What has been going on since the last update?
So from the closed alpha session that we had last year, we learned a lot from the game with only a couple of hundred played games. We found bugs, implemented quick fixes, pushed out patches, got a lot of feedback and put the whole lot together and thought about where to move forward.
Networking - Problem
So we saw a lot of network traffic going between a host and the client, way too much infact. It wasn't optimised in the slightest and due to how latency dependant a lot of the events were, it was causing random crashes for clients who couldn't send or receive the traffic fast enough to be in sync. Not only that but users required to port forward their routers just to even host a game.
Networking - Solution
We went back to the start and changed how everything works over the network so traffic is far less than before (around 50 times less!), it is optimised, we haven't seen a single network related crash yet, we have region based master servers so you no longer need to worry about firewall issues - you can just create a game on the master server in your region and off you go!
Game balance - Problem
We found from our few hundred alpha games that 'cheese strats' were possible and this didn't make the game fun at all. We found that all you had to do was build 300 machinegun turrets and you would defend your base forever. We also found that using weapons purchased from the base using collected coins were absolutely useless and made no sense in investing in them.
Game balance - Solution
The solution here was simple; we now have a dedicated game balancer who's job is to simply tweak all the values in the game to ensure every turret and weapon is relevant and that not a single 'cheese strat' is possible. The game now requires much thought as to the type and placement and communication with friends.
Player abilities - Problem
Very quickly we identified two player abilities that were completely useless; Lights and Radar. People were complaining that at night time the game just wasn't fun because you couldn't see anything and that lights as an ability just didn't make sense. Neither did a radar ability that just randomly beeped when something went past it.
Player abilities - Solution
Player lights have been replaced with placeable wooden barriers (you currently get 1 per 30 seconds with a maximum of 6) that you can place in lane. When an enemy approaches the barrier, they will start smacking it down! The health is still currently being tweaked but it is now relevant and a good ability to take like the others. Radar ability now enables a minimap which highlights super enemies and air units - this is very important and gives a good advantage to you and your team in the late game.
Enemies - Problem
So the problem with enemies is that once you have built a good defence and you think you've won the game, the enemies didn't scale well with the game time - they scaled linear to the amount of coins you earned so you were always ahead regardless of any thought to the type of tower and placements.
Enemies - Solution
Enemies now scale correctly and you will not survive unless you have the perfect strategy and placements.
Towers - Problem and Solution
There's a lot of changes here. During the alpha most turrets just done the same thing - cause damage, infact they still do that but the way they cause damage is now very important to your strategy. Machineguns cause low damage but fast, flamers are now AOE to damage multiple enemies, ice turrets are now AOE to slow multiple enemies, lasers hit really hard but have a long reload rate, teslas have good range but only hurt every few seconds. Along with the balanced damage values, there's a reason to build every turret and think about its positioning.
Weapons - Problem
This one was quite an easy one to resolve. Weapons were extremely weak, they made absolutely no sense to purchase when compared to turrets and appeared like a useless addition.
Weapons - Solution
So every weapons damage and cost is now balanced more in line with turrets. You cannot use just one or the other to survive. Sure you might get quite far using either weapons only or turrets only, but you certainly won't be setting any records doing so. Making that investment into a few mines near the base, or a machinegun to mince a few skeletons is actually important to anyone's strategy now!
Ok this is a long post so I'll try and end it soon. We're still balancing the game, adding new features, doing lots of internal play testing and releasing it to a few select people who have registered on our website to help us test and provide more feedback.
If we go quiet for a while, it's because we're doing hard work in the background or even reworking a lot of the fundamentals to make the game be what we envisioned.
We're still going for a Steam release at some point but we want a polished product rather than a half finished messy game that ultimately people will not enjoy and give us a bad impression.
Any comments are appreciated below to let us know you're listening. Updates will be more frequent now that we're approaching a more open/public release.