Last week there was a huge update for TKO. To support the Ben 10 10/10/10 promotion, we made 4 Ben 10 Ultimate Aliens (Rath, Armadrillo, Ultimate Echo Echo, Ultimate Big Chill) and unlocked Ultimate Humungousaur, who previously required a player to be logged in a have a certain number of wins to play.
TKO has been more successful than we ever hoped, so in addition to new characters, the entire structure of the game was changed to more easily allow for updates. Originally, TKO was supposed to have 9 characters, so we just put all the character data in the main file. As we added more characters to TKO, we saw more and more people fall off during the initial game download. However, now TKO has over 20 characters, way too many for a single file.
Our ninja engineer (ninjaneer?) completely re-factored the game, moving all assets outside of the main game file. This allows for all the character data to be loaded as individual files. It also lets designers and artists to update characters without having to recompile the game.
The art pipeline was completely overhauled. Our 3D artists worked magic to convert files from Blender to 3DS Max. This allowed up to make some nice, new animations for the new characters, like Ultimate Big Chill’s fireball. This conversion will allow us to produce characters much faster in the future.
In building the new characters, we had very, very little time. As a result, instead of making all new special moves, we mixed and matched special moves from previous characters. This was an efficient way to build new characters and ended up creating very different play styles.
I collect data on character selections, wins, etc. and make balance tweaks based on these numbers. In a previous build, I nerfed Big Chill a bit because he was far and away the most dominant character. I increased the recovery on his Ice Dash (which was was too safe) and decreased the damage on all his freezing attacks. This resulted in Big Chill going from a break away first to dead last in win percentage. Numbers like this can be tricky to evaluate. Were players still attempting to spam his Ice Dash which is no longer safe? Or did these change really really make him a much worse character? I decided to go back half-way and increase the damage on his freezing attacks. I will have to keep an eye on him for next build. I also increased the hit area for Chowder’s Kimchi attack, since his wins were pretty low.
TKO saw a 5x increase in traffic last week, so obviously, the new content was a hit. At last count, there has been over 37 million TKO matches. We will continue to make TKO better with new features, balance tweaks and content. We are also building some exciting promotions and events around TKO so stay tuned for more robot fighting action.