A Fresh Blaze of Fire

Lethal League Blaze is out and banging! It reached number one best selling game on Steam during the release and it placed #7 best rated game on Steam of 2018! The game went from two week prototype, to Steam hit, to arriving on consoles and spawning a sequel that is our most successful game yet. It has seen it’s fair share of changes over the years. Of course the latest entry, Blaze, is the biggest jump. Although even the original game varied wildly over time, people tend to forget. Let’s go over some choices in Lethal League Blaze, intentional and incidental, what was and what’s to come.

Mobility

Many numbers remained the exact same coming from the original game. It was important to me that the high speed feeling of the game stayed. However, overall stage size was increased and each character was also sized up a bit. This does make the movement seem relatively slower in the end. A higher movement speed will be introduced to remedy this in the next update.

Commitment is a new concept for Blaze so to speak. You could get pretty damn far spamming in Lethal League, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Once some flexibility was sacrificed in Blaze, signs began to show that it didn’t really feel right (it did look good for that matter). I started to adopt a methodology of tech-to-circumvent where you could get more flexibility if you worked for it. This plays into the ‘easy to pick up, hard to master’ ideal, so I liked it more. From this mindset came the double jump turns and reverse aerials, the return of late turn swings and, most recently, pivoting. Swing recovery remained the same as the original however, although that’s still something interesting to tweak in the future.

The upcoming ‘pivot’ tech on the left and regular turning on the right.

Reads

For everyone not aware of all the hip fighting game speak: a read is short for predicting your opponents next move and acting upon it. You’re reading your opponents mind. Every competitive game has this in some form. It’s not a random guess, because people can fundamentally not be random. However, there’s always an however. Punishment in the game for making a wrong read, especially grabbing and parrying, is pretty much a K.O. No one in their right mind would bet their stock on a single read. The reads that did somehow go right don’t feel like something thought through. This is frustrating because you want to be beaten by someone smarter, not a clown seemingly throwing out moves. In the next update we’ll be seeing a system of non-life-or-death results from high speed grab counters and parries.

Damage

Honestly, the HP system was a huge change and the idea was that it would be tweaked more over time. Complaints about this weren’t really coming through, so it was shoved back. The public beta will next go live with an increase of minimum damage from 20% to 25% and a decrease in the speed needed to K.O. from 150 to 120. We’ll see how this will fare. More changes can happen here, but they will have to come with a split between Free For All and 1V1 or a damage scale setting in the lobby options.

Character Balance

Now character balance is a more feely subject than you would expect. It has to do with numbers, but also perception and preference. Lethal League has always had characters that were very close to each other in terms of mechanics (aside from their special moves), making tier lists not as important as you’d think. Nevertheless, we’re interested in your thoughts! You can share them with us through this google survey.

Stay tuned to the Team Reptile Twitter or Discord channel if you want to know about coming updates and other eye candy!

On the success of Lethal League

For Reptile, Lethal League has been a huge success. Released in August 2014, it sold over 100.000 units in half a year, prompting us to start porting it to consoles. Now that our slightly troubled porting process is over, the game is set to release on XBox One and PS4 on the 10th of May. This is an important step for us as a company, as our type of action games have always felt nice to play with a gamepad, sitting in (or jumping on) a comfy couch.

coming10thmay

By now the game has sold over 400.000 units, granted that’s including sales and multi-packs as full units (and a Humble Bundle feature above all). Considering our small team size and the fact that many games have trouble breaking 10k units on Steam, that’s still amazing. We’ve been blessed with such a lovable bunch of fans, who actively organize tournaments and draw fanart. Even though updates from us have frankly been sparse since the first year after release.

What did we do to deserve this? Is it skill or is it luck? Luck is something I like to throw out of the equation. Even if it was up to chance, it’s no use thinking about something that is by definition out of your control. Saying it was mostly due to popular youtubers picking it up is true, but that’s not the root of it all. Why make a video about this game? There are many more polished games out there to choose from. All this has been in my mind for a while and I speculate it comes down to these factors:

– The hook: exponential extremity and anticipation
– Gameplay that supports the gimmick: fast and responsive play
– Online Multiplayer
– The style

In that order. The power of the hook (think gimmick, but not cheap), the extremity, is something I saw firsthand in our playtests. Especially that if the players don’t know it’s there and don’t reach that stage when they try it for the first time, they will lose interest very quickly. Likewise, seeing other players reach that stage made people excited to line up and try it for themselves.

There are many things to say on the gameplay, the speed, the disguised depth, the short matches, but the essence is that it supports or pushes towards the gimmick. One of the easiest moves to do is the one that doubles the speed. In theory, the gameplay could have been totally different (maybe slow and strategic), although the hook would have to change with it to avoid clashing logic and expectations.

On Steam, the value of online multiplayer should be clear. Humans are endlessly more interesting than any game, with the right stimuli (which is where a game comes in). Online also makes a game stand out between many other independent titles. But it seems to work like a kind of multiplier, meaning the base game still matters most.

The style is last on the list. It probably could have been a different setting, but I believe the level of abstraction was good. Between Pacman and Nathan Drake, there is a spectrum of ‘definedness’ and each point has a certain believability. Lethal League’s point is just right to have interesting characters and still not be childish. Aside from that, I think the almost untouched setting of street culture within video games certainly counted for something.

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That’s not to say that these elements are of particularly high quality. Our fans know that the online multiplayer has had its ups and downs (and still does). I think we could have pushed the extremity a little more and the game is definitely rough on the edges visually. Colors are a hit and miss, backgrounds can be ugly at times, the character animations are really low on frames. It’s not pretty, it’s raw. And that’s sincere in a way. It’s not trying to be something it’s not, not pleasing anyone for the sake of pleasing. I truly think that people in general, probably subconsciously, appreciate sincere effort like they appreciate kindness. Did that help move more units? Hard to say, but the thought did help us in making the game.