Designing 4-Player Couch Co-op
Early on in the project we knew we wouldn't be able to work with network multiplayer within the timespan of the project. We also knew that we wanted something that would be a multiplayer experience anyways, and the easiest way to do something like that is to create a couch co-op game!
As stated in previous blogs, we weren't even able to get four player gameplay working until very late in the development cycle. We only had a basic set of assumptions about how different characters would work together, as we were only ever able to test two player co-op. In the past several weeks, while testing our new and improved co-op experience, we're realizing that different characters are suited to different things.
We started to notice very quickly that different characters had different strong suits and weaknesses. For example, Melody has one of the highest DPS potentials of any character, but she takes an enormous amount of damage due to the fact that she's always closer to enemies as a melee character. This means that we may need to buff her health overall compared to the other characters. Not only this, but we noticed that characters like Harmony were very hard to die as, having unhindered movement and the ability to escape danger even while attacking. This may lead to us slowing Harmony down while he's attacking.
All-in-all, testing gameplay as soon as possible is critically important, especially in a multiplayer environment. Adding more than one player to any game creates a variety of complex situations and dynamics that you may or may not have expected as a designer. If you're quick enough, you can make sure to find any potential balancing issues or bugs and stamp them out quickly.
- Alexander "Hawkins" Croom
Multiplayer playtesting with the development team