WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING OVER THERE?

Good question! Thank you for asking :P.
We’ve been somewhat absent since releasing our hotfix for the Cheesecake patch on October 22st. In the patch notes, we mentioned that we’re going through a major in-game engine update, which you know as Prometheus. This is a huge milestone in the development of The Universim and it’s very, very important for us. A few issues were encountered that needed to be ironed out before we broke something or designed a feature around a flawed system. After we’re done cleaning and optimizing the project, we will now properly be able to introduce your most-wanted features, such as: new eras, save and load, advanced artificial intelligence for Nuggets, and more that you can read about below. 

So much that we’re basically turning into workstations ourselves! On top of new features, we’re optimizing, reimplementing, and redesigning a lot of systems. Let’s break it down.


PLANET GENERATION OPTIMIZATION

Some of the biggest changes reside within the planet generation engine: it’s so much faster now. We reduced loading times and memory usage quite significantly. You’ll likely be very pleased with how it turned out. This allows us to add more objects, have bigger planets, and have more simulation calculations happening at the same time. We also mapped our planet with the road networks and city expansion patterns for future needs. Planet
biome temperatures were optimized as well. Now, temperatures are more accurate and easier to understand. A lot of love has been invested into this process. After all, planets are our playground and we want them to perform well.

Pathfinding on the planet is another area that was optimized. Animal AI and Nugget AI can be very taxing depending on the amount and actions performed. It’s now faster and smoother than a speeding roller coaster. Nuggets have a much better understanding of their surroundings and can easily find the shortest path to their destination.

NUGGET'S ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Oh boy! We’re having so much “fun” working on this. There’s a lot of thinking and a lot of planning involved in this process. Mainly because all Nugget
stats are connected and the environment changes dynamically around Nuggets over time, so we want them to understand the current circumstances and decide what is more important to do at a certain time. Things change on the fly and we need to make sure Nuggets make reasonable decisions without your direct intervention. Nuggets now compare distance vs quality before making their decision. For example: cooked food is better than raw food for Nuggets, they become happier and more satisfied by eating cooked meals. It also keeps Nuggets full for a longer period. In the past, Nuggets were always choosing cooked food over raw food, which in some circumstances was a bad decision because the distance and wait time would be more wasteful for them than simply grabbing a nearby fruit. Nuggets now check this information before starting their journey. However, this doesn’t only apply to food, it applies to any resource they need to collect to finish their task or satisfy their needs.



Our system prioritises tasks for Nuggets dynamically. This allows us to quantity the number of available Nuggets vs busy Nuggets. If there is a need for extra stone, the system will not send all 20 Idle/Free Nuggets to mine stone. The system will task Nuggets to the job one by one and check the weight of that need based on the amount of Nuggets now assigned to it. This way, the system dynamically assigns Nuggets jobs based on the current situation, and it no longer prioritises one job above all else when assigning them. It will only send 5 Nuggets to help build a Hut instead of sending 20 of the available group, because the system now understand that 5 Nuggets are more than enough to finish the task.
Nuggets will also understand if certain buildings need extra support (like Eateries, Farms, etc) and automatically assign themselves to those buildings. If a Farmer dies of old age or from the unfortunate and somehow all too common event that a mammoth stepped on them (how didn’t they see it coming?), another Nugget will fill this position without your interaction.
Our goal is to make Nuggets feel alive. We want you to feel like they are truly organic, living beings.

What we’re doing right now is really going to make it easier for us to balance things out in the future. It’s also important to keep in mind that we’re only talking about changes that you’ll see on the frontend, there are also tons of changes happening behind the scenes as well. We’re developing debugging tools that help us to understand why Nuggets made a particular decision, such as where they are going, what they plan to do next, and what triggered these actions. A lot of amazing work has been done, but there’s a bit more that needs our attention.

