I was a tester/consultant for DESYNC after the creator Sean Gabriel, added me on steam out of the blue because he was a friend of a friend and curious what I’d think about his game. I went into the game not receiving any information on how to play it, attempting to figure it out purely for myself so I could give better feedback about how to inform players about how to play the game. I suggested a lot of changes over the course of development and a fair number made their way into the final product. I did not get to play a lot of later areas until extremely late into the project, meaning I never fought the second and third bosses until release, and never used a few late game weapons like the rail cannon, stake gun, and wavescythe until release. I’m very proud of my contribution to the product, although I did not serve as one of the primary developers and they are worthy of a lot of praise for their combined efforts.
– Add alt fire to Tristol with the function of regaining ammo
Tristol is the fallback weapon when people have no ammo, so I thought it only made sense for it to have a function that could get more ammo quickly. The alt fire function is a weaker shot that drops 2 ammo instead of 1 when overkilling an enemy, and it stuns enemies more easily than other weapons, setting it up for weapon sequences more easily.
– Reduce bullet spread of Tristol
It’s the fallback weapon and it originally had a very wide spread, so you could get screwed really hard by bullet spread in trying to fight back when you were down. I have a well known hatred of bullet spread while Sean insisted that it was necessary otherwise the weapon would be boring. I think for this weapon in particular it was important to remove bullet spread more than any other.
– Reduce bullet spread of Energy Caster
Similar problem with this Shock Rifle clone, made it hard to hit the alt fire orb to explode it. There is still some spread on this weapon, but significantly less than it originally had. The weapon also has the bullets home in on the alt fire orb to make hitting it more easy. I felt that by having bullet spread on so many weapons, it was causing everything to overlap with the shotgun’s role of big damage up close. I think there is more differentiation now.
– Significantly increase ammo gained from manually repairing a gun
There was always a disparity from auto-repair and manual repair, but I suggested it should be wider so it’s more noticeable and to further encourage manual repairing with a bigger reward. In the release version manual repair restores 50% of a gun’s ammo.
– Enemies in aberration levels always drop ammo
In earlier builds it was still randomized in aberration levels, which wasn’t a huge problem until the dual rocket launcher level was implemented. One room had you continually lose health while also needing to juggle enemies to deal any damage to them (and their corpses would explode), so you were spending a lot more ammo while constantly running out and it made this section a real nightmare. The game also had a lot more stability issues back then so my computer was constantly bluescreening on this part and it was a real nightmare to get through, but I ultimately did. This is also where I suggested the improvement to the repair ability, since it was literally impossible to beat this without repairing properly and even if you did you could get screwed out of ammo while landing every single shot on this build. I’m really proud that only Sean (the developer) and I were able to get through this version of the build, but it was obviously completely unacceptable for release.
– Facehugger spider enemies should have a jiggle bone and change color as they are closer to being shaken off
This one didn’t make it in until post-release. There was originally a tutorial explaining how to deal with them, but it also somehow didn’t make it into the release version due to changes in the level structures. I suggested this to make it more obvious what you need to do to get them off and it was forgotten until after release when I brought it up again.
– Clean up menu language.
The menus were surprisingly even harder to understand pre-release (but easier in some of the very early builds I played). I basically asked for language cleanup all around, pointed out points where it’s hard to understand what’s going on, and so on. Especially renaming the confusing “degrade” property for weapons (the analogy is that weapons aren’t reloaded, they’re repaired, and you’re improving the resistance against degrading, but nobody was seriously gonna get this unless they paid close attention, and even I didn’t understand it in the release copy of the game). This was added in patch 2.
– Change ground pound timing in the second phase of the second boss
First phase had a really easy to understand shockwave at the same time as the ground pound. Second phase had the shock wave move more slowly and at a different time after the animation, so it was much harder to understand when to jump. I suggested that it be changed to match the first phase since it was much more intuitive and just wasn’t working out, actively punishing some players’ first ideas for how to evade this attack most effectively, like jumping closer in from further out. I also suggested an improvement to jump height.
– Change animation and hitbox timing of first boss’s rush attack
First boss has an attack where he rushes at you and actually attacks when you’re in a certain range, similar to the hammer enemies. Unfortunately it was possible to dash backwards right before entering this range, causing him to move just a bit further and hit you in your dash’s recovery time. I suggested all manner of hard fixes to this to make the timing more consistent and predictable on when he’d attack. I honestly don’t know if they made it in and in playing the release copy of the game I got hit by this attack every single time.
