This post was initially exclusive to our Patreon Supporters. Originally published in late February, the post is dedicated to detailing the progress our team has made since the last update. We hope that this will excite you all for our upcoming 13.0 update!
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After the Programming team took a short break to celebrate two successful releases, Northwood launched directly into a major technical project, as well as a variety of minor/Quality of Life (QoL) features. Today, we’ll be taking a deeper look into our ongoing technical project, as well as demonstrating a couple of new features coming in the next patch.
Unity 2021 and HDRP
Continuing the ongoing tradition of refactoring a major system for every update, our Programming team wanted to update the version of Unity SCP: SL runs on, whilst also changing the Render Pipeline we use. This is a massive project, as these two programs combined affect every part of the game — updating our engine. This means every mechanic is at risk of breaking and visual components dictated by the Render Pipeline are required to be updated and edited.
Below, I’ll briefly discuss, in simple terms, Unity 2021 and Render Pipelines, explaining specifically why we decided to update both, along with some practical examples.
Unity is the engine that powers SCP: SL. Being our game engine, it defines exactly what we can and cannot do, and provides us with tools that allow us to develop high-quality games. Unity releases a Long Term Support (LTS) product every year. These releases include four years of security fixes, but are otherwise considered ‘feature-complete’. Our current Unity version, 2019.4 LTS, no longer receives any security patches, which presents an immediate problem. Unity 2019.4 simply lacks a vast amount of features compared to other, modern game engines, like Unity 2021 LTS or Unreal 4/5.
With this in mind, we chose to update our Unity version to the 2021 LTS. We want to use the latest LTS build exclusively, for stability purposes and plugin/addon support. Unity has yet to release a 2022 LTS.
The Render Pipeline is responsible for taking every element in a Unity project and displaying them on your screen. At a basic level, the Render Pipeline is responsible for rendering, culling, and post-processing. In Unity 2019.4, the only practical option available to our developers is an older variant of the ‘Built-In Pipeline’. It isn’t expandable or properly supported; it lacks a variety of modern features, can be notably slow, and older versions are moderately CPU-bound.
Now that we’re moving to a newer version of Unity, we have the option to switch to a Scriptable Render Pipeline. We’ve specifically decided to use the ‘High-Definition Render Pipeline’, or HDRP, as it offers a variety of interesting tools, whilst also being tuned for maximum graphical fidelity (which we’ll demonstrate later). This pipeline offers proper support for modern RTX GPUs, meaning that players on high-end PCs will see a performance increase. In summary, we’re excited about this change because of the boundless opportunities it allows.
Now that we’ve covered the basic technical information surrounding engine updates and Render Pipelines, let’s answer the important question — what does this mean to you, the player? There’s two types of benefits associated with these updates: short and long term.
I’ll start off by showing you an image of the entrance to SCP-173’s Containment Chamber. The first image uses the old lighting system on our current Unity version. The second image utilises the new post-processing, ambient occlusion, and lighting systems introduced by the HDRP pipeline.
These images were taken in a development build of the game from February, and may not represent the final product. Note the altered placement of lights, as well as a couple of new environmental props.
For reference, the second image is not using any of the tools we’ll be looking at potentially implementing in the future, such as Ray Tracing, Baked Lighting, or any long-term fine-tuning of our post-processing systems. This was completed by our Art team in just a few hours.
If you’re not sold by these images alone, here’s some more renders created by our art team. This is just a small preview of what is to come. Remember - everything shown here is still a work in progress.
These images are still WIP, and are subject to change. These are just a few examples of what’s coming, we’ll hold onto pictures of our other rooms for now.
The next thing HDRP offers for a better lighting system is a realistic shadow and reflection system. In practice, this means player shadows will be visible when walking near lights, which potentially allows sneaky players some advance notice of what might be lurking around the next corner. Additionally, held items will now properly reflect light sources, adding more depth to our models.
Our goal isn’t necessarily to make everything darker, but to create a more realistic lighting setup instead, which allows for contrast between spaces. In the current live branch, the only times where there is any real shift in lighting appears in the form of a new room, or after SCP-079 Blackout.
Regarding long-term benefits, HDRP and Unity’s new tools offer us access to new technologies which can be implemented in the future. Namely, HDRP allows us to use tools like Ray Tracing and Baked Lighting to further improve the visual fidelity of SCP: SL. Updating our Unity version gives us access to Volumetric Clouds, the built-in 2021 decal system, and a variety of other tools designed to monitor and debug performance issues.
