Author Topic: Valley 2 Official 1.001-1002 "Mouse Aiming For Those Who Stood And Fought" Relea  (Read 19539 times)

Offline timebomb

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Wow, I figured if you ever added in mouse-aiming, it would just lock the angle to the closest 45° available. Kinda like in Binding of Issac. I think that's what Madcow was getting at.

I did as well. In fact, I'd personally prefer if it did something along those lines. I feel a little gimped if I don't play with mouse now, because I am able to attack at angles that I wasn't able to before. That, in and of itself, added to the difficulty of the game, which was great.

Offline Vatticson

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Mmm impacting move.

I'm not using it though. I like to use a x360 controller on my PC :D

Offline Bluddy

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The only way this doesn't completely break the game is if you can only shoot in 45 degree angles (as others have suggested) and you can't shoot behind you -- you must turn first. In fact, with this kind of control scheme, the mouse would be completely equivalent to the gamepad/keyboard.

I understand this was a desperate move, but you guys need to realize that artistically, you're breaking your game here. I don't know if that's going to attract sales long-term.

Offline x4000

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Well, auto-aim breaks a lot of console games, but they still have it.  And the hardcore players avoid it like the plague, and it's off by default.

Yes this is game-breakingly easier to use.  But we do have cheat options as well that let you do all sorts of things like level up to level 16 from the start, or get tier 5 mage classes from the start, too.  Those break the game, but they're cheats.  This is a step down from a cheat and doesn't disable achievements, but for someone who wants achievements in a cheaty fashion there are easier ways (there are apparently programs that let you grant any steam achievement to yourself, we've discovered).

I have to be honest, at this point the game isn't exactly ripping up the sales charts.  Which is pretty obvious I guess if you look at the sales ranking on Steam.  Valley 1 was hovering in the #8 to #9 slot for several days after coming out, but Valley 2 has only reached #75 that I've seen.  The steam forums were filled with moaning about the mouse controls and practically nothing else.  In the end I'm not willing to burn the house down because I don't want some condescending/entitled folks to "cheat."  I've had at least two reviewers harassing me about that, too; one in a review, one prior to a review.

In the end, clearly it's a much more important thing to them than to me, so I'll let them play it their way.  If that's the only thing holding them back, then it's better than not playing at all.

But I will also say that I'm not inclined to spend a bunch of time making a control mode where it's more involved and only allows you to aim on the 45s in front of you.  That would be more faithful to the underlying design, but there's no guarantee that would please the people who want mouse controls; and there is a guarantee that it would take a goodly bit of time to get done right.  As it stands we have a goodly road before we even break even on the game, though I'm hoping that word will spread about how awesome it is.  I think a lot of people are just put off by the reputation of the first, but hints from the press thus far seem to indicate a positive reaction on that side, so hopefully that will translate over to the players.

In the meantime, aside from material defects and so forth, we have to put our attention to Shattered Haven and other future projects, or we're not going to make it.  Fun fact: AI War (and it's expansions) is the only project Arcen has ever made that has broken even.  I think that Valley 2 will break even by the end of the summer, but it won't make up for the loss on Valley 1 for a while, if at all, which was kind of the original goal.

It's a bit discouraging, because I feel like this is an incredibly good game that people just aren't giving a chance yet.  But my hope is that word of mouth will spread, and reviews will spread, and general opinion will change.  It was always a roll of the dice to do this project from the start, and it has by no means been a disaster in terms of results (unlike, say, Tidalis).  I really do think this will break even by the end of the summer, which is not bad.  But it's not picking up the torch from AI War or anything, you know what I mean?  We make the games we love, but every so often those actually have to make a profit, too. ;)

It's not a super grim situation or anything, nothing remotely like 2010 was for us.  The company isn't remotely in jeopardy, and actually we're not even at risk of shedding staff imminently.  But we do have to finish Shattered Haven and get that out (which we were already planning on doing imminently anyhow), and we do have to proceed with our other projects that we have on the schedule, too (again, which we were already planning).  Shattered Haven is another huge game, but it's been inwork for a really long time (2008).  After that one, we plan on doing much smaller (and cheaper for us and you) games that focus on a variety of new IPs and a variety of fun mechanics that we've cooked up.  Basically us playing to our strengths and going either for a powerful story experience, or high replay value in a focused mechanics-driven game, or similar.  We're going to be taking a break from the "biggest ever in its genre" type of games for a while, because we frankly can't afford to make any more of them until something other than AI War picks up the slack more.

