When the Early Access version of Robocraft 2 launched on Steam we received thousands of reviews, reactions and comments from fans of Robocraft. Whilst some players liked the new direction we had taken the game in, many many more expected and wanted something much closer to a modern version of the original game.
We took some time. We did some soul-searching. We reread every single review, word by word, considering again all the feedback we had received about the game from all of our social channels. We also looked at the stats. After all of that, we made the very tough decision to rebuild the game, from the ground up, to be much closer to a modern version of the original game. This time though, we want to build the foundations that can support a bigger game (in time) with lots of varied gameplay options, particularly introducing engaging and varied solo and co-op online PVE on top of the team PVP elements.
Robocraft 2.1 Features
We wanted to give some more information on what features will be present in Robocraft 2.1:
The core building system will stay true to OG but with modern graphics, animation, sound effects and polish - a key aim will be to make the building feel polished and satisfying.
We will have Tiered blocks back and each tier will look visually different so we won’t be forced to colour them to indicate tier, instead allowing users to be able to use the colours they wish for cosmetic purposes.
Colour mode will let you choose from a full RBG spectrum (16 million colours) and will utilize the 6-colour palette system we created for Robocraft 2, though we will upgrade this to allow players to create their own custom palettes where they can apply as they wish.
Functional blocks like Wheels and Weapons will utilize the familiar systems from OG where internal wiring is automated for rapid building and iteration.
We’ll be making sure that where you position the parts and how you stack them will affect the performance characteristics of your robocraft, so although building new robocraft and iterating will be fairly quick the choices you make will always make a difference (e.g. “old-wings” not “new-wings”).
All staple QoL features will exist such as Mirror mode, Undo, Redo, Shifting, CoM indicator, etc.
There will be a unified CPU limit (no separate Weapon CPU) and a cosmetic CPU limit for cosmetics.
Robot Rank and Tiers will return, with the familiar Tier meter coming back in the HUD.
All HUD UI will feel familiar to the original games but will be polished to meet modern graphical quality standards and expected layouts.
The Build Bay will be rebuilt with beautiful graphics and we will make the consoles and screens that appear within the bay functional and interactive.
Overall, our building systems will aim to engage players in the Build Drive Fight loop, with new players able to build their own working robocraft and get into online gameplay within a relatively short period of time and for them to learn quickly and intuitively how to iterate and evolve their designs through each cycle of the loop.
There will be a back door in the build bay, which will be closed, but one day we hope to open it up and let you walk around as Cray out into a new larger mothership (called The Vanguard) and meet other players akin to a character hub.
Not everything will be the same as OG. Some things worked really well in OG and some other things could have been better so we will always aim to improve those areas that can be improved upon.
Transitions to Gameplay
We want to ensure that transitions into and out of Test Mode are as near instantaneous and smooth as possible to support a fast and satisfying iteration loop when testing robocraft designs.
We want to focus on short queue times and short loading into online gameplay, keeping you connected to servers you have chosen to play on, so after a round of gameplay or an iteration of your robocraft you can hop back in quickly with minimal loading or waiting.
We hope that all this can help to make the Build Drive Fight iteration loop fun, satisfying and engaging.
The Server Technology
We will use the Robocraft 2 server technology as a base, but by moving to the OG building system we can simulate your (less physically complex) robocraft both on your client and the server. This allows us to give you low latency responsiveness for driving and aiming regardless of your ping to the server. Simulating both on the client (your robocraft) and server (everything) will allow the server to remain authoritative on the overall game state ensuring it is extremely difficult to hack and helping with fairness in PVP gameplay.
The OG building system allows us to get more out of our new Robocraft 2 server tech which can allow us to have more units in battle (e.g. for larger teams in Elimination). The OG building system should be more friendly on the client FPS side too (better FPS for you all).
One of the most exciting things we can look to exploit for the first time properly in a Robocraft game is AI on the servers. We can use this to help onboard players in PVP as they progress through the lower Tiers (with higher Tiers featuring more experienced human players).
Probably the most exciting element is the way we can use AI to introduce solo PVE and co-op PVE gameplay to Robocraft for the first time.
We would like to introduce a World Map [bringing to life for the first time an interactive version of the large screen that always existed in the OG Build Bay]. This world map will allow you to choose which planet to play on and where on the planet to deploy to and these choices will determine what type of gameplay you will get.
Some locations on the World Map can be unlocked as players progress helping to onboard new players and provide other layers of progression.
PVP game modes will of course exist, also accessed via the World Map. Game modes like Elimination (with OG team sizes), Battle Arena, Deathmatch, The Pit, and new modes can all potentially exist.
To focus players on specific modes and planets to ensure both shorter queue times and improved matchmaking in all PVP game modes we can hold events on specific planet locations at specific times for greater rewards.
Tiered locations on the planets can provide a range of PVE mission types to overcome, with tough enemies with unique AI behaviours.
When you are out in the PVE parts of the world you will encounter other players who are also doing missions and fighting PVE in those same spaces so it can feel a bit like an MMO.
Some locations can offer difficult Party-only PVE missions which only top-level players working effectively together may be able to overcome.
This PVE gameplay also allows us to explore adding lore and story into the game.
The use of AI can potentially provide new ways for Boss Fights and Megabots to make a return in some way, both as enemy combatants and in gameplay where you can play in those larger forms.
We would add layers of progression systems, some of which are more focused on the PVE side of the game (where some PVE-focused progression bonuses are removed for some PVP modes to ensure fair matches).
The Build Bay will start smaller than in OG and users will be able to upgrade it to make it larger by playing the game.
The CPU limit will also be able to be upgraded.
The Tech Tree will be re-introduced akin to OG to unlock the blue-print to craft parts in the Block Forge. Players will earn XP, level up and acquire TP to progress on the Tech Tree.
Resources (such as Robits) gathered from PVE and PVP gameplay can be used to craft individual blocks with higher Tiers offering greater resources and higher-tiered parts having a greater resource requirement to forge.
We plan to look at adding more progression elements to allow players to become more powerful beyond T10 in PVE gameplay, possibly being required to attempt the toughest Party-only missions.
The Cube Manipulator was used to place blocks in the build bay. We’ve been working on improving the visual quality of this weapon for Robocraft 2.1. Check out a work in progress render below: