Alpha test feedback June 7, 2014

Continuing the discussion from Alpha test feedback May 31, 2014:

Join us at for a 30 min playtest Saturday, June 7, 2014 at 8pm UTC, 3pm Central US, 4pm East US, 9pm UK

Release notes to follow…


Release notes:

  • Improved team balancing
  • Removed top 9 players on each team
  • Ship trails should no longer go crazy when you respawn
  • Name service shouldn’t crash
  • Back-end scaling improvements
  • Bloom and film grain currently disabled

When the swarm turned up last week, we discovered some odd scaling issues with some of the newer features (e.g. the name service dealt with 100,000 requests in a few minutes, then fell over). This has now been resolved so you should who who shot who.

Scores are showing - Unknown - as people, looking into it. Also when you killed someone it showed up as unknown.

Lady LifeGrows made it home and onto computer at 2:15 Denver time.
Played on Firefox again.
This was the best time yet. I got my spaceship to go where I wanted a lot of the time, and then tried the left mouse button–MUCH better.
Plenty of satisfying squeak-noise when I pushed spacebar, but no effect seen on enemy ships.
The < and > did not seem to change anything, nor did g.

This was my very first age of ascent experience where I did not have fun.

Of my 23 deaths, I would attribute 20 of them to Awesome/GM Cerberus.

Of those 20 deaths, I would attribute 15 of them to Awesome/GM Cerberus teaming up on me at exactly the same time.

Of those 15 deaths, I would attribute 10 of them to Awesome/GM Cerberus immediately disengaging their target and re-targeting me on my arrival to the main fray.

The result was that I had to either stay far from the main fight, or target them back. However, every time I chose to target one of them instead of the nearest/most available hostile, red team fell further behind in kills. This was most evident in the second half of the bot swarm, where blue team’s lead changed from ~10 to what it was by the end of the game. This was when I began to target Awesome/GM Cerberus when available, instead of easier bot targets.

I would enter the fray and choose a target. I had maybe 5-10 seconds before a stream of bullets would start flying into my face. I would find out it would be either Awesome/GM Cerberus sitting outside the fight at zero speed just sniping me from the crowd. I would turn to engage them and enter a low speed/zero speed duel (which are little fun to begin with), but the stream of bullets would still be hitting me. Looking at my map I would see an unmoving GM Cerberus/Awesome taking the opportunity to gun me down, and a visual would confirm the identity of the second assailant.

It was extremely infuriating having to try to (out of sheer desperation) use allies/enemies as a shield while trying to win a zero speed duel while trying to assess the risk of doing anything other than target management in a 20 man skirmish. With distance being such a disadvantage in a dogfight, I was completely locked down by two players floating 1000~2000 meters apart gunning me down on approach.

I think the current ability to stop (or go to full turbo speed) on a dime is at the root of this, and is being adopted as a (currently perfectly valid) strategy by many players.

I believe that introducing an acceleration / deceleration linear delta delay (or curve) between changes in thrust would probably put paid to quite a lot of this - as well as not only looking but actually also being more realistic in terms of physics.

Whilst we’re there, I think removing the mouse-up + pitch-up double rate-of-turn combo would help as well, as this gives highest Rate of Turn when a ship is stationary. So coming to a full-stop is probably one of the best tactics right now - whereas it should probably be the riskiest.

Having said that, Psycho, I think that both you and I suffer from being picked out as targets - which is our cross to bear - you, because you’re top of the leaderboard… and me, because there are quite a lot of illy players in AoA and it’s a chance for them to blow up the CEO. And that’s not even mentioning the other GM’s, for whom the same opportunity is probably too tempting XD

I understand being picked out as a target, but I didn’t feel like I was picked out, I felt hunted. Makes me want to change my name every match but I’d rather not resort to that. One of the most liberating moments I’ve ever had on this game was when everyone became ‘undefined’ for a few minutes last month.

I feel that the reason coming to a full stop is so powerful is because there’s so little to gain by actually moving. At anything other than point blank distance, anyone with some experience in games can keep a bead on their target with a little practice. I see why you attribute this to being able to control speed with such definition, but I feel that projectile speed is the larger issue at hand.

Having to lead a target is what makes speed and maneuvers so powerful with distance. Remove that element and distance means that they don’t have to turn their ship as fast to keep you in their sights.

I agree with the changes suggested by GM Stormcrow. This would make coming to a complete stop have a major advantage and a major disadvantage. The advantage would to be able to sit and easily pick off people in front of you while also being a sitting duck which is very easy to pick off from any distance or angle. This is similar to when the larger ships are introduced, they will move very slowly but have multiple turrets where people can sit and snipe any of the pilots who enter the range of the turret.