Anyhow, my view is that Valley 2 is done, and I'm really proud of the state it's in.  There are a few bugs here and there that we'll of course iron out, but there's nothing serious and nothing fundamentally wrong with the game.  We're not going to have a post-release-marathon like Valley 1 did unless the situation changes drastically with regard to sales.  As it stands that would just push out our ability to even break even on the title pretty indefinitely.  To some who don't know me, that might sound like a callous way of looking at things, but I look at it differently: everybody on the Arcen staff is working essentially their dream job, and they all have families and in almost all cases kids.  As the head of the company, it's my job to look out for all those families as well as my own, while also making the artistic experiences that I want to make.  One side of things can never completely dominate the other or you become a pauper or Zynga, but there has to be a harmony between the two sides.  As it stands we've made an awesome artistic experience, but it's not yet doing enough to support the families of the people who made it.  So we have to shift our focus to new games, which is kind of a nice change of pace anyhow -- it's been a really long time of focusing just on Valley 1 and 2.

Hopefully this explains my position and reasoning a bit better.  It's perhaps a bit foolish of me from a PR sense not to be lying and saying "things are great!  A million people are buying this every day!"  But that's not who I am.  As it stands things are neither great nor completely horrible, but they are disappointing for everyone on the staff; substantially below our reasonable expectations, but substantially above the worst case, and vastly below our hopes.  All in all I still look at Valley 2 as a success, because we did create something that I'm extremely proud of, and I am feeling confident that it will eventually break even, which is a big milestone.  But it's not a standard-bearer for the company unless something changes.

Cheers folks.  ::)
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Offline DBrickShaw

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I'm long time fan of Arcen games, and I've put at least a hundred hours in AVWW1/2. Somehow in all that time I've avoided posting on the forums, but I finally got around to it so I could give you some feedback on this change. It's very encouraging to see your continued dedication to involving the community in the direction of your games, and I think it's only fair that I give you some detailed feedback in return.

I must admit, my first experiences with AVVW2 were rather jarring. The strategic game is light-years ahead of AVWW1, and I have absolutely no complaints in that area. Good job :) On the other hand, the adventure mode did feel like a fairly significant step backward. At first I actually put down the game for a week or two because I felt that the controls were unnecessarily limiting. I do admit that this perception likely wouldn't have been nearly as bad if I hadn't played a lot of AVWW1, and my difficulties were largely due to my own unwillingness to adapt. I did come to the forums to learn about the rationale behind the changes, and eventually I came to trust your decisions and relearned how to play with the new keyboard / gamepad controls.

I do see what you're getting at with the updated control scheme. Limiting the player in such a fashion does add some depth to the game, in that it helps differentiate the different types of abilities and ties the mechanics of combat to the available terrain much more closely. I do appreciate that this added depth is desirable, but I also think that adding depth through inconvenience is detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the game in the long run. Limiting the player's controls introduces a number of very annoying elements that I feel haven't been adequately addressed. There's nothing fun about blowing yourself up with a rocket because you were trying to fire diagonally through a vertical gap without falling through it yourself. There's nothing fun about getting mauled by a ground hugging opponent because your low shots can't hit them and the terrain limits your ability to jump. There's nothing fun about getting hit with straight line projectiles along angles on which you can't return fire because the terrain does not allow for it (flying enemies hovering off the edges of cliffs are a good example of this). There's nothing fun about backtracking through previously cleared rooms just to build concentration calibur bonus which is so desperately needed to punch through enemy projectiles in some situations.

