Ask A Dev: Design Questions

Ask us about anything design related this week!

Do you want some tips about applying for design jobs? Want to know about all the different type of designers here? Or how a Level Designer is different from a World Designer? Maybe what the most influential games are from a design perspective? Ask us anything!

What is this “Ask A Dev” thing?

Every week we will feature an ongoing Q&A session from an area within Arrowhead, called “Ask A Dev”. It’s a chance for you to ask us questions in the weekly pinned topic (Art, Programming, Design, Marketing etc.).

Due to contracts and confidentiality agreements, we may not always be allowed to answer some questions. However, there’s no harm in asking and we will try and answer as best we can!

So why are we disarming unexploded ordnance again?

It was recommended to me by the lovely people you have assigned to responding to weird messages you get on facebook that I forward this question here.

But in summary, why do we Helldivers care about unexploded ordnance in enemy territory? Should we not be delighted if foul alien civilian threats to our way of life happen to trip over them and get democratic healthcare in the form of a free amputation of the everything?

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Additionally, Magicka had a lovely campaign, is there any chance we’ll get one for Helldivers as well?

Or at least a campaign-like mode/narrative like the one Valve cooked up for their Perpetual Testing Initative?

(If so, are you looking for very cheap swedish writers?)

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@patrik.lasota could help here?


I’m not Patrik, but I feel like fielding your question; Removing unexploded ordnance from friendly territory is perfectly reasonable, and is the responsibility of any good Helldiver. It just so happens that there are enemies of democracy and our way of life squatting there. Your job, fellow Helldiver, is to protect our extra-superterrestial interests, large and small. You are making a difference, even if it might seem like you’re just throwing your body into the proverbial meat-grinder.


So we are to see the battlefields as the friendly territory of DEMOCRACY that just hasn’t been LIBERATED yet?

Thank you for your time and may LIBERTY always be with you and us in our long mission of MANDATORY PEACE!

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Don’t forget about my hairebrained “Helldivers Insurrection” spin-off game, where we the disbanded Helldivers operate out of our underground Super Earth bases, shot up through the ground in our Hell Tubes as if from Hell itself (thanks again for idea, Cusman :)).

So in a game where we are freeing the occupied Super Earth from Bugs, Borgs and Illuminates, you can at least – no matter how dumb my spinoff idea may otherwise be – see in that case that we’d have a rational reason to clear mines in environments on Super Earth, because the end game there is to free Super Earth for human habitation again. :slight_smile:


… If it has a coop-campaign like thing I’m really, really, really hoping you make it, or at least a DLC.

Sadly, I can’t find a trace of it on google.

Or is this something you’re still trying to convince the others to create?

(Will it include mechs and some way of replenishing their ammo? It’s such a pity that the awesome vehicle gameplay in Helldivers is so restricted (and more or less just a waste of stratagems on many maps)!)

Oh, and another thing I’m wondering!

What’s the idea behind the restricted game screen? Would it be terrible if the Helldivers split off into two 2-man teams to complete objectives separately?

And if you really want to keep them together and beta testing shows that letting them have their own screen messes up the cohesion, why not allow the screen to zoom out, at least a fair bit, when someone gets close to the edge, rather than just trapping them?

Final question, I swear. (Was under the impression that separate questions are best left in their own posts)

Why is the vehicle gameplay so restricted? The vehicles in Helldivers are wonderful, but on average they only last 2-5 minutes, either due to a hellpod landing on them, someone accidentally an artillery barrage on their own position, or by getting eaten by things that by no means should damage them, like the weaker spacebugs or cyborg small-arms. Additionally, why no way to zoom out a bit when you have one of the bigger vehicles, like the tank, or the ‘Tank Personnel Carrier’ so that you can use that wonderful long-ranged cannon effectively?

While I understand the need for limiting vehicles so that they are not used all the time, in the current state they are sadly left behind anytime you want to tackle some of the higher difficulties as you usually lose them within a minute of calling them down, and are then just left with an empty stratagem slot.

Is there some way of making them more viable, like making them sturdier, making hellpods explicitly avoid them when being called down, letting them replenish their ammo, and/or giving them a number of calldowns, like turrets?

Remove an element of Chaos from Helldivers? Make it easier for our troops? are you mad soldier, if it was supposed to be easy they wouldn’t send in the Helldivers. :grinning:

That is fair enough, but still leaves us with the issue of these beautifully designed and operating vehicles being depressingly underused!

They just need their lifespan increased a liiittle bit so that they aren’t considered just a waste of a stratagem when facing down the mindless hordes of bugs, cyborgs and illuminate mind-slaves!

(This also makes me wonder, is the Super Earth faction the only faction of humans? Or is there a Super Scandinavia and Super China out there that looks at the local region of space of Super’Murica with a LOT of confusion and a slowly building sense of terror?)

What’s the idea behind the restricted game screen?

They’ve answered this repeatedly at PSN and Steam forums. I’m paraphrasing – It’s a tactical co-op game based on working together and helping each other, and tightly designed that way. Freelancing the far corners of the map just tosses that angle out altogether imho. While it can be annoying with oncooperative co-op partners, I’ve rarely encountered that in Helldivers over these couple years (PC and fewer hours on Vita before).

Frozenbyte’s upcoming online co-op focused mage blaster Nine Parchments does the same “squad screen lock” and friendly fire as well. So Arrowhead’s not the only one with the “screen lock” philosophy. :grinning:

While I’m OK with online co-op games that don’t have ‘screen lock,’ it’s become a feature I tend to ask about in games of this ilk. I know if a game has that, then the co-op will really be “co-op.”