– Improved jump height
I asked for this from the beginning and multiple times across development and it never made it in. It’s not the worst thing in the world for the style of game desync is, you almost never need to jump, but the jump still feels really wimpy.
– Improved dash speed/reduced cooldown between dashes
This wasn’t exactly straight-up implemented, instead a stamina system was implemented that let you dash quickly without cooldowns when it was full, and dash at the original rate when it was empty, making it beneficial to not dash all the time, instead saving it for when you really needed it.
– Invincibility to projectiles on dashes
Not implemented because it wasn’t desired that dashes would be able to iframe through all attacks, instead it’s just a mobility tool for getting around projectiles, which is sensible.
– Improved movement across tiny steep slopes
In early versions you got caught on small dents in surfaces very easily, and if you landed precisely on the edge of platforms, it was very easy to get stuck there until you jumped over this tiny insurmountable slope. In the 4th arena of the first level, Necropolis, if you walked down the slope at the entry point of the arena, you’d find it was actually impossible to walk back into that entry area unless you jumped over that seam between the top of the slope and the entryway, making it so if you backed up carelessly, it was like there was an invisible wall preventing you from backing up further (which the enemies ignored). Thankfully in the final version this is no longer the case.
– Improved animations all around
I care a lot about animation quality and felt like a lot of the swinging animations didn’t have the right Easing on them, making it difficult to intuitively feel when a swing was going to come out on enemies with reactable melee attack animations. Unfortunately they only had one artist who was doubling as an animator, and this never got implemented.
– Slowing down the attack animations for hammer enemies
This change was not implemented because the hammer enemies automatically attack when within a small radius of the player, making the attack predictable, even exploitable for an easy dodge into attack. I requested it early on and understood there was good reason for not implementing it.
– Adding a pre-attack animation where hammer enemies will raise their hammer when within a certain radius of the player
This change however was implemented and I believe helps the hammer enemies significantly in educating the player about their effective range.
– Make a special exception to the reload system for the rail cannon so it would either restore all ammo to the weapon, or it was incapable of reloading.
The rail cannon’s shots consume like 90% of the ammo for the weapon, so from a full stock, you get 2 shots. Repairing restores 50% of a weapon’s ammo. This meant that if you shoot once from 100%, taking you down to 10%, then repair, you’d have about 60% ammo, which is still only one more shot. If you hadn’t repaired, then auto repair would leave you with like 20-30% ammo, which is also one shot. By repairing your weapon, you were actually reducing the number of total shots you can fire. I didn’t get to play with this weapon until post-release, which is why this didn’t get implemented.
– Fix a bug in boss 2 where you could be hit on frame 1 of their close-up melee attack animations if you’re standing too close to them
This was known about before releaseand they released with it. I didn’t discover the bug I just noticed I was getting hit and didn’t know what was causing it. I basically yelled at the dev to fix it quick and he did. Haha. Wish I also could’ve gotten an animation fix on his janky charge rush attack that he does when you’re really far away, because I think that’s the hardest-to-understand-what’s-going-on animation in the game, but it was not meant to be.
– Change name of Mercy Attack Sequence
Name didn’t seem to follow for headshotting a stunned enemy. The thematic idea is that you’re putting them out of their misery, but that’s not very obvious, and it could frequently just trigger on overkill headshots, which would simultaneously stun and kill on a headshot, making it even less clear what the intention of the name is. None of the alternative names were as short and ultimately this didn’t get changed.
– Design of the Wavescythe weapon
Sean decided another weapon was necessary and asked me for ideas, I suggested a “get off me” type of thing with a wide arcing shot and we bounced ideas back and forth until the wavescythe made it into the game.
– Moving the stake gun into an earlier level
In the release version, the stake gun was handed out literally at the end of the level right before the final boss. The stake gun is only really useful on enemies that can be launched, which the final boss cannot, so you’ll only really get use out of it if you go back to an earlier level (since all the post-game levels are aberration levels where the weapons are pre-assigned). It ended up being moved to an earlier level of area 3. I said that it made more sense to get the rail gun moving into the final boss, since that weapon had no juggle abilities and was really effective against the final boss, it ended up being moved to level 1 of area 3. The intent was to grant a fun new goodie for making it to the final boss battle, but it just didn’t happen to work out.