Welcome to the second part of our rework roundtable blog. If you missed the first part that has a lot of interesting information, please check it out here: https://thecycle.game/dev-diary-part-7-rework-roundtable-1/
As with part 1 the roundtable was held on Thursday, August 13, starring RickDekard, our Executive Producer, and Daze, our Creative Director. This was the perfect opportunity for players who took part in the Closed Alpha sessions to jump in and ask questions about the reworked version of The Cycle and its future.
Please find below a few of the questions and answers that have been provided on that day, restructured for your reading convenience. Our Community Lead Feralus was hosting the talk and we want to say thank you to our moderator VeryGreatFrog for taking notes. Of course, a big thank you goes out to everyone in attendance and to everyone asking questions!
Q: Are there any plans to add a PvP “Rogue” system or a downside to PvP?
Currently, PVP interactions are “shoot on sight” with no incentive to hold your fire.
Can you share any insights or plans to get fewer hostile interactions with players?
A: Daze: This has been a tricky topic in the current version of The Cycle as well. Your first instinct as a player is always to shoot on sight. Other players represent threats, threats should create suspense. But we want a bit of room for friendliness with proximity voice chat, which allows you to communicate with other players on the surface. This still leaves room for unexpected things to happen. A quick example from the Closed Alpha: I was looting a power room. When another player locked the door. We started talking through proximity voice chat and made a deal to share the loot. That felt very meaningful and that kind of scenario that is not that unlikely.
RickDekard: Proximity voice is integral to that experience. We did not look at the data but that is a thing we could investigate, to check how it influenced things. It allows a broader spectrum of player interactions, as you can talk yourself out of sticky situations.
Q: When will we get to play on Crescent Falls, the other map?
A: RickDekard: Our team is super busy working on it. I am happy with the progress and there are some substantial changes to it. We do plan to have it in our upcoming Closed Beta though it might need some final touches after that. The artist side of it might not be 100% complete, but gameplaywise it is already ready for feedback. Our maps team just crushes it and does a great job with the second map as well. I can’t wait to hear what you folks think about it.
Q: Any plans for the power puzzles to unlock a new zone if all are powered up at once?
A: Daze: There are no plans for this currently, but it sounds pretty cool! I’ll take note and keep it in mind.
RickDekard: That sounds like stuff we could definitely do with the way the rework is structured, something that makes you want to stay longer on the planet.
Q: Any plans for map-specific loot/contracts?
A: Daze: YES! You can see glimpses of it right now with some loot that is only available in some parts of the map. We plan to have map-specific loot and other, more dangerous maps with better loot. This way, you as a player will always have the agency to decide what you want to do and how you want to do it.
Q: Are there any more plans for events only happening during the storm?
A: Daze: So far, we have only scratched the surface of it during Closed Alpha 2, with the dark and dangerous storm that prevents you from getting off the planet. We do have plans for later progression, like missions that can only be completed during the storm and risky loot that can only be available while it is raging on the surface of Fortuna III.
Q: What are the plans surrounding dungeons that were teased once?
A: Daze: We also have plans for these, but I cannot see them without having the threat of PvP while you are in them. I would really like players to experience tense moments of conquering and mastering the challenges of a dungeon and then needing to make it out with the bounty, all the while knowing another player might try to come and steal the loot out of their hands.
Q: Are there plans to bring dynamic planet events? Like the Laser Drill or the Magtrain in the current version or something that requires people to work together?
A: Daze: Absolutely. We are not there yet but we want dynamic events on the map to be a major gameplay element. The falling meteor that you saw in the Alpha tests is just a sneak peek of that. Those risk/reward scenarios are always a wonderful experience when you are on the surface and always have enormous potential for conflict.
Those older contracts you mentioned feel like a good toolbox for us, something that will provide us with the right ammo to tweak things and adjust them into the rework. Our designers will surely look at other old ideas as well as trying out new ones to offer more things to do on Fortuna III.
Q: Are there plans for dangerous areas on the map without the storm?
