Hi again guys!
This week we’ll discuss how we manage weapon balancing throughout WOODPUNK’s updates. This is a feature we’re constantly working on as it heavily affects player game experience! It’s especially noticeable when players are given weapons at random at the start of each and when they craft a new weapon. Last week we spoke about the changes to the weapon creation system we’re going to implement soon! You can read more about it here!
So as some say: Let’s get to it already!
Pre-Launch we did an extremely closed Beta-Test. As it’s usual in small indie titles, WOODPUNK was slightly unbalanced at launch due to the reduced amount of players/testers that had tried out the game, in conjunction with the mixed skill level these players had. We recommend not basing your games difficulty solely on the feedback you get in events, this is not enough info to balance your game! We discovered close after launch that some weapons weren’t preforming as intended, while others were outputting too much damage. During the closed beta we also found out that our Tech-Tree was too cheap, players were completing the technology available long before they had completed the game. This reduced the progression experience, as players reached the point where the game was way too easy because and weren’t being challenged enough. We took a deeper look into the tech tree a re-priced most of the components.
From pre-launch onwards our main “chunk” of work comes from community feedback, and weapon balancing is one the biggest points of interest. Sometimes this feedback is counterproductive. We want WOODPUNK to be a hard game, and some players want every weapon to be viable under every situation. This would break our policy of: Everything has to have an advantage and a disadvantage under different situations, so we have to select carefully which feedback we can be worked on!
Some balancing issues were not directly related to weapon balance, but to different game modes! In “Destroy the Artifact” players have a set amount of time to destroy 4 artifacts placed at random while hordes of enemies attack the player. After they destroy an Artifact, time is added to their timer. At first players would only use their melee weapons to destroy these structures, as ranged weapons practically didn’t damage them. While the towers needed 3 – 4 melee hits to be destroyed, ranged weapons needed several dozen shoots to finally collapse. We resolved this issue by reducing the damage these structures received by melee weapons, and increased the damage ranged weapons do to them. Now players can attack these towers, and the simultaneously spawning enemies, using different tactics.
We also balanced several ammunition types. One of the most problematic is the ice bullets. If enemies are hit by Ice there’s a chance they end up frozen, which in the past has led to some rare bugs. In the early days of WOODPUNK, the ice cannon was one of the least appreciated ammunition types in early game, but late game players loved it due to its area of effect when killing hordes of enemies. We increased the damage the early ice cannon can produce while increasing simultaneously the size of the area of effect. In the other hand we reduced the area of effect these weapons had in late game as one bullet could kill to many enemies simultaneously. We also balanced how fire ammunitions worked. Just like in real life, when you step on fire you get burnt. Initially stepping on fire was irrelevant, it practically didn’t damage the player while the red canvas appeared as if you were receiving heavy damage. Everything in WOODPUNK has a reward and a punishment, and the fire’s punishment was practically nonexistent.
Through development and concurrent updates, we’ve had to rework melee weapons. Players tended to only use ranged weapons; as attacking from a distance is safer, and because in other games of the genre there’re no melee weapons. For players to use these melee weapons we had to make them more attractive. We consider that the sword and wooden lance were powerful enough that no changes were needed. Players were not using the “chain blade”, WOODPUNK’s chain saw, and the war hammer as they believed they were useless under every situation. So we did a couple of changes to them; we reduced the reload time the chainblade had and increased slightly its sizes for players to be able to maul large hordes of enemies. Previously players had to use the Warhammer differently, they only could charge the Warhammer to do a powerful melee attack. While the attack was charging the player could only move around so depending on the type of enemies they were fighting, using the Warhammer could be very unrewarding. Now, the player can do a simple attack with the Warhammer, and if he wants he can charge up the attack as it previously worked like.
Ranged weapons have also suffered a couple changes throughout WOODPUNK’s development, specially the “shot-gun”. This was one of the most disliked ranged weapon in the game due to its reduced shooting rate combined with the reloading times each different chamber has. Players felt frustrated that the shotgun shot too slowly, and when they got a shotgun with a large chamber it took too much time to reload reducing its damage per second vastly. We reworked it by combining the shooting rate the shotgun has with the reload time. To explain it as simple as possible, now the chamber reloading time is combined with the shot-gun mechanism, so after the last shot the chamber has, Aquinas will start reloading the chamber simultaneously.
Related to strictly balancing, the aspect we worked on the most was empowering early game weapons and nerfing late game weapons specifically against bosses. For example, against bosses weapons now do a minimum amount of damage ( for example a level 1 ice gun does nearly as much damage as a shrapnel level 1 gun) while the late game guns have their damage capped ( now mortar machine gun will not one shot bosses). To also affect this early game/ late game balance we’ve changed the ammunition capacity depending on the type of ammunition the weapon carries. Before all weapons had the same amount of ammunition no matter the ammunition type, so a large chamber mortar gun had 99 ammunition, the same as the large chamber arrow gun. Now the large chamber arrow gun has more ammunition than a large chamber mortar gun (bombs are bigger than arrows right?)
Other changes were related to the tech tree. Players felt the tech tree’s development was meaningless. They were frustrated they weren’t getting the weapons they had spent their hard earned scrap in. We’ve changed the algorithm to be more forgiving, now when players fight against bosses, the probability of getting lower tier weapons that ones they have actually invested has been reduced
Well these are the main changes we have done related to weapon balancing. If you have any questions please ask!
Next week we'll talk about the new content we're going to introduce, a whole new theme!