INS Legacy

Improving Insurgency in smart, simple steps

Posted in commentary, designtalk, essentials, insurgency by Argyll on January 19, 2009

There are a number of things that are preventing Insurgency from living up to its reputation, image, and fan expectations.

Many of these things are easy changes, that could have been implemented over the course of the past year since the development team decided to go from ‘no updates on Source’ to ‘fix it once to tie people over until beta 3’ to ‘make some more little fixes to keep people playing,’ and will hopefully reach the point of  ‘maybe we should have been updating Source all along…’

In the rare event that the development team will suddenly wake up and realize that they should actually have been continuing to build an existing game better, rather than decide to make the same game on a new engine, they will have this list to use as reference.

Please feel free to expand upon these ideas in the comments and I will add any ideas that fit in nicely.

The first few, I feel, are the most important and currently the most neglected aspects of Insurgency.  Some things lie outside of the game itself.

Know Insurgency’s role:  Sorting this out can help INS find its place in the gaming world.  Insurgency needs to distinguish itself through its gameplay.  This will determine the health of its community (both in and out of game) and controls the demographic of who plays the game.  INS can also establish a reputation for quality development.  Many past developers have used their experience and talent with the mod to be hired professionally in the games industry.  This can be used to its advantage to continue the recruitment of aspiring professional developers looking for a recognizable  platform to express their talent.

There is not much use in trying to be like an existing game, because it will already likely be better than INS if it’s been professionally developed.  Insurgency should be the most-played HL2 mod, and the (better) alternative to mainstream first-person war gaming.  It should cater to its players who continue to return to its servers and bring out the best gameplay experience.  Insurgency needs its hook.

INS does not exist to generate revenue.  It should exist to further the development of game design.  It should offer a fresh gaming experience to the player, providing an unprecedented environment for  player collaboration to complete objectives as a team.  In development, it should take risks, make mistakes, learning and improving from both.

Importance of community and culture:  Every game has a community of followers and develops its own culture of gamers.  Once the role of Insurgency is determined, the developers themselves need to establish the infrastructure for its community and help shape the fan culture.  You can’t let this happen solely on its own, although in almost all cases, games let this happen on their own.

Gameplay mechanics: Once the role and community of Insurgency are determined, the gameplay must reflect them.  Currently, there are a few gameplay flaws, particularly with balance, that can easily be tweaked and solved with changes to the levels’ .imc2 files.   These changes literally take minutes to get functional in a public server, and can completely change the gameplay dynamic.  When the current gameplay dynamic has issues, it is very surprising that the developers have not taken the initiative to solve them, especially when it literally takes minutes.

Custom development: This can be the life-blood of any mod, but the current leadership has seen it in the opposite way – as damaging and exploitative.   INS was originally designed with the promotion of custom development in mind.  We hoped that we could attract talented level designers, 3d artists and 2d artists who would develop new content for the mod and become the replacements for those who moved on to work professionally.

Competitive play:  There has been a little bit of support from the developers to competitive play, but this only really comes through promotion on the website.  There are promises that competitive play will be concentrated on for improving future development, however there are also multiple types of competitive play to be catered to.   This should be acknowledged and the development team should establish and maintain their own competitive play to further their vision of the gameplay.  Support to any other kinds of competitive gameplay should also be provided.

In-game communication: The best experiences that I have had in INS are when my team mates are organized through communication to dominate the enemy.  The communication methods for those without a microphone should be greatly enhanced.  There already are orders/comms menus for players, but they should be automatically prompted when needed (i.e. when reinforcements are depleted, the commander should automatically be prompted to call in more; when an order is issued, players should immediately respond; etc).

Level design: Unfortunately, not all levels work as well as others.  Some should be taken out of the default rotation, although all should be provided as content to use at the server’s discretion.  Sinjar is undoubtedly the most popular level, and future designs should learn from its success.

Grunt support: ‘Grunt’ is the default alias for new players.  There should be support for new players, both in and out of game.  New players should always be pointed in the right direction so that they can develop an understanding for the game early and not be turned off by any difficulty they encounter that might ruin their important first impression.

Re-branding the mod: Through out pre-release development, the mod underwent multiple redesigns and changes to its ‘brand’ that influenced player expectations and feelings for the mod.  It is vitally important to match expectations with experience that the player has both in and out of game.  Insurgency is long over-due a re-branding to make up for some critical mistakes that still haven’t been corrected.

With these few concepts in mind and focused on, I think that Insurgency can live up to its full potential.  Please feel free to discuss and expand upon these thoughts.

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2 Responses

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  1. Snuffeldjuret said, on March 10, 2009 at 03:00

    This post made sense to me =), great one.

  2. Fuzo said, on June 19, 2009 at 05:21

    This post was made on january and i just had the chance to read it today…and reading this made me wanna play INS again IF these changes and updates were made. I believe this would be enough to give the game a totally different gameplay…


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