Up Next: Crash Site

Posted by acedude 9 years ago

Here’s a peek at what will be coming to Subnautica in the next few weeks: The explosion and exploration of the Aurora starship.

Back at in 2014, an extremely early prototype of Subnautica was shown at PAX East. A two dimensional starship, cut out from Cory’s concept art, was placed on the ocean horizon. It was impossible to get closer to the ship, it would forever recede into the distance no matter how far a player swam.

Despite this a significant proportion of players would constantly swim across the surface towards the starship. They ignored objectives, vehicles, creatures, and even the whole undersea environment. There was something utterly compelling about the crashed Aurora, lying stricken on the sea floor.


The Aurora as it appears in Subnautica Early Access today, with lifepod in foreground

At that time, there wasn’t a strong plan in place for what to do with the crashed ship. Various ideas were being tossed around, and continued to circulate even past Subnautica’s launch on Early Access. Approaches to the Aurora were cut off by deadly radiation fields, while we’ve figured out what to do with it.


Original concept piece for the Aurora by Cory

Now, we’re ready to bring the Aurora into the game. In the past few weeks, crash site gameplay brainstorms have been category 5 hurricanes. Concept art, prototypes, gameplay ideas have all been flying around. The thing that most accurately describes what we’re thinking about is perhaps this sound made by Simon:

That’s the sound of a big starship going bang. When it goes bang, it will litter the sea-floor with debris, impact craters, and goodies formerly trapped inside the Aurora’s hull.


Concept from Cory showing Aurora debris in the sea floor

Michael, Jake, Russell and Oli are hard at work crafting the ocean floor at the Aurora crash site. This includes digging a huge impact trench out of the rock, and decorating it with debris, silt, and rubble. This represents a unique level design challenge, as it forces the mixing and disruption of existing biomes.


Russell working on the Aurora’s impact trench, showing rubble spilling into a Kelp Forest

Some of the debris pieces on the sea floor will be large enough to enter and swim around in. Here’s a particularly large one (click and drag to rotate):

What of the deadly radiation field that currently prevents approach? You will soon be able to craft a radiation-resistant suit, capable of protecting you from pesky alpha, beta, and gamma rays. A new ‘paper-doll’ style inventory system will allow you to easily swap equipment, and know what you are wearing at a glance.


In-progress prototype of a ‘paper-doll’ inventory system

Radiation might be the least of your worries when swimming near the Aurora’s wreck. We don’t want to say too much – We’ll let this experimental video from Andi do the talking…

This blog post can’t contain everything we’re working on at the moment. Heaps of stuff is being done, including the addition of new sea-base functionality, and rebalancing of loot/crafting mechanisms. To see more, check out the Subnautica development Trello board, and the checkin & changes list.

We can never be sure when we will release updates. The Crash Site might happen in one, two, or three weeks. It’s likely to be some time in April. Sign up to the Subnautica mailing list to find out the moment the update is released.

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