Dirty Bomb closed alpha launching today, dev details Echo analytics system

Dirty Bomb developer Splash Damage is launching a closed alpha testing period for the upcoming free-to-play shooter today, and the studio released a video explaining its Echo analytics system for balancing the game.

"We've always believed that team-based multiplayer is more thrilling than single-player," said Splash Damage in the video. A sister company, Fireteam, developed a system called Echo to track minute details of the way people are playing Dirty Bomb, and Splash Damage is using the statistics it gathers through Echo to inform gameplay balance tweaks. Development of Echo was led by Dave Johnston, creator of the classic Counter-Strike map de_dust.

Splash Damage gave the example of heat maps (diagrams showing where kills occur) in Dirty Bomb's Waterloo map. Once the company realized that too many deaths took place in the final third of the attackers' progression — it was "a bit of a meat grind," the studio said — they moved obstacles and spawn points to even out the flow. The studio also expanded the average clip size of Dirty Bomb's weapons, since players were complaining that they had to reload too often in order to kill other players — an assertion backed up by Echo's data.

Alpha access is guaranteed to Dirty Bomb fans who have paid $120 and up for the "Inner Circle" of development funding; Splash Damage announced the alpha and other Founder's Club benefits last month. Founders in the $60 "Elite" and $30 "Veteran" tiers have a chance to get invited into the alpha.

Splash Damage, developer of Brink and Enemy Territory: Quake Wars, plans to launch Dirty Bomb later this year on Windows PC.

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