In recent times, you may have noticed fewer active Sven Co-op players than would have been found a few years ago. We noticed this too, and, three months ago, we went searching for answers. We took a long, hard look at the experience of Sven Co-op -- at elements like the initial presentation, first joining a game, etc. -- and we didn't like what we saw.
So we took a big step: we pooled our funds and hired an actual, professional market research company to provide intensive, unbiased focus group testing! While we did contribute personally (Nih and Hezus in particular), this would never have been possible without your own generous donations, and we are eternally grateful for that. The process may have been expensive, but the results were well worth the price.
In short, we found that Sven Co-op was a total mess. Three in five group members required assistance just to start their first game, and nine out of ten struggled with the controls. They also didn't understand what characters they were playing, their motivations, or how different maps formed part of a cohesive story. Most participants reported moderate-or-higher difficulty in understanding exactly what was going on at any given time. The game was simply too complex and unintuitive... With such a low level of accessibility, it's no surprise that we're having trouble attracting new players.
After multiple sessions, we've been able to identify all of the major problems and formulate suitable solutions. We're not finished yet, but the game is already feeling considerably more focused and streamlined. Here are the features you can expect in the next release:
Coherent Setting: Wildly differing themes between maps had turned the mod into an incoherent and confusing mess. From now on, all official maps will take place in Black Mesa, and players will take on a consistent role as helmeted HEV science personnel (thus providing a 'blank slate').
Ten Enemy Types: Each with its own distinct role. These have been picked to have easily-recognisable silhouettes, reducing confusion considerably.
Six Diverse Weapons: We've really refined these down to their purest forms, with each filling a specific and obvious function. Secondary fire modes have been removed as they're just not necessary any more!
Unified Ammo: Our new ammo system gives you all the benefits of having multiple ammo types and much more! As well allowing players increased freedom of choice, with only one ammo type you actually have to think more. You'll have to consider how many nanites each weapon uses, then make the decision on what you want to fire.*
Health, Redefined: We know many of you find the use of regenerating health in modern shooters to feel unrealistic. We agree! That's why in Sven Co-op, health will only regenerate after every 30-second encounter. Medkits can still be collected for bonus points.
Improved Matchmaking: No more wasting time messing about in a server browser -- Sven Co-op will now handle all matchmaking automatically, conecting you with up to five random companions!
Uniform Controls: Mouse & keyboard is still supported, but we've worked with researchers to painstakingly determine the single best and most intuitive standardised layout for this option! Was it WASD?... You'll just have to wait and see. :)
Social Integration: Sven Co-op will automatically post updates to your Twitter, Facebook and MySpace pages each time you complete an Encounter, giving your friends up-to-the-minute details of your in-game progress.
* (Shotgun ammo used as a placeholder while we wait for the Unified Ammo model to pass testing)
The release date for the next version (to be titled simply "Sven Co-op") is still undetermined. If any publishers are reading this, please contact us regarding possible console ports.