Author Topic: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.  (Read 3245 times)

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 30,700
Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« on: January 29, 2014, 02:57:00 PM »
Hey folks!

So we have our first six alpha testers in, quite a very small batch at this point, but they're already racking up the mantis issues and getting us some really helpful things on combat.  I've also been having a lot of thoughts of my own, and so there are some major additions to combat coming -- both ones we had already been planning on and had not had time to get to, and some ones that are newly-minted as ideas. 

The combat seems to be enjoyable already for folks (I certainly love it), but to really take it to the next level so it has staying power over hours and hours, there are a couple more ingredients needed.  Aside from just general balance work.  There is a revised combat interface that also we're going to be working on implementing in the next couple of days, to provide more information in a more orderly fashion that is also more condensed.  That sounds like a paradox, but I think you'll like it.

---

Combat is, in a lot of ways, the meat of the game.  Sort of.  I mean, it's where you spend most of your time... sort of.  It depends on how much time you take thinking about things and making deals at the meta layer, I guess.  In terms of code and simulation complexity, the meta layer is vaaaastly more complex than the combat part of the game, and it's where the real spirit and soul of the game come from.  This isn't just a combat simulator.  But in terms of how you enact your will in the solar system, there is a lot of shooting stuff that comes into play, and so the combat really needs to hold up its end in all ways.

This isn't an RPG at all, but I think a good analogy is actually Final Fantasy in terms of the ratio of "combat" to "rest of the game."  The rest of the game is what makes Final Fantasy so special (the good ones, anyhow), and you spend quite a bit of time in non-combat areas.  That said, there is combat all the time and repeatedly, and if the combat were incredibly dull or got too repetitive (which in some FFs it definitely does), then that makes it a chore to get through to get to the next part of the outer game.  Our goal is to make sure that both things are as solid as possible.

---

So!  Right now what that means is that we are putting more effort into building out the combat a bit more and refining it more in the next few days than I had expected.  I had kind of figured that we would do the overall AI for the fleets (which is coming tomorrow) and do some hotkeys and some balance tuning, and leave it at that for combat in the short term, then focus on the meta portion of the game.  Instead we're delving a lot deeper with the combat for a half week or a week here, and are really going to get that tuned up. 

Meanwhile I will still also be testing on the meta layer myself, and continuing to work on GUI stuff there with Blue, so that that is fully ready to go when we hit the point we want to be at with combat.

What that means, schedule-wise for the alpha, is that probably we are looking at early next week before we add more players to the alpha, unless our first six are getting weary of testing before then (guys, just let us know if you need relief).  We only need so much help in testing the first rounds of combat-only stuff.  Though as we add more features to the combat, we might add another tiny batch (6ish again) on Friday, I'm not sure.  That's still a decision-yet-to-come.  Right now we have over 70 some-odd people who signed up for the alpha, with more people still coming in.

Anyway, either way the metagame portion of the game will start opening up either early or mid next week, depending on how long we wind up iterating on the combat portion in the very short term.  Once the pressing combat work is mostly done, we'll be better able to focus on the metagame with you, and then kind of divide our attention between the two portions of the game for the rest of the alpha period. 

Right now we have about three weeks until release, so it's an aggressive testing/finalization timetable.  But I feel good about how this is evolving quickly and in a linear direction, versus jumping all around.  In other words, it's getting further and further refined, not redefined.


So that's where we are right now!
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2014, 07:53:06 PM »
Basically, you are saying we spend a lot of time in combat and want some more depth in that portion of the game :).   

Call me the oddball but there isn't a FF that I've played that I haven't enjoyed the combat.  It does get repetitive but that can be argued for all games with a combat portion.  The biggest parts to me are, is it engaging, fun and have enough variation to last an entire session.  Slogging through any part of a game to get to the fun bits, to me, isn't engaging or fun (especially if it is a major portion of the game).
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 30,700
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2014, 08:00:15 PM »
Basically, you are saying we spend a lot of time in combat and want some more depth in that portion of the game :).

