Saturday, October 15, 2011


Tuning a game is hands down the most fun and most satisfying part of the game making process. It's where all of the grueling work of the whole team begins to really pay off.

Just this last week, check out what me, Scott, Kellan, the rest of the ESP gang, Chad (from Sony Santa Monica), and Sony San Diego QA tuned and it will give you an idea of how fun/exciting/rewarding this time in the life of making a game is! 

NOTE: A lot of these numbers may be too big right now but we were feeling the vehicles were not feeling distinct enough and so we wanted to push those numbers way out to make sure we could give the vehicles really big, clear, individual voices and then we'll start dialing some/all of those big numbers back in a bit. 


a) Kamakazi's Turn Radius- went from a bit better than the other vehicles to CRAZY GOOD. Super easy to over shoot the 180 flips now BUT once you master the turn, he really is a BLAST to drive! 

b) Upped Reapers Flame Saw from 70 hit points to 150 mother fucking hit points! 

c) Upped the NUKE MISSILE hit point- in NUKE MODE- from 50hp (which we intentionally set way too low for the PAX build and- frankly- had forgotten to set it back) up to 150 hp!  Now shooting the missile down is very possible but either 1 member of your team needs to be the designated missile attacker (i.e. stocked up with powerful weapons and posted up somewhere with a pretty good vantage point) OR a handful of your team needs to be prepped to go into 'shoot the missile down!' mode if the enemy manages to launch the nuke.

d) Started messing with the Ram Matrix to make sure the bigger vehicles did MEGA RAM DAMAGE to other vehicles and to make sure the smaller vehicles were doing less damage than they were in the PAX build. Up until just yesterday, the spread between a medium sized vehicle's max ram damage and JUGGERNAUT's max ram damage was too small to really differentiate that aspect of the vehicle's personality.

e) Game Programmer extraordinaire Ryan added a tweaker to allow each of the 17 vehicles to have their own distinct EMP/FREEZE attack homing variable, meaning some vehicles have amazing homing applied to their freeze attack while other vehicles don't get any homing applied to freeze at all.

f) got to see the mechanic where if you freeze the copter, it drops super fast like a stone from the sky…giving players on the ground a great counter to the copter's ability to attack from above.

g) got to see the code where each vehicle has it's own 'breakout of freeze' strength, meaning a vehicle like REAPER forces the player to only pound the buttons a little to break out of the freeze whereas a vehicle like Outlaw takes a long time to break the freeze if he gets EMP blasted.

h) Increased some of the SACRIFICE CIRCLE ring sizes in NUKE which we were feeling might have been too small for a fun battle. Too big of a ring and you it's too hard to defend, too small (like we had it) and it's just too chaotic and you can't really do anything but button mash and hope for the best. We're not locked to our core ring size yet (we didn't tune the 'how long a vehicle takes to launch a nuke' number along with the sacrifice circle size yet) but my gut tells me we should go at least a LITTLE bigger on the Sacrifice Rings than what we showed at PAX/E3.

i) Messed around with hit points of vehicles to make players really sense the armor of the vehicles. For example, we've kept Reaper at 90 for now, but we popped Outlaw from 160 up to 300 meaty ass hitpoints (although we need to bring down the damage his special weapon currently does in order to compensate)

j) Showed our in game cinematic to San Diego QA and got some GREAT feedback. A number of slow parts from the movies (i.e. the looooong radio opening that you may have seen here) are being sped up this coming week. We'll also be removing some of the lines/moments from the movies that the QA folks were saying felt on the cheesy side. 

k) Began our final PICK UP pass, starting with NYC. Made sure to put our BIG 3 PICK UPS (the ones we want players to fight over/covet, memorize placement locations, care about) in more strategic, memorable locations and adjusted the derivative levels so they retain the core pick up logic from the main maps but have some special case pick up placement to account for the smaller level's intent. If you were wondering: our big 3 pick ups are: HEALTH, MEGA GUNS, and the POWER MISSILE. Sure, other pick ups are great too and for some players, they will covet other pick ups along with (or instead of) these main 3. But still we wanted the all players to feel that these 3 pick ups are pretty special.

l) Adjusted FACTION LEADER locations for NUKE for some of the maps that needed some love (mainly Theme Park, where we had the leaders spawning at the same area of the map- roughly- and since the map is so big, it was ALWAYS a big trek from one side of the map ((where the faction leader was)) to the other side of the map ((where the stationary Nuke launcher was)) ). I don't mind these big treks from time to time, but not every time.

