Vectronic is a first-person environmental puzzle mod using Valve's Source Engine. Players must solve puzzles using special power balls that effect boxes that effects their behavior in the world.

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9 comments by reepblue on Aug 18th, 2014

After a long year of silence, an update as come forward. Here will explain most of everything that has happened, and future plans for this project. Keep in-mind everything is still not final, and subject to change.

Name Change


First, you should have noticed that the name has changed to better fit the mod. "Vectronic" was a name that was always apart of the mod, but it became the title of the project after I redid the entire game mechanic system.

New Gameplay!


This video is a month old, but here it is showing the new game mechanic with the power balls. Last article I went into great detail why I switched from a direct tracer activation, to a slower but more dynamic ball-hit activation. The new powers are:

  • Blue Ball - Enables zero gravity on the cube. 
  • Green Ball - Creates a static clone of the box in the location where the box was hit.
  • Purple Ball - Secret until release.

You should also noticed that the view model has been removed. I found it to be much better to not have the ball shooter be tied to a weapon, but the player themselves. The player has gets the balls by dispensers in each map. After the puzzle is over, all the balls that the player got are removed. This removes the player having to "upgrade" their device at certain points, and pushes even more focus on the balls then the weapon which we continue to do so. 

Art Change

We all loved the cartoonish, retro-futuristic look of the mod. The goal was to keep this style as it was fun, unique, and there was a lot of creative designs for game objects.  So why was it scrapped for a simpler, Portal like design? 


Last article, I talked about how the design lacked shadows to guide the player to a location, object, or exit. With that in mind, I was also getting into actual modeling so I saw this style to be a good challenge to tackle. Most things going came out really well, minus the chambers being a bit bland. However, when the new game mechanic was added, it ended up not working as balls could bounce uncontrollably around the room. Plus, it was very hard to indicate what places a ball could bounce, and a ball can't. The system is that the ball can bounce anywhere besides some surfaces. Reversing the effect made the game feel more restricting. It's a lovely design but it's not for this project; I'm afraid.


After going back to the old style, the development flow of the mod went smoothly. It was really simple to make maps, gameplay objects and the overall how the mod played out. A prototype was made in this artstyle last summer, and it was suggested internally to try once more with a new art scheme being that I knew what was needed to make a Vectronic map. 

After a lot of testing, going back in forth, deciding what would fit the project best, I decided to take break from this project. I wanted to learn more about Source's structure, and how to more things, and other things better. For this, I turned to my side project Infestation for this need. While I was doing that, I was able to learn a lot of new things such as base classes, AI, spawning entites, etc. When I was wrapping that up, every now and then I would make one prop for Vectronic. By Spring, I had enough content, and motivation to continue the project. 

Deciding to go back to the previous artstyle as I found it was the best due to the fact that achromatic color scheme makes colorful gameplay props such as buttons, doors, and boxes stand out easily. And being that the balls are represented by color, it was critical to make sure that no ball activation color would be washed by the environment.  The shadows cast by the frames serve a dual purpose by not only helping directing the player, but making the maps seem more full then what they really are.

Vectronic Vectronic

Currently, the map in the video is the only map that was made. I'm still tweeking the design and solving other problems. So of course, if you don't like it or whatnot, suggestions are welcomed. However, keep in mind that everything so far was made due to a purpose. 

Technical Stuff

I'm happy to say that Vectronic is not built off of Half-Life 2, but instead the base source code of the 2013 engine branch, and the base code is kept vanilla. This means a lot of things.

During the winter, I was working on porting stuff from Alien Swarm to 2013. I've managed to get things like Fog HDR, Fog Volume, client spotlights and other ports. Then Valve updated the base code and I was confused what they edited. So I moved the project to the most recent clone and kept it like that. 

Vectronic also now uses vpc files to build the solution.  With the vanilla code, and the vpc scripts, this makes transferring code for help or building it for Linux/OSX much more easier. 

Vectronic's source code is also compatible with the Ailen Swarm branch as much lingo for the branch is different then Source 2013's. I have a working build of it now, but a lot more work needs to go in. For now, it's gonna keep using the 2013 branch for the multiplat and VR support. Maybe someday a port will be made, but It does not really seem worth it. 

The first indications of Source 2 came to the surface with the Dota 2 Authoring Tools. Vectronic is intended to be on this Source engine. Maybe when the future of Source 2 is more clear, it's possible that this will be ported/remade in that engine. There is also a possibility that it will also be ported to a different engine not relating to Valve Software. But for now, it's main focus is The Source 2013 branch as it's the engine and branch I know best. 

