Update 18 coming soon!

It has been a little longer than expected for the wait for update 18. After completing what I first had in mind for update 18 I decided to undertake the first steps into a huge optimization process, Streaming Levels. Up until now the world of Windstone and everything that it encompasses belonged to one ginourmous “level”. This is the main reason why RAM usage has been so high. No matter where you were in the world, everything was loaded into memory, from things just out of render range in your area to trees, rocks and loot on the complete opposite side of the map. This was a starting point to keep the entire world seamless, a rule I’ve wanted to stick to from the beginning since I don’t enjoy loading screens any more than you. This is why I have not and most likely will not ever even implement any loading bars for things like crafting. The closest I have come is waiting for your thirst meter to replenish when drinking actively from a water source, but that feels natural to me. Staring at a loading icon during a game for something as simple as eating or crafting a tool, especially when you cannot do anything else while it is happening, and especially when it is frequent is something that I am surprised so many players accept as normal.

The world of Windstone and the number of things in it has grown to a proportion where I can no longer justify keeping it in one massive “level” all loaded in RAM at the same time. Not everyone has a shit ton of RAM and I eventually want the game to be reasonably optimized for lower end systems without having to decrease the graphics options. Probably not quite mobile optimization, but at least acceptable on most mid to low range gaming computers. As of now some people cannot even load the game because of the RAM requirements and this makes me sad. But this should change in Update 18

The answer to this is Level Streaming, the Unreal 4 Engine’s way to make large open worlds like ARK seamless. The simple definition of level streaming is that instead of waiting for a loading screen when entering new areas, only what is within the player’s view is loaded into the game and as the player moves throughout the world, new areas are loaded in and areas that you are no longer in are loaded out, so much less of the game world is loaded into RAM at any given time. When optimized well the player doesn’t even know this is happening.

I’m happy to say that I have finally implemented the first iteration of level streaming into Windstone and it is relatively stable. I’m not going to say “it just works” because it hasn’t been extensively tested yet, but it’s stable on my end. The world is now divided into 25 sections that load and unload automatically while you traverse the map. For the most part, the player will not even notice this change except for the lower RAM usage if they keep an eye on their Windows Task Manager. If the player is flying a dragon high in the sky, some pop-in of trees and rocks may be noticed in the distance and some areas with more stuff in them may cause the game to stall for a few frames as the streaming level is loaded or unloaded. This can all be optimized now that the system is in place after further testing to ensure the system I have implemented is as stable as I think it is.

The level streaming system also needed extensive changes to the save game system, so all 25 streamed levels are exactly how you left them when you turn off the game and resume from a loaded saved. This is also implemented and seemingly stable.

After more testing, I will optimize the level streaming system even more as there is still much room for improvement. About 65% of the assets are currently included in the level streaming (so only about 35% of the world is loaded into RAM) but this can be increased into the high 90% so only a few percent of what was previously loaded into RAM before I implemented the level streaming system will be necessary.

What else can you expect from Update 18 besides the Level Streaming optimization? Everything listed below is already done and ready to go:

Female player character

Region selection when starting a new game

Dozens of dynamic POI discovery around the world marked on the map

Equipped weapons and tools visible on the proxy character in the inventory menu

New building pieces including a triangle shaped floor piece

Dozens of new buildings with loot all around the map

2x more wildlife

Oasis and Pyramid added to the desert with labyrinthine tunnels

A few other minor additions including a couple NPCs that cannot yet be interacted with but are the first step in the NPC system. These NPCs currently just stand in one spot and have a “idle” animation. In the near future they will give quests with text dialogue like old school rpg quest givers. This will be expanded on in the future to included NPCs that will attack hostile wildlife in range and companions that will follow you and help fight. This is a priority, but small steps first.

Thanks for your patience and thanks for playing Windstone!

 

Originally posted @ itch.io.

Update 17 – Stone Axe and Maul

Update 17 Two-handed Axe and Maul

A two-handed Stone Axe and large Stone Maul can now be crafted through the tool tab on the bushcraft menu. The primary use of these new tools are to harvest wood and stone at a much faster rate than the one-handed hatchet and hammer. The Axe and Maul are relatively easy to craft but are heavy, cannot be used as crafting tools and must be switched manually with the hatchet or hammer respectively depending on the task at hand. The Axe and Maul can also be used as weapons and are only surpassed in damage output by obsidian weapons.

