Development

Dev Diary – Part 3 – Fortuna III and Map Design

By December 8, 2020No Comments

 

Greetings Prospectors and welcome to the newest entry of our Dev Diaries! 

Today, we’re gonna talk about your favorite planet in the universe and its environment. Our teams have been hard at work to make sure Fortuna III will be more adapted to the changes we’re bringing to The Cycle. We’ve been prodding the brains of our Art Director and members of the Maps-Team to bring you some clear examples and beautiful screenshots of what you can expect in the future, so be sure to check them out, will you? 

[Please note that parts of the things you see in this blog might still be work in progress, that did not receive their final polish.

Without further ado, let’s start with a few words of wisdom from our sponsor, the one and only Badum! 

“ENJOY THE SCENERY BUT EXPECT TO BE AMBUSHED 

As you all know, Fortuna III is a very unique world-renowned to be as gorgeous as it is deadly. Through our 2 current existing maps – Bright Sands and Crescent Falls – we’ve managed to recreate several types of landscapes (or so-called biomes), all designed to help the planet feel rich and diverse: jungles & grasslands, rivers & ponds, mountains, and ravines… there’s a lot to discover in here. 

But Fortuna III is not all dazzles and glitter. Sure, you have the cute Leafmen and goofy Blumen, but the most common fauna remains the dangerous Dirtbeasts, all too eager to bite off a good chunk of your face. 

Last but not least, Fortuna III is a former human colony world and traces of human civilization can be founacross its surface. Abandoned settlements and infrastructures come in all sizes, proof of the decaying technology made inhabitable by the big Cycle. That of course includes those pesky Co-Bots who now see every single Prospector out there as a dangerous invasion threat to be removed. 

These human infrastructures include: 

  • Mud and concrete roads. 
  • Mobile and permanent bridges. 
  • Rail systems and train stations for Letium transportation. 
  • A once-bustling spaceport (Crescent Falls). 
  • Several powerplants. 
  • Small outposts with specific purposes (scientific, mining, resource acquisition: e.g., wood cutting). 
  • Big settlements (living quarters, garages, administration). 
  • More established installations (like the central area or the science campus on Bright Sands). 
  • Farms and farming infrastructures. 

How did we want to make these former colonies look like? 

  • Abandoned for more than 30 years. 
  • Damaged and rusted down after continued exposure to the Cycle and its acid rains. 
  • Heavily overgrown by nature with regards to its original biome.
  • Highly marked and dented by years of conflict from greedy Prospectors.
  • Scratched and clawed by the now rampant wildlife.
  • Repurposed for its current state, with former installations now used as caverns and nests for instance. 

Knowing all this, we had to ask ourselves several questions: “Does this place look like it’s been abandoned for 30+ years?”, “How would the interior of this building look like after being exposed to violent radiation storms for so long?” or even “Would that place survive at all or should it just be a pile of ruins?”. 

All these questions are taken into deep consideration as we keep working on different redesigns and decide on our lighting choices, to create more immersion and make our world more believable to you. This might include different times of day when you drop down onto the surface.

 

While exploring Fortuna III, your way will mostly be illuminated by natural sources: sunrays finding their way through the cracks, holes and windows (e.g. skylights like in the pictures below) from decaying buildings, faint bioluminescent auras emanating from both flora and fauna and, of course, everyone’s favorite, lightning bolts.
There will also be good ol’ electric lights – but we want them to make sense. These are powered by emergency generators, somehow still running despite their sorry state. These generators are also providing power to the new doors we’ll be introducing in the new version… although some of them may require extra work to activate. Time to look for spare batteries if you wanna fire up those Power Stations! 

Other sources of light will include: 

  • Portable flashlights that a maintenance crew or another Prospector dropped in the past.  
  • Halo from various scanner screens. 
  • Derelict vehicles with flickering lights. 
  • A lot of stuff related to contracts: thrusters from both Veltecite drills and Laser Drills, Brightcaps containers, power batteries, Zeal shards and more. 

There is more to Fortuna III than meets the eye, that much you may have gathered playing through the story missions from seasons 1 & 2. These redesigns will surely help retell the sad story of the failed colonization through coherent world-building.

