A very productive few months!
Since our last devblog, things have progressed rapidly behind the scenes. We’ve been able to bring forward some of our plans and fit them in around the upcoming content. We’ve also been able to bring on two new full-time artists, Ozan and Batuhan, who we had been working with on a freelance basis for a while now. They are both Turkish so feel free to say hello in either English or Turkish (for the many Turkish fans of the game!).
You can check out some of their previous work for Chapter 5 below:
As many of you will have seen on discord, we are attending Format 2021 based in Birmingham, UK and will have a developer stand for the entire duration. We’d love to meet some of you guys and hand out some merch, so if you’re in the area or don’t mind a drive, grab some tickets Here. There will be guest appearances, other great developers (I know Melzeebub is excited to meet the guys behind Hell Let Loose) as well as food and a bar so definitely check it out if you can.
As far as we are aware, this is the first gaming convention to happen post-covid so tickets are going fast; we recommend grabbing them as soon as possible.
For those not able to attend, don’t fret, this is still good news for you guys too – We intend to have all of the new features out and tested prior to Format. That means the new features are coming, and soon!
We’ve now got our localisation system live! While it’s still a little rough around the edges (some things still need localising), it should be miles easier for non-english speakers to understand whats going on in the notes and the voice clips. Talking of voice clips, we’ve also got subtitles going now so you don’t have to scream at your friends for talking over them. It also clarifies the name of Officer Mills, who many people seem to think is called Officer Milf…
At the time of writing, we have the following languages on the live build:
We have Chinese, Spanish, Turkish and Russian on the way too!
New Achievements are on the way
Many of you have been asking about the new achievements on steam; those will be coming very soon, and will be granted upon startup to those who have already completed the relevant chapter.
Once we get the big features out of the way, we will be revisiting the original chapters and revamping them with more story elements, new scares and some tricky easter eggs. There will of course be some new achievements coming too!
Death System / Revive System
So whats this new death system all about? Well to start, we’re adding a life system. No more running into monsters to get back to the start (well, unless you want to, I’ll explain further down).
As it stands, death in Labyrinthine works like this:
Monster sees you, runs to you, kills you, goes back to wandering around, you see a movie and then you reappear alive and well. It’s not the most exciting system…
The new system in the works will do the following:
Monster sees you, runs to you, kills you in the world (i.e. your friends get to see you being thrown around and attacked while they have a chance to escape), you drop to the floor and begin to bleed-out at which point someone can revive you or if you bleed-out, your team loses a life. If you’re out of lives, you enter spectator mode. What happens when everyone dies with no lives left? Game over.
We’ve noticed a lot of people have loved the ability to take the game at their own pace without being punished. That’s why we’re also including an “unlimited lives” option so that people can play without the worry of dying and losing a team life.
We don’t have a great video at hand of the most recent system, but here’s an example of how it looked a couple weeks back. Trust me when I say it looks a lot better now, with polish to the animations and camera smoothing. This system is pretty much ready to go and we’ve rigged it up to the old video system – we’re hoping to have this out pretty soon!
New Animations and New AI
We posted the video above on both discord and the last update for Labyrinthine, but in case you’ve not seen it yet, it’s posted again here!
As we said from the start, the old video death screens were a temporary measure until we had the time / resources to do in-world animations. Well we’ve spent the past few months working with a high-quality animator to get every monster’s death animations done, both from the front and behind (that’s right, things will be sneaking up on you!).
We also wanted to make sure everything fit together so we’ve gone ahead and had all of the monsters re-animated too. This means the monsters will have completely different feels to them as you come across them in the game!
Those of you eyeing up the official Labyrinthine pipeline may have also noticed the “AI Rework” card. We know the AI can be a little strange at times; there’s several behaviours that are designed to prevent them from bugging out that can lead to them doing weird things like aggroing and de-aggroing quickly or screaming over and over (looking at you witch). We have plans to make them much more intelligent and have them use more than just sight to hunt you down…
While we don’t have anything to show just yet, we’re going to be reworking all of the monsters sounds that fit their new animations. These new sounds will make the monsters much more threatening !
Settings Reworked + Steam Input
A few changes worth mentioning; settings are now stored in a cfg file in the game folder’s data directory and we’ve also switched over to SteamInput for controllers. What this means is that Steam should handle most of the controller work in the background. This provides support for a much larger range of controllers and also gives users the ability to customise the controls to their liking at a much finer level. For example, being able to modify deadzones, change the way buttons work, enable haptics etc.
Bug Tracker + Whole bunch of bug fixes
We’re getting a ton of usage out of the new bugtracker. We’ve been able to identify several issues linked to each other by having the tracker, so it’s been a huge help. Massive appreciation to the moderators for what they do! If you spot anything that isn’t already on there, make sure to post it on our discord or on the steam discussion boards.
Also, remember that the bugtracker is open to the public for comments so if you want to add something in relation to the bug, please do.
That’s right, glowsticks are being changed!
