Since our last playtest of Switch which focused a lot of the combat gameplay, HUD and pacing – we built an entirely new level, a new “Tower Grenade” mechanic along with some improvements to the behavior of switchable objects that will define our core game. These huge changes made the latest playtest extra interesting and gave us a huge insight in how people are using these mechanics and what changes need to be made moving forward. I’ll briefly discuss some of the focus points and changes we made.
The Tower Grenade was a major new mechanic that has a lot of tie-ins with our level design. This type of grenade will spawn an entire building at the grid of detonation. These buildings add a defensive capability and at the same time open up new areas for players as the bottom floor becomes switchable, gaining entry to rooftops or basements. A player could for example attack an enemy tower by switching the bottom floor, gaining entry to the basement and attacking the enemy tower from below.
We have a bunch of ideas for this new feature we’ll be prototyping in the coming weeks. And perhaps I can dedicate an entire entry to the material FX of the tower in the future.
To encourage players to switch more of their surrounding environment we added feedback to when and where you can switch an object. This was a tremendous help in getting players to switch a lot more than our previous sessions. This exposes some issues in pacing and level density, as a result we’ll be dramatically increasing the size of switchable objects and lowering the pacing for the coming playtests to see how it affects our core “switch” mechanic.
For our new tower mechanic and focus on the switchable environment we built an entirely new level. In the top view of the map you can see white and grey areas, which are free switching “zones” meaning that entire grid is filled with switchable areas and support the tower grenades (which have no effect when thrown on the blackened areas)
One of the playtest features we’re looking into is creating heatmaps to collect more valuable information during our sessions. One thing that was clear even without a heatmap was a very heavy focus to the right side of the level, which contains the highest density of switchable objects. We’ll use this information to make some adjustments to the level flow and player spawning.
With a lot of valuable information learned from our playtest session earlier this week (Thanks to everyone for playing!) on both the Tower Grenade and Switching gameplay we’ll continue to focus on improving these two mechanics in the coming days with some major prototype changes to pacing coming up very soon!