Monday
Apr162012

1.3 Release Notes

ARMED! 1.3 is has pasted certification and will be available in the marketplace within the next 24 hours.  This release includes a few small improvements, but focused mainly on bug fixes including a fix for the "stuck game" issue.

Balance Changes

  • Reduced Striker FireRange from 3 back to 2.

Improvements

  • General improvements to BugSense exception reporting.
  • Casual matches will now forfeit after 72 hours of inactivity.
  • Better information is sent to support when the game hits an error.
  • Optimized board pathfinding algorithms.
  • Increased time before a matchmaking timeout
  • Couple of translation improvements for German and Italian.
  • Showing a messagebox again when a match is stuck due to a network desync.
  • Corrupted save games are ignored or deleted to prevent duplicate error reports.
  • Improved handling when the system's sound count limit is hit.
  • Phones with slower wifi connections should have an easier time connecting to the network now.
  • Improved bug reporting for network desyncs.

Bug Fixes

  • Fixed various exceptions related to networking threads updating the UI.
  • Prevented network desync when replay is hit after a deployment action
  • Fixed Exception thrown during Game Over sequence when local multiplayer games couldn't find a nextPlayer.
  • Protected against crash in Scoreloop screen when a bad DOB is passed in.
  • Tile Notifications should no longer mismatch names or statuses.
  • Fixed a couple of file I/O exceptions.
Wednesday
Apr042012

Avoid "Stuck" games!

We have found the cause of the "stuck" game bug. Please read this FAQ entry to avoid causing it while we get an update out.

Update: Fixed in v 1.3, this workaround is no longer necessary.

Friday
Mar232012

1.2 Release Notes

ARMED! 1.2 is now available at the marketplace! Check out the game-changing new features below plus a large number of balance changes, bug fixes, and general improvements.

v1.2

New Features:

  • New Multiplayer/matchmaking lobby
  • New Ranked correspondence mode
  • ARMED! is now a Mango app!
    • Fast Application Switching. No more lost games to the search button!
    • Can now pin a live tile to the home screen by pressing and holding on a match in the Quick Start menu
    • Toast notifications alert you when it's your turn in a correspondence match
  • New News ticker on the Main Menu
  • ARMED! Has been translated into the following languages
    • Spanish
    • German
    • Italian
    • If you'd like to help translate ARMED! into your language, contact support.
  • New Unit Information screen, accessible when a unit is selected by tapping the Magnifying glass button or from within the buy screen
  • New "multi-select" button replaces one of the command group buttons, allows the user to make a temporary selection of multiple units without changing their group
  • Drag select! Can drag a selection box while holding down a group button or the multi-select button
  • BugSense support added, in-game crash details will be automatically reported to the support team

Balance Changes:

  • Factory:
    • Isolated the Factory's Reactor node. No longer requires any previous upgrades nor does the Reactor upgrade block future upgrades
    • Factories can no longer be added to unit groups
  • Striker:
    • All Strikers start out with 25 shield points.
    • Damage decreased to 15 (Down from 20).
    • Fire range increased to 3 (Up from 2).
    • Removed Immolation special
    • New special "Caution". Strikers using this action will retreat to a safe distance while under attack
  • Tank:
    • Maximum HP is now 80. (Down from 100)
    • Armor Rating is now 2 (Up from 1)
  • Missile Silo:
    • Now costs 500 to deploy (Down from 750)
    • Armor rating is now 3 (Up from 0)
  • HoverTank:
    • Damage increased from 9 to 15.
    • Speed increased by 1.
    • HP reduced from 100 to 25, but added 75 shield points.
    • Speed boost from Turbo special now works correctly.
    • Turbo special rebalanced to now be free of cost and not cause self-damage, but can only be used every other turn
    • Flamethrower now hits more than one target.
  • Rocket Battery
    • Starts with 3 rockets instead of 1.
    • Now only launches one "volley" of rockets per combat phase.
    • Replaced initial "Extra Rocket" upgrade with a "Shield" upgrade.
    • Replaced "3-Way Rockets" upgrade with another "Extra Rocket" upgrade.
    • All Rocket Batteries now deal 25% splash damage
    • Base damage is now 30 (Up from 20)
    • Starting HP is now 150 (Up from 100)
    • Now costs 300 to deploy (Down from 400)
    • Armor Rating is now 2 (Up from 0)
    • Anti-Air rockets now cost 100 resources. (Down from 250)
    • Anti-Air rockets reduce base damage by 2. (Down from 5)
    • Concussion Rockets now cost 100 resources. (Down from 200)
    • Extra Rocket upgrade now costs 75 resources (Down from 150)
    • Now prefers changing targets between shots
  • Drone:
    • New Detector upgrade gives vision of all units and tiles within sight range, regardless of vision blocking terrain or cloaking abilities
    • Drones which are attacked while idle (not pathed or capturing) will now automatically attempt to move away towards safety
  • Repair Station:
    • Now costs 300 to deploy (Up from 150)
    • Repair Stations can now heal themselves at twice their normal repair amount (previously could not self-repair)
    • Added shield upgrade option
    • Starting HP is now 150 (Up from 100)
    • Armor Rating is now 2 (Up from 0)
  • Incendiary Launcher:
    • Now costs 400 to deploy (Down from 600)
    • Armor Rating is now 3 (Up from 0)
  • Mech:
    • Shockwave special no longer damages the Mech
    • Shockwave special now hits friendly units within 1 tile in addition to the enemy
    • Shockwave special now slows enemy units within 2 tiles
    • The Mech can now move normally while using Shockwave (previously movement was disabled for the combat turn in which shockwave was used)
  • Laser Turret:
    • Starting HP is now 200. (Up from 100)
    • Interceptor upgrades can no longer destroy Silo projectiles
    • Armor Rating is now 3 (Up from 0)
  • General:
    • Shield upgrade for structure now costs 75 resources. (Down from 100)
    • Units cannot fire at units directly above them. (Flying units in the same tile)

