Iron Harvest DevBlog #8 - December 2018

  Dec 19, 2018     Iron Harvest

The Alpha 2 is out! Find all information in this DevBlog!

Alpha 2 Out now! Multiplayer!

News

Alpha 2 Out now!

A successful 2018 is coming to an end and to close the year out we have released Alpha 2 (Multiplayer)!

Everyone who supported us via Kickstarter or our store with $55 or more will receive an e-mail today with info on how to get it. Please see “How to get Alpha 2” below for details.

You can still support us on www.iron-harvest.com and get access to the Alpha 2 if you have not done so yet. You can also upgrade your pledge there if you bought a lower tier but want to get access to Alpha 2. 

Alpha 2 features a couple of new maps, including the first snow map: Border River.

Our second Alpha focuses on multiplayer, new units for the Polania and Saxony factions, and improvements based on your feedback for Alpha 1. It’s still a very early version of the game, so expect things to not always work as intended and expect us to change things in the future.

This is what this slice of Iron Harvest has to offer:

  • Two 1v1 maps (multiplayer & skirmish against AI).
  • One 2v2 map (multiplayer & skirmish against AI; co-op).
  • A reworked version of the first challenge map.
  • 8 infantry units, 10 mechs, 2 weapon systems.
  • 2 playable factions (Polania and Saxony)
  • Base buildings, bunkers & fortifications.

Our intent for this demo was to get the game up and running with a good number of units so we can collect feedback and data in order to continue our work on balancing.

Check out “What’s in Alpha 2, What Isn’t” to learn more about the features and changes in Alpha 2, compared to Alpha 1.

If you backed Iron Harvest on Kickstarter or pre-ordered it at www.iron-harvest.com, be sure to join us in our Backers Discord Channel. You can find the link here, if you claimed your copy of Iron Harvest.
Gameplay Spotlight: What's in Alpha 2, What Isn't?

We made a little Iron Harvest – Alpha 2 Feature Trailer. Please share!


We changed a lot of things based on your feedback for Alpha 1 and added a ton of features. Here are some of the changes:

UI & Controls

  • It is now possible to queue orders (hold Shift + click to give multiple orders sequentially).
  • Your units are now always visible in the Unit Selection and are no longer hidden when you want to build something.
  • We brought the resource display closer to the build options, so relevant information is always close to hand.
  • You can select production buildings from the UI, even when they are not directly in view.
  • There is a new UI element for groups and how units are sorted has been changed.
  • There are a ton of smaller changes and improvements. Let us know what you think!

We’ll try out these new features / UI elements and keep improving them. Let us know what you think!

Original mockup of the new Unit Selection UI element. Top-right: Resources and production (the production menu is only visible when a production building is selected). Left: Visual grouping representation, right: Quick selection of buildings (HQ, barracks, workshop).


Gameplay

  • Fortifications: Engineers can build sandbag barriers and barbed wire fences now. Bunkers can now be placed anywhere on the battlefield.
  • Retreat: You can give units a retreat order that has them run back to HQ. They receive a slight speed and armor boost but you can’t issues orders to them until they arrive at HQ.
  • Base Building Upgrades: You can upgrade your barracks and workshop to gain access to advanced units.
  • Resource Building Upgrades: Upgrade your iron mines and oil pumps to get more resources. You can now destroy enemy resource buildings as well.
  • Cover system: Squads can now hide behind different cover simultaneously (some squad members might take cover behind a wagon while others move to a low wall nearby).
  • Back it up: Mechs can now reverse their movement.
  • Phasing system (upgrading buildings, early-mid-late game).

Engineer can’t lay mines yet, but they can build fortifications now.


Content

  • We added 3 new Polania mechs and 2 new Saxony mechs. This means that each of these factions only misses a few more units, plus their three heroes each, before their arsenal is complete.
  • We added the Heavy MG system, joining the Cannon as the second weapon system in the game. 
  • There is a new 1v1 map that can be played in multiplayer and in single-player skirmish matches against the AI. The map is a little bigger than the first 1v1 map and is the first map to take place in snow.
  • We added our first 2v2 map. You can either play with up to three other human players in multiplayer or play against AI opponents. Of course, you can also play co-op against AI.

We added five new mechs and the heavy MG as a new weapon system to the game.


Graphics

We upgraded Unity, the engine we use, to version 2018.3, which gave us many opportunities to enhance the graphics:

  • Infantry units in the levels are far better visible now. They “stand out” more, even in shadows, which is an important improvement gameplay-wise. We might change the tech behind it to get a slightly different look down the line but seeing your units is the most important thing now.
  • We use a new terrain system that enables us to add more details to the terrain and provide an overall improved look.
  • We now use a vegetation solution that not only allows us to add denser vegetation on high-end systems but is also very flexible when it comes to quality/performance settings for older systems.
  • We added a new water system for flowing water of varying depths. For example, you can now see if water is shallow enough to move through it or not.
  • We added a new graphics set: Snow & Ice.

One 2018.3 feature we’re not using yet is the HD Render Pipeline. This system enables us to write our own shaders and effects for better performance. It will take a couple of weeks to implement it and since we didn’t want to push the Alpha 2 it will be something we’re going to work on in early 2019.