I think I did end up successfully adapting, but the resulting gameplay experience is very different from AVWW1. AVWW2 without mouse controls is a much slower, more methodical game. Surviving at the higher levels of combat difficulty involves a lot of waiting in cover for enemies to hit the perfect spot in their patrol, and concentration bonus becomes absolutely critical because it's often not feasible to aim around enemy projectiles. I found myself often resetting a room repeatedly to avoid enemy combinations that were near impossible with my class / terrain combination, and I often found myself frustrated that my opponents did not share the same limitations I did. I feel that tying combat to the terrain so closely requires much more thoughtful placement of enemies which really isn't possible with the procedural methods that AVWW2 uses, and this was overall detrimental to my gameplay experience. Another issue is the heavy reliance on concentration bonus, combined with enemies who are practically impossible to completely dodge for any amount of time (laser spiders, unleashed fire elemental sprites, and enemies which cannot be stunned come to mind here). A likely unintended side effect of all these effects is that I often had to rely on the damage invulnerability mechanics to make it through challenging areas (i.e. find an enemy that hits for low damage, get hit, then use the brief invulnerability to spam down the enemies that are actually a threat to me). It's arguable that these mechanics give the game a higher skill ceiling, but even if that's true I just don't find the experience as enjoyable.

I understand that this type of slow, methodical gameplay is appealing to some players, and is likely even the experience you were trying to promote. Personally I'm more of a fan of twitch arcade shooters, I've always found it more enjoyable to crank the difficulty and use wild acrobatics to avoid damage while laying waste to everything around me. When I fired up AVWW2 yesterday and saw the mouse aiming option, I thought I was hallucinating for a moment. I'm now about 80% through a game on Hero combat difficulty, and this option has single handedly solved ~90% of my issues with the game. I know this may not match your vision for the game, but I think you caving in and allowing this option will be beneficial in the long run. It promotes a faster, more twitch based experience that you might not be aiming for, but giving players the options to play the game as they'd like is only widening your user base.

With all that said I do appreciate what you're trying to do with the original control scheme, but I also think the game could still use a number of tweaks if it's really going to be balanced around these mechanics. Here's some things that I think might be beneficial to supporting the original control scheme (along with some things that might just be general improvements):