Overall, many of the new tools our programmers and artists can use will allow for smoother development in future updates. A new Unity version means that a plethora of editor-only bugs have been fixed, and new developer tools such as Shader Graphs simplify the more challenging parts of developing SCP: SL
We hope that you’re excited for these technical updates!
Changes to The Jailbird
The Jailbird has undergone a few changes for this update.
First, let's discuss the process of obtaining The Jailbird in-game. Previously, players were only able to obtain The Jailbird through SCP-2536’s (the Christmas tree) presents in our Christmas 2022 update, which has since been transferred over to a Remote Admin item exclusively. Included in this upcoming update, The Jailbird will now have its own SCP-914 recipes that players are able to acquire. This also includes other special weapon upgrade paths, similar to the 3-X Particle Disruptor and the Micro H.I.D.
- The Micro H.I.D. on the ‘Coarse’ setting will now have a 50/50 chance to return either The Jailbird or a 3-X Particle Disruptor.
- The Jailbird and the 3-X Particle Disruptor can now be refuelled on the ‘Fine’ setting, similar to Micro H.I.D.
- Both the 3-X Particle Disruptor and The Jailbird on the ‘Very Fine’ setting will return as a Micro H.I.D.
- The Jailbird and the 3-X Particle Disruptor will turn into each other on the ‘1:1’ setting.
- Putting The Jailbird on the ‘Coarse’ setting will cause it to turn red; its final state. This means that The Jailbird will break/explode after its next use.
- On the ‘Rough’ setting, The Jailbird will return as a flashlight.
Whilst The Jailbird did not receive any other major changes in terms of gameplay, our Sound Design team implemented multiple variation sounds for each inspect animation that will play depending on the degradation of the weapon.
For example, The Jailbird can use its charge ability up to five times before it’s fully destroyed. After each charge, a unique inspect sound is relayed to the player.
Here's a challenge for everyone: try to interpret some of the new voice lines! The Audio team refuses to tell anyone what it might be saying…
Unseen concept art of The Jailbird, courtesy of PurpleGoop.
SCP-939 Mimicry Menu Rework
With the recent rework changes made for SCP-939, we believe that our current UI design for SCP-939’s Mimicry menu is rather lacklustre currently. The sub-menu UI design was first approached for the sake of keeping graphical consistency with our inventory menu. However, we’ve come to realise that this resulted in a more complicated and cluttered mess, which we wanted to fix immediately.
Moving forward, SCP-939 will receive a complete UI overhaul rework of her Mimicry menu. This will not only redesign our UI menu and remove all sub-menus from the ability, but provide all new QoL features (hotkeys and trimming voice clips) that were not present in the previous version.Hotkeys
- As shown in the screenshot above, players will now be able to favourite multiple stored voice clips (maximum of eight) chosen from the menu. When favouriting any voice clip, this will bind a number on your keyboard as a usable hotkey, allowing SCP-939 to play them easily. The numeral hotkeys will remain bound to those clips, even if they are later changed by the player themselves (e.g. removing hotkey #3 whilst keeping hotkey #4). Any favourite voice clips that are saved in the menu will not be overridden by any extra clips currently being stored, meaning you will still be able to keep them for as long as they are saved. Drag voice clips
- Displayed next to the ‘Favorite’ button, players can drag and reorganise any stored voice clips listed to their preference.Trim voice clips
- Players will now be able to ‘trim’ parts of a voice clip, allowing them to play back the specific highlighted audio in-game. All trimmed voice clips will stay highlighted until the player makes any direct change to the clip. Mimic Point Meter Range
- When placing down a mimic point, the system will display a metre range underneath the ability icon at which SCP-939 can freely move before the point reaches its maximum distance (20 metres). Reaching the maximum distance will remove the placed mimic point. Gunshot variations
- Each gun will have multiple sound variations that are played at random chance (e.g. Shotgun with double shot, Crossvec with suppressor, different fire rates, etc.).Item Mimicry
: In the previous Mimicry menu, players had the option to choose two classes to impersonate: either a Class-D or a Scientist. Each class had two variants of different items that were suited best for their roles (e.g. SCP-207 and Com-15 for Class-D, medkits and painkillers for Scientists). This has since been removed, replacing them with more diverse options for SCP-939 to use (grenades, adrenaline, candy, and SCP-1853). Decreased Mimicry Cooldown
- The Mimicry cooldown has been reduced to ten seconds (previously 20 seconds)
Whilst most of this Mimicry menu rework is mainly targeted towards visual aspects, we wanted to provide improved QoL features that will give our SCP-939 players more creativity.
That’s all for this post! We hope you're all excited for SCP: SL's 13.0 update.