Devblog 32

Time for Beta 1.3: More content  & revamped balance!

You can download the build here and read the changelog here.

It’s been a while! Though we’ve been busy working on World 2 for past two months, we still managed to squeeze in some new stuff for World 1 too.

Team update

Last time I briefly mentioned about the personnel issues we’ve been having in the past months, so let’s have a brief update about that. Our artist Mikko V. has decided to leave the team and we wish him the best of luck in his future endeavors. Our coder Jukka also hasn’t shown signs of returning to work anytime soon, if at all. On a positive note, we’ve got a new artist: Sampo! He’s taking over for Mikko V. and partly for Teemu, who has moved on to work more on marketing. We’ve finally updated our Team-page to reflect these changes, so check it out!

With that out of the way, let’s move on to the interesting stuff!

New content ho!

Just like I teased last time around, we’ve got more stuff for you to tinker with in the early game:

There are Ice Golems hiding in plain sight, ready to crush you under their fists…

Monuments with rewards and secrets…

And Generators, protected with plasma turrets.

We’ve also made activating all Runes more interesting. It should now be crystal clear when you’ve still got enemies to fight.

The Monument went through quite a few iterations during development. Originally it was planned to be a “gambling machine” on which the player could spend all their extra Juice, but it ended up using up too much of the player’s time, which wasn’t really what we wanted. This led to a more rigid functionality: instead of small chances for small rewards indefinitely, the Monument now has a very limited number of activations with two bigger rewards.

If you’ve been a long time follower, the Generator might sound a bit familiar. Previously known as the Teleporter Activator, it’s a feature that’s been hanging around for long, long time now (a year or so I’d say). By itself it felt somewhat out of place so we never got around to giving it and the turrets proper graphics, which in turn led to it being left in the sidelines. But now along with our other activatable objects it finally found it’s place.

Gameplay updates

As a part of his new marketing duties, Teemu took on Reddit and got some nice feedback for us, which we immediately jumped on. One of the bigger complaints was that our combat didn’t feel impactful enough, which was actually something we’ve been discussing internally from time to time. Clearly it was time to tackle the issue.

Players and enemies now flash red when taking damage and enemies are also pushed back slightly when attacked by the player. Like it often is, a few small changes can make a big difference. In addition, we also totally revamped the Commando’s pistol sounds to be more punchy. The best way to experience all of this of course is to play the game, so get on it!

Another thing we’ve received feedback on through out development is the hazard spawning mechanic (Mother Worms in World 1). One particular thing we’ve noticed when playtesting the game on new players is that the increasing hazard spawn rate usually isn’t clear to them until it’s already too late. While somewhat crude, we’ve added a new countdown indicator to the HUD to inform the player when the next hazard will appear. We’ve got some plans for a somewhat more stylish indicator, but time will tell if we end up using it.

Though not as easily noticeable as the aforementioned updates, we’ve also had pretty massive balance changes across the board. In a nutshell, the overall experience gain curve has been toned down, all enemies move faster to compensate for players pushing them around and player characters have more digging power. There have also been many co-op specific changes, biggest of which is our long planned item sharing mechanic. Players can now only be two items ahead of others: if they try to buy third one, the player with the least items gets it instead. We’ve also adjusted respawn times and added a co-op specific dynamic zoom, which keep all players on the screen at all times.

For a more detailed breakdown of all the numerous changes, check out the changelog.

Updating the UI

While there are quite a few graphical updates in this build (some minor, some bigger) I want to focus on the UI & HUD changes. Since Sampo joined the team, he’s been drawing our attention to some of the shortcomings of our UI. One thing we’ve been working towards for some time now (slowly but surely) is making the UI elements smaller and Sampo has gave us some much appreciated feedback on the subject which led us to playing down the upper right corner of the screen.

ui_comparison

Another surprisingly small, but very noticeable change was graying out the skill icons during cooldowns. For a long time now we’ve been trying to find a way to keep the skill icons and cooldowns noticeable yet unintrusive to the player and this simple change has already brought us a long way forward. We had quite a lengthy chat about the player HUD overall to help thing even further, so expect to see some changes in future builds. It really helps to get some fresh eyes on the project.

hud_comparison

What’s next?

Though plans are always subject to change, here’s a sneak peek at what we’re planning for the next build:

  • Make World 2 fully playable (boss included)
  • More work on game balance
  • Make combat more intense
  • More work on audio stuff and improve the UI and HUD
  • Add one more activatable object

We’ll be focusing heavily on getting World 2 to a playable state so we can get start testing and balancing it properly, but we’ll also be testing out a major balance/gameplay changer: doubling the amount of enemies per level. We originally considered testing it out for this build, but decided against it with the plethora of other changes already present. Balancing out such a massive change could’ve potentially pushed back the build even further.

Summary

The new activatable objects have brought some much needed variety to our core gameplay. Combined with the numerous other changes the moment-to-moment gameplay should feel a lot more engaging.

Lastly I’d like to remind everyone again that as we’re working less and less on stuff for the public demo, we might not have new stuff to showcase every month. In practice this means that new builds and blogs will either have less content or they will be less frequent. For the time being we’ve been going with less frequent updates, but as our new art pipeline gets rolling, that might change. In any case, we’re moving forward.

Till next time folks!

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