Improvements:

  • Major multiplayer improvements
    • Improved matchmaking algorithms to match players together quicker
    • New Ranked correspondence mode
  • Units are now much easier to select
  • Redesigned main menu and other screens in accordance with metro principals, text should now be easier to read and appear cleaner in general
  • Double tapping a non-Factory structure opens its Upgrade Screen (Factories only open the Upgrade Screen if it cannot currently produce vehicles)
  • Can now buy specials and upgrades more quickly by double-tapping, in the same way one can for vehicles and structures
  • Units within SoftCover tiles (trees) now have their healthbar rendering turned on to increase visibility to the user (previously only turned on when taking damage)
  • Various rendering optimizations noticably increase fps during combat
  • New Alert icons
  • New Alerts:
    • Orbital Strike launched
    • HQ Under Attack
    • Power Station being captured
  • Duplicate alerts no longer appear if a similar/nearby alert is already on screen
  • Alerts increase in size as similar events happen nearby
  • Adjusted HUD to take up less screen space
  • A path node now pulsates while being dragged for easier visibility
  • Units Destroyed are now logged in the end of game statistics screen
  • Slight improvements to AI, Hard/Insane in particular will now begin the game with a stronger opening
  • Added several missing characters to fonts
  • Improved particle effect for "Slowed" units
  • Better reporting for Scoreloop-related errors
  • Text appears crisper and easier to read
  • Added preview margin to the Level Select screen to make user aware the screen scrolls horizontally
  • Vibration and alert options are enabled by default
  • Adjusted spacing and justification for buy screen menu text
  • Factories will now prefer to warp in Vehicles on tiles closer to their rally-point

Bug Fixes:

  • Fixed issue that was preventing some players from connecting to multiplayer
  • Can now add all units of a certain type to a group while holding a group button and double tapping a unit
  • Buy/Upgrade screens are no longer accessible outside of deployment via a doubletap
  • Enemy units are no longer selectable while in grouping mode
  • After performing a special or upgrade, the enhanced unit will remain selected on exiting the menu
  • Can follow/path to a unit that renders through fog of war (the HQ and Mech).
  • Drone's Repair no longer causes issues with units that are moving or attacking.
  • Prevented camera-related crash during the level loading process
  • Factories no longer emit smoke while producing a unit if they're under fog of war.
  • Camera now saves/restores it's position while pointing out SoftCover in the Tutorial.
  • Improved network stability
  • Vehicles now face the enemy HQ after being built
  • Orbital Strike AoE no longer renders during the Game Over sequence.
  • Tank's Overshield special now shows the correct icon
  • Scoreloop menu option no longer remains disabled in a rare timing issue.
  • Scoreloop "date of birth" no longer offsets by 24 hours
  • Scoreloop usernames with extended characters no longer cause issues
  • Tutorial Time/Resource control can no longer become "stuck" while dragging the camera
  • Fixed purple screen flash before loading a game.
Thursday
Jan262012

Sneak Peek At New Game Content

Hey, ARMED! fans! Here at Sickhead Games, we’re committed to making ARMED! an even better experience for players, and we are doing that in a number of ways. First, we continue to perfect the gameplay balance and have asked users  to chime in on what they think could improve the game. Second, we have been optimizing the online connectivity for better matchmaking. And lastly, we hope to provide a series of brand new maps.

I took a few screenshots to share of Joe working on a new level tentatively called “Fortress”. These images really show how much detail will be baked down into the final art. Most of the textures for the game were created by building high-detail geometry and rendering out that detail onto image maps that are then applied to the low-detail geometry you see in the game. This allows ARMED! to feature a lot of implied detail without being slowed down by actual geometric detail. Generally we use 3ds Max to build the high-poly and low-poly versions of the models, and xNormal to help render out the detail. Eventually the textures will be loaded into Photoshop and Mudbox to create the final, colored units and terrains you see in-game.

We’re excited to release new content for the game, and this one just might introduce a new mechanic in the way that vehicles can traverse maps. Enjoy!

 


Friday
Jan132012

Balance Changes

  

My name is James Ford and i'm the lead designer of ARMED!.

