Thank you so much for participating in the beta, as well as sharing your thoughts on the game via various channels–be it the feedback survey, the Feature Upvote board, the Discord server, the Steam forums, or various livestreams and videos.
With even more Agents joining the second closed beta, the Blackout Protocol team is working hard on drawing all learning points and preparing our next steps. While we are still working on how best to incorporate everything we learned from your feedback into the game, we wanted to take an opportunity to share some of our learnings from CB2.
Re: Stability & Matchmaking
While framedrops were the most commonly reported issue in CB1, we saw many reports of network/latency issues in CB2–battles remained to be where Agents encountered the most stability issues.
While we did see CB2 Agents played more in full groups, less opted to use the Quick Start feature.
CB2 confirmed our notion that Blackout Protocol is at its best when Agents are communicating with each other and playing as a team, rather than being forced into a session with complete strangers where teammates may compete against each other. We will of course take a closer look at fundamental concerns such as latency and connection issues; but we are also considering a multi-faceted approach that makes Blackout Protocol fun, whether Agents are matchmaking for co-op or diving in solo.
Other than the different types of damage, there was no major change in how Agents picked up on subtle combat mechanics between the two betas.
One of the most frequent feedback we received about the game was its difficulty and overall combat balance. This came in various forms and areas that we will be taking a careful look into and plan improvements. To share examples, there were mentions of reload mechanics, character movement speed, friendly fire, etc.
Re: Permanent Growth and Roguelite Elements
We saw that CB2 Agents found the permanent growth more noticeable than in CB1.
We also noticed that CB2 Agents were more keen on utilizing the various weapon perks and weapon unlocks.
Re: Other Topics
Those who took the survey already know that we had many more areas in addition to those listed above. For example, communication was something we added newly for CB2 feedback survey, since we added new features.
While we saw that many Agents communicated with their teammates, the built-in features (in-game voice chat, pings, and quick chat messages) could use some improvements to be more useful for our Agents.
Same as CB1, we could see our Agents really liked the aesthetics of the game. The environment art still came up top, but both the enemy art and the character art came in as a tie for close seconds.
Re: Game Changes from CB1
Our second beta gave us insight on how the changes and improvements we brought based on CB1 were received by our Agents. We thus thought having a section to touch some of these changes more in-depth would be helpful in showing how your feedback helps shape the game.
One of the big changes we made in CB2 was with permanent growth elements. CB1 Agents didn’t feel there was much permanent growth across sessions, and we saw that many Agents missed out on power-ups as they did not realize what the various objects in the Safe Room were for.
In order to provide a better sense of power-ups and progression in CB2, we made adjustments to permanent power-ups (including adding new ones) and organized them under tiered unlocks. We also increased Data Nug drops in a hotfix to encourage unlocking power-ups quicker. For the visibility part, we made it required for Agents to spend all Data Nugs, as well as turn in all blueprints, in the Safe Room before they leave. We believe these changes helped CB2 Agents saying they felt a bigger impact from permanent power-ups and blueprints than CB1 Agents.
Another change was with Synaptic Enhancements. Based on the feedback survey, 34% of CB1 Agents told us they did not know what Synaptic Enhancements were. Quite a few Agents also mentioned the Nethercube’s Synaptic Enhancement selection window (15 seconds in CB1) was too short to read everything and assess how they would help gameplay. For CB2, we made changes so that Agents encounter their first Synaptic Enhancement selection earlier in the map, with the intention that Agents get to experience the impact of those power-ups earlier and longer. The selection time was also increased to 45 seconds, which allowed Agents to take in all information and choose the one that fits their playstyle best–especially once they unlock Synaptic Enhancement rerolls. This led to the survey results where fewer Agents in CB2 told us they did not know what Synaptic Enhancements were (21% vs. 34% in CB1).
It is a bit too early for us to share detailed plans of what further improvements will come next, but rest assured that the team is working hard to create a better Blackout Protocol experience based on all the valuable feedback you provided. To share some examples:
- Mouse controls in the menu are coming for Early Access:
To provide more context, this was always part of the plan. It may come as a surprise, but enabling mouse controls in the menu does require a fair bit of development resources, so we wanted to keep this as part of the UI revamp when we go into Early Access.
- Difficulty and combat balance is something that our team is always closely watching:
In fact, we are planning another beta test in May, which will help us gather more data on difficulty and balance.
- We continue to work on other quality-of-life improvements, such as spacing medkit and ammo drops farther apart to facilitate picking them up.
Thank you so much for participating in CB2 and sharing your thoughts! We hope to bring you more updates about the game soon!
– ODS GeeK