Category: Dev Blog

The Isle has made it into the Top 100 for IndieDB’s Indie of the Year!

Thank you for all your support and for pushing The Isle into the Top 100! It means a lot to all of us for making it this far.

Indie of the Year Awards

Click the image to vote for The Isle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s not much time, so be sure to get your vote in.

 

Ho-hum. The December update. I skipped November… and October… and I’m a week late on this one. I sat with WordPad open for a week with the phrase “It’s been a year already?” and proceeded to write absolutely dick-all after that until tonight. I’ve formulated this announcement in my head several times over, but it’s always defaulted to a touchy subject so I’m just going to drop it all on you. By the end, I’m sure it’ll be less of an update and more of an address.

Firstly, it has been a year. That’s insane. It’s hard to explain to someone who hasn’t published a game before exactly what it’s like to have your work made real. This game’s inception dates back several years in a dining room, throwing ideas down in a journal while I worked on another game entirely. This was the dream; my “Jurassic Park” so to speak. Seeing The Isle come to life is one of the proudest moments of my life and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Having the support of so many of you is impossible to describe, and no amount of thanks will appropriately do it justice but I thank you all the same. I’m not good with gratitude or expressing severe bouts of joy yet this was one of the coolest fucking things I’ve ever done and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (and that’s about as close as I’ll get).

The past-tense context is the problem. On a personal level with all irreverant jokes aside, I’m not happy as a game developer. I’m sure you all noticed the October update never got properly addressed. November just got glanced over and forgotten. My streams have become steadily less frequent. I would say it’s because I procrastinate but in all honesty I’m just not inspired the way I used to be. It’s actually quite difficult to say I honestly don’t want to work on The Isle, but I would be lying if I said anything otherwise. The game has steadily increased in popularity since release, regardless of outcry. The team is getting more talented with each passing day and we are discovering and pushing the limits of ourselves and each other, yet I can’t overlook my overwhelming disinterest in dealing with the public anymore.

For the longest time I demanded of myself and those that worked on this game to be as transparent as possible because the lack of it destroys so many early access (henceforth EA, but not ‘that’ EA) games. I despise that EA games have a mostly opaque window with just some outlined roadmap that may or may not be touched upon, whilst being abandoned somewhere down the road for some reason or another. It’s disheartening to see good projects go under and get listed as scams and blatant milking attempts get released so frequently. EA as a whole is a fucking trainwreck, but it’s the best learning opportunity an aspiring game developer could ever ask for. You have an entire host of projects from failures, abandonments, and successes, to research and study. Most of these game lay out what went wrong, and some have the occasional devblog where you can put together how they worked their process.

I figured I could avoid a great deal of player concern and general accusation of being “ayyy lmao scam” by being as open as possible about what the game is, our mindset as developers, and what we do as we do it. I took to blogging, dev rolls, and even streaming almost around the clock before we even released. Since that first day it has more or less worked heartily against us. I know a great deal of you looked forward to and watched a great many of my development streams, and I’m extremely grateful for your support, but I genuinely cannot openly develop this game in front of an audience anymore.

For over a year I’ve seen explanations as to why decisions are made go almost universally unheard. A temporary removal in sandbox, which is something this game has not nor will it ever intend to be, resulted in the most absurd childish uproar I have ever seen. Multiple attempts over the past year at openly displaying how development works is still met with incorrigible bashing of “why are skins being made instead of this mechanic!?” I genuinely cannot fathom the entitlement with such a surplus of ignorance.

To my great astonishment, it seems widely accepted in the gaming culture that gamers with not the slightest clue of how development works should be allowed to berate and shit on the works of those that create. I have yet to find another profession where it’s considered acceptable to walk in and tell someone how to do their craft. I have mercilessly defended almost all decisions done on this project and displayed the reasoning that drives decisions or the purpose of something that exists (or lack thereof) in the game, but all it does is fuel the growing mob mentality that I’m just a menial asshole that managed to produce a game. That being said, I am not apologizing when I feel I am in the right. I’m too mentally exhausted to put up with the childish behavior, and rather than continue to unsuccessfully display to people why things are happening, it’s wiser to take development to radio silence.

Thank you to those that have given us your support. As I have always said: We go forward.

Regards,
Dondi

Indie of the Year Awards


Cast your vote for the 7th annual Indie Game of the Year hosted by IndieDB and Proudly sponsored by Square Enix Collective. Your vote would mean a great deal to all of us working on The Isle. Just click on either image (above or below) to be taken to our IndieDB page to vote.

Thanks!

 

 



2016 Indie of the Year Awards via Indie DB

Map Cycle and IsleV3:

Alright, so at this point the whole host of awful of early maps are gone. For clarity’s sake, these were all awful maps on a performance and technical level, thus will never be restored. All future patches will directly involve V3, which will become the standardized global “default” map, including that dirty little sandbox mode when it returns.

