Post news RSS CR Devblog #5: A Big Showcase

An extra-long update on the progress of Catharsis Reborn.

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Introduction

Hello everyone! It’s been a long time, far too long, we basically disappeared off the face of the Earth since our November devblog but that’s not because we haven’t been working, in fact it's for the opposite reason.

We’ve been busy working on lots of new content for Catharsis Reborn and in the process of carrying out and organising that work community interaction has fallen by the wayside, we are trying to make up for that in a small way with the new trailer we just released and now with this devblog, hopefully that’s consolation for the wait you shouldn’t have had to put up with.

This devblog will essentially be a summary of the things we’ve added to the mod between last November (when our last trailer and devblog released) and now, so it will be a lot longer than previous devblogs (in fact, it took up 15 pages in Google Docs before we moved it over to ModDB); That might be a turn off for some but we feel it's important to go through all of this work to show the community that we have been working and keeping ourselves busy all this time.

So, with that reintroduction out of the way, let's get to it!

The Showcase

- New Ammo types:

Previously weapons like the AK, M16, P90 and Sniper Rifle all used a single ammo type known as "M16 ammo" internally, if you know anything about guns you know that probably doesn’t make any sense but also on a balancing level we wanted to be able to better regulate which of these weapons the player can use at any one time through different ammo supplies, as a result there are now 3 ammo types for these weapons: Rifle Ammo for the AK and M16, SMG Ammo for the P90 and Sniper Ammo for, you guessed it, the Sniper Rifle.

CR RifleAmmo

We also applied the same treatment to the Handguns, originally they all shared the same ammo, now there are 2 types, Heavy Pistol Ammo for the Revolver and Desert Eagle and Light Pistol Ammo for the Glock and Tokarev Pistols.

CR PistolAmmo

- Alternate Ammo types:

One of our ideas for diversifying the Dude’s arsenal is to add alternate ammo types for certain weapons that can be cycled to after picking them up by using the “Alter Weapon” key* while carrying the equipped weapon.

The only alt ammo type we worked on implementing so far is Explosive Rounds for the Pump Action Shotgun, but we have other Alt Ammo types planned for the future that will be implemented in due course.

CR ExplosiveShellAmmo


*Alter Weapon was known as “Upgrade Weapon” in Vanilla P3, where it was used for attaching Grenades to Cats and Cats to the M16 and RPG

- New Weapons:

Carrying on with the theme of weapons, we know that the ability to add new weapons into the Dude’s arsenal is one of our greatest strengths, after all what good is a shooter without a nice variety of things to shoot with? (And throw, and hit people with, but you get the point…)

However, we were conscious that it's important to do more with our new weapons than just copypaste an existing gun, change some of its stats like mag capacity, fire speed or recoil around, give it its own model and sounds and call it a day, we tried that before with our first series of new weapons, the 3 extra Handguns (Revolver, TT Pistol and Glock) that we added, and the consensus was that things were too samey.

As a result, we’ve made sure that each of the new weapons we added recently wasn’t just a copy of another weapon with some stat and cosmetic changes, instead each of these new gizmos has its own unique traits that hopefully should make them feel like worthy additions to the mod.

So, with that in mind, what are these new toys? Well, we have a new handgun, 2 new launchers, a new shotgun and 7 new throwables, here they are explained:

Handgun

flaregun

The new handgun is the Flare Gun, inspired by the Flare Gun from POSTAL 4 along with various other Flare Guns from FPS games (Blood, Far Cry 2, etc etc).

This is a pistol which can only hold 1 round at a time and fires a flare that sticks into whatever it hits, if the flare hits a surface it will spark and then ignite anyone who walks over it, if it hits a person it will stick into their flesh and then detonate, igniting them, the flares will also act as a light source and ignite gasoline trails, so they could be useful as utilities in particularly dark areas or as a tool for setting off traps.

CR FlareGunInGameNew

Launchers

Nuke Launcher

The first of our 2 new launchers is the Mini Nuke Launcher, inspired by the Nuke Launcher seen in POSTAL 2 Complete’s Enhanced Mode.

This is a variant of the RPG that, as you can imagine, fires Mini Nukes, as a result its blast radius is incredibly wide and this is not a tool you want to be messing with unless there’s a big gap between you and the enemy, a gap ideally about as wide as the niagara falls, good luck avoiding any long term health risks!

CR MiniNukeInGame

grenadelauncher

The second launcher is the Grenade Launcher, a projectile based explosive weapon inspired by the Grenade Launcher seen in POSTAL 2 Complete.

Our Grenade Launcher is not a 1:1 copy of the POSTAL 2 version, that weapon was based on the M79 Launcher, a single shot weapon that could only be fired once before needing a reload, ours is instead based on the China Lake, a pump action Launcher which can carry several grenades at once but needs to be pumped after every shot.

