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Greetings Delvers! It’s been a very busy week here at MetaArcade world headquarters, with lots of preparation for GDC next week and the exciting results of the CoFounders Lab pitch competition in Seattle (which we won!), but more important than either of those was shipping the PAX South MegaAdventure.

At PAX South, we had dozens of people come up and create their own part of the MegaAdventure live in the booth. While some attendees had their own adventure in mind when they stepped up to the podium, many others elected to hit the Random button to find a piece of art by chance and structured their narrative around that. When we got back home, we did some testing to make sure the platform had worked correctly, and after a bit of proofreading for any spelling and grammar issues, we shipped the MegaAdventure to the Sneak Peek community.

We knew the MegaAdventure had an improvisational quality to it, as I discussed in my last blog, and knew this would yield some unusual experiences. What did surprise us a bit were the number of you who informed us you got stuck in what we’ll call “unending combats.” If you played the MegaAdventure with a character who had already survived Buffalo Castle and Naked Doom, you probably didn’t run into much trouble with this.

However—if you chose to take a new character into the MegaAdventure, which many of you rightfully did, you likely encountered a big problem. In certain combats, your new character didn’t have enough dice + adds to overcome your enemy, but the monster didn’t have enough punch to get past your shiny new suit of Mail and Target Shield. With no chance for either side to defeat the other, and no way in the game yet to the player flee or quit a combat, we heard from many players who were simply stuck and had to shut down the app with a hard reset.

Well that’s clearly not the experience we intended! So less than 24 hours after shipping the MegaAdventure, we went to work on a balance pass to rectify the problem and start planning for updates which would address the issues in the longer term.

Today we are shipping a new build to you as “Sneak Peek 3.1,” which has an incremental number as we didn’t add any new content, but we did substantially tweak the MegaAdventure. Here’s what we did:

  • Changed the armor you receive at the start of each adventure. For Day 1, you’ll only get the Target Shield. In Day 2 and 3, you’ll get a few pieces of Leather Armor to help ward off combat damage. This will make your choice to use two weapons or sword and shield more impactful.
  • Switched out monsters to ensure we had lower difficulty combats in Day 1, scaling up to some very tough ones in Day 3. This helps to mitigate having a character who can’t defeat a typical monster but still can’t lose in combat—with the goal of eliminating the chance for “unending combats.”
  • Similarly, we updated the saving roll difficulties in each adventure to be a bit more even across the board. You’ll principally make Level 1 saving rolls in Day 1. Saving rolls start creeping up to Level 2 in Day 2 and there are several Level 3 rolls in Day 3. You can probably get through Day 1 with new characters barring bad luck on your saving rolls, but as you progress, you’ll want to spend Adventure Points to level up your attributes to make sure you can get through some of those Level 3 rolls in Day 3.

The net result is beginning characters should be able to navigate Day 1 in the same way they can succeed in Buffalo Castle and Naked Doom. Day 2 is better suited for characters who have survived Day 1 and/or Buffalo Castle. And if you’re heading into Day 3, you may want to make sure you’ve survived Naked Doom first, and in particular take a drink from the Pool of Greatness!

These are nice short-term fixes, but one of the primary ways to fix this in the longer term is to finish out the rules for T&T combat, and specifically to add Spite Damage. For those who aren’t familiar with the mechanic, it ends up further mitigating the unending combats by ensuring every die that rolls a 6 ends up inflicting one point of damage “in spite of” how much armor a combatant has. The difference in combats with Spite Damage is particularly noticeable when there are lots of dice in play, as you’re more likely to see many sixes rolled, and it makes a real difference even in smaller combats.

Additionally, we want to add a mechanic in combat where you have the option to flee or concede. This requires a bit more design work, but seems like a reasonable addition to the game in the months to come.

And while we’re fleshing out when to add these features in the product roadmap, we are very keen to hear your feedback on the changes in Sneak Peek 3.1. It’s been great to hear your perspective thus far and it is really making a difference for all of us on the team who are working hard to get you not just more adventures, but better ones! Your feedback on the MegaAdventure has also driven some important thinking here on how to architect the Adventure Creator with a better meter of balance.

To my mind, this is a great part of the fun of being involved with an indie studio project. We’ll deploy builds to get them in to your hands for feedback, iterate quickly based on what you tell us, and redeploy to hear what you think from there. It’s refreshing to have real time discussions with you and being able to make rapid improvements. Thank you all for taking part in Sneak Peek and sharing your voice towards making a better product!

Cheers—

David