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Developer Q&A IV

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Developer Q&A IV
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Information
Date of Release: May 16, 2013
Dev Q&A Link: Thread Link
Developer Q&A Forums


This is the fourth out of five Developer Questions and Answers Threads taken from the Official Playdom Forums.


Note: please do not ask your question intended for the Developer Q&A at the comments below. Marvel: Avengers Alliance Wikia is not owned by Playdom. Please leave your questions at the Developer Q&A Forums.


Dev Q&A IV - March & April 2013

Hi all,

The answers to the questions from end of March and April 2013 are finally here. Sorry about the delay. Hope you guys will enjoy this!

If you have more questions, feel free to leave them here. But make sure the questions were not asked already.

Thanks

Development

Can you update us with the future development plan Marvel: Avengers Alliance, such as Season 2? Any clue about Season 2 storyline and about the Villains we are going to meet?

We're excited to continue to the M:AA story in Season 2 by adding new gameplay and a lot of interesting new villains. We don't want to reveal them just yet, you know, spoilers. But look forward to some exciting additions to the missions and some big rewards for achievers to strive for. We'll be bringing you more information as soon as we can.


Are you guys planning to increase the rewards for the sidebar tasks (for example the "Collect Distress Calls", "Finish X Remote Ops", "Train Character to level X", etc.). 30 XP isn't much of a dent, especially at later levels when 4,000 is required to level up. As it is, players at level 300 have no reason to even bother with them.

Task rewards are meant to be a bonuses that are not so much a goal, but rather a reward that you get as part of your overall journey. That being said, we frequently evaluate and refining various parts of the game. We may address the task system in the future to make the gameplay deeper and rewards more substantial.


Are you guys planning to update the user interface when selecting heroes to send on flights and battles? It seems somewhat counter-productive to have to scroll through 9 panels of heroes if a player wants to send their low levels. Are there any plans for further upgrades to the flight deck jets?

We’re upgrading some of the autopilot features on our existing jets, which our longtime and new players alike will probably find very helpful. Look forward to better sorting of heroes for sending out flight deck missions and other improvements to make it quick and painless to get the proper heroes onto and off flight deck jets.


Will the Agent level cap be raised in the near future?

The Agent level cap is something that only a very, very small fraction of our player base has reached. While it is possible to raise the level cap, we would not be able to provide enough additional content to make these levels meaningful beyond bragging rights of the level itself.

Reaching the highest Agent level does not mean the game loses its challenge. Much of our mission content is now dynamic in level. You will see a continuation of this in Season 2. This means the experience is targeted at all players to be fun, even the top level Agents in S.H.I.E.L.D.


What are some of your criteria for picking a character to add to the game?

There are many criteria we use to prioritize which characters we add to our game and in what order. There are literally dozens of characters we have planned to add, but each one takes a good deal of time to build and tune. Some of the things we consider for the order to release characters include:

  • Are they central to the story of the current or future Spec Ops/Chapters?
  • How well-known is the character?
  • How important is the character to the current happenings in the main continuity (MARVEL 616) comics?
  • How well does that character’s powers translate into fun gameplay that will add depth to what we currently offer in M:AA?
  • We also want there to be a surprise or two out there for players so when we release their favorite character it feels very special while on target with what they’d expect their abilities to be.


Could you add an option to switch between dialogues for main storyline missions, i.e. between the dialogues from the first play through to the second play through? I'd like to play through the storyline all the way through again, but all of the dialogue seems permanently set to second play through.

That feature is not currently planned, but it is a good idea we may consider in the future. In the meantime, we suggest you take your time on the first playthrough and enjoy the dialogue.


What are the plans for dealing with refresh errors, CVE and otherwise?

We are working very hard to help assure players do not get these types of errors while we crack down on cheaters. We thank you for your patience as we work to make the game fun for everyone and a place where players cannot cheat.


Spider-man has been pretty neglected for quite some time. Any chance we'll be seeing a Spec Op revolving around him in the near future? Do you plan to introduce a symbiotic style Spec Ops? To introduce Spiderman characters, such as venom, carnage.