It's been about three weeks since ARMED! was first released and about time for a balance patch! I would love to get your feedback on the balance issues raised below and the proposed changes to address them.  

Tanks FTW

It seems that massing Tanks has become a dominant strategy.

Tanks are not intended to be your primary army: they are intended to be front-line damage-soakers as well as provide anti-air protection for your Artillery. The primary damage dealers were intended to be the HoverTank, Artillery, and the Striker. The Mech is, similar to the Tank, intended to be a late-game damage-soaker at the front-line of a battle, when the enemy has become highly entrenched with static defenses.

However, HoverTanks and Strikers simply aren't fulfilling their role very well.

While the Striker actually does significantly more damage than a Tank it has half of its Health, plus no potential for shields. If you could keep Strikers away from Tanks they would indeed kill units like Artillery very quickly, but since its FireRange is two, the same as a Tank, this is in practice nearly impossible to pull off.

The HoverTank actually does less damage than a Tank, has no shields, and has no armor (the tank takes one less damage from all attacks do to its ArmorRating). Not to mention, the HoverTank must be right next to the enemy in order to fire. With the range upgrade it can attack from one away, the same as the Tank, but this upgrade is not free. The HoverTank is burdened with all of these penalties because it has three very powerful abilities the Tank does not:

  1. It can cross water and other obstacles a Tank cannot.
  2. It has full ArmorPenetration, which is to say, its damage to armored targets like the Mech, some Structures, and the Tank is not reduced.
  3. It deals damage to EVERYTHING in the tile (or two with the range upgrade).

However, what I have noticed in online play, is that players are getting very good at "splitting" their Tanks, so they are not in the same tile. This effectively negates the primary ability of the HoverTank, to deal AoE damage. In a one-on-one fight even a single Tank can defeat a HoverTank, while costing less money!

There is also a significant initial investment required to even begin production of HoverTanks or Strikers, which is contributing to them not getting much use.

Some Remedies

How can we address these problems? Well I have some ideas...

Reduce HoverTank Health from 100 to 25, but give it 75 shields with no upgrade required. The HoverTank is suppose to be a "raider" and since shields regenerate this makes it more likely to survive multiple fights.

If the HoverTank is hitting only a single enemy with its attack, it deals double damage. This will allow it to be prive-effective versus single targets and not "require" bunched up enemies to do anything significant.

Change the HoverTank's special action to instead cause it to explode dealing damage to enemies, if it dies during this turn. The current special is simply not very useful, and exploding on death makes more sense for a close range fire-based weapon.

 Increase the HoverTank's movement speed by one. This would put it at the same movement speed as as the Drone and Striker. With a close range weapon and not a lot of armor, it really needs to close quickly with the enemy as well as making sense for a "raiding" vehicle play-role.

Remove the Reactor (Factory-upgrade) from the existing upgrade chain and instead have it as an isolated node. Would allow you to have both Hanger and Reactor, allowing you to build aircraft from your first Factory without giving up the ability to produce significant numbers of ground units.

Reduce the cost of Hanger from 400 to 250. Costing the price of 4 tanks just for the ability to make aircraft seems too high.

Reduce the cost of Mech Lab from 400 to 250. Same logic, sure the Mech is strong, but it costs 500 already.

Reduce the cost of AircraftAttack from 400 to 200. Plus one damage is really not that significant, should not cost the price of four tanks.

Change the Striker's special-action to something more useful. The current special "Immolate", or something similar to it, makes more sense on the HoverTank, the Striker shouldn't even be anywhere near that close range to enemies, if it is then it's already dead. I am open to ideas of what its new special should be.

Increase the Striker's AttackRange from 2 to 3. This makes it one greater than the Tank and one less than the Artillery. This should make it more useful as a mid-line damage output unit, defending your Artillery from Striker's with Tanks will no longer happen "automatically" since they no longer have equal range.

Give the Striker 25 shield points (no upgrade required). The Striker has 50 Health, a full half of most other units. This makes it die way too fast for such an expensive unit. It should still be somewhat fragile (but high damage output), but giving it a little shields should make it survive better from fight to fight.

Protracted Engagement

Another issue is that games sometimes seem to last way too long. This seems to occur most frequently on Riverted against equal skilled opponents. One match in the office lasted 45 minutes. This is much too long for a phone game; we would like games to last between 10-20 minutes.

I am considering making some map changes on Riverted to address this. In particular, thinning some of the trees and expanding the central bridge to be 2 tiles wide. The intention here is to make it somewhat easier to get forces to the other side and attack, as currently, the defender can setup a very hard to crack defensive wall.

We are also considering more radical changes to address game-length, such as a victory point system. But, this won't be happening before the balance changes already mentioned come out because I feel that increasing the usefulness of the Striker and HoverTank will already give the "attacker" more advantage than before, potentially leading to fewer "unpassable blockade" positions.

ARMED! Needs You

So how do you feel about the game?

Am I exaggerating the issue and in danger of making HoverTanks and Strikers way way too good? What about Riverted, does it feel too easy to defend or just right? Do you have any other pet-peeve balance issues that I missed?

Please let us know and thanks for playing ARMED!.