Since pumping the weapon is a fairly quick animation, this is the fastest firing of the launcher weapons, but this is balanced out by the fact that it fires in a close range arc rather than a straight moving long range projectile like the ones used by the RPG and Mini Nuke Launcher, so more effort has to be put into aiming with it, it should make for some fun CQC with players who can dodge the splash damage!

CR GrenadeLauncherInGameNew

Shotgun

dbshotgun

The new shotgun is the Double Barrel Shotgun, inspired by the powerful Sawn Off Double Barrel seen in POSTAL 2 Complete, a fan favourite!

Our version of the weapon is basically a straight copy of the POSTAL 2 version design and visuals wise, it’s a boomstick which holds 2 shells at a time and pretty much destroys anything in its path as long as you’re at close range.

Our version has a neat little addition however, the ability to toggle between fire modes using the Alter Weapon button: The weapon can be fired in Single Shot or Double Shot mode, Single Shot firing one barrel at a time while Double Shot will fire both at once, using the Double Shot will boost damage but also recoil (and obviously leave all your loaded ammo gone in one blast) so if you’re going to use it you better keep your shots on target and not get caught with your pants down!

CR DoubleBarrelInGame

Throwables

dynamite

Lastly the new throwables, first we have the Dynamite Stick, inspired by the Dynamite Sticks from POSTAL 2’s Eternal Damnation mod.

Dynamite works more or less the same as the Hand Grenade throwable but with one key difference, it will never explode on contact with an enemy. Dynamite instead detonates on a short timer, represented by a spark that appears on the stick itself and fades out just before detonation, in exchange for this lack of contact explosion the weapon does a bunch more damage than the Grenade, so if you’re skilled at predicting where enemies will go or blocking their paths to dodge the blast, this could be a great damage dealer in the right hands!

CR DynamiteInGameNew

c4

Following this we have the C4 Pack, another explosive throwable that again has a unique twist, C4 will never detonate on contact or on a timer, instead it comes with a detonator inventory item that will cause all C4 that has been thrown to explode when pressed.

detonator

The freedom of choice surrounding when C4 is detonated will allow the player to set up traps and ambushes, C4 will also stick to NPCs as well as surfaces, allowing you to turn the townsfolk of Catharsis into living mines!

CR C4InGame

deadbird

Next we have a more unorthodox weapon, the Dead Pigeon, this is a weapon that was planned to appear in Postal 3 but was cut at some point during development, it was designed to be Postal 3’s version of the Diseased Cow Head from POSTAL 2 and that’s what we kept in mind when remaking it for CR.

The Pigeon is riddled with disease, so when you toss it it will spread a cloud of noxious gas in the nearby area which will cause NPCs in its radius to become ill, when this happens they will start vomiting blood and then eventually die. If that wasn’t deadly enough, shooting the bird corpse after deploying it causes it to explode, which widens the radius of the gas and allows it to poison even more people, yuck!

CR PigeonInGame

Scissors

Then we have the Scissors, a returning fan favourite of POSTAL 2 with a bit of a rework in their design: In POSTAL 2 the Scissors could only be used as a throwable, in CR they can also be used as melee weapons.

Secondary fire will always be your attack button with this weapon, but the primary fire button will change which of the 2 attacks is used: Without holding primary fire the attack will be a melee stab, when holding down primary fire it will instead be a throw.

When thrown the Scissors will stick into objects they collide with, that includes both level geometry and people's body parts, if you aim for the head there’s a chance you might jab your target in the eye with your Scissors, blinding them, so be careful when you’re out running with them!

CR ScissorsInGame

And finally we have 3 throwables that aren’t designed to be used as lethal weapons:

flashbang

There’s the Flashbang, a non lethal throwable that will stun any NPCs caught in its blast radius, offering up a window of opportunity to escape enemies or kill/ko them with ease.

CR FlashbangInGame

dogtoy

Then we have the Dog Toy, a throwable not used as a weapon but as a tool, you can toss them around to play fetch with Dogs and when you play fetch with them enough they’ll become your companion!

CR DogToyInGame

And last but not least we have Tear Gas, another non lethal throwable but one more effective than the flashbang, instead of simply stunning NPCs in its radius it will knock them out cold, it can essentially be thought of as a non lethal version of the Dead Pigeon!

The trade-off for this is it doesn’t work instantly like the Flashbang does, instead NPCs will have to be exposed to the gas cloud the canister emits for some time before falling asleep, the gas also has a high chance to blind those in its radius while doing damage, so they can't simply run away and carry on attacking you unless you're fairly unlucky.