  • Enemy abilities should be limited to cardinal directions: If my straight shot abilities are limited to cardinal directions, than so should enemy abilities. With the terrain so closely tied to combat, it's easy to end up in a situation where you're taking fire from an enemy that you can't shoot back at without throwing yourself into greater harm just to get a shot lined up. I realize this would result in more complex design and implementation of enemy behaviour, but I think this would go a long way toward addressing people's concerns with the cardinal direction aiming.
  • A separate button should be provided to lock the character in place / aim: I notice the lack of this feature particularly with rocket type spells. For most spells it's perfectly reasonable to just start firing and then adjust your aim, but with rocket abilities a misfired shot straight forward can be highly self-destructive. This is particularly a problem when trying to line up a diagnoal shot down a vertical shaft, as it's tricky to time your shot right at the edge of the cliff without falling off.
  • Melee / whip type attacks should also hit a small crescent directly ahead of the player: There are many enemies in the game (scout drones, bubbling masses, floor hugging enemies etc.) that can approach you very quickly from non-cardinal directions. As I'd mentioned above, there's nothing fun about getting mauled by a small enemy because the terrain does not allow you to hit it without taking damage from environmental hazards anyway. I think a lot of this frustration could be remedied if whip attacks also hit the area in front of the player in a very small crescent to simulate the wider melee weapon slashes that are common in other games without mouse aiming.
  • Concentration bonuses should be adjusted to grow and deplete more slowly: Due to the limitations of the aiming system, it's often not feasible to direct shots around enemy projectiles. With mouse aiming it's easy enough to shoot at the enemy's legs/head equivalent, but this isn't an option with cardinal direction aiming. Because of this it's often necessary to overpower enemy projectiles with spam, and concentration calibur bonus plays a large part in this. All it takes is one room with an undodgable terrain/enemy combo to lose this entire bonus, and because of this I often found myself resetting rooms to get a favourable enemy spawn, or backtracking through cleared areas to regain my concentration bonus. I think this wouldn't be so bad if there were more concentration levels, and you gained and lost levels more slowly. As a general improvement, the concentration bonus tracker should always appear on the screen. If nothing else, this will help new players realize that this mechanic exists.
  • In-level mage class changes: Many of the frustrations I had with cardinal direction aiming came about because I was stuck with a class the simply didn't have the ability type I needed to deal with the presented enemy / terrain combo. This is particularly troublesome in areas like level up towers where the enemies are randomly selected and there's no way to know what types of situations I should be preparing for. I can see two potential ways to remedy this issue. You could allow arbitrary mage class changes in a level at the cost of some of the player's health for every change. Another option would be to provide primary and secondary class "slots" on your character, and allow the character to change between these two classes at will (or maybe after a certain interval of taking no damage) inside a level.
  • Magnetic / repulsor fields: Honestly, I have no idea what to do about these. This is another situation where getting a repulsor drone or similar enemy in the wrong place can completely screw you over due to aiming limitations, and resetting the room can become your best option for survival. With mouse aiming I've found these to be far less troublesome. If my attacks are going to be redirected in an analog fashion I should be able to aim them in an analog fashion.
  • Enemies with the explode on death effect might need adjustments: With these types of enemies I've often found myself waiting for the enemy to complete several full rotations of their patrol so that their attack timing lines up such that I can fire a shot that kills them without catching myself in the blast. I'm thinking particularly of fire scorpions here, as their inter-shot interval in which they don't explode on death is very small. With things like eels it's not really a problem as they have a relatively long interval between attacks. Even if the damage on their death explosions are small, the loss of concentration has a high impact. Again, this is less of an issue with mouse aiming as I can often get longer effective range out of my spells.

All in all, I'm still quite happy with the direction AVWW2 has taken. It's a bit more limiting, but it's obviously more of a "game" and less of a sandbox than the original title was. Even without mouse aiming I would have gotten many more hours of enjoyment out of AVWW2, but this is just the cherry on the cake. I wish Arcen all the best with your future endeavors, and I look forward to playing your next piece of work :)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 11:39:34 AM by DBrickShaw »

Offline TechSY730

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Congrats guys. I hope to download this and try it out later today.

Offline TechSY730

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I do see what you're getting at with the updated control scheme. Limiting the player in such a fashion does add some depth to the game, in that it helps differentiate the different types of abilities and ties the mechanics of combat to the available terrain much more closely. I do appreciate that this added depth is desirable, but I also think that adding depth through inconvenience is detrimental to the overall enjoyment of the game in the long run. Limiting the player's controls introduces a number of very annoying elements that I feel haven't been adequately addressed.
(emphasis added)

I think this was the biggest issue people had about the limiting of control schemes, and why some people felt like you took the "lazy" way out (even though I know you guys didn't). Compounding this, and sadly could be used as evidence for the erroneous "they did it because they were lazy" viewpoint, it does seem like there are a few remaining balance things that may have made sense in the previous game but not with 8-way controls that have managed to "leak into" this version. (see below)

Probably not enough to break the game, but enough to sort of annoy you at times. (The bad kind of annoy, where you get frustrated not that the game is hard, but you feel it is asking you to do something unreasonable)

Quote
Enemy abilities should be limited to cardinal directions: If my straight shot abilities are limited to cardinal directions, than so should enemy abilities. With the terrain so closely tied to combat, it's easy to end up in a situation where you're taking fire from an enemy that you can't shoot back at without throwing yourself into greater harm just to get a shot lined up. I realize this would result in more complex design and implementation of enemy behaviour, but I think this would go a long way toward addressing people's concerns with the cardinal direction aiming.

