Check out APB Reloaded's newest game mode - Fight Club - a proving ground where you can strut your stuff to show your dominance over the rest of the field.
Using alternate versions of Financial's under-construction "Beacon" skyscraper and Waterfront's Baylan Shipping yard, these maps introduce large team battles for maximum action! Play up to 12 v 12 in Beacon and up to 16 v 16 in Baylan.
Missions are Criminal vs Enforcer and are randomly selected between straight-up Deathmatch, 3-point Territory Control and 5-point Territory Control at the start of each round.
Fight Club is perfect for those looking for bigger and longer missions as well as a way to work through roles to unlock weapons and more!
Short on cash? Fight Club is your way to make money for that shiny new gun!
32-bit Windows? As Fight Club is more concentrated than the Financial and Waterfront districts, players with 32-bit windows should notice substantial memory usage improvements when playing.
Look out for Fight Club Challenges coming soon! Complete the challenges to get in-game rewards with something special for those who are really on top of their game!
The UI for some mission objective types have been updated so that they are represented with visual 'bars' to make it clearer who is winning a mission.
Some 'contestable' mission types (such as Capture/Hold and Territory Control) have been updated so that teams now accumulate 'points' while completing the objective. The team to reach the target number of points first, or the team with the most amount of points when the timer runs out, will win the mission.
Which leads us to...
Wish that the mission didn't end just as you were completing the objective? Did the other team snatch the item at the last second and walk away with a win when you led the whole mission? Overtime is here to end your mission with a bang!
Performing an action on a mission objective as the timer runs out will now enter the mission into overtime. Complete the objective and then your team will move on to the next mission stage with time added to the clock. Die tryin' and you lose anyway.
Capture/Hold and Territory Control missions will now enter overtime if the team behind on points controls the majority of the mission objevctives when the mission timer runs out. Overtime will continue until either the team that was losing overtakes the team that was winning or the team that was winning regain control of the majority of objectives.
The scoreboard has undergone a facelift in order to support Fight Club and the new mission points system. Other changes include:
The scoreboard is now 'ranked' with the MVP and top players at the top.
Other characters' symbols will now show up correctly when you click on them.
Separated Criminals and Enforcers in the character listing, in order to highlight the teams better.
Numerous tweaks to almost all cameras. These include:
The player camera has been moved in slightly (adjustable with the +/- keys) to give a more dynamic feel.
Camera motion on player movement has been lowered and smoothed.
Nearby explosions will have a greater impact on the camera.
Greatly improved the vehicle passenger camera.
Added four new achievements for contact progression
'New to the Force' - awarded to Enforcers for maxing out Ty Durrant and Eva Orlandez
'Original G' - awarded to Criminals for maxing out Veronika Lee and Terri Quan
'First Pick' - awarded to Enforcers for maxing out Violet Prentiss and Chung Hee
'New Blood' - awarded to Criminals for maxing out Strega Bloodrose and Britney Bloodrose
After spawning into a district or after a mission ends players will now automatically 'Ready Up' after a 30 second timer.
Players can manually cancel the auto-ready by pressing 'K' during the auto-ready timer countdown, which will the revert to the old Ready system.
Multiple tweaks to both Financial and Waterfront to fix various small issues.
Increased the stash amount with which a criminal is always witnessable to $1500
Fix for players not being able to damage/kill other players.
Fixed players not actually receiving the cash for abandoned witness missions.
Fixed handcuff icon shows on Enforcer characters if they have more than $1500+ open world cash
Fixed a couple of mails to remove duplicate question marks
Fixed a server crash that sometimes happened when in a vehicle at the beginning/end of missions
Posté par Revoemag
Samedi 29 octobre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.4 (145)
Game Update 1.5.4 (145)
Removed ‘Trick’ and ‘Treat’ Halloween Contacts from Financial. All Halloween reward items are still fully usable.
Fixes to the following missions to allow individual sides to drop off:
TOP COP CHOP-SHOP SHOCK
Players will no longer hear the death themes of players on their ignore list.
