When Apple revealed that iPhone 3.0 would offer in-app commerce back in March, they enlisted a couple of developers to demonstrate how that would be accomplished. Ngmoco delivered a demo of a new first person shooter called LiveFire which allowed the player to purchase an in-game rocket launcher. The feedback was swift with many readers being concerned about the potential abuse of such a system. Ngmoco responded that the given example was not necessarily reflective of what would be offered in the shipping product.
Ngmoco has just posted a new blog entry with an update to the progress they've made on their game as well as the issue of in-app commerce. The game is said to have progressed greatly since the early version. The game now contains multiple weapons, maps, an identity system, ranking and matchmaking, a "great new look and a whole lot more".
The game also contains a login system which provides each user with a unique identity:
Your in-game identity starts with your account name, and is further defined by your cumulative performance stats (kills, exp…) and Rank. Your stats and Rank, when compared with other players’ stats and rank, determine a relative skill level used by our matchmaker to ensure players are matched up with other players of similar skill whenever possible.
Each player has a visual representation of their stats in a "Combat Card" which provides a summary of their unique stats.
Each individual can also choose their own armor set which is reflected in the in-game avatar (representation of yourself). Certain colors may only be available for certain ranks giving others an easy way to identify skilled players. Beyond this, however, Ngmoco reports they are experimenting with purchasable armor that lets you customize your own appearance even further.
These purchasable armor let players choose an appearance that better suits the identity they want to project (a heavy armored dude, amphibious suit, stealth, etc). The armor sets have different silhouettes and material schemes than base armor. We’re working with some of the artists form the original Halo™ team and the results have been very encouraging.
Such purely cosmetic changes would of course, not change much in the way of game balance, but Ngmoco does say they are experimenting with other armor combinations that do affect in-game performance.
The company is cautious to say they may or may not ship with these possibilities, but are considering modifying additional factors in purchasable armor:
This feature is in the early stages of testing for balance and is something we may or may not ship with, but the design idea is to differentiate the armors sets by speed, protection, physics and other properties that align with the concept of a given armor. So a heavily armored combat suit would take more damage than base armor, but would also come with slower movement. The intent is to give each a bonus and a trade-off, rather than a complete upgrade, to keep things in balance with the base armor set.
More details about the game are said to be coming soon as well as a name change. LiveFire was said to have just been a "working title" and they are revisiting the name.