CR TearGas

This weapon doesn't have a model of its own just yet, so currently it shares one with the Flashbang, that's why it doesn't have its own icon just yet.

These throwables we've added (with the exceptions of Dynamite and the Flashbang*) were weapons Trashmasters planned to include in Postal 3, giving them icons and in the case of the Dog Toy, a showcase at E3, they were included in the original P3 design doc but somewhere down the road they were scrapped and didn't make it into the final product, we've been working to restore them for CR.

tmicons

*Some leftover code for a Flashbang weapon (and also a Smoke Grenade) did exist in Vanilla Postal 3 but the weapon doesn't appear in the design docs or have any cut icons, these seem to be leftovers from Counter-Strike Source

With the addition of these new weapons CR has reached an interesting milestone: Every weapon originally included in the design doc for Postal 3 has now been added to CR except for one, a weapon called the Chain Sickle, a weapon that was prominently featured in some of the promotional material for the game and later appeared in POSTAL 4 as the "Rattler".

This is a weapon we'd like to include, but one that would require a lot more work with animations and modelling than the new weapons we have added so far, so whether we work on it in the future is an open question.

- Altered Weapons:

Along with adding in these new weapons, we’ve also worked on fixing the previously mentioned sameyness of some of the new weapons we first added, in particular the Handguns (where we have the TT Pistol, Glock, Desert Eagle, Revolver, and now the Flare Gun too), but also the Automatics (where there are 3 weapons included, the M16, AK and P90).

Originally we tried to resolve this by giving each of the new weapons their own ammo capacities, damage and recoil statistics: For example the Revolver now kicks like a mule and kills in one or two shots, compare to when it was first shown publicly where it took 3 shots or more to kill anyone and had basically no recoil at all, but these weapons still do feel a bit too close for comfort due to their similar modes of operation.

To compensate for this, we’ve started work on differentiating these weapons from each other through more than just stat boosts, exactly as we just did with the new weapons we worked on adding: We’ve started this process by working on the M16 Rifle and Glock Pistol, which have both been converted to fire in a 3 round burst, as opposed to the full auto of the original M16 or the fast firing semi auto of the previous version of the Glock, this gives them a different combat function to their counterparts that encourages good aim and recoil management as opposed to a spray and pray attitude.

- Restoring the damage indicator:

Before release Trashmasters planned for Postal 3 to use a directional damage indicator (copypasted from Half-Life 2) on its HUD, what that means in plain English is that whenever you took damage from an enemy that was to your left or right a red bar would appear on the edge of the left or right side of the screen to tell you roughly where your attacker might be, this is a feature that can be seen in some pre-release gameplay footage of P3.

But for some reason Trashmasters decided to axe this feature a year or so before the game's release, where it was replaced with a red flash that appeared across the entire screen when the player was damaged, regardless of direction, we've restored the damage indicator as we think it'll be a useful feature for combat and find it a lot more useful than the whole screen flash.

CR DirectionalDamage

- Nap Time for the Dude:

In keeping with our new non lethal weapon additions, we also added a new small detail if you get finished off by a non lethal weapon (eg. being punched, knocked out by tear gas or having your head bashed in by a baton), instead of dying the Dude will be knocked out: This is functionally the same as death (you ragdoll down and any button press will load a save) but when being ko’d the Dude will have the same sleeping icon above his head that NPCs get when ko’d, enjoy the snooze!

CR KnockedOut

- It's a bird! It's a plane! Wait, no, it's the Dude!:

Now for something that will spice up the use of explosives, we’ve made it so that explosions the player is in the radius of, which don’t do enough damage to get them killed, will instead send them flying into the air as a ragdoll, after a second or two on the floor the Dude will then get back up.

This creates an extra threat from enemy explosive devices and also acts as an extra punishment for not being cautious enough when tossing them about yourself! While you're helpless on the floor enemies can still puncture your skull with the help of a bullet or two.

Here's what happened when the Dude tried to fight the power by tossing Dynamite sticks all over City Hall:

CR Ragdoll

- Finalised Weapon Models:

Throughout development of the mod our weapons have frequently used a mish mash of models drawn from vanilla Postal 3, other games, assets from modelling sites like CGTrader and from modding pages like GameBanana, and recently we decided it was time to ditch these placeholders for something that feels more finalised.

As we don’t have the time to make a unique internally produced model for every weapon, we’ve made a compromise, some of our weapons are reusing their models from Postal 3 and the rest of the weapon models are either internally produced or bought assets from modelling sites like CGTrader that we’ve modified to have the look we wanted for CR.

The key word is “modified”, we have no intention of becoming an asset flip by buying and then pasting in models with no alterations, so while not every one of our weapon models is originally made by us, we have put our time into tweaking them to fit our ideas and needs: Nothing should stick out like a sore thumb as out of place from the rest of the assets.