For non boss enemies, yea, I would agree with this. Sadly, this would require a decently large amount of balance work.

EDIT: Now that I think about it, I was thinking about how another prominent game with 8-way aiming (the Metroid series).
In Metroid, you either had enemies with fixed firing patters with no aim (like straight forward, or an 8-way blast shot), and some enemies with free aiming.
However, most of the time you do not face enemies that do shoot. Most of the enemies are melee only (either just crawl around, or enemies that chase but still don't shoot). You only really start hitting the free aiming enemies mid to late game.
So for how Metroid dealt with it...I guess they weren't afraid of enemies aiming freely, but saved that for later in the game. In other words, they dealt with the problem of shooting enemies by avoiding use of them.

Wasn't Contra an 8-way shooter, and they gladly put tons of free-aiming enemies even on the first level? (Then again, Contra is known as a difficult series, sometimes to the point of frustration)?

I can't speak to how other 8-way shooters dealt with it though; sadly I have not played many of them.

So basically, I can see good justifications for either way of handling normal "tier" enemies that shoot.

Quote
A separate button should be provided to lock the character in place / aim: I notice the lack of this feature particularly with rocket type spells. For most spells it's perfectly reasonable to just start firing and then adjust your aim, but with rocket abilities a misfired shot straight forward can be highly self-destructive. This is particularly a problem when trying to line up a diagnoal shot down a vertical shaft, as it's tricky to time your shot right at the edge of the cliff without falling off.

I thought there was discussion about this? You mean it wasn't added? Or was it added, and just left unbound by default?

Quote
Melee / whip type attacks should also hit a small crescent directly ahead of the player: There are many enemies in the game (scout drones, bubbling masses, floor hugging enemies etc.) that can approach you very quickly from non-cardinal directions. As I'd mentioned above, there's nothing fun about getting mauled by a small enemy because the terrain does not allow you to hit it without taking damage from environmental hazards anyway. I think a lot of this frustration could be remedied if whip attacks also hit the area in front of the player in a very small crescent to simulate the wider melee weapon slashes that are common in other games without mouse aiming.

Most melee attacks in general having a small "cone" in front of them would be nice, but I think there was discussion about adding an "arcing" melee attack with a mid to large arc (as opposed to a small one like being proposed here) be a possible place for future spell content.


Quote
Enemies with the explode on death effect might need adjustments: With these types of enemies I've often found myself waiting for the enemy to complete several full rotations of their patrol so that their attack timing lines up such that I can fire a shot that kills them without catching myself in the blast. I'm thinking particularly of fire scorpions here, as their inter-shot interval in which they don't explode on death is very small. With things like eels it's not really a problem as they have a relatively long interval between attacks. Even if the damage on their death explosions are small, the loss of concentration has a high impact. Again, this is less of an issue with mouse aiming as I can often get longer effective range out of my spells.

Interestingly, "damage on death" enemies and objects were a common balance complaint of the previous game as well. I guess in general, damage on death enemies are fundamentally annoying and thus hard to balance.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 12:03:51 PM by TechSY730 »

Offline tigersfan

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DBrickShaw, Thank you for taking the time to give us such detailed feedback.

Unfortunately, I think that what you're looking for is a bit of a different game than the type of game we were going for. We were definitely going for the more tactical, slower, methodical type game over the twitch-fest. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a twitch-fest, but, that's not the type of game we were after. Which is precisely why we were so reluctant to add in mouse aiming.

On to more specific responses:

The first thing I'll mention is that the reason that the enemies can shoot in more than the cardinal directions is that, for the most part, they don't have the movement ability you do. And, generally, when they do, they go down fast, usually after only one or two hits. If we made it so that they could only shoot in the cardinal directions, they'd be way too easy.

You can change your mage class quite easily and freely outside of the actual level. While this isn't exactly what you are going for, it does offer some strategic decision making opportunities.

Also, you can often take out things like repulsers by getting in close.

