 crawlers or 2 mantises after the player has passed 15% of the level, but delay the spawns if the intensity of the current situation is above 50%” or “give a crew member a random disease after 5 minutes and spawn a moloch after 10 minutes if there’s nothing else going on”. Every event set also has a difficulty range (“this event set can only appear in levels with a difficulty between 10 and 20″), and the game randomly chooses a set that’s appropriate for the given level.

      Currently the options to adjust the events or difficulty in-game are pretty limited: in the single player campaign you have no control over the difficulty or events, the difficulty simply increases as you get closer to the center of the map. In the multiplayer rounds however the host can directly choose the difficulty. But it could be a good idea to add some sort of a global difficulty setting to the single player campaign, and maybe also a way to choose the events in multiplayer.

  4. В баротрауму надо обязательно добавить русский перевод так-как в игре на данный момент русских игроков больше чем других

  5. In barotrauma it is necessary to add Russian translation-as in the game at the moment Russian players more than others

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