It’s been a while since the last Deuce devblog but the project is still very much alive and progressing.
We’ve changed direction and pretty much shaken up how everything works, from the scoring system, how specials and shots are triggered, to the range of characters and courts.
The game of Deuce is set in a weird and wonderful world, where the past, present and future all collide to create a colourful and crazy place in which tennis is more than just a mere sport. It has become a religion, it affects politics and drives commerce. This concept is reflected in the design of the characters, the environments and the architecture of the game world. The players are no longer just from the world of sports but from all walks of life, and from all around the cosmos! Courts are no longer just clay or grass. Games can take place in a multitude of venues, ranging from dark, dank swamps to huge towering Cathedrals. And the prize for ultimate victory…..we don’t know that yet!
The art direction we are taking with Deuce is very much a hand authored look and feel. The cartoony, illustrative approach reflects the over the top nature of the gameplay, character design and environments.
Gameplay and Scoring
We’ve changed the way games are scored, gone are the traditional 15,30,40 tennis scoring methods and instead each player has a ‘health’ bar that determines how close they are to losing the current game.
So why did we do this? We wanted to bring more intensity to each match and having a health style system gives us loads of opportunity to shake up each game. We have a rally meter that ticks up every time a player hits the ball and the higher the rally meter, the more damage is dealt when the point is won or lost. This gives the player more options: do they grind down the opponent’s health by winning each rally as quickly as possible or do they try to increase the rally count and go for the larger, but more risky, amount of damage?
We did bring over one aspect from the traditional scoring system, the notion of ‘Deuce’ albeit again with a slight twist. If you are down to your last 10% of health then winning the point will also gain you some health as well as inflict damage on the opponent.
We’re not done yet making changes to the scoring system. Remember, health can go up as well as down and we are planning on adding specials that leech health from the other player.
Specials are a key part of the Deuce gameplay. We reward the player for pulling off great shots, ranging from balls that bounce close to the tramlines, smashes, powerful serves and shots, which in turn charges each player’s special meter. The simplest special shot is something we call the “focus” shot. This is basically just a faster and more powerful top spin shot. The special meter is split into 4 cells and when at least one cell is full then you can trigger this focus move. Filling the special meter to the top allows the player to trigger 3 different types of special move. We haven’t 100% nailed this down yet but our plan is to allow the player to select one of these specials before the match, one will be given at random and the third will be a set hero special for your selected character.
We wanted our lineup of characters to be a bit broader than just a typical bunch of human tennis players. So far we have Elvis who is a blue skinned ape, TENN-15 a droid with telescopic arms, Mavis the jetpack powered starship captain, Igor the World’s Strongest Man (powered by hamster), Lion-El a warrior rabbit, and Owl who thinks he is a superhero but is in fact… just an owl.
In Deuce we want to have interesting and dynamic playstyles that are adaptable to however you want to play. Because we have a health system in Deuce instead of traditional tennis rules, it means we can open up the variety of characters and how they play. Fundamentally, it means that there are more ways to win rallies than hitting it past your opponent, and there are more ways to win the game than winning rallies.
We aim to have a wide field of different character archetypes. From super aggressive characters who want to take advantage of the combo meter and win rallies in quick succession to close out the game fast – to super defensive characters who find it easy to return even the trickiest of volleys but lack a finishing punch themselves; they win by attrition, leaching the health of their opponent and stalling out the game until it is won.
From these two extremes there will be everything in-between. However, because you can select specials in Deuce that may aid your playstyle choice, you will be able to change the way you play the game with whichever character you opt for.
Currently Deuce has five environments; lava, swamp, wild west, dojo and cloud city. The idea is to have bright and colourful environments that are fun to play on and have unique, interesting gameplay elements to them. Known as environmental hazards, these can trigger in each environment and will affect the gameplay. For instance, the lava court is comprised of two sections which break apart and float independently from each other before rejoining. During this phase, you will need to change the way you play and hit the ball further to avoid the drop.
Each court will have its own hazard that is entirely different from the others. However, if you just want to play Deuce without these, you will be able to turn them off.
Here’s some of the environments currently in Deuce:
We want to experiment with courts that are different shapes and sizes and not just stick to the standard tennis dimensions.
Recently we opened up our prototypes to a bunch of people. It’s great to have people playing Deuce, even at this early stage, and we’ve had some great feedback so far. This really helps us to see which things are working and also identify issues that we need to address.
Thanks to the folks that have played it so far. We are currently looking at ways we can open up access to the prototypes for more people in a fair way, we’ll have more news on this soon.