There is at least one person on this team that has been begging for that. :D


Heroes and Villains

Will She-Hulk, Luke Cage, Deadpool, Iron Fist, Spider-Woman, have a chance to release an upgrade? Will a character ever receive buff/improvement without introducing an alternate suit? (She-hulk, Spiderwoman, Luke Cage for example)

We are aware of characters that are underperforming. While we are working hard to constantly create brand new content, releasing new heroes for Spec Ops, PVP and general recruitment, we want to make sure our older heroes are not falling by the wayside. Just as we have with the likes of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, and the new Iron Man and Iron Patriot armor, we will continue to bring our older characters up to the current standard for what makes a fun and competitive hero.

In particular, when we get a new costume for any character, that’s a good time to take a second look at them to see if they need a turn up. We will continue to make time to go through the game and occasionally improve a hero we have already released.

Will Deadpool have a bleed effect on his Level 1 attack? And would you release his X-Force uniform, since the other X-Force members are already in game.

We wanted Deadpool to feel different from the many other bladed bleed-causing characters. There’s a chance he may get a refactor soon, when we release his next costume. Hmm, what other costume is Deadpool known for wearing?


Why is Thor not immune to magic and electric attacks and debuffs like deathglow and chain lightning?

Magic works on Thor. After all, Loki and the Enchantress use it on him all the time.


Besides the agent will we ever see a MAA original character?

Phoenix Five Jean Grey was original! Some of our enemy factions are original. The AIM Power Armor is a M:AA exclusive. We focus on bringing known and popular heroes from Marvel Universe to players as quickly as we can build them, but would work to create ones in the future when it makes sense with the story


Is Moon Knight going to be released this year?

I think it would be good to release him on a (seasonal) blue moon.[1]


Are there any plans to introduce (insert your favorite unreleased character here)?

Are they Marvel characters? Are they awesome? Then there’s always a chance!


Hero Team-Up

Why were the Ladies Man and Partners in Crime team-ups removed?

Why aren't Black Cat and Storm part of Kleptomaniac (Bonus for bringing two heroes that are also thieves): Fantomex / Gambit?

Why don't Vision and Omega Sentinel have the Aviary Team-up?

Why was Quicksilver removed from In-Laws?

Why doesn't Black Panther have Assemble!?

Why doesn't Cyclops + Cable give the Team-Up Family Reunion (Bonus for bringing Cable and either Phoenix or Cyclops)?

What is the deal with the Big Guns team-up? Punisher and Omega Sentinel both seem to have it with each other, but not with any of the other members of the team-up (Cable, Deadpool and War Machine)

These are all very good catches. Sometimes bugs like these slip under the radar. Expect to have these fixed in a future release.


Why was Psylocke removed from the Fashionistas team-up? Why doesn't Fashionistas include Jean Grey? She was also a model.

Fashionistas is for heroes who designed their own costumes, not heroes that are models, which is why Deadpool qualifies. Just imagine him working the catwalk. (I’m sure he would). I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. (For the record, Wasp designed Jean Grey’s original costume, even if she “helped” a little.)


What is the difference between Mindbenders (Bonus for bringing two heroes with psychic abilities) and Mind Games (Bonus for bringing two heroes who use psychic powers)?

Originally we were trying to designate telekinetic as opposed to telepathic powers, but this turned out to be rather redundant. We’ll collapse these two bonuses in the future.


Why does Fantomex have Children of the Atom? He isn't a mutant.

Fantomex is most definitely a mutant, though it’s hard to say which of his powers come from his mutation and which come from the Sentinel technology enhancements performed on him by the Weapon Plus program. As anyone who has read Uncanny X-Force knows, Fantomex isn’t exactly forthcoming with information about himself.


Is the addition of the First Class team-up a hint that we might see Angel or Iceman soon?

If Angel and Iceman were added to the game, they would qualify for this bonus. However, when we add a new team-up bonus to the game, it isn’t actually an indication that something will happen soon. It’s usually just because we like the idea of having a bonus related to that particular category. That is the case here.


Agent and Items

Do you plan on granting all players who got Frozen Hell the blueprint to research Grief afterwards?

