Category Archives: Undertow

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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Barotrauma Source Code

Today I have some important news for the players and modders of Barotrauma. The full source code of the game is now publicly available on GitHub!

This doesn’t mean that Barotrauma is becoming an open source game in the “free and open-source software” sense. The intention is to give modders more freedom to modify and expand the game – the current xml configuration files are simply too limited for anything but the simplest of modifications. It doesn’t mean that we’re giving up working on the game either; now with the netcode update (mostly) out of the way, I’m as eager as ever to start working on new content again!

I know this is a risky move and something not many games have done, but I’m confident that it will open up whole new possibilities for the future of Barotrauma. In my opinion one of the things that made SCP – Containment Breach as successful as it is, was the openness of the development and how easy it was for the community to contribute, and I believe that going in a similar direction could be beneficial to Barotrauma as well. As with SCP-CB, people are of course welcome to contribute to the main game in addition to making mods. And I’d like to stress that I’m not expecting for the community to start doing our work for us for free. If someone ends up making substantial contributions to the development, I’m completely open to discussing some type of compensation.

So, if you’re a modder looking for more freedom than the configuration files offer or just want to take a look under the hood and see what makes Barotrauma tick, head to the following link:

Barotrauma @ Github.com

Really looking forward to seeing where this goes and what kind of stuff you’ll come up with. :)

Undertow Games?

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If you’ve kept a close eye on the Dev Topic in the SCP – Containment Breach forum, you may have seen brief mentions of my plans on starting my own company. It’s now official, and now with the launch of this website and blog I’ll be keeping you more up-to-date on my further plans and projects.

So, what does this mean for the future of SCP-CB and the following projects? To be honest, it doesn’t change much from the player’s perspective – I’ll be developing and releasing games just as before (until Undertow Games grows to become a wildly successful full-fledged game studio, that is ;)). But from my point of view, operating as a legal business will make it slightly easier for me to eventually publish a commercial a game and it also grants me some tax benefits. And since I went with the simplest form of business in the Finnish legislation, “yksityinen elinkeinonharjoittaja”, which is to my knowledge pretty much equivalent to sole proprietorship,the amount of licenses, paperwork and other bureaucracy required is fairly minimal.

Actually the main reason that led me into starting up Undertow Games now instead of say, a year from now when the next game project is closer to being released, was a software development course that I’m currently doing as a part of my Computer Sciences Degree in Turku University of Applied Sciences. We’ll be doing a software development project in a small group for a company of our choosing, and after I dropped in the idea of me starting up a business for which we could create whatever we choose to, it didn’t take long before our 5-member team had started a cool little game project. As a clarification, this game isn’t the same as the aforementioned larger commercial game I’m hoping to release in maybe a year or two, just a smallish student project that will be released for free around next February.

I’ll tell more about both of these in-progress game projects and what’s going on with SCP – Containment Breach in later blog posts. If you want to keep yourself updated, you can subscribe to email notifications about new blog posts using the widget in the sidebar!