Witnessing Mission Changes:
Criminals with a stash over $500 are now witnessable at all times.
Reworded the HUD message to accommodate the above change.
The witness icon will show on Enforcers when they are carrying a criminal’s open world stash worth more than $500. This is just a display issue though, they will not actually be witness-able / This will be fixed next Patch
Players will no longer hear the death themes of players on their ignore list.
Adjusted task items that are dropped on ladders, fences and doors to properly ‘fall through’ them to a reachable location.
Picking up task items now takes precedence over other actions such as climbing ladders and fences, opening doors and interacting with contacts.
Fixed the ‘Do you want to equip this item now? prompt not working properly for secondary weapons.
Fixed an issue where players could not ‘sprint out’ when crouching and in marksmanship mode.
Posté par Revoemag
Vendredi 21 octobre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (141)
Notes de version 1.5.3 (141)
Two New Contacts, 'Trick' and 'Treat, have descended upon Havalynd for the Spookiest time of year. Find them in the Pagoda by the park in Financial to pledge.
A New Mission Type (Escort)
Once you've unlocked the Pumpkin Mask be sure to take part in the APB:Reloaded Pumpkin Customisation Contest! Click here to enter!
Threat & Rating Changes
IMPORTANT NOTE: YOUR THREAT MAY HAVE CHANGED WITH THIS PATCH. THIS WAS MOSTLY TO ADJUST FOR THE CHANGES BELOW!
The threat icon is now a combined threat & rank (formerly rating) icon.
The icon colour is now based on your threat level. It will switch between Gold, Silver, Bronze and very rarely Green depending on your threat level.
The icon image is now based your rank. As you gain standing, you rank up. Every 10 levels, you gain a new icon and a new title.
IMPORTANT NOTE!!! We have not yet launched on Steam. Until we do you will NOT be able to access APB with your Steam account. We'll announce when we're live on Steam and you can let the madness begin!!!
Added support for associating a G1 account with a Steam account.
If you have Steam running, you should be prompted to link your accounts.
You may choose to postpone the decision or never to link them.
While logged in to a linked Steam account APB will login automatically using Steam.
If you have Steam running, APB will will use the Steam browser for any web content.
Steam will also keep track of all your APB Reloaded achievements!
Single Sign On (SSO)
Added support for Single Sign On (SSO) in the Armas Marketplace.
APB will now log in to the Armas Marketplace automatically when you open it.
Posté par Vali
Samedi 1 octobre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (133)
Notes de 1.5.3 (133). Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Correction d'un crash client à haute fréquence.
Correction d'un certain nombre de domaines dans les deux districts où les joueurs pouvaient sortir des limites du terrain.
Mise à jour du texte dans certaines missions.
Correction du texte sur la réalisation pour le voleur de voiture.
Réduction des dommages du Lance-roquettes sur la santé des joueurs de 110% à 100%. Cela réduit de manière efficace son rayon contre les joueurs. Cela signifie également que le Gilet Kevlar peut absorber le choc. Nous avons augmenté le multiplicateur de dégâts pour l'endommagement des véhicules pour que cela reste identique.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Vali
Vendredi 30 septembre 2011
Do we need some sort of 'cheater amnesty' as we crack down on cheaters?
Wow - so yes - we have been tracking cheaters for quite some time, and with the launch of patch 130 we basically KILLED almost every cheater from all three major cheatmakers - in spite of their claims to the PB shield and other BS that they have been working on.
I clearly will not tell you HOW you were observed. Let's just say you were observed. And we can say with unequivocal certainty that the account you used has now or in the past been used for cheating. Sorry.
Some people posting in reply to the last post clearly stated things like 'I borrowed the account from a friend' or 'I got the account from a cheater friend.'
So - what do we do now? And what do the cheaters do now?
Sure - as a cheater you can go make a new account and RAGE CHEAT on the servers this weekend. Sure you can get some cheat-time in. But for what? Of course it just means you will be banned again, and with the next couple of builds we are ratcheting up the cheat hunting in such a manner that you cannot return. Ever.
