Dev Diary 3: A sneak peek into the Project RTS Arena gameplay
The last couple of months have been quite challenging for us. Being silent for so long is not good, and it is not our way of social distancing. Due to COVID-19, we had to postpone the first alpha playtests which were planned for the end of February. We were extremely busy switching the studio to the full "remote mode". It’s because of this that we decided to rethink the first version of the Project RTS Arena and took this time to create even more cool features that our early alpha testers will see very soon.
Needless to say, the game evolved a lot, and below is a sneak peek into the gameplay. We want our players to have creative freedom on tactical and strategic levels, so we threw everything we have to achieve this.
Everything begins in the pre-match screen, where players create their squads. It is important to pick a well-rounded squad to be prepared for most situations on the battlefield.
In the action phase, players control the Raiders in real-time. We aim at action-packed gameplay at all times. This way a player can be focused on the active phase more, shifting strategies during the match. For example, players could rush into the enemy territory, seize strategic points, and maintain constant pressure on the opponent, utilizing skill and squad mobility. Another way around is to play defensive first, develop the economy, and aim for a stronger late-game push.
Players would be able to deploy Outpost on some of the captured points, securing the positioning and opening up new ways to attack the enemy. These Outposts could be upgraded to defensive and offensive types that better suit the player's overall choice of strategy.
The game features a squad leveling system, where Raiders get experience, unlock new abilities, and upgrade unit stats. The leveling system opens up a Commander’s tech tree as well, where players can spend the goodies and unlock the ultimates to use on a battlefield or research upgrades for the Base and Outposts.
Another crucial part of development is constant playtesting. We are working closely with Aleksey “White-Ra“ Krupnyk and Danil "Dendi" Ishutin. They are helping us to shape the game and form a more precise picture of what the gameplay should look like. Usually, we playtest twice a week, constantly tweaking balance, changing some abilities and features.
Here is our favorite winning (cheating) strategy against White-Ra – we make some balance tweaks to Ranger’s attack damage and tell White-Ra nothing about the changes. Of course, we do pick Rangers and win the match. Here you have it, a Shadow Masters' playtest team recipe for a win over a pro-player.
This is one of the outtakes from our 2v2 gameplay. The design team (Green+Blue) is playing against White-Ra and our QA Lead (Red).
Here we are fighting over the Relic point. The design team properly locks the enemy Enforcer and blasts down a slow-reacting squad of three, securing the area, so the Relic pickup is uninterrupted. It is not an easy task to coordinate a team of two to achieve victory in team fights, because most of the abilities have a friendly fire mechanic. A couple of well-timed charges can easily bring down an entire squad in no time.
1v1 gameplay is highly intense as well, but there every mistake is yours only. If you failed to secure a flank, or brought the Sniper upfront, or missed the valuable timing, you are going to pay hard for that. Here is what happens when you miss a moment when the enemy Sniper throws a Seismic Detonator.
Meanwhile, the Project RTS Arena recruited new Raiders. Meet Mia the Paramedic and Gal the Ranger. They came here to chew bubblegum and kick ass, and they are all out of bubblegum.
What does every Raider need? GUNS, LOTS OF GUNS! So we gave them unique weapons to run down enemies in different ways. Ranger, for example, has a Shard gun: it deals huge damage in a close-quarters fight and has a knockback effect.
There are different structures players would be able to deploy on the map to gain control over their surroundings or defend the territory.
It is important to distinguish the models on the map, so we’ve added a subtle inking effect to characters and structures.
We are hardcore gamers, so we know that the reaction time to player's commands and smooth unit movement is crucial for the solid and exciting player experience, especially in the online competitive PvP games.
That's why besides all the cool gameplay features mentioned above we've been upgrading our network engine and improving performance to make Project RTS Arena ready for alpha playtests in early summer.