Updates at least monthly.

Survey Insights

Blue eye scanning with a rayLast month, we put up a survey to get a glimpse of what was on people's minds when it comes to mobas. The link was shared largely among our immediate friends and people who are already interested in mobas, so this data has some obvious biases which must be taken into account.

Just under 200 people took the time to complete the whole thing - not bad at all considering there were 40+ questions. I think we'll make future surveys more digestible.


The respondents were 95% male, and the age graph looks like this:

Chart

That matches up pretty well with our numbers for when people first started playing mobas: over 30% of our respondents started in 2003-2005.


My personal favourite question was early in the survey:

Chart

The answer I was hoping to see ("Being on a team where someone shot-calls and keeps up morale") came dead last! People don't seem to value that highly, at least not when they're answering surveys.

One explanation is that other moments are more common themes in people's play, so it is easier to come up with those as answers. Another is that playing with friends captures the shot-calling and morale category for our respondents, who are generally an older demographic and have had time to solidify friendships.


That showed up again in the game modes question. We knew unranked would be popular, but "with friends" (in stripes) was slightly more dominant.

Chart

The significance of playing with friends was the most important survey insight. A lot of RoW's theory assumes solo-queue players as a baseline. We're reminded here that queuing as a group is common, and the game needs to ensure playing in and beside stacks is a positive experience.


In the next chart, we see that most roles are equivalently popular, except "I like to provide the team's frontline damage", which gets only half the "Hell yeah!"s of other roles!

Chart

On teammates, the following question yielded no surprises:

Chart

I enjoyed how the distributions lined up so neatly. Getting close to two normal distributions suggests that this scale I experimented with ("every match" to "every 50 matches") is a useful one for helping people to express frequency. In any case, there is clearly work to be done in having positive teammates show up more often!


For some final stats, 78% of respondents watch at least some esports, while 9% use linux for gaming. The average yearly spend is around $82 (or $22 if you eliminate the >$100/year spenders). Non-spenders made up only 26% of this survey's responses; these numbers probably wouldn't be so high for a more general audience.

We had a lot of great thoughts from you in the "Write what you want to see in a new moba" field. Opinions certainly vary, but we are taking that feedback into account.

Huge thanks to all who participated, and best wishes for the new year!

Softmints


Side-quest

Icon of a scroll wrapped in blue ribbonEveryone loves a side-quest, right?

If you've got 10 minutes to spare, and want to contribute in a small way towards helping us out - we've got just the thing for you. We're running a moba survey which will help us steer the ship in the weeks and months to come. The questions might give a little insight into what we're up to as well?

In any case, we'll be sharing some of our insights from the results here on the blog next month.


Postal Horn

Hi folks,Auto Repair Icon

We wanted to leave a brief update that we're still working hard on this project, but we've had a lot of technical challenges to overcome over the last few months that haven't made for great sharing material. Our immediate focus is on getting everything in order for private alpha, which is scheduled to begin in December this year.

I'm currently collaborating on getting some pretty art together, which will be available on our website when it updates in the next few weeks. The ideas behind this project are still strong, and we're working to do a better job of delivering them to all of you as soon as we can.

Softmints

 


Lumberyard

Lumberyard stylised logoWe've tackled a pretty big hurdle over the last two months that most development teams would never want to do: switching our game engine. Under normal circumstances that's a coding nightmare, but less so for us, as we're switching to Amazon Lumberyard; a relatively close cousin of our previous software, Cryengine®.

Moving to Lumberyard comes with a number of advantages. A good deal of them relate to the tools we get as developers, along with the engine's more robust, extensible C++ architecture. We aren't in a position to take full advantage of every feature yet (as we've built many of our own systems that do similar jobs), but we'll integrate with it more over time. Its modding-friendly licence is also a big plus, since we have plans in that area.

Lumberyard is designed with multiplayer in mind, and has cloud server deployment built-in so we can easily throw up servers wherever we like across the globe, and scale them to meet demand. Not every deployment is going to be cost-efficient, but it's nice to have the option.

Metastream is another feature we have our eyes on. This optional extra runs a lightweight server alongside the game, which can expose game data and events in real time for other services to use and display.

Once we've set it up, this technology allows streamers, analysts, or players to adapt any of the incredible charts over at d3js.org (or those of their own making) to display live game data: either in a local browser tab for enhanced replay analysis, or as a dynamic overlay for live streaming. Charts can be shared, customised, and hopefully contribute to a richer ecosystem of sharing game knowledge.

Personally, my plan for Metastream is to continue an age-old RoW tradition of setting up joke sound effects to play when I finally get a kill after 10 deaths. I'm sure there's a few streamers out there who wouldn't mind playing with custom game event reactions either!


Flairs

We are still hard at work putting this game together!

The game client has remained my primary focus since last time, which has involved work on modes, settings, and social features. Making the client feel nice while also being true to our aesthetic direction has been challenging, but I'm happy with how it's progressed. More on that in a later post.

As part of helping teams function better, we want to accelerate players' evaluations of each-other in a positive way. To do this, one of the features we're planning is user flairs.

Each user can pick up to 3 pieces of information from their profile, which will be displayed to any other user that mouse-hovers over their name. Information is useful, but which information someone puts on display is also valuable.

Shows users with a variety of flairsHere's three made-up players as an example:

By letting players present the stats they care about, conversations are steered towards agreed common ground. Some players might like to talk about performance stats, while others might be 'Willing to learn', open to discussing strategy, or want to link to their stream.

On the topic of streams: a player's own flairs are plainly visible in the client, which makes tracking favourite stats like K/D/A easier, and helps viewers get a sense of who it is they're watching. Eventually we'd be open to integrating with streaming services, so people can find streamers by flair.

There might be some hiccups with this system, but we think it's pretty cool.


Depths of Winter

Icerain spell iconWe are coming close to the end of one of our longest development sprints yet, which took us right through the winter months. There's a lot to catch up on, so let's dig right in.

The first big result is that our test servers are up and running, on linux, and we're now using them in our daily development. This is a pretty nice feeling! Getting a working build on linux was a lot more toil than expected; Yak had to bail me out of some trickier compiler issues.

Secondly, our game client has made big progress. We've had working chat channels and a lobby list for ages, but now they look and behave nicely, with a pleasant 3D backdrop. The War3 model in which chat is central to the online experience resonates with us: it's something we want to keep.

Another client feature nearing completion is game modes. Selecting and customising modes is pretty standard, but we're also making it possible to save and share modes. This is useful to us for iterative development, and also for players who like finding alternative methods of play (which might feed back into the mainstream at some point).

Character select is also underway, and we're aiming to allow the ordering of picks/bans to be customizable as part of modes, so people can run tournaments according to their own preferences.

As for in-game content: our character models are happily animated, and we're putting them to good use flinging fireballs at each-other. We've made plenty of sample skills over the years, but now we're focusing on a single arena-style game in which to test them all, as well as outfitting each with a swathe of purchasable talents to ensure everything is robust.

One of the features Yak has been working on is pings. Rather than code how they work directly into the game, we chose to make them a skill just like heroes have, but one that is given to and used directly by players. (This is easy to do because we use an entity-component programming model.) Skills can already target a point, play sounds, show a graphic (and have a cooldown!!), so all we needed to add was letting skills display a chat prompt. But since we've built support for skills having vector targeting, pings can use that and any other skill-related features too. Pretty nice!

In other news, I was gifted a new 2560×1920 monitor at the start of the year, which has been great! I'm using it as a secondary monitor; there's nothing I need to fullscreen that's that big. My previous secondary monitor was 1440×768, making it quite the upgrade.

Now, it's about time I got back to writing design articles.... thanks for reading!

Softmints