4 December 2020

Blueprint #3: Balancing Competition & Silly Fun

In order to be a compelling competitive game, Roller Champions is taking inspiration from the most popular sports, which manage to offer satisfying mechanics for both beginners and professionals. How do the developers handle this balancing act and what informs their decisions? We’re going to find out!

Creating a fun experience

“Sometimes going in for a hard tackle generates a louder cheer than a great pass” – Alan Shearer, highest scorer in English Premier League history.

Our developers began with their primary objective: creating a fun experience. After all, Roller Champions is a videogame, so fun is part of the core experience. However, when you start to add depth to a game, especially fine-tuning mechanics to make the game competitive, the risk arises that fun may be undercut by a rigid adherence to rules and precision.

Luckily for us, the Roller Team have stayed laser-focused on fun and considered it through every new implementation. Never afraid to try new things in the rink, the developers’ balance of fun and core mechanics permeates all of the game’s elements.

That includes a whole lot of things, like regularly asking: “What could we add to the Roller Champions experience?” The aim is to always push the fun & depth meter upwards!

First Steps VS High Level Competition

We asked the team what the challenges were that they faced in balancing the game for new and top players.

Marc-André Bouchard provided this insight: “New players and top players play the game quite differently when we observe them. Players are often perceiving the value of the moves in Roller Champions differently depending on their skill level. Consequently, moves that appears unattractive for new players sometimes end up being important tools used by the top players."

Expanding on this, Derek Del Grosso, Gameplay Programmer on Roller Champions, adds: “Identifying and understanding what the ‘fun element’ is in both aspects is key. When you’re a new player, the fun element could be something as simple as being able to tackle a player. Whereas when you’re a top player, it could be the maximum speed you can get or how high you can jump.”

The Newcomer Experience

The onboarding of the game is currently centered around giving new players time to explore and giving top players the tools to remain competitive.

With the onboarding of new players in mind, the team faced the issue of highlighting the importance of speed in the game.

“Most of the gameplay mechanics in the game require some element of speed and without it, you notice the game is a lot more difficult. Making a player understand that speed is key is difficult because it’s a gameplay mechanic you have to manage at all times.” Del Grosso outlines.

“Learning a ‘new sport’ is not always an easy task, and that could be observed with some specific rules unique to Roller Champions that were harder to grasp. The team is actively revisiting the tutorial to take into consideration the importance of learning the game rules in the context of a real match ,” Marc-André Bouchard states.

Competition

For Roller Champions to be viable at a competitive level, we needed to better balance offense and defense and add depth to the gameplay, in order to allow creative plays and a high variety of situations.

“A good example of this would probably be the Uppercut. The Uppercut has a lot of versatility in the different ways it can be used, either offensively or defensively,” Bouchard says.

“The new Bounce mechanic is also something that will definitely add to the depth of the competitive experience. Knowing how and when to use a mechanic that is incredibly risky, with a high payoff, is going to be really interesting to see in players’ hands. It should result in some very interesting game clips!” Del Grosso adds.

Game Balance

So, why is the balance of a game like Roller Champions so important?

This balance is important because it is closely related to the depth of the game. We are aiming to provide a vast array of interesting decisions and actions that the players can use in the rink based on their play style. Moreover, we want to make sure we cover the needs or both new players and top players.

So, there you have it! Some insight into balance and how it plays into the game’s design, competitiveness and even how it onboards new players. That’s all for this Blueprint, join us next time where we’re looking at the Roller Champions Ranked Mode!

Roller Champions will release in Early 2021. As always, follow us on Twitter and join our Discord to stay updated on all gameplay changes, competitions and a whole host of other Roller Champions fun!

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