New black hole gun upgrade? Flatten terrain in Techtonica


The M.O.L.E. doesn’t just dig. No, this upgradeable black hole gun will do lots more as Techtonica’s development continues.

Today, we’re unveiling a M.O.L.E. feature that will be live with our Early Access launch this year. This is Flatten Mode.

A quick note: Much of what you see with Flatten Mode in today’s post will likely change or get tightened up as development progresses. Don’t consider this final!

Right, what’s the M.O.L.E.?

M.O.L.E. stands for Material, Obliteration, Leveling, and Excavation. We kicked lots of names around before landing on this one, but we think it’s a fun representation of one of the things at the heart of Techtonica–underground terrain manipulation.

Once unlocked, built, and fired, the M.O.L.E. shapes the Calyxian terrain by focusing black hole energy into a single point. Gears crank and churn as Groundbreakers fire the M.O.L.E. at cavern walls to clear obstructions and open fresh factory floors.

We love the M.O.L.E.. It’s crunchy, alien, destructive, and industrial. It feels and sounds good.

In the demo and Alpha, the M.O.L.E. clears a 5x5x5 section of voxels. That’s its default firing mode. Today, we’re unveiling something new.

Say hello to Flatten Mode

Groundbreakers that crave industrial organization and clean factory layouts may want nice, flat cavern floors. Once unlocked and upgraded, the M.O.L.E. makes quick work of varied terrain by turning it into a consistently smooth surface.

It’s also super, super satisfying in motion. The Calyxian rock that surrounds the target rushes in place as the black hole forms and collapses into a flat surface, and it feels fantastic when done en masse.

Have a look!

Wait… it flattens up?

Yes! If the GIF above didn’t make the M.O.L.E.’s flattening functionality clear, we’re using the black hole gun to bring terrain to the same level as the Groundbreaker who fires it.

The elevation in Techtonica changes, with some caves offering gradual slopes and others featuring sheer cliffs. You may want to reshape those spaces to suit the needs of your factory layouts better.

With the M.O.L.E.’s Flatten Mode, you stand at the level you wish to flatten, and the terrain will level up to meet you where you are.

We made quick work of this small space near Production Terminal VICTOR, for instance, to add a mini Kindlevine harvesting farm. Check the before above and the after below.

It’s super easy to use the M.O.L.E. to turn unfriendly building terrain into something more hospitable. With Flatten Mode, you can get really creative about layering factory floors with the terrain.

You ever design a black hole before?

We knew, effectively, how we wanted the M.O.L.E.’s Flatten Mode to work for a while before it came time to implement it. We weren’t sure, however, how it should look.

During the concept and design phase for Flatten Mode, we started kicking around five-ish unique ideas on how the M.O.L.E. should visually level space before landing on the hybrid final design. Four of those (informally referred to as the Seismic Target, Rock Blast, Energy Hammer, and Lightning Pillar) were sketched and considered.

Once we landed on the more seismic rock blast approach, we worked up the stages of M.O.L.E. Flatten as the gun warms up and fires.

From there, we landed on the M.O.L.E. Flatten Mode design you’ll see in Techtonica once we launch into Early Access this year.

Thanks for reading, Groundbreakers! If you have any questions or thoughts, sound off in the comments or join our Discord!

We’ll see you next week with something new and special.

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