Hey everyone it’s time for your weekly update. Last week mostly consisted of working on making improvements to the game from feedback we received during our latest Alpha backer free-play weekend. The biggest areas of improvement included HUD icons and situational awareness, simplifying warp, fixing a server crash, optimization, and some bugs we discovered in our backend infrastructure. Overall the game ran pretty good however its VRAM consumption is becoming a serious concern. On extreme detail the game is currently using ~6.5gb of VRAM which is ~81% of your available VRAM on a GTX 1080. This is a common issue during game development. For example, when I was working on Gears of War 2, the entire engine team had to focus on optimizing memory usage with only ~2 months to go before shipping for all maps to be playable. Infinity: Battlescape will likely follow a similar trajectory.
[Alpha Backer Image] A destroyer over a factory
Along with the aforementioned tasks we’ve also started work on the next major gameplay update – which will focus on weapons. Weapons will fall into a handful of broad categories: energy weapons such as lasers and blasters, projectile weapons such as machine guns and cannons, and missile weapons such as torpedoes and, well, missiles. On top of these weapon categories we currently have 2 major design goals regarding weapons. The first is that ammunition limits will be a serious consideration within Infinity: Battlescape and we want them to be in the general ballpark of modern aircraft. It will be possible to use up all your ammunition thereby leaving yourself with 2 choices: either re-arm at a carrier, land base, or station or become a kamikaze pilot and pay the cost of a new ship.
[Alpha Backer Image] A battle over the volcanic moon of Cinder
Secondly, one of the major selling points of I:B is massive space battles. We want to balance gameplay such that around 30% to 40% of participants will die within the first ~30 seconds once the shooting begins. Missiles will have the highest degree of lethality however they will be in short supply. The expectation is that at the beginning of a battle the first wave, which will primarily consist of smaller ships, will unleash all its missiles and a whole bunch of pilots will immediately die in a massive fireball. At this point the war of tactics and attrition will begin as each side switches to energy and projectile weapons while selectively firing any missiles held in reserve. Lastly, just because someone shoots a missile at you it doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to die. All ships will be fitted with some form of anti-missile countermeasures – which will also be finite. In smaller ships this will take the form of chaff/flares that help you evade missiles whereas capital ships will be fitted with anti-missile systems similar to what you see on modern warships.
[Alpha Backer Image] Ice worlds are particularly beautiful at night
There’s still a lot to say about weapons so we’ll continue with more details next week. Please keep in mind that weapons will require a tremendous amount of balancing and everything is subject to change in service to “fun”. That’s all for this week, until next time!
WW1, here we come
How do you plan the spawn timer / distribution of spawns for those 30% of dead ?
If this first “dead” wave comes back at once into the operation area, I imagine there will be another massive wave of deaths, which will undermine the “war of tactics and attrition”? Or maybe this scenario doesn’t affect the general wanted outcome?
I hope this idea is discarded once gameplay testing is happening.
Having the ships be so fragile that most of them die immediately doesn’t make that much sense to me for several reasons.
Having separate shield and hull damage would be redundant because any difference between them would make no difference if you die that quickly under fire.
Energy management (overcharging abilities etc.) would be uninteresting because it would probably make no sense managing anything other than weapons if being fired at means dying in the next few seconds.
Teamwork and group strategies would be almost useless, ships beeing so fragile that almost half of them explode after a few seconds would make coodinating attacks or assigning targets (other than capships) useless because unloading the weapons as fast as possible to the nearest enemy would probably be the only viable strategy.
Gameplay would be constantly interrupted by dying that often and respawning/getting back into action. If there is a spawn limit/timer that would be exaggerated even more so.
Of course all these assumptions could be dead wrong.
Assuming everyone will have flares/countermeasures on board the first wave of missiles will be useless, if only some have countermeasures to missiles that could work then probably.
Another point I’d like to make is why having almost half die that quickly is desired?
Almost half of the players will have a negative start to the battle, the rest might have a ‘wow’ moment seeing that many explosions, but there is probably no sense of accomplishment and pride in just shooting someone dead with a missile that easily/by chance beeing one of those that didn’t die at the start of the battle.
I believe the main goal that needs to be achieved for the game to be succesful is the battle gameplay fun. As I see it you can go in two main directions with the gameplay:
Akin to fps games like COD, with fast respawns/quick deaths, gameplay is largely determined by luck, player gratification is achieved through constant enemy kills. Basically a kill lottery where the only thing a player can do to stand out is quicker reactions and better aim and gear.
Less focus on reaction skills and aim, more focus to secondary abilities and strategy. This could be achieved by reducing randomsness in the kills, by having much more durable ships where a one-on-one can take !ages! to commence. This might sound stupid but once large player groups fight against each other this super high resistance to enemy fire would probably result in the need for coordination. The group that best focuses its damage output on individual targets will have the advantage.
This was also observable during the first playtests when damage output was rather low and the netcode was old, the participants instinctively focussed individuals to be killed. Just watch the ealier streams when this happend.
This was much more fun to me personally. One thing to remember is even with super high damage resistance once a group focuses fire the ship will die in the next few seconds, so its not like nobody dies.
I too fear that, especially with the long travel times, quick deaths will be very frustrating, but lets wait and see.
