Instead of going down the usual road of talking about the new UI and collecting an assortment of other “coming up in later updates” things, we thought it might be nice to take a quick look at a more specific aspect of the campaign-related updates that will happen during this year: the environment.
We recently caught someone on our Discord saying something like “Did the artists forget there are colors besides greyish blue?” – they didn’t, it’s just that there have been some more pressing issues to tackle first. One way the game is going to get livelier-looking is through adding more variety to the environment, and while much of the environment design is not set in stone yet (the artists and designers had an “environment kickoff chat” just this week), here you can read a bit about what to expect from the world outside your submarine.
Now there’s a word you’ve all heard so many times before. The original idea was to have nine distinct biomes, and while that exact number may or may not manifest itself in the finished game, distinct is the operative word here. As Barotrauma’s lead artist put it,
“Oppressing darkness has always been a key component in the look and feel of Barotrauma. However, for the longest time we’ve wanted to add diversity to our levels, both in visuals and gameplay. Familiar environment types will remain in the game, but they will be expanded, along with new additions. We want the environments to feel clearly distinct to play.
While adding diversity, we also want to bring cohesion to the environment assets as part of an ongoing graphics unification pass. Many placeholders and test assets still remain in the environments from a time when the lore and ecosystem of Europa hadn’t really been properly designed yet.”
And here are some proposed new environment assets (with a heavy WIP disclaimer – these are almost certain to change):
We’ve got some plans to make the environment more interesting gameplay-wise as well. Barotrauma’s levels currently consist of just one main path with some occasional small tunnels branching out from it. This isn’t particularly exciting, so we’re planning on making the layout a little more complex with branching paths so there isn’t just one way to get through the level.
There are visual improvements to be made to the level generation too. Here’s a quick test of what as little as some added ice chunks and parallax effect could do to the current levels:
Aside from level layout and appearance, we will be revisiting the way that minerals are distributed around levels and introduce a system that is a lot less random than the current “sprinkle a little of everything everywhere” method. With this sorted out, mining and prospecting should become a little easier and approachable.
We’re also reintroducing the reason why you may (not) want to find yourself below the level: the monsters that only spawn in the abyss. We’re hopeful at least the charybdis and the endworm will be reincarnated in the relatively near future.
As mentioned, the levels themselves are meant to get a little less repetitive, and that’s where also caves come in. Apart from adding some diversity to the levels and offering mini-dungeons which players can explore, they will also be home to richer veins of minerals and other natural resources. We also think there will be some interesting mission objectives associated with these particular locations.
It’s been a really long time since we got to do a live Q&A on our Discord, so we decided it’s time – and the time is Thursday next week, that is Feb 20, at 9 pm EET, the place #baro-questionsandanswers. We’ll probably be around for a couple of hours, so gather your questions and come say hi!