Researching Grief from the Frozen Hell was part of a limited time quest with Spec Op 4. Though that isn’t to say we won’t make Grief available in some other fashion in the future.


When will the updated reforging list be released?

We aren’t currently planning to keep a running updated list of reforging changes in the future. We did this initially because there were just so many weapons in the game, we wanted people to know where to look. Bet the community has been building something like this though!


There are any plans to ADD a mastery prize to 5 star all missions on the Spec Ops? Would be nice have a option to choose 1 of the drop weapons of the spec op. OR AT LEAST, greatly increase the chance of get the weapons AFTER we reach 15 stars.

Spec Ops chapters often have a very steep requirement in terms of energy and Unstable Iso-8 in order to gain mastery. Because of the short duration, it would not be feasible for most players to successfully complete all five stars of mastery for all three chapters. We learned this in the very first Spec Op, which required it to get Mockingbird. We don’t want this to feel like something that is required to stay competitive, as that leads to players feeling obligated to get 5-star mastery.

However, the idea of improving the boss drop rate for higher mastery is feasible, and is something we’ll consider for future Spec Ops.


Any chance of a deeper agent customization in the future?

As for visual customization, we don’t have any plans at the moment. Due to the considerable amount of animations the agent has, it is going to be a while before we can release this type of update.

We have a few ideas that we may add in the future that include different ways of customizing the Agent’s gameplay, such as new ways to use Iso-8 and additional means of choosing abilities. We also are investigating ways to allow the Agent to equip more weapons. Again, we have other releases planned ahead of these but they will be coming in the future. Thanks for your patience.


Will any PvP reward items be up for sale (aside from the reward heroes and currency) in the future? Power armors are a source of interest for many and some Diamond rewards would be nice for others to have.

We have no plans at the moment to sell these items or uniforms. The exclusivity of these items is one of the reasons people work hard to win PVP. Having said that, it is possible that we may make new, different items inspired by popular PVP weapons. And, just as we have with past Spec Ops heroes, we may may bring back some items from Tournaments long gone in a limited time capacity before returning them to the vault.


Will future LE weapons or gadgets and spec ops gear get extra level customised (+15 or something)?

This is not currently planned.


Will agents ever have a flight ability? (i.e. a jetpack costume?)

I think you can expect that about the same time we get functional jetpacks in real life. (Water-based jetpacks don’t count.)

PvP

Are there plans to improve the PvP system?

We have several plans to improve the experience of PVP. These must be approached carefully and timed around our other releases. In particular, we want to resolve the issue of how swingy the PVP ratings can get, especially toward the end of the tournament, resolve the issue of having difficulty finding new opponents to play against, and balance the number of defenses (aka “AFK fights”) each player receives. Additionally, players at a high level currently have more fierce competition, meaning it’s more difficult for these players to place highly in the tournament. We have plans that will address all of these issues and we want to do the job carefully and correctly so it will take time before they come out.


How is being chosen for a PVP fight done? There seems to be something that allows me to attack the same person 2 or 3 times in a row, and I have had the same person 5 out of 7. Can you institute a temporary restriction on a player after attacking, something like a 1 hour limit before the same person can attack someone?

The system finds opponents in PVP by randomly matching players who are close to the same level and PVP rating. The problem is that if there are few players in your “pool” of eligible opponents, it is more likely that the same player gets chosen randomly in consecutive battles. We recognize this as a problem and would like to put some changes in place to minimize this.


PvP has 2 distinct categories: Players who spends hundreds of dollars per season, and get all the rewards, and the rest of us, who usually are stuck in Silver/Gold because everyone else has hundreds of dollars to blow and annihilate us. Can we expect some sort of balance in this?

There are several strategies that do not require spending a large amount of money, and there are posts on the forums from players who have consistently reached Adamantium without spending much gold. Most of these strategies revolve around maximizing the free daily spins, getting the rewards from Spec Ops, filling your hero roster by clearing easier missions for CP, and maximizing your armory bonus wherever possible. Getting a good team of heroes fully equipped with researched Iso-8 will get most people a long way.


Why won't you make two gear slots - one for PVP, one for PVE? It's really uncomfortable right now.