That said, while I'm not saying that we'll never do any of this (never say never and all that), if I'm being completely honest the likelyhood at this point is pretty slim. As Chris said above you, we largely consider AVWW2 to be complete at this point, and unless something drastic happens with sales, that's the way it will stay. Of course bugfixes (and probably small tweaks) are coming, we're not cutting off support. But, we really need to move on to Shattered Haven, and then on to other projects (both of which Chris and I have discussed at length today.) Both as a company, and, personally as well. :) (I've been here nearly a year and a half, and AVWW1/2 is pretty much all I've worked on the entire time, I'm itching to get at something else!)

Offline Professor Paul1290

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Quote
A separate button should be provided to lock the character in place / aim: I notice the lack of this feature particularly with rocket type spells. For most spells it's perfectly reasonable to just start firing and then adjust your aim, but with rocket abilities a misfired shot straight forward can be highly self-destructive. This is particularly a problem when trying to line up a diagnoal shot down a vertical shaft, as it's tricky to time your shot right at the edge of the cliff without falling off.

I thought there was discussion about this? You mean it wasn't added? Or was it added, and just left unbound by default?


Holding Ctrl locks you in place when aiming diagonally even when you are not shooting.

Offline goodgimp

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Let me give some quick feedback regarding controls for the game.

I'm a diehard PC gamer, I don't play on consoles and in general can't stand to use gamepads (although I do own one). For someone like me coming to AVWW2, it was very jarring not being able to use the mouse; it just feels natural to have one hand resting on the keyboard and the other on the mouse when sitting down to play a PC game. I did adapt by setting WASD to move and triggering abilities via mouse buttons, but then my brain had to adapt a bit to the fact that my mouse wasn't actually controlling aiming. After 15 minutes, I had settled in just fine, but it was definitely a bit jarring to what I'm used to in games. I've had a few friends bring up the same thing mentioning that they "just wish I could use the mouse". But it's not free aiming they're looking for, just having the ability to play the game with it's current mechanics but being able to angle via the mouse.

This position has just been reinforced multiple times (anecdotal, of course) from the 4-5 people I've spoken to about the control change. Free mouse aim wasn't what they want, they just want to be able to fire angled/upwards shots via mouse movement. Considering this approach doesn't "break the game" like free-form aiming does, I would think this is the better way to go?

I know it's always easy to armchair quarterback, but I really think adding free-form mouse aiming is just going to kick the can down the road a little bit. You'll mollify the reviewers and users who wanted to be able to use their mouse, but I think the complaint is that the game is going to be "too easy" and the spells are "too samey" or whatever.

Look, this is your baby and you know better than I do, but now that I've had a chance to chew on this change a bit I'm really starting to think it was too drastic. I understand your situation with early impression and sales, but the current option is going to be popular because it's how people are used to controlling the game and despite the warning I don't think they'll understand that it's at the cost of completely torpedoing the game design.

If it's at all technically feasible, having angled shots handled similar to a radial menu would really be a better approach in my opinion. As I said above this is all just my opinion and you all most likely know better, but I just couldn't let this go without posting my thoughts because I think it's a mistake.

Offline KingIsaacLinksr

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Btw, I've noticed that Steam is not really advertising this game. I never got a pop-up about the game being available and it's not featured in the banner area on the front page. Same goes for the last expansion of AI War. Just letting you know.
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Offline tigersfan

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Let me give some quick feedback regarding controls for the game.

I'm a diehard PC gamer, I don't play on consoles and in general can't stand to use gamepads (although I do own one). For someone like me coming to AVWW2, it was very jarring not being able to use the mouse; it just feels natural to have one hand resting on the keyboard and the other on the mouse when sitting down to play a PC game. I did adapt by setting WASD to move and triggering abilities via mouse buttons, but then my brain had to adapt a bit to the fact that my mouse wasn't actually controlling aiming. After 15 minutes, I had settled in just fine, but it was definitely a bit jarring to what I'm used to in games. I've had a few friends bring up the same thing mentioning that they "just wish I could use the mouse". But it's not free aiming they're looking for, just having the ability to play the game with it's current mechanics but being able to angle via the mouse.

