It has been nearly 5 weeks since my last update. This corresponds to 5 weeks since an alpha build was sent out for testing and 5 weeks since any development work on Concealed Intent. So what has been happening? There has been the wait for feedback from testers and much thinking about future work. I have also been replaying Frozen Synapse (one of the inspirations for Concealed Intent) and other turn-based games.
Based on feedback and fresher memories of Frozen Synapse, I think it is time to go in a different direction. Frozen Synapse is more complex and frustrating than I remember (though it is still a good game). Adding the 3rd dimension and a “fog of war” mechanic to the mix has made Concealed Intent too complex. The plan is now to make the game’s core mechanics simpler. Stealth and 3D are essential to the concept, so they will stay. Instead, targeting then firing when a certain hit probability is exceeded will be replaced by ships shooting on explicit command. The ability to rewind/replay will also be removed. Just these two changes will make the internal simulation far simpler and should address the big issues raised by testers. There will be a number of other smaller changes too, including a reorganisation of the GUI. The result is hopefully a more intuitive playing experience.
The testing experience has not gone as I expected. The alpha build was only sent to people who had said, in person, they would like to test the game. Despite this I was prepared to consider a response rate of around 40% as a huge success (defining response as saying that they at least played it). The actual response rate barely breaks into two digits and has taken far longer than hoped. I’d like to believe this is because people have been too busy to try the game out. However, I suspect a few people played it and didn’t like it, and so decided not to respond (despite that sort of feedback being vital). Next time a build is ready for some testing I definitely won’t try the same system again, but I’m not sure how to replace.