A: Daze: Yes, yes, yes! The vision, from my perspective as Creative Director, really is that there are a lot of things you cannot do as a new player until you unlock the proper gear or learn how the game works.
Imagine, for instance, a protective suit that would allow you to enter an area that contains excessive amounts of radiation. The Cycle is after all a big radioactive storm, some of you may remember that from way older versions of the game. There will be things you need to unlock to get access to some areas or areas that are just so dangerous that you’ll need good gear to stand a chance in them.
Q: What are your goals with the TTK (Time to Kill)?
A: Daze: This really is a tight-rope balance. It should be short enough that you feel tense and are able to die quickly, but it also needs to be long enough to give you a window of opportunity to react. It should be made clearer that someone is near you. We have not gotten this right yet but there will be improvements in the Closed Beta. Power progression is important as well, we heard your feedback in the Alpha tests. The key goals are clear – deadly but still fun.
Q: Will there be methods of fighting that are less direct than just shooting someone, for those of us who are stealthier in their approach?
A: RickDekard: A thing we talk about a lot internally with Daze is those “rat-types” who are not keen on running headfirst into an encounter but would rather approach situations more carefully. Those who are usually not directly out for blood have an enjoyable time as well. In the same vein, we talk a lot about tools that give players options next to just being better at aiming than the other player. We plan to offer multiple playstyles.
Q: Do you folks plan to add new guns?
A: Daze: That is a compelling thing of the rework of The Cycle, it is much easier to add new items and weapons and to find them a place in the game since we do not have a risk of throwing off the balance that much anymore. Quirky things are in the realm of possibilities as well as new guns that suit different playstyles, among other things.
Q: Will the gunplay stay the same?
A: (in unison) No. No!
Daze: Our focus in the next tests will be on improving gun handling, power progression, and TTK.
We are making substantial changes for the next test and, of course, we are looking forward to your feedback!
Q: Are there any plans for any more gun customization? Like attachments that are built for either PvP or PvE, mods that are more focused on fitting a specific playstyle than simply enhancing stats.
A: Daze: I really see us doing that. What you see in Closed Alpha 2 was just the first iteration of the attachments. Playstyle-specific attachments or mods specific to a type of contract are both planned. This will help offer more options for players and, as you said, offer them a way to find their own playstyle in our world.
Q: Will there be more types of weapons and other equipment?
A: Daze: We want to go out with a good starting set and expand on that later!
RickDekard: Things like a healing grenade would be important to squad play. We do want to support that. It can be important to have the right tools for the right moment. We want to keep squad play in mind for sure. But we also do not have additions to the weapon roster on our roadmap for now.
Q: Are there plans to retrieve your teammates’ guns and give them back? Through some sort of trading system without fully opening trading in the game.
A: Daze: I have not thought about that in that way yet. It is an interesting idea though.
Q: Do you folks plan to have a consumable to defoam a friend on the planet?
A: We have been talking about that internally.
Daze: We have not decided on a solution yet, but we want to streamline this process of bringing back a foamed teammate. Currently, we do not have a solution in place like the old DBNO, an option to drop back or a defoam consumable, but it is one of the things that we need to improve on. As mentioned in Closed Alpha 2, there are some ideas that we have, but we need to make sure they will fit properly.
Q: I feel that Prospect Station at this stage is just a portal, there is not much to do besides running from shop to shop. Are there plans to make the interactions on the station more meaningful? Because right now it just feels tedious.
A: Daze: Yes. For example, the player quarters are an important part of your journey. There are also plans to tighten the connection between the station and your time on the planet for future releases and tests as well. It is a process that needs a bit more time, but we also want to bring more life into the station.
Q: Are there any plans to make crafting more in-depth than just a storefront?
A: Daze: Yes, as well. The UI will be updated for the next test. We are also updating the recipes to be more authentic and to give them a bit more depth. We are also looking into unlockable blueprints to open more crafting possibilities.
RickDekard: An important thing we have planned, that will not be everyone’s cup of tea: we are looking into putting crafting times in for Closed Beta 1. Crafting items will take a bit of time, depending on their quality. It will be important for us to receive feedback on the length of certain timers.
