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The Anacrusis dev blog talks design feedback and co-op values

With a promise that mods will be supported

The Anacrusis showed its first trailer at E3, and it left me a little worried. It's a four player co-operative shooter from Chet Faliszek's new studio Stray Bombay, but in a swarm of in-development Left 4 Deadlikes, it looked the most shambling.

I still have hope though, and the game's first dev blog offers plenty of encouragement by going into detail about the team's process of adapting to feedback and playtesting.

The post opens with some fair context: The Anacrusis's E3 trailer was actual in-game footage, not a cinematic trailer. "We thought it was important to start our conversation with you by showing you the actual game we're making, not a pre-rendered cinematic," says the post. "(It had nothing to do with the fact that pre-rendered trailers are big and expensive, and often not-quite-but-almost-entirely-unlike-the-final-game.)" Here's the trailer in question:

Let's also wholly fabricate the idea that this is a direct swipe at Arkane's cinematic Redfall trailer. Beef! Beef! Beef! Beef!

My real interest in the post lies elsewhere, however. First, there's the heatmap of one of The Anacrusis's existing levels, showing "where playertesters were standing every time they took damage." It's an example of the kind of data they're collecting to help inform their design, and the "AI Driver" who, as in Left 4 Dead, is shaping the player experience on the fly.

Second, there's the stated company values which underpin the games Stray Bombay are making and how they're making them:

Our games are highly replayable. • Our games are about players working together. • Our games empower players to instantly jump in and be productive. • Our games create awesome and often surprising moments. • Our games are about shared experiences, not the difficulty. • Our games minimize skill gaps so everyone can feel like part of the team. • Friends can always play our games together. • Our games give players enough information to make plans, which can then go horribly wrong. • Players have long-term goals that they can invest in from session to session. • We recognize that trust between players grows over time. • We create opportunity for players, not work. • We do our best to make our games welcoming places, and take explicit steps to reduce hate, harassment, and disruptive behavior.

I'm on board with all of that. The Anacrusis's trailer makes the enemies look clumsy, the levels look empty, and it builds towards a joke I don't think works, but it's just a trailer and it's an unfinished game. Left 4 Dead and its sequel were smartly designed, and if The Anacrusis follows in kind then my other complaints will quickly seem superficial.

Next week's Anacrusis dev blog will apparently be talking about mods, which they "think are incredible important to the kind of game we want to make." More good news. Keep an eye on the game on Steam if you want to see that when it drops.

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