Upon the overwhelming player request, we are making a second island that is 50% smaller than V3, which can be used on unofficial servers. It might be worth noting that it won’t be paid DLC either.

Two for One (Spinosaurus):

To dispel rumors, we do have two Spinosaurus models and they function very differently. We have one based off of the most accurate knowledge we have of the creature to date, resulting in an aquatic hunter that branches off from the Suchomimus. The other is a fictionalized (See how we used the word fictionalized? We know it’s not accurate and we’re doing it anyway) apex land carnivore that can stand up against other Tier 5 predators.

(I do want to note that there’s this huge issue that people seem to have that involves us providing choice of content for players such as fictionalized dinosaurs and feathered/unfeathered options. Moderators will be catching your passive-aggressive snark and throwing you out. Some people like their fiction and some people like their accuracy. A lot of you need to learn to be civil.)

Artificial Intelligence:

So we’ve (ITT: Deathlyrage) finally begun working on artificial intelligence. Aside from it being a thing that currently crashes everything, sometime in September it will stop being that thing that crashes all the things. Initially we just want to fill in that bit of buffer which is a huge island with only 50 people, and only running into people at watering holes is kind of a bummer. We already have a few plans in place to replicate appropriate behavior such as having them react accordingly to player threats and have their own food/thirst desires, as well as the appropriate nesting mechanics once they’ve been introduced to the world.

Currently they serve as general passive filler, but we will keep you updated as we advance forward on this front.

Progression Updates:

As this section is rather long…

  • TLDR Herbivores will no longer gain progression points by simply being alive.
  • TLDR Carnivores will have an exponentially larger cost to progress to the next tier.

Right now progression is super simple to the point where you can pretty much AFK through it, but you’ve had enough time to acclimate to the system and need to slowly reach a higher tier. Since players are relatively capable of just finding water and then trotting off somewhere remote and just inhaling trees left and right, finding a bush, and sitting in it alt-tabbed while waiting on points to accumulate until they can move to the next dinosaur, we’ll be moving all herbivores to specific diets. What eats will differ from , however and may have the same diet, forcing a cap of sustainable dinosaurs in an area and the players will have to migrate elsewhere, or just kill the competition.

Along with these diets, there will be a globally edible unique plant that will directly contribute to your progression. We will remove the point accumulation simply for being alive, and move it towards allocating and eating these plants. There will not be enough for large herds to all progress at once, and the same starvation/dehydration point reduction will still apply. This means their progression points requirements will remain relatively the same for herbivores, as the activities required will stretch out the time they remain as each dinosaur exponentially.

All in all, we intend to have the larger herds more varied and frequently roaming in order to accomodate any mixed species, or to horde resources to themselves as specific strict-species/diet herbivores. However, we don’t want people to feel that the only way to move up in tiers is just running around and amassing as much of this “unique plant” as possible, which is why you can accumulate progression points by being social and nesting.
This should impact carnivores in a positive way when coupled with their longer progression times to where they must succeed in multiple hunts while still not outright starving just because they failed a few times.

Growth Stages & Nesting:

We currently plan to have two forms of dinosaur growth maturity:

Natural progression: A player moves up to the next tier in the same fashion as they do now by having the necessary amount of progression points and using the screen. This will put them at the “average” size, which we consider subadult. This is suitable for the first players breaking through to the next tier, regardless of whether or not they are in groups or solo.

(As you may have noticed, may dinosaurs were adequately downscaled drastically from where they were. Soon we will implementing dinosaur growth from their current “average” size to their previous maximum size, which will increase your stats as a whole (hunger, thirst, damage, speed, etc) on par with the ratio of your growth.
Example: Carnotaurus is currently set to .87 of his maximum size, so in game he is at 87% of his full stats. As he grows to his 1.0 size, his stats will increase accordingly on the percentage scale with his size as he is alive. Dinosaurs will have different growth timers.)

Egg Incubation: Two players at subadult maturity or higher can pair to make a nest. This will allow them to invite other players to join their nest as an egg and hatch into a baby dinosaur. For gameplay’s sake, all dinosaurs hatch at a juvenile stage, which is anywhere from 20-35% their maximum size, making the player reliant on their respective parents. Provided a player makes it to subadult stage, this will reward the respective parent players with substantial progression points.

(Note: Players will have to have previously progressed to the dinosaur they’re hatching as at a minimum of one time in order to accept the invite. This mechanic exists purely to prevent hordes of players skipping up the ecosystem and destroying it in a forseeable fashion.)

You may all immediately call me a sell out.

