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Status Update 2019-07-26

Status updates from MythoLogic Interactive about the game progress.
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Gurt
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Status Update 2019-07-26

Post by Gurt » Fri Jul 26, 2019 6:07 pm

We're at the final stretch of the next update. Hjarpe is wokring with the last details on the new campaign and while that's going on I'm extending the ScriptAPI. We will probably release some sort of public beta branch a day before releasing it to the public, giving us a chance to catch any breaking bugs if any are discovered.

We have also created a v.1.2.0g public branch in Steam if you want to stay on the v.1.2.0g branch for a while before updating or want to join a server running an older version. It's mostly there if you care about old versions and we think v.1.2.0g is stable enough. You select this branch in the BETA tab in the properties menu for Superfighters Deluxe from your Steam library.

If everything goes well we will release the next update sometime next week. But we may still need more time.

Our focus shortly after the update is to keep releasing bug fix updates (a bug-fix update is usually a few days away when looking back at previously releases). After that both Hjarpe and I will take a vacation from SFD for some time as we have vacation from our daily jobs now. So a proper vacation without thinking about our daily jobs or SFD will be great!
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Post by KliPeH » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:29 pm

I wanted to write this post for a long time. I don't know if I will be able to put my thoughts into words properly so as to convince you to change your mind but I am going to try anyway. I'm sorry if this is a little too long to your liking. I didn't really know where to put this so I posted this into the latest status update.

The influx of "what I think about this game" threads has sparked discussion about the direction in which the game is headed. To recap, @Pricey wrote this thread in which he carefully explained why the release of the game felt underwhelming to him and other members of the community using the following reasoning:
  • The game went pay-to-play, which in turn drove the younger community members who were unable to pay real money for the luxury away. Not only that, but now people had to see whether the playtime they got out of the game was worth their hard earned money; some decided it weren't - less players meant less servers to play on, which meant a smaller play field for those actually willing to spend money on the game but not able to host public lobbies themselves.
     
  • No marketing, which meant the Steam userbase was not being exposed to SFD as much as it should have been.
     
  • Little to no Dev interaction with the community, which meant the introduction of features into the game some players may have not liked. @Noble also pointed out that the organization of public events could've attracted more players had the game used some sort of official quick-messaging service with the Devs in it (like Discord).
     
  • The introduction of weaponry too strong or too uninteresting into the weapon pool, and generally items players didn't agree with having in the pool, wanting them to stay unique to the campaigns. In particular, the Chainsaw and Incendiary Ammo were brought up as being overpowered, and the Riot Shotgun, Machine Pistol, .45 Pistol and MP50 as being too plain to use in Multiplayer environments. Melee weapons that have no unique abilities, like the Lead Pipe and the Hammer were also brought up as feeling dull.
Most replies supported these points and even brought additional arguments to the table, like the lack of official game servers and reduced game/server performance with consequent updates becoming detriments to the game's success on Steam. In this thread, posted the very next day, the same concerns were brought up. This thread and some replies to it suggested adding a free demo to counteract the decrease in player count, or introducing free weekends to help the Steam community discover SFD with greater ease. @ill has voiced his own concerns regarding the decline of the community in his giveaway thread, all in just over a week.

What prompted me to write this post was really just @Hjarpe's reply to the first major thread voicing these concerns. In short, @Hjarpe reassured the players the game was not being abandoned as it was going to receive a major update with a new campaign and a new item. This was also supported by @Gurt in his following status update (and the one after that), except this time it was stated that the game will most likely not receive any additional updates bar bug fixing and tweaking and that the duo will be moving onto their next big project.

My post is a protest to that. I do not support the idea of leaving the game in this state. The OP's Like counter shows other members don't really seem to think this way but it is important for me to voice my opinion on the matter. It's not that I agree with all the aforementioned points, no. I don't really think Dev interaction with the community will "save" the game, I don't think restricting some weapons to the Campaign is necessary. I've been loving all the new additions the game received post-release. I'm not looking for new maps or new weapons, a demo version will certainly help but is not what the Devs should be focusing on.

