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Unturned Anniversary 2020

Looking back on the past year.

Thanks for another great year on Steam! It was three years ago today that Unturned 3.0 released from early access, and six years since Unturned 2.0 originally launched into early access. It has been about seven years since my initial work on Unturned 1.0 - yikes!

There were sixteen Unturned II devlogs, and fourteen Unturned updates (excluding minor ones) this past year, so the development focus was split about equally. Despite not many direct gameplay changes to Unturned I feel like there has been a lot of good work to improving the quality, and intend to continue e.g. eventually revamping the netcode. I also hope to continue shifting more dev time towards Unturned II, but think it is important to show that commitment to both games for the long haul.

Reviewing Announcements

Each update had its fair share of changes if you would like to read them. These are my thoughts looking back on notable components of the updates. Update Notes

Individually useful or important changes, but nothing to discuss. Hmm not a great opener for this list, however it is chronological so please bear with us. Update Notes

Rio was the first curated map to release directly integrated with the workshop, rather than merging all of the map files into the core files. This was chaotic and controversial at the time. Undoubtedly the right choice though and led to handy workshop improvements. Update Notes

The built-in console/terminal was upgraded, but conflicted with outdated versions of RocketMod on Linux. Eleven months later and now with an officially maintained version it will finally become the default in the next update. Update Notes

MoltonMontro joined SDG as a contractor! He has kept busy both behind the scenes, and with community projects like the blog. He is much better than I was dealing with the social aspects e.g. moderation disputes.

At this point the version numbering scheme changed. Mostly because the distinction between major and minor update was arbitrary, and every map creator wanted their map to be treated as a major update. Unfortunately this will make for some confusion in the future if an update from 2030 has the same number as an update from 2019. It is a mix of semantic versioning and {year} now which can be helpful, and titling after the current year is fairly standard too like "Fifa 2020" or "Photoshop 2020". Update Notes

Dango released as a distinct style of map, much crazier than anything in the game before. Danaby managed to convince me to break Unturned's two year Mystery Box hiatus because there was interest for them, but with changes to equalize the item probability, include bonus items, and also sell an equally priced bundle of all the items.

One benefit of selling random items is the potential to create unique items worth many times the purchase price, but inevitably players focus on those items rather than the main contents. Ideally there would be a way to have the best of both worlds, but it bears further experimentation. Looking at Valve's games they are still experimenting, though they have the problem of players with deep pockets pushing the sheer quantity of items being created, but from a company's perspective that is probably a good problem to have. Update Notes

Halloween started work on improving tools for decoration. In the past I would create event-specific alternatives to maps, or manually swap out props for the event. This limited how much could be done, so certain objects can now be automatically activated in sync with holidays. Next year I will decorate more maps with the timed Halloween props.

Upgrading to Unity 2018.4 LTS could have gone either way, and it feels like new Unity versions introduce as many issues as they fix, but it had some important improvements. Maybe 2019 LTS will be more stable? Garry Newman's blog post nicely describes my (and a lot of Unity devs) view on the engine:

Stockpile items went on discount for the first time here. I am not sure if any other Steam games have even been using this feature. The $1 price of most individual skins complicates things, but discounting bundles seems like a nice way to participate in Steam sales. Update Notes

Individually useful or important changes, but the main thing worth commenting on was the door change. Over the years there had been so many measures to prevent using door physics to glitch through walls like preventing doors from being placed where they would swing into a wall, and preventing them from being opened or closed when a player was in the way, but ultimately the simplest final solution was to disable physics while the door animates. Update Notes

California released with a fun postcard image-filled announcement. With the workshop map creators could decorate their post however they liked, but the announcement needed more focus on the map. This was after the new Steam Library launched, so it was also the first to have an art takeover.

Back when playing through MGSV a few years ago I liked how the sparkly text looked, so I started putting lens-flare-ish glows on the important words in image text from here onward. The glow looks best with a dark shadow and a white highlight to emphasize the brightness. Update Notes

Christmas brought decorations to the maps, and continuation of the holiday tools for future years. PEI redirects specific assets to snow versions so that far more props can be themed. Next year I will convert other maps for a timed festive theme.

Animal Crossing names the events interestingly e.g. "Toy Day" and has better distribution throughout the year. Rami Ismail pointed out that few games have non-Western holidays which would be nice to tackle in Unturned II, although not something I have much knowledge on yet. Update Notes

Foliage storage was finally rewritten. Beforehand it was slow to install or verify the game files because there were so many small foliage files, whereas after the rewrite each map has a single file the game seeks through. Update Notes

Easter Island released. Wow, were there really four map releases in this past year?

Rocket's original community developers had resigned, and at this point I began maintaining our LDM fork included in the game files. Every day I would get emails reporting that you can abuse the /tpa command, so it was nice to finally change Rocket itself to prevent that. At the time of writing there are still a lot of servers using old versions of Rocket, but upgrading will become mandatory in the next update. Update Notes

Mostly preparation for the Dying Light promotion.

Dying Light x Unturned

Working on the crossover event was a lot of fun, and it was thrilling to see Unturned inside a game that I had enjoyed and found inspiring. Techland said the event went well, so I am hopeful for future crossovers. Update Notes

Upgrading the post-process effects was a great step because Unturned had been using a hodgepodge of effects from Unity 4 and the post-process stack v1. When Unity dropped support for javascript the game was actually using a Unity 4 built-in javascript effect, so I had manually converted that to c#.

Underground allow volumes were added in this update to help prevent physics exploits breaking through the terrain. It felt like a lot of this year was fixing exploits in Unturned, but now it feels more stable to work on other improvements in the coming year.

Looking Forward

There is a medium update coming later this week in preparation for the next curated map. That map should release in mid-July and will probably blow your mind.

Right now the to-do list has a lot of mapping and modding suggestions, and gradual revamps of the netcode and user interface. Only time will tell...

The goal for 2020 is to get Unturned II into a playable state with fun core gameplay.