Thursday, October 25, 2012

Behind the Scenes Mechanics in Vorp

We've received a few questions from players about how some of the ship numbers actually work in the flight dynamics, controls and physics models. I'll attempt to address a few of these here for those interested in the nitty gritty.

Q: How does ship turning work? What does the Rotate Speed value mean? For example, SS Venture has 0.3 Rotate Speed, how exactly does it calculate?

Using standard mouse controls, your ship will always try to face in the direction of an imaginary line that extends from the center of the ship through your mouse cursor. The rotation speed is how long until the ship rotates from its current orientation to the desired rotation. 0.3 means it will take 0.3 seconds regardless of arc size. This approach allows for fine tuned aiming in small arcs (the ship turns more gently when the mouse is not far from the current rotation), but quick manuevers when swinging to wide arcs (the ship turns rapidly if the mouse moves great distances from current rotation).

Q: What is Thrust Power vs. Max Speed? How do Afterburners work with this?

Thrust is a physics force value applied to your ship while thrusters are active (i.e. while holding down the right mouse button with standard mouse controls). Thrust is largely about accelerating an object with mass. Different ships have fairly different mass values, so a larger thrust value doesn't necessarily equate to a faster ship.

Max Speed is the top limit (units per second) which the game will cap additional Thrust from having an impact. The Max Speed value displayed in the hull upgrade tooltips is the fastest you can go with Afterburners active; it is actually a lower value if your Afterburners are not on.

Afterburners apply a multiplier (usually in the range of 1.3x to 1.7x) to your Thrust Power, and as mentioned previously, raise the Max Speed to the value displayed in the HUD tooltip. This value is probably the single most important value in determining a ship's agility relative to another ship. Typical combat scenarios involve a lot of circling and positioning; this means many rapid acceleration changes in physics terms. Ships with high Afterburner multipliers (e.g. ANT, Angel Fire) will be the most nimble in positioning and evasive manuevers.

Most ships have fairly similar Max Speeds, but more variety in Thrust values. We do this because racing in a straight path is very uncommon in the current capital ships map layout, so we focus our differentiation on battle movement factors.

Q: What is the measurement unit of distance in Vorp?

We equate our units to meters, although we don't really enforce realistic dimensions in Vorp. It's more important how an object looks and feels relative to another object size in gameplay than if it would be a realistic size. To give you a rough idea of scale, the average ship has a front to back length of about 22-26 units.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Regarding Ship Balance in Vorp (A Space MOBA)

(This post is largely about our first MOBA game, Vorp.  It's free to play on Kongregate, check it out if you haven't already!)

MOBAs by nature are very competitive games. Action is intense, defeat is agony, victory is bliss. Community debates around ship balance tend to get emotional and irrational pretty quickly. For example, on our Vorp forums, there is much arguing over which ships are OP (over powered) and which are "useless". I'm posting a few thoughts here to illustrate what really factors into ship balance on a macro level for us, and I thought this might help keep the discussion calm and logical. Ha ha right!

For the week leading up to Oct 10 (basically the week before Turbo Hawk was released and a few other balance changes hit), this chart represents stats from all games played, filtered by Commanders Rank 10 and above (so presumably, players that have a pretty good idea how to play Vorp overall). The data sample is thousands and thousands of uses.

Overall Ship Metrics, Vorp, Week prior to Oct 10, 2012, minimum Commander Rank 10

NOTE! This is not the only chart we look at, but it's the most immediately understandable for how any ship is fairing in general.

My takeaways on this are:
  • A range of .9 to 1.6 KD (Kill Death ratio, i.e. how many times does this ship kill other players, and how many times does it die) is not too shabby, especially given that 1 month ago we had ships averaging 6 KD and .4 KD.
  • Shinobi and Iron Wolf are meant to be high DPS (damage per second) assassin roles. I expect them to be on top but not by much, which looks to be the case. Shinobi should have the edge here over IW since IW also has some defensive posturing naturally.
  • The next 5 ships are literally almost neck and neck at 1.3, a very good sign for them generally.
  • Most ships above 1.0 KD, again expected given the data set does not include lower ranking Commanders (newer players)
  • The two anomalies I see at first glance by role intent currently are SS Venture and Angel Fire.
    • Having support abilities, I would expect SS Venture to be lower in kills than most, on the other hand, it's also very survivable, so it probably doesn't die as much. Looking at Average Kills per match, SS Venture is 4th lowest, so I'm pretty comfortable with that.
    • Angel Fire, however, is an aggressive high dps ship. It is vulnerable to dying a lot if it is not played patiently, so I do expect slightly lower KD but not this much. I don't like where I'm seeing it in average kills either, just a little below where it should be. Clearly it is also not a popular choice. So this would be an instance where I say, that ship needs a bump.
    • For the other ships below 1.3 KD here (Xxggghhr, Circe, Torpaz) based on their intended roles these numbers seem not too far off where they should be. These ships are best suited to area deny, structure killing, and getting lots of assists in the KD game.
  • There is no clear "OP" ship currently from this view. Many times it will feel like some ship is OP because a ship or player is countering you very hard, and you can't figure out a way to beat it, and games are emotional (you should see some of our dev debates after internal matches, lol!). Also I believe we are having some lag or perceived lag issues consistently enough to affect this perception.

Having said all that, I play Vorp every day just to understand the "feel" of balance, because stats can lead you astray if they are your only viewpoint as well.

