2020 Content Overview & NEWS
First, a personal update:
Whoa, I am going to be a father! Imminently! As I am the sole full-time developer on the game, you might be thinking "How will this affect Nova Drift?" Please don't worry! While I will be taking paternity leave, I've got help hired. While a child is surely a big interruption, I'm very excited to finish the game, and I've got a plan to get it done. Please be patient for the next update while I adjust to working from home with an infant.
Enemies 2.0 Progress
As promised, Enemies 2.0 is now the primary focus of development. If you're just joining the community, you can read a lot more about it here, in the second half of my previous post:
TL;DR: Enemies 2.0 is a huge update that drastically overhauls the wave system, and the enemies you face. This includes how they enter the world and interact with each other. It will be released in many small parts. Beyond raising the bar on enemies, the overhaul aims to improve Nova Drift's variety, scaling, and fairness, while emphasizing tactical gameplay, improving build versatility, and reducing general chaos and confusion.
New Enemy Entrances: "Warp" and "Emerge"
A frequent player complaint is being ping-ponged by off-screen enemy entrances in the chaos of high waves. I did a little work on this earlier in the year by introducing warnings for high-velocity large enemies, but I've been working on something to mitigate it further.
Certain enemies can now enter the playing field by warping in, or emerging from the distance. These two entry styles accomplish the same thing: Allowing enemies to enter the field at any point, with a clear telegraph, without needing to pass through the player character. Warp takes longer, but is instantaneous after the animation finishes. Each enemy that warps has its own portal artwork, and it's reserved for the most advanced foes.
Emerging enemies can be hit and hit you at about 70-80% of their emerging animation, which feels about right to me. Some enemies, such as Juggernauts, will continue to use the "warning" entrance to charge in from the sides, but only when it makes sense for that particular enemy to do so.
Dynamic Wave Spawner
I've refactored what was previously a nest of disorganized copy-pasta into one script that will eventually handle any enemy spawn situation I'd want to create. With this script you could, for instance, create this scenario:
- Hives, orbited by Wardens
- That emerge into the scene from deep in the background
- In a spiral formation, iterating every second, until a certain number of hives arrive
- Protected by a new enemy that tries to deploy a shield to any Hives present
This lets you create more interesting situations, relying less on sheer quantity of enemies or bullets on screen in order to challenge the player.
I will also be adjusting this script to have variables that can be set to scale with the wave number, allowing any scenario to be used at any wave, instead of the current system which chooses from a range of scenarios for several wave ranges. This is more dynamic, allowing wave scenarios to be carefully crafted and versatile without having to make hundreds of them. The script does the heavy lifting.
Enemy Rework: Celestials
Most enemies that have not already received a rework will get one at some point during Enemies 2.0. Celestials, whether they be feared, loved, or hated, are first in line.
This rework seeks to solve the following issues:
- Celestials, as dangerous as they are, deserve to look equally menacing so that there is no question they deserve the player's full attention. They are receiving a visual overhaul with new effects.
- Reworked enemies will use a more diverse palette of colors that use a greater hue range.
- Celestials have been given a warp entrance, which allows ample time to prepare and position for their arrival. Additionally, they may spawn at slightly higher waves to compensate for their new tricks.
- They will receive new attacks and behaviors that are not necessarily less dangerous, but less random / brute-force, such that counter-play feels better. For instance, the "bomb-fiesta" attack will choose from an array of recognizable patterns instead of random placement, and the Celestial's single shot will be replaced by a slower helix-fireball that can be avoided with careful positioning, allowing a brave player to get a few extra shots in.
Upcoming Content Previews
The Serpent Body Gear
There are many small features, reworks, and balance changes coming, but I'd like to focus on my favorite, the Serpent body gear, which happens to be our most up-voted content request on Feature Upvote.
Our resident Code Elf, Ken Miller, created the tech for this l o n g b o i, and I couldn't be happier with the result. It creates some very unique gameplay situations. The body can become absolutely huge in terms of the screen real estate it occupies, but it compensates for this by having strong damage reduction on its segments (not its head!) and a very large base hull pool. This means that you need to be very mindful of your logistics, whether it's to get your tail out of harm's way or to use your body to shield yourself from a dangerous shot to the head.
After playing around with it, I realized that by coiling tightly, I could cause a sort of tail whip, so I'm already spiraling into new ideas of how to implement this tech. Dragon body mutation... !?
I'm also excited about a few new Wild Mods that interact with body gear in specific. One of them, Evolutionary Niche, offers you a way to pour more and more power into your body gear unique powers, and the other grants extra level ups at a considerable cost, which is useful for powers that scale with your level. And of course, there's always the existing Bravado Wild Mod!
Powerful new build possibilities or absolute meme? You decide! I'm happy either way, the Serpent body is FUN.
