January 2021 Developer Update

Microgames in TF2

We did promise an update before 2020 year end on Twitter, but time got the better of us! Better late than never.

This developer update is going to focus mostly on the current progress of the next major update. We will also touch on what the future holds for the gamemode too. 

 

First things first - sorry for a lack of communication in regards to the gamemode! We aim to improve communication from Gemidyne from here on for not only this gamemode, but other projects we work on. 

 

Progress Update - as of January 2021

If you have been watching the Github repository recently you will have noticed there was a recent rebranding of the gamemode. This was done to ensure there were no conflicts from any third parties. 

 

Listen for it microgame ( #145 )

We had added a new microgame called Listen for it! to be played by the gamemode. This microgame would create speakers in the main room and one of them would play a sound for a few seconds. Players would then need to shoot the speaker that made the noise in order to succeed.

We did some initial tests but quickly realised that this microgame would not be too accessible in situations where players may have their game sound muted, or may be listening to music. Adding a visual indicator would have potentially fixed this - but then it would clearly indicate which speaker made the sound. We thought of adding another question into this microgame - so players could opt-in if they were listening to music or had the game muted, but ultimately we felt at this point it would not be fun and decided to leave it on the cutting room floor for now. 

If you have any ideas how we could possibly bring back this microgame - and have it accessible for all regardless of sound - please let us know in the Github issue: #145

 

Pipebomb jump microgame ( #106 )

Pipebomb Jump Microgame

We have added a new community microgame - it is a variant of Get on the platform! but in this situation, you need to use the blast from a pipebomb to propel yourself across to a new platform floating above the Escape from the Factory bossgame. If you miss the platform, you'll fall to your death and fail the microgame. But if you ace the landing, a point will be yours. 

Each team spawns on their own platform at the same distance from the platform in the middle. Damage from others is nulled out even though your team cannot deal damage to each other. 

Initially, we were going to create a new map area for this, but then realised we had a lot of empty space above the factory boss we could reuse. This employs an idea for the gamemode that we have been using in the previous few versions - most areas should be linked up in someway for continuity. This idea is directly inspired from what is done in Nintendo's Super Mario Sunshine - where on certain parts of the island, you can see other areas - for example you can see Pinna Park & Ricco Harbour in the distance from Delfino Plaza.

From our initial dev test, this microgame was insanely difficult to complete. We have since increased the platform size and increased the run time of the microgame to make it easier.

NOTE: The screenshot above is from an earlier version of the microgame

 

API Update - Better Damage Blocking Mode

As part of the next update, we have updated the in plugin damage blocking to support more than 1 mode and be more flexible. This is useful if you develop your own microgames or bosses for the gamemode.

 

Don't Touch microgame ( #146 )

In older versions of the gamemode, we originally had a special round that was based on players not touching each other. Touching another player would result in a failure, however it was found that this special round was very useful for exploits. In the end, we removed the special round completely and added a Github issue to think of a way we could bring it back, without the potential to exploit.

In the next major update we have added a new microgame based on the same idea. When this microgame plays, players will switch to Scout, and receive the Force-A-Nature which can be used to push players into another, resulting in them failing. 

 

Floor Break bossgame ( #75 )

Floor Break boss

We have added a new community bossgame! This one is inspired by a minigame in one of the popular Mario Kart maps. 

All players spawn on the floor, and have to get onto the green block as quick as you can! If you don't get onto the green block in time, you will fall into the acid below as all the purple blocks will disappear!

Once everyone is on the green block, all blocks will reappear, and the next green block will be highlighted shortly after. 

The longer this boss is played, the faster it will become! Last one standing wins.

 

As with all the microgames and bosses that have been added, we still need to do a playtest with our testing group. This means that there could be more changes to these before they release into the wild.

 

Future plans

The next major update will be Version 5. We are unsure if this will be our final major update built by Gemidyne. To explain our uncertainty on this, let us give you some context. We need to balance our development time with the gamemode against our other projects - for example:

  • Dekomori - our game server hosting platform
  • ProjectK - a mobile app we currently work on privately
  • ProjectMM - a 2D bullet hell shooter
  • Natsuki - our crossplatform game engine, used by ProjectMM
  • ProjectSynP - a specialised video player  

All the projects above are fighting for development & testing resource. This is why there are periods of inactivity on the Github repository. We also do not have an exact statistic of how many servers do run the gamemode, we do know of several gaming communities that have the plugin installed, but we do not know how frequently it runs, how many players are in the server while it runs, or how players feel when they play (similar to the "How was this match?" prompt you get when you use Matchmaking).

We have thought of adding a "phone home" call to the plugin that would run when the map loads - this would just hit a page on our server to let us know it has run, but we do not like the idea of this as this could be seen as tracking.

Tracking is not something we want to do as this can break trust between us, the developers and you, the server operators. 

 

With all that said - we look forward to any feedback we receive before, and after release. This feedback will ultimately be the deciding factor. Besides that, we want Version 5 to be the biggest update yet and want to push in as many new microgames, bosses and special rounds as we can. 

 

What's next 

We are going to continue trying to push as much into the update, perform more play testing, add more translations where possible and hopefully release this update in the next few months. 

After that, we will just have to play it by ear.

 

Thanks for taking the time to read this developer update.

- Gemidyne Softworks. Posted Sunday, January 31, 2021.

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