Humans:

As I would have hoped most of you have seen, derelict structures and small scenes have popped up on the island that allude to the human environments coming. As these expand, we will begin the first phases of human testing, which means you might see humans in the server. That’s definitely the devs, and you’re most definitely welcome to try and kill us.
Up front I have to state how blatantly unfair things will seem simply because humans work so different from the dinosaurs. Dinosaurs have a preset determined viability for what they can and cannot do from the moment they spawn. Humans are very reliant on equipment and technology to define their capability with the exclusion of their own perks that we will be distributing for them to gain with their own progression system (which will also be lost on death).
Guns will work as guns should work, meaning high powered weapons will drop larger dinosaurs relatively quickly, but at the same time humans are very fragile in comparison to the dinosaurs. Use it to your advantage, play wisely, and we look forward to the first encounters of humans crossing the paths of dinosaurs.

Aquatic/Aerial Creatures:

Just something very small here so people don’t think that we’ve suspended working with these types of creatures. These guys will have their own seperate progression trees, and possibly their own strains, if not a singular one.

-Dondi

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Hello Players,

Past few days I have been getting reports from players cheating, modifying and deleting game files and using external hack tools. Unfortunately the game detects these modifications and these players get publisher banned.

I have banned quite a few players today that have been doing this nasty behavior. The most recent example of players cheating includes deleting / modifying vegetation and building files so those assets don’t appear in-game to get a unfair advantage.

It’s a complete waste of my time tracking down people cheating when I could be focused on working on Dinosaur AI and the nest system.

Within the next few updates the game will store files in a different format to prevent players from being able to join a server with modified / missing files. One of the drawbacks to using this alternative format is that each of the game updates will be at a larger size. Players will also have to re-download all of the game files in the new format. This is around 10 GB total. I didn’t want to have to end up going this route, but I don’t have a choice.

Regards,
Deathly

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Hey everyone, Dondi here. Since our last larger update post resulted in legitimate feedback, I wanted to keep our devposts going where I sit down to explain what’s going on with development. The August Update is here to clean up many misconceptions that are definitely bugs or temporary placements whereas many seem to be spreading false information in regards to what our plans are, and what’s going on.

Sandbox Mode:

So, this thing is at end of the assembly line. Whether or not you agree with the fact it will be temporarily placed out of existence, that’s how it is. This results in the widest spread of feedback of gamers, casual and hardcore, skilled and unskilled, happy, and unhappy. Until progression and its intended features are put in, sandbox is respectively ignored. Once we throw it back into the mix, people can go back to a birdbath sim on their private servers. It is not intended to be balanced; just a place where you pick your dinosaurs and do whatever it is you want to do. (Also, yes I know that Acro/Utah aren’t on sandbox. We have more important things to do than update that part of sandbox. It’s gone next update. I know I’m a terrible person.)

Leg Breaking:

While a touchy subject for many about how sporadic it feels, the main concern is that the landscape of the maps they are used on are rough, and in some ways outright bad for the mechanic. The mechanic itself functions by grabbing your velocity on the Z (up/down) axis when you touch the ground from a fall, and then feeds it back to check if it’s above A (Your leg breaks), or B (You die).

Certain dinosaurs have greater capacity for falling, and others do not. The intention of this is to stop larger predators from being able to billygoat up inclines, mountains, and other parts of the landscape featured primarily in Isle V3, and allows a method of smaller creatures to escape outside of strictly hiding in dense underbrush.

The most recent update halved leg damage (30 to 15) and changed the heal amount from 1 per minute (while standing) and 2 per minute (while resting), to 2 and 4 respectively.

I feel as if this will be temporary, as a larger island should grant a larger penalty time, and the landscape itself is so finely done that there’s no coherent reason a player could misconceive whether or not they should go launching themselves down a steep slope or hill.

Stamina:

I’m sure everyone has noticed by now that stamina otherwise feels relatively infinite in comparison to where it was. This is temporary in the sense that we are moving to IsleV3 very soon, which is four times the size of Region2. It is understandably vanilla and without any massive landmarks it would be outright stupid of me to expect anyone to remember any of the hills or mountains like a level designer does. As the island fills out and navigation becomes easier with landmarks, gametrails, and other formations (natural or otherwise), stamina will be lowered to a realistic value.
To give an idea of this, stamina was increased by 10x. We will drop that down to an accurate 4x to 7x increase, depending on dinosaur.

Progression:

The first steps are in and the biggest complaint is “devs y u put this in its not complete u need moar features.” We really have two ways of doing this:

The first method is that I can have features created and minimally tested in house. The problem is, with such a small testing base in house, when it hits live I know there will be dozens if not hundreds of unforseen issues with player behavior and exploits. This will be an extreme struggle just to fix one problem without introducing two more, let alone doing this several times.

