The Ship of Heroes Combat Alpha has begun
The combat is exciting. Enemies employ different powers than the heroes, and from each other. For this Alpha we created teams of six: one healer, one tank, one melee damage-dealer, and three ranged damage-dealers. All of these characters contribute to the team. The focus is on street sweeping, or running from mob to mob for in Apotheosis City, and conducting a series of fights. Each run begins with an easier mix of enemies, and builds up to a boss fight.
It has been about 14 months since we published our first video, of a robot showing off the area around the Arch in Apotheosis City. We’ve come a long way since then. Now you can see real players using our signature heroes as their avatars, fighting enemies, winning fights – usually – and uncovering bugs that need to be fixed. It is, after all, a real Alpha, so there are a few. That’s true of every game, and we’re not afraid to show it.
We’ve already identified over a dozen action items to be improved. And we’re expecting that more will emerge in future Alphas. But all of the elements that you’ve seen in our previous videos and newsletters are integrated in this Alpha, and they are working well. The combat Alpha is a complete success. One of the things we’ve heard from each of the groups that has participated so far is simply the best feedback: Ship of Heroes is already fun to play. All the players were able to use their powers pretty well, teaming was easy and fluid, enemies responded as expected, and everyone had a good time in the process.
This video represents the current state of the game, as of mid-February. Our longtime followers will spot a number of new features, including the following:
- The Yekus mercenaries make an appearance. These enemies are going to be refined somewhat in the future, but this is the third enemy group we’ve shown in actual gameplay.
- Some modifications to the UI are already integrated, as per the requests from our community.
- Sword Blossom uses the Dual Swords powerset for the first time.
- Resurrect and respawn mechanics are fully functional.
- Healing and tanking (aggro control) are useful, but not required for team success.
- New enemy powers, including draining the healer’s energy, calling for reinforcements, and serious boss-damage are all part of the combat.
For this Alpha, we used IBM Softlayer as the server service. We ran the entire Alpha in a packaged client/server arrangement, the same configuration we plan to use when we launch.
For each of the runs we are conducting during this Alpha, we are using the same six characters, so that we can test the widest possible variety of powers. In most of the runs, we had one dev play the tank role (Ambassador) and one dev play the healer (Dr. Strikewell), except where we noted otherwise. One dev often played a damage-dealer as well.
As part of the testing, devs currently have the power to rez any player who is killed, and each player also has the ability to be resurrected in a safe spot selected for this Alpha. These effects are expected to become in-game powers for players. You can see Dr. Strikewell resurrect Green Pants Man at approximately 4:15 in the video.
The bodies of defeated enemies now disappear after about 20 seconds, and the enemies respawn in the same spot at full health after about 5 minutes.
We decided to convert all of the defensive powers of each player to inherent powers for these Alpha runs, so that no one could inadvertently turn off buff powers that are important to their survival ability.
One of the interesting powers that the enemies possess is the ability of Nagdellian Lieutenants to call for reinforcements when they reach 50% health. These reinforcements are beamed in from the nearest Nagdellian mothership.
The giant robotic Destroyer at the end of the video is a stand-in for giant monsters we plan to add later on.
Some other features of note in the video:
- In the first 30 seconds, a new player tests his lightning powers on the test dummies. We’ve set them up for players to familiarize themselves with powers in the Alpha, and you can expect similar dummies to show up in a tutorial area of the game itself.
- The Chat box correctly shows dust received and Nagdellians killed, visible at 1:14. In one test, two players did not see this feedback, which we are investigating.
- At numerous points the Nagdellian Lieutenants call for reinforcements, for example at 1:51.
- Having a healer on the team is a big advantage. See 3:34. The healer prevented a team wipe and saved Sword Blossom. Green Pants Man still died, but that is to be expected; even the best healer cannot make a team invulnerable.
- At 4:18, Dr. Strikewell resurrects Green Pants Man, during the fight. Resurrection powers will be usable in mid-fight in Ship of Heroes.
- The tank, Ambassador, grabs and holds aggro in many spots, such as at 4:50.
- At 5:08 a couple of Promethean melee fighters are attacking with their leg lasers activated, which is a visual indicator that they are in combat mode. We first showed this feature in the middle of 2017.
- At 6:42 we recover from a run in which a couple of client crashes almost caused a team wipe. Notice the chat box. We’ve coded some dev tools for the Alpha, including giving players temporary superspeed so they can run back to the team from the spawn point, if they disconnect.
- Even though we limit the Alpha area to the Science Park, Apotheosis City is big. At 7:18 you can see the chat with Green Pants Man finding his way back from the spawn point.
- Buff and debuff are not the focus of this Alpha – but you can see them working, for example at 9:06. Unfortunately, not all of the icons appear. We are investigating this.
- At about 9:20 you can see one of Sword Blossom’s ten powers is to leap towards or away from enemies while doing damage. One of her other powers is bugged – she can leap right out of the ship – so we had to avoid using that one.
- 9:37 to 9:51 is a good example of the Yekus draining Dr. Strikewell’s endurance. She has an endurance buff to counter this, but it can be a real challenge in longer fights.
- At 10:54 the healer and damage-dealers wisely avoid the Promethean Destroyer’s AOE attack.
- At 11:16 Sword Blossom is almost killed by one hit of the Destroyer’s super attack.
Targeting enemies in any game always draws a lot of opinions, and there’s a lot of subtlety to it. Tab targeting in particular is complex. You don’t need to worry about it when you’re playing because it’s intuitive to use. But behind this perceived simplicity is a bit of subtlety.
This internal dev video shows a Martial Arts Brawler in melee combat against several Yekus Mercenaries with and without infusions. In the first fight, no infusions are used, and the hero is defeated, though he does kill a few enemies first. In the second run, the same hero consumes five random infusions to improve his combat stats, then he fights and defeats all of the Yekus. The location is the Ship of Heroes arena map.
In the recent SoH community event, we got some feedback that our combat is now too fast. So we went through the various powersets looking for the fastest one.
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