Urban Strife - Development Update

HiddenX

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White Pond Games has posted a development update for Urban Strife:

Urban Strife - Midsummer 2022 Development Update

Under the scorching summer sun, the zombie horde is creeping closer and closer to your hard drive.

Layered Portraits
We know how important it is for the player to immerse into the game world and how much the portraits of your team and your avatar matter in this respect. So we've implemented a system of layers under the character blueprints that saves your choices in the shape of a portrait when you create your avatar's 3d model, including sex, face type, skin color, haircut and choice of clothing with their respective colors. Of course the system can be expanded to regular NPC actors too (those you interact and have a dialogue with), allowing modders to create a lot of variations, using just one 3d body mesh and collection of easy-to-make 2D layers.

NPC Portraits Restyling
Since we were working on the immersion factor, we took a look at all the NPC actor portraits and upgraded them to more refined, hand-painted versions (initial heads were just renders of the 3d mesh). Now they will fit the story, their intended role and background and will be even more lovable (I mean just look how redneck cute Billy Bo is, don't you want to take him home?).

Spawners v2 (continued)
We have talked about spawners a lot, we know. We are quite excited about this update because it is quite transformative for the gameplay. Today we'll show you the smallest Prologue spawner in action (bus zombie herd). What you're seeing is basically just one small wave of zombies, awakened from the pile of slumbering dead hidden in the bus. If you keep making a racket, more raise up until the spawner is destroyed (by fire) or emptied (herd total depends on the difficulty level and zone). If you played last year's demo and felt the zombies were a walkover, this is another universe now. Approach even the smallest herd foolishly and you'll get your team swimming in more "friends" than a stage diver at a rock concert.

New low level (craftable) weapons and ammo
The sawed off hunting shotgun with a 2 shot mechanism has been ready since the demo, but somehow didn't make it into that build. In the new game prologue we've restructured both the loot found and the equipment of the early enemies. We've found this vintage hunting shotgun, in its sawed off version, to be a perfect starter weapon, together with the redneck crossbow and the nailgun. Since the scavengers you're encountering don't exactly have access to a weapons trader, you'll find out they've resorted to crafting their own ammo, grandpa style, using packing paper or cardboard, gunpowder and some nails. You won't hit a flying pigeon with this setup and from range those nails will go everywhere, but get up close and they're suddenly a handful of deadly metal pieces spewed out of a shotgun.
Also this homemade recipe of nail shots will fill in the gap nicely until you get your shelter's ammo press working or access to a stable supply of "regular" munitions. Nails are everywhere, cardboard too, you just got to be a bit lucky scoring some gunpowder. You can laugh at uncle Jim Bob's recipe, but when that zombie is in your face you'll thank him!

New Animation Pipeline
Urban Strife development has had multiple artists contribute their work when it comes to character models and their animations. It's quite a challenge to standardize input when you're working with freelancers and when you couple that with the fact that the game includes work done years ago, some with source files lost, making upgrades to the characters risked being an impossible task.
As we're adding new talent to the team, we've found out that we don't have a way to import our models into major 3d tools. For example, importing animations on 3DS Max Biped from incompatible skeletons proved to be a hair pulling experience. So we went and built our own pipeline for HumanIK in Maya and Character Studio in 3DS Max. This now allows us to import/export animations generated from multiple sources, for different skeletons. Also, we took the time and built ourselves a complete library of all idle animations (the start point for animations in general) for any future expansions and modding.
This entire experience taught us a lot, so the post-release modding SDK will come with a special pipeline for Blender, the free, open-source 3D creation suite. We assume most modders would rather use that, considering the price of the professional tools isn't exactly cheap.

Animations Revamp
As we've mentioned, the new tools allowed us to add new animations to Urban Strife and revamp some of the old ones that feel clunky or unnatural. You can see a small example of the old rotation in crouch vs the new one. The animation revamp is not just eye candy (it's a lot of that too) but also goes into quality of life improvements. Poor animations, like the slow turn when opening containers, were on top of the list of complaints we had from the testers. Fluid movements produce smooth gameplay and while it's not an easy task (Urban Strife uses more than 1000 animations), we'll try to improve as many as we can.
Just to understand the complexity of our animations system, most of the transitions should be multiplied by 5 (unarmed, armed with a pistol, a rifle, a one-handed melee weapon or a two-handed melee weapon), then multiplied by 2 (standing / crouched) and then multiplied by 2 again (for the relaxed or aiming stances). Do the math

Regiments Launch
Since we're all fans of strategy here, do not forget to mark August 16th in your calendar. In just a few days our good friends from Bird's Eye Games will launch their much anticipated cold-war RTS. If you have played their demo you know you must have it on your wishlist already, but if you haven't, do it now. You won't regret it.
Thanks Redglyph!

More information.
 
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henriquejr

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This game sounds even better with every update. It's become one of my most anticipated titles at this point.
Mine too!!

