We had a wonderful test last Sunday, the 25th, which marked the end of our 'fun' sprint. Per David's suggestion, for the sprint we focused specifically on doing things that didn't directly move the game forward. Sprints like these are important because it's easy to tunnel vision when working on a project for so long, and lateral movement on the project is a valuable way to gain progress in ways that weren't obvious. This paid off: we had a significant breakthrough in the main loop of the game, and we got a new power weapon in we're very pleased with.
SHOP TILL they DROP
Previously one of our power crates was the KR82-S, which was basically just an assault rifle with an affixed ballistic shield. The idea wasn't exactly original, and wasn't exactly great game design either. It was too versatile: if the user was flanked, they could still flick to engage the new target. Its ammo was limited, which made performing its role of locking down lanes difficult, and we found that if we gave it a 72 round drum mag it just turned into a tommy gun. It was a mushy power weapon that barely fulfilled its role and didn't have any real weaknesses.
Fortunately, we had foresaw all this and the KR82-S was only a stopgap, as we needed 3 power weapons to choose from for our 3 rounds. This sprint we had some time to prepare its successor. It is with great pleasure that I introduce the Shopping Cart Technical:
The technical has one purpose: area denial. With a 250rd belt and sandbags to protect the operator (you can crouch behind them to blind-fire the weapon), the shopping cart cannot be taken head on. In order to defeat it, it must be flanked or fragged. The weight of the vehicle (what I'd imagine to be around 1,200 lbs--sandbags are heavy!) means that this thing moves slowly and there's no hope of getting it up a flight of stairs so it's positioning is very predictable.
The test confirmed the cart is working as designed, and it appears to be our most valuable power weapon to date. We'll be developing the idea further.
We've incorporated the second pass of the background scene.
SOMEBODY SET US UP THE BOMB
The bomb was the real MVP. It had a tremendous impact on the planning and execution loop. Almost every round began with the cops skipping to execution, which is a marked departure from before where cops were frequently bleeding over into the execution phase to finalize their plans. We believe that is because the inclusion of the bomb objective gave focus to the planning phase. Previously planning would begin with a confused silence, where everyone would be examining the map trying to parse what they were seeing. Now players appear to be quick to point out solutions to defuse the bomb.
Why the difference? I believe the cops are now working backward from a concrete objective, rather than working forward to an amorphous one.First you see the bomb, then you see the positions you need to secure to diffuse the bomb, then you figure out how to get your guys into those positions. Previously, you saw the structure, figured out the best way to make entry into the structure, and then had a general plan for sweeping the structure. That approach never really felt as productive as it should have been.
We're excited to see how objectives influence future tests. This was only the first one so we'll be paying attention to how the bomb changes the 'meta' among our more experienced testers.
NEXT UP: SHIELD++
The shield hasn't been working well for a long time. We've done a few revisions to geometry to improve its effectiveness but these haven't solved the fundamental problem with the shield. SWAT teams move in 'trains' or 'stacks' where members of the team synchronize movements through touch. I believe I can replicate this behavior with some of the code that went into creating the shopping cart technical, so we might have a breakthrough in shield use in the near future.
KILL HOUSE ART PASS
These are some mock-ups of a kill house space our environment artist, Ben, showed a couple weeks ago on the subreddit. We'll be incorporating this art into the kill house to help finalize its look. You'll notice the killhouse features a ton of wood, so we'll be tuning our weapon penetration mechanics too.