Come Clean Instead!
Instead I have a MUCH better idea. If you feel remorseful. If you think you want to come back to the game. Then uninstall the cheat (or in some cases - because several of the cheats are root-kits that have actually BORKED your machine, you may have to re-install Windows), make a new account - and then play nice in the community for the next few weeks while we roll out the next several changes, and then pray we MAY let you continue on the new account before we launch the next anti-cheat patch. If someone TRULY comes back and plays clean - we may consider it. However, under no circumstances will you get back anything from the banned account. Don't even ask.
There are some interesting stats for the crew we banned (and to give you an indication how this was NOT a 'public' or 'easy' cheat ban). Nearly 50% were paid accounts (!). Some had 1500 HORUS of game play (that's 240 hours a month for the period one of the players played!). Some had spent a lot of money. And they STILL could not keep themselves from breaking the rules and destroying the game experience for those around them. It's all VERY SAD.
Based on the bans we can now even compute the revenues of the major cheat makers. We estimate that the three cheat makers make from $15,000 to $50,000 in revenue per month (depending on the cheat maker) from their cheats from the APB portion of cheats. So - for those of you out there will to pay a farg-ing $30 PER MONTH for a cheat - AND as much for items in APB - WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? AND - why on earth do you support the cheat makers to begin with. THEY are the ones that just cost you a boat-load of money, time and effort.
No cheat will go undetected forever. So I say it again - just don't do it!
Here are some interesting screenshots from the 'top-three' cheatmakers. Anyone feel pity?
You have ONE LAST CHANCE to stay with this game before we go live. Don't F-that last chance up.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 30 septembre 2011
Quick "version 130" update
Today we released patch 130 of the game. This intermediate patches fixes various minor items, but also further tightens security in the game. We expect 1000s of accounts will be banned as a result of this patch.
And again, surprisingly, why people PAY for game items and STILL cheat blows our minds. You will be caught (eventually), and what fun can that ever be?
Patch 130 resolves one of the 'rubberbanding' issues that was introduced in patch 123, though further testing is required for a permanent solution.
We are continuing to rapidly move toward the critical 1.5.4 version of the game, which introduces the first iteration of the new maps and game modes. Also 1.5.4 will also further tighten cheat resilience another notch.
Finally, the game will be in retail in North America in December. This means that the 'LIVE' version of the game will be scheduled to coincide with the retail release.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 30 septembre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (130)
Notes de version 1.5.3 (130).
Changement des références de support.apb.com pour gamersfirst.com/support.php
Mise à jour des Liens de Support des articles dans la base de données.
Address server lag issues
Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Vali
Vendredi 30 septembre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (128)
Notes de version 1.5.3 (125).
Fixing an issue where enforcers could not drop off the final item in 'Crying Over Spilt Magnesium' / 'There's no Eye in Team'
Moved a number of Item Drop Offs from Railway cars in Waterfront as players could not deliver large task items to them.
Adjusting the mods on the Charge Mikro 'NewCross'. It now has Nitro 3, Mobile Ammo Carrier, Chassis Strengthening 3 and Quick Repair 3.
Added Descriptions for various Armas Vehicles.
Fixing description for 'Friends in High Places'
Some environment tweaks to fix a few exploitable areas.
Fixed several exploit/outside of map issues in the Financial District.
Made some adjustments to improve server performance.
Pioneer Wheel/Audio Kit should now include Amps and Speakers. If you’ve already purchased this you will receive a mail with the full kit again later this week.
Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
En cours de traduction
Posté par Vali
Jeudi 22 septembre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (125)
Notes de version 1.5.3 (125).
Contre-mesures de protection générales.
Ajout d'un nouveau widget expliquant la recommandation de district.
Suppression de la capacité pour les Criminels d'acheter des gyrophares de police pour la Charge Cisco.
