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Ahead of Dome's re-release on the 22nd of August, we're giving you a look at some of the changes to come.
Dome has had a long and colorful history in Dirty Bomb.
The map always felt too big for 5v5 and 6v6 games, but even in larger 8v8 servers there were some issues that meant Dome wasn’t as fun as we would like.
We removed Dome from Quick Match recently to do some work on it and now we want to give you a peek behind the scenes before its re-release later this month. We want to tell you what we’ve changed and, more importantly, why we’ve changed it.
As you can imagine Dirty Bomb has changed a lot since its early inception, and one thing that has changed is the game’s focus. We found that as more and more people became exposed to the game the optimal player count was becoming clear; Dirty Bomb skewed best towards 6v6 and 5v5 matchups. They were tight, intense and competitive and, subsequently, 8v8 became less popular.
Dome has seen several small tweaks over its lifetime, but this is the first large scale rework it has seen. It’s also the first map rework of this scale in Dirty Bomb’s history.
Dome was built with 8v8 in mind and is easily the biggest map the Dirty Bomb team have ever built. This meant, however, that in 5v5 and 6v6 matchups Dome really struggled to be an engaging map, with too many flanking routes, and too many options for the attackers. To give us a greater insight into what we did to improve it, we sat down with Associate Creative Director Exedore and Senior Level Designer Villham:
Exedore: “We wanted to keep a lot of the best things about Dome, but in doing so we also wanted to focus the action and give people clearer ways to go and have it be much less confusing… It was really overwhelming with all of the routes”
Villham: “We found that teams were getting split up too much, that was especially difficult as defenders as we found an issue on Objective One (delivering the Override Cores) where attackers would do a ninja delivery. They would immediately run down one of the less defended routes and win the first objective straight away which absolutely wasn’t our design intention!”
V: “We’re specifically updating the layout for Dome, with some other minor changes to the assets and lighting. For instance, there’s now clouds that pass across the sky casting shadows.”
“The first problem we ran into [for the rework] was working out just what we needed to do. We knew we had to make changes, but we didn’t want to make radical ones. We had to figure out that sweet spot in the middle; improving the layout without ruining the map in the process.”
Objectives One and Three (Destroy the AA Command Center) were under the most scrutiny, with the “ninja deliveries” on Objective One proving a real issue for many players.
V: “On Objective One we hope there will be no more ninja deliveries! It really shouldn’t happen anymore if the defenders are playing well and are observant. The secondary objective on Objective One is still very open; It no longer opens the main door, but rather a window overlooking the plant site, and a flank on the right side of the map”
We’ve blocked off several routes in Dome as well, forcing players, and the action, in certain directions. This was a tough balancing act though:
V: “The right-hand flank route on Objective One is now gone, that was one of the crucial areas we were seeing players split up. The remaining left route wasn’t enough though, so we’ve added in extra little flank routes there, which really focuses the gameplay around the objective”
This was the crux of getting Dome’s rework; we knew that moving the action was key, not a rework of the objectives themselves.
E: “I wouldn’t actually expect the objectives themselves to play that differently. It’s the approaches to the objectives that have seen the most attention. The approaches now force the attackers to go in more as a group. The main difference will be the intensity of the action around these points.”
V: “Exactly. Defenders are now holding closer to the objective, because that’s where you want people to defend – not ahead of the objective, where can people can easily sneak around you. We’re seeing really good results of that location shift in our in-house playtests and on the PTS.”
Objective Three’s rework focus was the same; stopping easy flanks for the attackers while focusing action on the objective itself. There’s a key change to another favorite location on Dome though…
V: “On Objective Two we’ve made some changes to the rooftop between the two sites. It used to be the hold spot; you could see both bomb sites, you had great cover and were protected from fire. We’ve now made it more exposed, the walls have been opened up a lot more so you’ll get hit more, air strikes are much easier to place up there and it’s no longer as strong a position as it used to be.”
These changes are made to improve the map’s flow for players, but as developers we also have pride in the original map and favourite locations that are often hard to say goodbye to.
