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Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #47: On balance, bartering, and the wide open hubs of L.A.

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Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #47: On balance, bartering, and the wide open hubs of L.A.

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 10 April 2014, 01:22:29

Tags: Chris Keenan; InXile Entertainment; Wasteland 2

Tonight, we have a long Wasteland 2 Kickstarter update seemingly aimed at addressing the concerns of certain Codexers. It talks about gameplay length. It talks about balance. It shows the new barter UI. And most interestingly, it reveals something of the nature of Wasteland 2's second act, set in Los Angeles, and the sorts of things we'll find there. Here come the excerpts:

Chris here to give you a snapshot on our current progress. First off, the next beta update is being wrapped up! It’s been in testing for the past few weeks and we’re putting the final touches on it as I write this. You can expect it to go live next week.

This beta update will include the first release of the Linux build, new merchant UI elements, the Missile Silo map, the Darwin Village map, an updated leadership skill, a few new enemies with unique AI (I dare you to get in combat with the suicide monks…), many additional balance tweaks, tutorial, lots of optimization and oh-so-much more. As always, we will put full patch notes up on our tumblr when the patch goes live.

One thing we were excited to look into were stats showing how long people were playing the game. It can be hard for a developer to estimate exactly how long a game takes because even when playing through fully, we're still too familiar with it to not go through it fast. But now that we've had people playing it and based on how long they've been taking on the live content, we can estimate the full game will likely take the average new player around 50 hours on a normal playthrough. Though it'll take quite a bit longer if you're looking to fully explore every location and mission.

Now let's talk development: at this stage we are working not just on beta builds and polishing those areas, but on tweaking the game's systems and taking lessons learned from beta feedback and applying them throughout the game. Every day our level designers are adding new touches and various levels of reactivity to the game. For example, in this next update you'll find major areas are now open to you right from the moment you leave Ranger Citadel, rather than being plot-gated.

As we're finishing up more Arizona areas we are intensifying our work on Los Angeles, and for the entire game we are making great progress. Much of the team is on California right now, adding layer after layer of depth into the current design.​

Here's a bit about the game balance:

Wasteland 2 as it stands has not had many balance passes done, and that influences how balanced the attribute and skill system may seem. In the currently live builds, you might feel like you’re leveling up more often than you should or you have too many skill points. This is intentional as part of the goal is to have you try out the various options and give us feedback.

One very significant system we have not yet put in is the tying together of attributes and skills, where the skills are either capped or heavily influenced by a specific attribute. This is an important balancing factor in a party-based cRPG like ours, because you are likely to have a total of seven party members not far into the game and will have a large pool of skill points to use. It continues to tie into one of our pillars of having to make difficult choices that will affect gameplay. Early on in the final game, this heavy feel of a multi-talented group will remain, but once we start putting our caps and ties system in, you will need to be more careful in your skill choices when you progress further into the game. Of course, by this point, you will have tried a variety of skills and become more informed about what you wish to focus on and how to spread your skills among various characters.

In general, we pride ourselves in our flexibility to adapt our systems based on feedback and internal and external discussion, a good example of which would be our Ranger Corner thread where we asked for feedback on charisma, with my reply and thoughts here. Charisma was the attribute most in need of updates to make it more viable, and we are constantly evaluating and modifying the way our attributes work.
And about L.A.:

With these areas dominated by strong factions that have no familiarity with the Desert Rangers, this opens up great new possibilities for us to challenge and offer diverse choices for you. One faction may have an internal conflict, a splinter group with beliefs that differ from dogma, giving the opportunity to choose one side or play them out against each other, or re-unify them. But another may have an external enemy with no chance of reconciliation, a conflict the player might decide is best to avoid entirely, but one which they can also use to their advantage to help one side gain dominance and wipe the other side out.

Many L.A. areas are in a state of equilibrium as you arrive at them (though not all are, some may require immediate action), giving you more time to explore the "towns" of various shapes and size, and get familiar with the people and the faction's beliefs, trade, resolve smaller missions, or even progress without ever triggering any conflict at all. Los Angeles shines in a strong variety of locations. That variety evincing itself not just in visuals and flavor of the location, but also in how open or guided an area is, how conflict or hub-oriented it is, etc. etc.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look at one of our LA levels in the Unity editor. This town – built around the Watts Towers – is between the stages of Wild West and civilized, the arrival of the Rangers may well determine which way it goes…

[​IMG]

Since such a high-level view may seem a bit obscure, here is a closer level render (but with the camera still further out than it would be in-game). Each building can be entered, making Watts the kind of open hub that you could find around the halfway point of Wasteland 1.
Yes, this is definitely a good update. Keep 'em coming, inXile.

There are 25 comments on Wasteland 2 Kickstarter Update #47: On balance, bartering, and the wide open hubs of L.A.

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