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Vali
Jeudi 15 septembre 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.3 (123)
Notes de Patch version 1.5.3 (123) Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Plusieurs améliorations à l'admission en tant que groupe lors de la sélection du quartier. Maintenant le système prend en compte la moyenne des niveaux du groupe lors du choix de l'instance sélectionnée.
Amélioration de l'Alliance d'équipe, y compris la fixation du scénario où les joueurs pouvaient voter «oui» en rejoignant l'équipe en cours alors que les autres joueurs sont déjà en mission.
Révision de la façon dont fonctionne 'l'assistance de tuer' afin de la rendre plus prévisible et qu'elle se comporte de la manière attendue.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Correction d'un bug sur les témoignages, où criminels ne pouvaient pas appeler de renforts si ils avaient acquis leur argent sale en faisant uniquement des vols de véhicules et des livraisons.
Cette mise à jour inclut des mesures supplémentaires contre les tricheurs, intentionnellement non incluses dans ces notes.
Correction de divers exploits d'environnement et des problèmes bizarres avec les éléments à récupérer et à protéger.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Réactivation de la mission 'Land Grab " après avoir corrigé les cibles et corrigé la mission en général.
Les éléments de mission ont maintenant un marqueur HUD violet*, pour les différencier des objectifs attaquer / protéger.
Changement de l'icône du marqueur HUD lorsque une valise est l'objet à ramasser dans une mission.
Mise à jour des icônes de marqueur HUD pour les véhicules de la mission afin d'aider à les différencier des autres objectifs.
Suppression du marqueur HUD «véhicule du joueur déployé » au bord de l'écran (encombrement inutile de l'interface utilisateur).
Suppression du marqueur HUD de boîte aux lettres dans les missions.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Correction d'un point d'affichage des graffitis dans le quartier social qui était uniquement utilisable par une faction (Entrée de Diamond Mall).
Désactivation des missions suivantes afin de les rééquilibrer et de les corriger:
WEEDKILLER / FREE HIGH!
PROTOTYPE ACOLYTE / SIM CARD CITY
MIDDLE MAN MAYHEM
THAT TICKING CAN'T BE GOOD
THE NANTEGO 520 STREET RACE / ROADSTER WRANGLE
PET TAKER CAPER
HANDLE WITH CARE
THESE ARE THE BREAK-INS / THAT'S MISS ANONYMOUS TO YOU
THE HEAVY PRICE OF FAME / AU FOR ACTION
VIOLENT AND DIRTY
THE INSIDE MAN
TONIGHT'S TOP STORY
SOME LIKE IT YACHT
PIECES OF SHIP
Véhicules et Vêtements
Ajout d'un nouveau kit pour la gamme Cisco et grande amélioration des deux existants avec de nouvelles pièces et de nouveaux looks pour anciennes les pièces. Ajout également de 5 nouvelles jantes dans la gamme Cisco en chrome, noir mat, argent et noir brillant.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Fixation du bout de la cigarette afin de permettre les changements de couleur et les projections.
Correction d'un bug de morphologie des femmes sur la chemise boutonnée aux manches longues.
Ajout des récompenses aléatoires suivantes pour les contacts:Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Ty Durrantp / Strega Bloodrose
Chung-hee / Terri Quan
Bague Dollar (Index Gauche)
Mirri Kent / Shift
Anneau de Petit Doigt (Gauche)
Bague Tête de Mort (Majeur Droit)
Sabbat / Chiro
Bague Bouclier Aigle (Gauche)
Petite Bague (Gauche)
Saul Linklater / Seung Bloodrose
Miguel Estebano / Harmon Benjamin
Chaîne à Maillons Plats
Hea Choi / Grayson Fell
Collier Dent de Requin
Chiza / Tyron Sennet
Collier Cœur en Diamants
Justin Teng / Arlon Benjamin
Percing Nombril Papillon
Percing Nombril en Diamant
Monture de Lunettes Oblong
Hi everyone! I cannot believe it's been more than four weeks since my last post!