NUGGETS THOUGHTS

While some of our engineers have been busy optimizing and improving things, others have been working on new features such as the Nugget Thoughts system. Nugget Thoughts are pretty much exactly as they sound. We developed a system that will allow you to see what Nuggets are thinking about their current situation. It will show you their thoughts regarding things like their work, relationships with their spouse and children, current feelings, etc. This will help you to better understand what the Nugget is up to, such as if they plan to burn things to the ground or they’re ready to start a family. This is a cosmetic element that will add even more personality to Nuggets. Here are some examples of Nugget Thoughts based on their daily activities:

GENERAL (IDLE) THOUGHTS

  • Today’s forecast: no work, no pants.
  • No work? Guess I’ll just stand here and look busy.
  • How do we ever get things done with two circles for hands?
  • It would be really awkward if there was some omnipotent being who could read my thoughts all the time.
  • Last night I dreamed that I was a whale. I woke up looking like a beached whale. Sometimes dreams are scarily real.

TREE FELLER

  • I really should’ve become a painter…
  • The trick is not to become emotionally attached. *Sniff* Goodbye, Bertha.
  • Who needs anger management when you can hit things in the face with an axe?
  • To fell a tree you must first become the tree.

STONE MINING

  • These vibrations are doing wonders for my arthritis.
  • Sometimes I feel like my life is just a sequence of rocks of varying sizes.
  • A pile of rocks coming right up.

FERTILITY METER FILLS

  • Is it warm in here or is it just me?
  • If the hut’s rockin, don’t come knockin.
  • I feel like someone is lacking some Vitamin Me.

WITCH DOCTOR

  • If it doesn’t clear up within three days, start making funeral arrangements. Have a good day!
  • With all of these sick Nuggets, you’d think I’m not very good at my job.
  • An apple a day is starting to put me out of business.
  • Tell me, have you considered life insurance? You really should.


NUGGET NEEDS

Nuggets have their own needs, such as Food, Water, Rest, Happiness, and so on. These values are also being revisited by our team, as everything needs to be rebalanced according to new values and Nugget behavior. Game balance is a big challenge in a game like The Universim, as a lot of things are connected together and changing something in one of them can lead to everything falling apart. It’s like playing with a giant house of cards. Each card is equally important and if any of them were to fall out of place, the entire house would collapse. Thankfully, we have you, our community. Without you, it would be extremely difficult to balance things. Your feedback is massively important for this process, so thank you for supporting us and helping to shape The Universim into an amazing game.

NUGGET'S REPRODUCTION

This system is also going through some changes and we would love to talk about it a bit more in the future. We’re still approving some of the mechanics and don’t want to discuss them until we’re satisfied with the direction it’s going in. The challenge we are currently facing is that we want to keep the reproduction speed consistent and still make it feel natural. As the Nugget population grows, it starts to get a little out of hand due to the arithmetical progression (every Nugget pair can have children and the population booms). If you have any great ideas, please share them with us in comments below.


TUTORIAL UPDATE

Because we’re adding new content and changing the ones that we already have, certain tutorials have become outdated. We’re revisiting tutorials at the moment as well and making them more dynamic. We are also working on the game’s narration, which we will discuss at a later time.

CAMERA CONTROLS IMPROVEMENTS

We’re happy with how smooth and responsive our camera is, but we’re still experimenting with controls. We collected a lot of feedback and observed a lot of players during our exhibition showcases and it looks like we could do a better job by minimizing the amount of buttons you click to control your camera. It shouldn’t look like you’re trying to play the piano. We want the controls to feel intuitive and easy to learn. Let us know what we can do to make it better (like things that bother you right now).

SEASONS

We just recently improved our season generation engine, making it more accurate and ensuring that it provides you with more information regarding what you can expect in the coming year. We are also making flora on the planet reflect changes in season dynamically. It will make trees change color based on the current season and the local temperature around the tree. Flora on other planets will be dynamic as well. You’ll see planets change in color based on the season on the planet. It’s going to be really cool.

MOUNTAINS

Our current mountains are static objects, meaning they were designed entirely by our 3D artists. We’re moving away from this concept and are planning to invest more time intoprocedural mountain generation. We hope to improve over other procedural mountain generation techniques used in other games. Mountains are usually generated by the noise found on the planet’s terrain, which makes all mountains look basically the same on all planets. Our goal is to build a system that will combine pieces of rocks, assign textures, and spawn flora and stones based on the planet environment. Mountains are the biggest objects on our planets, and this gives our artists a lot more freedom to give planets a unique character by changing the shapes and look of the mountains on the planet. We will talk more about this system in the future.

