Auto Assault Q&A at GameSpot

I saw a blurb over at Blue's News pointing to an Auto Assault Q&A at GameSpot.  Although the interview with President of NetDevil, Scott Brown, talks about a lot of tweaking, polishing and balancing being done by the team to finish up Auto Assault for launch, I find myself compelled by the same bit that Blue posted:

 Players are really having fun with the destructive nature of the game. It seems to be a great deal of fun to drive around and destroy just about every object in the world.

Now, I have yet to play this game (even though the blokes at NetDevil work right across town from me and Scott's a bit of a friend by now... hmmm... I need to make a phone call!!) but I am conjuring up thoughts of rampant destruction and chaotic kablooey-ness.  I'll say up front that I hope the game doesn't go the way of just being an elaborate Twisted Metal: Black Online, which admittedly was a great deal of fun up-front, but it didn't last very long for me.  All reports about AA I've read point toward a very fun, visceral experience, which is very encouraging.  I'm just hoping the roleplaying aspects are deep enough to make it a broader game than just the character development bits in-between more car crashes and big explosions.

Honestly, it's not the gameplay issues around a mega-destructive game that I'm pondering here... I'm thinking it's the idea of which players this game style will attract to the game.  Yeah.  That's really a lot of my apprehension... what if this all-out destruction-fest (with the sweet Havok physics and all) brings all the aggressive, ganking, jerky-boys from the MMO world in droves?  Maybe ganking won't be an issue gameplay-wise (again, I haven't done my homework about the game) but I sincerely hope the social and mental demeanor of the general player base has people I'll enjoy playing with.  Of course, there's always good & bad, but let's face it, there are several games in the past that really encouraged the griefers to come out and play.

Well, I'll stop typing... now. 

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Hello,

Hello, I was one of the folks who played AA during their open beta event awhile back. I spent a lot of time with the game during that event. disclaimer: The game has no doubt had updates since this play experience. It really boiled down to the same MMORPG experience that I have had in other games. Driving around through objects was fun, but it got old pretty fast and you were left with the rest of the game mecahnics. You can drive around while shooting things but there wasn't a lot of incentive to do so. First, you need a melee weapon attached to the front of your car before ramming something will do damage. Raming an enemy did not always hurt it, even when that enemy was a human walking around on two legs. Often times I would "miss" the target even though I ran directly through the should-be-happless victim. Additionally, levels differences played a big role in that ramming walking human enemies who were higher level would do no damage at all even if the "attack" did not miss. That was really silly. Raming stationary objects, such as plants that attack you, generally but not always caused damage. As for fighting other vehicles or moving creatures, there were times that being to the side or behind would give an advantage (or so the quest text claimed). This was fairly rare and I quickly learned that standing still while holding down the Fire button was a lot easier and more effective than trying to drive in circles while keeping the target within range of my guns. It done no good, anyway, because driving doesn't really give you a defensive edge unless you go out of range of the enemy's weapon. Quests were ALWAYS in the form of "go kill 20 enemies and come back". There wasn't anything creative. Was this a byproduct of being beta or do will they ship with their game based on these tasks? Does it make sense to expect the team to go back through their entire game and write new, involving quests before launch? I don't think so, but who knows. Auto Assault felt significantly like a console game that had been ported to the PC, and Twisted Metal came to mind many times while playing. Though I would say that Twisted Metal was probably a faster paced game play experience since it was more effective in AA to (generally, though not always) hold still. Obviously I wasn't too impressed with it. It has alot of potential, but it felt a lot like "console game meets cookie cuttermmorpg". Has it changed a lot since then? I really don't know, I'm not in on the regular beta. I will say that PlayNC seems to have a habit of creating games that have the most simplistic, sandbox play style that it can have. City of Heroes and their repeated instanced "dungeon" areas makes for a good example of this. Anyhow, thought I'd drop my two cents in on this. ~Steph

Nice post, thanks!

Thanks for the post.  A lot of great points here.

I know many of the things you bring up are certainly typical "beta quality" issues, since I've seen things like that many times before.  That's not to say the company will definitely address the issues by launch, but it often means they'll get ironed out on some level at least in patches.

I do know some of the guys at NetDevil and I'll say they're sticklers for good quality product.  They've been tweaking this sucker for a long time and their goals for shipped content were lofty to say the least.  They had a LOT of work to do and with that much work comes inevitable errors in design, balance, gameplay, etc.

I know from talking to others that the game has come a long way, but that doesn't necessarily smooth away my concerns for the whole product.  Issues like you're talking about (ie: can't damage a human but you can damage environment objects,) tend to be driven by gameplay and game balance decisions.  It sounds goofy to have a person not get obliterated when hit by a high-speed vehicle collision, but maybe they decided that was a necessary trade-off to stop griefing or something.

Balancing games like this is no picnic... I don't envy them.  That's a big concern of mine considering this "destructible environment" game.  Players expect to be able to destroy anything, but then they run into a person and it doesn't hurt them much... suspension of disbelief gets instantly shattered and you have a "shake your head" moment if you're not careful.

Blah... whatever.  I need to stop talking about this until I play the thing.  I'm mostly talking from a general game design perspective.   You do bring up fantastic points that tend to lean towards my initial concerns about the game.  Of course, I'll make my own mind up when the time comes.

Again, thanks for the great, thoughtful post!!  :)

 

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