Iron Harvest DevBlog #11 - March 2019

  Mar 27, 2019     Iron Harvest

The second Update for the Alpha 2 is available!

Alpha 2 Update #2 Online, Cutscene Characters

News

The servers are live again!

With the release of the second update to Alpha 2 today, the multiplayer servers are back online again for a week. You can play the multiplayer mode of Iron Harvest from the following dates:

Wednesday, March 27th and Wednesday, April 3rd

Please play plenty and give us your feedback on the changes and the game in general. See you on the battlefield!


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.
Info: Cutscene Character Creation

We’ve been hard at work on our ambitious three-part campaign. An aspect of that are the 23 cutscenes that are played between missions. Here’s how we design characters for those cutscenes!

Step 1: Character Description

We start out by describing a character, who they are, what they look like, what they do, and so on. We make use of plenty of reference material when it comes to the clothing and “look & feel” of the character.

Step 2: Concept Art

For new characters that aren’t directly referenced by Jakub’s art, our fantastic concept artist Daniel takes over: He creates several concepts and sends them to the game director Jan and the art director Stefan. They give him feedback and make suggestions. After some back and forth, they agree on a final design.


Step 3: High-poly Modeling

We use a 3D-modeling program called “zBrush” to sculpt a model of the character in “virtual clay”. This model is very detailed and the first representation of the character in 3D. This model undergoes several rounds of iteration based on feedback from the art director.

Step 4: Low-poly Modeling and Texturing

The high-poly model consists of millions of polygons. In the next step, this number is reduced to tens of thousands. This is done through clever modeling and texturing techniques that let us maintain the look and perceived level of detail of a model, while simultaneously making it simple enough to be animated and rendered in real-time.

Step 5: Animating & Lighting

We use the exact same model with the same textures. This time however, our animators have posed it and given it an expression while one of our other artists adds lighting and post-processing effects to it. What you see here is approximately the intended visual quality we aim for in our 1+ hour of cutscenes.

Info: Alpha 2 Update #2 Change-Log (Patch Notes 0.6.0) 

As always: If you already downloaded any Alpha version via Steam, you don’t have to do anything to get the update (Steam updates your build automatically).

Here’s a (non-exhaustive) list of what has changed with this update:

General

    • A new unit, the “MG Infantry” has been added to both Polania and Saxony.
    • The first version of Fog of War has been implemented (work-in-progress, there will be changes).
    • The first version of Unit Veterancy (work-in-progress) has been added: Units earn XP and leveling up a unit for the first time unlocks its special veteran ability.
    • Performance has been improved overall, among which fixing an issue that caused occasional lag spikes every few seconds the longer you played the game.
    • Loading times should be drastically decreased and progress in the loading screen should advance more smoothly.
    • Many small tweaks and some bigger changes have been made to all the maps, based on your feedback.
    • Additional quality settings are now available.

    Gameplay

    • Infantry units will now retreat to the nearest Medic Station or Barracks (in addition to HQs).
    • Placing a building’s rally point now has a preview when using the UI button.
    • The logical size for units, used for navigation, has been adjusted.
    • An infantry squad now counts as a single unit in the post-match statistics screen.
    • Statistics only account for damage to enemies, not to friends/neutrals.
    • New in-game notification for when the enemy is receiving reinforcements from outside the map.
    • A new visual indicator shows the direction from which the next enemy wave will attack on the challenge map.

    Balancing

    • Saxony Stormtroopers damage reduced. 
    • Bunker range increased.

    We’ve heard your feedback regarding how effective Stormtroopers were compared to their Polanian counterpart, as well as the lack of range the Bunker’s default weapon seemed to have.

    Introducing the MG Infantry gave us the room to tweak the Stormtroopers’ effectiveness to be more in line with Riflemen, as well as give Bunkers a buff to deal with the new MG and other infantry units more effectively.

    We’re currently working on an overhaul of how the game handles damage and health, so stay tuned for big changes in the future!

    Visuals

    • All mechs now have additional VFX which show their damage state.
    • The Saxonian Erlkönig and Polanian Mocny now aim and fire their projectiles in a more realistic manner.
    • The visual indicators showing where infantry can take cover have been updated to better highlight low cover.
    • The Saxonian Eisenhans now has a range indicator.
      Infantry placed inside a bunker now display their weapon range.

    UI

    • The “HQ” build option is visible at all times but is inactive if you already have an HQ.
    • Notifications are visible in the Tactical Map screen.
    • A “Mission Objectives” HUD element has been added.

    Minimap and Tactical Map

    • Context-sensitive orders (right-click orders) can now be used on the minimap.
    • Hovering over a unit card now highlights the corresponding unit on the minimap.
    • New units and buildings that are attacked now blink correctly on the minimap.
    • Rally points can now be seen on the minimap and tactical map.
    • Double-clicking on the tactical map now centers on the clicked position/unit/structure and closes the tactical map.

    Input

    • Left-click no longer cancels drag move orders.
    • The cursor is now locked to the game window.
    • A “Show Unit Range” modifier key is now available in the settings. You can see the weapon range of a unit you select or mouse over as long as the key is held.
    • You can now set keyboard shortcuts for selecting all units on-screen (default Ctrl+S) and for selecting all units on the map (default Ctrl+A).
    • You can now focus the camera on the origin of an in-game notification by pressing Space.

    Bug Fixes

    • Fixed a bug in skirmish mode that sometimes did not give the player control over the correct units.
    • Fixed a bug where oil costs where not displayed in the upgrade tooltip.
    • Fixed a bug that could freeze the game when two players surrendered at almost the same time.
    • Fixed a bug in skirmish and challenge mode where bonus goals were applied to players instead of only the player that enabled it.
    • Fixed a bug where units had incorrect hit zones when attacking while suppressed.
    • Fixed a bug where the camera could not be controlled with the keyboard while the mouse cursor was over the minimap.
    • Fixed a bug that lead to camera jittering when scrolling on the minimap near the map border.
    • Fixed a problem with excessive memory consumption over extended play times and multiple matches.

    Screenshot from out automatic testing machine. Now you can technically play Iron Harvest for 16 hours, or about two hundred matches, in a single sitting… if you’re into that.

    Looking Ahead

    This update will be the last one for Alpha 2. We will be reviewing whether we release another alpha build in the future, or whether the next big version will be the Closed Beta at the end of this summer. We will make sure to update you all as we move forward.

    We’re also very close to signing a contract with a publisher. Once the process is finalized, we will release another DevBlog elaborating on what that means for Iron Harvest. (Spoilers: Nothing negative. We will keep creative control and we have their word we will be able to fulfill all of our promises to you backers, including the game being available for you on Steam and GOG upon release.)


    If you want to support us and get your hands on Alpha 2 right now, you can pre-order Iron Harvest here. You‘ll also get access to upcoming Beta builds and to our private Backers Discord Channel for exclusive behind-the-scenes material.

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