FRONTIERS - railboy

Strap yourselves in - this is going to be a long update! We've got almost 6 months of development to cover, and I think you're going to be surprised by how much has changed in that time.

FRONTIERS - railboy
Thinking of buying this game? Here's why you may want to wait:
FRONTIERS is in the middle of an overhaul (which I'm calling v1.7) that addresses many of the bugs and performance issues that exist in the current version.

Everything is changing - the visuals, the interface, the inventory system, the save game system, etc. Most of these changes were driven by player feedback so a big thanks to anyone who took the time to play & post.

So what's the problem?
So far so good - unfortunately this overhauled version won't be in a releasable state for a while yet, and there's an uncomfortable disconnect growing between the game that's available for download and the game that's actually being developed. Right now the impression you'll get from the screenshots, forum discussions and bug reports won't quite match the finished product.

So if you're thinking of buying, DON'T. I encourage you to WAIT until 1.7 is released.

Just to be clear, the game isn't morphing into a Candy Crush clone or something - the core experience will be consistent. But in the past my mantra has been 'read the forums before buying!' so I want to err on the side of caution in this situation.

Bug Reporting
To anyone who already owns the game - hold off on posting new bug reports. The reports you've made for previous versions have been invaluable, but the systems that produced most of them have been replaced. Conserve your energy!

Humble Bundlers
To anyone who got this game in a bundle - this announcement is obviously coming on the heels of your purchase, which is slightly awkward. For what it's worth the changes in the visuals & gameplay didn't emerge until fairly recently - hopfeully you'll all love them. Fingers crossed!

Forum Housecleaning
I've moved a lot of the outdated bug reports into a forum called Archived Bug Reports (Pre v1.7) which you can view here. I've also moved some other topics like the Official Favorites Thread since they could be considered selling points.

There's still potential for confusion with this setup but this seemed cleaner and more transparent than just deleting stuff.

Alright I think that's everything. Thanks for reading, and thanks for your support!

- L
Jul 14, 2017
FRONTIERS - railboy

Howdy, everyone - if any of you have been wondering where the heck I've been for the past 6-8 weeks, this update will tell you.

Spoiler: I had a kid!


So yeah. Thanks for all the messages asking if I was dead. I promise I'm alive and well. I'm just covered in spit-up.

There's undoubtedly a growing backlog of forum posts that need attention - I'm not quite brave enough to take a bite out of those tonight, but you can expect to see some replies this weekend.

- L
FRONTIERS - railboy
Welcome to FRONTIERS! It's a great honor to be part of the latest bundle and we're very pleased to have your support. Be sure to check out the forums if you have any questions or want to know more about the state of the game / development plans / etc.

Enjoy the game, and we'll see you in the Uncharted!
FRONTIERS - railboy

Hey everyone!

It's been a while since the last update, but today I've got a big one for you - a HUGE Kickstarter update going over the state of the game, the company, the dev streams, and more. Check it out:

Mar 24, 2016
FRONTIERS - railboy

Hello everyone! First off - the YouTube copyright issue has been resolved. No more automated claims should be happening. Whew!

Did you know I've been doing regular dev streams of my progress on FRONTIERS recently? By now most Kickstarter backers are aware of this, but I still get lots of emails from Steam players asking how the game is going. Now you can see for yourself: Click here for the AAD Productions dev stream playlist.

(I've been linking those videos to my Steam profile so they should also show up under 'videos' in the community section, though you may need to browse a bit to find them.)

Live Streams

Those are all archives, of course - if you want to see me developing LIVE you can subscribe to my channel here: Click here for AAD Productions on Twitch

I announce streams a few minutes ahead of time here. I'm trying to stream once or twice a week, though it will vary depending on my schedule (crazy right now due to upcoming VR releases) and what part of the game I'm working on.

What About Spoilers?

Fear not - I try to stay away from spoilery material while streaming. (Right now I'm doing stuff related to the Behemoth mission.) The downside is you won't see me working on Act III stuff, but as we all know there's still plenty to work on in the first two acts.

Hope to see you all at the next stream! Feel free to bring your bug reports. :D

- L
FRONTIERS - railboy

Hello, everyone - brief bit of news for anyone who has streamed FRONTIERS gameplay or is planning to stream it in the future.

I recently got two copyright claims from YouTube for the use of FRONTIERS music in one of my official game development streams. Yes, you read that right. I - the developer - was penalized for playing music from my own game on my own gamedev channel. WTF?

