What’s been happening in the world of Trosnoth development?
Over the past year or so there have been some major Trosnoth developments, particularly in the user interface. A huge thank-you to Phedg1 for his contributions that gave these changes momentum.
Guns, Items, and the Shop Menu
When you capture zones and kill enemies in Trosnoth, you gain coins. You can spend these coins to buy various kinds of upgrades. In the early versions of Trosnoth this was a very clunky process. Over the years, we simplified this process, but it never quite felt ideal. A number of years ago, a group of Trosnoth developers and players brainstormed what their ideal system for upgrades would look like. Two parts of our imagined new system were allowing players to have multiple active upgrades at a time, and to not lose all their coins when they died. These changes were relatively simple, and we quickly implemented them, way back then.
Our imagined new system also involved a clear distinction between guns, which would only run out after a set number of shots had been fired, and other upgrades, which would last for a limited time. These improvements remained on the ‘to do’ list for years.
About a year ago, Phedg1 submitted a set of patches which not only implemented these changes, but also added a shiny new radial menu for buying the various kinds of upgrades. It has made buying upgrades not only smoother, but also much easier for new players to discover without instructions.
Until this past year, Trosnoth has never had more than nine available upgrades, so that they can be easily available with the hotkeys 1–9. With the new shop menu, this consideration is no longer important. So Phedg1 set about adding a rail gun, a terrain-piercing gun, mines, and a rather unpredictable gun called ‘Meandering Menace’ which is almost as likely to kill the firer as any enemy. In response, I was inspired to add a detonation beam for removing mines, and a ‘Threat Vision’ team boost that helps a team to notice enemy mines and ninjas.
Team boosts are back!
Speaking of team boosts, they are now back in Trosnoth! Having teams work together to buy upgrades has always been part of the plan for Trosnoth. It was implemented in the early versions of Trosnoth, but it proved too hard to use, and was removed pending user interface improvements. Those improvements are now here! When a player starts to buy Threat Vision or Minimap Disruption, the rest of the team can now see, and easily contribute coins to, the purchase. I’m delighted to have this back in Trosnoth, because it means that coins can be used for more than just personal gain.
Phedg1 also contributed a new scenario called ‘Juggernaut’, in which one player is the juggernaut, and everyone else is trying to kill them. This may sound a bit like the existing Elephant King scenario, but there are a few key differences. For a start, the juggernaut gets four hit points instead of one. On top of this, the scenario ends when a player reaches 20 kills, and only the juggernaut can kill a non-juggernaut player. So it ends up having quite a different feel to Elephant King, and is a welcome addition.
I’ve also added a scenario called ‘Space Vampire’, which has proved quite popular. One player is selected as the space vampire, and starts with lots of coins and lots of hit points, and also gets to be invisible most of the time. The other players are space villagers, and need to either kill the space vampire, or survive until the time limit. To add suspense, the villagers have the minimap permanently disrupted. (Actually, it’s not quite as bad as a regular minimap disruption—players can use the minimap to see who owns which zones, but not where players are.)
Updated 1v1 rules
One piece of feedback we’ve had from player has been that 1v1 games were too unbalanced: whoever landed the first kill got a huge advantage because of the coins they would earn from the kill and the two zones they would then capture. So we’ve created a new set of rules that apply to 1v1 tournaments. This includes players having a shorter respawn time, so the enemy can usually only capture one zones per kill. It also does not award any coins for kills or zone captures, but awards coins more quickly for just being alive. These changes seem to have made 1v1 matches much less of a runaway victory for whomever lands the first kill.
Over the past little while, I’ve been slowly chipping away at a Trosnoth version with slightly larger zones, and where zones thematically make sense together (as opposed to the current random hodge-podge of zones scenery). Apart from the aesthetic improvements this will bring to the game, I feel this will slow the game down a little bit, to counteract the increase in pace that we got when we introduced momentum-based physics a number of years back. In current Trosnoth, a speedy player can sometimes kill an enemy and capture two zones before that enemy can respawn, which I feel is a bit too much.
While I’m looking forward to when this new improved Trosnoth version is ready, and I occasionally bring it out for play-testing, the completed version is still likely to be years away. That’s mostly because each new Trosnoth room needs to be designed and the artwork needs to be done, and of course it’s people like me doing this in our spare time. If you’re an artist and want to volunteer your time to help, I’d love to hear from you!
(We’ll also need to recode the bot path-finding a bit to fit the new rooms, but that’s an article for another day.)
In the meantime, there are plenty of improvements in the pipeline. We’re currently testing some changes that should improve the smoothness and playability of internet games when there are spikes in network latency. There are also some user interface improvements nearly ready for release. On top of this, we’d like to improve built-in support for tournaments through the Trosnoth server, so that tournament organisers don’t have to have separate spreadsheets for tournament standings and match-ups, but can choose to do that all through the server.
All in all, we’re very happy with where Trosnoth is at in terms of how much fun it is to play. We’re also happy with recent improvements which make the game easier for newcomers to pick up. Our current focii are polish, and improvements for server hosts and tournament organisers.