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Laura Genender Posted:
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From AGC – Auto Assault Advancements

Thursday of AGC I got to sit down and talk to Scott Brown, project lead of AutoAssault, and Valerie Massey, Online Community Coordinator. After this summer’s roadhouses I was excited to see where AutoAssault was, and where it was going.

First off, the beta has been extended. While this is disappointing news to eager fans, this is being done for a very important reason. AutoAssault (AA) was nearing its ship date, and NetDevil just was not happy with where they were.

Brown and company felt that they had achieved their main goal: they don’t want players to play to level, they want them to level while playing. The game is fun and you hardly even notice your EXP bar, so the team has done a good job of that, but there were other issues that still needed dealing with. For example, they felt that some aspects of the game were too difficult and some of the UI just didn’t make sense.

They also felt that the game lacked variety; many of the highway zones were similar and the quests somewhat repetitive. To solve this, NetDevil broke the game into segments, making different areas require different strategies and have different themes. These areas were assigned to a strike team consisting of an artist, a writer, a programmer, and a map designer. The segment teams were managed by the lead designer for reach race.

So what is going to happen to these areas? The design lead will say that the theme of an area is “X.” For example, one of the mutant area’s themes is a swamp area, another is underground. The underground area has an entirely different feel than an open highway and requires different tactics. NetDevil is also trying to improve storylines; for example, Pikes and Scavs are both infantry classes, but were both very much the same. Now, though, Pikes feel more like miners; some of them are mining in camps, while others carry around dangerous explosives. The Pikes are willing to suicide, blowing themselves up as long as they take you (and surrounding buildings) with them. Scavangers are very different; they are all about survival and would never suicide like the Pikes.

Players also have more effect on the storyline of the game, and can change the world (or their instance of it, at least). For example, a player might complete an instance map by blowing up a base, then return to the map later to find that same base still blown up or in the process of rebuilding.

NetDevil also decided that the tutorial needed some reworking. The tutorial used to be half tutorial, half introduction, and not very good at either. They also had varying lengths, some more in-depth than others, as the three different races are designed by different designers. The different races almost feel like different games! To fix this, the tutorial is now specifically a tutorial, and quickly explains the basics of AutoAssault. Once ready, players will be moved into an introduction instance which holds about 50 people each. This way, you’re into the MMO portion of the MMOG within ten minutes.

As for difficulty, NetDevil wants combat to be the only challenge. Combat should be strategic, requiring more thought than simply holding down a button and firing a skill or two off — which is how it felt in the past.

Crafting, on the other hand, should be easier and more intuitive than it was originally. The interface has been changed in an attempt to make it more understandable; previously, it took some time to ‘click.’ The crafting interface now also tells you what components you need, where to get it (hints, not spoilers), and what crafting buildings you need to be near. Some of the recipes have also been revamped so that all power plants are made out of roughly the same materials, all guns are made out of the same materials, etc.

Player feedback caused some changes in driving. In some ways it is now more realistic, in others it’s less — NetDevil found that players were thrown off by how well the vehicles handled. Vehicles are now more realistic and slide through turns, tip less, etc. The ultimate goal is to make AutoAssault intuitive enough to get it the first time you sit down.

So what is AutoAssault working on now? High end content is taking high priority; NetDevil wants players to have other choices besides PvP, such as crafting, loot farming, rerolling, and more. This is where some of the cooler crafting systems, like experimentation, come into play. Experimentation is when you have static main components but you can add other random components. This could make something really cool, or something useless, or blow it up; it’s all random. This feature is equally helpful to new and old players; a newbie can hop in the game and, with a bit of luck, invent and contribute cool things.

In the PvP world, players can participate in tournaments to win items. The arenas are serverless; anyone on any server can PvP with each other in one on ones, team battles, or whatever.

Comments? Let us know!


Laura Genender