If YOU have been penalized I want you to know I had no idea this protection was in place - I didn't ask for it, I don't want it and I'm honestly baffled as to where / how in the hell I opted into being 'protected' like this. (It must have been some mighty fine print because I hate copyright bullsh*t.) But in any case I'm going to find a way to opt the hell out and get every outstanding claim revoked.

Many apologies, especially to anyone who wrote to me personally for permission to monetize your YouTube videos. I'm fixing it asap.

- L
FRONTIERS - railboy
Hey all - here's a Kickstarter update I posted recently where I go over the state of the game and what the future holds. It starts out on a down note, but picks up by the end. Make sure to watch all five videos! (You've got nothing better to do, right?)

And here are the videos:
FRONTIERS - railboy
Thanks for your patience during PAX, I'm back and hitting the bugs again. Here's a recent Kickstarter update for you:

It's been a while since an update! There's a reason for that - I'm finally working on Act III. At this point about 50% of my development time is going towards finishing the final parts of the game and that means we're in major spoiler territory.

I find the issue of spoilers fascinating. Through years of lurking on Game of Thrones boards I've concluded that there's no happy medium - you either stay completely unspoiled, or you just give in and say screw it, I won't even try to avoid them. This is especially true if you're hearing something weeks / months / years before you see the final work, because our brains are storytelling machines - if stories were skeletons then brains could reconstruct all 206 bones from a pinky toe and a chipped tooth. Often all you need is the premise and the general tone of a story to guess the end game.

There's also no point in the here's a tiny bit of info that won't spoil anything approach, because even though we're great at reconstructing stories, we stink at consciously spotting the connections between bits of information in a story we already know. Someone might relay a throwaway joke from season 2 of a show you're watching - oh don't worry, they assure you, it's a scene that contributes nothing to the overall plot so it won't spoil anything - but of course they don't realize they've just spoiled the fact that the character telling the joke doesn't die in season 1. If that was supposed to be a source of tension in season 1... oops.

So these days if I don't want to know about a movie or a game, I don't read / watch / listen to anything related to it. And if you want to stay unspoiled for FRONTIERS, I recommend you don't read the rest of this update, because you'll have little trouble figuring out what's coming.

Spoilers Begin Now!

Before our Serious Business concluded, the GRT wasn't a 'T' - the story just called for a gigantic ruined thing, not a tower. (okay, technically still a 'GRT' but whatever.)

But once the idea of a tower was introduced - one that could be seen from anywhere in the game world - the ending of the game changed subtly. Reaching the tower became a primary goal. Not just reaching the Uncharted, not just finding Daniel, but exploring the tower itself. Ryan integrated this into the Act III dialog and game endings. I integrated it into the design & size of the tower. The result is a structure that utterly dominates the landscape around it.

The GRT in its native habitat

Creating the tower has been technically challenging. The structure system in FRONTIERS isn't designed to support interiors this large, so I've had to use a number of one-off cheats. First - it's not just one structure but dozens. Each floor is spawned and saved separately. Second - those floors are connected in a way that allows me to un-load lower / higher floors as you move through it, keeping those evil memory errors at bay. Third - for the large outer pieces of the tower I'm using a unity prefab instead of the FRONTIERS structure system so I can optimize it further.

One floor of the tower. It's hot in there.

Yes there will be climbing

Some fun custom shaders have been created for the exterior. On top of a simple illuminated glowing inner core that pulsates with energy is a distortion shader with custom fog settings. The global fog used through the rest of the game made the top of the tower look a bit odd - it was never meant to be used on objects this tall - so this shader applies a gradient from dark to light that matches the color of the ground fog. Overlaid on that is a detail shader that breaks up the surface a bit and adds some detail up close. (The poly count on the tower itself is very low.) Finally there's a detail shader for use on opaque elements meant for climbing. I may not be able to give the tower surface AAA treatment, but I can at least give it enough detail for the eye to determine scale while climbing it.

Inner glow

Outer distortion / fog shader

Final detail overlay

Opaque pipe material

The tower also has some unusual technology that you won't find in Kantvarld - at least not very often. Remember the bizarre device in Albert's loft? You'll finally get to see some of those in action. I've also had fun programming all the varied uses of the Obex Spheres, which were introduced in an inert form in the prologue. These things get a workout in Act III.

