What we’ve been loosely calling the “UI Update” is right around the corner now, so it’s time we write about what’s going to be in it. First off, it contains changes to much more than just the UI, and it ended up being quite a lot bigger than planned at first. Based on testing the update with our community on the public unstable version, we’re confident it will in fact make Barotrauma run more smoothly than ever, and so we’ve decided to call it…
Silky Smooth: The Quality of Life Update
With only slight irony, for those who catch it.
Not to jinx it, but we’re excited about this one: besides the UI overhaul that was intended to be the backbone of it, the update contains many changes to improve overall stability in all game modes, so this should even help with campaign stability, the part of the game that we have worked on the least so far. And that’s not all, so let’s take a closer look, topic by topic.
Despite being a simple-looking 2D game, Barotrauma has so far required a pretty beefy processor to run smoothly. This has been mainly due to the physics: simulating a large number of physical objects can be pretty heavy on the CPU (graphics-wise the game isn’t as demanding). Another thing that caused performance issues were items: this was particularly noticeable in large submarines with tons of devices and complex electrical systems.
We’ve done some heavy optimization on many aspects of the game for the Silky Smooth update, perhaps the most important being multithreaded physics (in simpler terms, the game would previously only use one CPU core to run the physics, but now it can take advantage of multiple ones, which drastically increases performance especially when there are lots of monsters and items moving around).
By comparison, this is a seemingly minor change. However, it should make it a lot more appealing to host and play on modded servers: no more restarting to enable or disable (most) mods!
Creature behavior and bot AI
There’s quite a long list of changes, both large and small, to creature behavior as well as some new creature-related missions. The submarine’s AI crew are also getting a minor intelligence boost, as with just about every update.
The editors are going to benefit from this update as well. First things first, no more messy wiring with the new placement grid – this is also for mid-round wiring and not just the submarine editor, so you can now even grief more neatly.
The editors are also getting new music: the beautiful Subaquatic Symphony for Hammer and Metal will now loop in the background and hopefully make you lose all track of time and allow you to immerse yourself more fully into building and tinkering. You can also find it in the game folder to listen to it whenever you like.
And of course, the editors have a new user interface coming up. More about that…
This has been teased and talked about a lot already, and after redoing almost every single menu and interface in the game, we won’t go into it in any more detail in this post. Instead, we’ll let you be the judge of if – did we achieve what we set out to do?
“As proud of Barotrauma as we are, there are a couple of things that miss the mark in terms of the quality we aspire to, and one of these issues since day 1 has been our user interface. Its problems are its lack of compactness – demanding a lot of your eye as a user – and lack of observance of game UI conventions people are already familiar with, interaction inconsistencies, lack of flexibility regarding future needs, and to be honest, it’s generally just kind of ugly. With this in mind, we set out […] to rebuild the UI in total.”
(From an older blog post.)
Misc content and functionality changes
Too many to list here, but let’s pick some of our favorites:
Job gear variants, for real: choose not just your appearance but your actual equipment as well.
New damage types. Something to make it a tiny bit more realistic: you would know the difference between a bite wound and a cut, wouldn’t you?
New/reworked subs and automatic sub outfitting for your custom subs. In other words, the Berilia is making her comeback, and you can now fill your boats’ cabinets with a little less menial clicking around, if you want to.
Some notable UX changes:
- Better feedback on shooting.
- Double clicking on an item moves it to the equipped inventory (e.g. ammo to the equipped weapon).
- Fabricators can pull ingredients directly from the user’s inventory without having to place them in the fabricator’s input slots.
- Contents of toolboxes and crates are shown in the tooltip when hovering the cursor over the slot.
Did we finally squash the “entity not found” error?
When we made the unstable version public, we added a ton of debug logs to be able to finally get rid of this issue that has been bugging us for years (yes, really). Now we at least encounter it very rarely, and those logs will also be included in the next build, so you can help us track down the last stragglers if you find any. We really look forward to removing this card from our Trello and everywhere one day.
Coming a little later
We joked about neater griefing a few lines further up, but in truth, we’re hoping to lessen the griefing problem altogether in the near future. Karma and all automoderation will always be optional – we just want to make it more visible, and most importantly good enough that you won’t mind keeping it on by default.
While this update started out as basically just the UI overhaul, a couple of UI things are still going to be finished later. The first is the inventory; this proved to be an area where we simply needed more time to design and test. The other is the “tab menu” that you open with the tab key during rounds. This menu is going to contain more information as well as additional functionalities for player-to-player interaction and communication.
Last chance to see the old version!
We had a play session late last year with a few of our players, and this is the last video we’re going to post from it – you can compare the game post-update to this to really see how much it has changed. As for when you’ll get to do that, it should be as soon as next week, but we’ll let you know when the time comes.