With Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem (formerly Umbra) now in Steam Early Access for over a year, the developers are well aware of some of the game’s issues. While they are working on solving them, the project is still very much a work in progress. This is evident in their latest Kickstarter update where they introduce players to an inside look at their targeting overhaul.
“Controls have been an issue of Wolcen for quite some time now with players experiencing difficulties to target enemies, complaining about the clunkiness and having the feeling the controls weren’t responsive enough,” the update begins.
To address this rather important issue the devs outlined their new approach to targeting and player input. While some minor issues still exist with the new methods, the team feels the overall result has put them on the right track.
Wolcen Studio started making improvements to the game’s targeting a few months ago with build 0.4.0. Their plan was to make it easier for players to target enemies, which is sort of an essential part of success in action RPGs. The programmers use raycasts to determine what players are selecting with their mouse cursor. Unfortunately, the animated enemies in Wolcen proved difficult to pin down with this method. The devs decided to surround enemies with special invisible capsules to allow the raycast a larger area to recognize.
The second part of the solution involved the way players cast skills. Prior versions had the game run a check each time a skill key was pressed. This ensured players were able to use a particular skill at the specified time. This might have been enough to contend with slower paced battles or enemies who were in no rush to die. In Wolcen however, players noticed that skills would often fail to cast in the click-heavy heat of battle. To counter this lapse the devs decided to implement a solution called input buffering.
The Old One-Two Hit
Actions are queued and executed as the skills meet the appropriate conditions. Wolcen allows for 2 items to be queued simultaneously, the current action being executed and the next action the player has selected. Of course, this addition requires a new set of rules to allow the game to prioritize some attacks and override others. Despite this, the team claims the method has proven its effectiveness and will continue to mature over several months and many tweaks.
As it turns out, in game design even the supposedly simple aspects can be far more complex behind the scenes. Regardless the Steam version of Wolcen: Lords of Mayhem maintains a “Mostly Positive” Steam rating. Players are not only enjoying what is already on offer, but also the potential the early version shows. Always nice to see developers who do early access right.