Jens Boonen 0

Small Changes, Large Impact

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- Credits to Rainshifter for this text.

The core game is almost there and things are nearly fully functional. A series of small changes can help to revitalize the game and restore a sizable player base. And this is great news! Because it means just a little development effort can help to re-establish the PC player base to its former glory and help to grow or at least retain the Xbox player base.

The player base for the PC version according to the Steam charts has been on a steady decline ever since the early alpha release. So it is no big surprise that we might eventually arrive here. There have always been enough flaws to drive new players away yet keep a handful of veterans interested (or frustrated) just enough to last it out for a good while. Lots of negativity around the scene, along with several unwanted changes in former patches, has added fuel to the fire. But remember that this game is not yet fully released. And there is still time to polish this game and make it highly fun and competitive prior to release! Most of these suggestions are really just small tweaks that could ultimately create a huge impact and retain interest in the longer term.

Deep breath Ok, here we go!

--- MELEE ---

Many things point to melee combat being a cornerstone to this game: most of the weapons being melee based, most damage in game being melee driven (HP damage and crushed egos), the vast number of changes made to the melee system, heated criticisms directed toward melee, etc. At this point the melee combat exchanges and combo system seem reasonably fair, allowing for a good combination of reaction and prediction (the two very different sides to the same coin). This allows for flexible play styles. It may not be ideal but it is certainly better than anything from any of the previous revisions. Back when I started playing near August going all the way through the Thanksgiving patch melee, in its highest form, was almost solely reaction based. Then came trade based combat where the higher DPS weapon would virtually always win, due to removal of hitstun coupled with long ending delays on attacks (the combo system resolves this issue by allowing a block to be raised quickly after landing an attack, thus shortening the ending delay). Finally there is a better balance between skill and gear and the potential to outplay does exist. With that, here are some recommended changes to melee related things:

Charge cancel - A player can go from a charge attack to neutral stance by switching weapons during mid-charge. The common alternative as of now is to swing away to avoid attacking into a raised block. But how far (and when) to swing away requires hitbox knowledge and feels pretty clunky. Why not make this more intuitive by allowing a player to right click while charging (as charge canceling was done previously) but to go directly to neutral stance instead of blocking? Once in neutral stance the player would be delayed before their next action could happen. This would allow ample time for their opponent to punish the charge cancel with a jab or partial charge hit. Credit goes to Bloodred and Dylars for this suggestion.

Wound scaling - Full wounds on jab hits are too powerful, specifically for blades. A passive player can simply jab for full bleed damage and abruptly disengage, repeatedly, to bleed kite. It's overwhelming to fight against that play style unless you can apply cripple or otherwise lock them into melee exchanges. Even then you are forced to play aggressively which gives the passive player a hefty advantage. A great solution would be to scale all wound intensities with the melee charge bar. Half charge, for instance, results in half the typical wound intensity. For a blade, this would amount to half the bleed DPS. For axes, half the extra expose percentage. Bludgeons, half the cripple percentage. And for Spears, half the pierce damage. In reality it would be normalized based on base damage output. So a jab, having one-third the damage output of a full charge hit, would deal only one-third the max wound intensity. With this change blades, along with jab kiting, would automatically become better balanced without refactoring weapon base damage values; and cripple wounds would not be a necessary counter. This was proposed by PixelatedPower several months ago.

Action animations - Animations for some of the actions need work. As a mostly reactionary player I find that the animations are not very intuitive to learn. Many new players and even some veterans have cited this combat to be rock-paper-scissors, likening it to a guessing game or purely read based. In reality there are four moves because jabs and charge attacks are different and USUALLY have different animations. Firstly unless you're the Ussain Bolt of ping and reaction speed you will probably not react to a jab. Actually, if you could, you would theoretically never incur melee damage. But it is actually possible to 100% react to ANY form of charge attack. Little known, this is because there exists a big delay from the start of the charge animation (as seen by another player) to the start of charge bar filling up (as seen on the client's side). Unfortunately it takes several hours to absorb the subtle difference in these animations: for charge attacks the arm winds backward, for jabs the arm immediately goes forward. Worse yet there is no difference in these two animations for spears. So that ought to be fixed unless by some weird flaw in design spears should be impossible to react to as one could with any of the other three weapon types. All fighting animations should be made more obviously distinguishable lest eager new reactionary players spend months trying to absorb the animations into muscle memory (most of them will probably quit long before that happens to avoid the unnecessarily long time investment). And consider adding a spark or some other visual effect to the start of the charge animation for all weapons. The fun is not in trying to decipher ambiguous animations but to immediately identify and train the mind to react quickly to each.


Utility items have long been the bane of the honorable player's existence (myself included) and newer players as well! Many newer players may not attempt to fight honorably but THEIR chances are even worse because it takes time to adapt to broken facets of the game. But there are ways for these items to coexist nicely with the more honorable aspect of the game without being harshly gimmicky. A newer player has literally no idea how to combat utility junkies anyway so the gimmicky aspect of the game mostly benefits the tryhard veteran scum (yeah, I said it =]) and helps to drive new players away. You want new players to have a chance and stick around? Continue to implement fixes for utility spam and make their usage more sparing and counters more intuitive.