Tools, weapons and armour can now be dragged and dropped to quickly equip them. Drag an equippable item out of the inventory and drop it to automatically equip it to its pre-assigned slot. Double clicking an item or selecting equip from the right-click drop down menu still works to equip an item also. Custom hotbar slot orders may be added in the future but is not currently a priority.

Hunger and Thirst now takes twice as long to deplete. This change has also been applied to the Dragon Hatchling allowing you more time to find food and water for yourself and your hatchling.

Maximum sleeping time is now increased from 5 hours to 10 hours.

The effects of food poisoning have been changed and will no longer always inevitably kill you if you don’t have a proper antidote but it will leave you vulnerable with low health for a time. Poisoning still may cause an unavoidable death without an antidote if compounded with other ill effects (extreme fatigue, hypothermia, dehydration etc.)

Due to the increased size of the Building tab, the location of most notifications have been moved onto the top border of the inventory and contrast more with the background. This prevents the notifications from being hidden behind the crafting window and makes them more apparent overall.

The sorting button [^] has been moved to the bottom border of the inventory.

Some changes have been made to water surfaces and shadows to increase quality and performance.

Motion Blur has been turned off due to a conflict with other post processing settings. This primarily effected the first-person arms, making them blurry with jagged edges when animated.

Dragon colors should now persist through game saves/loads instead of reverting to blue/green.

The Dragon Hatchling should no longer be able to be turned into a juvenile instantly after hatching.

An issue was fixed with Drinking Well LODs as well as various other minor bugs.

More changes to the landscape have been made and assets have been added primarily around the starting areas. This will be an ongoing process throughout many more updates as the world continues to be built and gameplay mechanics pertaining to the availability of materials are balanced.

Thanks for playing Windstone.

 

Posted @ itch.io which is also where you can get the game.

Update 15 Hotfix

This hotfix addresses an issue caused by update 15 which stopped wildlife from spawning in certain areas. This should work as intended now.

Other bug fixes:

When Riding a dragon, the rider’s shadow should now appear correctly on the ground.

An issue has been fixed that caused the camera to spin uncontrollably when diving downwards while riding a dragon.

Some trees have been slightly moved to keep their branches from clipping through buildings.

Hotfix for update 15 coming soon

I just realized a major issue with wildlife spawners in update 15 which may cause all wildlife outside of the snow biome to never spawn. I’ve already fixed it along with a few other bugs and will release a hotfix ASAP.

Thank you for your patience.

In the mean time, if you start a new game in the snow biome and stay in the snow biome the game should play as intended.

Update 15 – Wolves!

Update 15 – Wolves!

Wolves now roam the snow biome along with the antelopes. Wolves will stalk you if they sense you from a distance. If you get too close they will charge and attack. Be prepared with arrows or a spear. A knife, hatchet or hammer will do, but you should be well-armoured before trying. Wolf meat and pelt can be harvested from their carcass with a knife. Their meat offers similar benefit to venison when cooked. The pelt will be used to make warm clothing in the future. For now it makes a nice rug.

Respawn timers on all wildlife have been increased. It now takes longer for wildlife to return to an area where they have been killed. Wildlife will not respawn if you are in their spawn proximity. If you find that certain wildlife is not respawning, leave the area (approximately a few hundred yards) to let the wildlife “return” to the area. This prevents dangerous wildlife from spawning on top of your head, keeps wildlife from “popping” into existence too much and breaking immersion, allows you to temporarily “clear” an area for safety, and makes it a little more difficult to hunt since wildlife usually will avoid inhabited areas. There is still a chance that wildlife will roam into an area you have settled from a distance.

Empty water gourds can now be filled in the snow biome at a fire by melting snow. Simply stand by a fire within the snow biome and choose “fill” from the drop down menu on the empty water gourd in your inventory or double click on the empty water gourd.