This position has just been reinforced multiple times (anecdotal, of course) from the 4-5 people I've spoken to about the control change. Free mouse aim wasn't what they want, they just want to be able to fire angled/upwards shots via mouse movement. Considering this approach doesn't "break the game" like free-form aiming does, I would think this is the better way to go?

I know it's always easy to armchair quarterback, but I really think adding free-form mouse aiming is just going to kick the can down the road a little bit. You'll mollify the reviewers and users who wanted to be able to use their mouse, but I think the complaint is that the game is going to be "too easy" and the spells are "too samey" or whatever.

Look, this is your baby and you know better than I do, but now that I've had a chance to chew on this change a bit I'm really starting to think it was too drastic. I understand your situation with early impression and sales, but the current option is going to be popular because it's how people are used to controlling the game and despite the warning I don't think they'll understand that it's at the cost of completely torpedoing the game design.

If it's at all technically feasible, having angled shots handled similar to a radial menu would really be a better approach in my opinion. As I said above this is all just my opinion and you all most likely know better, but I just couldn't let this go without posting my thoughts because I think it's a mistake.

Thanks for the feedback. Like Chris said, it's technically feasible, and doing that would certainly fit into the spirit of the type of game we're going for better. But, we just don't have time to do that at this point. Adding in the controls like we did took Chris about 15 minutes. Most of the code for that was still in the game, just commented out. But adding it in so that it only fires in 45 degree increments would take several hours of both his time and mine (testing and such). And, right now, we need to be spending that time on Shattered Haven.

Offline Mick

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I've always been much more interested in the strategy layer of the game. I don't dislike platformers by any means, but I don't consider words like "slow" and "methodical" things that should ever apply to a good one. In that respect, I've never been very crazy about AVWW2's platforming half. In fact, it took a larger amount of enhancements to the strategic half before I really liked the game much at all.

If turning on mouse aiming will make the platforming part a smoother experience, I will probably be turning it on, despite the fact that it will reduce the challenge.

So thank you for the option.

Offline DBrickShaw

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Unfortunately, I think that what you're looking for is a bit of a different game than the type of game we were going for. We were definitely going for the more tactical, slower, methodical type game over the twitch-fest. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against a twitch-fest, but, that's not the type of game we were after. Which is precisely why we were so reluctant to add in mouse aiming.

I do appreciate that, but I think it would be a bit of a waste to not support both options when your engine so beautifully handles more twitch based gameplay.

Older games which use this kind of control scheme were generally more tolerable because the engine was more "digital" in nature. Levels were often tile based, geometry made use of relatively few discrete height levels, and enemies were generally bound by the same cardinal direction limitations that the player was. It was generally rare to end up in situations where your shots are a few pixels off target and there's nothing you can do about it but wait for the enemy to move. I think your engine is an advancement is almost every way over more traditional engines, and you made great use of it in AVWW1. It makes sense to revert to a more traditional system if you want to encourage more methodical gameplay, but I think several elements kind of "leaked" into the game from the engine design and AVWW1 that weren't fully examined in the new control context.

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On to more specific responses:

The first thing I'll mention is that the reason that the enemies can shoot in more than the cardinal directions is that, for the most part, they don't have the movement ability you do. And, generally, when they do, they go down fast, usually after only one or two hits. If we made it so that they could only shoot in the cardinal directions, they'd be way too easy.

Makes sense, but I still can't shake the feeling that I'm really fighting my movement / aiming mechanics more than I'm fighting the actual enemy. I'd far prefer to see faster enemies that are forced to play the same positioning games that I am rather than slower enemies with far superiour aim to my own (the flying octopuses, or the orbs that fire purple flak shells are perfect examples of what I'm talking about here).

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You can change your mage class quite easily and freely outside of the actual level. While this isn't exactly what you are going for, it does offer some strategic decision making opportunities.

