What Was Learned from the Combat Alpha

Heroic Games have released a newsletter listing the things they are working on and are intending to seek more thoughts from the community on as a result of their first combat alpha runs.They've listed some of the main points from the Alpha Run Highlights Video they released last month.

The points they're raised are as follows (you can, as always, read them on the official site as well):
  • 0:16 Characters like Sword Blossom and Ambassador should be able to sheath or holster their weapons. We’re working on this now, starting with the animations.
  • 0:59 Unbalanced FX. Some powersets like Fiery Blast are too visible.  Dark Magic Blast is in the middle, while Dual Swords is invisible in the fiery holocaust.  We’re evaluating possible improvements.
  • 1:52 Recharge times on some powers are too long. We need more instant-cast powers, and we are reviewing our global cool-down for powers.  This will also become a poll question in the future.
  • 2:36 One of Sword Blossom’s blink powers has developed a flaw. She has gained the unwanted ability to teleport outside of the ship, but not to return.  We’re fixing that.
  • 3:01 Enemies should attack relentlessly. We have already begun an enemy AI upgrade.  This upgrade will be affected by the poll results you’ve given us on this subject.  Our goal to is to add a new level of challenge to the AI.
  • 6:56 More combat stances are needed. You can see that while some of the powersets have combat stances, Iris and Green Pants Man simply return to a standing pose between attacks.  We will upgrade this soon.
  • 7:42 The jumping ability in SoH is different from most MMORPGs. One element of this is that we have realistic physics; you cannot jump into the air headed South and change direction to move East in mid-air.  But in many games you can.  We’ll be running a poll soon on the website to see which option the community wants to embrace.
  • 8:24 Rooted vs non-rooted balance of powers. It has been suggested that we should reduce the time spent rooted.  This is going to be discussed, and polled, in the near future.
  • 10:54 Sound FX needs review. Some loved the sounds associated with the powers, some disliked a few.  We’ve added a game sound designer to the team to review what have now, and review again as we add additional powersets.

  • As always, the place to share your thoughts, and shape the development of the game, is on the SoH  website and forums, at: https://www.shipofheroes.com/
  • You can donate there as well, to help create this new game and establish a community with a positive, fun atmosphere.

 And Some other important points Heroic Games wanted to make about the Alpha Combat tests:

Many dev teams solicit feedback from their alpha activities.  Only a small fraction of dev teams will come out and publish a list of things they are going to upgrade as a result of community feedback.  The devs at Ship of Heroes just made the grade, once again showing true transparency and a commitment to continuous improvement of their new MMO.  Their closed combat Alpha began in February and is just wrapping up right now.

By identifying nine issues that have come up in their Alpha, the dev team is committing publicly to work on those issues, and to have either answers or improvements in the future.  Of course, one man’s improvement is sometimes another man’s unwanted change, so we’ll have to see how the SoH devs do with their list.  But simply by publishing a real list, and being open about how they are developing Ship of Heroes, this dev team has set a high standard. 

Showing video of actual gameplay by non-devs, and then making improvements based on the feedback are critical steps that should be taken before any MMO goes to Beta.  The Ship of Heroes team still has nine months before their projected Beta launch in December of this year to complete this set of upgrades, along with other work.  They have enough time to make the upgrades they are describing.

The devs at Ship of heroes are conducting an ongoing progression of Alphas, preferring to involve small groups of their community at many stages of development, and then openly share the feedback and results.  In 2017 they completed a first Alpha on their character creator, allowing players to work with the Alpha version of their CCT for weeks, and to publish characters (some beautiful, and some kind of monstrous) as a result.  Now they are allowing players to make combat runs and give feedback on the powers, enemies, movement and other elements of the current version of the game.  Next up, the dev team wants to enable players to test some kind of raid situation.  Testing raids in Alpha is unheard of for MMOs.

Anticipation for the Beta launch of Ship of Heroes is growing.  The dev team has been highly organized with their development activities, and watching their videos and reading their newsletters is like taking a course on how to develop a new MMO step by step.

Ship of Heroes expects to begin Beta testing at the end of 2018.