Bridges, climbing paths, buildings, wells, plants and various pickup items have been added to the landscape. This will be a continuing process as the landscape is populated with more assets during each update.

Wildlife spawn locations, particularly in the desert and volcano biome have been increased.

Thanks for playing Windstone! Please leave feedback if you find bugs or have suggestions. Windstone is still very much in alpha development and will undergo many changes. Your help and support is greatly appreciated.

 

Originally posted @ itch.io which is also were you can download the game.

Update 14 is here!

This is by far the biggest update so far. I wanted to make sure it contained significant additions which is why it took so long.

To help continued development, a price of $5.00 has been added to Windstone.
Many hours of gameplay can be had with update 14 and I now feel comfortable taking it out of the free category. I appreciate all those that have already played the game for many hours and given useful feedback.

Main Changes and Additions in Update 14:

3 New Biomes have been added: Desert, Volcano and Snow.

The Desert area serves mostly as a place where certain resources are abundant (agave, thorns and poison herbs) and as an area that must be crossed to enter the Volcano Biome. Within the Volcano Biome you will find buildings with loot, obsidian harvesting nodes, dangerous lava flows and most importantly the Red Dragon Keep, which houses the Red Dragon egg.

The Snow Biome covers nearly the entire northern quarter of the Island. Many pre-built newly modeled stone structures are scattered around the frozen land. Temperatures are always cold, resources are scarce and only Antelopes currently roam the wild as the cold-blooded Formicans and other native creatures stay south. In this biome, survival is truly a struggle of Makaran against himself. Within the Snow Biome, high on a mountain range is the White Dragon Keep. Wolves and Bears are stirring in their dens, awaiting a future update.

The separate island south west of the main island is now fully populated with resources and wildlife and also is home to the Green Dragon Keep.

The Blue Dragon keep remains where it has always been. All 4 dragons can be in your care simultaneously.

The Follow/Stay commands for the dragons have been modified to account for having multiple dragons. The Player must be close enough to their dragon and while looking at (placing the center dot on) the dragon press T (follow) or Y (stay).
This allows you to have one or as many of the dragons follow you as you wish. As of now, the dragons do not follow you if you are flying so be sure to put your remaining dragons on Stay if you take flight on another.

As a side note, the dragons are currently and primarily a mode of faster transportation and cannot die once fully grown. In the future this will be expanded, dragon combat mechanics will be added as well as quests that involve the dragons on your path to extermination the formicans and their Queen.

The in-game navigation Map has been updated.

When starting a new game you will begin in one of 12 spawn points at random. 5 are in the snow biome, 2 on the southern shore, 1 in the volcano biome, 3 in the central area of the main island and 1 on the south western island. All spawn points have different pros and cons. Some spawn points will offer a greater challenge than others.

Stone buildings have been added to the bushcraft menu which allows you to build new stone structures in the style of the newly modeled buildings that can be found in the Snow Biome.

Tutorial and quest objectives have been slightly altered for clarity and to accommodate new additions in update 14.

The model of the crafted well is modified and made unable to provide water if it’s placed on top of a foundation or other structure piece. It must now be placed on the landscape. (A structure can still be built around it but the well itself has to have bare ground directly underneath it)

Bug fixes:

Fixed an issue where the crafted water well could not be used.

Fixed an issue where ALL shadows would disappear. Shadows can now be seen much farther away.

Fixed an issue where ambient fog would cause concentric circles to appear in the sky at the center of the screen at night.

Thank you for playing and please leave feedback to help improve Windstone.

 

Originally posted @ https://threshold-seven.itch.io/windstone/devlog/50708/update-14-is-here which is also where you can get the latest version.

Update 14 coming soon, New biomes and map development

Update 14 will include new areas to explore that consist of the large island to the south, a volcano biome to the west and a snow biome to the north. Desert and Marsh biomes are planned for the future in the east, but will not be included in update 14. These will be the first iterations of these biomes and will be expanded in the future. This will allow testing the different mechanics in the new areas and give incentive to explore more of the map.

The upcoming update 14, will not include any drastic changes to game mechanics except for minor bug fixes. This update will primarily be to expand the explorable landscape and to test how the temperature change in each biome affects gameplay.

