It’s Wednesday, April 18th, 2018 at the time I’m writing this. It’s pretty warm outside, so we’ve opened the shutters and doors to let the office vent a little bit. Jelmer stares at his screen with intent, while creating icons that are going to serve as notifications for players to see how they died or killed someone. Meanwhile, Marc and Geert are discussing the functionality of multiple upcoming features, such as friends lists, custom games and how to promote positive behaviour. And Jos, Cristian and Pim are discussing how to tackle a bug they’re working on while hammering away at an update we’re releasing tomorrow.
A busy, but normal day at the Hidden Monster Games office in Amsterdam. We’re always working on something, and as of now, we’d like to start sharing the goings-on at the office with you a bit more. If you have questions, leave those in a reply to this thread. If you don’t have questions… Well, that’s up to you. Join us while we chronicle the post-launch development of Curve Fever Pro in these development blogs! In this first edition of our Dev Blogs, we’ll be shedding some light on developing Curve Fever Pro right after launch.
We’ve released Curve Fever Pro! Now what?!
Good question, thanks for asking. Curve Fever Pro officially released on February 26th, 2018. We knew from the very get-go where we want to go with Curve Fever Pro; a social, competitive and fun game that anyone can hop into, which is deceptively simple, yet has a lot of depth. There are so many more ideas we want to execute. Tons of ideas for FFA game modes, team game modes, modules, ship and special attributes, social features, community features, events, the list goes ever on. But first, we had to see how the game was being received, by you, and by players new to the series.
We were very proud of Curve Fever Pro when it launched, and still are! But it obviously wasn’t perfect. What ensued was a few weeks of rigorous updates with bug fixes, improvements and balance tweaks to enhance the core of what Curve Fever Pro was at the time. This was a very cool period because we saw the game change before our very eyes, as well as the community. One of the changes during that period was the introduction of laser walls that enclosed players as more and more players got eliminated, as well as rewarding players with gems and coins based on how well they played.
Our Discord server started growing by the hundreds and we reached a point where we had over 5.000 unique players every single day. Things were looking up, but after a few weeks, and taking a good long look at the data we’ve been collecting, we found that new players weren’t very keen on sticking around after their first match finished. To expand on a game, and get it to grow and stay healthy, we needed to start at the start, which is where new players first come in: the game modes.
Two weeks of new game modes
To keep people playing, we needed to reinvent the way players play CFP, without damaging its core, but rather accentuate what it has to offer. During a long brainstorming session, the entire team came up with ideas for game modes, some of which we would consecutively prototype, test internally and, if all went well, roll it out. We had tons of ideas that got lost on the cutting-room-floor. Like the idea of running a ‘pure’-mode, without any modules at all, as well as various team game modes. The main focus was, however, that the modes could keep players together throughout the match, instead of having to start a new match after being eliminated.
In the end, we settled on four different modes, which you might know as FFA PRO (Deathmatch), Bounty, Laser Wall Deathmatch and FFA Classic. We would’ve loved to run team-modes in this period, too, but it would require a complete overhaul of the progression model, given the nature of team game-modes. That would take a ton of time, during which we couldn’t do much else. That’s why we opted to focus on variations of the FFA-types.
The Bounty announcement art, made by Jelmer, with copy written by me.
The first no-brainer was to create FFA PRO, which we’ll call Deathmatch from here on out. It laid a lot of the groundwork for other modes, such as making the games point-based, having score overviews in between rounds as well as at the end of a match. And guess what; it worked very well! It allows players to focus on their achievements during a match, and reap the rewards based on their skill.
Great ideas that don’t always work
The second mode we made was called Bounty: something very different from Deathmatch. In Bounty, you hunt other players and collect points they lose that are spread out over the arena after they bite the dust. After having rolled out the update, we barely had any time to check to see what players thought, before some pretty bad bugs started rearing their heads, such as a massive lag-spike that would ruin games in certain situations. We decided to roll it back to Deathmatch and work on the next game mode.
And that game mode was, Laser Wall Deathmatch, which is essentially the same game mode as Deathmatch, but with collision wrapping around the entire arena. This doesn’t let you shoot anyone through the edges of the screen, or travel through them to appear on the opposite end of the arena. It changes up the dynamic of the game drastically but also takes out some of the cool emergent gameplay that we love from regular Deathmatch.
A somewhat bare-bones illustration Geert made about how the bounties in the Bounty-game mode would drop and disperse across the arena.
FFA Classic was prototyped and tested internally, but we soon discovered that it can easily make the use of modules a bit less interesting. This game mode was set up like Deathmatch, but would only give points for surviving. This spurred extremely defensive playstyles, resulting in camping and drawn out rounds. Because rounds could take quite long, players who died at the start of a round would often feel bored out of their skull, and because modules were used a lot less, the game lost a lot of its dynamic emergent gameplay moments. The results were as such that we decided to keep Laser Wall Deathmatch on a bit longer.
When the dust settles
Rolling out update after update with new modes is not an easy endeavour, but we’ve learned a lot from it. From the game modes we’ve been able to test, Deathmatch simply performs the best. It keeps new players invested longer, while way fewer players go AFK or simply close their windows. Deathmatch will be the main game mode in Curve Fever Pro for now. Bounty, FFA Classic and Laser Wall Deathmatch and Knockout Pro aren’t going anywhere, however. All modes have a unique hook that appeals to different players, so we see plenty of reason to reintroduce them in the future. For now, we will continue working on custom games and tons of social features that are currently being designed and developed. It’s a long process, but we’ll keep you up to date!
We hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at the main parts of development over the past month and a half. We’re excited about sharing more with you in the future if you’re excited to read about it.