Yep, pretty much. :)

Call me the oddball but there isn't a FF that I've played that I haven't enjoyed the combat.  It does get repetitive but that can be argued for all games with a combat portion.  The biggest parts to me are, is it engaging, fun and have enough variation to last an entire session.  Slogging through any part of a game to get to the fun bits, to me, isn't engaging or fun (especially if it is a major portion of the game).

It really depends on the game, for me.  I really found FF7 and FF8 and FF9 to have combat that I just really found uninteresting.  It seemed to really require grinding in FF8 in particular, and the story didn't grab me enough in FF9 to pull me along.  I could play the combat in FF1, FF6, FFX, or FFXII all day long -- those ones are really super excellent.  FF Mystic Quest as well, although that's much simpler.  FF2 and FF3 I felt were not as interesting as FF1 for some reason, but they were solid.  FF4 is somewhere between Mystic Quest and the top tier for me.  I got super bored of combat in FFXIII and wound up not ever even getting all that far in that game.  10 hours, maybe.

So, yeah.  I mean, it really varies by game.  I played the combat in FF7 just because I had to in order to get to the story.  Same with FF8, although past a certain point (maybe somewhere in the second disc), I just gave it up anyway.  So if the story is good enough, I'll do it, I suppose I'm saying. :)  But it has to be really darn good!
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Cyborg

  • Master Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,915
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2014, 08:08:22 PM »
  Same with FF8, although past a certain point (maybe somewhere in the second disc), I just gave it up anyway.  So if the story is good enough, I'll do it, I suppose I'm saying. :)  But it has to be really darn good!


It's on steam for the PC. I fell in love with Rinoa, and that carried me to the end.
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 30,700
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2014, 08:19:40 PM »
Yeah, her and Seifer were both great characters, and I was quite charmed by her also.  I also liked... I forget his name, but "The Man With The Machinegun" (and that music track is awesome).  I tried getting back into this actually about a year ago or so, but I just couldn't stand the combat for too long.  The music from that game has some really amazing pieces, though, so I will always cherish it for that. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline Cyborg

  • Master Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,915
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2014, 08:27:11 PM »
Yeah, her and Seifer were both great characters, and I was quite charmed by her also.  I also liked... I forget his name, but "The Man With The Machinegun" (and that music track is awesome).  I tried getting back into this actually about a year ago or so, but I just couldn't stand the combat for too long.  The music from that game has some really amazing pieces, though, so I will always cherish it for that. :)


"Eyes on Me." Among many, many others. If you are talking about the guy with the gun, he was a sniper named Irving. I always found him creepy and kept him out of my parties.
Kahuna strategy guide:
http://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,13369.0.html

Suggestions, bugs? Don't be lazy, give back:
http://www.arcengames.com/mantisbt/

Planetcracker. Believe it.

The stigma of hunger. http://wayw.re/Vi12BK

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2014, 08:35:46 PM »
Laguna Loire.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jho-peCAKs

The track reminded me :p

And I had a nice post about my history with FF that ended with a blurb about E.T. (Atari game), but the forums ate it.  Without rewriting that whole thing, I've several hundred hours played in FF (500 alone in X).  I've enjoyed each for what it was.  Even E.T.   

Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjZuxAWb8a8  Trip down FF memory lane ;)
« Last Edit: January 29, 2014, 08:39:25 PM by Cinth »
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline cupogoodness

  • Arcen Games business development/Jack of all trades
  • Administrator
  • Sr. Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 318
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2014, 10:18:54 PM »
Laguna's theme is incredible, one of my favorite Uematsu pieces. I also loved fighting with his party because of Ward (iirc) -- a guy who literally throws an anchor at enemies, then runs as fast as he can to retrieve it and get back to the line.

Laguna Loire.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3jho-peCAKs

The track reminded me :p

And I had a nice post about my history with FF that ended with a blurb about E.T. (Atari game), but the forums ate it.  Without rewriting that whole thing, I've several hundred hours played in FF (500 alone in X).  I've enjoyed each for what it was.  Even E.T.   

Edit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjZuxAWb8a8  Trip down FF memory lane ;)

Offline Histidine

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 575
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2014, 10:45:51 PM »
Yep, The Man with the Machine Gun is boss.

