The Technician – v0.2.5

The v0.2.5 update is now live in the preview branch! Assuming all goes well, this update will make its way out to the public branch in a couple days. 0.2.5’s major focus was smoothing some of the rough edges off the editor experience so that it could make it out to the rest of the player base, but it also includes a handful of smaller fixes from some fo the Early Access feedback I’ve received thus far. You’ll find more details on the editor below, as well as notes on the rest of the changes in 0.2.5 and some info on what I’m focusing on for the next update.

The Editor and Custom Content

The editor was listed in the original set of features for the game but didn’t make it into the first Early Access release last month, so getting the editor ready to go and putting it out there has been my main focus for the last several weeks. The editor still rough in plenty of areas, but it’s now available for everyone to create some custom puzzles. Currently these boards are only playable locally, but Steamworks support for sharing your custom content on the way.

In the main menu screen, you’ll find an editor holo-tool and a single circuit surface. The editor tool is one of the primary means of interacting with the editor; it serves as the “palette” for spawning all the components you can place, and is also used to draw the hardwired connections between placed components. You can equip the editor tool like a regular technician tool to start using its connector functionality, and can use the selector slider to access sub-menus, one of which includes some further instructions on how to use it.

editor holo tool

Main Menu Editor

The circuit surface in the main menu area is your ‘scratch’ board. You can’t manually save or load the work you do here; it will automatically be saved whenever you leave the menu and is mostly just a place meant for playing around with the editor, coming up with ideas, or making little circuit toys that may take more space than smaller circuit surfaces, like those in the elevator, have. This surface also has a simple slider next to it to toggle between Edit and Play modes.

placing and connecting components

Elevator Editor

You can also launch into edit mode via the Custom Content subsection of the main menu. Here, you can create a new custom board for the primary Elevator level, or load previously created boards in Play or Edit modes. When you launch an Elevator level board in edit mode, you’ll be taken to the familiar playspace with another editor holo-tool and a special edit mode menu by the toolbox. This menu can also save/load other boards, and also allows you to enter a custom name and description for your level.

name and description entry

Configuring Components

A UI has also been added to allow you to configure individual components in the puzzle. This is accessed by hovering a placed component and pressing the menu button on your controller (A/X button on Oculus Touch).

configuring chips

Other 0.2.5 changes

  • Finished the latter half of the final puzzle; should hopefully present a really tough challenge for most players to finish the alpha content with.
  • The injector tool’s buttons have been redone to prevent most accidental presses.
  • Objects can no longer be ‘regrabbed’ by your other hand while they are held or equipped. Accidentally yanking something out of your hand was a common issue, and the regrabbing ‘feature’ didn’t add a whole lot other than allowing players to swap items between hands more easily, which isn’t a super common need. (Dropping the item onto your other hand while it is in ‘autograb’ mode works well in this case, too)
  • Muxer knob collider has been fixed to prevent it from colliding with the edge and being unable to turn.
  • Fixed another muxer bug where it was obeying the knob selector even when receiving input on its override pin.
  • Replaced the per-alarm difficulty setting with a more general percentage based one. Overall alarm level is now adjusted by this modifier (100% = normal difficulty, 0% = no combat at all)
  • Fixed issue where toolbox modules (including incomplete/in-development ones) were enabled on level load in some cases.
  • Fixed bug causing cables to be spawned incorrectly when loading boards multiple times.
  • Drill tool was using the incorrect tethering for its type; it should now correctly return if it’s accidentally knocked out of the playspace.
  • Fixed most of the holo windows that were staring in the wrong state.

What’s Next?

I’m going to continue trying to do updates on a monthly cadence for now, with the following issues being my priority for the next 1-2 updates:

Hand movement and grabbing precision

The most common feedback I’ve gotten is that precisely grabbing things can be very difficult and finicky; and you’re all very correct! I’ve gotten so used to how fiddly grabbing can be over the last couple years that I keep putting off this issue, but it’s definitely time to fix it now. I’m playing with a couple ideas for how to make this a little easier. So far I’m leaning toward changing the hands’ “idle” state to pointing by default. With a single clear focus point on the top of the index finger, this should make it a lot easier to know what you’re pointing at. Smoothing out some of the hand motion to prevent jittering (I have pretty shaky hands, myself) is also something I’m looking into since some of those components can be tricky to handle even when you know precisely where you’re aiming (like really tightly packed-together memory slots.)

Board Sharing

The editor currently lets you make the boards, but you currently can’t share them with other players very easily. Adding in Steamworks support for publishing your content is the next major step in this process, but will likely involve some moderate to large reworking of the level data format and a few other things, so it’ll take a bit longer. I’m spreading some of this work out in smaller steps while working on some of the other critical issues, so it may take more than one update for this to find its way. If the editor proves super popular and there is sufficient user demand, I can shift priorities to get this out sooner. In the meantime, intrepid users that are just *dying* to send their friends levels they’ve made can do so by manually sending the files from their data directory. (Feel free to email if you want some pointers on how to do this.)

More content

This last update added the other half of the final challenge puzzle, but didn’t contain any other new content. While working on other issues I occasionally come back to the editor to work on some new puzzles, but I’d like to spend some dedicated time to get a couple new levels out in the near future. These don’t really need to fall in line with the major updates, so they might find their way out sooner than the next monthly patch.

Other / Stretch

Some other things that are on the list for future updates include: minor playspace fixes (hopefully to make it less claustrophobic feeling), adding graphics or videos to tutorial prompts/messages for clarity, guards “barks” to indicate when they’re advancing, taking cover, throwing grenades, etc., and more!