After going over the CBT data including all your feedback, we have made some decisions. (You can read about what kind of feedback we received HERE)
Our high-level takeaway from the beta is that we need to make our account progression more impactful as you would expect in a roguelite game. The majority of you did not notice growth/improvement after playing multiple sessions, as we had expected prior to the beta. So improving the initial experience and making the permanent growth more noticeable in order to motivate you to play more is our new mission.
We aren’t overhauling systems and features yet, as we believe we need to clear away the hurdles that prevented you from seeing and enjoying the permanent growth and see if that helps first. So our next step is to run a second CB to see if our improvement efforts made a difference in providing you with a better roguelite experience. More information on the whens and hows of the CB coming in a few weeks, we promise.
But for now, let’s talk about how we’re going to make these improvements and what you can expect to see the next time you play Blackout Protocol.
First-Time User Experience Changes
We’ll start by quickly going over the main menu navigation since it’s the first thing you interact with when you start the game. Many of you voiced the frustration of having to navigate it with only keys, so we will address that by Early Access. Menu navigation is deceptively resource-heavy work and we’d like to prioritize the below changes for our next test.
By the second closed beta, our goal is to present you with a more engaging and informative first-time user experience as we saw that many players weren’t motivated to play beyond the first few matches. The game was difficult and the motivation to keep playing was unclear. So we are addressing this first with the menu setup. Upon launching the game, you will be met with a new menu screen that’s been redesigned to you make you feel like you’re stepping into the S2P office to help immerse you into the lore and your role as an agent.
This is roughly what we’re thinking. You enter a room and Boy Scout has his feet propped up on his desk bored out of his gourd, Beaker is doing lab work in the back, and so on.
From this office-like main menu, you can start a game or enter two new rooms: the Armory (name not final), the Growth Room (name very much not final). The armory is a gun room that proudly displays your unlocked primary weapons with room to add more. And upgraded weapons will be prominently featured as well. You can learn about the weapon types and ranks here and the details of the guns you own to help you select the best hardware for your next assignment.
Picture a wall lined up with brackets, with guns you unlocked displayed like so:
The growth room is just that: a room that explains the various perm growth elements as well as the details of your current growth stats. And unlike before, you can spend Data Nugs here instead of during the run. As you spend Data Nugs, you will see crystals in this room fill up to mark your progress sort of like this:
Improving Initial Gameplay
The other big improvement goal is to address the combat side of the first-time experience. There was a lot of frustration within the first 30 minutes when you kept getting party-wiped and things didn’t change much when you tried again and again. With no permanent progression unlocks happening, no benefits were carrying over from previous sessions. So we will be working on combat difficulty, Synaptic Enhancements, and generally providing more opportunities to unlock weapons to create a more balanced roguelite experience.
Let’s go over our plans for combat difficulty first. We will be setting the difficulty of the initial levels to reflect players’ experience thereby giving everyone a chance to get better and not be discouraged from the beginning. The goal would be to get you to the safe zone within the first few runs, and have you continuously unlock new weapons and power-ups. This should provide a stronger sense of progression in the 5 to 10 runs that follow. Of course, levels are still procedurally generated so you will have a different experience every time.
Oh, and we’re also making it so that when you pick up a tactical weapon (like claymores, grenades), you keep your primary weapon equipped. We received many reports that switching automatically to the tactical weapon is jarring and we see that it can add to your probability of dying.
We also want to make changes to the Synaptic Enhancements to better aid you in battle. For one thing, we want to increase the number of SEs you can acquire on a level and have you experience more SEs to see the synergy effect of different SEs. And as there were many requests to increase your movement speed, we will introduce new SEs that will do precisely that–enhance different movement speeds for the run of the level, that can be stacked. And prior to you telling us so, we did not realize that SE selection time was too short as we had basically memorized the SE icons and didn’t need to read the descriptions. But clearly, we had our dev blinders on and we need to give proper amount of time for you to read it through, so we are increasing the time from 15 to 45 seconds. And in case you’re wondering why we even have a timer, it’s to ensure there isn’t too long of a wait for the party if someone takes a while to pick their SE.
Another change we’re making is with how you acquire new primary weapons. Or to be more exact, WHEN you acquire it. Unlike now, you will acquire Blueprints mid-battle though you still need to arrive at the Safe Zone to use it. But once you are at the SZ and use your Blueprint, your new weapon is ready for you to try right then and there.
There are of course more things we are working on such as adding more creatures, spectator mode, better voice chat, etc., and they will be listed out in detail in a patch note when the time comes. We also have an even longer list of ideas we want to implement beyond CB2, but we are currently laser-focused on presenting a better growth experience for our next test, so don’t be too disappointed if your feedback or suggestion doesn’t seem to be reflected yet.
Keep an eye out for all the updates we will be making on our Feature Upvote board, so you will at least know what we’re doing or what we think about your feedback. Please also note that as we design and implement the changes based on your feedback, we also run tests both internally and publicly that may guide us to make even more changes and the final result may differ.
Thank you for reading this rather lengthy blog, will come back with updates on Closed Beta 2 info soon!