Q: How do you plan to adjust the legendary guns so that they feel worth crafting (like the Zeus Beam) or not too overpowered (like the HAZE)?
A: RickDekard: I do not think we did any balancing for them yet at all in the recent Alpha tests. They should be closer to where we want them in the Closed Beta, closer to what they should be on release.
Daze: We do not want them to be some kind of be-all-end-all guns but rather specialist weapons to be used in very specific situations.
Q: Based on feedback, what are your current thoughts on crafting materials?
A: RickDekard: They were not balanced properly in the Alphas. It is already much different internally, as mentioned above.
Q: Will you guys make special melee weapons? Like stuff that can only be obtained through crafting and that contains some unique perks?
A: RickDekard: Thinking about it currently but it is nothing that we see on release.
Q: Will there be a way to craft simple attachments for your guns?
A: Daze: I think the legendary tier attachments were already in the game in the tests, but I do not see why not.
RickDekard: There was a discussion in the team about if you should craft attachments or buy them. We are still thinking of what we can do with Co-Tec weapons, so there might be something linked to that.
Daze: The recipes were the first iteration just to make sure they work. We want to make them more authentic and give them more sense and meaning in the Closed Beta.
Q: Will there be RPG elements like skills? (a running skill for instance)
A: Daze: I like the idea. We may discuss it. But it is not likely to happen before release regardless.
Q: Any plans to prevent killing each other while no one gets the loot? Like tick rate and such.
A: RickDekard: Many of the possible solutions can be dangerous, but Joxxor (our Technical Director) has been working passionately on improving the server performance to give the best experience possible.
Q: I noticed that the game performance gets choppier the longer the session, what’s up with that?
A: RickDekard: We have not done a persistent match in the past before so it is new to us, so it could be related to PC and server performance. We received a lot of data from the Closed Alphas to check a lot of sessions and to see what is wrong and fix it. It will be better in the Closed Beta.
Q: Have you thought of being able to spectate alive teammates as a dead teammate?
A: Daze: It can be boring if you die. It depends on what the solution will be to get back into a match with your friends, but it might be reasonable to couple that with squadmate spectating. As long as this spectator mode does not hinder tension and immersion.
Q: How are you going to implement competitive play in the new cycle?
A: Daze: It is likely going to be different. We have ideas on a high level – I really cannot comment much on that at the moment, due to said ideas not being fleshed out yet. Think about it more in the vein of MMO endgame, clans will play a big factor in that. Not really in the way of eSports but rather in a competition of dominance, in a clan/season kind of thing.
Q: Building on what was asked. What do you mean by MMORPG in that case? Can you give more details please?
A: Daze: I can explain a bit, but it is not designed in detail yet, as mentioned above. What I mean by MMO is that it is less like sports with matches and winners but more like clans competing against each other.
RickDekard: To give you an idea of what thoughts were flying around in that case, the game will still have seasons and in those seasons, there will be leaderboards for clans: which clan obtained the biggest value, who evacuated with the most loot, who did X thing the most, who was the most ruthless, etc. It is cheaper for us to build than another thing that sounds great – territories that your clan could claim.
Q: How will you guys manage to appeal to casual and new players who aren’t into more hardcore games? How will you make this work as a Free 2 Play game on both Steam and Epic?
A: RickDekard: When we look at other games, we want to focus on a niche that is big enough for us to exist in, but not using a “shotgun approach” to try and get everyone to like the game. Growing this niche organically will be important – from “hey, I want to check this out, I think I like this” to “damn, I really love this game!”. Midcore to hardcore might be a good place for us when it comes to players who like the rework.
Daze: We want to focus on the creation of a game that shooter players will love, that offers a lot of possibilities, that allows you to find your own playstyle and that values your time.
Q: What are going to be the biggest differences mechanically from similar games?
A: Daze; There are three lanes we really want to lean into.
