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HBTR Steam Next Fest Broadcast

Revive your polluted land and build your home, farm and lab. Remove trash, dead trees, and plant new trees. Build green energy like solar, wind, a clean reactor, and transform your world by your efforts. This is a more peaceful 2D builder game with a touch of Terraria and Stardew Valley inspiration.

HBTR Steam Next Fest Broadcast

Revive your polluted land and build your home, farm and lab. Remove trash, dead trees, and plant new trees. Build green energy like solar, wind, a clean reactor, and transform your world by your efforts. This is a more peaceful 2D builder game with a touch of Terraria and Stardew Valley inspiration.

Home By The River Update 9

I spent a lot of time eradicating bugs and improving the game in general. A great improvement is that the hoverboard now hovers which makes it fun and easy to build taller buildings or up in the sky.

I failed many times at creating a trailer that made any sense, but this time around I think I did ok.

These updates apply to both the demo and full versions of the game:
  • I’ve changed the hoverboard so that it actually hovers now. I realised that I really want to hover in the air and build structures and it is so much easier if the hoverboard maintains its position. So from now on the hoverboard will no longer keep on falling slowly. It will keep you steady until you move it with your WASD keys.
  • I've changed the sun and moon back to travelling in an arc instead of vertically up and down. I had gotten feedback from two people that the vertical rising and setting looked odd. Let me know how travelling in an arc looks.
  • I’ve developed a better in game tutorial that helps take the player through fundamental controls of the game and accomplish the first ten objectives. I think this will give an easier start for any new player and certainly less fumbling around learning the UI and controls. HBTR is a non trivial builder game and as such I’ve built controls and UI that match the gameplay.
  • I’m adding voice narration to the game objectives. As you complete objectives you’ll hear some narration explaining what to do. So far I’ve implemented narration to cover the in game tutorial.
  • I’ve changed the construction menu and inventory menus to be single row horizontal scrolling. This allowed me to make the icons 25% larger, making them easier to see and I find the horizontal scrolling to be easier than vertical scrolling for finding blocks.
  • Ongoing bug fixes leading up to release; ducks could appear without pollution being none.
  • I've changed the polluted world to a grey colour instead of the dirty yellow. I think most people could not understand that was supposed to represent pollution so I hope grey will better represent that. I've also changed sky nodes to a gold colour to make them look more like a collectible.
  • I've removed the background tiles that were behind the trash piles. I think the player was having to needlessly break down background tiles which I think didn't make much sense. I've removed that and now the player only removes the trash piles.
  • I will no longer be launching in Early Access. Data suggests that this is only sensible for upcoming games that have a large audience. HBTR does not so it makes more sense to do a normal launch and then for me to continue updating the game. It appears that HBTR will be a mostly developer driven game rather than one that gets a lot of community engagement for now anyhow.
  • I’ve implemented a business console. You can unlock this from the supply chain workstation at level 2 and you use this to unlock the background business ventures. I got a bit tired of having to click on the backgrounds so instead I made this console so all backgrounds are accessible from one place. Also no more confusion between clicking on the background and clicking on a props tile.
  • I've improved the reward for completing the Master Riverman quest so it is no worthwhile for a player to cook corn bread and sell it at the Rivermen Lodge.
  • I’ve gained some more performance by further reducing texture sizes at a slight sacrifice to quality that is not very noticeable. I removed volumetric property of lights to improve performance as well. If there were too many volumetric lights in the world the game would start to get a bit laggy. I’ve also optimised the reflective water a bit but I’m hoping to find a way to optimise it more. The most likely thing to cause slow down in the game is the reflective water.

This applies to the full version of the game only:
  • I’ve added an end game write up for each of the three end game goals; which are making Sigil irrelevant, world prosperity, and world environment. This will help make it clearer that you have accomplished a major objective.
  • I’ve added a Cyber Expert pioneer named Iqbal. Place a classic workstation in the world and he’ll use that to bring down Sigil influence every hour. Buy him upgrades and he becomes more effective. Once Sigil is no more he will give you some of his Cyber Security consultancy earnings every hours. Psst.. He earns a lot! He’s one of the best in the world.
  • Previously to convert research points into research cards the player had to click for each research point which was super tedious when you can easily have a hundred plus research points. Instead now research points are automatically converted to research cards and you get to see that happen over a few seconds through an animation. Use a research lab computer and then you can click on the Generate Research Cards button. Much better than before and no longer time consuming!
  • I’ve added Carlos the trader and he will use a trading terminal to earn some income every hour. He can earn about $7,000 a day when fully upgraded.