I mention these things as a reminder, but they're not what the post is about. The game doesn't really need a jetpack, or a new survival map, or a new Campaign. It needs to have core features fleshed out before new ones are thrown into the mix, and this is what it's all about. Only one single community member talked about what I think is the single most important thing a PvP game about killing things with style should have; what is absolutely crucial for the game to feature, before anything else, before the game is inevitably abandoned once and for all:

Proper. Bot. Functionality.

AI players are the lifeblood of this game. Listen to me. Players will eventually get tired of searching for a functional server and resort to playing the game on their own terms using private and/or modded AI lobbies. They're already doing this. I'm already doing this. Hosting lobbies is an issue, high ping is an issue. You've seen the countless Negative reviews on Steam saying this. Putting the technical side of things aside, what happens when the existing players simply lose interest in the game? When you decide to shut down the online services as you did with the Pre-Release versions? Players will still be buying the game, old players will still be returning to it. Offline/standalone play is NOT in a good place right now and I really want to see this changed, as a measure against this game dying out completely.

AI opponents are featured everywhere. You have your Campaigns, your Challenges, your offline Versus modes. You take pride in your Campaigns, yes? How come the Bots populating it are so dumb and weak? This review was the first to really bring this to my attention; you have players complaining about how boring slaying AI fighters is, how the Campaigns are mindless horde-shooters that require zero to no skill to beat.

The Campaign Bots don't do the game justice, they don't show the intense strategic gameplay and competitive capabilities the game offers. I cannot help but sympathize. I really hope new players are not deterred from trying Bots in Versus mode due to the Campaigns, I certainly would have had I not seen the potential SFD has prior to their introduction.

Even after getting pitted against the smarter Hard or Expert Bots in Versus mode I'm still slightly disappointed, as I'm sure other players are. I have no idea why the Bots are constantly being neglected. I have no idea why @Gurt is so completely bent on keeping Bots "stupid" and "never [being] on the player's level". This design philosophy is so wrong, they should become formidable opponents that challenge players, stretch their imaginations, force them to be tactical and creative in their approach.

I've asked bots to be tweaked to be smarter and more responsive, to no avail. You can do so many different things to change this too, some of them may not even be difficult (Flare, Bow and GL trajectory calculations are already there, why not introduce the use of equipment?). Designing a new Campaign is not what you should be focusing your efforts on, it's bettering the AI, as boring and exhausting as it can be.

Bots can be exploited and outsmarted so easily it is dumbfounding.
  • They will willingly go through hazards, exploding barrels and gas cans in particular. They also completely ignore mines and C4 charges.
  • They don't utilize equipment and don't even bother picking it up to deny opponents of the resource.
  • They always bunch up and brawl in groups which can easily be dispatched with equipment. They will mindlessly chase the player too.
  • They attempt to shoot through hard pieces of cover with complete disregard for health (explosives) or ammo.
  • They drop from platforms and map edges for seemingly no reason at all.
  • They get stuck in infinite loops over inconveniently-placed items.
  • They sometimes go completely idle on maps featuring dynamic platforms like Rooftops I and II, Heavy Equipment, and Hotel.
  • They are prone to quick peek-&-shoot routines, and don't know how to properly deal with constant (intentional) interruptions of LoS.
  • They don't know how to deal with being on fire and being shot at simultaneously.
  • They don't utilize throwing weapons and don't know how to deal with weapons thrown at them.
  • They don't utilize the grab properly - don't throw enemies or flip them around to hang over the map edges.
 
This is all stuff that can be tweaked and fixed. I really hope some of your aforementioned "tweaks" in the upcoming updates include tweaks to the behavior of the AI. What ever happened to your stickied Bot feature list? Bots are the perfect tool to teach new players the way to play the game. @Tom Th3 Assasin mentions that new players avoid Multiplayer lobbies because they do not wish to be annihilated by veteran players, and I can testify that this can be a real issue for some. Allow the higher Bot difficulties to perform better, this means taking all of the things I said into account to provide a much smoother and enjoyable game experience for both new players and old alike.

You can pull some very impressive stunts in this game. Bots should be on par with real players' skill, as much as possible.

That means being unpredictable when they "sense" they are being aimed at, rolling around, moving back and forth erratically, occasionally blocking with their melee weapon to try and block shots - depending on the weapon their opponent is wielding of course. They should have an internal "fuck that" switch, like I suggested in that post I wrote back then. This switch will be toggled at random(?) and force Bots to avoid/ignore opponents for a while, prioritizing equipping themselves with better gear first. That way the endgame is not just picking the weakest Bot survivor with a ranged weapon off and winning easily.