 

Originally posted on itch.io.

Update 13 is live

Update 13 includes some bug fixes and a simple but much needed change to the building system.

Building items that you place can no longer be accidentally picked up by simply pressing E. You now must double tap E to pick up a building piece.

A menu may be added in the future to give to option to pick up/repair/lock in place/etc. but for now, requiring E to be double tapped quickly to pick up a building piece should mitigate accidentally picking them up when trying to pick up other items such as a tool on the floor or when trying to open a basket. There is no indicator yet in the game that lets you know that you can double tap E to pick up a building piece, but this will be added as the building system is worked on.

Right clicking on a building piece will still move it and can cause accidental movement of building pieces when trying to move a basket or other item. This will be addressed in the next update.

The Dragon Hatchling should now spawn when hatched even if inside a building or something is overhead. It still may be safer to hatch outside, but hatching inside will help to find any more problems.

The Dragon Hatchling should now be able to navigate more effectively in player-built structures but this needs more testing.

The items that were left near the starting area in the last update have been removed (glider,raft and various weapons) These were placed there for my own testing purposes and I simply forgot to remove them. Kill those Antelopeees and cure their hides! 😀

 

Download it at itch.io.

Update 12 is live!

After a little break to gather feedback and wait for bug reports to safely continue development I’ve been working on Windstone again  over the past few weeks. Update 12  was scheduled to be a large one but unforeseen issues have caused the necessary migration of Windstone to a fresh project file in UE4 due to compiling errors. This caused a lot of settings to revert to default and a lot of combing through the scripting and play testing was necessary to get Windstone back to where it was in Update 11 and subsequently delayed the release and lessened the planned content of update 12. There may be unknown issues caused by the migration that may not be found until more testing is done.

The raft functionality was the last known issue that needed fixing and is done but it still may be buggy. Feedback on the raft will be very much appreciated.

Update 12 also has a few new changes including the most requested feature: click-to-attack instead of hold-to-attack. You can simply click once to punch, swing a weapon or harvest with a tool. Additionally you can hold left click to swing your weapon or tool continuously.

The Blue Cap Mushroom objective has been removed as it caused unnecessary distraction from other parts of the tutorial for many play testers. You can still find and use the mushrooms as normal on your own time.

Run speed while holding a weapon or tool has been increased from 75% to 90% unarmed run speed.

Although there may be other unknown issues due to the project migration, the only obvious change left to fix is the visual quality of the ocean surface. As it was not a priority, doesn’t affect gameplay and I wanted to get an update out ASAP, I left this for another update. The migration caused the visual settings of the water to revert and will take some tweaking. It may change drastically as the former ocean surface was somewhat of a placeholder.

I know some of you were hoping for a larger update but this will be the start of much more frequent updates and I will address the issues and recommendations from feedback on this forum as a priority.

Thank you to all who have taken the time to playtest Windstone and give feedback. A big thanks to those who donated and for the streamers and youtubers who helped bring more players to Windstone.

Stay tuned for many updates more frequent updates in the near future.

 

Update 12 can be downloaded from itch.io, as always.

Update 11 is live!

Update 11 is live!

This update is primarily an optimization update. Nearly all models have had their poly count reduced dramatically and the landscape itself is optimized. The foliage has also been thinned out slightly to increase performance.

The result on test computers is a 30% reduction in RAM usage and 30% reduction in load times. Results may vary on other computers but this should allow a much larger player base to test Windstone as previously a relatively high end computer was necessary.

RAM usage should not exceed 8gb. It is still fairly high but much better than before and I will continue to work towards reducing this. The primary reason is that the entire world of Windstone is seamless. There are ways to keep the illusion of seamlessness while actually having sections of the island only load in when you are close enough to that area in a similar way that Ark: Survival Evolved works. As this version is being tested my primary focus will be integrating a similar “seamless” landscape loading system into Windstone.

One major bug was also fixed where if you loaded a game without ever saving (essentially loading the very first auto save which happens when you first load into a new game after the intro text) all loot baskets would be empty.

 

Originally posted @ itch.io. Download it here.