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Devblog #25 Don't Panic Update Preview

Dear colonists, on October 19th, be prepared for potentially hazardous situations on your stations. Don’t panic! We know you got it covered! Whether it’s a fire, a breach or a busted life support, you already know what to do thanks to the emergency response training you received back at Sol. Right? Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Don’t Panic Update preview!


As promised, this post will go into details about the added features you can expect in the upcoming Hellion update. These are damage, degradation and repair. They are all coming together with the next patch in order to create a more immersive and dynamic gameplay environment. So, let’s get started!




With the Don’t Panic Update all modules will have health that goes down once they are damaged. Once a module’s health drops too low it is destroyed. We will have two major damage sources: collision and degradation.




Bob? Did you just ram my station?


Collision is rather straightforward and uses mass and relative velocity of objects. A slight bump during docking will cause a bit of damage but won’t be enough to destroy anything, unless objects were already at very low health. However, if you deliberately ram a ship into a module at high speed you can be certain that the results will be pretty spectacular. The impact will likely destroy both objects, cause a certain amount of damage to nearby objects (potentially causing a chain reaction) and knock the station out of its current orbit. What this means in practice is that suicide ramming a station will destroy a ship as well as a module or two but won’t destroy an entire station. This means that suicide runs can at best “annoy and inconvenience” a proud owner of a large station but will not ruin all the progress they’ve made so far. Unless of course the collision takes out a critical junction in which case the station owner might have to do a lot of chasing.


Nope, Jim… I most definitely didn’t. Jim? You ok? Jim!




The other source of damage is degradation. It represents a slow decay of objects due to exposure to extreme space conditions. As you all know, Hellion is a red giant star, an atypical one, but a red giant nonetheless. Take into account that most modules you can find have been left drifting in space for over 60 years and you can safely assume that their protective layers are mostly gone by now. The most important factor here is the temperature difference between light and shadow. Based on the distance from the star this can go from 100 degrees all the way up to 5000. Now, add into the mix the amount of radiation emitted by a red giant and impacts from micro-meteors and you get a fairly decent idea of what your modules are facing on everyday basis.


What all of this means in game terms? First, degradation will completely replace the old “despawn” mechanic and, secondly, it will regularly “clean” the server of junk and clutter. As a result, modules will re-spawn more frequently and be somewhat easier to find. Finally, the more modules you add to your station the more maintenance you will have to do as all modules will approximately decay completely after a week.


Damage effects


Taking damage will be accompanied by various visual effects based on the source of damage and its intensity. All modules will visually decay over time and you will notice large holes appearing on the hull often followed by thick smoke and sparks. In addition, damage will also cause several different effects that are more than just cosmetic. These effects include system malfunctions, hull breaches and fires.


Damage to subsystems will eventually cause a malfunction and require players to fully repair the damage before the system is operational again. In case of a module, damage will disable its primary system (power supply, life support, etc.). For ships, damage will disable a specific system based on its location so expect that collisions will cause any number of problems from broken RCS and FTL to disabled life support.


I’m sure it’s fine… Right?


External hull damage will eventually lead to a breach that will vent precious atmosphere into the vacuum of space until the breach is fully repaired. The more holes there are the faster the atmosphere will deplete. Needless to say, you can only repair an external breach in EVA.


Bob, I think we have a problem!


System damage can also cause fires that will do damage to nearby players and rapidly deplete oxygen inside the room, requiring you to put them out before you can safely repair the damage. Of course you can always choose to vent all oxygen from the room rather than use a fire extinguisher.


Erm… Make that two problems… Ehh, three, four...


Last but not least, all modules explode once their health drops low enough. Explosion damage and radius are based on a number of factors, like maximum health and whether or not the module/ship has a fusion reactor, engine or FTL drive.


With all of these effects you can rest assured that a severely damaged module will look considerably different and quite “unsafe” compared to a fully repaired one.


Tell me you remember where we put the EVA suit?




In order for players to restore modules and systems to full functionality they will require three things: repair tool, fire extinguisher and resources. Repair tool is a small pistol sized device that works similar to a welder. Just pick it up, point it at the problem and watch it go away. As we’ve mentioned before, you might have to use a fire extinguisher to put out fire or put on your space suit to go outside and fix external problems. Repair tool and extinguisher can be found at the start of the game along with a small amount of resources they use, hydrogen for the repair tool and nitrogen for the extinguisher. Keep in mind that these resources are temporary place holders until new resources are introduced. In case you lose any of the new tools or just want a spare in case of an emergency, they can be looted from various industrial zones throughout the Hellion system.


Bob, next time you use that thing and I’m not on fire...


Gameplay changes


All of this will inevitably cause a number of changes to the general gameplay. Most notably to base building and how players approach salvaging. Small repairs on modules and derelicts might be necessary unless you are willing to risk being trapped inside an exploding module. Towing a very low health module back to base might also prove risky, especially if you accidentally bump it during docking. Repairing modules to full health is also necessary once you bring them home to reactivate malfunctioning systems. Also, due to breach and fire mechanics the interior of most modules that you come across will be in complete vacuum requiring additional oxygen and nitrogen to pressurize.


We expect these changes will make the world of Hellion feel more dynamic while increasing the value of basic resources and mining.




We are proud to announce that our work on localization is nearing completion. So far Hellion’s been translated into Turkish, Spanish, Russian, Portuguese, Italian, French, Serbian and Chinese languages. More languages are still on the way and will be added in the next few updates. Localization changes cover every aspect of the game except for Glossary information. As before we will be relying on community support and assistance regarding issues and future localization plans.


I think we’re having some communication problems...




We want to thank the community for all the feedback we’ve received so far especially to the tireless crew of the Testing Squad as these changes would not be possible without an open communication between players and developers. So, feel free to share your ideas with us and leave a comment below. We take each and every one into account when deciding which way to go. Hellion is an ambitious project and it would not be possible without your continued support!


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Posted by Zero Gravity team