By now if you’re an Alien Arena player on Steam, you’ve probably noticed a fairly significant amount of updates over the past few weeks.  You’ve probably also noticed a lack of players, unfortunately.  Our launch wound up being rather disorganized, mostly due to circumstances out of our control.  Promotional campaigns got delayed, there was some learning curve dealing with Steam, and we had quite a few oversights regarding the game itself that needed addressing.  So, things got pushed back a bit and delayed longer until we got all of our t’s crossed, i’s dotted, and ducks-in-a-row.  It was a bit of a blessing in disguise, as the game updates since then are very significant in several areas.

The feedback was interesting, sometimes quite useful.  The simple fact is that if you want to improve your game, you need to listen to everything, everyone, take it all in, and process into something positive for everyone involved.  It isn’t always the easiest thing to do, and you have to swallow your pride quite often.

The two recurring themes we kept seeing was that 1) Visibility was still an issue, and 2) That the game looked dated.  I wondered “how” it looked dated…after all our lighting and shadowing, many other effects are in fact quite modern, but I am not blinded enough to believe that we compare to current AAA engines, so I always wanted to know the reasons people might have a certain viewpoint – so that I could IMPROVE what was lacking.  Alas, a few people, honest people, made comments that when coalated together, it started to make sense – our particle effects were really outdated looking, and dragging the entire experience down(an oversight, due to familiarity of looking at it for so long).  So, a huge part of the first round of updates dealt with revamping the particle and weapon effects.  The flamethrower in particular was one that received quite a bit of love.

flame

The next issue was visibility.  In fact, that has been a criticism of Alien Arena for years, so we had addressed that by adding fog effects to the players the further they got away.  It was a compromise – some, especially those who were looking from the outside had repeatedly requested “bright skins”, something I (as an artist), despised.  I really just am not a fan of the trend of “Tron-like” art in the first person shooter world.  Maybe I’m stubborn(no, not maybe, I AM).  The fog seemed like a decent compromise, but the problem was it didn’t work well enough in some situations.  Something I found firsthand during a match last month, when the map(Dismal) caused that fog effect to blend in due to the fog already in the map itself.  Many Alien Arena maps have fog, and while I’ve endlessly play-tested, it just never seemed to affect me personally as much as it did that evening.  Maybe my computer-eyes are getting worse, but it needed some “oomph”.  I had noticed some games adding an outline around players, but that was kind of ugly/lame I though, so I had a little algorithm for doing some cell-shading that I thought if I increased the brightness of the shading to be greater than that of the fog on the player, it would not only increase visibility, but also look pretty cool, and it did.

redteam

blueteam

Shown here are the CTF effects for players.  (DM games use green).  Getting visibility worked out was a top priority, because Alien Arena and COR Entertainment are returning to dreamhack2017in just a few days!  We will have our own booth, and will be running prize tournaments during the event.  Hourly match winners will receive some goodies(swag and free Steam keys), and the winners will compete at the end of the day for the grand prizes(100 dollar value).  I personally will be there along with other COR Entertainment staff, handing out free stuff, taking questions, and cheering on the players.  Stop by, say hi, sign up to win, or simply sit down and test drive the game out for yourself.

The next major update should occur in a month or two, and this update will focus heavily on content, as well as the team modes.  Tactical has already received some major changes/improvements thanks to some of the reviewer’s inputs, and CTF also has a target squarely on it’s back(this should make certain people I know happy!).  Fan favorite maps are going to be making their way back into the game(Terminal, Stronghold, for example).  During Dreamhack I will be working on Terminal, so come by and see how it’s done if you want, throw in some input/feedback on it’s progress, and help shape something in the game.

Meanwhile, some memories of Dreamhack 2013!

Our booth provided by Intel:dhack4

Team Dignitas competing in Alien Arena tourneydhack3

Winners posing with Team Dignitasdhack2

COR Entertainments Head of Public Relations, Victor Balke posing with Team Dignitasdhack1

Dreamhack is just a few days away, and we are excited to make some new friends and memories, and take part in the World’s greatest gaming convention!

 

 

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