Certainly, and for areas where I can reasonably predict the types of enemies I'll be facing I think this is perfectly sufficient.

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Also, you can often take out things like repulsers by getting in close.

True, but this is a very risky approach especially since the repulsor mostly eliminates the ability to lay cover for myself with high caliber spells. For example, if I come up to a repulsor drone stuck somewhere close to a boss enemy, it's usually safer and faster to just reset the room and hope it doesn't end up somewhere so crippling next time (or exploit damage invulnerability to spam it down and hope it drops health).

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That said, while I'm not saying that we'll never do any of this (never say never and all that), if I'm being completely honest the likelyhood at this point is pretty slim. As Chris said above you, we largely consider AVWW2 to be complete at this point, and unless something drastic happens with sales, that's the way it will stay. Of course bugfixes (and probably small tweaks) are coming, we're not cutting off support. But, we really need to move on to Shattered Haven, and then on to other projects (both of which Chris and I have discussed at length today.) Both as a company, and, personally as well. :) (I've been here nearly a year and a half, and AVWW1/2 is pretty much all I've worked on the entire time, I'm itching to get at something else!)

I do understand, and as a big fan of both Arcen and Roguelikes I very much look forward to seeing your work on Shattered Haven :) I'm certainly not expecting any really significant changes to AVWW2 at this point, and despite my minor complaints I'm quite happy with it in its current state. Overall, it's definitely an improvement over the original. I think allowing mouse aiming as a relatively unsupported accessibility option is a good compromise, and the suggestions I'm making are mostly just to point out areas of improvement for the small tweaks and fixes that will come eventually (or things to keep in mind for your next foray into the genre). I also understand that most players won't be pushing the game to the highest difficulty levels, so my suggestions are relatively specific in that regard. I'm a programmer myself, so I understand that changes that appear simple and straightforward to the end user can actually entail a whole lot of work under the covers. I've already gotten more than my $15 worth out of both titles, so don't consider these suggestions as a list of demands.

Another minor thing I forgot to mention: I think that due to the high reliance on concentration bonus at higher difficulties a few enemies which are very hard to consistently dodge might benefit from some minor tweaks. In particular:
  • Fire elemental projectiles become very long range and unpredictable when the fire elemental is killed. I think the projectile lifetime should be significantly reduced when the fire elemental is killed, or the projectiles should stop changing directions, or they should become leashed to the area around the fire elemental at death. As it stands, killing a fire elemental with other enemies active in the room can often result in near unavoidable damage.
  • Dark imp's fire whip range might benefit from being shortened a bit. Right now the loss of momentum caused by turning around to cast means that unless you happen to have a very high range spell it's near impossible to avoid getting hit by these while still dealing damage.
  • Successfully defeating laser spiders usually requires a mad dash for the surveillance camera, as there is no limit (to my knowledge) on the number of spiders they will spawn. This is usually suicide for your concentration bonus, especially if there are other monsters in the room. I think these could be approached more tactically if there was a limit on the total number of spiders that a single camera can spawn (forgive me if this already exists).
  • I think it would be interesting if enemies which are currently immune to stun could still be stunned based on the caliber of the spell hitting them. This would add some additional utility to high caliber spells, and allow for a feasible option for avoiding damage from these enemies regardless of available terrain.

[edit]:
Holding Ctrl locks you in place when aiming diagonally even when you are not shooting.

Awesome, I had no idea that existed. Please excuse my ignorance :)
« Last Edit: February 20, 2013, 01:29:21 PM by DBrickShaw »

Offline Pepisolo

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For me AVWW2 plays much better using a joypad than AVWW1 did while using a mouse. I never got into the AVWW1 combat at all really, although the sandboxy stuff was interesting. Using the mouse for AVWW2 just seems completely wrong to me now (it's just way too easy like God mode or something, very unengaging), although I'm fine with it being included for accessibility and commercial reasons.

In the time you had, I think you did a pretty amazing job with this. Good luck with Shattered Haven!

 

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