Here's an example of what this means in practice:

CR AKComparison

The top image is the stock gun asset, the bottom image is the asset as modified by us, replicating the stockless-“jungle taped”-dual mag AK that was seen in our placeholder AK model, a GameBanana mod made for Counter-Strike Source.

- Adding a first person camera:

Moving away from weapons now onto one of our biggest new features that we’ve added to the mod recently, something that has been a fan request ever since the project started:

CR FirstPersonRequests


So many people asked us to either make CR a first person game or add the option of a first person camera to it and originally our answer was a clear cut no, not because it wasn’t possible to do, it was always possible, in fact first person is something modders managed to add into Postal 3 less than a year after it released (see here for an example), but our lack of interest in adding it came down to attitudes.

Our original line of thinking we had when first person was requested to us by fans was that CR, like vanilla Postal 3, is a third person game and was always designed with that in mind, and that we didn’t want the game to feel too samey to POSTAL 2 by using first person, since each game in the series has its own perspective (P1 - Isometric, P2 - First Person, P3 - Third Person).

But after all this time we eventually decided, why not? CR is and always will be a Third Person game first and foremost, Third Person always will be the default camera mode and the mode that the mod is designed for, but we understand that since the great majority in the community were introduced to the series through POSTAL 2 and as a result are very used to looking through the Dude’s eyes rather than over his shoulders, and because this is a feature that has been requested many times over it’s a feature worth accommodating.

CR FirstPersonGameplayAlt

Currently the First Person camera does have some clipping issues, particularly if you look downwards, since all we did in practical terms is shift the camera to a different position: The game’s animations are all the same regardless of if you’re using TPS or FPS mode and these animations were not designed with a first person perspective in mind, but other than that it’s a fully workable camera option and can be used at any point during gameplay, in testing we found it can be quite nice to see things more up close thanks to this camera mode, we’ve also implemented a keybind for switching between First and Third Person (V by default) on the fly.

So while this is a feature that is by no means perfect, it's one we think will be quite popular and welcomed by the community, it's going to be interesting seeing CR change from a purely Third Person Shooter into a mix of First and Third Person perspectives.

- Map Detailing:

While we are for the most part happy with CR’s maps as they are right now, we’ve still been carrying out some busywork on certain areas that we felt were lacking in detail, the areas we addressed for this were our second City map, the Police Station map and the City Hall map, here’s what we did with them:

Decorating the west corner of the Industrial Estates

The west of our second City map, the Industrial Estates, was previously a very underutilised area, being dominated almost entirely by the massive exterior of the HugeMart mall: Since there was only a small part of that exterior that had anything noteworthy (the HugeMart entrance, with the level transition to the HugeMart map and some breakable ATMs) we realised this needed fixing.

We improved the area by filling the previously empty HugeMart parking lot with a shanty town settlement, complete with NPCs, buildings to rob and pickups to grab, including some of the new weapons like Dynamite and the Flare Gun.

CR Dixieville

Decorating the Police Station

The design docs for Postal 3 specified that the third floor of the city’s Police Station had a “SWAT Lounge”, where the SWAT team would go to relax and “live like rockstars”, while our version of the Police Station isn’t directly based on the P3 version (either the designs or the vanilla game’s map) we decided this area would be a good inclusion both as an interesting area and also as an example of worldbuilding, showing just how corrupt Catharsis can get.

CR SWATLounge

Additionally we decided to replace the Cops roaming around and guarding the third floor with SWAT Officers, who will gladly rush downstairs to kick your ass if you cause trouble, adding an extra bit of challenge to the map: Now if you choose to assault the Police Station unprepared you’re in for a fairly realistic outcome… Being turned into a rotting pile of Swiss Cheese, that is.

CR SWAT

Finally, we gave the SWAT team their very own armoury as another opportunity for the player to grab some of the new weapons we’ve added: In this case the C4 Packs and the Flashbangs, which the SWAT have on hand as breaching tools for raids, this armoury also has lots of Sledgehammers and Pump Shotguns for the same purpose!

And with its monitors and desks this area also serves as a kind of nerve centre for the SWAT team, so keep in mind that it will be better defended than the armoury for the regular police, which only has one humble guard standing outside. In the SWAT armoury multiple SWAT troopers are inside and heavily armed, willing to mow you down if you try to snatch their stuff!

CR SWATArmory

Decorating the City Hall map

City Hall is the one map currently in CR that we re-used from Postal 3 rather than remaking by ourselves, we decided to use the vanilla P3 City Hall to save some time that would’ve been spent making this massive building ourselves.

