My schedule the last couple weeks has been a bit unwieldy, but it should be pretty normal for the next month or so. Anyway, here’s the next Advancing Telos post!
Since launching a little over a month ago, I’ve put out 4 updates.
This cycle was mostly focused on features meant to help get people playing together more easily.
The biggest feature in this area is the Preferred Playtimes setting — if I know what times work best for everyone, I can do a better job scheduling regular play times. It’s easy for you to use — simply select which time slots generally work for you for your typical week. It’s automatically converted to your local timezone and even adjusts for daylight savings. If your work/school schedule changes, be sure to update your preferred playtimes so it’s always up to date. I also realize most people that own the game aren’t on our Discord server which we use to organize games, so I’ve tried to direct them to it from the game. Thanks to @Grandy, we also have a sweet Discord Bot called Grabble. You should download the Discord apps for desktop and mobile so you get notifications from Grabble when games are starting. Also, players that finish the tutorial are more likely to keep playing, so I’ve tried to do a better job directing new players to them — this is important even for people with a lot of experience with FPS games because AoT does play differently and you won’t have as good of a time if you try to play it like some other game.
Now that these features are there, next step is to try and utilize them. I think the first step will be to try and consistently get people playing as a group every Saturday, then try to expand that to daily play times. During the week is a bit harder because of time zones, but we’ll come up with something. As always, if you have ideas for this, I’d love to hear them.
The game has a new deployable! The Light of Apollo’s self heal was nerfed during pre-release playtesting to help encourage teamwork and make other equipment more viable — that worked, but made self heal pretty worthless so for a while I’ve wanted to replace it. Now you can deploy this heal gem wherever you want and your team can use it to refresh their health. It works a lot like the static heal gems that are already on inactive flag stands, but the deployable version has a limited health pool, so after it’s healed enough health, it will be destroyed. However, you can heal the deployable heal gem to basically refuel it and keep it up longer. Be careful where you place it — enemies can also use it, and it’ll consume the health pool even if they’re at full hp — that’s how enemies destroy it. I’m excited to see how this affects the meta — by making heals a bit more accessible, it should free up some equipment slots for people not playing support. I could imagine defense would benefit greatly from having one nearby. You could also try hiding one closer to the enemy base as a way to refresh after a firefight and keep up the pressure.
And thanks to all the new players, a lot of new bugs were uncovered and fixed and there’s been a lot of small changes to address different ways people like to play their PC games. I’d also like to remind everyone that there’s a Feature Request section where you can submit and vote on stuff you want to see added to the game.
Current State of Balance
The Multicannon has three modes and each are intended to be effective at a different distance. As a whole, it’s meant to be a jack of all trades, master of none — the problem was that one of the modes was a master of everything. This is partly due to people simply getting better at the game. The Multicannon semi auto mode was fine when people were missing a lot of their shots, but people were beginning to get a lot more consistent — so much so that the semi auto mode was extremely effective even up close. The changes I’ve made are meant to make the different modes better fit their intended roles and lower the TTK a bit in general. The semi auto mode has a decreased rate of fire and has inverse falloff so that it does less damage up close — now you’ll want to only use it at longer distances and really make each shot count. Full auto overheats at a slower rate, allowing you to get off more shots at mid ranges before overheating. Overheat mode now has damage falloff, so you’re incentivized to get up close and aren’t rewarded for randomly hitting farther away people with the wide spread. I do plan to add thickness to some of the Multicannon projectiles, which may create a need to adjust these values again.
The Rocket Launcher in Arms of Telos is meant to be a more accessible option for the current meta — the splash damage offers a way for people to do consistent damage even if they don’t have the best aim. The idea is that someone with better aim will generally have higher DPS with a different weapon. The Rocket Launcher was underperforming so I’ve buffed the primary fire’s damage at close ranges and increased the projectile speed to make it a bit easier to hit at distance. I originally kept the direct hit damage much higher than the splash damage — landing those direct hits feels great and it’s natural to want to reward that, but it does go against the purpose of the weapon. It’s meant to be low risk low reward for people with average aim, but having strong direct hits gives players with better aim a low risk high reward option so I’ve lowered the direct hit bonus to make things more consistent. As more weapons get added, the Rocket Launcher’s role in the meta may shift.
I was originally going to save balance changes for the monthly major update, but instead I think I’ll push out balance changes more often. With most games, the developers can test balance ideas internally without anybody on the outside being aware. They can safely try crazy ideas, even ones that might seem stupid. As a solo dev, I’m forced to balance the game out in the open, but sometimes I’ll still want to experiment with things that are more risky — being able to iterate on that faster will help out I think. In the future, when there’s enough players to support it, I’ll probably create an experimental build so I can leave the main build alone while these experiments take place. Until then, you’re all my guinea pigs — but I do hope you’ll find it interesting to see a game like this and play an active role in giving feedback. It’s not often that you get to see game development behind the scenes like this.
As I mentioned above, I’ll be utilizing some of these new features to try and get more people playing. You can read more about that. I’m also opening the game up for sale again — if you don’t already own it, pick up a copy! As for the game itself, I want to start refining the visual design to get ready for Greenlight. Right now a lot of the map is pretty blank. A lot of people ask if I’m changing the style. To be clear, the visual style isn’t changing — it’s just being improved and refined. More detail and effects will be added to better communicate the scale and physicality of the mech, make the weapons/equipment more exciting, and just generally raise the perceived quality of the game.
You can already see a little of this in the asteroid base near the third flag stand (image on right). There’s bushes, park benches, some trees and other details added to this elevated park. I made this stuff years ago to basically test out the art style and I haven’t had a chance to go through the rest of the map to bring it up to that level — but I’d like to take that area farther as well. This effort will probably continue for several update cycles.
There’s also a couple of weapons I’ve been wanting to add for a while now, but I can’t make any promises for when I’ll have time to work on them.