Multiplayer

There is a first version of multiplayer in the game now. The multiplayer mode features matchmaking and most of the basic elements. It does not contain more advanced features we want to add such as re-joining a match or spectator mode. It is bare-bones at the moment but in internal tests it has worked well enough to not only be fun but also give us important information for future development.

Everything multiplayer is bare-bones at the moment, but there is enough to get a feeling for it.


Animations

  • We have adjusted some existing animations and created a lot of new animations for the new units and buildings. 
  • We also added melee combat for infantry units.


Balancing

Of course we played many matches internally and did a basic balancing pass for all units. Don’t expect a perfectly balanced game yet; one faction might be better than another or individual units or abilities might be too strong or too weak.

One of the reasons we wanted to do the Alpha 2 now is to get your feedback and data for further unit and faction balancing.


Performance

We didn’t do a lot of optimization because we still have to switch to the Unity 2018.3 HD Render Pipeline early next year and it doesn’t make a lot of sense to do lots of graphical optimization before that. 

However, we have started to push some costly calculations to other CPU cores or the GPU. We believe the overall frames-per-second performance in Alpha 2 should be similar to Alpha 1 or better, despite the fact there is a whole lot more going on now in-game. 

There might be more stuttering, though. We’ll be working on this issue early next year. 


Some things that are NOT in Alpha 2

  • A progression system or multiplayer meta-game (player XP, leagues, ladders, achievements)
  • Heroes & pets
  • Veterancy (unit XP, ranks)
  • Fog of War / Line-of-sight
  • Most units don’t have special abilities yet


We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far and think we’re on the right track. We’re looking forward to your feedback, because in the end, we’re doing all of this for you. Please let us know what you think and help us to make Iron Harvest the best game it can be!

Info: Alpha 2 Schedule / Multiplayer Availability

Since there are a limited amount of players allowed to play the Alpha 2 and there is no progression system that offers mid- and long-term goals, we have to ensure that there are always enough players online.

Our plan is as follows:

  • December 19th until January 9th – Have fun with the game and give us as much feedback as possible.
  • After January 9th we will shut down the servers for a couple of weeks to address your feedback, add new features, change the balancing, and very likely add a new unit type (Medics).
  • At the beginning of February we will start the servers again for one week to gather your feedback on the changes and new features.
  • In March we will start the servers one more time for a week to gather further feedback.

With this we want to have at least three iterations and focus testing efforts in specific weeks to ensure enough people are online to keep matchmaking working smoothly.

Of course, everybody can play the single-player content at any time.

Info: How to get Alpha 2

Here is how you can get Alpha 2!

  • If you already have Alpha 1 on Steam: The game will update automatically. You don’t have to do anything. Enjoy!
  • If you don’t have a Steam key yet and you are a backer or pre-ordered the game ($55 tier or above): Go to https://kingart-games.com/library and claim your Steam key. If you do not have an account, you'll need to register (see the important note below).
  • If you bought / backed the Digital Edition of Iron Harvest (the edition that features only Beta access but no Alpha access) and you want to upgrade, go to https://kingart-games.com/library and click on “Upgrade Edition”.
  • If you haven't bought Iron Harvest yet, go to www.iron-harvest.com and pre-order one of the editions that offers Alpha access. 


Important: If you need to register or cannot see your copy of Iron Harvest at https://kingart-games.com/library after your registration, please ensure that your account is using your Kickstarter email / the email used when preordering via our own shop. Otherwise please go to https://kingart-games.com/claim to transfer your purchase to your new account.


Spreading the word

Just like for Alpha 1, feel free to make and release videos and screenshots, write articles, and let others know about the game.

We only ask for three things in return:

  • Please let your viewers know it is an early version of the game. Explain what they are seeing.
  • Please link to our website: www.iron-harvest.com. People can still back the project and get immediate access to the Alpha 2 demo.
  • Please let us know about your video or article. We want to get as much feedback as possible and we will share the best content on social media.


Look Ahead

With multiplayer up and running, we’ll focus on balancing, bug fixing, and improvements based on your feedback. Then there are some major tasks ahead for early 2019:

  • Campaign missions workflow (scripting, in-game cutscenes, dialog)
  • Cutscene workflow (cutscenes between missions)
  • Switch to the HD-Render Pipeline & Performance Optimization
  • Pathfinding enhancements (infantry vaulting over cover, mechs running through buildings)
  • Building gameplay (garrison buildings, shooting out of windows and so on)
  • Fog of war / Line of sight
  • Heroes & Pets
  • Some of these things will be patched into the Alpha 2. Others are more long-term initiatives. 

2019 will be at least as busy as 2018 but working on Iron Harvest is one of the best working-experiences we have ever had. LET’S DO THIS!

As always, we’ll keep you updated through our monthly DevBlogs, over Facebook and Twitter, and via our Developer Discord Channel.


If you want to support us, you can pre-order Iron Harvest here. You‘ll not only get the game at a discount, you‘ll also get access to Alpha and Beta builds and to our private Backers Discord Channel for exclusive behind-the-scenes material.

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