V: “One of my best spots used to be the secondary objective on Objective One; it had cool and interesting fights around it, and being able to long jump between the two buildings made it really dynamic and fun. Now, though, I really like the arena on Objective One. Combat has been pushed back towards it and its now used as an actual, exciting combat space, that’s where the defenders hold and it’s much, much more interesting now.”
The ultimate goal was to bring Dome in line with our other maps; a tightly packed, violent crescendo between attackers and defenders, not a desperate chase after a rogue Proxy who’s broken the defenders’ lines.
E: “I hope it’ll strike a good balance between people who liked the original map and those who found it daunting. There’s still a lot of freedom of movement and it has some really good space, so I think the soul of the map hasn’t changed and hopefully it’s a little more accessible for people.”
Dome’s rework demonstrates the latest big change to Dirty Bomb, and our commitment to the title. Jump online now to try the new version of Dome and let us know what you think on the Forums, Twitter or Facebook.
Many of you know the story of Dirty Bomb: After spending a decade perfecting fast paced, objective based shooters in other publishers' universes, we here at Splash Damage wanted to go it alone - To create a spiritual successor to Wolfenstein: Enemy Territory with a modern spin, for ourselves and for our fans.
We hoped and trusted that our fans would spread the word, and that the joy of playing together in maps that opened up over the course of a single match would capture a whole new audience. Objective and Stopwatch modes have always been our bread and butter, the ultimate realization of what makes a Splash Damage game great.
In October 2015, we introduced a game mode: Execution. To compete against other titles, we wanted a game mode that would make transitioning to Dirty Bomb fluid. We hoped that players would feel comfortable in Execution, but then see the light and join the fun in Objective matches.
We've spent the last two years supporting Execution, adding a new map last year and including in-game bonuses for playing the mode. But numbers don't lie, and the truth is that only 5% of players' time in-game are spent in Execution mode.
We've realized that we should be concentrating on what makes Dirty Bomb unique. We know many of you still enjoy Execution, and so it's with a heavy heart that we've decided to remove the game mode from Dirty Bomb. Moving forward, we'll be focusing on the core experience of the game, making Objective and Stopwatch the most fun you can have with a keyboard and mouse. That's not to say we're closing the door on future game modes, but you can be sure that any we consider adding will play to the fast-paced strengths of the game.
We're not worried about introducing others to Dirty Bomb; Now that we have the game back, we're staffing up the team and will be adding more content than ever. We're comfortable with the fast-paced, high skill ceiling, objective-based shooter that it is, and trust that with your help, more and more players will discover how much fun it can be. In fact... We have another major update coming in the next two weeks!
Execution will be in the game until the 22nd of August. To round it off with a bang, we're taking things back to where they all began with updated Second Edition Containment War in the Final Assault Event.
Ranked is definitely the core of the game and is by no means in its final form. There will never be a Ranked Season which is the same as the previous one as we're constantly going to be making improvements and updates. "'XYZ' are all successful games and have big player bases because of their good gameplay along with good matchmaking". The key thing here is the number of players, and as our player numbers increase, matchmaking will improve too.
This is actually a good example showing a balanced system. If everyone ended up with a 50/50 win/loss ratio then everyone would be placed perfectly. The fact that you've won a few matches more means you should be placed against harder enemies, although this would depend on match performance history. Either way, this sample is too small to draw solid conclusions, but on the whole it looks like matches pretty balanced.
I'm gonna see if we can pull some numbers together to help explain the matchmaking system more. I fear that there's a stigma surrounding it and potentially biased opinion could be having a negative impact on the overall Ranked sentiment, which would spread to more players and could end up in less people playing it due to unfounded fear.
As for OP, we're fixing a bug in an update later this week which should resolve/reduce the amount of 4v5s happening. If not, we'll review and see what else we can do. Upping the min level required to play Ranked will not happen. And if you do find yourself in a 4v5, do your best to stay positive and play through. This happened to me in S2 and I managed to win a few of them.