A lot of work was done to improve the pace of the game. The game time per round has been shortened and all character's movement speed has been increased.
Respawn mechanics have been improved to be more thematic and juicy. Now, when a player character dies, an NPC medic will rush toward their body and bring them back to their team's barn to be revived. This mechanic punishes players that are trying to play more aggressively by increasing their respawn time if they die on the opposing team's side while also giving defenders an advantage because they will have a shorter respawn time when dying on their own side. We've also added a guard dog mechanic, where each team has a dog at their barn that will stun players trying to spawn kill the other team.
We've also changed a few mechanics to improve the stealth aspects of our game. Firstly, we've adjusted the NPC sprites so that each team will have about half of their NPC workers share the same sprites that the player's choose. This allows for easier blending in with the workers for the players. Secondly, we changed the way attacking works so that there is now a much longer cooldown when a player attempts to attack. This adds a penalty for when a player misses and leaves them vulnerable to a counter attack from another player while they're attack is recharging. We feel that this creates more exciting moments in the game as players now have to change the way they play based on if their attack is on cooldown or not.
Additionally, lot's of juice was added to communicate to players much better what is happening on. Juice includes better notifications for friendly fire kills, successful crop collections and more impactful player vs player kills. When another human player dies, a heap of 5 crops explodes from their sprite and those crops get sucked into the other team's silo, counting toward their overall crop goal.
The tutorial has also been improved by incorporating our own made-up character (Gramps) to explain how to play the game. The tutorial also sets up a story to add a reason why the players are doing what they're doing.
Under the hood, we've changed the way controllers are assigned to players, allowing for a much smoother experience of connecting controllers and joining the game. We've also experimented with the rate at which crops grow so that they grow in a fairer way such that each team should have a similar amount of fully grown crops on the side closer to them.
What's the Motivation?
A lot of feedback we received was in terms of the speed of the game. Most people felt like the game was too slow and lacked exciting moments. For these reasons we increased the overall speed and we tried to make killing other players more impactful for your team's progress to victory. Another bit of feedback was the apparent dissonance between the cute aesthetic we chose for our art and one of our core mechanics of killing other farmers. We hope by incorporating more of a story and reason behind the character's motivation this dissonance will be lessened and the killing will be seen more as a comedic element that adds to the overall aesthetic rather than detract from it by seeming out of place. Additionally, the title screen has some new sinister feel after a few seconds, with the music pitch becoming sporadic too. This same pitch change is reflected when a character is attacked in the gameplay.
Another thing that some player's found frustrating was the fact that we don't explicitly show them who their player sprite is on screen. For this reason, we added prompts to the tutorial that explicitly tells them that they will need to pay attention to who they are as we really feel like that should be one of our core mechanics.
Finally, some feedback we received was that our game feels more like a fighting game rather than a stealth game. Since we feel like the stealth mechanics of our game are what makes it more interesting, we tried to add mechanics that encourage players to be more stealthy and tactical with when they choose to kill or go on the defensive.
Of course more juice can always be added. We want to implement a score board and kill feed so players can directly see the impact that they had for their team's progress and a visual indicator of who's getting all the kills or collecting the most crops. We're thinking about adding an opening cutscene to help set the scene and tone of our game during the startup sequence. Perhaps more story elements could be added to the main game scene in addition to the tutorial scene as well.