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S.E.A. roadmap update

A look into the future

Since my last roadmap update for S.E.A. I’ve made progress and received feedback that has informed my current understanding of the state of the game, its ultimate vision, and the critical path to success. Continue reading for a detailed timeline of all releases planned until the full Steam release early next year. Beware that hotfixes may fall between major title updates, and everything is subject to change.

v1.4.4: Fest feedback

The next point release will address feedback from the Steam Next Fest. It will be the last of the v1.4 release cycle:

  • Adjustable backlight. Dark Mode will be enhanced with a backlight with adjustable brightness which illuminates the bottom of the screen.
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  • Treasure directional cues. The treasure audio cues will be reworked to include additional harmonic components. These will assist pilots with locating treasures above, below, and behind them. By replacing unstable aspects of the cue with these new cues, I hope to also eliminate the longstanding audio crash bug.

Target release date: July 2021

Engine maintenance

To facilitate future updates, I need to take action on some blocking tasks within syngen:

  • Simplex noise. My current implementation of Perlin noise is too slow for what I want to achieve here. I’m excited to implement Simplex noise as a performant alternative for higher-dimensional noise. These tasks are always very fun for me because I enjoy diving into the underlying maths.
  • Miscellaneous. I’ve identified a few minor issues and feature enhancements that should come with a new update. Notably there’s a bandage fix in S.E.A. that addresses an upstream issue with mouse input.

Target release date: July 2021

v1.5.0: Deep update

This release aims to apply the engine update to improve various systems:

  • Noise refactor. All game systems leveraging Perlin noise will be refactored to use Simplex noise instead. This should greatly improve the performance of surface rendering, possibly enough to increase detail or draw distance.
  • Save versioning. This update will break all saves. Versioning will be implemented so that, if you like the old version, you can continue to play the old executables without compatibility issues.
  • Surface geometry. With the new noise algorithms it will be necessary to revisit surface generation to ensure it works similarly. Here there might be some improvements to its overall geometry.
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  • Cave geometry. Like the surface, it will also be necessary to revisit cave generation. With the graphics added in recent updates it's much easier to visualize the maths and the structures they form. Here I'd also like to implement worm-like caves that have more predictable paths.
  • Floor geometry. Similarly, it will also be necessary to revisit floor generation. I would like to apply lessons learned from E.X.O. to completely rework the floor with various geological features like mountains and plains.
  • Floor proximity cues. A subtle audio cue might be added to indicate distance to the sea floor to help pilots find their way out from caves.
  • Node proximity cues. A subtle audio cue might be added to indicate the closest nodes to help pilots avoid known walls.
  • Scanning enhancements. The scanner will be enabled everywhere and reworked to also communicate the geometry of the surface and floor. Performance improvements from the new noise algorithms should also expand its capabilities inside caves.
  • Treasure occlusion. The new noise algorithms should afford enough performance improvements to explore occlusion of treasure cues so they sound muffled around corners and behind walls.

Target release date: September 2021

v1.6.0: Life update

This release aims to introduce various forms of life to the sea in its largest auditory content expansion:

  • Entity system. An underlying system must be created to simulate all of the living agents in the ecosystem. It will facilitate spawning creatures and tracking their interactions and needs.
  • Dolphins. Befriend timid dolphins by helping them hunt for fish. Friendly dolphins will occasionally reward pilots with common trinkets.
  • Fish. Corral schools of fish who avoid the S.E.A. at all costs. Pilots who lead fish to dolphins increase their affinity.
  • Seagulls. Occasionally pilots will hear seagulls squawking overhead as they cross the sea.
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  • Underwater biomes. Reveal a variety of new musical sounds and textures with the scanner. Existing saves will automatically upgrade to the new biomes.
  • Whales. At deeper depths the S.E.A. will transpose nearby whale songs into audible frequencies for pilots' enjoyment.

Target release date: December 2021

v1.7.0: Redacted update

This release aims to develop the plot and endgame by introducing a variety of new systems:

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  • Alien ruins. Explore crashed spaceships filled with geometric hallways, futuristic sounds, and unique loot.
  • Crafting. Upgrade the S.E.A. to your liking by combining raw materials. Downgrade components anytime with few penalties.
  • New abilities. Apply alien technologies to unlock jump jets, automatic looting, and possibly the ability to freeze time.
  • New game plus. When starting a new game, pilots will be asked if they would like to carry over upgrades from the previous game.
  • Treasure rebalance. Collect various treasures at different depths. Browse them in a reworked gallery interface. Choose whether to sell them for gold or disassemble them for a chance of materials.

Target release date: March 2022

v2.0.0: Gold update

With the Steam release I plan to polish any loose ends. It’s difficult to anticipate what these will be, or if any new features or wishlist items will be moved here at the last minute. Ideally some hotfixes will stabilize the previous release cycle.

Wishlist items

There are a few items that could get shelved or make it into any update:

  • Dynamic weather. Dynamic cloud cover and precipitation could bring more variety to the surface sounds and visuals. Overcast, thunderstorms, and moon phases come to mind.
  • WebGL. Currently everything is drawn using the Canvas API. If performance becomes more of an issue, I’d be interested in learning WebGL and offloading most of the graphical duties to the GPU.
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  • Data logs. Collect data logs that further a narrative of intragalactic conflict. Browse them in a new journal interface.
  • Fast travel beacons. For a small price, pilots can craft beacons which are selectable from a reworked Fast Travel interface.

Feedback is appreciated

As development proceeds through this roadmap, please know that your feedback is very important to me. Please reach out in your preferred way with any bugs, comments, questions, or suggestions. I’m happy to incorporate your thoughts into my plans for this project.

I’m excited to share my progress with you soon. Thanks for your continued feedback and support.