Welcome the to Wasteland

The latest TerraTech Update 1.4.20 introduced a whole new biome to TerraTech, The Wasteland! This post aims to delve into the story of how the biome came to exist as well as shed some light on our future plans for the Wasteland.

TerraTech has always been a Community Driven game. This means we take on board Community ideas and suggestions and use them as inspiration to guide how we design and develop TerraTech. One valuable piece of feedback we’d received was players wanted more meaningful content added to the game. While new blocks and weapons were great, there was a desire from players to get their teeth stuck into something meatier.

This prompted us to launch a new method of gathering feedback via a dedicated Discord Suggestions Channel. One of the most popular suggestions was to add a new biome. As a team, we knew this would be something epic but not without its risks, so we cautiously began working through ideas on exactly how we can implement a whole new biome in TerraTech.

The biggest challenge to adding a new biome is that the world is procedurally generated in TerraTech. This means that the terrain is generated from a set list of biomes that are pieced together as you explore the world. So adding a new biome to this list would require altering the procedural logic to include another, new biome. Essentially we would have to tell the game to include another biome in the logic and ‘stitch’ it into the world. This is problematic as existing game saves can’t have their logic altered, so if we were to add a new biome it would require players to start a whole new game. While this might sound extreme it’s worth noting that players are still able to play their old game saves, albeit without the Wasteland.

Now while this isn’t entirely impossible, it isn’t an ideal situation as we’d be asking players to abandon their long-standing worlds where they’ve spent potentially hundreds of hours just so they could load in a new biome. This is why we will only do this sort of thing on very rare occasions. However, seeing as players were asking for it, and it was doable, we went ahead and got to work.

The next question we needed to answer was what sort of biome should we add? Our Technical Artist, Rob had this to say about the process:

The art team are often prototyping and trying out new ideas. They don’t all make it into the game and those that do may have to wait for the right opportunity. We’d worked on some alternate biome ideas a couple of years ago and the wasteland was one that stood out as being most suitable for adding to the game. The biggest challenge was to make it look like it belonged in the world of TerraTech. It had to match the style of the existing biomes, but also be visually distinctive.

Once we knew that it was technically possible to generate the Wasteland, we then needed to design how it would work in TerraTech. We were fortunate that the aesthetics of the Wasteland set a pretty clear picture of what should, or shouldn’t, be in there. Not very much it turns out. So things like scenery and foliage should be kept to a minimum. Having dead trees and sporadic steam vents dotted around the area really supported this idea. However, we knew it needed to be different enough from the other biomes that it should offer unique gameplay options. And then it hit us! A new resource giver that only produces component parts.

This was perfect as it fulfilled a gap in the current mining/crafting system and also would fit perfectly into the “lore” of the wasteland. Maybe something had already been occupying this area but a catastrophic event obliterated everything within a 3-mile radius, leaving behind little scrap piles that could be mined to extract the component parts.

The final piece of the puzzle was to decide where the Wasteland would appear in each new world. So we took to Twitter, YouTube, and Discord to ask the TerraTech Community their thoughts on the matter. The choices were to have it appear in the early, mid, or late game and after a few hundred votes the decision was made to have it appear in the mid-late game.

But we weren’t done there! In order to make the Wasteland a real mid-late game biome, we made the design decision to ‘gate’ the scrap piles so they could only be harvested by specific weapons, for example, Grade 3 Better Future lasers are one of the last weapons to unlock in the game. This opened a whole new can of worms as we would need to introduce a new weapon damage type, Electrical. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the scope to add a whole new weapon during that development cycle so we re-purposed an existing weapon, the Better Future Disk Laser, as a placeholder for now, until we were able to add a new, precision laser that could disassemble the scrap piles with ease but also add some surgical melee damage to your Tech.

And that was pretty much it when it came to being able to add the Wasteland biome to TerraTech. Since its release we’ve received some really useful feedback that we’re super excited to work on for future updates. One of my personal favourites is to have different grades of components be mined depending on what grade of weapon you use to mine it. So rarer components are mined with higher-grade electrical weapons.

So what’s next for the Wasteland? The most immediate thing we are working on is a brand new precision laser arm that can disassemble the scrap piles! So stay tuned for more details and info on exactly what that will be…

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