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Using Sub-Objectives to Encourage Better Cooperative Play

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JBrawley

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In Dungeon Defenders II, were exploring new ways to create a fun and engaging cooperative experience. Instead of focusing your attention on one or two main objectives, youll now have the option of protecting sub-objectives that can drastically alter the flow of the game.



Good Co-op Play Comes From Variety





In DDI, many players told us that the best strategies involved clustering defenses around crystal cores.



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This style of defense is known as turtling.




Its a valid strategy, but one that shuts down mobility across the map and encourages players to remain in one location. We believe a strong co-op experience benefits from multiple stimuli that call for dedicated attention from players. In the original game, so long as you protected the crystal core there was little incentive to do much else as a coordinated team. Moving forward, we want to encourage a greater variety of co-op experiences, and we believe that starts by giving players some reason to spread beyond the core.



Sub-Objectives Divert Resources and Draw Attention





To facilitate this, we decided to create a sub-objective system. You can lose these objectives and still win the match, but once a sub-objective falls, its meant to divert the attention of the players within the level. It forces them to make hard choices and divide up critical defense tasks. And as many of our Defense Councillors already know, it takes a coordinated effort to win a game once a sub-objective has fallen.



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The destruction of a sub-objective also provides meaningful feedback for how youre progressing in a match. In DDI, players were either in control or they were dead. Sub-objectives introduce a buffer between these two points. Its a chance for players to rally their team and reconsider their strategy as lanes shift and new enemies head straight for the core.



Losing a Sub-Objective Is Noticeable, But Manageable





However, building a feature and using that feature are two very different things. We felt we had a great gameplay concept, but instead of creating balanced cooperative play, it was just leading to a frustrating experience. During our first prototypes we used too many sub-objectives, and it created a snowball effect. If players were already losing control of the map, the addition of more enemies almost guaranteed a loss. Were currently addressing this problem by having sub-objective enemies spawn during the next combat phase, but this approach isnt without its own issues. It doesnt have the impact we want, and it doesnt make it clear to the player that the loss of a sub-objective is what opened the new lane. Were still trying out a few ideas to address this, including releasing a few enemies right after the sub-objective falls. Were open to ideas from you guys, as well, so please let us know if you have any thoughts!



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We cant wait for you and your friends to experience the sub-objective system. We truly feel it will create a much more exciting experience for everyone involved, and we look forward to seeing your feedback as we approach release. In the meantime, what would you like to see added as a sub-objective in Dungeon Defenders II? Let us know in the comments below!



Without further delay, the winner of our holiday loot naming contest is Bladedtaco! When everyone finds a Vilethorn in the game, theyll look to the heavens and curse your name for beating them in this contest...we mean, theyll forever praise your name!



Leave a comment to get your hands on the Dungeon Defenders II pre-alpha. Well pick a random poster and reveal the winner in our next blog post!
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