 

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY 

  • We believe a nice landscape is worth a thousand words and finely crafted scenery can tell you more about a location than a wall of text thrown as a plot dump device. For this reason, we felt a lot of areas on Fortuna III needed to be revisited: 
    • Every area should stand apart from others, not only by looks but through how they feel and play. 
    • For instance, some areas will be very open, exposed, dangerous. These may contain juicy loot but will also put you in a vulnerable position. Others will be more closed, a bit claustrophobic maybe. It’s easier to hide in these but close quarter combat will impede any escape attempt. 
    • “Hot spots” in particular, gold mines for scavengers and contract holders, will feel very distinct from each other and should be handled differently. 
    • Areas should clearly indicate what to expect, without relying entirely on the scanner. 
    • What kind of threats you may face: claw marks on the walls, prints in the mud, traces of nests. 
    • What rewards you may extract from these remains: loot crates in cargo areas, rare minerals in mining rigsscrap metal in factories. 

These areas may tell stories of the past but can also reveal a lot about the present. Eager Prospectors will want to keep an eye out for signs that they’re not the first to reach this place and that they may not be alone anymore: 

  • Doors and gates that may have been opened by someone else. 
  • So-called “sound traps”, like alarms going off after detecting the passage of another Prospector – or possibly turned off in order to set a deadly ambush. 
  • Contracts and activities already completed by a rival, like powered Stations and remains of Veltecite clusters. 
  • Open crates with whatever loot may remain around them. “Did they leave that here because they don’t need it or is there a sniper scope currently fixated on that spot? 
  • Deactivated wards or depleted turrets. Blood has been spilled this day. 

But what can you, a Prospector, explicitly do with that information? 

Well, first of all, as mentioned before, it will tell you to keep your eyes open and finger on the trigger. But besides helping you decide how you should proceed, it may make you wonder if you should proceed. Sure, there’s always some risk involved in the life of a Prospector, but why did you come all the way down here in the first place? Maybe you were just trying to get your hands on those rare materials specifically found around here? Is there anything left of interest to you if the place has already been thoroughly ransacked? 

Yes, we believe the world itself should help you define your goals and destinations, simply by making senseWould you rather visit that quarry or explore that Osiris lab? Which of these places is more likely to produce those precious stones you’ve been needing for a while?
This more logical world, in combination with contract licenses, will allow players to be more efficient in their personal missions. Drop-in, grab what you’re here for, fly back to Prospect Station. 

KNOWING YOUR SURROUNDINGS IS HALF THE BATTLE

So far, we’ve established that discretion can be the better part of valor. But conflict can and will be inevitable. You might even actively look for it. After all, you’re not the only Prospector lugging around a bunch of rare materials on the planet… 

Fighting will take a more tactical approach where setting up an ambush will give you a definite edge and knowing where to take cover will save your life in a pinch. To that end, our Maps teams had to rethink how landmarks and covers are scattered across the different areas. 

We’re gonna try and go for a clear and constructed approach here. Let’s jump right into it! 

Analyzing new areas 

  • One of the big challenges our teams are facing is making every area easy to read and understand for both newer and older players. A quick scan of your surroundings should let you identify all the covers at your disposal and what lines of sight they will allow. The next step will be to learn to use these covers effectively, to move in undetected or reposition yourself in the middle of a fight for instance

As you and your friend try to make your way to the rare materials promised by your scanner, you come upon a finely-crafted staircase, a perfect entryway to where you’re heading (as indicated by the green arrow). One quick look around after reaching the top of the stairs tells you there are several ways to approach that building. No time to think, you’re in the open – you dash behind these crates right in front of you and kneel. These are half-covers, suited for when you just wanna take a quick peek. These will do.
You both want to get into that building, but you’re already carrying too many valuables. Rushing headlong in a straight line is not an option. You both agree to a more tactical approach. 

  • You take the blue path and hide behind another set of crates. The small trot was a bit risky and left you vulnerable for a few seconds, but you’re now in a pretty defensible position, with a clear view of the building and only a small opportunity for an ambush on your right. 
  • Meanwhile, your partner follows the orange path in a sort of pincer movement. His trip is way safer and he’ll probably have an easier time reaching the building, but his new position makes him quite vulnerable to anyone that might lurk around that huge truck. 

One thing’s for sure: you’ll both have to watch each other’s back to make sure no one creeps up on you. Plus there’s always a chance that danger comes from above… 

Cover to cover movement 

  • Learning to keep your head down will be a crucial skill to have when moving towards your nearest goal. Moving efficiently from one cover to another will keep you safe – mostly at least, we don’t want every bit of the map to offer you full protection from gunfire. We’re aiming for a somewhat perfect balance between risk and security as you get closer to your destination.
    Some very few places will of course allow you to stay in relative safety, in case you need a small reprieve from the many dangers of Fortuna III. 
  • As we’re mainly redesigning our maps around the so-called Kit A (without special suit abilities), we want to make sure moving to another cover won’t leave you exposed and vulnerable for more than a few seconds at a time. Places full of good loot will be the most common battlefields for Prospectors of all kinds after all.
    Best thing is, if it works while running, it will surely run while flying!

