Beta 6 - Tanks!


Hello, friends! There is a new build out today for There Will Be Ink. Beta 6, let’s call it. It is a big one! There are tanks, new missions, reworked controls, a new game engine, AI and UI improvements, many enhancements and fixes, and much more. Before I jump into the details of the update, a small note about a big change since the last update back in July.

As was the case for many, my day jobs were affected by the pandemic. Once June came around, my usual summer work was not there, and I had to look for something else to pay the bills. Luck was on my side, and I managed to get a full time position with Mohawk Games, my first job job in the game industry, doing QA work on their fantastic historical 4x game, Old World. They are a great bunch of people, and the game is incredibly good. I highly recommend checking it out! Anyhow, some of my other work picked back up after I started with Mohawk, which made for a very busy summer indeed. As a result, work on TWBI was very slow for a while there. Needless to say, my springtime goal to finish 1.0 for September 2020 was not met. But! Now that I’ve settled in to my new routine, I’m finding ways to make more time for TWBI, and I did indeed get a lot done over the past few months. On to that!

Tanks

That’s right, There Will Be Are Tanks! They are showcased in the (current) last mission of the main, “There Will Be Ink” campaign, but they can also be placed in the map editor. There will be more missions to come that feature tanks. Although quite functional, tanks are still a work in progress. For instance, some of the art and effects are not finalized, and I’m still sorting out their pathfinding methods. I’ve been freestyling it with different heuristic methods, which works well a lot of the time (and hilariously bad some of the time), but I might just end up with something more methodical and established for pathfinding, like trusty ol’ A*. All that being said, I find the tanks pretty fun and I’ll be curious to hear any feedback on them (see note below on the new Discord server!). I know I had a lot of fun banging on a cast iron frying pan to make those bullet-hitting-metal sound effects.

New Missions

I won’t say too much about the new missions, so to leave something to discover for the player, but most of the new levels feature unique mechanics, terrain, and environmental effects of some form or another. They are quite a lot more varied than the Act I missions, and some are pretty difficult. Also, more is learned about your Alt Write foes starting right away with mission 9. I can taste that Pulitzer prize already!


Gamepad Controls

At last, I think I’ve got gamepad controls optimized pretty well. I’ve eliminated “precise mode” that was previously activated by holding down the right analog stick. Instead, it’s a lot easier to make precise adjustments with standard aiming, and aiming vertically is much more smooth. In addition to that, I’ve added a “free aim” mode, which is toggled by pressing down (not holding) the right analog stick. In “free aim” mode, the cursor stays put and is moved using the right analog stick in a similar way to how the mouse moves the cursor. This method is much easier to use for aiming with RPG infantry (as well as tanks) and can also be effective for strafing and the like.

GameMaker Studio 2 (and a very pesky Windows 10 2004 update issue)

Although I’ve used GMS 2 for other small projects, I stuck to trusty ol’ GMS 1.4 with TWBI, mostly because I was used to (and still prefer) the old workspace layout. But, aside from getting with the times, I recently discovered a pretty big issue that encouraged me to make the move. As (hopefully) many others did, I held off on updating to the 2004 build of Windows 10, released earlier this year. Upon finally doing so, I found that it effectively broke TWBI, in that the game runs at about 10fps below the default 60fps the game is designed for, regardless of what’s happening in the game. I tested things out on a couple systems with the same results. I was able to find a fix in GMS 1.4 to get the issue mostly resolved, but it was still running at 1 or 2 fps below 60, which is unacceptable. The only way I could fully resolve the issue was to port TWBI to GMS 2, which actually was a pretty smooth process. There were a few quirks I had to work out, and there are sure to be a more remaining, but I think things will be good going forward. I may have even gained a few fps in my TWBI stress tests in GMS 2 vs. GMS 1.4. My main worry is that a lot of players are experiencing this performance lag, especially since the game was released as part of itch.io’s Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality a few months back, during which the player base of TWBI greatly expanded. I originally hoped to include the Act II boss level as part of beta 6.0, but it will just have to wait for 6.1 as I hurry to get this performance fix out.


Discord

There Will Be Ink now has its very own Discord server. Come on by for a chat, the latest updates, test build access for Steam users, and so on!

All of The Other Things

There are a lot of other things! The full list can be found in the changelog below, but a few highlights include beaches and landing craft, unit footprints, new stats and badges around mines, more effective mine laying for the Engineer, more friendly friendly-fire, grayed out aiming cone when reloading, Grabby Mode improvements, player colour updates, StickMan Boss rebalance, AI improvements, many small QoL improvements, performance optimizations, and many bug fixes. Also starting very soon (Oct. 1st), Spooky Edition is unlocked! I’ve updated the artwork, so everything should kick in automatically come October first. Seasonal content can be disabled from the Options menu if you prefer the standard visuals.


