Hello friends and interested readers! It's far past time I get back to everyone with some more development news for Hazordhu! Since the last time I posted a dev blog, a metric boatload of work has been done. We've seen the game hit steam, and we've had a lot of new members join our community! I also got my nails painted by my 3-year-old daughter and let me tell you, they look absolutely awful! But I wear the colours with pride and wouldn't trade the patchy colours for anything in the world, except maybe a never-ending Hazium depost...
Since the game was released two weeks ago on steam, I've done a couple of hot-fixes to address
some pressing bugs. These happened behind-the-scenes for the most part. Aside from a small oversight on my end regarding savefile formatting that has since been rectified, I haven't heard anything other than good things from the changes that have come through the pipes! I've also begun to use our permanent server, Mudhaven, as a testbed for new features. Once they run through the gauntlet of testing that I do locally and with a few other members of the community and I'm satisfied that they won't do anything dubious once they go live, I post the update to Mudhaven just to iron out any other misgivings that may have snuck through undetected Like a Ret burrowing into your harvestfall granary. Once I'm satisfied that nothing is amiss, I then take the new version and send it down the old information super-highway to steam, where any Community Servers can then update, and everyone's local copies are updated. With our first actual Update now running through the motions on Mudhaven, barring something drastic happening there I'm anticipating it to be released to Steam early this coming week! Following that, there should be another hotfix coming shortly afterwards to address a crash issue that's come up in the underlying engine that Hazordhu is made with, which the Developers of the engine are graciously investigating to help get it sorted as soon as they can.
Wow crazy! But let's see what's in this awesome new update!
The first and most apparent change is that the first wave of the new water effects have been added (Pun definitely intended). This comes with some swanky looking reflections and some nicer waves and edges on the water itself. It also now, for the most part flows a lot more organically since I'm using some nifty visual effects as opposed to just a straight-up animated sprite. Water also now has some cute little reflections in it!
Visual Effects aside, I've also been taking a look at the gameplay. The biggest issue that I see so far isn't really a new one, but it's that the learning curve for new players seems to be too high for the average user, and the early game doesn't provide enough guidance or enough engagement to really hook players off the get-go. The main struggle that I run into here is that I don't want to hold everyone's hand because a huge draw for the game has always been the element of discovery.
The way I've decided to get past this hurdle is to provide some contextual guidance for new players that seem to be a bit stuck. I'm currently working on a bit of an AI that keeps track of what players have done for the first section of gameplay and provide small hints such as "Click on Tree's to begin chopping them" or "Press 'Q' to enter combat mode". My hope is that these little bits of advice will help guide new players towards what they should be doing to get the most out of the game, and keep them around and online long enough for them to get into the meat of the game.
In addition to some helpful hints, I've been plugging away at the first big goal for the game, some little tidbits of this have found their way into the current version on Mudhaven right now.
When players kill an enemy, be it an animal or npc, they will unlock a new recipe called an effigy. Each race has its own effigy and these effigies serve a mechanical purpose, aside from just being essentially a trophy of your conquests. They are used as sacrifices at certain altars found throughout the world. The Altars themselves won't be present in 0.9.16, but they'll be hot on its heels. Once the proper effigy has been sacrificed, these altars will teleport the player(s) near them to a mini-dungeon where they will find some treasures and new items to progress through the tech tree. The catch here is that you need to complete the dungeon in order to make use of the things you uncover inside them, and completing a dungeon means...
Bosses! With the addition of the first mini dungeon there will also be the first little boss in the game. I'm not going to spoil who or what the boss will be, what its attack patterns will be, or how to beat it, but I did want to let everyone know that they are coming, and they will be fun!
End of Spoilers!
So, all of that aside, there have been a few smaller changes to 0.9.16 in addition to everything we've already gone over. Signs have gotten a facelift, although I do still need to pixel up a new sprite for the stone one, but the wooden one will suffice for now. I've also been hot on the heels of bug fixes and have gotten a LOT of them squashed for this next little patch. There are still some more that need to be fixed, but that's also a constant struggle when I'm the only one working on the game and am still pumping new content and features into it.
Speaking of being the only developer, I want to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has supported Hazordhu so far, through buying and playing the game, joining the community and especially to the ever-growing list of Patrons! We're doing a poll there for the second Deep Dive to know what you want to learn more about, and it's currently neck and neck between Lore and Combat & Balancing! We're also getting really close to that first membership milestone, where Patrons will unlock even more exclusive behind-the-scenes stuff! If you aren't a Patron yet and find yourself in a fortunate enough position to become one, check out the different tiers, get access to some pretty cool exclusive merch, and sleep great at night knowing that you're supporting my crazy dream of sharing Hazordhu with as many people as possible!
Until next time! Happy Roleplaying!