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I played a couple of rounds in Skirmish Online tonight. And I have to say it was bloody awesome. HopeDagger's still ironing out a couple bugs. A couple other people in TA were turned off by them, but the game was still playable (and awesomely fun).

How could it not be fun with beautiful spritework and intense gameplay?

(in-game of Skirmish Online)

The only gripes I have are things that I'd probably get used to pretty quickly - the placement of weapon selections and medpacks are really close to one another. When I first started playing quite a few times I hit the wrong button, but you'd get used to that.

The other gripe is how movement is handled. When you press a button, an acceleration is applied to your avatar's movement, kind of how a space ship would fly. I expected it to just toggle a velocity on/off. The disadvantage to the current system is that rapid turning is really slow.

To move effectively, you have to be aware of your momentum - you can't just suddenly want to stop.

Strategies that I found successful were encirclement and ducking for cover.

Encirclement is especially effective when your angular velocity is greater than your opponents. This can be achieved by using stimpacks. In this case, you can easily outmaneuver your opponent reducing the amount of damage taken. You can also optimize your distance to your weapon by moving in/out of range.

On the maps we played on there was typically plenty of cover to run around. When faced with a single opponent, it was pretty easy to run behind something, use a medkit, then continue running around it. While the success of this method is questionable, it certainly is plausible.

The biggest constraint is knowing what range to fire which weapon at. Shotguns, for example, absolutely suck at close range, which isn't what I had expected.

(EDIT: I formally retract the above statement. HopeDagger has shown, beyond probable doubt, that I can indeed be pwnt by a close-range shot from a shotgun. It has to be pretty close indeed though...)

While the shotgun is useful for fighting against a lot of enemies, the spread is too much to hit a single target with the bulk of the shot. Its slow firing rate and low clip size make it very poor for close-range fighting.

The Dual SMG, however, is arguably one of the better weapons. Though somewhat inaccurate at medium-long ranges, it does a considerable amount of damage when the shots connect.

Accuracy wise, the most consistant weapon I found was the dual pistols. These present, possibly, the most drastic lesson in range control -

The small effective range and relativly slow fire rate make the dual pistols one of the more difficult weapons to wield, but I'm sure with some practice they could become very effective in the hands of a skilled player.

(EDIT: Maybe there's multiple types of pistols, but the ones I was playing with just now didn't cross over like before. Additionally, they're hella more accurate, and pack a punch. The big problem I had with them was the really small clip size - I had to constantly dive for cover to reload. Which wasn't much of a problem, since the maps provide lots of hiding places)

The final weapon I'm going to discuss today is the aptly-named Minigun. The gun looks like a bazooka, and can only be described by "constant stream of bullets". The gun is so large that you can't easily move around with it when firing; in fact, the gun "pushes" you backwards when shooting.

I would tenatively classify the minigun as a short-range weapon - though it has an insanely high firerate, at long range it isn't accurate enough to be used effectively. The problem with using it at close-range, though, is that you have to get close to your enemy before you can open fire (you'll slow down and stop once you start firing).

I think the most effective usage of the minigun was by using a wall as a rear-support - by backing up against a wall you could prevent the backwards acceleration and steady your player somewhat.

All in all, the minigun isn't my style :P

There's a bunch of other weaponry to play with, but these were some of the more distinctive ones.

Be sure to catch the next demo session of Skirmish Online - follow HopeDagger's journal!
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Thanks very much Mushu, for the feedback and advertising. I'm really intrigued that you've taken the time to analyze the balance/design of the game so closely and discuss such things.

To be fair, most of the weapons currently in the game are somewhat temporary. It's mainly just a weaponset (8 weapons ATM) for testing the game during the Alpha stage. Once I have templates and customizable character loadouts there will be a greater variety in weapons and a bigger focus on balance. I can tell that you have an eye for the latter. :)

You've covered some really valid points, and balance/design issues. If you're free tomorrow, I'd really like to have a lengthy conversation with you about the game. I can tell that you're definitely capable of offering some sound advice.

Thanks again for the free advertising, hehe. ;)

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