Sol 0 Version 0.47 Released

October 4, 2014

Sol 0 version 0.47 has been released! Visit the download page to pick up the new version. This will be a larger post than usual, as I'd like to share a few thoughts about the future of Sol 0 after the change notes. Note that 0.47 is basically the same as 0.46, 0.46 was accidentally released with a bit of dev stuff left in by accident that might affect the game behavior.

First, unfortunately version 0.46 is not compatible with maps created in previous versions. I apologize, and I really try to avoid breaking old maps. This update significantly reworked the mineral system and the save/load system, and it just wasn't possible to keep backwards compatibility. As a part-time indie dev I have to sometimes pick and choose what is possible to accomplish in a reasonable amount of time, and testing the new features had to be a higher priority. But I do feel bad about this, and am confident that the new system in place will prevent this from happening again.

Here's a list of changes:

  • Units and buildings can be assigned control groups by pressing Ctrl+1-9 (Or apple key for Mac users). Ctrl+0 clears all groups. This is a RTS staple that I've ignored for too long.

  • Additional hotkeys: z turns on and off the mineral grid, q cycles through astronauts, and c turns on and off notifications. Keybindings can be changed on the splash screen.

  • Two forklifts won't take the same building job, so having more than one forklift is actually useful now. They get a bit funny around pallets, but this will be improved.

  • The lag associated with the mineral overlay has been fixed. I won't discuss the fix here, as the solution is really worthy of a dedicated blog post.

  • Several of the models have been optimized to significantly reduce the draw counts, improving overall performance. Some models, like the Mars model on the main screen have been improved.

  • Saved games are now in discrete files. You can now backup and restore your maps. On Windows the path is C:\Users\[username]\AppData\LocalLow\Chondrite Games\Sol 0, on Mac /Users/[username]/Library/Caches/unity.Chondrite Games.Sol 0, and on Linux /home/[username]/.config/unity3d/Chondrite Games/Sol 0. If you delete one of these files and try to load the level, the game will crash. The first line in the save file lists the map name.

  • Mineral extractors have a new button 'return to refinery' (only appears if a refinery is present).

  • Rovers now have pathfinding when not in 'route' mode.

  • The settings menu now pauses the game.

  • Scroll speed is now not tied to game speed.

  • Terraformers now provide excellent soil quality to the entire map.

  • Fixed a few issues associated with the last level, although some bugs remain...

  • Clicking the minimap or resource overlay button while trying to place a building or lander now no longer accidentally places the unit.

  • New graphics options on the settings menu, up to 8x anti-aliasing makes things look much nicer, and enable or disable VSync.

  • Greenhouses can now be destroyed (this bug keeps creeping in no matter how many times I remove it).

  • Fixed an issue where the Biolab queue would claim to be full even if empty spots were available.

  • Fixed issues where destroyed buildings would not return the correct amount of power.

  • ...many more minor issues...

  • Added an easter egg: press x and o at the same time when an astronaut is selected... note this is NOT meant to be a serious feature, it took about two minutes to implement after a long night of bugfixing... (there's also another related easter egg too!)

Part 2: The future of Sol 0

Sol 0 has grown a lot in the past year, many more people have purchased the game and the forum is slowly growing (thanks very much for all the discussion and feedback!). I officially put the Beta tag up last release, and I think that is an accurate reflection of where Sol 0 stands: mostly feature complete, but with a fair amount of bug-fixing, polish, and minor features yet to come.

I am happy with the current scope of the game, and I'm not sure that any large changes to the gameplay will occur. I'm not sure that, for example, doubling the number of units or increasing the map size is a road I want to go down - I would rather refine the existing experience. I think many of the fun aspects of Sol 0 are the early-game tradeoffs - for example, which do you build first, a geology or biology lab? When do you sacrifice a supply launch to send up a weather satellite? When do you bring colonists knowing that you can't feed them all without some fast construction? Once you hit 40-50 colonists these bumps are pretty much over, and its time to enjoy the fruits of your labor for the next 50 colonists or so until you exhaust the potential of the map. Once the colony is large, successful, and resilient to disasters I'm not sure that more fun can be had by simply adding more units or making the map larger.

My current plan (in addition to bugfixing) is to add details that increase the depth of the game, not necessarily the length. For example, I think more disaster types would be interesting (electrical storms?). I am also focusing more on 'promoting' the game. I have started the Steam Greenlight process, and am spending more time looking into other options as well.

Feel free to let me know what you think about these thoughts. Sol 0 is really about the first 100 people on Mars. I can visualize a sequel that would be about the first 1000, but that would be an entirely different game!

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