When we first added the map to CR we made several alterations to it, starting with removing all the scaffolding placed around the level from the vanilla P3 version which forced the player to follow a linear path, then we got to work adding details such as dirt and grime to many of the rooms and posting security guards around that would keep people out of certain restricted areas not meant for the public, such as the Mayor’s office.

CR CityHallComparisonCropped

However, in spite of all these changes the map still felt lacking in detail in a way, so we decided to work on this issue by creating a bunch of new art assets to place in each of the offices of the City Hall building, making them each feel more distinct and purposeful as opposed to generic rooms, some areas of the building have also been altered to make them appear closer to how they were depicted in concept arts made for P3 during development.

CR CityHall

Utilities licenses

CR Courthouse

courtroom1

Special Mentions: The Subway Line and the Police Prison

The Subway - This is an area that was actually added before the previous devblog, but it didn’t get a mention at the time and we think it’s worth highlighting; The city’s underground subway tunnels have been made accessible and can be used as an alternate way to traverse the city maps, thanks to long running neglect from the government there are no trains running anymore, instead the tunnels have taken up a role as a makeshift homeless shelter much like the Hugemart parking lot.

CR Subway

Opening up the subway system was something we were considering for a long time, and we originally decided against it because we didn’t want the player to constantly use it to travel between areas and avoid exploring the rest of the city as a result.

We changed our minds when we heard feedback from some parts of the community that didn’t like the idea of the player being forced to use the sewer system to travel between city maps before the tunnels get opened later in the story, we opened the subway to offer up an alternate route between city maps that skips the sewers for those who want to just explore more of Catharsis straight away, and from there it became part of the open world as a whole.

The Police Prison - Officially known as the "Temporary Holding Area", this is an underground area connected to the Police Station, it's where the Catharsis PD bring the people they've arrested for booking, and where the place them in temporary jail cells before they get carted off to a more formal prison, all you need for a blatantly corrupt criminal justice system.

Like the Subway this map was added before the last devblog, but unlike the Subway which was worked on in a fairly short amount of time, fully completed and then left as it was by the time the previous devblog rolled around, this is a map that has a more complicated history.

A prison map is an idea we've floated around for some time now and an early version of the concept could briefly be seen in the CR Demo's fifth trailer released in 2020, but the current version was started in 2021 and worked on intermittently throughout that year.

CR PolicePrisonWIP

The map was fully textured and had its layout finished by September 2021, containing an evidence room, shower room, 2 different interrogation rooms, a cafeteria, crematorium, cafeteria/kitchen area and multiple cell blocks.

CR PolicePrison

Updates continued into mid 2022 adding things like:

  • Improved ambience and lighting
  • A unique secret area
  • Extra details like security offices, complete with cell opening big red buttons
  • Loudspeakers that bellow out propaganda to keep the inmates (and the guards) in line

Much like the reworked City Hall, this map takes a bunch of inspiration from Postal 3's pre-release concept arts, in this case concept arts that were intended for the Police Station, here are some examples of their influence:

Here we have the "Soft" Interrogation room, officially labelled the "Interview" room...

CR PolicePrisonInterviewsoft interrogation

...and the "Hard" Interrogation room, which is more honestly labelled above the door...

CR PolicePrisonInterview2interrogation color

...and its associated Monitoring Room, complete with a 1 way mirror for observation purposes!

CR PolicePrisonInterview3cinterrogetion2

This little setup allows the authorities to play a classic Good Cop, Bad Cop routine, lucky for them, not so lucky for those that end up here.

Almost every room in this map takes inspiration from the P3 Concept Artwork like these interrogation rooms do, showing that while CR is Postal 3 done our way, we are definitely paying homage to what the game was and could have been, and in some cases recreating it.

While this map did take a long time to make, mostly because it was considered a kind of bonus area and not a priority, we think the end result will make for an interesting locale to explore, keep in mind though that this whole map is off limits to the general public, and that includes you unless you dress for the right part, more on that later...

- New Menu:

In addition to the new details and areas we’ve added to existing maps, we’ve also added a brand new one, a new Main Menu! While our old Main Menu map was solid it didn’t represent what we wanted it to, which was the inside of the POSTAL Dude’s trailer, it looked more like a generic room instead, seeming out of place.

CR OldMainMenu image from Dec 2

To make the new menu we took a desert map that was originally used for one of the mod’s cutscenes (back when we were still using SFM), constructed the trailer, placed it in the map and then removed areas of the map that wouldn’t be visible from the POV inside the trailer.

CR NewMainMenu

The result is a menu map that is very recognisably the Dude’s trailer, with a view of the desert outskirts of Catharsis visible from the trailer’s open windows. We also attached the menu options to the Dude’s TV just as they were in the vanilla Main Menu, the previous menu had the menu text floating in the air with the TV being blank, relying on camera trickery to make it appear as if the options were on the TV when they really weren’t, this change makes the menu look much nicer overall.

