Version 17.11.12: Task pool and a new ambient sound system

We just uploaded version 17.11.12 to Steam and This version features a major change to the mechanics of dwarf selection and task assignment. It also features a new dynamic ambient sound system, as well as several bugfixes and balance improvements.

Task Pool

After a lot of player feedback, we’ve decided to modify the way dwarf tasks are assigned. Previously, we had opted for an RTS-like model where the player first clicks on dwarves and then assigns specific dwarves to specific tasks. For example, if you wanted to build a bed, you’d first click on a crafter, then click “Build Bed”. That crafter would then go and build the bed. This is fairly intuitive to players of other strategy games, but when you start to have many dwarves and many things to build it can be overwhelming.

For that reason, we’ve switched over to a task-centric model. You no longer have to select dwarves to tell them what to do (though you can still select them to view info about them, or to order them to move around). Instead, you specify tasks directly and dwarves automatically carry them out. This means you lose a degree of control over which dwarves do what, but it should now be more streamlined and easier to assign large numbers of tasks.

This is a large change which has a big effect on the feel of the game. We haven’t quite tested every possible corner case, so some bugs are bound to crop up from this new system. Please bear with us as we polish it and make it work in all cases.

Craft Assistance

One consequence of the task pool system is that dwarves can now automatically assist each other when building objects and rooms. Crafters will go to the location of the room or object, and wait until their friends arrive with resources, then the crafters will build the object or room together — doubling their build speed.

Crafting is also now a remembered activity. Dwarves will go back to crafting an object and remember crafting progress + resources when interrupted or if the game was loaded from a save file.

New Ambient Sound System

About 50 MB of new ambient sounds were added to the game from our colleagues at the Berklee College of Music. These subtle background sounds will automatically switch depending on which biome you’re in. New storm sounds were also added.

Other Changes

  • Reduce crafting times for most objects.
  • Fix bug that caused ladders/doors not to work when loaded from a save file.
  • Ensure save files from 10/22 – 10/31 are loadable in both the “Load” and “continue” screens.
  • Rate limit water reflection drawing when the camera is not moving to increase performance.
  • Fix reflections of trees in water.
  • Allow dwarfs to build flags.
  • Indicate which direction object is facing while being built.
  • Do not play GUI noise when non-dwarf creature gets diseases.
  • Add a new camera control mode in the options screen which does not move the camera height with terrain.
  • Destroy unused resources sitting on the ground after more than 1 (real) hour.
  • Clarify/add some tutorial text.
  • When pressing CTRL + Q, the terrain will now slice to the last sliced terrain height rather than to the cursor.
  • Fix bug that caused dwarf economy money (displayed at bottom of screen) to get out of sync with treasury.
  • Fixed off-by-one error that caused there to be too few coins in the treasury.
  • Mousing over coins in treasury now reveals how much money is in each pile.
  • Dwarfs now prefer to restock items when they have 32 or more objects in their backpack.
  • Disable dwarf physics while they hit stuff so they don’t fall off mountains while building ladders.
  • Allow for more hotkeys on the bottom bar rather than just number keys.
  • Added “Clear backpack” button to employee info screen.
  • Fix depth rendering error for blocks/floors getting built.
  • Attempts to fix some non-reproducible crashes we caught in our bug reporting system.

What we’re working on now

One of our contractors has been developing a new decal system which he’s been using to make fancier looking grass. We plan to apply this system to stuff like snow, pools of blood, fallen leaves, and dwarf artwork.

The next big push will be on game balance. Especially after the game has been playing more than a few hours. We’re working on ecological sustainability (that is, how many critters and plants are in the world) to prevent certain species (cough, birds) to overpopulate, as well as preventing snow from piling up or all the trees in the world from dying too quickly.

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