Psycho Romeo raises a good point, however if it was easy to escape from enemy fire, then battles would rage on for days instead of hours.


Pyscho Romeo, GM Cerberus, and myself accounted for over half of the kills in the play test despite being only 10% of the player base.

I can not speak for GM Cerberus, but I did not change targets to shoot you. I would always stick with my current target as they were already down in health where many times you would be full in health.

In the full game, pilots will use whatever strategy necessary to win a fight. This means that people who make a name for themselves as a skilled pilot will be targeted first by the other side.

I don’t agree with this at all, and playtests back in March or so prove it. Before the hit detection clean up, there was an element of target leading in place and reducing speed to zero was suicidal. A fast maneuverable ship was a ship that was harder to hit, and that just reeks of sound logic.

This may be true, but I don’t feel that explains a nearly triple death rate from last week. The issue I have is that something that so simple (and frankly dull) could bring down a proficient player with ease.

Unfortunately my recording became corrupted, but the behavior that I noted was that within five to ten seconds of coming in range of either one of you two, I would begin taking fire.

Being targeted isn’t necessarily the issue here. The issue I’m trying to get at is what I see as a fundamental flaw that has emerged in the design of these deathmatches.

An environment designed for a dogfight is boiling down to a turret mode dps fest.
Skillful maneuvering is being trumped by abandoning the concept entirely.
Boring gameplay (at least, in my opinion, and I challenge anyone to speak otherwise) is causing frustrating gameplay (again, opinion, speak otherwise).
The most effective counter strategy is to play somewhere else.

Disclaimer, I don’t mean to make it sound like things are bad or that I’m bashing the game, or any player/designer for that matter. These are just my straight observations as both a proficient player and a game designer. Yes, it’s a valid strategy in the current alpha state of the game. Yes, it’s an extremely effective strategy. No, there’s nothing wrong with utilizing an effective and valid strategy. However, based on the numbers that I’m running here, it is my unprofessional opinion that this strategy absolutely blows and is detrimental to the game. I feel that mechanics need to be altered or new ones need to be woven into the existing gameplay to reconcile the negative aspects to this strategy.

Now, my thoughts regarding adding an element of acceleration to ship speed -
I feel that a change like this would address a symptom rather than the root of the issue. With hitscan weapons, I don’t think it matters how fast or slow a player is going or how long it takes for a player to speed up or slow down. I don’t foresee a zero speed/low speed duel not happening because it takes players an extra second or two to come to reduce their speed. If anything it might just take an extra second or two to get to that point (and all things considered, a lot can change in a second or two).

Now, I don’t think that hitscan weapons have to be removed from the game. There is definitely a place for them. However, like a first person shooter, hitscan weapons have the advantage at range because the further a moving object is from you, the slower it’s effectively moving and the easier it is to keep it in your sights.

In this case then it is turn speed that is the limiting factor on a hitscan weapon. Unless a target is moving faster than a hitscan weapon can turn to continue aiming at it, there shouldn’t be an issue hitting it. Also present is an element of trying to shake the gunner’s aim by being unpredictable, however that is also severely diminished with distance (these are probably reasons why shooting an unscoped sniper rifle is made to be so inaccurate). That being said, I’d almost go so far as to say that making a ship less maneuverable regarding acceleration and deceleration would be aiding the shooter as opposed to the one being shot at.

As for a work around, I’m not entirely sure. In a generic FPS, players are typically a lot less tanky than our spaceships and there’s an element of surprise involved in confrontations. There’s usually also ways to break line of sight. But because we are tanky and we’re unable to break line of sight with anything other than another player, neither of these things apply in our dogfights.

I’m compelled to draw inspiration from real life. Now, say if our ships operated more like cars in that their ability to turn was directly correlated with their speed, I think the issue would tone down to a more healthy level. Actually come to think of it, I believe this is exactly how normal planes in atmosphere behave as well. A car/plane that was moving faster (assuming the car didn’t flip and the pilot doesn’t pass out) will turn faster.

The more I reread that the more I like it. I think it’s a really good idea. Leave turret mode for the turrets, we’re in space ships and we should be rewarded for utilizing that difference.

Unfortunately, I only found out about this game in May, so I have no idea how the earlier game play was. However, I believe that many of the current problems faced in the dogfights will be alleviated with the addition of more ships and weapons.

First of all, the plasma cannon is unbalanced as it was meant to be a laser and needs to be re-balanced as a non hitscan weapon. Hitscan weapons can exist, but they will have some disadvantage that makes them not as overpowered as the current plasma cannon.

Additionally, the addition of more weapons, such as a mass driver, would make reducing speed to zero suicidal.

Aforementioned, I never saw different elements of the acceleration and turning during the March play test, but I agree that something needs to change in these death match style games.