This is something that we were already planning to do. Look forward to this in an upcoming PVP tournament.


Will there be a Generalist Power Armor? Like the other Power Armors released as the previous PVP Rewards?

One of our goals with PVP rewards is to make them worth getting, but not so awesome that they mean you automatically do well in the next season. The uniform rewards are great, but they suffer from the weaknesses of that class, which helps balance them. Generalist uniforms don’t have the weaknesses, which is why they are popular. Therefore it is unlikely that we will do a Generalist Power Armor.


Any chance of a Mirror Match function (i.e. fighting my own team) in Practice PvP? It'd be good for testing out a team and I suspect the resulting data would be interesting.

The use of a mirror-match would be limited at best, as it would not allow players to test builds that counter different popular builds. However, if you have someone to help you, we have considered the option of allowing friends to test their strength against each other.


Game Mechanics

How does chance to hit work in the game? Is dodging the same as missing? How can attacks that are guaranteed to hit still be dodged?

In MAA dodging and missing are the same thing. There is only one roll - characters don't get a "dodge chance" that is different from another character's "miss chance." The final chance for hit, crit, and miss are determined at the time of attack based off of the attacker's Accuracy stat and the defender's Evasion stat, with potential modifiers based on the skill being used or any statuses on the attacker or defender.

Basically, if a character with high Accuracy attacks a character with low Evasion, they will be more likely to hit, and the hits will be more likely to crit. Conversely, a player with low Accuracy attacking a player with high Evasion will have a lower chance to hit and a very low chance to crit.

The base case is when the attacker's Accuracy and the defender's Evasion are equal. This results in a 12.5% chance to miss and a 12.5% chance to crit, thus leaving 75% chance to get a normal hit.

Aside from the actual attack’s chance to hit, crit, or miss, there are status effects that can take whatever result was “rolled” and essentially ignore the results of that roll, making the attack a guaranteed miss. This includes effects such as Storm’s Protective Shroud, Nightcrawler’s Bamf, and Scarlet Witch’s Reality Warping. These effects take precedence over effects that modify hit chance. This is why an attack that has a 100% hit chance might still miss, because the attack was negated. Attacks with True Strike, and targets that have a Pinpoint Target-like effect on them will not trigger these avoidance effects.


What does "chance" and "high chance" for something mean in terms of numbers?

A “chance” usually means somewhere between 10-30%, while “high chance” usually means between 50-70% chance. Note that these are not hard and fast numbers, because there may be many factors that can affect the final probability, and we may decide to change the base chance of certain effects for balance purposes.


What's the basic idea of how roulette tables work? Not looking for specific numbers, but do some items like weapons and Command Points have a significantly lower chance to drop?

The Roulette tables work similarly to the way loot tables work in other RPGs. While it has a different presentation, it is basically the same as looting a dead dragon. Sometimes you get item A, sometimes you get item B. The chance for each specific item to come up is not necessarily the same across the table.


Why are there different timers for everything? Why not have it all standardized? (times quoted in PDT/PST) . PvP ends at 6 PM, Ultron shows up in allies list at 11 PM for this latest spec ops, gifts can be collected at 12 am, allies can be visited at 3 am, etc..?

Each time one of these timers rolls over, it creates a spike of activity on our servers. By spreading these timers out, we can reduce the load does increase to the point where we have stability issues.

PVP specifically ends at 6 pm so that as many players can get home to participate in the last hours as possible while we still have coverage to deal with stability issues that may arise from the increased traffic the game generates at the end of a tournament.

Are there plans to make Shield Points more useful in the future? As of now, they're easily gained but not many opportunities to spend them. Perhaps make certain things (very necessary things) purchasable with SPs?

You have to remember that if you’ve been playing the game for a long time and have a lot of friends, then it may be easy for you to earn them. Meanwhile you have a buddy who has 5 and is hurting because he can’t train Iron Man! A lot of veterans have a lot of SP, but a lot of newer players or veterans with only a few friends don’t have that many.

Having said that, there are certain outlets for SP that can drain a player’s SP reserve, such as researching the top tier Reactive Iso-8 and purchasing these Iso-8 for their new heroes and uniforms. Many Spec Ops come with at least one item that can be researched that costs SP primarily.