We think these changes will all add up to make a map that acts as a much more fitting intro to the game.

- Greater Cop Uniform functionality:

Disguises! This is an aspect of CR that didn’t get much attention in the past, we basically tried to copy the outfits system from POSTAL 2 and left it at that, but now we’ve worked to give the first disguise on offer in CR, the Cop Uniform, a special purpose.

You see, as previously mentioned in the mapping section of the blog, there are areas around the city that are off limits to ordinary citizens, guarded by Cops primarily but also in some cases Private Security Guards: Trying to enter these areas will turn their guards hostile and likely cause a chain of events that brings waves of law enforcers down on you and gets you slapped with a wanted level.

CR GuardWatch

Originally the cop uniform did not protect you from getting your skull bashed in if you stumbled (or tried to sneak) into these areas, now it does!

Along with the usual perks of the cop uniform, you can also use its disguise to access areas you otherwise would not be welcome in, which can allow you to access certain ammo or item caches without having to pay the toll of a gruelling gun battle in exchange, and just generally give you an opportunity to explore more of the world in peace.

While there were hints of this kind of feature in POSTAL 2, with the player needing their cop uniform to access the Paradise Police Armoury, we’ve taken things further by adding more no-go areas that require that extra bit of thinking to poke around in without bloodshed.

- Motorhead Improvements:

Some of you who played vanilla Postal 3 may remember the Dude’s AI companion, the half robot monkey known as Motorhead, you might also remember that this companion was borderline useless as he would usually wander around aimlessly doing basically nothing.

We made it so you can direct Motorhead with the Laserpen to pick up guns and melee weapons and then give him targets to fire or shank at, his face humping move which existed in vanilla P3 can also now knock NPCs out, making him a companion that will be useful to both lethal and non lethal players.

CR Motorhead Gun

Since Motorhead is a companion you get as part of the story, like Champ, rather than a throwaway recruitable animal, we also made him invulnerable. Don’t worry, this won’t make him OP, he’s not exactly the fastest gun in the west, he’s just a little less disposable than your average pet, the magic of plot armour for you!

- Dog Improvements:

As previously mentioned in the new weapons section of the blog the new Dog Bone throwable can be used to play fetch with dogs and turn them into companions, so we’ve spent a bunch of time working to make the dog companions more like the ones from POSTAL 2.

This means that they’ll now follow you through level transitions, attack your enemies and eat treats you drop, they also get a big health buff when they first become your companion, ensuring that they won’t be useless to you on account of dying from the first volley of buckshot they happen to come into contact with.

Along with these changes, dog companions will also benefit from the Dude’s Laserpen gadget, you can use it to guide them just like with Motorhead and Champ, sending them to certain spots or directing them to attack NPCs.

CR DogPen

If you're wondering, that icon above the dog's head is something we've added that appears on top of animals you've recruited as companions, so you know who's with you and who isn't, it appears for Motorhead as well as the dogs.

- Laserpen Upgrades:

To accompany these animal AI improvements, the Dude's Laserpen now has 2 additional modes that can be toggled with the “Alter Weapon” button: Dog Mode and Motorhead Mode.

These modes will change the colour of the pen's laser (from the default red to green for dog mode and blue for motorhead mode) and who responds to it: The default mode will guide both dogs and Motorhead, in Dog Mode the pen will be ignored by Motorhead and followed by dogs, in Motorhead Mode the opposite will be the case, this allows the player to control their critters more effectively and individually.

CR LaserPointers

This is a feature that was planned to be in Vanilla Postal 3 but was only partly implemented: Using some trickery with console commands in Vanilla P3 you can cycle between the modes but they don't actually do anything, we added the functionality they were supposed to have back into the game.

Older Additions

While we did say in the introduction to this devblog that we were keeping the features listed in it to additions since the last blog release, there are 3 additions that were made before then that weren’t talked about before and deserve to be, so here are 3 more special mentions for you.

- New HUD:

The last (and only) time we showcased CR’s HUD in a trailer was in Trailer 4, where the HUD was essentially just a copypaste of the HUD from POSTAL 2: A column of 3 circles, one for weapons and ammo, one for inventory items and one for health, that went on the top right of the screen:

CR OldHUD

Since then we’ve swapped that out for a different look, with a health bar on the left side of the screen, inventory and weapons on the right, all of these elements going on the very bottom of the screen:

CR NewHUD

Accompanying the health bar is a portrait of the Dude, this isn’t just included to look pretty, it serves a practical purpose:

When you first start the game this Dude portrait will have a halo over his head and a pair of angel wings on his back, once you get your first kill they will disappear and not come back for the rest of your playthrough (unless you start a new game or load a save from before the kill, obviously), this means players going for a pacifist run will always know if they’ve voided their run or not.