One of them is the player choice and agency that we offer: different playstyles, different goals, making sure they enjoy the time spent on The Cycle. We also have our sci-fi setting as one of the big differences, while not directly mechanical, it offers more options to create mechanics that are different from other games. Think about events that happen on the map, like the Meteor or other things that we have planned. Last is, of course, the persistent world, which allows players to drop down without waiting times.
Q: What about latency for players from different servers? Will everyone be on one single server? How will it be handled?
A: RickDekard: There already were NA, EU, and Asian servers during the Closed Alphas. Due to how the persistent worlds work it is always a bit tricky to find that sweet spot between offering the best ping and offering to play on servers that were less populated. This will of course change a bit with the release when the servers will be populated by more than a small group of players. Playing with friends will definitely influence your ping though when they are from a different region than yours.
Q: Why was there no bug report button in the Closed Alpha 2?
A: RickDekard: It was more helpful for us to get feedback through Discord as we knew that folks who took the time to comment on Discord put a good amount of thought into it, that kind of feedback is easier to use. Some people used bug reports in ways they should not – to write terrible things, insults, and worse. That was not a nice experience for everyone involved. (…) We really wanted to get bug reports in a way where they can be filtered.
Feralus: We have a plan to bring the bug reporter back in a different kind of way for some players that can get a specific role to enable it. That will not be in the Beta, but it is a plan for the future. It is not nice to have thousands of spam tickets that just waste time and are definitely not a nice read, as it also causes important stuff to get lost in the mix.
Q: Is there a general idea of the progression of the actions a player takes? Like a journey through the features.
A: Daze: I am unsure what you mean. In case you mean contracts that you are expected to do and the shields and tools you have at your disposal over time, then the game will progressively open itself up as you go along.
RickDekard: Something we don’t think we did well in Closed Alpha 2 is called the first-time user experience, the first hour of playing.
We are putting more effort into that for the Closed Beta. We didn’t introduce the crafting and the player quarters, yet the feedback was still ok, but we can do better on that! The contracts were random, but it might make sense to do a simple, skippable, solo starting tutorial to teach you the core concept before exposing you to all the danger.
Q: If the new cycle brings enough popularity any plans to bring back old patches, from before the rework, as limited-time modes?
A: RickDekard: No, the game is fundamentally different, therefore that simply won’t work. Maybe we can include things like The Laser Drill as limited-time events.
Daze: There is content from the old Cycle that we can adjust and bring back. But bringing back the old game with the old mechanics would simply be too costly and therefore not feasible.
Q: Are there any plans to bring the game to Steam as early access?
A: RickDekard: No plans right now but this can change. The current plan is to have a proper release of the game on Steam when it launches.
Q: Will we see bikes and their skins?
A: RickDekard: No, but we will generously refund the aurum for the bike skins, as well as the foam poses. More info on that will follow soon. Bikes simply didn’t make sense in the way the game now plays. We tried, checked, and tested, and it is a better experience without them.
Q: Will there be a way to see the name of who or what killed you?
A: Daze: Yes, you should know who damaged you and who killed you, this was already in the Closed Alpha 2.
Q: Will there be more statistics and a solo leaderboard?
A: RickDekard: Yes, in the end of match flow there will be more statistics that show what you did during your time on the planet. Leaderboards on the station are going to be a thing for the seasons.
And that’s it for the first roundtable! More roundtables like this one are planned in the future, so do not hesitate to join in and ask your own questions. We will be sure to create more dev diary entries out of them too! Next step for the rework – Closed Beta!
Until then Prospectors, take care of yourselves and keep your eyes peeled for exciting news in the next weeks!
Make sure to also check all our previous entries if you haven’t already!
- Part 1 – New experiences in The Cycle
- Part 2 – Everything about crafting
- Part 3 – Fortuna III and map design
- Part 4 – Impressions from Fortuna III
- Part 5 – Events, Current Season & Veteran Rewards
- Part 6 – User Interface
- Part 7 – Rework Roundtable – Part 1
Don’t hesitate to share any feedback directly with us on our Discord server! https://discordapp.com/invite/thecycle