Story

Ever thought of going by books and chapters? This is book one where we find out the effects of the boss and book two will be the source of the pulse?

Instead of “books” and “chapters,” we have “seasons” and “chapters” and “missions.” Each season contains a single overarching plot, with chapters and missions breaking that into sub-arcs and specific episodes. Spec Ops also have their own continuity that runs in parallel to the events in the story missions. It’s basically the same structure as books and chapters, and if we changed the names of everything now, we’d just confuse everyone (mostly ourselves).

Why doesn't the Agent talk? I continually find myself answering story-text and feel it would be nice if The Agent did this for me.

In the tradition of many famous video game heroes, The Agent is a stoic, silent protagonist, representing you in the game. If you find yourself answering story-text as the voice of The Agent, then hooray! That is exactly what we wanted to happen.


Miscellaneous

Will the sound effects and soundtrack ever be updated/improved?

There just might be something in the very near future.


Silly question, but how did you come up with the names for the (currently) 3 scroll gadgets you have introduced? While Melsalam is not a direct reference, it sounds a lot like "Salami", while Oziroch and Angolob are "Chorizo" and "Bologna" inversed. Are you guys just in love with sausage?

Scroll of Melsalam was a healing spell Dr. Strange used in Bendis’ New Avengers #2. Here’s a page of Dr. Strange in his civvies using it:

Dr. Strange Scroll of Melsalam

During the summer of 2012, planning was underway for the Halloween Spec Ops featuring Ghost Rider and a popular set of mystical weapons and gear for the Agent. One idea was to allow the Agent to have similar ‘spell like’ abilities of Dr. Strange, and the Scroll of Melsalam would be a perfect test case for the types of items we wanted to try in combat. so we released the scroll as a Limited Edition item in July and it proved to be quite popular. After a while, the dev team started to refer to the Scroll of Melsalam as the ‘Scroll of Salami’ around the office (We do love our deli meats). As time went on, newer scrolls were created and the dev team wanted to continue the tasty tradition. This is why there is a ‘Scroll of Oziroch’ and the ‘Scroll of Angolob’ So who knows? Maybe one day we’ll see a ‘Scroll of Faol Evilo!’

What do you guys think is the best M:AA character, and why?

We love all of the characters for different reasons. It’s a cop-out answer, but the truth is that there is no one character that stands above all others. Some are better in certain situations, others bring unique abilities to the mix. Setting that aside, here are a few personal favorites from our team. (These are personal opinions, so take them with a grain of salt).

Ben: I like Mockingbird. She was the first hero I built, and she's a great example of a relatively unknown hero who shines in M:AA. Plus, paragon exploiter.

CJ: I believe Union Jack is one of the best characters right now, specifically because of the strategy he brings to team building. His counter damage and rate at which he counters are both excellent, and finding team combinations and ways to maximize his chances to utilize his counters has added a fun level of depth I don't feel with many other characters.

Creighton: I would have to say Wolverine, hands down. He's fun, has great support, and great offensive capabilities. You might say he's the best there is.

Jim: Omega Sentinel. I like her character design, her move set, and she's useful in most situations.

Josh: Heroic Age Hawkeye is a favorite cause he has lots of trick arrows at random that are fun and can proc many extra attacks. (I had to stop him, because he literally listed 15 different “best” characters).

Justin (aka ProducerWoods): Captain Britain because his obvious weaknesses are easily offset by cheap Iso-8 and Britannic is absolutely devastating.

Zach: I think it’s a tie between Scarlet Witch and Dr. Strange. Both have a great mix of offensive and defensive capabilities, making them feel like real team players. Probability Field is probably my favorite button to click, just to see what will happen.


What's the official "snack" in the MAA office? Police stations (well, stereotypical) is donuts, in my office it is Twizzlers, etc.

Larabar. Some of us intentionally mispronounce it as “La-Bar”.

9llra8.jpg

Pro tip: Larabar tastes better if you crunch it up and add it to yogurt. ;-)

Notes

  1. According to Wikipedia, the next seasonal Blue Moon is at August 21, 2013.

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