Also, when the player is wanted by the cops a wanted symbol and bar will appear on the top right, in a similar position to the old HUD elements, this is so the bottom of the screen doesn’t get too cluttered but the player still has a HUD element to look for that lets them know how long they need to hide for (or how deep the shit they’re in is).

While there was some debate internally over whether to keep the P2 style HUD or go for a new design we eventually decided to go with the new look to avoid feeling too samey compared to POSTAL 2, CR is a sequel after all even if its an unofficial one, and with sequels it’s important to iterate even with something as simple as GUI design.

- Discord Integration:

Last year we added Discord “Rich Presence” or “RPC” integration to the mod, the RPC is basically a way to show custom displays to a Discord user’s profile when they have a certain program running, for example a game like Payday 2 or Killing Floor 2, these displays show much more info about a person’s gameplay than the generic Discord display, which just tells you what game is being played and how long for.

Our custom display for Catharsis Reborn lists whether a player is in-game, paused or loading a new map, what map they are currently in and how much time has passed since the start of the session, it also includes a picture of the current map next to these stats.

CR RPCBasic


When hovered over some additional info about the session will be displayed like total number of kills, knock-outs, headshots and so on, so your friends can stalk the Dude just as much as you do behind his shoulders (or through his eyes), cool right?

CR RPCStats


CR RPCStats2


And yes, you can turn this integration off if you don’t want to be stalked, isn’t that nice?

- Jumping:

This was actually a feature we were capable of adding since the start of the project (much like first person), as vanilla Postal 3 actually had jumping fully included complete with animations, but it just wasn’t something the player could do manually, instead the player would “auto jump” when around certain obstacles. Early on in CR’s development (early 2017) we did experiment with both jumping and crouching as features, see: here.

But we decided not to go ahead with adding jumping at the time because of the vast amount of map changes that would be required to make it work, since our open ended city maps weren’t designed with the player being able to jump in mind it became very easy for the player to break out of these maps with jumping enabled, we didn’t want to spend a huge amount of time patching these areas where the player could escape when we could work on entirely new maps or more important map changes instead, so jumping was dropped.

But eventually, 3 years later, it was decided that the trade off of having to do these map changes in exchange for giving the player jumping was a good deal, while a lot of work had to be put into patching the city maps they are now at a stage where you really can’t escape out of bounds by accident, if there are any escapes left you have to be deliberately looking for them.

We feel it was worthwhile in the end to add jumping as it gives us as devs more opportunities with the map design, allowing us to add verticality and platforming, and gives the player another ability.

As for crouching, unlike jumping a lot of animations were missing from it, meaning it looked a lot worse in proper gameplay than it did in the linked demonstration video. Whenever there were missing animations (such as anims for crouching while holding weapons) the Dude would stand up and awkwardly t-pose, so we don’t plan to bring back crouching currently.

Bug Fixes

- Complications with Testing:

Last but not least, the most unenjoyable but necessary part of our work on the mod. In addition to the new features we’ve been working on we’ve also had to do a bunch more work fixing various bugs, along with some issues with the AI.

Sadly when implementing all sorts of new content waves of bugs that have to be dealt with are a given, including bugs that break seemingly unrelated features: One of our biggest nightmares while making the latest trailer was going to record footage of the new mechanics only to realise that some of them either didn’t work properly or didn’t work at all, even though we didn’t change them since initially testing them and making sure they worked properly the first time around.

This is an issue that can be dealt with more effectively by doing what’s called “regression testing”, which is essentially making a big checklist of features and having testers try them all out after noteworthy updates to ensure they still work properly, allowing these random headaches to be found and dealt with quickly.

Unfortunately, we don’t have the staff to do this right now as our team members each have their specific fields to cover and for the most part can’t multitask those with frequent and repetitive testing of the mod, this means that a lot of the time we simply stumble across the fact that our mechanical sand castles have been kicked over at random, and then need to go about building them all back up again.

That’s not to say everything is all doom and gloom, we’ve put a lot of effort into ironing out the issues already and will continue to do so, and we aren’t blind to the fact that internal testing is not going to be enough, when the mod is in a state where its ready to be shown and distributed more widely we will invite volunteers to playtest for us and work on squashing bugs in response to their feedback, as playtesters who aren’t otherwise involved in a project’s development will approach gameplay in a very different way to front line devs and be able to offer up much more of their time to helping with finding bugs and experimenting with possible solutions; Long story short, this means that the big issues in the mod we have to deal with now won’t make it into public builds later, they can just be a nuisance for us and not you folks, exactly how it should be.