I think too vulnerable ships also make the player less invested in them. If the interceptor becomes too disposable it will lose all its appeal. I had this experience shortly were I was so fed up with getting shot down by bigger AI ships that I just spawned into interceptors and crashed into the big ships near the base (instantly killing them) until they were almost all gone and I could focus on getting scored kills for smaller ships.
Do you not contradict yourself? If it were luck then skill would have no bearing, yet you acknowledge that reaction and aiming skills are important. To that list you can add tactical and strategic skill which both enormously effect the outcome of most FPS games. In BS ships will not be able to be one-shoted so it’s already less fast paced than most FPS.
If ships are really durable, that only emphasises the advantage of better aiming and minimises any advantage that may be achieved through surprise or diversion etc. As you point out, the only viable tactic would be focus fire, and the only strategic decision is where to allocate forces, and as battles will take a while there would be time for both sides to reallocate forces as needed once a battle starts.
I’m sure we are agreed that the outcomes of battles should not be luck, nor should they be purely fast-paced skill, but I think we disagree on how that gameplay can be achieved.
I am concerned about the approach of trying to balance gameplay for a certain time-to-death. It seems backwards to me.
Gameplay should be balanced for fun. The average time to death should just be a result, not a target.
I agree. Still, keeping to that principle limits the ways we can communicate.
Maybe the answer is that there’s no real “Variable” you can tune everything too. It simply is impossible (for us) to condense fun down as its quite subjective and quite complex.
The term “Fun” has been floating around the forums numerous times. It isn’t objectively quanifyable, rather a call for the devs to listen more towards subjective feeling of enjoyment of their … game, rather than statistics, reality or strategies that are fixed and non malleable.
I agree with everyone that we should try the vision I-Novae has presented in this Update. I also agree that the answer won’t just be: “More ship health / less ship health”.
There are like at least ten systems already ingame that influence the “time to death” and “fun” to varying different degrees just in that described “head on” example … and I hope there will be many more different encounters throughout the gameworld.
Thats why I wrote ‘largely determined by luck’ and not ‘only’ . Reaction and aiming skills/gear are the only thing that is important in COD in my opinion. I wouldn’t want that for battlescape.
Having almost half of players die within the first minute is almost the same as one-shooting.
It would be much worse than in COD because the time to reenter combat would be worse. The only way that could work is if you would instantly respawn in a carrier directly in the battlezone. Other than this way most of the game time would be spend getting from a to b.
Most fps games are widly different, I only mentioned COD because the time to death is so quick, similar to dying in the first minute in a space shooter.
I think Battlescape needs to finely tune its spawn system if they want to have many players kill each other often.
Carriers as spawns is good. I will throw a suggestion here though. The Intie/Bomber/Corvette pilots NEED to get informed that every close by spawn point got destroyed/disabled/emptied or is about to be unavailable soon.
They need to know that the consequences of death just changed! This allows them to make a move while still having agency. This would lower how bummed they feel when they sit in front of the respawn screen or spawn/have to spawn in 10Mkm from the fight they just tried to win. Make clear that they are about to loose, many games do that in some form or another.
And I’m not talking about passive information. “They just should have checked their carriers health”. Active in you face. “LAST FRIENDLY BASE/CARRIER AT 20%!”.
Additional systems could be put in to further give players the option to Jump into the action even when there are currently no carriers around.
Planetside 2 has a “Drop into action” spawn option that activates every ten minutes or so.
“Emergency Support Jump” to an attacked hauler for instance. Stuff like that.
Still, It’s not easy to balance. Make reinforcement too easy and fights never end or can be overrun by one side too easily (relocate all players to one fight in a minute or two). Traveltime is often used to lower respawn times, even though it mostly isn’t much more interesting than waiting arround, especially if it’s always the same route.
Spraying in some NPCs would help people get kills while still lowering the burden each player and the spawn system would have to carry. Angry Joe mentioned this in his latest review:
I’m not sure that having both projectile and energy weapons will add much to the game except requiring a larger number of effects to be coded. If we look at a game like PUBG, it only has projectile weapons but still give the player a large range of weapon types to choose from. If I were you I’d cut out the complexity of having a whole separate energy weapons category and focus on making your projectile weapons varied and interesting.
Have all projectile weapons as tracer rounds by default, so they look and work exactly as the guns do in the current build. Then add variety as is done in regular shooters by having various rates of fire, round damage, effective range, accuracy and rounds per shot (giving shotgun or flak weapons). All of these various weapons could then use the same basic bullet effect.
You’d then just have two broad categories - ballistic ordnance and self-propelled ordnance and still have an interesting mix of fighting styles. Also please be quite generous with ammo limits. Running out should only start to be a problem if you’ve been successful at surviving multiple engagements.
Yeah, NPCs are a big help, not just for the scale of battles, but also to give people alternative targets. They help new players who may be nervous about dogfighting real players, can distract players, and also just keep people interested while enemies respawn.
I hope the NPCs we have are here to stay! I’m sure they will improve (like not crashing into the ground), but they already add a lot!
Everything is looking absolutely brilliant and so happy to see all the hard work and patience paying off - tenfold! But I just wanted to ask about the nuclear explosions on the surface, at least I thought that was a possibility as part of game play. Maybe I misheard it but it would be so cool if the battles were designed around delivering a payload to a factory - seeing a massive explosion from space on the surface would be amazing. And it would be safe to say never been done before and completely original in gaming. Also it would be fun as hell trying to get out of the blast radius if you were nearby. Anyway, my two yen worth.