EVOLUTION TOWERS

You probably learned about these towers in previous updates. This is a highly-demanded feature and we’re working hard to bring it to the game as soon as possible. Evolution Towers will allow you to unlock features in the game and will be the main stimulator of progress in your civilization.

SAVE & LOAD

We definitely know how important this feature is and development in recent months has been highly concentrated around it. In fact, it was one of the features that benefitted best from us cleaning the project. The primary challenge for us is to save a massive amount of data in one all-encompassing game state. We not only have to save thousands and thousands of positions of all the objects on the planet, but also their statistics (in a procedural system). As you know, everything in The Universim is connected: even the most basic objects, like trees, hold dynamic values and understand the exact local temperature. Nugget stats are also connected with other parameters and needs to be saved. Overall, the main challenge is not the implementation of a save and load feature, the main challenge is that we want to make sure we have all of the bits and pieces in place in order to save and load them on demand (and efficiently). The approach we’re taking now is saving us from having to redesign or restructure systems, which will take a ridiculous amount of time, but it’s slightly tricky. However, progress has been excellent, so count on us - save & load is on its way!

ART ASSETS

All buildings- yes, every single one-  had to be retouched and redesigned to some extent in order to make them fit into our future plans for city expansion and roads. Each building has to correspond to certain guidelines and rules introduced by our new system. Of course, we also used this opportunity to improve the overall quality of our models: better textures, mesh, and so on. We are also optimizing each building with a LOD system. This system will update the details of our buildings based on the camera’s distance from them. This will increase performance and allow us to have more buildings in future. We have also added more visual elements to buildings like night lights and visible degradation when in a bad condition.

NUGGET GENERATION ENGINE

We’re improving the Nugget generation engine. This is what is responsible for generating visually-distinct Nuggets with different hairstyles, clothing, colors, and shapes. We’re also improving animations and working on new ones. You’ll be able to pick Nuggets up and throw them or put back on the ground gently. Their actions will correspond with yours. Basically, we have better-looking Nuggets and a better system for generating them.

WHY WE'RE STILL IN THE STONE AGE

Man, you guys at Crytivo are the worst! You’ve taken years just to finish the Stone Age,
so how long will it take for new eras?! (You might think)
 

Well, it’s true, it has taken us quite a long time to implement the Stone Age era. However, it’s important to understand that the Stone Age is not just the first era in the game, it happens to hold a huge portion of all core game mechanics. During this age, we’re implementing all of the simulations that you’ll see throughout the game, connecting everything together, balancing all of the stats, creating AI systems, working on the research and progression aspects, ensuring that these systems are dynamic, and so on. Basically, this is our foundation for building things much faster down the line. This is our main testing platform to ensure we don’t design future eras around a bad system (which can be disastrous and basically require starting over). After we’re done with the core of the game, you’ll see more eras popping up very quickly.
 
Initially, we planned to release an update on December 1st for the game, but we will probably need a bit more time to get things finished. We hate to keep you all waiting for a new patch and promise to get it into your hands ASAP. We will keep communicating our current status and remain entirely transparent. You are an important part of our world, and we would never abandon you. We have also put a rough roadmap together for you. Please keep in mind that some features might change in the future or their priority can change based on the situation. Also keep in mind that we’re not going into detail here, we’re just summarizing
work that was done.As you can see, there is a lot of work happening behind the scenes and we feel you need to know about that. Your support keeps us motivated and inspires us every day. We always read your feedback and we would love to see a smile on your face when you play The Universim. We want you to care about the fragile world we’re building for you and hope you appreciate all the time and effort we spend on making this world dynamic and alive. Our team is hard at work every day. At times it can be tough, but we love what we do and hope you enjoy it as well. Please leave us your comments below and we wish you all the best for the coming holidays!



STAY AWESOME!
All the best, Crytivo Games