We’ve decided to make them a little more interactive. Currently on live, we have some new physics enabled which will allow them to bounce around a little (it’s a video):
This is cool and all, but Michal wanted to do something even better… Introducing throwable glowsticks! We’re going to be adding this shortly but you will now be able to “charge” your throw and launch glowsticks with some distance. Of course, short taps will still drop them on the floor but this new mechanic can be used to pinpoint areas, check corridors or just for fun. (NOTE: Does nothing to stop monsters running at you).
Check out the video below:
Randomisation has had a ton of work done to it over the past two months. Since last time, we’ve implemented the objective system, cleaned up generation, added puzzle generation, got monsters working, added start and end points and created a scaling system based on the users level. There’s a bit of work to do yet and we’d like to get a couple maze types ready before release, but this one is very close now! Keep your eyes peeled…
Testing the randomisation mode, we can say it definitely brings back that fear of being lost. For those who have played Labyrinthine’s story chapters a few times, you will have likely mentally mapped the areas and know the best routes for escape. Having that safety net removed, you are once again being stalked in unfamiliar territory. We are not looking forward to testing with the new AI reworks!
There’s a lot more we want to bring to the table with the randomisation mode, including new traps, monsters, maps and secrets. It’s likely it will initially release semi-barebones and then be improved upon as we go. We think there’s a ton of potential if we pull this mode off right and we’ve got a few incentives to play it regularly up our sleeves too! For example, we’ve been testing the water with a customisation system. We’re planning to include customisation options for players to find within the randomised mazes, with some items being super rare and spawning only in certain maze types. Stay tuned for more of this though!
While this looks super goofy, it’s a development screenshot showing a skin with woodchips, as well as a customisation option, the red cube (that was off center but I don’t have a better pic to hand!).
We also found this on google and thought it would fit in great with the Jonny Honks fair theme!
Chapter 5 Updates
I think nearly everyone in discord is sick of seeing “When is chapter 5?” being asked several times a day so let’s get chatting about it!
Let’s start off by saying Chapter 5 is unlike anything seen so far, not just in the environment, but also the visual quality and gameplay, let me explain why…
If you don’t really care why chapter 5 is taking time, feel free to skip ahead to the good stuff, I’ll leave a title for you.
Labyrinthine was started in October 2019 with a planned release of October 2020. I won’t go into the full details and bore you but we spent a few months working on the original plan for the game, one giant maze that was hosted on a dedicated server. We then reworked the game into what you see today, several chapters with four players per game. These months lost obviously meant we had to work quicker to reach our intended release date. Thanks to the fantastic kickstarter supporters, both Zach and Lonnie were able to go full time and we were fully on track for our halloween release. That is, until we were hit by several checks by steam that we didn’t expect. This caused us to cut content from Chapter 3 to get the game out; Something that has been painfully obvious from players reactions to it.
We had originally intended to rework Chapter 3 after the Early Access release and just get it up to what we had planned, but that’s when we were hit with problem #2. Steam Refunds.
Any aspiring game developers out there, watch out; any game selling for more than $5 with less than 2 hours of content will be refunded. A lot. We sat and watched streamers play through the game, get to the end and say “That was good fun, and we’re still in time to get our money back” and it wasn’t even an uncommon occurrence sadly (honestly, people were openly writing in the refund reason that they were refunding it as they completed the game or because they were under the limit).
The reworks to Chapter 3 never got done because we put all of the focus in getting Chapter 4 out as well as fixing all of the networking issues that had cropped up. We then had to spend some time getting Chapter 4 reworked as it had been rushed due to the amount of refunds we were getting so the small sample size of testers didn’t reflect the wider audience. If you look at our time-line, it sort of looks like this
EA release -> bug fixes -> Chapter 4 + Network Overhaul -> bug fixes -> Chapter 4 rework -> bug fixes
The Chapter 4 rework was well received and the average playtime was now over the refund time, which brought down our refunds substantially.
So then we are there in April; we’re earning enough to keep us all in full time employment, we’re bringing in new talent to speed things up and improve and we don’t have the same levels of urgency that we did before. We are going to go all out this time round and really deliver something that players will love. We want to show people what we’re capable of!
Okay, time for the good stuff
Chapter 5 looks stunning. With all the pressures lifted, we’ve taken things a little slower and properly planned out how we want the game to feel and look. We’ve spent time learning new techniques, doing more photoscans and perfecting our art workflow. Unity is often given a bad reputation for “looking bad” but that’s simply not true. Just check out some of these images from in-game!
We’re sure the pressing question is still “when is chapter 5?”. The answer is simply, when it’s done.
We can’t give any solid dates as we then have to stick to them and that means rushing stuff again. We’ve got a hell of a lot of it done already despite it being a large map but we’d rather have it to a quality we want before we start making any promises or estimates.
It’s probably not the news a lot of people want to hear, but we think it’s the right direction and we’d like to think most people would agree (I’m sure many people will let us know!).
We intend to revisit the old zones too and rework them to meet our standards (after Chapter 5 of course!). There’s a lot of potential for Labyrinthine to grow into and we fully intend to keep it growing as long as we can.
Time to end the update
Thanks for making it this far into the dev update, it’s definitely been a long one! Below are the Chapter 5 screenshots uncropped (done on an ultrawide screen).