Indie game development studio Team 101 recently released some of their testing data after the official launch of their beta test for their hack n’ slash title “Curse of Mermos”. Preparing for their full release on January 15th, the published data gives a good look into the nature of beta testing and how it can imperially assist developers in focusing on key areas that need improvement.
“Curse of Mermos” appeared on Indie DB back in November of 2014 and featured the beginning concepts of Team 101’s desire to create a fast past hack n slash that included engaging combat and vast environments to explore. Attack upgrades, stat management, and the ability to select between ranged or melee combat were listed as some of the core features they wanted to include from the start of development.
Players explore ancient Egyptian ruins as Abdu, a modern day Egyptologist who comes from a long line of explorers. Wanting to leave a legacy all his own in the family history, Abdu sets forth to uncover the lost tomb of the Pharaoh Ebo. However, living skeletons, scarabs, and of course mummies, await for him in the catacombs and force Abdu to rely on the power of his crossbow and hammer to get him back to safety. Other more unique enemies come in the form of floating skulls, exploding orbs inspired by the sun god Ra, and evil statues that mask their presence and heal other monsters. Monsters are encountered in a standard wave style with higher waves resulting in more numerous and more difficult enemies.
“Curse of Mermos” offers the standard selection of upgradable statistics that include: Vitality, Strength, Dexterity, and Agility. Each statistic takes on their classic interpretations with Strength and Dexterity increasing melee or ranged damage respectively, Vitality increasing your health, and Agility allowing faster move speed. Team 101 added some special abilities however as each statistic can unlock new abilities and attacks depending on how far it has been progressed. All of these can be upgraded through the collection of souls as Abdu fights through waves of undead and mystical Egyptian constructs.
The original beta test announcement was made in mid-December of 2014 as Team 101 began collecting important user feedback. Based on Team 101’s published data sets, a vast majority of players preferred the ranged attacks. While the studio explained that they designed and balanced the game to allow for preferred play-styles, it was also built to ensure that players are strongly encouraged to use a combination of melee and ranged attacks to progress more easily.
Even if hacking through waves of enemies isn’t typically a game type you are frequently interested in, looking through the published data sets gives a nice look into how beneficial collecting information can be to developers. Difficulty curves and balancing issues are perhaps some of the best information that can be gathered as the developers themselves are often so good at their own games that it makes it extremely difficult to determine how hard or easy the game actually is. Considering that only 2 of the players among the 19 published results made it to the final stage of the game, it seems that “Curse of Mermos” might be challenging but is conquerable.