We have been very quiet lately but don’t worry, we’re still working hard to bring the Stonepunk world of Antegods to life. The last few months have presented some tough challenges with the game.
Our lead designer Wytze took some time out to write about how to overcome some of them through playtesting. Read on below to see how adding weapons to Antegods adds their own unique issues to how the game plays.
For the longest time we’ve played Antegods using only two weapons: the railgun and grenade launcher. We worked on larger features, such as region control and procedural level generation in favor of the weapons. Recently we finally got around to creating a flexible weapon system, so we’ve started experimenting with creating new weapons (drill and shotgun) and reworking the old grenade launcher and railgun to solidify their playstyle.
Now that there’s a weapon of each mech archetype (demolition, sniper, assault and melee) we have also limited the use of these weapons to mechs with the same archetype. So the Rhino uses the drill, the Wolf uses the shotgun, the Turtle uses the grenade launcher and the Chameleon uses the railgun. By limiting the combinations I can balance the power of the weapon relative to the power of the mech, such as making melee mechs both durable and fast to make up for their short range in combat.
During and after each playtest I write down my analysis of what happened during that playtest, as well as analyzing a short survey filled in by the playtesters. You can see an example of such a survey here. I use a survey because that’s the most reliable way of getting information from every player, rather than having a group conversation where only the most vocal people are heard. The results of this specific playtest can be found here.
Below are the mech and weapon combinations ordered from strongest to weakest: Chameleon with railgun, Rhino with drill, Turtle with grenade launcher, and Wolf with shotgun.
The railgun was bugged and often fired two projectiles, thus dealing double damage. This may be the reason it’s considered to be so powerful during the playtest. Even so, the weapon allows players to hang back, fire the weapon and then retreat. Meanwhile it’s also difficult to hit the Chameleon because it’s so small. These two factors make the railgun too powerful.
To decrease the power for the Chameleon and railgun we’ll lower the speed of the Chameleon. This makes it harder for them to get out of difficult situations and thus allows more counterplay. We want to keep its damage high, as dealing high damage versus players is the railgun’s main purpose.
Previously the drill was quite weak, because we couldn’t balance the health and speed of a character relative to the weapon it uses. That meant you would either be too slow to catch up, or too fragile to reach your enemies alive. Now the combination of high Rhino health with the highest speed of mechs makes it very useful in mech-to-mech fights. It seemed pretty balanced, because you can still disable Rhinos safely from a distance. The drill does deal very high damage to structures, which is an interesting niche but might be too powerful.
The Rhino and drill will be untouched for now, as they seem balanced and the dynamics of this weapon are so new that it requires more testing.
The grenade launcher is great for its range and splash damage and at the same time the Turtle has a pretty high health pool. There were some comments about the weapon not feeling very good to use though, which I definitely want to look into. Most likely the issue is the projectile being too slow, or the trajectory of the projectile feeling clunky.
I’ll experiment with the grenade speed, size, damage and explosion size to make it feel better to use. Although it should on average deal the same amount of damage as currently, it mainly needs to be satisfying to launch and land grenades.
The shotgun was considered weakest, primarily because it has an all-in gameplay style that often doesn’t pay off. If you dash towards your enemies to disable them, you put yourself in range of many of their weapons and thus get destroyed. The Wolf’s future shield-regenerating ability should strengthen this gameplay style, but we can’t balance around that yet.
The Wolf and shotgun combo needs to be more powerful, so it’ll deal slightly more damage and have a shorter shield regen delay to mimic the effect of its shield-regenerating ability.
As for non-mech weapons, the Titan cannon had little impact and was disappointing to use. It dealt little damage, the projectiles were very slow and it didn’t feel good to use in any way.
The Titan cannon will be changed to the cannon we used for a long time: a long-range piercing projectile with very high damage. Once we have more different mechanics available in the weapon tool I will further experiment with this weapon.
Turrets previously fired a volley of medium-range projectiles at a slow rate. This felt very frustrating and chaotic to the players. Now they shoot a single long-range projectile at a fast rate the turrets are a lot more effective. Their constant rate of fire also feels fairer to play against. They do add a lot of chaos to the battlefield due to their quick firing rate.
The Turrets will remain mostly the same, except that they will fire fewer projectiles but with higher damage. Their overall damage output will remain the same.
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Antegods is supported by the Dutch Cultural Media Fund, Cultural Industries Fund NL and the MEDIA Programme of the European Union.