There are hundreds if not thousands of variables that go into a ship's design, changing any of which can have cascading effects to overall game balance. There is also a learning period where players figure out complementary team play between different ships (especially the newest releases). Because of those two factors, we are very patient and considered in applying balance changes. We listen to community input for a general emotional sense of balance, but we tend to make decisions much more on what's really happening statistically across the game.

For our Vorp fans specifically, this is why you will rarely see a dev join a discussion on ship balance in the forums and chat. It is good to debate merits and tactics, but we stay out of the emotional side of things as much as we can. Rest assured, however, that we all want a well balanced exciting game and we're going to keep ships  interesting and unique as much as we can at the same time.

Hopefully that gives some insight into why we do what we do on ship balance. Now. Go figure out how to spend that 4000 free Bang! we just gave everyone in the last update and get back to battling!


Monday, March 12, 2012

Return of Vorp! Not on Facebook... but Where?

Remember Vorp?  END Games started with Vorp, our little space meets DotA game, a little over a year ago.  It's kind of been--well to be frank--it's been gathering dust in a corner for a few months.  Which personally made me sad because it's so damn sexy and bad ass!

We put it on Facebook thinking we might make a splash with a "real game" on the social network. What we soon learned though is most everyone just simply doesn't go to Facebook for that kind of experience.  Although we had some good metrics on players who discovered the game enjoying it, it also became apparent we would need to find a better home for it before investing much more time into.

Well I can say today that we are officially starting development on Vorp again, this time with a new home and partner much more suited to hosting it as a competitive online game in a browser and growing our little alpha baby to its full grown potential. 

Where to?  Well can't give everything away in just one blog post, can we?  But I can say they're an awesome group and we've been enjoying working together so far, and our team is very excited to return to an old flame.

We'll be talking more details soon.  In the meantime I wanted to give a little heads up to our first wave of fans who loved Vorp so much... it's about to be gone from Facebook.  It's about to come back in a big way in a better place.  I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bounce the Bunny is out now on iTunes for Free!

Download Bounce the Bunny for Free for your iPhone/iPod/iPad, for a limited time only!

What can be more fun than watching bunnies fly through the air, smack against bubbles and obstacles, and bounce away? Nothing! You can do all this and more in BOUNCE THE BUNNY. Create magical bubbles to propel your rabbit along and help him reach his destination. Kick him off with a boot and watch him bound through the air. Just be careful not to let him fall in the water or he will be washed out! One kick of the bunny and you will be hooked! Enjoy responsibly!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Want to Join the END Games Team?

We have a kick ass team and we expect the same from anyone who joins us. We succeed together or not at all. We are extremely selective.

If you think you can roll with us, check out full details on currently open positions at the Jobs page on our official site.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Real Life Science: The Best Ideas for Game Design

This post is for aspiring game designers out there.

The diversity of life in our world provides an endless source of inspiration for designing gameplay elements.  If you're ever at a loss for ideas for creatures or characters, just spend some time googling around through the oft ignored corners of the animal kingdom.   You'll almost always come across something truly fantastic you can use/build ideas around.  For example:

Why Pea Aphids Are The Most Awesome Organism!5478622/why-pea-aphids-are-the-most-awesome-organism

"It can reproduce sexually or asexually, can breed winged or unwinged babies, and is also a symbiote.  ... some of the genes crucial to the life cycle of the aphid are actually stored outside its body, in the genome of its symbiont"

How cool is that?  Now imagine what would happen if Pea Aphids evolved to a human size and developed the sentience to pilot interstellar space craft... yikes!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

An END Games Mantra: Product Evolution through Natural Market Selection

To our awesome fans and industry followers-

As many of you have noticed and inquired about, we haven't said much publicly in 2011 about what END Games is up to. However, since we're getting close to an early alpha release of our first title, we thought it might be time to break the ice and introduce our philosophy to you all.

Every founder and team member at END Games has at least 5-10+ years of experience building large scale MMOs and online games. When we founded END Games, we saw it as a new opportunity to apply everything we've learned in the past decade, as well as adopt some best practices from innovative businesses we admire such as LEGO, Pixar, Netflix, and Google.

We came together as a team at the start of 2011 to hammer out a concrete company vision and goals for the studio, including operating in true agile fashion. One of our central beliefs is:

We believe in product evolution through natural market selection.

Sounds like corporate speak. What does this mean?

Put simply: This means we're turning the game development cycle upside down. We're going to invite our player communities into our experiences MUCH earlier in development than the industry would normally do. We're going to be very transparent about what we're planning, what's working, and what issues we face, so our players can help us make the best design and development choices.

Games will be free to play at these early stages to learn if a concept has an audience or if it just doesn't click. Business models will evolve with game features and content over time. As a player, you can choose to get as immersed as you feel like in our games, whether that means continuing to play in free modes casually or spending a few coins on the games you find you just can't stop playing.

We believe the best ideas that have some magic and fun about them will continue to grow and find fans. Any ideas that don't work, we'll simply move past quickly. Let the community decide if any game should ever reach its 5th year of development!

Since we want to involve you all in creating the game experiences you want to see, we want to ask the following of you:

If you like our games, let us know and tell your friends... we promise there will be no end to their improvement and evolution.

If you don't like an END Games experience, tell us why not and what we could do to make it better.

The bottom line? We want you to know what to expect when we open access to any of our games:

Every game from END is another beginning.

Join us on our Facebook page at to keep up with the latest news developments, and let's have fun!


The END Games Team