For various reasons, lots of time had passed since the last ATP game night. But finally we managed to organize one in order to find strengths and weaknesses of the upcoming version. There were three participants, more or less familiar with the game. And, most importantly, candy, beer and three pizzas: one with meat, one with cheese and one with little this and that.
Lots have changed since the 0.4.x version, but overall everything seemed to be working fine. Playability has improved and the new version seems stable, although a few last-minute fixes need to be done before the release. Some specific issues were raised.
- Player colors are hard to distinguish. Glowing cockpits (that didn't work for some reason) and changes in light intensity by camera distance might help. Color visibility depends highly on the monitor, so some brightness setting may also be needed.
- Crosshairs are too large and they easily wander too far from the ships (especially when played with a controller). This makes it hard to tell your crosshair when there are more than two players. Missile lock -indicator makes things even more confusing. Some improvements were suggested: a line connecting the ship and crosshair, smaller lock icon and steadier distance between crosshair and the ship. At least some of those will be implemented before the next release.
- UI doesn't preserve player names when battle is restarted, which is annoying. This should be easily fixed.
- Built-in ships are a bit too complicated; one or two special modules is more than enough for beginners and developers. Tutorial ship might be the best option for the first try.
But not everything was negative:
- Co-op matches against the AI pilot were fun. Team play is on my backlog and perhaps I’ll raise its importance.
- I was happy to see that the simulation elements work. Lots of unexpected happenings and creative decisions were seen. There's very little time for creativity, though.
- Matches were short and unpredictable, so no one felt bad when losing (or at least admitted it),
- Constant stalemates used to be a problem, but now there were none.
Lots of video material was recorded from which I edited some clips to the dedicated Youtube -playlist.
This one shows the best bits of close combat with cannons, lasers and energy balls.
Here we're dealing with some heavier weaponry.
And the mandatory failures, a major part of the game.
In order to get a better view about the gameplay, here are some complete battles.
We also tried co-operational gameplay, three human players against one computer. In the beginning, our team play lacked, but got better during the evening. This type of playing will probably get more attention in the future.