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Since the launch of the game the number of people involved in Intrusion events and PvP fights has been constantly growing. We really like this trend, however as the number of players reaches a critical mass in a single fight, tactics seem to go out the window and the fight turns into a simple numbers game.
Our aim has always been to create a PvP environment where tactics, smart maneuvering and coordinated teamwork get you superior results, so we’ve discussed the issue in length over the holidays. We traced the core of the problem back to a simple fact, and that is that for a variety of reasons Perpetuum employs a limited simulation of the real world. The main factors at play are that we don’t have robot collisions or friendly fire, and these two factors allow for large numbers of players to move as a single, small unit and one-shot-kill anyone they see. Fixing this issue is quite a tough challenge, as robot collisions and friendly fire are missing from the game for good reasons. Introducing robot collisions would severely limit the movement of players and give rise to a whole lot of possible exploits with people standing in each others way just for the laughs. We’ve explored the possibility of friendly fire, but all the solutions we looked at would have had a huge performance impact on the server, so this side of the issue can’t be fixed either.
We decided to look at the problem from an other angle and discourage the kind of behaviour we’ve seen. There will be several changes coming in the future, all of which combined will make big fights a lot more tactical than they are today. We’ll be introducing area of effect weapons, and robot explosion area of effect damage/debuffs, but tomorrow's patch only brings the very first of the systems designed to combat the problem: Interference.
The Interference system simulates the effects safely fighting in a close group would have on the combat effectiveness of the group in the real world. Basically members of the group would have to be more careful not to shoot any of their comrades, and thus be slower to fire and would have to devote a lot of their attention to working together with their unit. The Interference system simulates this with locking time and sensor strength debuffs on large groups of robots moving in close proximity. Each robot in the game has an interference range and strength, and emits an interference level which affects each other robot within this range. The interference accumulates and as it reaches critical levels (different for different robot types) it manifests in the mentioned debuffs. This mechanic, coupled with later area of effect mechanics will discourage the one-shot-kill setup that has mostly taken away from the gameplay experience above a certain number of people involved in a fight.