Changelog

New Features & Content

  • Tanks!
  • 6 new missions added to “There Will Be Ink” campaign, most with unique features
  • Reworked gamepad controls
    • Easier to make precise adjustments; smooth aiming for full 360 degree range
    • Replaced “precise aim” mode with “free aim” mode – Right analog button toggles aim to behave like mouse
    • Added slight gamepad rumble when player-controlled unit dies
  • Landing craft (for specific campaign missions)
  • Unit footprints (and treads for tanks. Footprints are player-only by default; can be changed in options)
  • New Stats: Mines Detected, Mines Defused, Mines Recaptured
  • New Badges: Field Studies, Recycler Award

Changes & Enhancements

  • Ported TWBI to GMS:2 – resolves performance issue with Win10 2004 update, may be some quirks remaining
  • Updated Spooky Edition art
  • Engineer now has mine detector by default
    • Replaced “Mine Detector” skill with “Mine Laying”
  • Friendly fire now has a ‘safe’ distance where it won’t hit friendly units (similar to how it doesn’t hit nearby cover)
  • Sightline/aiming cone are now gray when a unit is reloading
  • Grabby Mode icon is now tinted to player colour, fades when no valid option, and draws line to target unit
  • Reduced Grabby Mode selection range
  • Player colour is now based on gamepad index (and not order joined)
  • Revised player colours (removed some grays, added cyan and yellow)
  • StickMan boss now spits grenades instead of having flamethrower
  • StickMan now gets one additional hp per enemy destroyed in campaign (to max 1000)
  • The mouse cursor is now hidden when placing or dragging items in the Map Editor
  • Team 2 units now face left by default at battle start
  • Bullets, Grenades, RPGs now have an armour pierce attribute
  • Added fire resistance attribute to units (applies mostly to tanks)
  • Toggling fullscreen on the Options page now changes the mode immediately
  • Cycling resolutions on the Options page while in windowed mode now changes the window size
  • AI: Units no longer throw grenades at very close distances
  • AI: Units will no longer attack buildings whose flags are being lowered
  • AI: Engineers now space mines out a little further
  • AI: Engineers will now avoid laying mines on buildings and other objects
  • AI: RPG infantry now target the center of their target instead of the nearest edge
  • Units now always leave the HQ standing up
  • The game now pauses when Alt+Tabbing out
  • Pressing Esc during Quick Battle now defaults to pause menu (instead of going to Map Editor)
  • Chance to bleed out is now inversely proportional to a unit’s overKill (HP below 0) at time of death
  • Unit stamina, health, vengeance, etc is now hidden when in building
  • Tooltips on Main Menu now come up more quickly and use a larger font (helps with lower res displays)
  • Shells are now slightly smaller
  • Player name colours on “click/button to Join” UI are now all gray
  • “Deploying Weapon” text no longer displays when HMG is being fired while undeployed
  • Optimized method for detecting nearest hostile projectile
  • Optimized target check for units with “Hold Position” behaviour
  • Optimized checks for weapon deployment
  • Optimized building draw code
  • Optimized unit draw code
  • Some simplification around sandbag generation

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed performance issue with Windows 10 2004 update (ported TWBI to GMS:2)
  • Fixed bug where bullets could hit a unit more than once in same step (eg head, body, legs)
  • Fixed bug where the last unit who dies can still be controlled after defeat if they are bleeding out
  • Fixed bug where incapacitated units could be controlled by cycling left/right to them
  • Fixed bug where game would hang when joining Blue team on “Stick Man” boss level
  • Fixed bug where countdown mission would not end after surrendering
  • Fixed map corruption bug when Medical Crate was placed in Map Editor
  • Units no longer continue rolling when entering a building while rolling
  • Grabby Mode is no longer activated when Alt+Tabbing out of game
  • Puddles no longer generate in cloudy weather
  • StickMan boss’ arms no longer animate when game is paused
  • AI: HQ will no longer target incapacitated units for airstrike
  • AI: Units will no longer consider their own cover as in the way when finding a clear shot
  • AI: Recruits will now resupply when running out of grenades while attacking a building
  • AI: Fixed bug where Engineers weren’t consistent when determining coords for mines
  • Various text fixes and updates to TWBI campaign text

Files

TWBI - Beta 6 23 MB
Version 0.6.0.0 31 days ago

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