DevLog #18 – Better Technology Tree and New Relics!
I’m glad to release v0.7g of the Destroy The Monoliths demo! It brings a bit of new content, as well as balance changes, quality of life improvements and bug fixes. Let’s review the main changes together!
New content and QoL features
This update adds a new building: the sonic trap! It shoots a sonic push to enemies stepping on it. This can be very efficient if you combine it with attractive or repulsive stations to force enemies to go over it… I hope you will enjoy the possibilities! The full game will contain more buildings of the ‘floor trap’ type.
Next, this patch adds 8 new relics! Most of them are improvements to a specific weapon or building. For instance, ‘Stock discrepancy’ makes it so that the collector gives you a bit more more resources than it actually collects. Sounds cool, right? But my personal favorite is probably ‘Piercing laser bullets’. Not a very original effect, but it’s always super satisfying to hit all enemies with a single shot so why do without? The great news is that is also affects your laser turrets so that’s a significant power upgrade! This is a design choice important to me in the game. Almost all relics that upgrade a weapon affect all the offensive turrets that rely on this weapon.
Let’s now talk about some quality of life improvements. First, there is now a new input shortcut to cancel building, and by default this is the right click. I’ve seen many people intuitively trying to use right click to cancel the building mode and requesting this. So I think it was much needed! You can now cancel either with this new shortcut and the usual menu key. As for all inputs, you can remap it to your liking in the settings.
Finally, I added an accessibility option to use the shield in toggle mode. I understand holding the key for long can be annoying for some people so I hope the toggle will make it more enjoyable.
Technology tree changes
When you collect enough experience and level up, you get to choose between different technologies, either weapons, building or relics. All these technologies are arranged internally into a tech tree structure with unlock dependencies. Each time you pick a technology, it makes some new choices available in the random pool of future level-ups. Here is what the tree looks like in my editor:
As you can see, there are a lot of technologies. More than 200 in the whole tree currently. So the pool of possible picks can get quite big, which is a problem. Because options are given randomly, you could end up with completely unrelated technologies and this would not feel very satisfying. I use two ways to solve this issue:
- The random selection is skewed to favor the successors of recent picks. Let’s imagine you just picked relic A, and relic A makes relic B available in the dependency tree. Then it means that at the next level-up relic B is a lot more likely to appear than any other option. This update accentuates this likelihood even more. I put dependencies between technologies that are similar or direct upgrades of one another. So it makes sense to think you may be particularly interested by the successors of your previous picks. This allows to be offered a more coherent set of options.
- The tree is arranged to have interesting branches and not have too many nodes available right from the start. Besides, the technologies that constitute the roots of the branches are often the technologies available in the different starting packs. This means that when you start with another pack, you are more likely to explore another part of the tree and thus to have different playthroughs. This update brings many changes to the dependency tree to make it a lot more interesting. I hope it also harmonizes with the meta progress to improve the overall variety and replayability of the game.
This changes will also help with the difficulty balance of the game as you will be more likely to stick to a few branches of the tree and thus stack more coherent technologies to make you stronger. I really like how these changes pushes the strategical aspect of the game. Each pick now influences even more your future options so you’d better think carefully about your decisions.
What is next?
I almost finished adding all the content I had planned for v1.0. This means we are getting close to the end and everything should hopefully be ready in time for the release date I am targeting within Q4.
On one side, I am now focusing a lot on debugging and improving the game balance, making sure everything works as expected and is enjoyable. On the other side, I am spending much time on marketing, reaching out to content creators, finalizing the configurations within Steamworks (the store page of the soundtrack is almost ready!), preparing a new trailer, etc.
That’s one aspect that makes it so hard to make and finish games, even more as a solo developer. Even though 99% of the work is done, the final stage for that last 1% seems never-ending and the todo list seems to never empty. But we will get to the release and I am really enjoying this journey! I am very grateful for everyone who tags along with me in this crazy adventure. Seeing people play and enjoy a game I created with so much passion always feels very rewarding and makes all this hard work way worth it. Videos games are a powerful artistic medium, and in the end I want nothing more than to deliver a unique piece of art that will hopefully entertain and inspire people, connect with their cleverness and creative sensibility.
As always, thank you for reading this post! The full changelog is available below. Please give the update a try and share your feedback on the Steam forums. And stay tuned for the upcoming announcements!
See you soon!
Full changelog (Demo v0.7g)
- Added sonic trap building
- Added 8 new relics
- New input shortcut available to cancel building mode, defaults to right click
- Added accessibility option to use the shield in toggle mode instead of hold
- Re-organized the whole tech tree and thus modified a lot of unlock dependencies
- Technologies made available in the tech tree by a recent pick are now even more likely to appear
- A checkbox indicator now shows if the key for building multiple times is hold or not
- Neutronic balls now move over liquids
- Changed ‘Explosive extremes’ relic into ‘Twin explosives’, now shoots two shells at normal + higher range instead of short + high
- Fixed mission info popup sometimes appearing over the status panel in the world map
- Fixed monoliths spawning sometimes too close to the Core on certain maps
- Fixed popup from the building mode sometimes not disappearing and remaining stuck on the screen