Friday 3 August 2012

glitch tank update again

Glitch Tank has both a turn-based and a real-time mode. For me the real-time mode is the true game and turn-based is a minor variant, but I know some people greatly prefer turn-based so I'm glad I included it. (I do recommend though that you persist with the real-time mode if you find it strange at first.)

I've experimented a bit with how to introduce the game to new players. I had thought that it might be better to start with turn-based because there's less pressure, but this turns out to be false. Turn-based is quite slow with new players spending too long thinking about their moves, and ends up not being engaging for their opponents. The best way to introduce it is to let two new players face each other in real-time and figure it out for themselves. If there is only one new player I prefer to run it in real-time mode, but let them move first and take turns with them until they realise for themselves that they don't need to wait between moves.

My friend Jonathan (of Path of Exile) mentioned one time that he'd like to see a sidestep movement action, because some situations arise where it'd help a lot; e.g. you face each other, your opponent has a laser and you don't. From this I deduced that he was playing turn-based; in real-time this isn't an issue because you can rotate and move quickly to get out of danger. I tried out this idea, but it didn't play very well, as well as requiring icons that might be easy to mistake rotate left/right when acting quickly.
A few days ago I came up with a solution. It's very simple: a "+2 moves" action which only shows up in turn-based mode. This brings turn-based play more in line with real-time - you can sometimes move quickly, see an opportunity and grab it before your opponent can react. It works really well, it's an interesting resource to play with, it's a difficult decision when to use it for maximum advantage. It enables a variety of different combos - rotate and move, rotate and shoot, U-turn.. or just cycle through unwanted actions more quickly. You never get more than one copy of the action at a time, so there's no infinite loop there.

So today's update is mainly for people playing turn-based. But there's a couple of small things for everyone else:
- There was an extremely rare crash bug that I believe I've fixed (but it was so hard to reproduce that I'll never be certain). When a game has "glitch" in the title bugs like this aren't necessarily a problem, but it's still nice to (hopefully) have it gone.
- Perhaps something mysterious that you'll probably never see?

It really doesn't make sense for me to be doing more work on Glitch Tank right now given how popular it's been; I really need to get onto trying to make something that more than a handful of people actually want. But I just really love this game, it's probably my favourite thing I've made. I will never understand what makes some things more popular than others.

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