Let’s approach this location from a different angle. You’re alone this time though, no way you can cover as much ground as you did back then with your partner. You move in through one of the helipads and run towards the first cover you can see (green dot). 
Now this is a delicate situation: with no one to watch your back, another Prospector might very well get the jump on you. In fact, after several trips, you’re starting to know the area and can already think of at least 3 spots from where someone would have a clear line of sight on you while staying protected from your retaliative shots (red dots and lines). 
You can’t afford to linger here, it’s too dangerous. This time, boldness will be your strategy. This time, you’re beelining towards your goal.

Open spaces 

  • Of course, as we talked about world coherence earlier, we don’t want to make the whole planet unnaturally filled with covers and hiding spots. The maps won’t lack for big, open spaces, especially between biomes. These will most likely allow you to reach your destination faster, should you feel confident enough to scurry where everyone can see you.

Ledges 

  • Ah, ledges, a point that has been discussed multiple times in The Cycle. Let’s keep it short: ledge-climbing, and climbing in general, will be possible in the new direction. 
  • Ledges have to be clear and easy to identify. They will help you plan out your route and will provide valuable shortcuts in your travels. 

Landmarks 

  • Landmarks are big areas within a specific biome where you can expect to find one type of setting, all in coherence with the surroundings. 
  • Landmarks will be visible from afar, which allows you to keep a steady course towards them without having to whip out the map or scanner every 5 seconds. 
  • Our plan is to have 2-3 landmarks visible from where you stand at all times, so you always have clear options on where you could go next. 
  • Traveling time between landmarks should be somewhat consistent. 
  • Landmarks can also be defined as points of interest: areas that, by design, will see a lot of action. 
  • Landmarks will be surrounded by either impassible terrain (mountains, fences, etc) or heavy foliage that will obscure your vision. They will be accessible through entry points. 
  • These barriers will allow you to stop, catch your breath, assess the situation, and plan your next course of action before stepping into the point of interest itself.
  • Vision will be further impeded inside the landmark itself by walls, doors, inner fences and such.

Hesitation Points  

  • Hesitation points are areas that will directly challenge Prospectors and make them feel unsafe. “How can I cross them? What threats will I run into? Is it worth the risk or should I try to find another way around?” 
  • Hesitation points will mostly be large, open, vulnerable spaces: grassy fields, courtyards, parking lots, etc. 
  • They will often include a few vantage points with a clear view of the area itself. These points will be huge sniping threats and should be obvious enough that players can identify them immediately. 
  • Crossing these hesitation points will allow you to take the shortest path between two landmarks… but also the most hazardous one. 
  • Ideally, you will always have a safe path in mind as a backup when planning your next move.

Before

After

Taking the scenic route 

  • Heavy foliage, rocky surface and other hiding spots will be scattered across the edges. Going around hesitation points will be slower but safer. 
  • You can always choose to get off the road and brave more difficult yet safer terrain at any time. 
  • Drifting off the main path will allow you to stay off the line of sight of other Prospectors, avoid detection from monsters, chase something that caught your interest or, of course, explore the untamed wilds with the promise of loot and secrets.

The wildlife of Fortuna III 

  • Considering all the aforementioned changes, monsters will play a new decisive role in The Cycle. 
  • Monsters will be carefully placed between landmarks. Hesitation points will most likely have you face down a few locals. 
  • You will have to decide how, when and even if you will face those monsters, but should take the following points into consideration: 
    • Is it faster to cut through them or to go around? 
    • Should I take the risk of taking damage just to gain a few seconds? 
    • How much ammo am I willing to use on them? 
    • Will I run the risk of alerting other Prospectors to my presence by firing my gun? 
  • Larger monsters like the Alpha Warden will become a much, much bigger threat than they ever were… as we will see in a future entry on contracts. 

That’s it for our excursion into our thinking behind the revamp of Fortuna III 

As you know there are still more dev diaries that we’d like to share with you in the future – contract details, veteran rewards, clans, the more competitive side of The Cycle, your personal Station Quarter, are all subjects that we want to tackle before those changes will kick in. So, be sure to stay tuned for more!  

Until then Prospectors, see you on Fortuna III! 

Special thanks to Tesuji and Fennekk!

Don’t hesitate to share any feedback directly with us on our Discord server! https://discordapp.com/invite/thecycle