Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valley 2 Beta .808 "The Sound Of Violence" Released!

This one has a bunch of stuff, like more monster graphics finalizations and a number of bugfixes.  It also has some pretty major balance change.

Knockback
Knockback was sort of an interesting mechanic the way we had it in the first game, but it's really been overshadowed by other mechanics in the second game.  A lot of player spells used to have knockback, but so many monsters had knockback resistance that it was basically pointless.

Now there are many fewer spells with knockback, but they are way more effective with it because monsters now rarely have much resistance to it.  All in all this makes the mechanic something that is spell-specific but a lot more interesting than it has been so far in Valley 2.

Spell Calibers
Urgh... this one is hard to explain in any depth.  The release notes have all the hoary depth.  But the short of it is that spell calibers are now simpler to understand and use: they have ratings of Low, Normal, High, and Ultimate.  Most player spells are Low.  Most monster spells are Normal.  There are exceptions mainly on the player side, noted clearly in spell descriptions.

A higher spell beats a lower spell when they collide, and spells of equal rating both die when they hit one another.

Where it gets a little crazier is when you start using the perks that give caliber boosts, or the caliber boosts from concentration bars.  These things increase you partway toward the next rating, essentially, but not all the way.  You can therefore use several of your buffed lower-caliber-rating shots to take out a single higher-caliber-rating shot of an enemy in that circumstance.

That's really the overview, and unless you love numbers you don't need the details.  For those who love numbers, of course all the details are in the release notes.  The basic reasoning behind these changes were basically threefold: 1) to make the mechanic clearer in general; 2) to prevent an exploit that some players had discovered in the last little while; and 3) to otherwise change as little as possible, because calibers are really cool and were largely working well.

Lest you think this is a nerf mainly to the players (as someone has already worried), here's some points:

- The henchman fights are basically unchanged for the most part, EXCEPT that the player now has some advantages that they didn't before.  Your ammo based shots can actually block the henchman shots, unlike before.

- The overlord is about the same as he was before.

- Some of the monsters with smaller shots that were incredibly cheese-able (like the Auroch Warriors) are now fixed to work like other monsters that you'd expect.  In other words, the bad edge cases where monsters were too wimpy have been fixed.

- Things like explosive crescent now work more reliably against all regular enemy shots, with a very few exceptions rather than a lot of exceptions.  Things like whips now work against enemy spells like the crescents do, whereas previously they did not (making whips more awesome now).

- Regular straight-shot spells, ricochet spells, and so forth now reliably do NOT work against enemy shots.  That was largely already the case anyhow, but there were funky edge cases where that didn't hold true and felt odd.

Monster Respawning/Despawning
The release notes spell this out in detail, but areas now reset when you leave them, and are back to a more starting state as soon as you re-enter them (you don't have to wait 10 seconds, as in Valley 1 or earlier builds of this game).  It feels a lot smoother this way.

Robot Hacking Escape Difficulty
I've been wondering what Misery was complaining about, because he's a really good player and I could do these hacking escapes without too much trouble.  Granted, I was playing on Adept and he on Hero, and normally I'd play on Skilled or Hero for a true challenge... but it should all scale up, right?

Apparently wrong.  On the harder difficulties, these things got exponentially harder.  They were on the longish side anyhow (understatement of the year), and had some enemies spawning that are truly annoying when you're trying to rush and don't have time to take things more tactically.

I've changed things around so that they are still incredibly tense and you still feel on the edge of losing, but it's not such a foregone conclusion.  I've come within about 1 screen of winning on Hero difficulty at this point, and I'm pretty sure I could do it given another go or even just some basic equipment.  In other words, it might not be perfectly tuned yet, or I might just not be quite good enough for Hero difficulty.  But either way it's in the ballpark of correct.

One thing I want to stress about the robotic hacking escapes is that yes, they are definitely supposed to throw the tactics of the game out the window.  Normally you play with tactics, but here it's more about throwing all that to the wind and trying to frantically escape while robots swarm you.  Stopping to handle things tactically is a bad idea here.  The changes I've made in this version make the monsters weak enough so that this is actually feasible -- you'll take damage constantly through this escape, but it's less damage than usual, sneakily.

It's something to make you feel like you're being brutalized without really doing so.  I got that idea from a Gamasutra article that I can't find to link to, that I read a year or two ago.  I think it was about the boss fights in God of War or something of that nature, where basically you need to have a moderate challenge but feel absolutely on the edge of death just because of psychological cues.  That's going on here to make these sequences seem impossible when they're really just hard.  In prior versions, the problem was that it was actually impossible on the upper difficulties.

All The Player Spell Sound Effects
Now I just have the monster sound effects left to go, and then that will be it for the sound effects work!

More to come soon.  Enjoy!

This is a standard update that you can download through the in-game updater itself, if you already have any version of the game.  If you have the beta on Steam, it will automatically update for you.  When you launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have the standalone game, you can download that hereIf you already own the first game, just use your existing license key to unlock the sequel for free!

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