Power of Custom Content!

I always loved making maps, elements, I/O systems, and being able to package maps the way I wanted to with the original Portal. Portal's GCF system (at the time), bonus map system, challenge scripts made making custom maps fun and engaging. This is something I want Vectronic to have. The goal is that custom map makers can create maps, items, elements and package them easily. The branch's VPK filesystem makes this possible, and concepts of systems for making custom gameplay mechanics with just a few entities in Hammer is in the works. It's also planned to have mapping guides and how-to's ready on the first release. All of this will be worked out more in the future. 

The Overall Goal

On top of everything, a lot of work has went into this over the years. Choices where made, code written and re-written, and ideas came and left. I want this project to remain simple for what it is. No, it's probably not going to have this rich story with funny characters and jokes. But if Vectronic is shipped with a solid code, found fun, and allowed people to make their own maps, puzzle elements, and such, it will make the first release just a seed starting to sprout with a ton of room to improve and grow.  I'd rather start small and grow with feedback and outside ideas then go in with this big project and find out no one likes it. 

Keep in-mind I'm also working on other projects and this project was started from the fact of testing, learning and playing around. I hope to continue developing this way and not have it turn into another stressful project. Vectronic is not like any other mod. It's just an experiment.

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Post comment Comments  (0 - 10 of 67)
MrLux
MrLux Sep 19 2014, 10:01am says:

i love this project so so, so so much, and please, do NOT abandon Vectronic. this is one of the best ever mods that i've seen!!! maybe it's a game? :)

+1 vote     reply to comment
Robo_Lepro
Robo_Lepro Aug 23 2014, 8:58pm says:

I love the mod so far, but i don't like how you removed the gun. How about making a different gun that has a display that shows what ball(s) you have? Other than that I love how it is going!!

+1 vote     reply to comment
ferdyfist
ferdyfist Aug 20 2014, 4:58am says:

How about the punt gun? :/

0 votes     reply to comment
banan2288
banan2288 Aug 19 2014, 2:57pm says:

Mod looks great, but it's a Portal clone god dammit!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Alex_Demolisher
Alex_Demolisher Aug 19 2014, 10:12pm replied:

While it's free, fun to play and looks good, why not?

+1 vote     reply to comment
Catie㋡(Boxxy)
Catie㋡(Boxxy) Aug 7 2014, 1:30pm says:

Is this still alive?

+1 vote     reply to comment
adliikhwan
adliikhwan Aug 18 2014, 6:31am replied:

Dat punt.

+1 vote     reply to comment
reepblue
reepblue Aug 10 2014, 11:47am replied:

Yep, yep. Expect a long and informative news article soon. I'm working on the draft now.

+5 votes     reply to comment
[MC]Pimpão
[MC]Pimpão Dec 4 2013, 3:10pm says:

dear frigguin lord, this looks AMAZING! i can't wait for the release!

+3 votes     reply to comment
Colossal
Colossal Nov 17 2013, 4:46pm replied:

I don't see how it's like CUBE at all. But okay.

+1 vote     reply to comment
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Platforms
Windows, Linux
Developer
rHetorical
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Official Page
Reepblue.blogspot.com
Release Date
TBD
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Genre
Puzzle Compilation
Theme
Sci-Fi
Players
Single Player
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Latest tweets from @reepblue

@sctweetsthings Yeah, I enjoy drawing this style very much. I've been working and improving on it since late 2011. Hopefully more will come.

Oct 25 2014, 2:53am

This is my new fear when I go into Wendy's and try to order a Chocolate Frosty. (Yes, this did happen one time.) T.co

Oct 25 2014, 1:47am

@natureboy7295 Don't worry natureboy, It gives mother nature more of a chance to do it's thing when it comes to natural selection.

Oct 24 2014, 1:06am

@natureboy7295 @bluevapor7 Or Burger King.. >>

Oct 21 2014, 2:54am

Yo, VBSP. Why do you run in a new window?

Oct 19 2014, 2:19am

@natureboy7295 @bluevapor7 Glad you two are having fun and having study time. I'm eating well with lots of food. :)

Oct 18 2014, 6:24pm

Last minute today, I added controller rumble in Vectronic. Was just a simple line of code.

Oct 18 2014, 4:01am

This guy looks so pumped to be on the cover of NASCAR 14. His expression is symbolic of how much fun the gameplay is! T.co

Oct 17 2014, 6:14pm

It's October and it's like 70 degrees out.

Oct 16 2014, 5:19am

@reepblue #YeahNo

Oct 16 2014, 2:16am

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