Hot damn, Smashball is now in public beta. What are you waiting for? Go download Smashball while you read this!

This last weekend, I built a small web farm on AWS. Somewhere in my sysadmin binge this weekend it occured to me that there was no document written for gamers about Smashball, describing how it’s different from (and better than) other games. Thus, I’ve compiled a list of 10 daring design decisions that make it awesome. And I’m not biased. Seriously. I’m hypercritical of things I’ve built or helped to build.

  1. One ball, two goals. Not a single human on THIS ENTIRE EARTH that doesn’t understand “one ball, two goals.” It is a game type seriously lacking in modern twitchy first person shooters, which in this day and age have all homogenized into a glut of war shooters with varying themes and degrees of realism. (note: I am optimistic about the apparent rise of the Zombie attack genre.)
  2. Ball. It focuses the gameplay better than any other device. Even in CTF, the flag is only half of the focus, because there’s another flag, right? You always know where to go for the fight. It’s not confusing. It’s straightforward. It all boils down to “Chase the ball. Hurt the ballcarrier if he’s an enemy, defend him as a friend. Try to get open if I’m near the goal. If I have the ball, get into the enemy goal.”
  3. Infinite Ammo. I freakin’ hate running out of ammo. Every second I spend looking for ammo is a second I’m not kicking ass. It is so awesome to be able to focus on killing instead of worrying about conserving ammo. Particularly when using the Hellcannon. Yum.
  4. Autoheal. Ditto the above, :s/ammo/health packs/
  5. Turbo. Everyone can fly in Smashball. But not everyone can fly WELL. It’s got a LONG learning curve but it ain’t too steep.
  6. Hook. Voodoo and I have this theory that one of the reasons Smashball is so fun, is that the physics of swinging taps into old structures in your brain, that evolved way back when we learned to swing in trees, and the feeling is very pleasurable at some primal level. We’re probably full of crap but seriously, swinging like Tarzan or Spiderman is tempting, isn’t it? It’s a good way to move, both strategically and tactically, but requires some practice to get effective with it. It is VERY satisfying to move across a level and leave everyone in the dust with your superior hooking abilities.
  7. The heaviest Non-goalie has The Sniper Rifle. When have you ever heard of the sniper having the heaviest armor?? The fullback is the guy that sets up chokepoints, and he’s the strongest melee guy with the most health, apart from…
  8. The Goalie. MIRV. Hellcannon. 8 Spidermines. Giant block radius. Tons of health. Singular focus. Tons of stress, even if you’re good at it. Did I mention, infinite ammo?
  9. Skill balance that still requires talent. In the words of one forum poster, “…you have to spend time with the game to get good.” Our goal was to allow for character skills, but not have them disrupt the overall balance of the game, or lend so much of an advantage that they overcome raw talent or practice. Some minor balance issues aside, I think we succeeded.
  10. XP. In a first-person-shooter. Yes, we’re whores for including XP in our game. Can we help it if it’s one of the stickiest game features ever invented? And no, we’re not taking a page from WoW, we’re taking a page from D&D, baby.