As soon as you prime an explosive, Bots should scatter in opposite directions accordingly. They should go around explosive hazards when other players are equipped with ranged weaponry. They should use explosives themselves. Consider keeping the scores of Bots on the scoreboard. Yes, you can add and remove Bots at the click of a button, that doesn't mean their score should be ignored (especially since the higher Bot tiers actually play better than some real players).

I don't know what I can say to convince you Bots are important and shouldn't be left in this state. I don't know how to emphasize just how important this feature is. I don't expect them to perform like veteran players who have accumulated knowledge over the years playing the game are; I don't want them to cancel fall damage with ledge grabs, exploit low ceilings, avoid kick/kneel cooldowns etc. I just want them to be capable. Why even have explosives and thrown weaponry in your games if Bots can't use them?

Bots shouldn't remain an afterthought. This feature will singlehandedly keep the game alive for me and I'm sure many others as well. Maybe you didn't get the engaging Multiplayer experience you were expecting, that's fine. You still have fully functional Bots to test your mettle. I currently have 90 hours of playtime under my account, I can count how many hours of these were spent in Multiplayer lobbies on one hand. I literally only ever play against Bots now, the arrangement is just too convenient to pass up. It's quick to set up and doesn't require any technical knowhow, also allowing me to ignore the toxic community that has formed around this game the past few years. Bot play can keep me occupied for hours.

I don't want you to think I don't appreciate all your efforts to improve SFD. I do enjoy the new content, I'm sure playing through the new Campaign will be a blast and I hope the item and maps will be good too. But, like I said in my other post, all I want is fair play. Let Bots use all the tools in their disposal to win. I don't want to win because the Bot didn't know how to use a Shuriken or a Mine. I don't want to win because a Bot didn't know what an explosive barrel was. I don't want to win because the Bots mindlessly form groups which I then easily carpet-bomb with fire. Some players still throw themselves at the wall that is the Bots' excellent melee/ranged capabilities, that you sure did nail. I just want to squeeze some more juice out of this game as a veteran player before the day I play it for the last time and leave it forever finally arrives.
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Post by Gurt » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:50 pm

We will after our vacations, when we have had time to clear our minds, post something about our updated view and priorities for SFD and what it means for the future of SFD.
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Post by Noble » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:21 pm

I'm excited for the new campaign, and at the same time curious for its theme. It's nice to see you two are working to implement the Map Editor (at least from what I understood), to be able to play new maps and modes from players is one of the greatest things in the game, a friend of mine mentioned it increases the longevity of any game.

Returning to the discussion about the game's future that's making everyone worried I'll be short.

I still don't think devs being part of a quick-messaging system like Discord like KliPeH mentioned isn't much work, but I understand their decision.

To be completely honest and summarizing my thoughts, the one thing that could have big positive impact on Superfighters Deluxe is something both Gurt and Hjarpe already had planned LONG AGO and wasn't done for some reason. In my opinion, all SFD needed right now was both a paid (complete) and free (limited) version like the original plan. As I think this will both increase the sales (as people will be gradually exposed to the game) and multiplayer dynamism and enthusiasm, anything else is minor and could be easily discussed or solved later, like campaign replayability or bots AI maintenance which are also concerns I have.

About the 'weapons futility' subject, I don't think all weapons should spawn everywhere by default, thas it. Some Official maps could have its specific item list, like Police Station could have the Lead Pipe and Dark Shotgun while at the same time not have the Pump-Action, Pipe Wrench and many other items.

