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18 March 2016 - Friday Update I

So, if you didn't catch it last week: From Earth is now available for download on Steam. Check it out here.

I have already uploaded some patches to some of the bugs people have found including some crashes and cases of player getting stuck. Current version is

  • Fixed New Game menu font being proportional.
  • Turret alarm colors should be easier to recognize.
  • Turrets will now make a recharging sound when out of ammo.
  • Fixed a case where NPCs would try to go walk into hlss_worker_controller position while being selected by the player.
  • Removed language menu tip message.
  • The backpack can now carry two items by default.
  • Removed redundant versions of alien sentences.
  • Added small introduction section to c3m2_prison (this might cause problems in save files if you were playing this map).
  • Fixed problems in c2m2_backpack related to backpack guy behavior.
  • The Emp Tool no longer automatically turns off when holstered.
  • Added Combat mode quick use for the Emp Tool."
  • Fixed attack bots not going down from damage.
  • Fixed player being able to buy items for zero money.
  • Improvements to c2m1_hub01.
  • Fixed not being able to take NPC items when in disguise.
  • Kra and Kro will now always ignore player disguises.
  • Fixed hlss_holodisplay hologram being too big.
  • Moved player scripted sequence main sequence update to player think function fixing problems people have had with the pushups sequence.
  • Removed redundant entity class.
  • Fixed possible crashes.
  • Fixed cases where player would be charged twice for items.
  • Fixed case where the player could select interactive machines while being in scripted sequences.
  • Fixed a case where tutorial fail output would not fire from Anthony.
  • Added missing sounds.
  • Added option to disable hologram rendertargets into FE options menu.
  • Batteries with only little energy should now be brighter.
  • Fixed a memory leak related to cloth piles.
  • Fixed a case where Anthony could die during the tutorial.
  • Patients in c1m4_hospital will always follow the player if the player is not violent (requires map respawn).
  • Store owners should no longer drink beer.
  • Fixed interactive machines that use component states (such as the filecabinets) not saving the states correctly.
  • Fixed memory leaks related to subtitles.
Big thanks for Source Gear Quad Led and Cloth Mother Monkey for helping find and fix some bugs. Big thanks to everyone who has left feedback and bug reports! We truly appreciate all the feedback we can get. We wouldn't be able to finish this game without your help. I hope you will join the discussion at the From Earth Steam forums.

From Earth

Also some feedback that I have received:

The control scheme is too complicated.

This is something I have thought about before, but never really went through the trouble of trying to simplify it. Let's look at the list of different commands.
  • +forward, +back, +moveleft, and +moveright.
  • slot1, slot2, slot3, slot4, slot5, slot6, slot7, slot8, and slot9 for inventory selection.
  • +jump: Used for jumping and climbing.
  • +duck: For crouching and releasing yourself when hanging from a cliff.
  • +use: Picking up items and entering interactive machines.
  • +reload: Reloading the rifle (this is kind of redundant, but reloading is a kind of a hassel during combat).
  • +speed: Running. Potentially this could be removed and have the player just automatically run after a short period. Optionally the Combat Stance could automatically enable running.
  • +attack: Using buttons on interactive machines and items. Also attacks like kicking.
  • +attack2: Item buttons. Grabbing attacks.
  • +attack3: Item Buttons. Blocking attacks.
  • +holster: Holstering items. Could potentially remove and just have players press item slots.
  • +pda: PDA
  • +drop: Dropping items. If you do not have this bound it will use the +use key for dropping. This was added after playtester feedback.
  • +inventory: Inventory. This is sort of necessary to be able to see items and to be able to combine them.
  • +examine: Originally the same as +combat stance, but that caused problems not being able to go to +combat stance while holding an item.
  • +combatstance: Combat stance is sort of important since it's also used to threaten enemies, but could potentially be removed.
  • fe_translator: Could potentially removed and just added as a button in the language menu, but then players would not be able to look at their Overheard sentences or unlocked words. But potentially it could show as a vgui button when you go to inventory mode.
  • fe_addlabel: This was added kind of late in the development. It's sort of redundant since you can already do the same with fe_translator, but it allows labeling items even without having unlocked the alien word.

So, that's a lot of keys! A lot of it has just kept piling up. One of the problems is the item buttons. Interactive machines can have as many buttons as the designer wants since you select them by looking at them, and you always use +attack to press them. But item buttons need to be usable even when you are not directly looking at the buttons. Items can only have three buttons in each state, so the control scheme needs to have three bindings for them. But the third button has always been kind of tricky. The middle button (default for the third button) is usually the mouse wheel button and it can be hard to click. I use the side mouse button for the third button myself, but not all mouses have it. The combat system also uses the same bindings for the three different types of attack. The third button is also used for blocking so it needs to be easily accessible in the control scheme.

Combat Stance is kind of tricky, too. Being able to threaten enemies is an important ability if you are doing a violent run of the game. Aliens wont be afraid of you if you are not in combat stance or if you are not holding any weapons. But sometimes you don't want to scare aliens, so you want to be able to control when you are in combat stance and when not.

The holstering button, picking up, and dropping could also be combined together better. Reducing them to two or even one keys would help reduce the complexity of the control scheme.

The language system is too complicated

I have been happy to hear a lot of positive feedback about the language system. The language system is semi-optional (but also my favourite part of the game ). It really depends how you want to play game and how much time do you want to spend talking to the aliens. But the UI needs some improvements and the game needs to be more clear about how it works in general.

Part of the problem with the language system is that there is multiple ways to say the same thing. You could for example say "this is a rifle" or "a rifle is this". Because of how the language system is programmed the sentences follow a specific structure. For most sentences it's:

Subject : Question : Verb : Subject : Particle : Subject

So, like with our rifle example, some versions of the same sentence might allow you to leave out the first Subject and others might allow you to leave out the second Subject. In these cases it would only show the verb as a required word which can be confusing.

On top of that the language system has some additional features to it like the concept of "bad grammar" and "politeness." Bad Grammar and Politeness are not really require to learn. It's not necessary for people to understand what kind of sentences are polite and what are not, and 99% of the time players are not required to speak in good grammar. There's only few cases where Politeness or Good Grammar helps you, and all of them only help you get what you need slightly faster. But the concept is still there. It's visible on the Language System help menu.

I am not sure if the tip messages that show up in the language UI are helping people. They might just be cluttering the UI. Are the "optional" and "required" tags really necessary? Do they help people build sentences, or would it be enough to have only the "requred" word columns blink when the player hasn't selected a word in them.

While we have had a lot of feedback already, I appreciate any feedback. Let us know what you find the most fun parts of the game and what not. What parts of the game are too difficult or confusing and how we could improve them? Leave feedback, make suggestions, report bugs, ask questions and take part on the discussion at the From Earth Steam forums.


by Au-heppa
Permalink: http://hlssmod.net/index.php?page=0&news=49

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