The second method is we drop the first iteration of progression on people and begin work on the features we had in mind, molded around player behavior on the evidence we have in front of us which is actual evidence of how people act in the game. The direct observations show what direction our mechanics are pushing people, intended or otherwise, and what they need in order to become more effective hunters or evasive prey. Each iteration and consequence we put forth is to minimalize the negative experiences people are running into while new features are integrated in tandem with these updates to maximize the effect of intended methods of survival gameplay.

I’m not saying you have to like it, but that’s how it is.

Steam Forum Asshattery:

The last thing I want to address is the state of Steam Discussions. The Preemptive Rage Thread contains many prime examples of how people shouldn’t act. It’s a solid example of placing all the really loud flailing individuals in one concentrated area where they can form a mob while the rest of the community functions at least somewhat coherently. Congratulations, I’m a bad dev and I’m killing my game. I guess that’s why it’s growing.

In general, trying to hold the development process hostage by threatening bad reviews is never going to work. The game isn’t dying because you’re mad that you can’t instantly pick your favorite dinosaur and is flourishing moreso now than it was before. Buying the game doesn’t entitle you to creative control and your input is invalid when you act like a jackass. From this point forward, I’ve put moderators on notice to banhammer people that can’t construct an argument and just rage. You will get no warnings and the community will move on. You will not be missed.

September Update will cover the scent/tracking system, nests, family herd/pack mechanics, dinosaur growth, skins, and perks for the three factions. See you all then.

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Oh look, we’re finally doing development announcements

It’s been quite some time since I’ve sat down to write something at length, and with a lot of the upcoming changes and major updates I wanted to give everyone a forewarning on the road ahead. I want to begin general monthly announcements so people can see what’s being worked on as opposed to frequent streams that seem to reach a smaller audience.

Currently there’s two blatant major issues with the gameplay, the first of which is that the game sits around the concept of casual roleplay and a birdbath simulator of dinosaurs slacking off around ponds or lakes, casually slaughtering one another just to respawn and do it again. You know it, I know it. This partially stems into the second issue: Between certain dinosaurs being insanely difficult to play from an enjoyable perspective (We just can’t put in 12+ button modifiers for a sauropod to hit with each leg + tail in a direction), and other dinosaurs being absurd when there’s more than a few working together (We’re all looking at you, T. Rex hordes), we have to separate intended playability. This introduces the separation of gameplay into Survival and Sandbox.

Sandbox:
Akin to the gameplay featured now, sandbox is where anyone can pop into a server and select a dinosaur within the administrator’s preferred rules. Anyone can start off as a Rex, Puertasaurus, etc, and dive in. This will also be where gimmick dinosaurs are showcased as playable entities, such as Titanoboa, Puertasaurus/other large sauropods, and other creatures that don’t particularly have a globally enjoyable playstyle because they only really serve one particular purpose useful in one particular instance. This will allow for a fully open experience for people to do what they want with their own rulesets and reasons. Sandbox will be fully customizable, a reason of which we as developers never intend for it to be balanced, and outside of legitimate bugs to the game, is not intended to be the direct user experience we cater to. It will be up to administrators of these private servers to customize functionality to achieve the gameplay they desire.

Survival:
In the next few updates, we will push out the first iteration of progression, followed swiftly by the onset of gameplay changes and first truly expansive map in order to give the game the necessary brutal punishment towards your efforts to survive. This is where you’ll find the game’s drastically different from right now, where all players start as small dinosaurs and work their way up, as well as certain dinosaurs being NPC only so they are more effective as a threat or prey item. The onset the game’s story will affect this gamemode accordingly.

Dinosaur Quality of Life & Finalization
Moving on, we have the dinosaur overlay system. This was a shader composed to achieve maximum detail on dinosaurs with the absolute minimum impact on performance. there’s been positive results in performance across the spectrum of computer specs. This means we will move forward with this system and impart updated detailing on the dinosaurs. The drawback is that many previous and popular skins are not compatible and consequently will be removed.

On the subject of the dinosaurs, a small note to be made is they will be getting a quality of life update on animations. Small things such as variations of idles, walks, and other expressive emotes other than the vocal wheel will be integrated over time.

The final note is that all of them are getting a new update on animation blueprints which will make movements a little more accurate and emulate root motion more accurately. No more dying from 10 feet away from a bite that didn’t hit you… and no more dying from something touching the tip of your tail.

The end of constant livestreaming
The last thing I need to immediately cover is an impending lack of development livestreams. It’s not that they’ll be ceasing as a whole, but they will be a lot less frequent than they were. We do have things to hide, such as the dinosaur strains, props, and environments we simply cannot display without giving away major points of the story we want to tell.

You can still find us on Discord here.

-Dondi