Your feedback improved Techtonica’s opening moments


Wake up, Groundbreaker. While you were sleeping, we completely changed your cryo pod. In fact, we’ve changed a ton about Techtonica since the demo, especially where you wake up.

Lots of this happened after we took a good look at the player feedback from in-person demos and across places like the Steam Forums and our Discord. The central theme was that the opening section tried to do too much over a short span.

In today’s post, we’ll briefly explore the starting area of Techtonica as it stands in the demo. Then, we’ll move into the starting area that you’ll see at Early Access launch later this year.

This new area features a complete overhaul, and we’ll detail how we shaped this new space and share some of the basic modeling and asset work required to get it right.

Let’s dig in.

The demo space is old news

Here’s a quick flythrough of the space as it exists in the demo.

Notice the basic cryo pods, the Crank Generator placement tutorial space, picking up Sparks, the voice-activated door, and the example factories? All of that has changed.

We wanted to cut down on the time it took to get into the real gameplay of Techtonica, and that happened thanks to a drastic redesign of this opening moment.

And here’s where you’ll wake up at launch

You’re still waking up from cryostasis, but the facility around you has completely changed. It’s smaller, has no Sparks, no Crank Generator puzzle, no voice-activated door, and the distance between where you wake and PT LIMA is much shorter.

The result is a tighter tutorial area that quickly brings players up to speed with the story before setting them free.

If you remember the demo, then you remember the long hallway of small example factories that you walk by on your way to the Pickaxe and the locked door. That hallway was put in place thanks to some very, very early playtest sessions.

The early testers weren’t necessarily fans of factory games, just games in general. Without a broader sense or understanding of what Techtonica is, they’d go into the game without knowing that they should be building Miners to mine, Inserters to grab, or Conveyors to transfer. We created these example factories to bring players up to speed quickly.

And it worked really, really well.

So, you’ll see an example factory that you absolutely cannot miss once you leave the cryo pod, but the moment is much faster and more obvious.

Finding the right frozen look

This is very inside baseball, but we figured you’d like a look at how teams like ours sometimes use pre-made assets to get a headstart on work and make development move a little faster.

The art team was tasked with polishing the tutorial experience. We wanted a cryo pod that we could position vertically, so all the player has to do is step out of it. We also wanted an asset that we could retexture to bring more in style. After we bought the asset, we did some layouts to test.

With the layout approved, the art team did a texture pass to get the cryo pod in line with the color scheme and materials of the facilities. We also did work to get a frosted material on the cryo pod glass to sell the cold environment, in addition to some color tweaks. Here’s more of that process.

Thanks for reading, Groundbreaker.

We’ll be back next week with another deep dive into Techtonica. Until then, come hang out in our Discord.

Oh! Bonus GIF for the Alpha Groundbreakers among us. Remember Cranky?

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