Home By The River Update 8 - Pioneer AI's

This is another major update and the introduction of the first NPC characters to help the player. These are Harvester Pioneers that can remove trash, cut down dead trees and harvest mature crops. You can enlist them by placing and using a Pioneer Console. Using their help you’ll have more time to focus on more creative tasks.

This was a major undertaking for me and it took months and several thousand lines of code to get the pathfinding and AI to work correctly. I was getting nowhere for several weeks, but I didn't give up, and now I'm really happy that I didn't. I can continue to improve the system I've developed and I can use it in future games I make as well which is really fantastic! I couldn't use the inbuilt Unity navmesh because it is just too slow for my purpose because the players are constantly changing the world so I had to write my own system that focuses on updating my navigation data only when there is a change on the navigable area.


These updates apply to both the demo and full versions of the game:

  • I’ve improved game performance by reducing all rendered texture size to an eighth of what it used to be. Graphics should still look sharp and if you find something that isn’t then let me know about it. Reducing the rendered texture size means less has to be loaded in memory and it is easier for the graphics card to handle the textures.
  • I’ve developed my own navigation and pathfinding system based on the A* algorithm and it is turning out better than I hoped. In the background a navigation area is being calculated whenever foreground and relevant props tiles are changed and I’ve made my calculation pretty smart by only recalculating the areas that have been changed. This has a real positive impact on performance and I’ve also written my AI pathfinding code to be efficient and fast and only recalculate when needed. This is much faster than the inbuilt Unity nav mesh and has opened new gameplay doors for me and for HBTR. Over the month of December I’ll be developing NPC AI and you’ll see HBTR have a touch of colony sim get added to it.
  • I’ve called my AI characters called Pioneers and you can now enlist the first two Pioneers; Steve and George who are harvesters. Place a pioneer console in the world (available at level 1 and already unlocked!) By default they will automatically remove trash and if you buy them an axe and a scythe they will remove dead trees and harvest mature crops. Make sure to have a bed and prayer stand in the world so they can recharge their energy and spirit.
  • I’ve added a detailed player guide on how to play and succeed in HBTR. You can access the guide through your super kitty. You click on kitty and then select the How To Play Guide button.
  • Exp and money from sky nodes now scales as you level up which makes them useful even as you continue to level up.
  • I’ve improved my camera zoom system so you can now zoom out about 30% more.
  • I've added new soundtracks for the Polluted World and these are created by Liborio Conti and freely available from his website. I'm experimenting and so far these soundtracks sound like a fair match in setting the mood for when the game starts. I don't want the player to feel dread and think something terrible will happen at any moment. Rather I want the player to get the feeling that they are the source of hope and inspiration and are on a mission to change their land for the better.
  • You can now buy/produce 5x at the stove, water dispenser, flour mill, fridge and pantry which saves a lot of time and clicking!
  • I’ve updated plant and tree growth code to make sure that crops and trees can’t suddenly grow to full height in just one growth interval. I’ve also made crops and trees grow a bit more slowly when pollution is medium or high.
  • I’ve changed the pixel fonts in the game to a modern clean font. There’s lots to read in my game and the pixel font causes too much eye fatigue and is difficult to speed read.
  • I’ve randomised commodity prices with the river men so you don’t always get the same selling price for each of the four commodities.

Stay tuned for updates, and play the demo and give me feedback! I'm aiming for mid Feb 2023 release!

Home By The River Update 7

These updates apply to both the demo and full versions of the game:

  • Thanks to StarlightRemix for another great soundtrack.
  • I’ve improved the NPC dialogue window by showing the NPC in the window so it is clearer which NPC the player is talking to.
  • I’ve changed the players collider to do continuous collision detection which is more performance wise expensive, but I hope that this will eliminate the player from accidentally going through walls and floors from time to time.
  • I’ve made the shower water look a lot better. What do you think?
  • I’ve changed kitty to only eat meat and fish. In the future I’ll add milk when I’ve created that item.
  • I've improved the tree textures so they look nicer. I've gone for a cross between Terraria and Stardew Valley in style. In general I’m improving the texture in the game to look better and you may notice that all of the wood tile textures look better and less flat.
  • I’ve implemented a pixel perfect camera and the game is looking better and there is less tile flickering as the screen moves.
  • I’ve massively sped up the code behind tree cutting. I was finding that the game was becoming choppy when cutting down heaps of trees at once and by using deep profiling I discovered that it was because I was refreshing the inventory UI every time an item was gained. I previously didn’t have all items showing in the inventory UI but now I do and I’m continuing to add more items so that is why I must have noticed the slow down. Anyhow this is fixed now and nice and fast!
  • I’ve made heavy changes to my pollution calculation code and it is now a lot less intensive and much faster. When you start a game a special bit of code will run twice so there may be some slowdown within the first 20 seconds of starting or loading a game but after that there is no further slow down from pollution calculations.
  • I’ve also made background colour updates (background changes colour based on time of day) less frequent and more spread out to reduce the burden on slower computers. You’ll most likely notice the background flicker within the first ten seconds of starting or loading a game and then after that the background colours will be getting applied correctly.
  • The player now needs to unlock tiles before they can be placed. The player places a Supply Chain Workstation in the world and from that they can spend money to unlock individual tiles. I think this works well with the core game loop of building and also now the player has a bit more control in populating their construction menu.
  • Player objective now permanently shows in the top left. I apologise to players because some players didn't know what to do in the game and it made them drop out of the game. They also didn't understand that they should move their mouse to fade in the relevant UI, so I've made at least the Objectives UI show permanently in the top left now. In the full game you can complete all objectives and it will then disappear.
  • I've increased the size of the construction tile and inventory icons by 25% to make them easier to see. I noted that some players were having to squint to look at those icons, which for me is a no no. Selecting tiles for construction is a core game activity and I need to keep improving this so it is easy and fluid.
  • I've decreased the Demo level to level 3 instead of 5. I realise for the Demo I really just need to expose the core game loop to players and find out how fun they find it and get feedback on that. The other game features will be available in Early Access and that is the more suitable forum for gaining feedback on the rest of the game.
  • I've made a new log type wall tile.
  • I've adjusted the background so that it looks less like vertical walls and more like a background. You can now see more of the sky. I've decreased the height of the background layers and I think the game is looking a lot better already. The parallax effect between layers is more pronounced now and I think looks better.
  • Press the tab key to make the props layer almost transparent (trees, furniture, etc.) This makes it easier to see the background and click on the background ventures. All those solar panels, crops and trees blocking is no longer a problem.
  • When using a hoverboard the player can now use the down key “s" or arrow down key to fly downwards as well.
  • Drones will break into pieces when they explode now. When the pieces unspawn they may leave behind a trash tile for the player to remove!
  • A message plays over drones from time to time. I think it just makes them a little bit more interesting.
  • I’ve added a new tougher drone that can appear from day 5.
  • You don’t need to click on a door to open it. Just walk up to it and it will open and it will attempt to automatically close a short while later.
  • I applied a no friction physics material to the player so they stop sticking to walls. Flying around on the hoverboard is more enjoyable with this change.
  • Force show the UI when the game starts so the player realises there is UI on the screen.
  • Add a pin button for the top UI so that the player can choose to force hide it. This gives more screen space for building or combating drones.Add a pause button so that the player can pause time when playing in single player. This is going to become important for when the player wants to read the daily news in game (a future feature I hope to add). I think it makes sense to let the player pause the game.
  • Increased the colour saturation of the game to make it look more rich and vibrant. Do let me know if it looks good to your eyes.

This applies to the full version of the game only:
  • I’ve added a red console that is available to the player from level 4. The player can use the red console to check on businesses that are struggling with Sigil Loans. The loans will eventually expire and those businesses will default making Sigil Corporation stronger. If the player pays off a loan they will gain, exp, virtue, weaken Sigil Corp and get some dividends from the saved business every day.
  • Instead of having seven different research modules for the player to place, I’ve made it just one and instead one of the seven is randomly spawned. All research modules are doing the same thing which is to generate research points so there is no need to clutter the props build menu with so many different research modules.

Future development
  • Instead of building the town of Awa I'm actually thinking of letting the player build their own town. Everyday the player can add new townsfolk to live and work at their home, but the player needs to keep on building up their residence and levelling up to get more people to come and live with them. I'll discuss this more later when I've developed this further.