The prophecy is fulfilled: Alpha is finally upon us! Last week we sent out reconfirmation emails, linking those who signed up for Alpha to a survey so we get some info on them and their rigs. We’ve just now sent out keys to our first 100 lucky testers. Check your emails to see if you were accepted! Obviously, we had far too many applicants to let everyone in. If you weren’t selected this round, don’t fret. You’ve got a pretty good chance of making it in as we’ll be adding new groups every weekend for the foreseeable future.

Those invited are required to join our Official Discord, where they’ll be given access to a secret Alpha section, and they can leave feedback and discuss the game with fellow testers. These testers will be visible in our server, but don’t pester them as they’ll be under a non-disclosure agreement. We will still be trickling news about the game to you guys here, but we’re not ready to open the media floodgates yet as it turns out that releasing a game, much like room clearing, is all about timing. Every weekend, we be pushing a new alpha build with new features, changes, and bug fixes.

Now that the big news is out of the way, let’s take a look at what we’ve been working on!

Visual Matchmaking

With Due Process focusing so heavily on teamwork and communication, we knew our solution to matchmaking had to be different. Other automated matchmaking solutions assemble teams randomly, taking little into consideration when matching players together, leaving you stuck with them for an entire game. We wanted to make a system that would encourage players to make their own teams, expand, and visualize the social networks they’ve built while playing. Ideally, the main menu should give players a quick visual understanding of what your friends are up to, as well as showing people you may want to play with based on match history. Players should be able to draw from their social network to quickly make their own parties, meaning more cooperation, better planning, and hopefully a few more friends along the way.

Each “bubble” on the main menu is another online player, which are all colored differently based your relationship to them. As in real life, you’re the center of the universe and will display in the center of the screen, in red. It’s our hope that you recognize blue bubbles since they’re your friends on Steam. White bubbles are people you’ve played with before, while grey bubbles are strangers, and you’ll usually see them because they’re in a party with someone you know.

Making a party is simple: drag players onto your red bubble to invite them to join your group. Need to remove someone? Simply move them out of your ring to banish them to the shadow realm.

Why this system? Other games use linear UI language (i.e. lists) to display your social network, which is really what the collection of friends, players, friends-of-friends, and people you’ve blocked all constitute. This linearity is not representative of the reality of this amorphous blob of people, and party systems in other session-based games do very little to encourage you to expand your social network, make friends, and have better games with better cohesion. This game is about teamwork, so we had to innovate.

This is part of a broader social engineering project. Alex started playing multiplayer games with Halo 2, and by virtue of the fact that it was the seminal game of the original Xbox, he was exposed to a great deal of friends, some of whom he still plays with today. While Halo 2’s party matchmaking resembles what many session-based games have today (in fact, it wrote the book on session-based party systems), we haven’t seen the form really change or get challenged since 2004. We would like to take a crack at this and see if we can have your friends list be more than just a list.

A Defensive Shift

For the longest time Defenders have voted on equipment they would want to bring to each level. Items such as Power Weapons, Generic Weapons, and Utility Items were selected and would spawn on the level floor in wooden crates. This worked, but often times when players were spawned into the map, they would pick up their weapons and completely disregard the positioning they had planned out during the previous phase. We knew we needed a solution to help Defender’s get back on track. Enter the Defender Room.

Defender’s now have something comparable to the Attacker Van: A hideout they return to after every raid where weapons and ammo are stored. Much like the Attackers, Defenders now have to manage their equipment as it does not replenish between rounds. Use all of your barbwire on the first round? Well, now you don’t have any for the remaining two. Want to save up your Power Weapons until round three (or blow all of them on round one like you did the barbwire)? Sure, but the Attackers will be telegraphed your weapon choices via the dummies below and will likely plan around that information.

A new addition to the Defender’s map screen are “Player Pucks” that can be picked up and moved around. Each display player name, avatar, and equipped gear, allowing teammates to quickly see what gear is in use. The Enforcers will be informed of the Defenders primary weapon selection when the defenders enter the ‘Setup Phase’ and are able to roam around the level. They enforcers will then have 30 seconds to re-evaluate their plan.

For the Defenders, these pucks also act as individual spawn points, allowing players to pick where they’ll spawn into and coordinate with their teammates what position they’d like to play. This process is more ad-hoc, and allows players to find mutually supporting positions to best use teamwork to outplay an inherently stronger adversary. We hope that this will allow Defenders to make better plans, which means Attackers will have to think harder to beat them.

Due to a bug, our initial implementation of this feature accidentally wound up teleporting Attackers directly to the bomb…

Gif City

With Alpha up and running, we are encouraging our testers to send us gifs of their best plays! We hope to have several clips at the bottom of every blogpost, showing off both the skill of those helping us test during Alpha, as well as features we’ve been working on.

Excellent MAWP Play

Shotgun Antics

Teamwork made this flank possible.

It can all end in an instant.