Michael Macleod, Lead Designer for Monstrum 2
Hello, I’m Michael Macleod, I’m the Lead Designer at Team Junkfish. We have some quite big updates to Monstrum 2 that we’ll be rolling out this Tuesday, June 1st. This post is intended to provide players with a bit more detail on some of the upcoming changes, the reasoning behind them, and where we are planning on going next.
NEW BARRACKS SECTOR
The most noticeable addition in the June Update is a new building called Barracks. In the game's narrative Hongsha Miller, the shadowy company that operates the Sparrow Lock facility hired a group of mercenaries tasked with keeping both the Prisoners and Monsters contained and under control. The soldiers have moved into an older part of the Sea Fort turning the area into a small military base including a war room, armoury, canteen, and their living quarters.
Barracks are part of the ‘stage one’ buildings where players need to find Power Switches in order to enter the Power Plant. We’ve taken a bit of a different approach to the layout of Barracks, where rather than being designed as a single large structure instead it is a group of smaller buildings with connecting alleyways and catwalks. We hope this layout will feel considerably different to play in and will add to the variety of Monstrum 2’s procedural content. Our art team has done a lot of work in this new area and has included a new reinforced concrete construction style that we will also use elsewhere in the future.
BARRACKS CHANCE OF APPEARING
It should be noted that the Barracks Sector is one of a group of thirteen different areas that Monstrum 2 procedural generation system can choose from and therefore it might take several games for the content to turn up. The development team is very keen to introduce a weighting system so new content is more likely to appear for players for at least the first couple of weeks following a rollout. However, we have yet to add map weighting although we hope to include it soon as we continue to grow Monstrum 2 through Early Access.
A SMALLER SEA FORT
We have made a substantial change to the overall layout of the Sea Fort that will be immediately noticeable to players. From our Closed Alpha until now we have always had three main platforms, the first being the Power Plant with the Escape Route either directly above or below it, the other two platforms have included a random pair of Sectors with Power Switches such as Aquatics and Archives for example. For the June Update, we have removed one of these two Sectors and have reworked the exterior platforms and walkways to compensate for this.
This reduction from two to one Sector is the largest single change we have made so far to Monstrum 2 since launch. We expect it will make the game feel very different especially to players who have been with us since we launched in January.
The main reason for this change was that we felt the map overall was somewhat overly large and once Prisoners had a firm idea of where the Monster was the dominant tactic was simply to migrate over to the other building meaning the Monster player could go for long periods of time without running into a Prisoner. Reducing the map to a single Sector before the Power Plant phase has led to a much tighter map, for Prisoners, the Monster is always close and the danger feels far greater, even from early development testing we felt this was more in line with the horror experience we are going for with Monstrum 2.
The single Sector still contains six Power Switches and two more have been added to the exterior areas along with one of the spawning rooms. We have also slowed down all the games characters by around 15-20% to take the smaller layout into account
Although improving gameplay was the primary consideration for removing one of the Sectors, doing so has also had a significant positive impact on the game's overall frame rate and loading times. We’d like Monstrum 2 to be accessible by as many players as possible and while we still have lots to do to keep on improving the performance we feel this change has very much been a win-win for both gameplay and optimization.
In regard to the current two Sector layout that players will be used to, we considered as a team whether to keep these in the game either as just part of the random selection available or as an optional legacy mode for players. However, after continued testing of the new reduced layout, we did not see much of a potential future with the two Sectors layout, and keeping them would only divide the number of players available in lobbies. We have therefore decided the best option is to retire them completely and fully embrace the single Sector layouts going forward. In the future, however, we may well utilize both legacy and experimental modes to let players enjoy content outside of the core game experience.
POWER SWITCHES ARE NOT SO EASY
While there is quite a lot of new content in this update we have also taken time to go over the existing content and make improvements. Our art team has been working hard to make the Sea Fort feel much more detailed and realistic, the empty corridors in some parts of the fort look very different now and there is far greater contrast between the older crumbling Sea Fort and the high tech modern equipment Hongsha Miller have refitted the facility with.
The Power Switches throughout the Fort have had an overhaul as well. There has been an ever-present balancing issue with Monstrum 2 where Power Switches proved overly easy and once Prisoner players knew where they were, three or four could be completed before the Monster player was even released. We have gone through many of these Switches and either added extra steps to them or reworked them completely, this is an ongoing process but the worst offending areas such as Operations, Residential, and Suite have all been heavily reworked for this Update. The puzzles in the new Barracks Sector in particular are among some of the toughest in the game now and we are very interested in hearing feedback from players on these changes.
BALANCING AND ADDITIONAL IMPROVEMENTS
We will be continuing to work on existing content, improving the core gameplay, and rebalancing mechanics in the wake of these new level changes.
This post has very much focused on design aspects of the game, however, the team at Junkfish has grown substantially over the last couple of months with several new hires, we will be posting regularly talking more about art, animation, audio, UI, and tech improvements coming in the next few months as we continue to move through Early Access.
On behalf of the team, I would like to thank everyone who has bought Monstrum 2 so far, stuck with us as we grow, and contributed to the project on Steam, Discord, and other media.
Wishing you all the best and hope to see you around the Sea Fort soon!