Also, I still think that:
Noble wrote:
Sat Jun 29, 2019 4:23 pm
It's probably a little risky and selfish for me to just presume that, but I really don't think players quit the game when they are 'destroyed' in the game. No no, I don't just think, I'm pretty sure they don't. That kinda makes them much more anxious and interested in the game [...] They'd not even have a reason to give up on playing unless they don't think they're dying fairly or also if we're being toxic to them [which is a different issue, although not completely].
And that, on my post about bodies making people trip for what I mentioned about dying fairly:
Noble wrote:
Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:12 am
It is not something that the game should really be realistic. The easier you keep falling and tripping around the cheaper and more frustrating the gameplay becomes, it's something I think we should avoid in this game.
We are already getting hit by grenades, mines, debris, bodies that are slowly falling, throws, drops, yet more that are times where you are stunned and can't leave a simple combo, I guess some players are getting frustrated by that.
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Post by NearHuscarl » Fri Jul 26, 2019 11:50 pm

I am in the same boat with @KliPeH when it comes to the the direction SFD should take

Currently I have 150+ hours on Steam and I almost never touch multiplayer for reasons that has already been mentioned (high ping, few players). I play versus mode extensively, rarely play survival (not my cup of tea), only play campaign and challenges once or twice. After all, I only left with versus mode and bot and to me, that's where the game is really shine, I have countless of hours of fun beating the shit out of those bots but even with the hard and expert bots, and different team settings, it started to get repetitive after a while. I have to start writing the BotExtended script
to add extra unique bots from the campaign and challege maps. But that will only add more variety of bots. The bots are still quite dumb and easily cheated in some scenarios. It can still be polished and tweaked more.

You can add cool weapons like jetpack or grappling hook, but what's the point if the bot cant use it and no one (can) play the multiplayer. The bots currently can't even use throwable weapons. Besides, the weapon pool is already large and adding more weapons will not likely affect the game that much. Map and particularly campaign is time-consuming, should be spent less and left to modders, that's what the Map Editor is made for right? I am sorry to spill your cup of tea @Hjarpe . But it's unlikely that the new campaign will be appreciated much and most people maybe forget it in a day after beating it and look how much time you spend working on it? I dont want to be mean, just trying to be brutally honest and constructive. Right now the most promising planned features of SFD is the bot features. Improving bot behaviors can make wonder to the game. It can improve the replayability much more seeing how complicated the control system is and the environment you can interact.

A few suggestions beside bot to increase the replayability: you can also add more variety of bots in versus mode, not just different profiles and difficulties (have a look at my script), add more game modes and extend the scriptAPI for modders to help you do the job. But the most important aspect of the game that need to be work more on IMO is bot.

Tl;dr: Bot is one of the most important feature in the game need to be worked on more.
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Post by Noble » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:06 am

Well I didn't know there were many players who'd just like to play against bots till now, all I do is play multiplayer and have had a lot of fun with it since ever. In fact, I don't like playing much with them, but I believe you, it's also quite fun to see if you can like, win against 40 more or less expert bots on Police Station, Splinter even made a script to spawn them just for this so we could try, so that's probably true.
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Post by Kawabanga » Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:36 pm

From my view, two main problems are:
1. Little player base - possible solution - make limited demo and/or free weekends. Link Superfighters (flash) at various flash games sites with steam store and potential demo.

2. Host high internet upload requirement and bad players' pings. I would want to host own games, but this isn't possible without modernizing cables to fiber wire (not yet really available at my location). - possible solution - increasing game's popularity to reach to more enthusiasts with hosting capabilities.

Also, though I've always preferred multiplayer, have to admit that playing with bots can also be fun and there is potential in them yet unveiled. Instead of new campaigns I would rather see more challenges, also for 2 players multiplayer cooperation (even on existing maps). Also, make more various, characterisic, thematic bosses (and bosses with hordes of servants) that can be selected from menu, and instantly "summoned", and fought at any map. This however, would probably arise need to improve bots' IQ to be adaptable to any map, and be not only bot-path reliant.

Weapon disbalance is a matter of personal preference. I personally like unfair and assimetric games where you get beatten most of time. People may complain that something is too difficult / strong / weak, but getting easy wins bores quicker than drilling technique to finally get a win.
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Post by Captain_dikal » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:42 pm

Im late, but:
I'll try to add my own two cents to everything mentioned above. There was a suggestion to host various events which, in my opinion, refreshes the perception of the game and, for example, attracts both many old players who were simply tired of the normal game modes, and new players. But again, the problem about these events is the lobby's functionality (ignoring streaming).
It would be great to develop a spectator system for the puny mortals, not just the dedicated server's host, so that players can join even full tournament servers as spectators and be a part of those games.
Also, as the organizer, I would be elated if the game had something like a ranking system, which would encourage players who participate and win.
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