I'm impressed and pleased that Awesomenauts [official site] is still ticking away merrily, big enough to keep expansions coming three years after launch. While many MOBAs in the early rush straight-up copied the Dota format (well, it'd probably be more correct to say LoL's interpretation of the Dota format), Awesomenauts took the lane-pushing and tower-crushing wizardry into a 2D side-scroller to make something pretty different. Developers Ronimo this week announced a new 'expansion', named Overdrive, which will bring a mix of free updates and new features along with three new paid characters in early 2016.
On the free side, Ronimo are overhauling old art from the game's initial release which looks a bit sloppy now, planning to tweak more core systems like they did in the recent levelling overhaul, and adding replacing its matchmaking system. THey explain:
"We will introduce a completely new matchmaking system, running on our own servers. It will both be a lot more stable and do a better job at pairing players of an equal skill level, while also keeping connection quality between peers in mind. This will make the game more rewarding for veteran players, and be less daunting for new recruits!"
Matchmaking is so vital to multiplayer games like this, so improving it is always good. That's tricky when a game doesn't have thousands of players at once - Awesomenauts tends to peak daily at around one thousand concurrent players - though. Have a read of this blog post from Ronimo's Joost van Dongen a few months back, which explains the difficulties of matchmaking in games without huge playerbases.
On the not-free side, Ronimo will be adding three new characters: "The time-travelling inventor (Professor M. Yoolip), the hyperbike-riding bounty hunter (Chucho Krokk), and the LUX5000 bot piloted by the twin babies Jimmy and Amy." They're due in March, and going by pre-order pricing they'll be £5.99.
On top of all this, before the end of June 2016 they plan to add a free community-designed character, Ix the Interloper, and another free map, the crowdfunding-supported Starstorm Station.
That's it. I awesomethink that's all the awesomethings.