Blog #8--Patch 2.0

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Blog #8--Patch 2.0 Empty Blog #8--Patch 2.0

Post  rut on Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:56 am

I recently released a big content update for the game in the form of Patch 2.0. You can find all the patch notes on the Patch Notes forum, but for now I want to talk about some of the more notable changes.

First off, I added three additional units to the unit pool: the Infestor, MULE, and the Reaper. The Infestor was created solely for his Retrieve ability—when I came up with the idea, I was so excited for it I had to create the unit ASAP, and this was the result. The MULE was created due to a request from my brother-in-law. He asked me several times to make a MULE capable of absorbing incoming dodgeballs and throwing them back at the enemy. Though I obviously did not implement it word-for-word, he was satisfied with the result. I felt that with two, more “unique” units, I needed to add one more “combat” unit—something without too much gimmick, capable of fighting toe-to-toe with the other combat units. I personally enjoy playing high-risk high-reward units, so I wanted to create a unit with 0-4-4 stats, but I had gotten several complaints about the units with 0 base health, saying they were vastly underpowered in the opening round due to their guaranteed death by one hit. I put in the Reaper’s “Freebie Shield” as a temporary, experimental workaround to that issue and was amazed at how fluid and effective it felt. I’m actually really happy with how the unit turned out.

The second big change implemented in this patch is FFA mode (free-for-all, for those of you unfamiliar with the acronym). I had gotten several requests for this, but the prospect of creating a new game-mode was daunting and I was afraid to start on it for quite a while. That being said, it actually went smoother than expected. Besides having to create a new leaderboard, most of it went pretty quickly, and I tried to leave the door open for additional game modes in the future. The decision to turn the Fire Map from a team map without boundaries into a FFA map was an easy one—many people criticized the “no boundaries” game mode as being imbalanced and difficult to visualize, especially in regard to telling who was on who’s team (even I would find myself throwing dodgeballs at my allies from time to time). If there’s any demand to bring back the map’s availability to play with two teams, I can bring that back fairly easily.

The last big change I want to talk about is adding kill streak and multikill tracking. The inspiration for this came from playing Halo 4 (which you should all do right now!). I loved the thrill of getting on a kill streak or killing three enemies with a single rocket and having that guy with that cool voice tell you you’re amazing. I thought “hey, I should put that in my game!” so I did. That being said, I think it’s not entirely “polished” yet. It was (and still is) a challenge to tell you how amazing you are while simultaneously not cluttering up the screen. Right now there is a mineral bonus for scoring multi-kills (+1 for a double kill, +2 for a triple kill, etc.) but the only reward for kill streaks is a big text-tag that announces to everyone that you’re better than them. Perhaps in the future I can add some sort of fun benefit for getting on good kill streaks, like in Halo 4… (Ordinance drops, sniper rifles, rocket launchers, INCINERATION CANNONS… those could work in dodgeball, right?)

One more quick note, in Patch 2.03 (or is that 2.02—I can’t remember) I changed the way dodgeball pickup works. Originally each dodgeball had a behavior that searched for hero units around it. For this patch, I tried desperately to find the source of the lag that permeated the game when more than one round had been played. Though I still don’t know the exact reason, I realized that the dodgeballs constantly searching for targets put a huge strain on the system. I decided to give their searching behavior to the hero units instead and reshape the coding to allow for that, and sure enough the lag (for me at least) has been reduced significantly. Again, I don’t know if this was the issue all along, but at least I can say with certainty that the game will run much smoother when there are more than 8 dodgeballs on the field.

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