Wednesday 28 November 2018

Super Secret Subnautica Below Zero Feature - SPOILERS

This post describes a feature of Subnautica: Below Zero that you probably don't want spoiled in advance; however our open development structure (you can read everything we're working on at the new Favro boards when they go live) means this info is now public and, if you came here on purpose, I want to say a few words about our plans.

NPC Cinematics in Subnautica!

So it already leaked out that in BZ you will be collecting precursor (not final name!) parts around the world in order to construct a precursor body. This precursor will have a name (Al-An), and a personality. You will have conversations with it.

In my previous blog post I alluded to the problem of how to keep surprising you. Meeting Al-An in the flesh is one way we hoped to do that (right up until you spoiled it by reading these words!).

So what are we actually proposing? Well, don't get too excited. This is not Mass Effect or Red Dead. There are no 'live' NPC characters. You will not be meeting other humans on the planet. There is no branching dialog. There is no path-finding, no AI, no returning to Al-An for new quests. In fact, Al-An currently appears in his physical form in only 2 scenes.

What we hope to deliver is something comparable to a buffed up emperor sequence. A non-intractable NPC animated on a predefined sequence, delivering predefined dialog, with player locked into a predefined area of the world, but still in first person control as much as possible.

We are currently starting out on demoing the idea. Generating dialog, physical descriptions, animation directions, and then roughing out the character animations themselves. It will not be included in early access.

We don't know if it will work. We don't know if it will be in the game at all! It isn't supposed to be a major selling point; it is supposed to be a new wow moment where we get to surprise you with what we can do. A living soul you can talk to, deep beneath the ocean. And then it's gone and you take yourself to the next adventure.

So please. These aren't companions. They don't level up. You can't high five. Pretend they're not there. They almost won't be. And then be pleasantly surprised by whatever we wind up bringing you.

PS Here's the current draft of your first meeting with Al-An for the curious:

"Log_Alan_1": "SANCTUARY: Robin Goodall. Concede.
ROBIN: I come in peace.
SANCTUARY: Peace... Absence of hostility... Sufficient.
ROBIN: Are you... alive? Or a computer?
SANCTUARY: Explain the difference.
ROBIN: I... I want to meet the people who built this place.
What do you want?
SANCTUARY: For you to stay here.
ROBIN: With you?
SANCTUARY: If your masters learn of me they will steal my power.
ROBIN: You know Alterra?
SANCTUARY: I know what we would do.
ROBIN: People will come for me.
SANCTUARY: They will also stay here. That is all.
ROBIN: I waited my life for this. I'm not your enemy.



  1. I'm a huge fan of the original game. And I was very happy that there was a sequel announced. However, I don't think forcing tons of npc interactions into the sequel is a good idea--and I say this even as a person who regularly runs D&D games with tons of npc interactions.

    That's because the strength of Subnautica is on-your-own, self-insert exploration and survival.

    Excessive story and dialogue makes it feel like you're being hand-held or ordered around or on-rails. Especially this annoying Alan guy and the annoying sister character.

    Anyway. Exploring a new environment is nice. The art and sound is beautiful as always. Just the premise of the sequel and the heavy NPC focus feels like the wrong direction. Just wanted to share my feedback as a fan.

  2. Thanks Charles.

    It's important to us we retain the feeling of self-guided exploration, but we want to challenge ourselves to do it in a new way.

    Is there something in particular that annoys you about those two characters' dialog and personalities?