A lot has happened in the past four weeks, so this post is going to be quite long (and hopefully filled with some great information). After the last entry, we left our offices and went on a pilgrimage to Cologne where the team participated in GDC Europe (we discussed APB in some of the seminars) and GamesCom (which is one of the largest consumer game shows in the world).
GamesCom was great, especially since it gave us a chance to meet players, many who offered us a lot of great feedback and good ideas for the development team to mull over (though it was also a little bit entertaining to watch some new APB players search for the XBox game-pad controllers), and it was also a chance for us to meet some of the more well-known APB players in person.
To make it even better, we gave away tens of thousands of codes to players who stopped by the booth, and a lot of other swag and items. It's always good when you get a chance to play Santa in the middle of summer.
Upcoming Development Roadmap
In August the development team focused on finishing up the first 1.5.3 version build (which we released today). Builds 1.5.3 through 1.5.7 represent the "Home Stretch" for the entire Open Beta process, and after 1.5.7 we anticipate considering making the fateful leap to the Live version of the game (wooo!).
Version 1.6 is scheduled as the first Live (non-Beta) release, but before we actually get to 1.6, we still have a lot of work to complete, so today I will cover the most drastic upcoming changes, discuss a lot of the overall issues in the game and what we are doing to address them, and finally next week I will share the 1.5.3 through 1.5.7 roadmap as a link at the top of this page so you can see some more details about the upcoming changes.
Issues spotted in Open Beta
The first 90+ days of Open Beta have been great in helping us identify how players actually interact with the game, where players (like yourself) go, what you do, what you are willing to pay for, what you like to spend time on, what customizations you like, what cars you drive, what players you group up with, how you make your clan, what you hate, what you like and what activities motivate someone to continue playing the game (and sending virtual love-letters to the staff), and what issues and problems drives someone to rage-quit (and makes them email us 15 tickets in a row that all start with FFFF---KKK). The amount of data collected in Open Beta has been staggering. Unfortunately we have to now prioritize and structure this insane amount of feedback into actionable things.
Issue (1): Lack of Player Control
One of the core issues the game suffers from is the lack of player control. Not 'control' in terms of changing your character or designing a clan (which obviously are great customization features in APBR), but simply the inability to pick the types of missions and gameplay you like to play when you want to play them.
Unlike traditional games, APB Reloaded uses the "Mission System" to assign you missions while you drive/walk/sprint around the city (of course only if you remember to 'press K' - which is another annoyance of those we observed from watching people play at GamesCom).
The main problem with this fundamental design is that you may not be in the mood for the next mission you will be assigned. Even if it's a good mission, you might not have the right crew, time etc. for that particular game type. But as soon as the mission is assigned - that's it - you are committed (or if you quit, you of course lose Threat Level and thus risking your "Motivation" - so the Threat Level system is ANOTHER problem altogether which I will address below).
How are we going to return player control to the game, while still letting people have a wide open 'Living City' experience?
The first answer we are pursuing is "Fight Club" / "Proving Grounds," now scheduled as our 1.5.4 release. These missions, which you will be able to trigger directly from the district select screen, are the first iteration of what will become a series of dedicated matches that teams and players can launch and get a pre-defined "tweak-able" experience. We will also be able to tune what is included in the pre-defined experience on a weekly or monthly basis until we have given it the right length/content/feel (and take player feedback on which encounters are the most engaging and fun).
The idea is to give you the chance to jump in to a violent 10 v 10 (or similar) death-match or territory capture in a very small isolated portion of a district (which - by the way - also solves some 32-bit and low spec machine issues by being much smaller than the standard districts) for intense short-burst action. Think of it as a PuG clan fight, but with open ended groups/teams on each side and without all the Clan Mechanics.
While this provides insta-match content for players to experience, it also helps us try out new map changes and game-types which if successful, will be added to the main game maps as well.
We will have a whole post about these insta-missions, and how it relates to other districts and features still under development. In the current schedule Fight Club / Proving Grounds are in version 1.5.4 and Clan Warfare is in version 1.5.7 (check back next week for the details of the roadmap). We are really excited about the possibilities of this system, and letting players use it to get to the 'meat' of various types of action in just one click (again - without removing the current open ended districts).
