Alpha Update: New Lighting, Equipment Wheel, and Controller Aiming

Today we have a small update for you about a few of the gameplay changes we’ve been making to Sneaky Ninja based on feedback from our alpha players and people from local events and conventions. Some of these have had a pretty big impact on the way people play, which goes to show the power feedback can have on a game’s development! For those of you who’ve played the alpha but never gave us any feedback, take note: these are the kinds of improvements that can happen when you tell us what you don’t like!

(Also, all of these changes went live in an update yesterday, so alpha players should already have all of this in their game!)

First up is a new way of lighting the scene. Before, light from torches would illuminate the environment, but it was a little hard to tell before because you’d have to look at the ground and the way it was being lit up, which no one would take the time to do, and we can’t blame them for not doing it — who would? So here’s what it looks like now:

Now, you can see a very visible boundary between light and shadow, which we’ve noticed has a significant effect on players: nobody wants to walk into the light anymore! That’s actually a very good thing to us. One of the difficult things about designing a stealth game is to convince people to play stealthily instead of just running through it like an action game. Before, people would eventually realize that running through doesn’t work, but only after dying ten times in a row and us telling them to try something else. Now, they naturally feel safer in shadows and less safe in the light, leading them to more quickly play the proper way.

If you look closely, you’ll see another small detail… Enemies have a small vision cone showing what direction they’re looking in. While patrolling or investigating, they’ll often look up or down while searching for you, so this lets you see exactly where they’re looking. This isn’t a 100% new addition, but we tweaked the cone’s appearance because some people before thought it was supposed to represent the entire length of their vision, and then got surprised when they were seen much more further away than that! After our tweaks, no one seemed to make that mistake anymore.

Next up is the equipment wheel. Another thing we noticed about new players is that it was hard for them to take advantage of all the different equipment and magic powers available to them, and most of them only used one or two of those options the entire time. To try to fix this, we added an equipment wheel that slows down time when you open it, giving you some much needed breathing room to think about your next move.

This also had a huge effect on players. We noticed way more people taking the time to use a variety of different tools instead of just one or two. They probably would’ve learned to use them all eventually once they got the hang of the game, but this speeds up the process and makes it more accessible to beginners.

Eagle-eyed alpha players might notice in the above GIF that Kaida’s double throw ability has been changed to work as an equippable magic power, instead of a passive ability that would happen automatically when you have enough stealth charges. This change was made so you wouldn’t have to worry about wasting it when you didn’t want to, so you can save it for just the right time to deliver double damage:

The final big gameplay change we made involved aiming with a controller, one of the last things we saw players struggling with. Sneaky Ninja was developed from the start with the mouse in mind, so the aiming felt much more natural there, leaving analog stick aiming kind of clunky, uncomfortable, and worst of all, inaccurate. To fix this, we implemented a slower but much more accurate aiming system that players across the board have felt much more comfortable with.

Previously, the invisible “cursor” would snap to the angle your analog stick was tilted in, which was fast but too sensitive to make accurate shots with, among other issues. Now, you use the analog stick to drag around a visible crosshair that makes aiming much easier to use. The only downside is that it’s slower and less snappy, but we’ll have sensitivity options so you can find the speed the works for you — plus, clicking the right analog stick flips you around for aquick 180 to take care of any enemies coming up behind you:

And that’s all for now!

Again to all you alpha players, if you have any thoughts on what you’d like to see improved in the game, be sure to reach out to us! Either through the comments here, email, our forums,Facebook, Twitter… there’s a bunch of ways to make your voice heard.

We don’t have any more events lined up in the near future to get ready for, so now it’s back to creating new worlds. Hopefully we’ll have more to share in the next week or two!

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