If not, it may be like when I briefly revisited Alien Swarm to check out the fan-created Reactive Drop expansion. Seriously, in all the games I joined, players were quickly spreading to the far corners of the new maps. No cooperation at all. Nobody working together. Nobody “watching each other’s back.” I wouldn’t have even known other players were in the game with me, if I hadn’t checked the player list for the session. :laughing:

I’d really… REALLY… Love to know why you guys chose to use vauge bars for the UI interface of the weapons; it is never right in my mind to use uninterpretable ways to present actual numbers/stats for equipment in any game.

To show just how ridiculous this is:

The ‘Stalwart’ and ‘Patriot’ have the same bars when fully upgraded, excluding the Patriot’s bayonet, you can’t deny the game claims they’re identical, yet it’s an utter lie in practice.

  1. The Patriot doesn’t have the same magazine size, it’s 75 when upgraded compared to the Stalwart’s 150. (Numbers are taken from the wiki)

  2. The Stalwart shoots far slower than the Patriot, about over half as slow according to the theoretical RoF from Sieyl on the Offical Helldiver Discord server.
    Patriot - about 1,400 RPM
    Stalwart - about 800 RPM

  3. Stability is very different between these two weapons, in fact, they’re entirely different mechanics. Without the game explicitly stating the fact that MGs gain accuracy from extended fire (in a tip screen if I recall), it’s impossible to discern this crucial detail until you actually play the game.

There are numerical values for all these weapon stats but why use bars? Was it for a more streamlined look? Was it to make it simple (ironically, it’s much harder to figure it out)? What was the reason?

And I’ll be honest if your reasoning is because you wanted the community to “feel” the weapons, then I disagree with this thought process and think it’s dumb. Using a very prominent example, Battlefield: Hardline. The community presented the broken weapon balance math to ‘Visceral’ (the developers for Hardline) and the DEVs responded by saying “we want you to feel which weapons are better”. Everyone unanimously agreed every weapon felt like garbage except for a select few.

I’m not saying this is true for Helldivers because Hardline is an extreme example, but Helldivers lies in this area where your feelings can misinterpret a lot of the game. I’ve had many bad first impressions on weapons and never using them until months later; the exception is I stayed to play and figure out how I “felt” about all these weapons.

The same can’t be said for the people who thought every gun was bad except Sickle/Justice. This lead to people thinking the game didn’t have variety because one bad apple ruined the batch. The same can be interpreted for soo many stratagems, perks, and so on.

As a fan of the game, I know the game is the literal epitome of variety. However, I can’t blame people who left because what else can they interpret from those stupid bars beside, " I feel like these weapons except this one are garbage".

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I understand why it might be practical - but it does not answer the second part of the question, why is the screen so strict about it?

Why no moderate ability to zoom out as someone is forced to the edge of the screen that decreases with distance?
Why no exceptions for when you are targeted by enemies off-screen so that you don’t have to simply guess where they are? Why no exceptions for particularly long-ranged weapons like railguns and anti-tank cannons?

In short, why this particularly strict implementation as opposed to a more lenient one that forces the squad to stay together, but doesn’t freeze you in place right away if you get separated?

Noone enjoys dying or being killed by game mechanics, after all, as it is perceived as a flaw of the game killing you rather than because of its inherent difficulty. Does not a lot of the core of making a good game consist of keeping frustrations caused by game limitations as opposed to difficulty to a minimum?

Maybye it’s just… unintended mistake? :smiley: Or bug? I doubt they wonted it to be that way.

In that case we happened upon something valuable for increased DEMOCRACY now didn’t we? :grin:

Guys, truly the screen lock topic was beaten to death and then put in a trash compactor and flattened, and then boiled in volcanic Helldivers map lava, and trampled by a bunch of rampaging rhinos. And that was all 2 years ago when the game launched on PS platforms (March 2015). And then the long beaten topic was further beaten and BBQ’d and flamegrilled and toxic sludged and laser beam sliced and run through rollers on Steam forums.

I’d be surprised if the devs still wanted to beat the beaten topic any further here but maybe they’ll surprise me. :grinning:

fwiw, my suggestion back a couple years ago was to provide a little “pop-up mini-monitor” (only you would see it on your screen) whenever you’re wounded, and your squad’s movements move away from you. When you’re wounded and on the ground crawling, SCREEN LOCK BREAKS.

This is never really clear to other players in the heat of the action-- you’ll just notice the screen moves away from you and you can’t really see what you’re doing anymore. Just a P2 or P3 with arrow pointer on the screen edge. While you crawl around on the ground essentially playing Blind Man’s Bluff or Pin the Tail on the Donkey. :crazy_face:

So I thought if at those times, a little monitor popped up to at least show your wounded Helldiver and his immediate surroundings, this would help you at least get up and move in the right direction, or shoot in the correct direction, whatever you needed to do to scramble back into the “screen lock view range.” Once you got back “in view,” this mini-monitor would automatically disappear from your screen. This is obviously easier for me to suggest than anyone at Arrowhead to code. :grinning:

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@patrik.lasota could perhaps look over this thread to see if he wants to clarify anything further.

Regarding the Screen lock and showing the players.

We discussed such solutions as well, but in the end it is very much a question of performance. The Vita and the PS3 would probably not handle the double rendering, and at worst case 3 times the rendering, required for this to work smoothly. (And by that I mean the PS3 would probably do it, but at the time we didn’t have that much experience with the platform).

So we decided to make the best of the situation by allowing players that are downed to be left behind. I can guarantee that downed players stopping you from running away was way more annoying :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: