Friend or Foe
One of the key issues we have discovered during our testing is that despite playing the game 'seriously' testers are continuing to struggle with identification of friend and foe. This has led to a high rate of friendly fire and some rather frustrating gameplay. A typical solution to this problem is either making player silhouettes more distinctive or by introducing helpers into the HUD to compensate for the fact that the world is scaled down onto a computer monitor, rather than 1:1 real world scale.
Our focus on historical accuracy and realism presents us with some challenges, and this is a key example of where we are having to explore different options to find the right balance between replicating real life situations and designing compelling gameplay.
In order to be historically correct we cannot significantly modify the silhouette and uniform of the players. On top of this, adding layers of HUD elements in the form of coloured silhouettes or markers would have a huge impact on the immersion of the game. It would also detract from the realism of spotting hidden enemies, and so we have been looking into alternative ways of reducing friendly fire incidents.
Another issue we uncovered during our testing was that when players picked up a weapon from the opposing team the number of friendly fire deaths increased dramatically. Players then couldn’t use someone’s weapon to identify their team, and in the heat of the moment the individuals holding the stolen weapon became confused as to which team they were on.
We are currently testing a couple of solutions to help fix these issues. Firstly, we've disabled the ability for players to pick up the weapons of fallen enemies (which in reality rarely happened). Secondly, we've introduced small white icons over the heads of teammates. These only display when you're within 25 metres, and help simulate the situational awareness that soldiers have on the battlefield in real life.
We hope this design will encourage more team work and better tactics by making it easier to track the spacing, distance, and position of your nearby squad mates who have green icons. Teammate’s names are also hidden by default in order to minimise distractions, but become visible when looking directly at the player. We are still testing and refining the concept, and have a few changes already planned - for example the green dots are too bright at night - but in current testing the concept is proving to be successful.
Human senses can be difficult to convey in games, and we hope this will prove to be a useful addition without being too intrusive.
As the system further develops we would like to create class icons, so players will not only be able to quickly identify their teammates, but also what kit they’re using.
As you well know we have always enjoyed reading the community's feedback and suggestions for the game. This time however, we are looking for specific input regarding certain questions as we make a plan for how and when the game will be released.
We have prepared a short survey and would really appreciate our community members taking the time to answer. We will be reviewing the results at this year's DevCon so please spare a few minutes and give us your thoughts.