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<  Ideas and Suggestions  ~  Game evaluation and suggestions

Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 5:21 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 May 2008 Posts: 2
Here is a list of suggestions I would recommend you consider to improve the playability and promote the Key Feature.

The list may seem long, but really it is not a lot of "features":

1. All weapons should remove dirt as a secondary effect of their primary firing mode.
I read elsewhere that this has a network load issue for some weapons (chaingun, shotgun). I think the solution is one of the following:
a. In _addition_ to the bullets that the gun fires (which do not remove dirt themselves) the weapon fires a "remove dirt" projectile simultaneously at the rate deemed acceptable for the network performance - the dirt projectile does not do damage itself.
b. The gun's firinig solution is changed to better support the network load for dirt removal. ie. Drop Chaingun for a different gun archetype that works for net load.

2. All guns should have a secondary firing mode which _ADDS dirt_ to the level. (But does not otherwise do damage) The amount/shape of dirt added could vary per gun.
2b. For any dirt addition tools, consider swapping out the sphere shape in favor of a vertical cylinder (aligned with gravity axis) - I have a hunch this will make world navigation easier.
2c. For any addition or removal of dirt, consider arcing the projectile downwards slightly as opposed to straight out from the player -- this is due to the radius of the planet being small - so players won't have to look "downwards" to modify dirt at the same altitude as they presently are.

3. After adding the dirt modification abilities to the weapons proper, remove the dirt gun - the weapons intrinsically offer the terrain modification feature. This allows players to modify terrain _while fighting_.

4. Either increase the invulnerable core radius in general, or add "ground water" to the sphere - players cant dig below water level. The reason for this is that below a certain altitude on your current maps, it is just disorienting to move around. The min altitude needs to be bigger.
During level design, the level artist could create navigation flow below the waterline, ie. secret areas.

5. Consider a test level where the sphere size is much bigger, but with bounding walls so players can only play within 1/8th of the map.
This will be flatter and less disorienting. You could make it look a lot more like a traditional map then, with mountains and ravines.

Additional suggestions:
These are less valuable in the near term, but I think ultimately needed to have proper game flow. I think your tech may already support this, so it is a content task.

6. Add a framework "invulnerable skeleton" to the asteroid which generates player flow and unmoveable pinch points. Players must dig around it or overcome it by adding dirt.

7. Test a low grav implementation.

I am very confident these recommendations would improve your gameplay. Ultimately you could take this in the direction of Portal, where they built an entire game out of one mechanic. Let me know if this feedback was useful. We could establish private comms if you are interested, since public feedback is less effective.

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Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 8:54 pm Reply with quote
Developer Joined: 04 Apr 2007 Posts: 136 Location: Stockholm, Sweden
Quite some ideas you've got there. Some of them seems feasible, some collide with our game design intention.

Indeed this causes network load issues. Back in beta6 all the weapons did deform the world but we removed it for the later versions. We thought about replacing the minigun for something more suitable for the network load but found it a less tempting idea to change the game design due to technical issues. The dirt removal projectiles might be a solution to bring down the load to an acceptable level. We are probably going to try and see if it works.

2. (a) see 3

2. (b) I'm not sure what you mean by a cylinder aligned with the gravity axis would help navigation. Since gravity is always pointing towards the center of the asteroid the cylinder would do no better than the sphere.

2. (c) This might be good in some situations, but less good in others. It sure is something we could try to evaluate though.

We have intentionally chosen to have the players switch from a weapon when they wanted to deform mostly since the dirtgun is such a powerful tool. The players have to choose which situations they should bring out the dirtgun and which they should keep the weapon.
Mostly, the dirtgun is either used to reach higher ground for a combat advantage, or to escape from combat by digging tunnels or building barriers. Having both functions on one weapon would make it too easy to switch between the choice of fight or flight. There is really no big delay between switching weapons so a good player will be able to use the dirtgun while fighting in most situations anyways.

You probably played some of the smaller maps. The invulnerable core radius is set while creating maps (it's smaller on some and larger on others). Players mostly feel it beeing disorienting since they are not used to playing FPS-games with spherical gravity. The problem with having the invulnerable core radius bigger is that the outer sphere of the landmass will have to be bigger as well and with just a slightly bigger surface area, a higher minimum-amount of players for that map is needed or else people will have a hard time finding their opponents. If you try the map cross you'll find large core radius, but on the same time a larger overall map.

This might be fun as a special map. You'd still have the curved surface and would have it abit easier to navigate. On the other hand, we don't want this game to be just like any other FPS out there by creating "traditional" maps that people are used to. The completely spherical asteroids opens up a higher degree of freedom which is central in our game.
We might try create a map with that setup anyways just to see what it would bring.

This would also remove some degree of freedom but might work with some special map setups.

An other question arises with this one. How do you present to the players which places they can deform and which they can not?
The obvious answer would be "make the invulnerable parts appear as a different material" which is exactly what we already did. One of our materials (dark red-glowing hardened lava thingie) is impossible to destroy.
Overly using that material on a map makes the map look dull and boring and it would be even harder to know where you are due to lack of variation. So what we would need is to have lots of indestructible materials to change between as well as several destructible materials. Problem there is that we don't want to use up too much texture memory because that would slow down quite many graphics cards.

I've been wanting to try build a maze-like map for quite some time so I'll guess we will see how it will turn out anyways.

We tried this already. It made the game feel too slow and players were too easy to target so we skipped the idea.

I will be glad to answer more questions or follow ups from this one Smile

Daniel Wikell
Game Design, 2D art and the rest of the stuff that noone else does
Celestial Impact
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Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 9:16 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 15 May 2008 Posts: 6
I think he means by

cylinder aligned with the gravity axis would help navigation

that if I shot in the floor.. there would be a tube of dirt sticking up pointing towards my gun. so... you could create your own breadcrumbs like Hansel and Gretal )

I would use that to mark my paths.

Kinda cool idea

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Posted: Fri May 16, 2008 9:21 pm Reply with quote
Joined: 16 May 2008 Posts: 2
Thanks for the thorough reply.

Re: Player managed Verb switch between Modify world and Kill

Modify World is such a central verb for your current implementation that it is easier to escape by Modifying the world rather than doing the verb switch to Kill. This creates turtling and game play tempo issues since the defender has more power than the attacker.

I dont think your weapons are too weak, it's just that the Unique selling point is so strong -- and the unique selling point shouldnt be weakened either! So the solution to merge the verbs simplifies the design, neutralizes the attacker disadvantage, gives players more to think about tactically during combat and it would spotlight your Unique feature.

Re: cylinder as opposed to sphere
It is easier stand up upon a "flying saucer"/cylinder shape as opposed to a sphere (sphere has steep edges, smaller safe standable area). Hopefully that is clearer than before.

re: bigger radius increases map size geometrically
Yes I follow that problem. Its a tough challenge for the design to solve. I think the smaller the radius is the more advanced the player understanding of the game needs to be due to disorientation when at low altitudes. For this reason, fenced in maps might be easier to approach.
b) an alternative would be to choose a game design that requires a bigger amount of map space for the same number of players. Domination might be an example of this over CTF.

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