m) Added a COOL DOWN period for MOBILE MISSILE LAUNCHERS in NUKE because the San Diego QA players were launching 3 missiles from the mobile launcher within the space of 30 seconds at times and that just ain't good :)…

n) Agreed to put in a FALL TO DAMAGE logic for ranked games in levels like rooftops where you take a bit of damage (45 hit points) if you fall but you will respawn BUT after a 10 second delay. We were going to make it FALL TO DEATH in ranked games (host can still choose this setting in an unranked game) but it was brought up that grievers on your own team could intentionally fuck with your team by falling and dying over and over just to piss your team off (i.e. if you fall, we take points from your team to dissuade a player who is about to die from just driving off a ledge so the enemy doesn't get a kill)….

o) Agreed to a visual change on the POWER/HOMER/STALKER missile pick ups so the 3 missiles are much more clear. For the longest time, Scott and I both were confused over which was which and given that one of those missiles does 12 points of damage and the other does 75, it's pretty important you know- at a distance and going at super high speeds- if that pick up in the far distance is one you want to go after or ignore. 

p) Worked with ESP QA to adjust cameras for 3/4 player split screen as a bunch of them were not showing off enough of the horizon and this making play a bit frustrating.

There was a bunch more but you get the idea! And as I imagine you can tell by the list above, all these changes really make a HUGE difference in how well the game plays! 

Here's a video of the tuning sessions I took with my new Ipad2…love the damn thing! Altho as you can tell, I shot it upside down and didn't even know it (didn't look upside down when I shot it, I assure you!)…I had a more detailed tuning video but accidentally erased it…sorry bout that :(…

Ok- gotta get some work done tonite then hitting the hay early as tomorrow is a Disneyland day with the kids! We've not been there since May and me and the girls are jonesin' for the Dland...especially since my youngest is now old enough to want to ride the Halloween themed Space Mountain AND go on Tower Of Terror for the very first time! :)

Talk soon- hope you're all well!



Anonymous said...

Very cool. I've always wondered how things like this are decided. The question I have for you now, David, is if your team will continue to tweak the game after launch if necessary. Kind of like how the Zipper Interactive guys were constantly making changes to MAG after its initial launch to keep the game balanced and fun for everyone playing.

JoeMacho said...

Why do you like Disneyland so much? As a matter of fact, why does all of southern California seem to love that place? Oh and Obama's a liar ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update, been missing your blogging. I think that some of these are great ideas/tune ups while others I don't agree with.

As a die hard fan as you know, I feel like I must share these thoughts with you.

I don't agree with:

b- Upping Reaper's chainsaw damage. Despite the fact that this plays on Grimms low health/extremely powerful special, having it at 150 HP is just overpowered IMO.

That means it'll take like one hit to kill anyone else with a reaper. And while that'll make it super rewarding, that sort of contradicts what you're trying to do with Twisted, where you pop out of a bunker and get shot in the head by someone with a sniper rifle and do it all over again.

Reaper has become that sniper now for other people who also are Reaper during a match.

n- putting in fall damage. I get what you're saying about people f'ing you over, but how about not let it affect your team if someone falls to their death over and over again? Does this mean we get lives to work with, as opposed to a kill limit? If so, I get the move even if I think if you fall off a cliff, you should be dead.

I think to avoid the issue there should be a kill limit as opposed to a death limit.

This was one thing I hated about Head on.

Please at least tell me that in single player, you're not letting there be fall damage. If you fall of a cliff, you should be dead, IMO.

e- don't like the fact that each vehicle has its own freeze ability. That means people will spam the vehicles that do have good freeze ability and won't use the other ones that don't for the most part.

This doesn't play to a vehicle's strength or weakness in terms of its size power.

For example, I love:

g- each vehicle takes either longer to break out in terms of their size or power. This plays off a vehicle's strength and weakness and makes sense. Your vehicle dictates whether or not the car has a good ability to break out of freeze or not.

j- tuning up the opening. I thought overall it was excellent, and I loved that opening shot, BTW, although I do agree, you could cut down on the opening radio lines. Also, there were a few moments where the dialogue was repetitious for ST, but overall, I think the style and what you were going for is awesome, and am looking forward to seeing the final product.

h- Increased the sacrifice circle. Great idea, it was too small and TM is all about chaos, but that would have been way too chaotic.

p- Making adjustments to split screen play. That alone warms my heart you guys have included this.

And pretty much everything else I agree with. Overall, looks like the extra time is a big help to you all. I don't mean to be harsh in my criticisms, I just care so much about this game. The series got me into gaming, and is one of the reasons I am going to school to be a game designer.

I'm really looking forward to this game more than just about anything. It's my most anticipated game of all time in my gaming life. Best of luck David, the constructive criticism here comes from the heart. I know you guys will make a great game and I'll be there day one to buy it, and love it.

Keep it up!