Producer Letter: The Reaper Update
ONE MONTH OF MECH ON MECH ACTION
It seems like only yesterday our indie shooter took its first steps into Open Beta. To mark HAWKEN's first month of being open to the public, we are proud to unveil its first new mech and a whole lot more in The Reaper Update. Coming January 24, this major patch not only adds the titular light mech assassin, but also introduces important balance tweaks and bug fixes.
In anticipation of The Reaper Update, we'd like to touch on recent and upcoming changes to the game and share the strategy and mechanics behind them.
A BALANCING ACT
The Reaper Update also introduces a pair of game balance adjustments that have been at top-of-mind for us since the start of Open Beta: the EMP item and the "stunlock" effect of explosive weapon damage. We believe you'll be pleased to hear both of these are being brought in line with other items and tactics.
The EMP effect duration will be reduced by 20 percent to 5.5 seconds and its area of effect is being reduced to the size of the visual effect. This may not be as drastic a change as some pilots would like and we will continue to evaluate its use after the update. Regarding the knockback effect of explosive damage, it was never intended to immobilize mechs, only to jostle them around a bit. The effect has been significantly reduced for all explosive weapons.
As always, community feedback is what drives change in HAWKEN. If you have an opinion on a gameplay feature, stating it clearly and constructively on the forums is the best way to foster support from your fellow pilots.
We wanted to take a moment to talk about what Matchmaking is and how it will work in HAWKEN. Matchmaking for our purposes is essentially a math formula that looks at different players' skill levels and does its best to create a match where the players all have a 50/50 chance at winning in the case of free-for-all modes like Deathmatch. In team-based modes like Team Deathmatch, Missile Attack, and Siege, the matchmaker does its best to match two teams in such a way that there's an even probability that each team will win or lose. The idea is that either team would have to play better than their usual skill level to win.
Ten days ago, we introduced the first of a series of updates to the Matchmaking system in HAWKEN. This change adjusted how we weighed player skill in order to place players into groups that should give them the best experience possible.
So how are things working right now versus before? From the beginning of Open Beta until our last patch, we had only enabled what would be considered "Quick Match". This system was designed to simply find the nearest open game for you to join and gives much less regard to your skill. We did this because we weren't sure what our concurrency would be in the beginning and we didn't want anyone to have to wait to get into a match.
As of our latest patch, when you initiate Matchmaking, the system looks at the selected region and game mode, and then polls all active servers that match those criteria, assessing your skill level against the server's average player skill level. It then prioritizes servers that are closer to capacity and adds you to the best overall fit.
What does that mean for you? The bad news is you'll have to wait a little longer to get into a match; up to 30 seconds in the worst case. Hopefully it will happen much faster (5-10 seconds). The good news is that you should be put into matches that will feel much more competitive for your skill level. New players will be matched with new players and experienced players with experienced players.
This means that even if you're taking your brand-new level 1 Reaper out for a stroll next week, you may be pitted against pilots in higher-level mechs as mech level isn't a complete measure of player skill. There are a number of variables that go into calculating player skill, but we won't go into those because we don't want players chasing after numbers to the detriment of their team. Additionally, Matchmaking will continue to evolve and improve as we evaluate gameplay data and harvest your feedback on the forums.
SUPPLY DROPS EN ROUTE
This week's patch marks the start of our content release schedule, which encompasses mechs, maps, and everything in between. We aim to have two patches every month, one introducing a new mech and the other addressing balance and follow-up tweaks. While all new mechs will have a unique chassis, some will also introduce new weapons, items, or internals. New cosmetics such as camouflage and drones will be also be added in each new mech patch. Two mechs will be available to test drive at any time, rotating out every one or two weeks. Newly released mechs will be part of this rotation, usually a few weeks after being first introduced.
Maps, taking longer to develop and polish, will be introduced on a three to four month schedule. As you might imagine, new game modes will take the longest amount of development time. We'll be sure to keep you updated on what we have planned for HAWKEN and how things are coming along.
REAP THE WHIRLWIND
It's a very exciting time to be part of the grassroots HAWKEN community! We've packed a lot into The Reaper Update and are eager to take it out of the garage and send it into the wild. The Reaper and a lot more are coming at you this Thursday, January 24. Be sure to check out the patch notes.
We'll see you on the battlefield, pilots!