But until then, bug fixing is the main roadblock in the way of a Demo release right now, as we still have a long way to go before a lot of the mechanics we’ve developed work as intended consistently, and with bug fixing half the problem is finding out how to fix the issues as opposed to actually fixing them, it can be like finding a needle in a haystack.

A great example of this is a major crashing problem we encountered in the second City map after implementing all the new areas, we thought the new areas were overwhelming the engine and cut downs would be needed, it turned out the crashes were actually caused by a door in an existing area that crashed every time NPCs tried to open it for seemingly no reason, so all we had to do to fix this major problem was remove the door, a problem that took seconds to fix but hours of trial and error and tedium to find, it can be a lot of guesswork and fumbling around in the dark to figure these things out, which is why it takes so much time.

- Where to go from here:

So, what’s stopping us from speeding things up by going ahead with that closed playtest build idea? Well, there are several factors to consider:

  • The most obvious one is who should be allowed to participate, as we would likely have to sort through many volunteers keen to get their hands on the game for the first time.
  • Secondly, we would have to think about how much these testers would be allowed to share with the public, whether they could post footage or screenshots of gameplay openly or whether we would impose some sort of embargo, asking testers to only share those sorts of things with us as devs for the purpose of fixing bugs or other gameplay issues.
  • And third, we would have to consider how to distribute a tester build and how often to update it, keeping it at pace with the main developer build? Releasing updates on a routine basis such as weekly or monthly? Some other time frame?

How we would choose to answer these questions could dramatically affect a testing process and how useful the results from it would be, so it's important that these things are thought through and planned thoroughly before going ahead with any sort of testing program.

Of course this brings us to the last big question, at what point should the mod be considered ready for this kind of program? That’s a hard one to answer; We know that at its core Catharsis Reborn is a POSTAL game, which means it’s never going to be bug free or anything along those lines, but we do want to put a lot of time into ensuring our mechanics don’t fall apart at the seams before releasing the mod (even in a more limited format), since that doesn’t tend to make for good first impressions.

But rest assured we will actively consider these factors and in the meantime continue work on bug fixes, testing and polishing.

Conclusion

And there we have it, a massive great update on the highlights of development since our last public updates, for those who made it here to the end thank you for reading all the way through and sorry about the word salad, nobody was expecting this to become an update post worth 15 pages but that’s what you get when you’re trying to sum up around 8 months worth of content in 1 blog post, oops.

Hopefully those who’ve been waiting for news for a long while will find this post helps with their appetite for more CR material and answers some of the questions they may have, once again it's important to say that we shouldn’t have made people wait this long, we know that, but we can explain why things took as long as they did.

The reason it took so long for us to put out another update is we felt it wouldn’t have been right to announce big features like first person in a text based devblog, without the fanfare of a properly edited together trailer, but the problem with that is trailers tend to take a while to produce.

Ironing out any bugs related to showcased features, gathering all that showcase footage (we recorded over 200 clips for the latest trailer, for the previous trailer it was 119), deciding song choices, editing everything together and ensuring the timings are good, these things all take time and that’s time that could be spent on development, so for a long while we were in the Catch-22 of not wanting to make announcements like this without a trailer, and not wanting to make a trailer.

But eventually we realised people have waited long enough for news and we just had to take that partial break from dev work to get the word out, hopefully now we’ve demonstrated that we haven’t disappeared or been on a hiatus or anything like that, instead we’ve kept busy trying to make this project happen and deliver for those who are following what we do.

The last thing to say is we want to remind fans who are interested in keeping up to date with our work to stay in touch via our Discord server, we also will respond to comments on our YouTube channel or messages on our Twitter page, but Discord is the easiest place to get in touch; Since updates elsewhere are infrequent its best to go there to ask questions and stay in the know.

With all that out of the way, stay safe and have fun everybody, we wish you all the best and thank you for your continued interest in our work.

Comments
FlippedOutKyrii
FlippedOutKyrii - - 3,496 comments

Doing the work of what 5 paid dev teams couldn't.

To say you guys are going above and beyond is an understatement. It's practically a whole new game at this point!

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Elwood.B Author
Elwood.B - - 37 comments

Thank you very much for your kind words, and thanks for taking the time to read the blog to the end!

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Guest
Guest - - 688,627 comments

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skej
skej - - 72 comments

looks dope

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The.Mr.Zip
The.Mr.Zip - - 265 comments

Thank you for all your hard work, Alot of us appriciate it and cant wait for it to release!

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Neynh
Neynh - - 62 comments

Looks absolutely awesome, can't wait to play it !

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venomsnake1665651798
venomsnake1665651798 - - 1 comments

Is it a way to switch between the first person and the third person´╝č

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Kizoky
Kizoky - - 136 comments

it's a keybind, you can switch between cameras however you like

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