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Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #11] - Level comparison: Scotland vs Wallachia

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Jan 27 2017, 04:07 PM in Development

Level comparison: Scotland vs Wallachia
Hi guys. Sorry for the delay for this latest update. Starting a new year generally has us busy with a bunch of things and while many of you may be enjoying a nice cool winter, here in Santiago it feels like a furnace outside, which doesn't help too much. But don't worry; we're still hard at work making sure the game lives up to its potential!

Following our regular development blog posts this time we'll be looking at how we've redesigned one of the most characteristic levels from the first game and re-imagined it for the sequel.



Scotland on the left (Rock of Ages 2), Wallachia on the right (Rock of Ages). Same level, re-imagined.

When we started developing the sequel we decided we wanted to bring back some of the more competitive and fun levels featured in the first game. Most of the levels in the new game are still brand new, but there were a couple of older designs that we thought were worth rescuing, and this is one of those cases.

In the following segments we'll explain what changes we did to improve the existing design and how that should translate in to a better gameplay experience.

Note: In the original game you have to fight Dracula at this point. Even though the level layout looks quite similar, we've decided that this level is now located in Scotland. Why? Just because. 40% less historically accurate, right? Any ideas who you'll get to face here?


Starting points

In all of the levels in the original Rock of Ages, the track mirroring is split at the boulder launching area, having both adversaries looking in opposite directions. We thought it wasn't very fun to start by having you give your back to your enemy, so we've tried to set up starting points that are facing each other.



Above: Rock of Ages. Below: Rock of Ages 2. Here you have line of sight of your opponent.

We've avoided placing boulders directly next to each other in the new game. In most cases you should always be able to view your opponent in a 180 degree view radius. In some maps paths will even briefly intersect.

The narrow section

Another area we decided to redesign is the center of the level that featured a narrow segment with steps. Many people disliked the steps because they killed any momentum you may have gained at that point (and blocking the boulder should be consequence of unit placement, not level design). So to address this problem we decided to replace this area with a bridge.


Above: Rock of Ages. Below: Rock of Ages 2.

Instead of making steps in this area we made it narrower, which presents its own challenge. But a fast boulder that is able to avoid enemy units should be able to move through this part at a good speed. We also decided to limit the areas where you can place units to the checkered sections, because defending the complete bridge was too easy without these limitations.

The shortcut

We wanted to keep the shortcut in the middle section that rewards players that take the "leap of faith" and are able to cover both jumps.


Above: Rock of Ages. Below: Rock of Ages 2.

The smaller platforms are still easy to defend to dissuade players that want to take the risk. The jump is also a little harder for regular boulders, but much easier for light boulders like the giant balloons. Setting up your roster with two different boulders might be a good idea in this level, to cover both paths (take the shortcut or the bridge).

Near the castle

The final segment that leads to the castle was also repurposed to support more interesting gameplay. This section was fun in the original, but very hard to defend effectively.



Above: Rock of Ages. Below: Rock of Ages 2.

The old layout which features several round-like rocks really prevents you from setting up a good defense, because these rocks are easy to jump over/past, invalidating most of the usable terrain.

All levels with good design need to feature areas where defenses can be more effective. We decided to include a stone arch that serves as a choke point, since the entry and exit can be blocked quite easily (you can't build directly below though). Additionally, it's expected that many players will want to set up defenses in the final segment of the level, just before the castle, so we wanted to provide a good landmark to assist with such defenses.

And that's everything for this blog post! Hope everyone likes the changes for our "version 2.0" of the Wallachia level. Stay tuned that we'll be posting some news on Patricio Meneses' music in our next blog post, which should be just around the corner.




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Scarlet Nova 2017 format Calendar

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Jan 26 2017, 10:34 AM

New on 'The Deadly Tower of Monsters':

By popular demand we've reformatted Steam's Scarlet Nova digital calendar for 2017. Files should be automatically downloaded to your computer.

For those who didn't know, the digital calendar is located at:
Steam\SteamApps\common\the_deadly_tower_of_monsters\Scarlet Nova Calendar

Note: January has been set for 2018 since it already passed.

The calendar will soon be available on GOG as well.



