Arkin is a first person space combat experience. Take control of the latest in starfighter technology and fight for humanity's survival against the brutal alien onslaught.
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March 26

Dev Blog 31

It’s been quite a while since our last Dev Blog so we’ve got a content-packed update this month. Since our last report we’ve overhauled Mission 2, created new destruction effects for large ships, and made dozens of improvements major and minor. All these changes were rolled out to our Alpha testers last week in the 0.3.6 update (full release notes available here).

Work has also been ongoing for the 0.4 update which will feature some brand-new content for our testers to explore! But we’re getting ahead of ourselves, let’s look at some of the work done over the past few months.

Mission 2
Mission 2 has always been a bit of a thorn in our side. We initially thought it would be a very straightforward mission that would be simple to create and balance – we were wrong. To put it bluntly Mission 2 was not fun in its first iteration. It was also not fun after the second. We tried to tweak the second to make it work, but that led to a minor improvement at best. We are now on the third iteration and we finally think we’ve got it right.

Defending civilian ships is your primary objective in Mission 2 but our previous damage setup made it impossible to tell if a ship was in perfect shape or about to explode from the next missile impact. We set out to improve the damage state effects on these ships and in the process improved our large ship damage system greatly. We took these changes to the damage system and applied them to our other large ships – the TDF and Arkin frigates. The result? Some great looking and very obvious damage effects.





The main issue with Mission 2 was repetitiveness. To solve this problem, we introduced new objectives to break up the main gameplay loop. We also designed a new damage subsystem that allowed us to make killing Arkin bombers a more involved process rather than just shooting them a lot until they explode. We also improved our checkpoint system to ensure destroyed ships had their debris persist when loading a checkpoint. The persistent debris makes it feel like the battle is ramping up as time goes on by forcing the player to dodge and navigate the growing debris field of destroyed frigates and bombers.

Art
We’ve got a new ship to reveal in this update – the Arkin Light Fighter. As the name implies these fighters are smaller than their counterparts and benefit from much higher speed and maneuverability at the cost of firepower. They use hit and run tactics to attack foes rather than persistently following their targets. Lining them up can be difficult but their light armor makes them easy to take down with a well-placed burst of chain gun fire.





We’ve also been working on new customization assets for the Orion. Some of the new assets include armor, shield generators, and support modules. Here are a couple of possible Orion configurations showcasing the new assets:





Engineering
Much of the engineering work of the last release has gone into improving the damage system for the new Arkin bomber kill process and the overhauled large ship destruction. The great thing about both improvements is that they were designed to be generic and will give us more flexibility in setting up damage systems and destruction effects on other objects going forward.

Another goal for Alpha 0.3.6 release was a proper system to handle distant ships and battle effects. These distant ships are far outside the level and provide a backdrop for large battles. This isn’t as simple as sticking the ships we use right now far off in the distance. With these ships being so far away we do not require highly detailed models and textures and reusing our existing assets would be a huge performance drain. This feature has been shoved to the back of the queue for some time because it doesn’t affect the core gameplay at all. It does however add to the atmosphere and plays an important role in the narrative of Mission 1 which is why we decided to get it in. Going forward we can warp distant fleets in and out, trigger battles between ships, and destroy ships as needed.

Another task for the latest release was taking another high-level performance optimization pass. This was successful with several key areas targeted and improved.



What's Next
In the short term, we’re working on a list of gameplay improvements we’ve compiled over the last few months. Most of these are minor but they’ll help polish off some of the gameplay’s remaining rough edges. This leads up to a large in-person playtest session we have planned for next month where we will be running people who have never played the Arkin through the alpha. Playtests like these are important as we can discover issues we or our alpha testers would not. Issues with the tutorial, unclear objectives, and difficulty are much easier to spot when watching someone who has not played the game before.

Beyond the playtest session we continue to work on new content for the 0.4 alpha update. No ETA on this update right now but it will be some time after the playtest to give us a chance to work on the feedback we receive.

That brings this dev blog to a close! Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next time!

-The Arkin Team

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March 18

Alpha Update 0.3.6

We’ve just released a new Alpha update to our backers on Steam! The main highlights of this update are a completely overhauled Mission 2 experience, redesigned large ship destruction effects, tweaks, bug fixes, and more.

Mission 2
We spent a significant amount of time on this release to make Mission 2 more fun and polished. The changes will provide more interesting mechanics, more varied gameplay (no following Bombers around the whole mission), and a much improved atmosphere. Here’s a list with some of the main changes:
  • New Arkin Bomber damage model that requires accurate shot placement
  • New objectives to vary gameplay
  • New Arkin Bomber model and damage/destruction effects
  • Rebalanced wave timing and enemy counts
  • Improved Bomber AI
  • Updated music
  • Persistent debris on checkpoint loading
Two things missing in this update are complete voice acting (we’re about 50% right now) and the final music mix which is still being worked on.

Changelog
Beside the Mission 2 overhaul there are also many more improvements and fixes in this release.

Gameplay and Balance Tweaks
  • Reduce cluster munition damage
  • Slightly down AI fighter turn speed
  • Increase enemy damage across the board
Enhancements
  • Main menu now loads customization on demand instead of at start (improved menu loading time)
  • New damage states for Arkin frigate with new particle effects and progressive destruction
  • Civilian ships now feature full damage states with proper debris and new particle effects
  • TDF Frigates now feature full damage states with proper debris and particle effects
  • Created new systems for distant ships, includes warp in/out, battle, and destruction
  • Add check to squadron warning audio to ensure attacker is behind player
  • Large ship debris (frigates, civilian ships) will now persist if a checkpoint is loaded
  • TDF frigate is now actually destroyed in Mission 1 when dialog states that this has occurred
  • Added continue prompt and tips to loading screen
  • Implemented new debris caching system to only cache debris one for identical objects (performance improvement)
  • Add logic to skip tutorial after Prologue if it has already been completed
Audio
  • Tutorial is now fully voiced
  • Updated attenuations and sound culling by distance values on multiple sources
  • Tweak sound bank handling to improve memory usage efficiency
  • Added new medium size warp effect audio
  • Added positional values for generic medium warp in audio
  • Changed railgun pitch variance to vary sound
  • Tweaked Ship voice and AI warp volumes and attenuation over distance
Art and Visuals
  • Replaced old Arkin Bomber with new model
  • Add new customization assets for Support Modules, Shield Emitters, and Armor
  • Replaced all Arkin Fighter destruction particles effects
  • Update customization hangar model (still WIP)
  • Update chaingun impact particle effect
Bug Fixes
  • Fixed bug causing collision avoidance to be essentially non functional
  • Fixed issue with audio listener not attacking to first person camera
  • Fix world destroyer animation jump
  • Disable level boundary and boundary visual once warp jump begins
  • Fixed possible shield state on player where you could no longer take damage
  • Added missing explosion sounds to tutorial targets
  • Fix TDF capital hangar not disabling automatically on level load
  • Fix Warp HUD flashing visible briefly when the warp system is enabled
  • Fixed generic squad dialog playing after player death
  • Fix player ship “space particles” not appearing
  • Fix state of weapon energy mode persisting on load (audio only)
  • Fix hitmarkers not appearing when shooting turrets
  • Fix TDF Capital cannon projectile appearance
  • Fix issues with save system and checkpoint loading where values were being persisted unintentionally
  • Fix some issues with clearing mission in progress data correctly
  • Fix bug causing AI to return to level for far too long
  • Ensure cluster missiles pool impact particles
  • Fixed issue with debris lingering on in mission scene switches
  • Fix for music state persisting between scene transitions
  • Fix issue where having a target locked that then became an objective would hide the lock indicator

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About This Game

Arkin is set in a future where humanity has been at war for decades, only to find that their true enemy, a threat to their very existence, has just appeared. As a veteran pilot in the TDF navy outfitted with the latest in starfighter technology, you are on the front lines of the battle for our survival.

    Quick Feature Rundown

    • Intense fast-paced combat, the core of Arkin
    • Utilize the advanced energy routing of your ship to switch strategies at a moment's notice
    • Fully featured single player campaign with an in-depth story
    • Extensive ship customization

      Combat

      Combat is at the heart of the Arkin experience. It’s fast, dynamic, and most importantly revolves around your playstyle.

      The most powerful ability you have is the Orion’s dynamic energy routing system. This allows you to change strategies on the fly by instantly sending your ship’s power reserves to whatever system you need most. You can use speed to outmaneuver your enemies, power up your shields to survive the most dangerous assaults, or overload your weapons to rain destruction on your foes.

        Story

        The year is 2563, and humanity is locked in a civil war. Desperately looking to break the stalemate the TDF has developed an advanced prototype ship with unique capabilities: the Orion. You, the Orion's pilot, are part of the first TDF battlegroup to encounter a new and hostile alien race; the Arckin. With both human factions weakened by decades of war a desperate struggle begins against the Arckin, who appear unstoppable and merciless in their destruction of every human ship and colony they encounter.

          Customization

          The Orion was designed around a new philosophy in starfighter engineering; the idea that he who most easily adapts is victorious, and adaptability is achieved through modularity. Nearly every system on the Orion can be easily swapped out for a different or upgraded version with almost zero downtime. With development of the Orion still in full swing those upgrades are becoming available at a steady pace.

          System Requirements

            Minimum:
            • OS: Windows® 7, 64-bit
            • Processor: Intel Core 2 Duo E4700 2.6 GHz or AMD Phenom 9950 Quad Core 2.6 GHz
            • Memory: 4 GB RAM
            • Graphics: 1GB ATI Radeon HD 5770, 1GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 460 or better
            • DirectX: Version 11
            • Storage: 15 GB available space
            Recommended:
            • OS: Windows® 7, 64-bit
            • Processor: 3GHz Quad Core
            • Memory: 8 GB RAM
            • Graphics: 2GB ATI Radeon HD 7970, 2GB NVIDIA GeForce GTX 770 or better
            • DirectX: Version 11
            • Storage: 15 GB available space
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