Greetings, dearest BYONDer. Yes, you. I'm speaking directly to you and only you right now. How are you? Is BYOND treating you fairly today? It's been treating me fairly well, if I do say so myself. We've got so much to talk about in this edition of Within BYOND that I took some extra time to let the content pile up so I could showcase it all in the largest edition of Within BYOND ever. We've got Game Jams, Open Beta tests, and big updates to old favorites to chat about, and much more besides. So strap in, grab a drink, dim the lights a bit, and let me show you the fruits of your fellow developers' labor.
Where last we left our beloved BYOND Developer Lummox JR, he was hard-focusing on the map editor and putting in work on the DD.exe tool. On the to-do list were compiler pragmas, which now proudly sit in 515, as well as boosting ref()'s performance speed. After fixing a longstanding statpanel performance bug, Lummox JR pulled out the toolbox and set back to work on SendMaps threading, which involved a deep dive on icon hash caching and threading, which might interest those of you who are interested in under-the-hood explanations. A replacement for '.....' was added, as well as a potential progress bar for Dream Maker that more readily surfaces its current compile status. As for the longstanding work on SendMaps threading, Lummox JR hoped to get to testing right after 515.1603's release, and has very recently started testing with a bunch of SS13 codebases. Not to spoil anything, but initial results are extremely promising. I'll leave it to Lummox JR or your favorite SS13 maintainers and sysadmins to explain how groundbreaking the performance gains are!
Before we talk about the games... Let's have a chat about AffectedArc07's wonderfully-made video on BYOND hosting. The figure to your left is the graphical representation of a somewhat heavy-load SS13 server's average "tick", where a "tick" is the periodic update a server does to all currently-connected players. If you click and expand the image, you'll notice that the code for SS13 (all those pink and blue bars) represents a very small portion of the tick, while SendMaps (an internal BYOND process) represents a very large portion. In the video, AffectedArc explains that the work that Lummox JR is doing on SendMaps threading is going to free up a lot of that space for developers to put in fun new things that would ordinarily be too costly on high-pop servers. AffectedArc also explains, in distinct detail, how BYOND uses memory and how big of a difference high CPU speed has on BYOND server hosting performance. I encourage any of you that are interested in BYOND hosting in general to give the video a watch, as it really is awesome.
Game Jam 2023
As I mentioned and announced previously, F0lak has taken it upon himself to host 2023's Game Jam! A variety of community developers joined the fray in a 96 hour fight to create the best game they can based upon the themes they were given for a shot at the over $600 prize pool. The winners have not yet been determined as the judges are still deliberating and reviewing submissions, but that doesn't mean we can't go over some of them! I'm only going to be covering the submissions that have hubs on BYOND. Others will be available on F0lak's Dream Makers 2023 hub in the form of an explorable project after judging has finished (and, y'know, F0lak has a free enough schedule to build the showcase-project)!
First up is this nameless entry by Ter13. Ter wasn't aware of the 514 build restriction and built his entry on 515, which takes a disqualification on technicality, but is worth showcasing nonetheless. The game features a swift-moving, blue-cloaked cultist who takes up arms against other nameless cultists. Killing enemies drops a liquid red currency (affectionally referred to as "nectar") which you can use to upgrade your level by feeding it to an abyssal god. Look, we don't judge here: it's a simple transaction. You give the god "nectar", he gives you bigger guns, which I'd say is a pretty acceptable trade. The movement and combat system is impressive for something cobbled together in such a short amount of time. I urge you all to give it at least 5 minutes of playtime. It reminds me a lot of Enter the Gungeon, but with a Satanic twist. It even has its own dark-styled shoot-em-up music, as though you needed any more motivation to commit mass murder. Er, cleansing.
Next up is Sea Stallions by Lige! In Sea Stallions, players control a small fleet of horse-manned ships vying for rice, ports, and sea space in a small map. The first to sink all enemy ships, or control all ports, wins. The left mouse button is all you need to play Sea Stallions, and although it seems simple, I can assure you from personal experience that the AI enemy fleet cheats. Different locations and different ships offer different damage values when firing at enemies, and that goes both ways, as firing upon a ship allows them to fire a counter-volley back. Capturing ports and sinking enemy ships gives you rice, which is very important, because rice finances your equestrian civil war machine. It costs 10,000 rice to build a new ship to make your fleet bigger, which you can immediately send to attack the nearest frigate, at which point it will instantly die to the enemy's counter-volley. I'd suggest giving this one a look if only to show off how much better you are at it than me. Just remember: The enemies can't fire a counter-volley if they're at the bottom of the ocean.
Also submitted was Raffile's Farmland! In Farmland, you control the most murderous chicken on BYOND, punching passing-by sheep and getting accosted by roaming police crows, who true to their nature, hold a grudge against you if you start getting out of line. If you kill a pig police officer (I see what you did there, Raffile) you can steal their issued handgun and start firing upon the masses. Once you show yourself to be genocidal enough, sheep start running away, terrified of what you've done, and you'll need to face on more tanky police pigs. Enemies drop meat which can heal you (you monster), and health packs heal you to full. Not a bad game given the theme and time constraints!
D4RK3 54B3R also came around and gave us Carrot Knight! You control a royal Carrot Knight who massacres various mushrooms and tomatoes along their path into a creepy cave. In-game, you platform across various terrain and acquire carrot blessings that increase your HP and bestow new abilities! Enemies include fat charging 'shrooms who will certainly ruin your platforming experience as they ring your porta-bell-a. There are also tomatoes that bounce in a predictable but still annoying manner, and mushroom crossbowmen who are certainly not fun guys. If you find yourself in truffle, you can pick up and bite a carrot (which plays a very satisfying, crunchy sound effect) to restore some HP. The source code is available for those who'd like to expand upon it, but I highly recommend you stick to your morels and attribute the original author!
Last but not least is Crazah's FancyAntz! You command a lost ant who must fight and destroy crabs that have invaded the beach-y territory you're trying to pass through and attempt to navigate back to your colony. To help, you've equipped yourself with explosive munitions which enable you to drop bombs on their heads from above. Got past the crabs? Well, good luck finding your colony as you take control of a drill that lets you tunnel through the earth to reach them! I never got to the third level, but maybe that's for the best so as not to spoil what might come next. The music is uplifting and the terrain-destruction effects in FancyAntz are pretty impressive, so... Where's your sense of antventure? Give it a try!
Something about harnessing god-like psionic power in Psiforged makes me endlessly interested in its development. Ginseng has been hard at work after hosting an open Beta test a couple weeks ago. Notably, the visuals for ascensions have gotten some impressive improvements. Also adjusted was the inventory UI, which now features item stacking, as well as the introduction of a variety of spirit stones that can be consumed to confer permanent bonuses to your character. Player hair now becomes progressively grey as the character ages, and powerful characters can now use the new Dark Formation skill to create black holes. More character customization options were added, such as eye color, skin color, and different origins. Overall, the game is certainly becoming more and more fleshed out, so stay tuned for further updates from Ginseng regarding open Beta tests, as he plans to have another one soon!
F0lak has been working double-time, hosting a Game Jam and releasing a new version of Hazordhu! The Steam release changelog indicates that the title screen and main menu selections got some serious makeovers. Server hosting for multiplayer is now configurable with the ability to join via IP or list your server publicly. Besides beefing up server configuration, F0lak has added a large number of immersion-based game mechanics such as Hunger and Thirst mechanics, which debuff your character according to how hungry or thirsty your character is. Combat debuffs, such as Bleeding, have also been added. F0lak's also done some under-the-hood adjustments, improving startup time considerably as well as improving map initialization on tiles and foliage for a more performant experience. In all, F0lak's been quite busy, so if you're interested in all the work he's put in, definitely go check out Hazordhu on Steam!
Rod5's still hard at work on Conflict! A recently-posted update indicated some heavy work on a shield mech suit, featuring a variety of shatteringly-powerful abilities for a player to use. The mech has its own skill tree, allowing a player to upgrade it in accordance with their needs as they progress. The Disturb ability allows the mech to leap upwards and select a location to crash down upon, dealing damage and knocking back nearby enemies, and the Divert ability transfers damage from the shield to the user, and vice versa. Rod5 is keeping other development on the game to himself, but BYOND's Gangsta still has plans to continue, so stay tuned for future updates!
Devourer of Souls and his highly-effective team have cooked up a very large update to Sigrogana Legend 2: Korvara! The Dark Bard, a new promoted class for the Bard class, has been added, featuring a large amount of new abilities with fancy animations, all of which are elaborated upon in the Korvara preview site. A large amount of new maps and areas have been added, along with 3 new boss monsters and 13 new monster types, each with their own arsenal of new and revised skills. Several new equipment items were added as well as enchantments to use on them. While you're battling all of these new enemies with your fancy new equipment and abilities, you'll also hear a similarly fancy new Korvara battle theme! A followup update to the chat system, allowing users to change up the theme and color of their chat messages, ensures both your in and out of combat experiences are as fresh as they can be. A great series of updates from Sigrogana Legend 2's developers!
- Taitz has cooked up a lighting demo that achieves incredibly impressive lighting effects on normal maps. I'd highly recommend giving it a peek, if for no other reason than to see the pretty colorz.
I'm not crying, you're crying...