Highlight 4/8: Co-op

Fun with friends is the topic this week on our Highlight-series!

Co-op was planned for Gerty pretty much from the very start and we’ve had a long time to develop and tweak it along the years. Countless difficult choices have been made to make the co-op experience the best it can be. Since bringing in additional players tend to usually make a game easier in most cases, we decided to not fight against it and focus on a fluid and entertaining experience rather than trying to force it to be nail-bitingly difficult.

Gameplay adjustments

A single player game rarely makes the transition to co-op 100% as-is, which is also the case for Gerty. Besides the obvious need for more UI elements and the such, there are a couple notable gameplay related changes in co-op.

The game camera. In single player the functionality is simple enough: keep the camera focused on the player. So what do you do when there’s more than one player? Instead of splitting the screen or changing focus on the fly, we opted for the most seamless option: keep all players on the screen at all times by zooming in and out. While you can still change the minimum zoom level in the Options just like in single player, the maximum zoom changes depending on how far apart the players are from each other. This naturally makes things harder to see at extreme distances, but we feel it’s overall the best solution.

Interactable objects were another point of consideration – in particular Teleporters and Forges. Can one player alone activate the Teleporter? Or open a Forge? This was how we originally handled the situation, but it was not ideal. While it was fun to save your buddies by activating the Teleporter just as they were about to get killed, it also felt just a bit exploitative. And naturally it could also lead to minor griefing is one player alone decided to teleport everyone out without asking. The better (and more co-operative) choice was to require all players to be in proximity to the objects in question. Players are much better oriented after using a Forge if they’re all right next to it, instead of being scattered all over the level.

Naturally there’s also some difficulty tweaks for co-op too, like more threat spawns per player and more enemy spawns in survival levels. Having four times the firepower would make the game a tad too easy without some adjustments after all.

Choices, choices

That being said, we recognize that one size rarely fits all, so we have options for friend groups to customize their co-op experience to their preference:

  • Respawn during levels (On/Off): Off by default. For those who want a more “authentic” rogue-lite experience. If no-one survives the level, it’s Game Over.
  • Friendly fire (On/Off): On by default (for more hijinks). Can be turned off to reduce difficulty (or to save friendships).
  • Juice sharing (None/Partial/Full): Partial by default. Set to Full for equal wealth for everyone, or to None for competitive digging and money grubbing.
  • Experience sharing (None/Partial/Full): Partial by default.  Changing this is likely to affect co-op balance.

Gather your party

If you want to play co-op right from the start, you’ll be limited to everyone being a Commando. After gathering some Fame though, you can start unlocking the rest of the characters and making more interesting combinations. Maybe a high damage, short-range party of only Magnus’ and Preachers? Or perhaps instead a long-range, mobile party of Commandos and Unums. Or you could always bring the whole gang!

Play for yourself!

Head on over to Steam, add Gerty to your Wishlist and play the free demo to prepare yourself for the Early Access release on December 3rd.

Share this post!