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Dev Blog 23: Improving combat in Revn

By March 25, 2019No Comments

The most recent updates to Revn have been pretty significant in defining the core gameplay loops and improving combat balance. Earlier this year, we focused on the crafting economy and match objectives. We reworked resource gathering, item costs, and map structure.

Now, its time that gunplay and abilities received the same attention. Update 0.3.10 made some significant improvements to gunplay net-code. We want to use what we learned from this rework to similarly improve other aspects of the game. These include sprinting, crouching, purchasing items, reloading, and abilities such as the jump-jet and Hermes Boost (speed boost). All of these actions have input lag. (Input lag is when a player presses a button, and there is a delay before any action happens on-screen). Getting rid of this input lag is a priority for us.

How we addressed input lag

To remove input lag from gunplay, we made some assumptions. First, that players want to see and hear immediate indications that their weapon has been fired. This responsiveness is achieved by playing sound effects, muzzle-flash particles, and spawning a client-side local visual projectile. The client’s projectile can’t deal damage, but it will travel approximately the same as the actual projectile on the server.

Our second assumption is: only the server should calculate damage. This is to prevent any sort of hack or exploit that might allow clients to cheat. When a player clicks to fire their gun, we show the SFX, particles, and visual projectile, and at the same time we notify the server that the weapon is being fired. The server spawns “real” projectiles, and notifies all the other clients so they can also spawn local visual-only projectiles, sounds, and particles. When the server calculates that damage has been dealt, it tells the client to show a hit-flash in the HUD, so players always know when their shot missed or hit. There are still improvements to be made on this system, but the initial results have been a much more responsive gunplay experience for all players, regardless of ping.

The big net-code rework in 0.3.10 did, however, cause some new visual glitches. Most notably, players experiencing high ping would see projectiles freeze mid-air after being fired. We think we’ve diagnosed the problem, and we’re pushing patches (and even Revn’s very first mid-week hotfixes) to solve it as quickly as possible. Hopefully, it is fixed before this blog gets published, but we’re never certain until after alpha testers have gotten a chance to play with each new patch.

Upcoming content and changes

We want to add more abilities. Players in Revn should have a wide variety of abilities to choose from, so we’re working on designing and prototyping new abilities every week until there are an acceptable number of unique and viable playstyles. Right now, our goal is approximately six character “builds”. These will be the equivalent of six classes or characters from other hero-based games. At our current rate of development, we’ll achieve this goal in one or two months, potentially sooner. After this, we’re going to focus more on balancing the existing abilities rather than implementing new ones until we’ve achieved an acceptable meta.

We will be working on minions, too. They will soon be able to agro on enemy turrets and will attack them when possible. Minions also need to scale as the match progresses. In their current form, minions become too weak in late game to threaten players. By increasing minion health and weapon damage, the farther into a match that they spawn, they will stay relevant.

Revn’s new cel-shader post-processing effect isn’t finished yet, and there are visual glitches we want to smooth out in the upcoming weeks. This requires a lot of trial and error, and experimentation until we find the best look for the game. We appreciate your patience while we go through this process.

Alright, that’s a lot of text about the things we’re doing to improve Revn in the near future. Thank you to our alpha testers for helping create a feedback loop that enables us to do all of this. If you aren’t signed up for the closed alpha, you can register here.

See you on the streets of Revn,

Silas Talley, Creative Director