Zeno Clash ranks 48 in Rock, Paper, Shotgun best 50 FPS of all time on PC!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Jan 17 2017, 09:14 AM

Once again Zeno Clash is rated as one of the best first-person games on PC ever made. This time it ranks 48 in Rock, Paper, Shotgun's best 50 FPS of all time on PC! We're honored to still be on the list as of 2017!

Absolutely made our day! smile.gif



Happy New Year!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 31 2016, 05:07 PM

Happy New Year!
We wish you a rock-solid new year! May happiness and success roll out for you throughout 2017!


Rock of Ages 2 notepad giveaway winners.

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 31 2016, 07:17 AM

Rock of Ages 2 notepad giveaway winners.
Here are the lucky few who will get an awesome Rock of Ages 2 themed notepad in the new year!

Steam winners:

🎃G-d🎃

AvidWriter

Gustev

Futuramic

HazardousPath


Facebook winner:

Christo Brink

Twitter winner:

Lord of Cheese

We will be contacting the winners. If someone wouldn't want to share their address, we will pick a new winner.

Have happy remaining holidays and a wonderful 2017, everyone!



Happy Holidays from ACE Team!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 23 2016, 11:41 AM

Happy Holidays from ACE Team!
Our most sincere thanks to all our community for continuing to support us during 2016 with our latest releases. It's thanks to you guys that we can continue to develop new exciting projects, so again, a huge thanks from our part!

Hoping 2017 will be a great year with Rock of Ages 2 and other secret stuff in the horizon!

Best wishes,
The ACE Team staff


Holidays giveaway! Win a Rock of Ages 2 notepad!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 20 2016, 02:57 PM

Holidays giveaway! Win a Rock of Ages 2 notepad!
Hi guys,

To celebrate the end of the year we wanted to run a small contest where winners will be participating for a cool Rock of Ages 2 themed notepad. Ideal to take your 2017 notes and have all your friends green with envy. All notepads will also include a little surprise inside!

To participate all you have to do is be a member of the Rock of Ages 2 hub. In addition, if you wishlist the game on Steam your chances of winning are twice as good!!

To join the hub press "Follow" on the Rock of Ages 2 Steam store page.

We're also running this contest on some of our other social media sites. Join our Facebook and Twitter pages and share our posts about this giveaway if you want to increase your odds:

We'll be drawing 5 notepads in this Steam group. Winners will be announced on Friday the 30th. Good luck to everyone!


Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #10] - Unit review: The Battleship

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 13 2016, 02:50 PM in Development

Unit review: The Battleship
Hey guys. Welcome to a new defensive unit overview. This time we'll be looking at the updated Battleship.



Same or not?

The battleship serves a similar purpose to that of the original Rock of Ages. The unit fires in to the air and the projectile briefly lands near you in a mortar-like vertical angle, trying to anticipate your location. However, the cannonball shot features some new dynamics that make it more useful as an obstacle and the visual redesign is meant to reflect this.

Shells or land mines?

The vertical shot is meant to land directly on the boulder for highest damage, but if the shot misses, it can still deal damage in the form of a temporary land mine.


Bombarded with 'cannon shells'


The cannonballs that hit the surface burry half way in to the ground. While they are there they act as mines. Boulders that roll on top of exposed shells will cause these to explode. Additionally, buried shots start to gain pressure and explode after a few seconds.



Land mine mechanic: Cannonballs that burry in to the ground explode briefly after.


Just like in the first game, when the battleship prepares to fire it will be accompanied by a visual and audio cue. The destination impact point is signaled by an animated reticule so players can attempt to dodge the falling projectile. Falling shots will also leave a trial of smoke so other players can visualize the projectile's trajectory from far away distances.



Missed me by a hair!


The visuals

One of the things we wanted to convey with the new design is a more clear representation of the vertical attack. The old unit felt like it "spawned" projectiles out of thin air, and even though this is actually how the game executes the attack, it seemed important to create the illusion that there is an actual mortar-like arced shot.

The massive four cannons that are located on the ship in a radial like pattern show that the unit is aiming towards the sky. The cannon facing the targeted boulder wills always be the cannon that fires. The fire animation is quite dramatic, so even if you're not playing with audio you'll be able to prepare for the imminent reticule to show up.

It's curious that while we were preparing this blog post we quickly realized something was missing from the battleship when comparing it to the older design: COLORS!



