Update 5: Sanctuary
The Sanctuary Update is all about giving your colonists a better fighting chance against increasingly rough catastrophes. New buildings, updates to existing ones, and revamped mechanics should make dealing with hardships feel less like rolling the dice.
Preventing dangerous conditions before they happen is hugely helpful in managing your ailing population. The Sauna is the first of these new types of “anti-catastrophe” buildings. The combination of showers and a hot washroom allows colonists to clean themselves of contaminants so they don’t escalate into issues which require medical attention.
The Lightning Rod is your colony’s answer to bolts of lightning and the Magnetic Storm. It creates a protective area around it, diverting dangerous bolts harmlessly to the ground. But keep in mind this causes considerable stress on the building, so keep it in good repair to avoid costly malfunctions in the middle of a Mag Storm.
Bartering has gone through quite a few versions with variable success. The Sanctuary update brings not only the functionality but the UI closer to what we envision for this game. It’s more flexible and straightforward to use, and uses Silver Coins as currency instead of Reputation, which will be reserved for future diplomacy uses. You can barter materials, items, seeds, and even vehicles from your favourite Society to the benefit of your colony.
Since we put the big and fancy Sawmill behind the tech tree, we had to give something back. The Lumber Yard is an early game building for that exact purpose – to cut down trees and process them into Planks. It works a lot slower than the actual Sawmill, but will enable you to keep on producing building materials before upgrading.
Tech Tree upgrades aren’t over yet. The big feature update has been out for a month now, and now we’re doing something a bit smaller. Security and Colony branches are put together so players don’t have to browse through five separate branches. The World Map branch remains small for the moment, but there’s a big and interesting update coming later which’ll fill it nicely. Ideology selection at the beginning of the game adds more techs to research as well.
Joanna, our QA Manager, told us a bit about what Quality Assurance is and does in a game like this. “A QA Manager is first and foremost responsible for testing that the game works as well as it can, time limits considering. You assign tasks to the QA team, manage tests both on and off-site and make sure critical issues are fixed before a game or an update is shipped. Communication is key when dealing with both programmers and designers, so that pointing out people’s “mistakes” isn’t taken personally. It’s good to keep the mood light. While QA most often concentrates on functionalities and clear bugs, balancing the game is something constantly on our mind as well.
A QA person needs to be persistent, consistent, perceptive and think outside the box. While the notion of “playing all day and getting paid” sounds like an easy job, the reality is quite different. You’ll be testing unfinished parts of unfinished games over and over again until all the bugs are found and squashed. Einstein’s famous quote on insanity – doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result – it’s pretty spot-on what a QA person is expected to do on a daily basis. But least you can prove the “nobody’s going to pay you to play games” crowd wrong – in a way.
Being thorough can be a huge challenge with a big interconnected game like Surviving the Aftermath. There are so many playstyles, computer configurations and systems affecting one another, that finding all the issues takes more time than you usually have at your disposal. For example, the new Ideology techs mean there’s three diverging paths players can take in the very beginning and we have to make sure all of them work with everything else in the game.
Though working as a QA can sometimes be frustrating, the job itself is still so incredibly rewarding. You get to see the issues fixed and know you’ve made the game one step better – I feel very lucky to be able to contribute to that.“
Other notable updates include withering crops to fields and revamped medical buildings. Instead of turning to ash, crops will first wither faster or slower depending on what is planted. The humble potato is a lot more resistant to heatwaves and fallouts than the soybean, for example. Variable withering speeds create clearer differences between crops and allows you to make more interesting choices on whether to risk it with Soybeans or play it safe with Potatoes. Medical buildings will now heal more than one person at a time, but at a slower pace. This makes it easier to deal with a sudden increase of patients during catastrophes. For example, colonists will now prefer the faster and more comfortable Field Hospital over Medical Tents, if there’s one available.
New events are added all the time, but this batch is definitely the most destructive yet. Mismanaged experiments, pyromaniacs and other sources can damage your buildings and even set them on fire. Decide carefully how to handle these events, lest you want your colony to burn to the ground.
User feedback continues to be a critical element in the development process, and thus we’ve added more specific questions and a more visible spot to gather your thoughts. We’ve enlisted our survival duckie mascot for this, so please let us know your thoughts on the various topics you’ll see. It makes a world of difference.
That’s it for the Sanctuary update! Something completely new, something improved, community requests added, and bugs squashed. Let us know what you think about the new Catastrophes, buildings, bartering, and whatnot. We’ll continue including your feedback and suggestions into future updates! Stay safe!