Auto Assault Designer Diary #1 - PVP, Arenas, Voice Chat

Get the lowdown straight from the designers themselves on player-versus-player gameplay in Auto Assault.

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Auto Assault promises to be the fastest online role-playing game on the planet when it launches later this year. After all, what other online RPG lets you put the pedal to the metal as you hurtle along a postapocalyptic wasteland, blasting other cars, not to mention mutated creatures? Of course, part of the charm of online role-playing games is that you can graduate from beating up on the computer to challenging your fellow human players in a test of skill, as well as low ping rates. Every online role-playing game approaches player-versus-player gameplay in its own way, and Auto Assault is no different. We'll let the NetDevil staff explain.

Auto Assault is an online role-playing game all about road rage.

Driver-versus-Driver

By NetDevil Staff

The goal of player-versus-player mode in Auto Assault is for combat to be goal oriented. If you are playing in the contested regions, you may be either defending or attacking an outpost, which are some of the most hotly-contested areas in the PVP regions of Auto Assault. They're spread out across the landscape, but each race has the ability to use an override kit to hack an outpost's mainframe, instantly changing the factional affiliation of the defensive systems. These strategic locations can act as a temporary base of operations for whichever faction controls them. You may also be trying to complete a PVP specific mission out in the wastelands, hunting for specific players. If you are playing in the arenas, you may be trying to improve your ranking or may be competing in a match against another clan with your own money up as a wager.

We want getting into an arena match to be as simple as possible. Basically, you go to an arena kiosk, which are found in a variety of towns, and choose the type of match you are looking for or just choose instant action and have the server find a match for you automatically. Currently you can choose the number of players, the type of arena gameplay (deathmatch or capture and hold, for example), a wager, and a password. Once you are in the arena, there is a countdown, and you proceed into battle. When any of the victory conditions are met, the results window shows up on your screen. At this point you can either return to where you came from or stick around and automatically be put into another match, keeping you in the action as much as possible. The other option from the arena screen is to join an upcoming tournament. Once the tournament starts, you are automatically brought in, and each time your team wins a round you continue to fight until only one team remains.

All players of all races and even servers of the same region all go into the same matching pool so that you are truly playing against the best, no matter what server they call "home." Also, the results will be summarized on our PVP Web site, so you can see who the individual and group leaders are of the various arena game types. You will also be able to see past and upcoming tournaments to help you prepare for the battles yet to come.

The biggest challenge is making sure that player skills and weapons stay balanced between PVP and also player versus environment. A massively powerful skill that seems really fun against computer opponents may be frustrating in PVP because it kills you with one shot. Another tricky part of game balance is that you have four unique classes that need to be able to fight alone in combat but still have important and varied roles in group combat. For example, we need to balance the repair abilities of an engineer compared to other players who must use repair kits when playing solo, while still giving the engineer powerful attack capabilities.

When in doubt, ram!

Auto Assault includes voice-chat support right out of the box. Setting up voice could not be easier: You are automatically put into a voice group with any other players in your convoy (you can, of course, mute a player you do not want to hear). During arena combat, you are automatically put into a voice channel with all the players on your team. How you manage control of who talks when is completely up to the players and can be tricky when groups get big, so it is likely that groups will establish communication ground rules depending upon who is in the group and what their chat habits are. In addition to voice, we support a number of other peripherals with all kinds of nice extra abilities. Specifically, we've been working with Microsoft, Creative Labs, and Logitech on such items as headsets, controllers, and mice.

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