To most long time players, Ball essentially died after SL13 (with other modes already dead). Tons of players left following SL12 and then SL13. At the current rate I can’t see ladder surviving past the end of this year. It is only active a few hours per day and a lot of the more experienced players have stopped logging in because it is no longer enjoyable due to poor game quality.
Saving Altitude requires essentially starting over with an overhaul of the game. Unfortunately we have do not have developer support which makes saving Altitude very challenging. But if we don’t make changes ASAP the game will be too dead to revive, as no one will bother trying the game if the servers are all empty. So I feel no choice but to attempt Altitude 1.1.
Many of the upcoming changes I have brought up in the past. But due to being stretched too thin with all I do for the game they haven’t been completed. Luckily a lot of the planned features will work much better and be easier to implement thanks to xal’s server patches.
Primarily these features are much improved pub servers with in-game queues, stats, etc and a few new game modes. But with the current state of the game, it is going to take more significant changes as Altitude as we know it is no longer sustainable.
A couple months ago I decided ladder would need to be shutdown to help grow pubs. When pubs are up they are primarily only Football or TBD, so we haven’t had a way for new players to get into Ball for years. The goal of shutting down ladder is to help get a ball pub server populated again.
More recently I started believing the 6v6 Ball most loved by the competitive Altitude community must be eliminated as well, at least until the game has enough players to fill 6v6 servers. I have believed for years that we need smaller game modes to save the game. Up until very recently though, the plan was the have smaller game modes basically be fillers until enough players were on to play 6v6. Now I am confident that 3v3 or 4v4 must be the primary team size rather than 6v6.
6v6 Ball will be removed from all of my servers and replaced with either 3v3 or 4v4. The biggest challenge with this by far will be having to make new, smaller maps.
Aside from smaller maps I expect the following changes:
- No gravity on the ball so that gameplay will be spread more evenly between the bottom and top of maps. This is especially important for football. For maps with obstacles, no gravity for the ball will have to be tested before making any decision.
- The traditional top spawn areas will likely be replaced with spawning where you die except following a goal.
- Games will be timed somewhere between 5 to 7 minutes with overtime if tied.
- Health modifier will almost certainly be changed a little to help make smaller teams & maps work. Ideally all modes on my servers will use the same health modifier to keep it consistent.
- Camera view scale will be adjusted so more of the map can be seen. How much more will come from testing the new maps. It could be only a very slight change or more significant.
Overhauling Ball in addition to the other changes will add to my workload. So the current season of ladder will go longer than I wanted and it will set back the next SL a little bit as well. I would like the next SL to use the smaller teams/maps, but it will depend on if they are ready to go within a reasonable time.
It is unfortunate we are forced to sacrifice 6v6 Ball, but it is necessary to save Altitude. At the same time I might be willing to keep ladder around with a 3v3 or 4v4 Ball. To be really successful we will need to split players up into two entirely separate skill tiers (for pubs/unranked play too, not just if ladder stays). Perhaps that will be possible with 3v3.