Four months into development we have all the trappings of a platform fighter: normal attacks, specials, shields, grabs, ledges, wavedashing, and all the mechanics in between that make platform fighters the best eSport to watch. With several key design crossroads approaching, we were just missing one thing: the community's feedback.
Last Thursday we held the first-ever Wavedash AMA on /r/smashbros, and we were amazed and humbled by the response. Players shared hundreds of questions and ideas ranging from game mechanics to character design, while Jason and Matt pulled back the curtain on the game's roadmap.
The thread is packed with insight, both in our progress and what the community wants to see. We recommend reading the whole thing, but of course not everyone has time for perusing 900 replies. To help, we gathered the most popular questions below.
“So… what is the game?”
• The game is going to be a fast-paced platform fighter tuned for competitive play in the vein of Melee, PM, or RoA.
• The art will be 3D and slightly cartoony, but we won't shy away from doing some darker or more aggressive designs than you might see in a standard Nintendo game. The most important art issue for an esport-focused title is that the models, textures, and animations are clear and easy to read for both players and spectators.
“What is your project going to do differently in order to make a name for itself in the e-sports world?”
Mechanically, we will be hewing much closer to the form set by Melee. The mechanics will be immediately recognizable, with some variations. We are pushing character design rather than mechanics changes to set us apart. We want to be the spiritual successor to Melee.
Some quick hits on what makes us different:
• Free to play
• 3D art/animation in a 2D plane (aka 2.5D)
• Run as a service, with new character and stage releases over time
• Heavy investment in tournament infrastructure. Nearly everyone on the founding team was once a tournament host.
• Emphasis on streaming tools, commentator tools and training mode
“Will you have gamecube controller adapter support and layout?”
Our design goal is to support xbox, PS4 and gamecube controllers in a straightforward way for players. We want players to be able to use the controller of their choice.
So far we have Xbox and PS4 support, but not gamecube yet. We have it on the roadmap, though!
What is the ETA for the game? What about a beta/early access?
We're targeting a Beta next summer ! Timing for the full launch depends on how the Beta goes.
“What is your mindset in regards to character balancing before and after release?”
• Pre-Launch - we will be working with people like our community council and other talented players to help us make good decisions.
• Post-Launch - Rebalancing characters will be data-driven, not based on the loudest voices in the forums.
• Frequency - I don't like constant patches that make it hard for players to learn and master their own character. We will of course, have to do some, but I don't intend to change your character every month because its doing well on the ladders.
• Methodology - It's generally better to buff weak characters than to nerf strong ones. But if the data says a character is the run-away best with very few weaknesses, we will do surgical nerfs to keep the game fun and fair.
There's a lot more discussion from there. Check out the thread for more!
What monetization model will you use? (Also: how will you sell the game?)
Right now we're designing for a League of Legends style model with a rotating character cast and some vanity items. That may change once we have players testing the game, but for now, we see LoL as the model of choice for a game like this.
For us, this was one of the most illuminating discussions in the thread. We view the League of Legends model – a set number of free characters that rotates each week – as a strong choice for a free-to-play platform fighter, but this comes with understandable concerns from the community about competitive balance.
The eSports industry is experimenting with several free-to-play models, and players weighed in on their most and least favorites. We look forward to discussing this in great detail in the future.
“What character archetypes are you incorporating?”
We've already prototyped five different characters which include: Balanced, Rush Down, Projectile Zoning, Heavyweight, and a super secret original character design that has our community council really excited.
I think character design is an area where Wavedash can really innovate and take the genre to new heights. The sky is the limit, so expect lots of cool stuff when we start doing character reveals.
“How many characters do you think you'll be aiming for at launch?”
We're targeting 6-8 characters at launch. This lets us get the game out there in balanced fashion as soon as possible while still having diverse gameplay. After that, we will be releasing new characters regularly.
“Will there be stuff like L Canceling?”
As a game designer who cares about making broadly accessible games, mechanics like L-Canceling worry me because they essentially become an "input tax" that are virtually invisible to casual players and to spectators, rather than being a meaningful mechanic that enriches the experience for everyone. If we're going to implement something like that, it will have to carry more value than just being something that adds to the skill gap for competitive players.
So will we have L-Canceling in its current form? Probably not.
Will be have something "like" L-Canceling that creates a skill gap via input timing. Very likely. We just have to do it right.
This was the other most lively debate in the thread. Community member Praxis had a very elegant response, and both sides shared valuable insight into the value of L-canceling.
Other Links and Topics
With over 900 replies, the AMA touched on many more topics than those listed above. Here are a few more quick hits:
- On character archetypes, clones, and ledge mechanics
- Blocking system and sound track
- Will any of the music tracks prominently feature the banjo?
- How will this be different than Smash?
- On training mode
- Will there be any single player content?
Huge thanks to all the players who hopped in the fray. It takes a community to build a game, and it's clear the community is ready for this game to exist.