Happy new year everyone! It’s always a good sign when you read the last devblog and conclude that everything that was said to be “in progress” or “to come” has been delivered! 2022 was a big year for Snow Plow Project with the project being accepted on Steam, the playtest being launched and major mechanics being implemented.
Since the last devblog, there were two major updates. The first update was delivered to playtesters on October 1st and contained the long awaited controller support. Those who want to play with a controller can now plug in their favorite console or PC controller, steering wheel, pedals or panel, bind buttons and axis and enjoy the game without being limited to keyboard and mouse. It also contained the new vehicle code (vehicle controller) which, unlike the previous code, is home-made and tailored to the game’s needs without limitations. And most importantly, the vehicle code was made to take full advantage of controller support!
Lately, on the last day of 2022, an other update was released with floating plows integrated to the Intercontinental Workhorse. This means that both main plow and side wing plow are now hanged by a chain and cable and lowered by gravity. They then lay on their own weight when on the ground. That way, you avoid lifting the truck and loosing traction or directional control, and it provides a much more enjoyable and realistic experience. Some playtesters reported that the plows on the grader are not floating; this is normal since a motor grader is made to have pressure on its blade. This kind of equipment is usually used to work the ground, but is also a great asset for snow removal.
Full disclaimer: this being said, there are subtleties and I’m aware that hydraulically operated wings do a some floating capability as well. Thanks to some experienced operators on our Discord channel, I had some very interesting and technical chats and learned a lot. Right now, the plows in the game are either hydraulic (with pressure) or floating (cable-operated, which is pretty outdated).This detail will be taken into account in future development and we will have hydraulic plows and wings with floating capabilities.
As we move towards customisable vehicles, I hope to have a selection of attachments available so you can choose which type of wing, for instance, you wish to equip your vehicle with.
The above updates tick many boxes on the to-do-list. The next big improvement I want to work on is to upgrade the snow system.
Listening to a few great youtubers who made first impression videos about Snow Plow, they were all happy to see that snow had physics, it was not only disappearing, it was actually being pushed somewhere. I agree, but it is still far from being perfect. And I believe that snow is the essence of this game and its simulation should be much more accurate. The snow physics should be what makes this game great. That’s why I have big plans for the snow system, and I think it’s important to solidify those mechanics now. I’m happy to say that, after months of research, coding and testing, we made significant gains in pushing the snow simulation up one level. We plan to add weight and resistance to the snow, add visual effects, make it pilable, make roads slippery when covered, cold or unsanded, make snow banks and windrows bigger, make the snow cover deeper, have blowing snow effects, tire marks on the ground, etc. There is still a lot of work to do, but this will be our next big goal.
Allright, I want to make it clear that what you see in the playtest updates doesn’t include everything that we’ve been working on. It includes what can be delivered in the current state of the game. But a lot of development is being made without being actually implemented in the build. It’s the case for a lot of the new content. For instance, we just talked about the snow system. It will work hand in hand with the new road system, which will also take weather into account for computing the friction of the road. And that new road system will be implemented on the new map, which has to be modeled and managed in the open world. You can see how we can’t release those features one bit at a time.
All this to say that while we work on that long-term content creation and development, we will keep pushing updates with new game-wide features and enhancements, like we did for the last year.
1st person view
Since the controller support update, we got some feedback from steering wheel users saying that even though driving in 3rd person with keyboard and mouse or with a controller is acceptable, it’s pretty awkward when using steering wheel and pedals. I had the opportunity to try it, and I agree.
The initial plan was to implement a hood cam in the meantime, but it turned out to be a bad idea when testing it out. A fixed hood camera doesn’t allow to see the plows properly. So since it’s a highly requested feature, we’ll just make the 1st person view happen sooner then initially planned. It does require a significant amount of work as it requires 3D modeling (for the vehicle interiors), coding and UI development (dashboard). More updates on that topic when we get started.
The coming updates will have a variety of features. Beside bug fixing and general enhancements and code cleanup, we are working on controller vibration, which will be in the next update. Also coming: interactive prompts that will adapt to your customized key bindings. Right now, there are prompts in the bottom bar for basic actions, and they show default keys only. This project will have a complete set of prompts show up at the right moment and show the buttons or axis you assigned to those actions.
Here are some trending questions on Discord:
What is the average wait time to get accepted as a playtester?
It varies a lot, not only does the number of requests vary, we also vary the number of people we admit. Usually, we admit new players every week, but it is less when an update is pending and more when an update just released and is satisfying. I think we can safely say it’s generally a matter of weeks.
How many developers on this project? Is it a one-man show?
It is mostly a one-man show (me!), backed by a few collaborators. Snow Plow Project started as my personal project before it got bigger and people requested to try it, I make most of it but I do get the help of 3 people: a programmer, a sound engineer and a plow operator. They are all gamers as well so in addition to they respective field of expertise, they also all contribute to the general gameplay developement and testing.
What’s the release date?
There is no release date. For now, it is a project and a closed playtest. All playtesters will keep access as long as it is a playtest, with all the updates that come with it. The release date will depend on how developement goes!
For those who like to have a look at our development road map: so far we were publishing the development roadmap in the form of an image. However, it is just a bit time consuming when it’s time t update it, and it’s rarely up-to-date. That’s why we are migrating our roadmap to a Trello board. This is the same board I’m using for planning purposes, so the information you see there is always up to date. You can access the board at https://trello.com/b/Vq1zVdBa/snow-plow-project. The various links to the roadmap have been updated to point to this board.
First, you’ll see an overview of what’s in the next build, before it gets released. Note that this shows what has been implemented in the version, so as long as we’re still working on a feature, that feature will be shown in Work in progress (see next image). When completed, it will be transfered in the build overview.
Next, you see work in progress. This shows what is currently being actively worked on. Some of this might be featured in the next update, some of it might stay there for long-term development.
Then, you see all the projected features. This is what we plan on developing. It is not exhaustive nor final. For example, the vehicle list shows what we intend on adding, but obviously more stuff could be added in the future.
Last thing: items that have little lines underneath means that if you click on it, there might be more details or explanation.
This board will be dynamic and constantly changing as we complete stuff and move through development. It’s worthless to ask why something is or isn’t there; consider this board as a big ongoing brainstorm.
I hope this dev blog gives you a good idea of where we’re at now. The good thing with having the major basic mechanics in place is that once this developement is done, it’s pretty easy and quick to emplement with future content. This dev blog gave you an idea of the big projects to come, but throughout those, a lot of smaller updates and enhancements are coming. We plan on releasing build updates at a regular pace to those who are playtesting the game.
And of course, we are all dreaming of a career campaign in an open world with customisable vehicles. We are definitely going towards that one step at a time.
Happy winter, happy plowing!
Eric, project lead