My name is Christian and you might have seen me posting on Steam (Stunlock_Christian), Discord (cthriel) or reddit (sls_chris) every now and again. I have worked at Stunlock Studios since June 2013 as a Game Designer, but during most of Battlerite’s Early Access period I’ve filled the role of Community Manager. Enough about me though, let’s get to the Dev Blog!
Future of the Dev Blog
What I’d like to mention to begin with is that we are switching focus a bit regarding our Dev Blogs for the future. The idea is that the standard Dev Blog will be a short update regarding what’s been going on at the Stunlock office the past week. Kind of like the “Katey Reports” posts, but (generally) less of a deep dive into each topic brought up. Every now and again you will still get a Dev Blog that really digs into a specific topic (probably something along those lines next week…) but those will be on rarer occasions rather than the norm for the future. As always, be sure to let us know your feedback.
For the first topic I’ll put on my Game Designer hat for a change and talk about the 0.11.2.0 patch. To start with, the balance in the game ended up being a bit skewed afterwards. This was not unexpected as the primary focus of the patch was to improve the feel of the game and change up how some mechanics worked, with balance being a secondary concern. We always smooth out the balance before the launch of such patches but can’t fully gauge where the champions will end up before the patch is available to a large amount of players. During last week we looked at feedback and statistics and have made some balance tweaks that should arrive tomorrow along with the full patch notes. Overall, we’ve made some changes to how stealth works and given (most) melee champions (and a few of the other champions) that have been struggling, some love. We will continue to keep a close eye on the state of balance in the upcoming weeks.
Now, a regular concern about the 0.11.2.0 patch has been in regards to how most of the ranged champions deal more damage now with their M1 (Mouse Button 1) abilities. While this is true, it’s not just a pure bonus to their damage output. In truth, the DPS (damage per second) of most ranged M1 attacks wasn’t significantly altered; while their attacks hit harder there’s also in general more time in between them. However, a few did get a higher DPS to bring them more in line with other ranged champions. The damage dealt by individual M1 attacks was increased in part because of their reduced hitbox sizes but also the movement speed increase. Both of these changes naturally meant that attacks miss more and to not increase the damage would have made matches longer than before (a direction we did not want to go). Of course the damage increase was also part of the goal of making the M1 abilities feel more satisfying to use.
I could continue for quite a while in regards to some of the other changes, but I’ll stop before going on for too long!
New Player Experience
Besides looking over balance last week, parts of the gameplay team have also been taking a look at how the game treats newer players in preparation for Free-To-Play. As soon as anyone can try Battlerite for free, the introduction to the game becomes even more important than it already is. Because of that we are taking a closer look on the Tutorial and how it works to improve upon it. As mentioned back in our Battlerite Development Update at the start of February, we are looking into 1v1 scenarios against AI. We want to give new players a more isolated environment where they can concentrate on learning the abilities of only one opposing champion, while still having the space to get accustomed to their own champion. So we’ve been working on putting together some new AI controlled champions for that purpose.
Over in the new UI (dubbed UI 2.0), Katey (who’s on the other side of this fence for once) tells me they have been looking at the flow of adding friends to your party. Essentially they want to add the possibility to invite friends to your party before choosing the game mode you’re going to play. This means there would be a step prior to getting into a screen where the champions are depicted in 3D, so you can party up as quickly as possible and then discuss what game mode you want to play with your friends.
They are also looking at the champion selection screen itself. They are experimenting with many approaches and are asking themselves fundamental questions such as “How important is it that you see your friend’s champion 3D models?”. At the moment they are exploring the possibility of having customization being separate from the champion selection screen. This would free up more space on the champion selection screen to allow for more clear communication, and often you customize after you’ve decided on a champion to play either way.
Here’s a look at one of the concepts they are trying out. It’s important to note that these UI concepts are not representative of the final layout decisions nor the art styling to the buttons and text etc! Katey explains they are working in a ‘placeholder artstyle’ stage so that they can concentrate on the functions and user navigation as the primary areas to problem solve. The ‘dressing’ then comes later, when key layout and navigational issues have been tackled head on.
They are also looking at how to improve the home page in the new UI (I.E the screen you are greeted by when you start the game) and the main navigation. Here’s a potential layout, though once again it is very placeholder, and is currently in testing. We are curious about your reactions to these first sneak peeks into the new UI, so feel free to provide feedback appropriately.
As for the art department, a couple of the artists have been working on updating some of Freya’s visuals. She will be getting some new and improved VFX and SFX, along with brand new ability icons. Here’s some sneak peeks:
The artists are also working on something we are not quite ready to share yet, but here’s a small part of the puzzle:
That’s it for this week, thanks for reading!