Unfortunately it still wasn't good enough to make me finish FFVIII (I guess I just lost interest?)
For me, Final Fantasy will always be synonymous with Mses. Branford, Chere and Gainsborough, with an honorary mention to Ms. Crescent.

For those of you who don't know/remember their surnames, that's Terra and Celes (VI), Aeris (VII) and Freya (IX). There were plenty of other characters in those games that I liked, too, but I had a theme going there.
"In this country, it is wise to kill a CEO from time to time pour encourager les autres."
-Misquoted Voltaire, Candide

Offline Cinth

  • Global Moderator
  • Core Member Mark II
  • *****
  • Posts: 2,527
  • Resident Zombie
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2014, 10:54:25 PM »
Laguna's theme is incredible, one of my favorite Uematsu pieces. I also loved fighting with his party because of Ward (iirc) -- a guy who literally throws an anchor at enemies, then runs as fast as he can to retrieve it and get back to the line.

Laguna would be your typical FF protagonist.  Kiros and Ward the typical supporting characters.  Very different than Squall and the band of SeeDs. 

Speaking of the music, "Those Who Fight Further" is my absolute favorite.  Nothing sets up a boss fight better than the music and for me, this is the one I want to hear.
Found this on YouTube and will share it here.  He has a FF section with compilations on everything from fanfares to final boss music from most of the main series.  Listening to Braska's final form music (FFX, Otherworld).  Ah, the memories.  PV!!!! We still love you  :D :D

http://www.youtube.com/user/TaciturnArtist?feature=watch


Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline YoukaiCountry

  • Newbie Mark III
  • *
  • Posts: 49
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #10 on: January 29, 2014, 11:20:30 PM »
For me, the Balamb Garden Theme has been one of my favorite relax songs ever since I first played the game. I love the music in FF8 so much.
I was fairly young when the game came out, and the setting of the game blew my mind; a sort of modern-ish fantasy world with cars and a budding space program was something that had never occured to me for some reason. Ah, the memories.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1hePBCcJ3o

Offline chemical_art

  • Core Member Mark IV
  • *****
  • Posts: 3,868
  • Fabulous
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #11 on: January 29, 2014, 11:46:55 PM »
Glad to hear the combat will have some depth. A lot of the headache from the recent ship naming thread was in some part because players just _assumed_ the combat would have some depth in the matter of ship classes. While these changes probably won't expand on these ship classes, it does point out that it is assumed that the combat will have some significant depth if it truly is meant to be a large part of the game design.
Life is short. Have fun.

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 30,700
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #12 on: January 30, 2014, 09:04:09 AM »
Glad to hear the combat will have some depth. A lot of the headache from the recent ship naming thread was in some part because players just _assumed_ the combat would have some depth in the matter of ship classes. While these changes probably won't expand on these ship classes, it does point out that it is assumed that the combat will have some significant depth if it truly is meant to be a large part of the game design.

I'm actually going to be expanding the number of ship classes, too, so there's also that. :)
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!

Offline nas1m

  • Master Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1,254
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #13 on: January 30, 2014, 09:12:48 AM »
Glad to hear the combat will have some depth. A lot of the headache from the recent ship naming thread was in some part because players just _assumed_ the combat would have some depth in the matter of ship classes. While these changes probably won't expand on these ship classes, it does point out that it is assumed that the combat will have some significant depth if it truly is meant to be a large part of the game design.

I'm actually going to be expanding the number of ship classes, too, so there's also that. :)
What additional "niches" will you add? Just being curious...
Craving some more color and variety in your next Bionic run? Grab a boost and a couple of custom floors!

Offline x4000

  • Chris Park, Arcen Games Founder and Lead Designer
  • Administrator
  • Zenith Council Member Mark III
  • *****
  • Posts: 30,700
Re: Alpha plans, as of the 29th.
« Reply #14 on: January 30, 2014, 09:20:41 AM »
That is an excellent question, and one I am still working on, heh.

In general, these will be more "specialized" ships, ala AI War in terms of how their roles are not so broadly defined.
Have ideas or bug reports for one of our games?  Mantis for Suggestions and Bug Reports. Thanks for helping to make our games better!