Caltrops - Spammable, extremely easy to use offensively, allows for easy bleed kiting due to tier 3 bleed and tier 3 cripple, all for 6 FUNC?! Reduce the bleed and cripple both to tier 1 and the price might be less of a bargain sale. Also make these little suckers (the wooden ones at least) destructible through melee swings, as it used to be.

Smoke bomb - Enough with the fixed duration blindness! Even if only for a few seconds. A few seconds of complete blindness is enough to ruin an otherwise fun or tactical fight for the blind player. Instead make smoke bombs form a gas cloud, causing blindness only while standing inside it, that fades away after a few seconds. Otherwise these can still be a very cheap offensive tool, especially when chained, rather than a defensive tactical cloud to disappear through like a stealthy ninja.

Impact grenade - There is no freer damage than through this utility item. It is quite literally a grenade that explodes upon impact an almost guaranteed 40 dmg. Completely remove this freebie? Or provide some sort of intuitive counter.

Snare trap - Fix the placement for snares so they can't be invisibly placed! Alternatively just force the wire to form a perfectly straight line between the stakes instead of curving down. The punishment is sky high for falling into a snare trap. For steel traps its 25 dmg + a free backstab, headshot, or whatever deviously cute idea comes to mind. So it is understandably frustrating to be caught by invisible snare traps. One can find any common doorway and sink the stakes into the wall where it meets the floor to cause the wire to sink beneath the ground. But it will still trap a player who hovers over it.

Steel punjis - Everlasting and only removable by explosives?! That's nuts. Allow all punji sticks to be dismantled just like snare traps.

All traps - Please, please consider changing traps so that everyone, including the deployer, incurs damage when stepping over them. A great trapper can memorize their trap locations and lure others into them without subtly giving anything away. It is fraudulent to swim around in a pool of your own traps, just daring the enemy to approach, and call such behavior "tactical".

All explosives - The tier 3 cripple is too much. It allows for easy bomb spamming if you catch your opponent in a remotely open area. Reduce the cripple to tier 1. Also consider reducing the explosion radius as it's friggin' HUGE.


This is mostly in a good place. Except...

Range kiting - Yes, there was a recent change to nerf midair accuracy with the bow. Yet it doesn't apply to the much more lethal golden arm throws. And it's not a good solution regardless. You can still charge in midair, and fire when grounded; rinse and repeat. So kick-back kiting is still very, very easy to do. Completely eliminate the ability to charge while jumping or jump while charging. Problem solved. This has never been a necessary game mechanic. Bows and thrown weapons would still be strong from afar, but very counterable at shorter range.


Beyond the mechanical bugs that exist in game there are more things that prevent or hinder the ability to play or even get into a game.

Fatal errors - Not sure if this is an issue in the Xbox release, but it plagues the PC version. Inconsistent fatal errors are inducing rage in players who ought to be able to queue into the next game but are instead rejected last moment; or upon game launch, mid-game, etc. It's pretty dull being forced out randomly and having to restart. If the PC version is to be successful in the end a fix for this should be highly sought after.

Queue freeze - Sometimes the queue will freeze without notifying the player. The timer will count up but the number of players remains static. Restarting the game or switching regions usually fixes this.

Custom lobby freeze - Gets completely bugged sometimes. It will either disallow players from joining the lobby or prevent the host from creating the lobby. Again, requires a restart or region switch.


More players means more sales. And more sales means more money, and a bigger player economy to work with! Let's look at improving the player base and potential ways to better monetize this game.

Bots in queue - To help jump start more players into the queue during unpopular or dead hours, consider adding bots to the mix at least temporarily. Keep the general queueing algorithm the same, but fill all empty player slots with bots. Suppose a game starts with 10 players, spawn 6 bots to total 16 players. Only two players lingering in queue for a while, say five minutes? Throw them into a game with 14 bots! Sure, the bots would be easy targets for the veterans but new players would have a perceived feel of a full party royale and games would be more enticing. This has the awesome adverse effect of allowing games to start earlier since every game would be "full" regardless. Thanks to Dylars for recently suggesting this.

New skins - As many have pointed out more skins would be appreciated. It is easy to ask for more, more, more! But good artwork takes time and money. So consider monetizing some new, fresh skins as in-game purchases. Or perhaps allow players to purchase Cull Credits if there would be enough interest.

Game value - It feels like $25 is a bit much considering the overall state of things. I personally feel the game could be worth that or even more, but not before some of the impeding issues are fully addressed. Would reducing the price back down to $15 result in at least twice the number of sales going short term? If so it should be a no brainer to leap ahead and do it! But I'm no expert in sales and finance (far from, in fact) so take this advice lightly.

- Credits to Rainshifter for this text.

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