Since we launched Below Zero 1.0 – and Subnautica on Switch, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series – back in May we’ve been in a non-stop loop of investigating and fixing bugs. And in late August, we also brought support to Below Zero in four new languages.
But there’s still a lot more to do, and we have plenty of things planned, so we wanted to let you know what else we’ve been up to and what you can expect from us in the coming months. Please think of this as a summary of our priorities – as you may already know we do not make many public commitments to specific dates.
What are we up to now?
Addressing a lot of tech debt
The Subnautica code base is approaching eight years old and has been touched by quite a few hands over the years, without much opportunity for refactoring and tidying. There are a number of ways the code base is not set up sustainably and that we intend to address with some deep cleaning in the coming months. This is important because the cost of tech debt is also carried on to the player in a number of ways.
Here are a few examples of tech debt we’ve been working to pay off:
- Our save system is in need of retooling. Eventually, our goal is to refactor and optimize our save system so that it is smaller in size, faster, and, where possible, make the format more uniform between platforms in order to reduce platform-specific bugs.
- Unify the code base. When we shipped Below Zero we had platforms on different versions of Unity and the code base was spread across multiple branches. This makes it difficult to switch contexts and easier to make mistakes, and has created a lot of logistical and production overhead for us. Our goal is to get Below Zero and Subnautica on unified (no pun intended) versions of Unity, and merge our code base back into a single branch.
- Update Subnautica. Everything we already said applies to the original Subnautica, but with the added wrinkle that Subnautica has not been as supported as we would have liked while Below Zero was in development. There are architecture, performance improvements, bug fixes, and quality of life features that Below Zero has benefited from that have not yet made their way back to Subnautica. Our goal is to update Subnautica on as many platforms as we can and include some of these improvements along the way.
What’s coming in the future?
Making the Switch more Stable
The Switch version of Below Zero is still not as stable as we would like it to be. Our intention is to continue chipping away at the worst issues and improve the experience for players. Unfortunately, there’s no fix-all solution so it is taking longer than we would like to dig in. Please know that this is firmly on our radar!
Addressing a bug with PS5 saves and Screen Tearing
Some players have reported that individual saves can become inaccessible or have disappeared entirely. Issues that affect save game integrity are a priority for us and we have made some significant progress in our investigation, in large part thanks to the information provided to us in bug reports by you, our community. We cannot thank you enough for that!
We’ve also narrowed down the cause of excessive screen tearing on the PlayStation 5 version of Subnautica (Below Zero is unaffected) and plan on addressing this in an update that is coming soon.
Bringing Back Accessibility Features
We alluded to this earlier, but we intend to bring back a number of quality of life/accessibility improvements from Below Zero to Subnautica. We’re still evaluating which ones make sense in the near term but expect some of these improvements to trickle back to Subnautica at some point in the future.
Planning New Updates
We’ve been planning other kinds of updates as well! These plans are still in their early phases, so we can’t offer you specifics right now, but the team has come up with a few ideas that we’re excited to explore in the future.
Also, look out for a blog post from our engineering intern, Leo, later this week! He has been working on some improvements to Moonpool docking and is hoping for some input from the community to explore it in more detail.
Again, we cannot thank you enough for your continued support and for letting us know about issues and bugs as they arise. It really helps us with narrowing down the causes and shipping fixes to you faster.
– Unknown Worlds Team