Adding to Atmosphere: VEGA

By Failbetter, January 17, 2018 · Sunless Skies

You may have noticed these past few sprint blogs that we’ve been changing the format a bit, as we add many large features into the game. We’ve also recently restructured our production process and in 2018 we’ll be handling these blogs and our FBG Podcasts a little differently!

Instead of posting a development blog and podcast every sprint (or every other week), we’ll be shifting to releasing a blog and podcast per release build (when we update the live Steam/GOG builds for players)—so roughly once a month. Now that most of the structural systems and core gameplay features are in the game, we want to make sure each of these updates are packed full of exciting new features, screenshots and gameplay.

That means our next development update (and game update!) will come the 31st of January, with our next FBG Podcast on the 2nd of February! In between these official updates there will of course continue to be patch notes, and Lesleyann and Haley will still be hanging around on the forums (Steam, GOG, FBG) to answer any questions you have and take feedback, too.


We’ve been going over a lot of the feedback regarding game atmosphere, and therefore this sprint was all about adding in atmospheric improvements. One of the largest ways we’ve addressed this feedback is to add fog and shadow into the Reach.


Fog adds more mystery and suspense, allowing AI agents and beasties to loom into the player’s sight. Bringing fog into the High Wilderness also allows us to add a major new feature—a headlight! We’ve wanted to put this into the game for a while, but with the Reach being so bright it didn’t feel appropriate. However, it makes a great deal more sense as a fog light.


Adding the headlight is also helpful in numerous other ways, such as being able to definitively tell which side of the locomotive is which, on both the player and agent locomotives. It also is beneficial to combat, as it acts as a helpful targeting device.



Currently the headlight isn’t tied to any mechanics (ie. fuel, stealth, etc.) and cannot be turned off. However, over the coming weeks we’d love to hear your thoughts on this!



With light of course comes shadow. Shadows are helpful to address feedback we’ve seen, that because of the parallax layers it’s occasionally difficult to tell which objects you run the risk of crashing into with your locomotive. Now, with shadow, it’s easier to tell: anything that casts a shadow is collidable, while anything the light passes over is out of reach.



Content have remained steady in their Albion work, including adding the finishing touches to Meg Jayanth’s port: Perdurance.

“Perdurance is a jewel in the Empire’s crown. Here, time is mastered, and the flower of the Empire’s youth disport in eternal opulence”

Cash has continued his work on the Eagle’s Empyrean, which is the Khanate’s stronghold in the sky. Meanwhile, Olivia has been writing up the complex looting storylets for agents like the Scorn-Flukes and the chiropterous Curators. We recently changed the name of the Curators (prev. Custodians) for tonal reasons and to make possible the imminent pun that you may want to brace yourselves for.

We’ve also finalised a special piece of content written by Liam: the Curator’s Egg. This is a Discovery: a gooey bundle containing a Curator’s collected treasures. If you can get one back to port in time, you may be able to sell it. But take too long, and it could hatch, unleashing who knows what aboard your locomotive.

We’ve also now received all the player responses for our Correspondence Kickstarter reward, so Chris has been working on translating them into correspondence sigils while Paul designs their visual look.



One very welcomed feature we’ve been implementing is auto-docking at ports! Soon, when you get close enough to a dock, it’ll automatically (and gently) guide you in. This also allows the locomotive to stay still while docked at a port. To leave, simply press forward and head back into the High Wilderness.



This sprint Barry has been finishing work on pathfinding and local avoidance improvements. Amongst other things, this will allow agents to fly more smoothly and hopefully get stuck less on rocks.

We’ve also begun designing how transitions will work between regions, in preparation of Albion joining the game. Improvements to transitions between segments within a region have also been implemented by Paul and Tobias, as they add fog and shadow into the region.



Some very agitated Scorn-Flukes have also been created, with excellent animations we can’t wait for you to uncover. 


With the shift from Sprint Blogs to Release Blogs, our next FBG Podcast will be 2nd February at 16:00 GMT, which should not interfere with too many groundhog watching festivities.

Our next blog will focus on iterations and improvements to player movement and combat! Be certain to check our our Upcoming Changes: Locomotive Movement and Focused Feedback: Armaments threads.

P.S. For anyone wondering, our Sprint 30 over the holidays was called Umbra.


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