More tutorial and scripting improvements

Hey everyone, it’s been months since my last dev blog update! As you will hopefully have seen, I recently announced the coming release of GearBlocks into early access for November 9th.

A lot of my time lately was spent preparing for this announcement. The trailer video was the biggest chunk of this work: planning, building content in game (including many new built-in constructions!), capturing footage, and editing it all together. I also improved the Steam store page and website with new screenshots, gifs, blurb, presskit, etc.

Tutorial scenario

I recently took the game to a local indie meetup, and had a few people try out the tutorial scenario. It was really useful and informative to watch people play it in person. The feedback was somewhat sobering though, some found it too complicated and struggled with information overload!

So I made some changes to the tutorial to try and simplify the information presented to players, and added more code to handle edge cases where players were getting stuck.

I’ve also set up a new build configuration for a special demo build with just the tutorial scenario in it, which I’m planning to use for the Steam Next Fest (coming on October 9th).

Lua scripting

I’ve continued to improve the Lua scripting interfaces, exposing more properties and methods for manipulating parts and constructions, adding more tool interfaces, and more vector / quaternion math stuff.

Further improvements were made to some of the included script mods, including the builder tool extensions (now with the ability to set / snap the pivot position & orientation, change the manipulators to work in world or local space, etc.)

Kit building

For the trailer video I wanted to show time lapses of some constructions being built. I also want to try creating scenarios where the player follows instructions to build pre-designed blueprint constructions, a bit like building from a model kit.

So I implemented a feature I’m calling “kit building”, to cater for both of these situations. Parts can now be assigned a stage index and constructions have an active stage that can be set (where any of their parts in higher stages than the active one are hidden).

I made a script mod tool for setting part stage indices, and previewing a construction’s stages. I actually used this tool when capturing for the trailer, just manually advancing through the stages in order, revealing the parts.

I also prototyped a kit building scenario with a simple Lua script to allow the player to advance through a blueprint construction’s stages, automatically spawning the parts they need to build that stage. This idea has potential I think, but will need work to make it more user friendly.

Minor demo update

I decided to release another quick demo update, out now with some fixes and other small tweaks:-

  • Minor UI improvements, including a new “getting started” window that shows some helpful pointers when launching into a new game.
  • Improved attachment locking undo / redo (single command for multiple attachments).
  • Bug fixes (including fixing the differential idler gear centre-of-mass again).