I haven't been following that closely all game updates so I don't know if they've fixed some IMO necessary balance issues (e.g. Molotovs) but even if they didn't yet, I'm confident they will. Anyway, it's a title I'll surely play :)
 
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Couchpotato

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So no update on a release date yet as we have four months till 2023 starts. As said on another thread 2022 was a dry year for RPGs, unless you love obscure games & JRPGs.
 
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JDR13

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I haven't been following that closely all game updates so I don't know if they've fixed some IMO necessary balance issues (e.g. Molotovs) but even if they didn't yet, I'm confident they will. Anyway, it's a title I'll surely play :)
Were molotovs OP in the demo? I don't remember.

One of the devs mentioned on the Steam forum that there will be another demo close to release and that it will show off a lot more of the game's mechanics.
 
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henriquejr

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Were molotovs OP in the demo? I don't remember.

One of the devs mentioned on the Steam forum that there will be another demo close to release and that it will show off a lot more of the game's mechanics.
I'll quote a comment from another user in the Steam's game discussion page:

"About balance, the molotov cocktails are very OP and could be down a bit. They do a LOT of damage + they "fear" the character(s) for an entire turn. (...)"

I also noticed that when I played the demo last year. Actually if your char is caught in the molotov's area of effect before she can act in the round, then she "loses" the current round (the one she's hit) AND the next. I just don't remember if we choose the direction where the character will head in order to flee from the flames OR if the game randomly chooses so, which could prove being even worse since the fleeing character could end up in an ambush herself.

Again, I don't know if molotovs got nerfed but IMO I think they should somehow.
 
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bjon045

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I think molotovs should require a turn to prepare to throw i.e. lighting them and getting ready to throw. I would think firing a gun or even a bow can be done faster than a molotov.
 
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JDR13

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I also noticed that when I played the demo last year. Actually if your char is caught in the molotov's area of effect before she can act in the round, then she "loses" the current round (the one she's hit) AND the next. I just don't remember if we choose the direction where the character will head in order to flee from the flames OR if the game randomly chooses so, which could prove being even worse since the fleeing character could end up in an ambush herself.

Again, I don't know if molotovs got nerfed but IMO I think they should somehow.
I wonder if that was a bug. I think it's unlikely that the devs meant for a character to lose 2 rounds from a molotov. It's also a pretty old demo at this point though, and I expect the full game to be significantly different in some ways.
 
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Redglyph

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I like this post by the developer on Steam:

Modding will be our top priority post release with a full SDK for anyone interested.

I'm not sure what it entails because it's made with UE4 for which the SDK used to be more complex than with Unity when it's raw. Let's hope they can make it more accessible to everyone.
 
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One thing I learned is good mod tools on release make every game better, and extends your games longevity. Just look at NWN, and every Bethesda game for examples.
 
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Fans even fix the game for them - look at Cyberpunk for instance. 😅 (maybe there wasn't even an SDK)
CDPR promised mod tools for Witcher 3 and Cyberpunk but as usual it was modders who did the job. I believe the team behind the Witcher 3 tools is working on CP2077 now.
 
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Redglyph

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Their store page mentions a release planned for 2022, so if they have other ideas they should update that at some point, maybe in the next two months or so.

They said in May that an Early Access was not off the table yet but that they didn't think it would give them any advantage. And that a new demo had been considered, in the scope of Next Fest in October or independently, but that would take them time they didn't have so they didn't sound too enthusiastic. Then early June they mentioned that they had almost completed the first tier of the main campaign.

It all seems to indicate that a 2022 objective will be hard to reach, even if it's not impossible.
 
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JDR13

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They said in May that an Early Access was not off the table yet but that they didn't think it would give them any advantage. And that a new demo had been considered, in the scope of Next Fest in October or independently, but that would take them time they didn't have so they didn't sound too enthusiastic.
One of devs said last month that there will be be another demo/playtest before release.

As for a full release before 2023 though, yeah, it's starting to seem less likely.
 
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Couchpotato

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Their store page mentions a release planned for 2022, so if they have other ideas they should update that at some point, maybe in the next two months or so.

They said in May that an Early Access was not off the table yet but that they didn't think it would give them any advantage. And that a new demo had been considered, in the scope of Next Fest in October or independently, but that would take them time they didn't have so they didn't sound too enthusiastic. Then early June they mentioned that they had almost completed the first tier of the main campaign.

It all seems to indicate that a 2022 objective will be hard to reach, even if it's not impossible.
Really past updates claimed the game wouldn't go the Early Access route. Something must have happened behind the scenes with the games publisher, and finances.

As for the release date they were targeting 2022, but yeah it wasn't set in stone.
 
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Redglyph

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Really past updates claimed the game wouldn't go the Early Access route. Something must have happened behind the scenes with the games publisher, and finances.

As for the release date they were targeting 2022, but yeah it wasn't set in stone.
I think they were replying to a question in the Steam forums, they didn't start talking EA on their own. And the general feeling of the answer is "no, we won't".
 
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