Gear Rework: Assault Body Gear
Speaking of body gear, Assault needed a little something. There's been recent discussion that all of the best weapon-based builds generally aren't self-fired, especially because of how harsh firing penalties tend to be. I'll be moving some of this power level around so that manual firing feels more rewarding. Before adjusting other mechanics and mods, Assault feels like a good place to start.
This introduces the "Empowered" keyword, which will see future use in both upcoming mods and existing ones, such as Outrage Module and Phantom Strike. An empowered attack increases the same stats as Charged Shot, but at these discrete values:
- +200% damage
- +30% velocity, size, and blast radius
The Assault body's other new ability helps it out with weapon or weapon abilities that slow you down. This mitigates some of the penalty from Charged Shot, Vortex, Thermal Lance, Torrent, and Siege Weaponry.
Nova Drift's Narrative
I've thought about the right way to tell Nova Drift's story for quite some time. Since the game takes every opportunity to utilize a "less is more" design philosophy, it only seems natural that the lore should be divulged similarly.
Nova Drift also often pays homage to the classic 1970s - 1980s arcade experience. Games from this era had scant stories at best, usually out of necessity. Like so many things, these strict limitations created something unique and absolutely memorable. No two people likely had the same interpretation of what a Space Invader would look like. Even the official cabinet artwork for the game is wildly different than my own interpretations of those tiny pixel art creatures.
Other games would give you a paragraph at the start of the game, if they were generous, which you had to sort of cross reference with whatever you could glean from the cabinet, manual, or promotional materials.
Bad translation only enriched the experience and no one can tell me otherwise.
As much as I have nostalgia for this sort of thing, I'm not saying I'm going to tell the story of Nova Drift in a pixelated paragraph, or inscribed on some ancient parchment exhumed from the basement of a condemned barcade. What is special to me about the way these stories are told is how much is left to the imagination and up for interpretation. Not every question is answered, though some secrets could sometimes be gleaned from the gameplay. Because of this, players can imbue the medium with their own personalities, experiences, and desires.
I love hearing player's interpretations of what's actually going on in Nova Drift. There's precious little to go off of, since the campaign hasn't been added yet. All that I've revealed in the game text is that the player character is the ship itself, and not a ship at all, but a rapidly evolving biomechanical entity. Many players have noted that the powers and designs of the enemies they face share a lot of similarities. To flat out explain what is going on in the game seems a disservice to it. I think it would be more fun to divulge just enough, over time, for players to draw some interesting conclusions by piecing together information and gameplay. I think an example of modern indie games doing this well are 'Dead Cells', 'Rain World', 'Risk of Rain', and 'Hollow Knight', though several of these divulge far more text than I imagine Nova Drift wants to. As big as the stories these games tell are, they usually stay out of the way of the gameplay, and that feels right to me for Nova Drift.
So, to that end...
I'd like to divulge pieces of the story in a few ways: By completing the campaign, other such milestones, and by unlocking entries in the Bestiary. The Bestiary is a feature included in the Enemies 2.0 rework, which allows you to glean analysis of your foes, as interpreted by the player entity, by defeating them a certain number of times. The greatest revelations come from bosses, and especially the currently unreleased final boss. Defeating their "uber" versions, which will also be added in Enemies 2.0, reveal greater secrets still. Each enemy and boss will allow you to unlock their card artwork and ~3-5 analysis entries.
Localization Progress / Get Involved?
Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and German translations need your help
Last update, we added full support for Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, and French, thanks to our players and the crowd-sourced localization project on Localizor. Awesome! Everyone involved has been amazing. Let's keep it going.
Please take a look: https://www.localizor.com/nova-drift
We're incredibly close with Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese, and German. While we have 100% of these strings translated, we need more eyeballs on them to have full confidence in their quality, consistency, and correct use of game terminology.
Our first round of translations came out as well as they did because each team assigned a moderator, collaborated on Discord, shared terms sheets, and voted on each other's work after carefully reviewing it. Ideally we have at least 3 votes on the correct suggestion for each translation. If you'd like to be involved and find the other people working on your language, don't hesitate to join the Discord and speak with me (Chimeric) or V2Blast, our Community Manager.
Beyond the game rewards you can earn on the Localizor website, I'd like to include everyone who contributed substantially to the project in the credits, which will also be added this year.
Even if you aren't bilingual, there are other ways to help Nova Drift continue getting free updates. And it is very easy...
Other Ways to Support Nova Drift
Steam Reviews really help! Nova Drift relies on its quality and reputation to sell, and reviews also help the Steam algorithms show the game to more people. Please do take a moment to fill out a short review, even if it's only a few words. It just might make a big difference.
Thank you all for your continued support and enthusiasm. Please join our community and share your thoughts on Nova Drift on the Discord. Happy Drifting!