Hello everyone. Been a while. Sorry about that - life and other things got in the way. What have you been up to? Learning the editor, mostly. Also, I recently took a bunch of developer buddies of mine on a run of NOTD and NOTD 2. They liked it "so far", but had some pretty harsh criticisms, to the tune of: Early game, various classes didn't feel very different. While this lends itself to the survival gameplay, it doesn't lend itself to the arcadey, shoot-'em-up gameplay that NOTD also caters to. The Two Tree system is not very intuitive, and only provides the illusion of variety (even with the differing level effects that I went for with NOTD 2 designs) rather than the actuality. Even though hybrid builds are possible, only a handful of them actually work. Of those that actually work, they're normally just "put x amount of points into token Tier 1 skill and then go into the other tree". Having heard all this, I went back to the drawing board and took a long hard look at the character designs that I've done, what did and didn't work, what I liked and disliked. The early game weakness is a double-edged sword. While the ramp-up in power works to make the players feel threatened by weaker enemies, at the same time it unnecessarily pads the early portions of the game with low effectiveness. Waiting until Point X to be truly effective bothers me. The illusion of variety is very much a valid complaint. Take the Rifleman, for instance - Frags get bonus radius and extra charges as you level it, but you only have the option to take one and not the other if it's in the right order. Additionally, the two-tree system encourages players to sometimes skip tiers - why take Weapon Expert on the NOTD Commando when you can move right in to Heightened Senses? The "hybrid trap" is also a really nasty double-edged sword. On one hand, if someone dies, you can potentially cover their role a bit by speccing into a different tree. On the other, very few hybrid builds are actually useful. Additionally, having two trees per character makes balancing kind of a nightmare, because I have to be extremely careful in what abilities are in what tiers and prevent too much cross-tree action. For example, a Pyro Flamethrower benefits massively from having access to Smite, and an Arms Assault can become concerningly durable by dropping points into Defensive Plating. What are you going to do about it? Ideally, the following: Remove the Two Tree system and the Innate Abilities. Split the trees into individual character classes (so the Rifleman's Combat and Security trees would become the Rifleman and the Guardsman, the Assault would become the Heavy Gunner and the Assault, the Recon would become the Spotter and the Recon, so on and so forth). Give each class a set of four abilities that are available by default (so for example, the Rifleman would get Frags, Sticky Bombs, Combat Drugs, and Focus Fire) and the choice between two Ultimates once they hit the proper level. Rework the Talent window into non-linear upgrades, and give each of the class's four abilities three possible upgrade choices. Now, this comes at a time when we've already been behind on development for a significant period. I know that, I recognize that, and I am sorry about it. However, we should be getting some additional help in the not too distant future, and I've gotten way less bad at the editor (by God, I can actually make functional units, what a time to be alive). We should be able to do this, and it will improve the quality of the gameplay by leaps and bounds for new and old players alike. How will this affect the game? Well, a couple ways. It will make newbies MUCH better, as they'll be comparatively more powerful. Considering that the primary complaint about newbies is that they don't know how to gain or use abilities, this should help pubs significantly. It will make builds much more fluid and customizable, as you no longer have to level things that you're not interested in. It will give the classes a much more unified identity, which is good for the art department. I don't have to tear my hair out over the possibility of X class getting access to Y ability and becoming insanely overpowered. I have more freedom to do really cool stuff with abilities and upgrades because I don't have to worry about cross-contamination. When will we be seeing designs that support this? As time permits. Thankfully I don't have to do a whole bunch of fresh stuff, just conversions, so it shouldn't take too terribly long. Anyways, that's all I have for you folks for now. Stay tuned.