The New Missions Mission.

By Kris Skellorn, posted 3rd June 2016

We have a new mission system in the works. I’m really excited about it. It’s going to solve many of the problems we’ve had with the main game progression for a while now. Here's a fun list of things that need improvement with the current missions we have and how the new system will fix them:

“There aren’t enough missions! I don’t have access to many of the blocks because there is no mission that gives them, or the grade they are part of hasn’t yet got missions.”

Previously we were making new scripted missions to obtain each block, the missions were supposed to reflect the type of block they yielded as a reward, but it was a significant amount of custom work to make each mission for each block so they often ended up as the exact same mission each time. The new system will be much smarter by utilising a varied selection of mission types that can have variable Techs and rewards assigned to them procedurally. The mission segments can be combined in modular ways to quickly create numerous variant missions, allowing us to fill out the progression quickly and then return to add variety in new missions types with each update.

“They are buggy!!! It told me to refine this chunk, but my Refinery woz destroyed by Travler an hour ago and so now I can’t finish this mission !! !. I think I have another one, but it is 4,000,000 miles away from where I am now.”

New missions will be smaller bite-size affairs that do not rely upon previously obtained items from other missions. Players will not be expected to drag things back to their Solar Generator (if they even still have one), and any crafting missions that teach the use of fiddly base blocks that must be put together in a certain way will be taught in a controlled environment where all the required blocks are provided and cannot be lost or destroyed.

“Plz help. I drove really far away from my initial spawn point and now can’t find my Trading Station or any missions… can you spare me a Lift Off?”

We’ll constantly spawn new missions around the player, no matter where they are. There will always be more generic missions based on templates with variations to the rewards offered and the enemies spawned, we’ll ensure that they are within a reasonable range of any location in the game. For specific ‘core’ missions, we will also spawn duplicate instances of them in multiple places around the player as they move about so that if you miss it in one place you might find it in another (once complete the other instances will be cleared away). We’ll also be placing Trading Stations at regular intervals throughout the world. Chris (our Lead Coder) has made an awesome flocking system that will space missions out around you wherever you go.

“I didn’t accept this crafting mission in my quest log, I HATE CRAFTING, make it go away.”

We are moving to a structure the giving of some missions via player action. So players will move to a mission-giver location before accepting a mission, then the mission proper spawns in a slightly different area (GTA style). This gives you more agency in what you want to do in the world and how you want to play and develop, it also makes you more invested in a mission – you did accept it after all! For some early missions we will still assign them remotely, but mostly you’ll choose what you want to spend your time doing.

““These missions are all the same. I’m bored.””

We’ve been busy prototyping lots of new mission types. Combat battles, ambushes, pursuits, base attacks and base captures will arrive in the first wave. Stat tracking missions that ask for required kills, earns or item collections will come next. Racing time trials, gauntlets, flight challenges and rocket challenges against AI enemies follow afterwards. Beyond those, we also want to do formalised harvesting challenges against opponents, building-based puzzles, combat arenas, escort missions, ramp-to-ramp trick/gap challenges and more structured crafting and building or processing challenges. The first three sets of missions are planned for the next couple of months. As we have been incrementally adding blocks to the game, we will also start incrementally adding new missions as we go along.

“Why doesn't Mcdonald's serve breakfast after 10.30am?”

Items on their breakfast menu are cooked slightly differently and at a different temperature from items on their main menu. Unfortunately they don't have enough space in their kitchens to accommodate the cooking and preparation of their breakfast and main menus at the same time. The 10.30am cut off enables them to accommodate their breakfast lovers and allow their customers who enjoy their main menu offering to get it before 11am.

Anyway, we’re looking forward to getting this out to you all soon. These changes will require updates to the way missions are selected and spawned, the structure of the mission scripts, the creation of systems that will select appropriate enemies and rewards for each mission and a lot of UI work to improve the quest log, overlays, message boxes and radar. Not to mention the creation of new mission types themselves (scripts, assets, code etc.). There is a fair amount of work involved in bringing these changes, but we’re already knee deep into it (at time of writing) and we think it will be a great next step for the main game.

Find me on Twitter @KrisSkellorn if you have any questions or comments.