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Post news RSS ATP test session 28.1.2023

Another local multiplayer test session of Avaruustaistelupeli 0.5.2-dev.

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Test session on 28.1.2023, three somewhat experienced players (including the developer), purpose to concentrate mainly on co-op-gaming. And this is what happened.

I prepared by temporarily removing all the test ships that cannot be battled with, making the ship selection much smoother. One participant had also done his homework and provided us with two highly suggestive ships, both completely worthless in battle.

38 ships

Some usability issues were found in the player/controller selection and ship selection screens. In tournament mode, humans and AI players select their own ships, which is pretty straightforward, but in co-op and single-match battles, humans select AI ships also. Mouse users can pick a ship by just clicking, but gamepad users must first select an AI combatant with bumper buttons. There’s a help text to guide the users, but obviously the concept must be better communicated. The ship selection will be redone when I implement new AI opponents, but my intention is to keep the look and feel of old arcade game selections.

38 ship selection

Once we made it through the menus and started playing, it became clear that the co-op opponent is too weak and probably needs a better default ship to stand against three humans. Translucent crosshair is definitely an improvement, though the energy bar still gets in the way; it was suggested that it could fade in as the energy consumption increases. It has to be visible enough to keep the players aware of the energy consumption, though. Some of the crosshair’s graphical elements seem unnecessary, so there’s still room to simplify it.

We ultimately ended up playing tournaments with an AI player to complete the quartet. This time there are two tournament videos: one with the best AI, and another with the worst one. In the latter, I successfully tried a very defensive approach to utilize some shallow strategic elements.

Low tempo isn’t a problem itself, it can even add suspense, but it can be boring to watch (just listen to the audience’s reactions). There was a suggestion that frustrated spectators would start throwing stuff at passive competitors thus damaging them and urging for action. An interesting idea, but I’m not sure I want to force the combatants to have a certain playing style.

These testers weren’t very interested in statistics, and gave zero appreciation to the information I had added since the previous session. But screw that, I’m going to add lots of them anyway. More varied statistics will actually serve a purpose with the mishaps and other unexpected events that regularly take place in the game.

So no spectacular failures this time. Lots of small adjustments, naturally, but those will be a story for another day.

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