Fire! PTE! Balance! Oh My!

BurningForest

If you walk into our office through the secret entrance, the first person you’d see is Tim. He’s making new decals. In development lingo, he’s doing “dec work.” Basically, he helps make the terrain look scarred whenever something blows up — or, now, catches on fire.

If you take a left through the corridor of computers as you approach Tim’s desk, you’ll see Ben making new effects. And Forrest testing various performance tweaks. Look a little deeper and you’ll find something … new and vast. Something that Planetary Annihilation fans are going to dig.

As usual, we’ve got a lot of new stuff coming into Planetary Annihilation. The one we’d like to talk about today? Fire. We showed off fire for the first time courtesy a not-so-sly Facebook tease. In just a couple of days, you’ll be able to get your, er, hands on it, too.

Fire doesn’t just look cool. It adds a new strategic dimension to the game. And, ironically, it isn’t because of the fire itself — it’s because of trees. In the fire update, trees will be physical objects. Units won’t be able to stomp through them. Instead, they’ll have to path around them. You can also reclaim trees for bursts of metal, if you’re low on resources.

In the early game, you can imagine the advantage that selecting a spawn by a bunch of trees will give you. But, will you sacrifice your leafy protection for metal? Or will you purposefully start fires to make it easier for your machine of war to reach your foes?

Meanwhile …

 

We’ve also been shaping a brand new experience for folks who want to see, first-hand, how Planetary Annihilation is being made. It’s called Public Test Environment, and it’s available right now across PC, Mac, and Linux.

When we’re testing out new ideas to make Planetary Annihilation even more epic, we use private versions of the game to give them a spin. Sometimes, we make dramatic changes. Most of the time, we make small changes. Then, we play the game together in the office and see if these new ideas make the game more fun. If the answer is a resounding “yes,” we often push out these changes in a new update to the game.

Until now, this was a part of the Planetary Annihilation journey you didn’t get to see. The Public Test Environment is a public-facing version of the game where we’re trying out a lot of cool or interesting ideas, much like we did in our private in-office tests. When you download PTE, you’ll get to see features or balance changes that have the potential to change the way the wider game is played — and you’ll be in on it from the start.

We think PTE is a really exciting way to keep you in tune with Planetary Annihilation. If you want to give it a shot, visit this message board thread, read what Marc has to say, and the client it’s delivered through a download.

As creators, we use experiments to test the limits of our games. As designers, we use experiments to test out how balance and gameplay feel. PTE will be primarily used for testing experiments, from engine changes to even balance overhauls.

We have a fun balance philosophy at Uber Entertainment. Before we start finely tuning attack power, range, and concepts like that, we truly stretch the limits of units by doubling, tripling, or maybe even halving their abilities. We test for feel first, and then start really getting in there.

When you jump into PTE, you’ll see and get to play with these experiments, and truly experience how we’re shaping the Planetary Annihilation experience.

And Now For A Question

 

Will secondary colors return?

We’ve been asked this one several times since the Gamma phase began. The short answer is: yes, yes they will.

The long answer? We pulled them in the initial Gamma update because some combinations just didn’t read well. People couldn’t tell what army was what color. Since then, we’ve re-worked how secondary colors appear on units by minimizing their impact on unit models. Those times when you were like, is that red or blue team? Not going to happen anymore once we get this in.

And speaking of units — Andrew’s been thinking about redoing the Grenadier unit. Here’s an image of an early idea:

dox_cap

Don’t forget to check out Planetary Annihilation on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and message boards. Have a question? Ask them on the forums or send us an e-mail: mailbag@uberent.com. Otherwise, plug in, stay tuned, annihilate!