Bulletpattern Game design, Flash and Unity development

18Jul/111

Balancing Project Exonaut

Recently we put our our first balance patch for Project Exonaut. Here is an overview of the process, data and how I reached the decisions of what to change.

Assumptions

I wanted to write down some assumptions before I dove into the data to see if my instincts would be correct about where improvements were needed. I have played more Atlas Brigade exosuits, so if my assumptions were close to the data, I figured that would be a good indication for Banzai Squadron too. Here were my assumptions going in:

  • Rath was underpowered (too low damage)
  • Jake was underpowered  (too low ammo)
  • Phantom would far and away be the best base exosuit
  • Ultimate Cannonbolt was WAY overpowered (all Bulldog-focused exosuits would be)

The Data - Character Exosuits

The data held true to my expectations but there were certainly some surprises in there too. Here are the Exosuits sorted by hacks/per play session.

Exosuits sorted by hacks/per play

You can see the top Exosuits are high-level Atlas exosuits. I mostly attribute this to dedicated high-level Atlas players.

I knew the Bulldog pistol exosuits would be high. In designing the exosuits initially, I thought Bulldog mod exosuits would underpowered due to having a period of time before they could access their most powerful weapon. As a result I made their stats a bit higher than standard exosuits. This was a mistake and I knew it almost immediately after the game launched. Bobo was nerfed long before this path but he still remains a high performing exosuit.

I was right about Jake and Rath. They were 2 of the lowest performing exosuits. I really didn't like that the exosuits for our best shows (Adventure Time & regular Show) were some of the lowest performing exosuits. I knew I needed to buff them up. Basically any exosuit that had less than 12 hack per play got buffed.

The average hack per play across all Banzai exosuits was 13.21. The average across all Atlas exosuits was 15.01.

 

The Data - Base Exosuits

The Base exosuits performed lower, as expected due to guest players, but they were nice and even. Surprisingly, the medium Banzai exosuit was the best performing, albiet by a small margin. My prediction of the Phantom was incorrect, though it came in second.

 

The Data - Weapons

This number was a bit difficult to calculate. I took the hacks for exosuits by their weapon mod and used that to calculate the total number of hacks per capita of a weapon. Certainly not 100% accurate but it's the best I could get with the data.

The weapons seems nicely balanced. The Marksman rifle being the lowest was expected as it is more of a high-skill weapon. It's effectiveness in the right hands is displayed by the win percentage of Marksman mod exosuits like Princess Bubblebum and Ultimate Swampfire though.

The Changes

You can read about all the changes made in my previous posts.

23May/111

Project Exonaut – Faction Stats update

Updated this week, faction stats are now a measurement of weekly performance. This means faction stats will remain a bit closer, making competition more fierce!

Other changes:

  • Bobo Regen and Jetpack decreased from 4 to 3
  • Gwen's damage increased slightly

Congratulations to Banzai Squadron for being so dominant! Now is your chance to catch up Atlas Brigade!

19May/111

Project Exonaut – Update 1

We are often making updates to Project Exonaut both from a technical and a gameplay standpoint. I thought I would document our changes here so I can keep up with game balance and fixes. There were a ton of balance updates between sneak and full release so I am only going to list updates made after proper release.

2011-05-13 Patch

  • Heavy Weapon cooldown timers were evened out (i.e. high tech exosuits cooldown got longer, low tech exosuits cooldown got shorter)

Yep, thats it for gameplay changes. There was a gap between the performance of high-tech exosuits and low-tech exosuits so I wanted to even that out a bit. Come play Project Exonaut on cartoonnetwork.com!

 

26Apr/118

Project Exonaut launches!

Project Exonaut

CN Games Studio's newest game, Project Exonaut, has launched!

This is the biggest game our studio has ever built. This is our first 3D game as well, though the gameplay is in 2D. If you played our previous shooter, Ben 10 Bounty Hunters, you may recognize the core gameplay but Exonaut is amped up in every way from our previous title.

Features

  • Instant-action, fast-paced, multiplayer shooter
  • Players pilot exosuits, high-tech armored suits that channel the abilities of Cartoon Network's greatest heroes.
  • No login or registration required to play
  • Register to earn XP, level up and purchase new exosuits of your favorite CN characters
  • 5 maps
  • 32 exosuits
  • 100% free!

Instant Multiplayer

One of our main directives was "multiplayer as easy as a Flash game" so we streamlined the multiplayer experience to be as fast and easy as possible. We don't require registration and you can be in a game in one click.

Character-based Shooter

Unlike most shooters, in Exonaut your character selection changes your base stats (armor, regen, speed, jetpack and tech) and with what weapon you are best. You need to know your exosuit's strengths and weaknesses and how these play against other exosuits.

Balance Features

We changed up some of the shooter norms to balance the game across our wide demographic.

  • No respawn points - if you are "hacked" (killed) you drop at that point for a short time and then you respawn at that same location with a bit on invincibility. This limits spawn camping and greifing by forcing winning Exonauts to divide their attention among the entire population of players.
  • Limited ammo - there are no ammo refills but players always have a pistol when they run out of ammo. This means dominant players will be nerfed a bit after a strong streak of play.

Player Investment

We wanted to give players reasons to come back and play over and over so we made many exosuits players can earn. We also have a faction vs. faction meta game where player's wins affect the overall performance of their faction.

Overall Site Strategy

This is part of a larger site strategy for CN. We have our MMO, FusionFall, our one-on-one fighter TKO and now a 8-player competitive shooter.

We are going to continue to build on Exonaut, improving and adding new features through the year.

12Oct/102

TKO – 4 new characters!

TKO Update

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.

Restructure

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.

Building Characters

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.

Balance

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.

Success

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.

30Apr/101

TKO – New character! Generator Rex

The latest and last addition to the TKO roster is Generator Rex. Generator Rex is a new show from the creators of Ben 10.

Generator Rex is like Reptile from Mortal Kombat with a beefy uppercut. We had some extra time to work on him so his special moves are much more visually customized than other characters. He is most likely our last character and I am happy he turned out so well.