New Auto Assault Dev Diary – Social Interaction

August 8, 2005

New Auto Assault Dev Diary –
Social Interaction

Auto Assault Developer Diary written by
Scott Brown, project lead on Auto Assault

Q. How important is social interaction within Auto


Scott Brown: We have built Auto Assault from the
ground up to allow for solo and group play. That being said there are many
aspects of Auto Assault that can be more fun with a group of players, or a
convoy as we refer to it. While in a convoy, for example, the killing spree
bonus is convoy-wide so any convoy member can keep this bonus high. People are
already trading items for crafting and vehicle customization in towns as well.
We also have a complete clan system allowing players to compete as a clan and
win fame through the arena system.


Q. What sort of things does Auto
Assault do to help facilitate interaction between players?


SB: Different players have different abilities so
playing together gives players a wider possibility of how to deal with different
threats. Also, since the game’s loot system is so dynamic, it will be common for
another player to find something with the statistical enhancements that you are
looking for; item trade will be a big part of Auto Assault. Additionally, since
the pacing of combat is so fast, typing text can be difficult so we have
included full voice chat support any time you convoy up to play.


Was it more difficult to create an
environment that supports the kind of interaction familiar to
massively-multiplayer game fans given your more action-oriented approach with
Auto Assault?


SB: Certainly with faster paced gameplay comes less
down time, and that is the time in other MMOs where players tend to talk more.
Functions of gameplay like long traveling distances are instant in Auto Assault.
It is an interesting problem to solve but we have already done some work to
improve this and with the beta going now are learning more ways to help
facilitate this in the future.



How important is this aspect of
the game to you as developers, and how much work goes into getting it right?


SB: The most important factor of any game should be to
make it as fun as possible, one of the most important parts to having fun of any
online game is playing with your friends. We take this very seriously and it is
a large part of what we are working on now.


Q. There seems to be a trend among
massively-multiplayer game developers moving away from pre-planned strategies
and toward real-time gameplay. Do you think that this kind of behaviour coupled
with the increased prevalence of in-game voice communications may eventually
lead to the death of the in-game chat window?


SB: I don’t think so because text is better than voice
in some ways. You can read or re-read text whenever you want, for example. You
can also chat more effectively on different channels at the same time with text.
Think about a trade channel; people just using voice to say WTB such and such
would not work very well, but does its job fine with text chat.


I do think however that voice chat is going to become more
and more popular with games. As RPG games go through the same transition to
real-time that strategy games went through, voice will become a requirement not
an option.