A copy of Albert's machine

New forms of Luminite - what are they for? WHO CAN SAY?

Actually navigating the tower is going to be difficult. No structure this size comes without some kind of security system. And when you find out who's in charge of that security system - well, you can probably guess at this point, but I think that's enough spoilers for one update.

Okay maybe just one more:

Holy crap I'm rich!

We're long overdue for another video update so expect a video where I talk about making an active volcano! (oops spoilers!)

- L
FRONTIERS - winterslice

The Lonely Explorer

So, what's this strangely titled Focus Update about? Well, the inhabitants of FRONTIERS have always seemed a bit... static. Not really alive unless you're talking to them. This update is all about making you feel like you're not alone as you explore.

NPCs & Routines

First up is a total revision of how characters move through the world. This has been changing in fits and starts for a while now, but this update is the final word: I've abandoned reciprocal velocity obstacles and am now using rigibodies exclusively. Which means that characters interact with the world in the same way as every other physics object, which means I can finally have them move about without clipping through walls, yay! This not only saves me a lot of headaches, it gives the game a ~5fps boost since I can toss the RVO engine overhead.

Next, I finally settled on a pathfinding method. Oh, the things I've tried. Projection grids, navemeshes, you name it I've tried it. In the end I settled on hand-placed, hand-linked navigation nodes, and I'm placing them only in cities where the obstacles are thick. Outside of cities characters move on paths just like before. (And if they stray from the path for some reason - well, they'll just act like creatures in a low budget game and walk straight into rocks and stuff. Whatever.)

So the next time you enter a city, rather than seeing everyone standing around, you'll see them moving to and fro as they walk from one node to the next. In the future nodes will have flags assigned to them - currently they're all set to 'everbody / all the time' - so that people will execute a proper daily routine.

NPCs moving around inside of structures is possible too, and I've added nodes to a few of the larger buildings - it's just as effective as seeing people walk around in cities. But I still have to manually place movement nodes inside the structures, which takes forever, so I'm setting that step aside until a later update.

Movement / Animations / Little Things

I've swapped out some of the floaty walking and standing animations for something a little more natural. We may not be able to upgrade the resolution of the characters, but at least they can move a little more realistically! They're also not rooted in place any more, so you can bump them out of the way if you don't like where they're standing, and they'll respond with deference or insults depending on your reputation.

Little indicators are now displayed when a characters is speaking, or when they've heard something. This will hopefully make some of the listening mechanics a bit clearer - a fair bit of work has gone into the ability for (say) a bandit to call other bandits within audible range, but that was never clear because there are no audible voices in the game! Now you can see the leader emit a dialog icon and the rest emit an attention icon and better realize what just happened. (In the near future I will be adding toggleable icons to creatures as well so you can grasp the stealth aspects more easily.)

Night Life - Seeking Reward

This has been a LONG time in development. I know a lot of you have been puzzled by what to do at night - just walk around and get infected by darkrot, or what? And I've given some coy answers in the past because I was never sure it would all come together. But at long last, there's something to seek - and there's a reward waiting if you can find it before sun-up. (Unless something else finds it first...)


These elements are badly in need of balancing, but finally finishing them is a huge relief - it's one of those complicated features I've thought about cutting a hundred times, but never could because it's so important to the story in Act III. (Added bonus: that tavern in the Observatory district doesn't seem so out of place any more.)

Horses! Plus Some Bad News

That's right, horses have finally made an appearance. You'll see them here and there. Unfortunately, the horseback riding skill - a long-planned feature you can find being discussed even before the Kickstarter - has been cut. (I think I broke this news a bit ago, but I wanted to make sure nobody mistakenly thought I'd re-introduced it upon seeing a horse in the game.) Sorry everyone, it's not tied to the main plot and it wasn't a stretch goal, so I couldn't justify keeping it in there. Maybe someone will mod it in.


With an update this big I have undoubtedly introduced many new and amazing game breaking bugs. (Someone has already reported that they've had trouble opening doors after the latest patch.) Just keep reporting them and I'll add them to the ever-growing backlog that threatens to swamp the entire proje - I mean, I'll take care of them immediately, of course!

Alright that's all for now. Until next time,
- L

By the way, our lead writer Ryan Span, who wrote FRONTIERS's storyline and dialogue, has just had his latest book published! It's called The Impostor Prince and it's awesome, with an endorsement by NY Times bestselling author Matthew Caine! Give it a look!

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