HLL Developer Briefing #14 - Closed Test Weekend Feedback

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Hey all,

Welcome to Developer Briefing #14!

This week, Hell Let Loose's Game Director, Max, has stopped by to share what we've learned from our recent closed test weekend as well as what you can expect from that moving forward.

We'd love to hear what you think, so feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below and over on the forum.


An update from Max

Hi everyone,

A very large thank you to those who jumped into our impromptu weekend playtest.

Our key goal for this test was to understand the exact player density needed per sector in order to achieve a battle that had the intensity of World War Two frontline combat. We wanted to test on Hurtgen again, as it would allow us to directly compare to our previous playtest, in which we had tracked player density and also the way battles evolved.

We know that it's quite frustrating to play the same map again, and we thank you for taking the time to help us test. While these tests are less exciting than normal, they’re critical in helping us to refine the whole experience before we start to actively market the title. We'd like to reassure you that playtests in the future will be announced in advance and broadcast more widely to make sure you have plenty of warning. We're very excited to begin mixing in Sainte-Marie-Du-Mont and to get feedback on new quality of life changes, bug fixes, sound improvements and animation improvements.

We've tracked all feedback in both the feedback channel on Discord, on our forums and in conversation with the team. After each playtest we essentially compile all recorded issues or opinions, break them into categories (audio, animation etc.) and then work to triage the issues out into order of importance. At the moment, we're focusing very much on making sure the core gameplay is stable, optimised and (most importantly) fun for our Early Access launch later this year. Our launch is going to formally mark the beginning of our journey, in which we'll be balancing bug fixes and quality of life upgrades with added features and content. We have a good idea of what we want our 1.0 version to look like, and we’re planning out the most effective way of getting there.

Our highest priority right now is making sure that we have a solid foundation to work on. By ensuring that the key pillars are in place, we can then begin to focus on adding new maps, weapons, vehicles and other goodies to the game.

Reflecting on the feedback

It can be gruelling to sift through all the qualities of the game that people disliked most, but it’s the best way for us to improve what we’re doing. Below I’ve broken down some broad observations from the community that align with what we experienced. We feel it’s important that you feel heard and know whether or not we’ve listened to the feedback given.

Metagame

The entire dev team played throughout the weekend in order to get a good feel of how the new meta affected the gameplay experience. Our reflections were similar to the community - we were having more frequent tangible and intense combat situations. The combat also felt more direct and much more precipitous (with several moments where our victory was snatched away). We found that vehicles mixed in nicely and could either use their infantry line for close defence, or they could push into the open (and potentially be rewarded with a rocket in the back!) and act as a spearhead. We also found that artillery was able to be used effectively on points, but not so overpowered that it became impossible (though we’ll keep an eye on this). We found that while some sectors would become incredibly intense, working with the Commander to drop supplies and flank - or to call in a bombing run - allowed us to approach each situation with freedom to escape the butchery.

That said, while the general sentiment is that the player density is great and there is a much more consolidated front, the soul of the sector gameplay we initially described is diluted. We can see that we've compromised the level of strategic freedom that we described in the Kickstarter. If you’re a community member who feels frustrated by this, I’m keen to let you know that our key task now is to introduce additional features that add and emphasise greater strategy and RTS elements of the game. For the Warfare gamemode, this means looking at implementing secondary objectives and reworking how resources are acquired in order to give each team the ability to effect their resource flow in a more meaningful way (eg. building a Fuel Dump to generate fuel). It also means looking at our upcoming Offensive gamemode and making sure there is a decision-making process in every attack.

Essentially, we now have great data that gives us a threshold for player density per 100m for what we'd consider a great World War Two battle. Our key task now is to introduce additional features that add and emphasise greater strategy and RTS elements.

Bugs

In addition to the metagame, we identified a wide variety of issues to fix (and many that already are as of this week), such as being unable to use VOIP or chat during the pre-deployment phase, or when in the deployment map waiting to respawn.

From tank physics to gamma levels, we’re working through fixing the bugs.

Sound

Players consistently reported that while the sound directionality was better, it fell off in volume far too fast and the actual quality of the weapon sounds themselves could do with more work.
As such, we’ve been reworking the distance ranges and aspects of the fall off (which bounce quite widely around and lower the ability to discover the source of the sound). You can now hear firearms much further away - increasing the total feeling of battle and making it much easier to pinpoint the origin of fire.

We’ve also begun work on improving the quality of the sounds themselves. We’re keen to make sure it’s a satisfying experience and that each sound fits properly into the soundscape.

Animation

Many players reported feeling like some actions and animations were unnecessarily clunky. There are many smaller tweaks we’re implementing in order to make the entire experience more fluid and less like you’re fighting the controls.

In all, we’re working hardest to make sure the first-person player experience is as solid and satisfying as can be. We’re also working hard to finish and fix any large visual bugs you may see in third person (snaking being a good example!). During Early Access, we’re keen to do a large improvement on many aspects of the systems we’re using - feet adjusting for the terrain beneath them, additional actions (like lean, vault, dive) and slightly tilting the player into their angle of movement so that their body leans satisfyingly as they corner. We’re also looking at friction-per-surface for vehicles and infantry.

Hurtgen

It became quickly clear that tanks were having an incredibly hard time crossing the map. To fix this, we’ve opened up a gap in the centre to make it less of a snakes-and-ladders experience in crossing from one side to the other. We also noticed that Jacob’s Barn tended to be the area players enjoyed defending the most. There were some locations in the map that felt unfinished and needing additional cover. We also felt that some more compounds would strengthen the diversity of experiences you’d have while fighting across the map. We’re going to be doing a small terrain and cover pass on the map in order to fix these issues and make the map that bit more enjoyable to fight over.

What’s next?

We’ve got bigger and bigger playtests lined up for the near future that will give an opportunity for those outside of the backer community to participate, as well as bringing in our patient Recruit tier backers. As you can imagine, the more data we have from a higher volume of players will enable us to make sure our infrastructure is well established for our Early Access launch. We’ll be mass-messaging these to ensure you have the time and notice to take part. We’re very excited to continue polishing the core experience for Early Access. We’re very thankful for the fantastic community feedback and for your patience as we tweak and alter aspects of the game.

In addition to the testing, we’ve been busy planning out our Early Access development schedule. For us, the Early Access release is still only the beginning of the development of Hell Let Loose. We’ve got lots of features to add across all aspects of the game, and we’re excited to release the roadmap so that you can come with us on the journey.


Hell Let Loose is available to Wishlist now:

View: https://store.steampowered.com/app/686810/Hell_Let_Loose/


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