Battleship from RoA on the left. Battleship from RoA2 on the right.


It's incredible what some nice colors can do to compliment a design. Even if the older unit has less polygons and simpler lighting/shading it looks much more interesting. So the next step will be to complement the existing design with color coding which will not only improve the overall aesthetics but also allow the unit to display your team's color selection.

Look forward to screenshots of a more colorful battleship once we include color coding to the materials.

And that's it for today! We hope everyone enjoys this content update that was a bit overdue. Until the next time!




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Indie of the Year Awards


Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #9] - Navigation Cues

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Dec 13 2016, 02:07 PM in Development

Navigating the battlefield
Rock of Ages is a race to destroy the enemy castle gates (and then squishing the opponent's puny leader with your boulder), so it is important to design levels that are clear to navigate.


Worlds collide!

One innovation we brought to the level designs is that your territory and the enemy territory sometimes intersect. This gives you the opportunity to collide with the enemy boulders on your way down, but it also means we have to give some additional cues so players always know when they are going towards the enemy castle or their own!

The first and most important hint, is of course, the team colors! We do not have a fixed red vs blue palette anymore, so the tracks and many details including units, people, flags, boulders and castles, will all change to use your selected army color and banner. We are starting with 10 colors to choose from.


If two players are using the same settings?

We need to do something when two players have the same preferred colors, so if two red armies meet, whoever enters the battle last will have their main and detail colors swapped (in the above example that player would have a yellow banner with red lions).

More cues

A great hint we had in Rock of Ages that helped players find the right direction, specially when they fell off the track or got disoriented, was the wind:


The wind is not only decorative, but it always blows towards the enemy castle. Even without telling the player in a tutorial, we found it was one of those subtle things that people got intuitively.


This way please.

Not all hints need to be subtle though... a finger pointing in the right direction just works smile.gif


I have an answer for that!

It's because you don't want to win because your enemy didn't know where to go. You want to win because they couldn't get through your cunning defensive strategies!

----------

Now that we are play-testing very often, we have had the chance to fine tune the level design; block or enable shortcuts, set which tiles players can build on, calibrate boulders and units, etc. We'll continue do this, always remembering that the priority is to make a fair and fun game.

Edmundo Bordeu
Art Director



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Rock of Ages 2: Bigger & Boulder [Dev Blog #8] - The Balloon Boulders!

Posted by Dmitriy Gorbachev, Nov 4 2016, 03:54 PM in Development

The Balloon Boulders!
By now you may know that in Rock of Ages II different boulders have different attributes, and you can choose unique ones to play in your matches.

Today we will talk about the Balloon Boulders...


The main advantage that Balloon Boulders have is pretty clear: They are light which allows them to jump higher. Balloon boulders can jump obstacles that regular boulders would need to go through, losing health & speed.


I know what you're thinking: That's OP! One of the big complaints about Rock of Ages 1 was it was too easy to jump over obstacles! But don't worry, there are three things to consider here:
  • In general regular boulders jump less high than in the first game. (So jumping has been nerfed a bit).
  • Many units are taller than in ROA 1 (like the elephant that now has a tower), which makes jumping over stuff even harder.
  • The Balloon Boulder has very clear weaknesses...

As you can see, the balloon boulder isn't very fast, nor resistant. It's weight class also means it deals less damage to the gate (and all enemies). In a game where speed and strength are incredibly important, having two weak stats is not so good. The balloon boulder is actually a good secondary boulder because:
  • It can get past super well defended areas and clear the path for your friend.
  • It can reach shortcuts that can be much harder to achieve for regular boulders.
In our current matches people who are depending too much on the balloon boulders are losing most of the time. They are too weak, which makes them very vulnerable to projectile weapons like the Ballista.


Here are the two Balloon class boulders of the game. What's that on the left? An inflated cow?!?

The Balloon Boulders are definitely a very fun addition to the game. They add an interesting layer of strategy and decision making when preparing for a war match, and are unique and feel different to the other boulders of Rock of Ages II. But the thing I've enjoyed the most about them is seeing them pop in the middle of the air after I get overwhelmed by a nasty projectile defense. Seeing an inflated cow burst like a balloon has made me laugh out loud several times already, and I hope it will also make you laugh as well.

Carlos Bordeu
Game Designer




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