Issue (2): Cheaters - and the Perception of Cheaters
APB is a Server-Side game. This means that barring various programming snafu's, there really are very few things you can do in the game to actually cheat. Unlike peer-to-peer games or games that rely more on the client being authoritative, APB is impossible to cheat with things like 'one shot kills' or 'invincibility cheats' and similar cheats of those types. The server rules all. Therefore (again barring coding mistakes, which do happen on occasion) most of these types of cheats are useless against the game.
However - there ARE things that the game is vulnerable to - specifically two items; aimbots and wallhacks (opponent 'ESP tags') since those two types attack the local client and exploit locally hidden information (players behind walls etc.). There is nothing quite as frustrating as finding a good hiding spot, only to be 'magically' found by your opponent. We agree.
We have two ways of attacking this issue, one is to change actual game code that will make certain exploits much harder, and the other is to work with an enhanced cheat deterrent system. The pros and cons of PunkBuster (or according to the community - the Cons) are quite well known, even though just last week it banned 2,000 players in one swoop when it was able to suddenly detect the latest evasion attempt from a cheat maker. The issue with PB is that it remains one step behind the aimbot/wallhack makers. But there is a solution for this issue in the pipeline as well.
Cheat solutions in 1.5.3 through 1.5.7
Starting with 1.5.3 we are making various aspects of cheat coding much harder to perform and/or easier to detect. Because it's cheating we are talking about we cannot really disclose exactly what we are doing, but as of this patch key cheat functions are starting to break in really odd ways. There should be plenty of frustration in the cheat maker side over the next several builds, though 1.5.3 has only implemented a portion of these changes. The goal is to get to make cheating a non-issue by the time we go formally "Live" with the game. As you can imagine, that's a tall order, but based on recent progress (some not yet in the game), we are starting to feel better about the prospects of solving this issue.
In a later patch closer to Live we have a much more drastic change that will also be rolled out, in addition to the road we have started down in 1.5.3. The goal is to have the full suite of changes in place before we release 1.6.0.
So - What do you mean by the "Perception" of cheating ?
IF there are only TWO serious types of cheats that even work in the game, how about the 'perception' of cheating going on? Why is this perception rampant? (see Issue 3 for another critical problem - that also causes rage and/or cheat anger - so all these issues are tied together).
First Perception - Snapping
First - there is an oddity with the game itself. Snapping is part of the game (!). If you run in one direction, but are looking behind you, the moment you hit 'fire' your character on all opponent computers will appear to make an instant 180 and 'snap' in the opposite direction while firing the shot. Good players can make it appear they are 'multi-snapping' by being very exact. The effect is very easy to test with two computers opposed to each other.
The result is that in many matches you often perceive your opponent 'snapping' to you (almost magically), since you don't actually get a copy of the opponent's camera movement, only the end-shot (snap). That's not cheating. That's normal game play. When you face an extremely good player, it's very hard to NOT think they are cheating. Mostly because the visual appearance of the opponent (snapping around to different targets) makes it look like something is amiss (compared to playing MW2), but also because most of us think NOONE can possible beat us or have better map awareness :) . We know we are awesome :) (again - not saying that aimbotting and wallhacking cannot happen - just that often it also appears to be happening while it's really NOT taking place). Snapping CAN indicating cheating, but only when players target multiple targets that are large angles apart in a split second. Unfortunately the two types of snapping (legitimate and the real cheatin' kind) are hard to tell apart.
We will release some videos to show this in action as well.
Second Perception - Magic Bullets
Second - not all misses are noticed by opponents, often due to how bullet flight is handled. If you are being shot by an enemy all bullets that HIT your avatar will always be readily apparent. Bullets that MISS are still sent to your computer, but we often see test players in our focus tests that do not realize that a large number of bullets were fired in their direction during an intense firefight, and that many of them missed. This can lead to a perception that opponents magically HIT YOU with every shot they fire (and magically never missed!), though in reality your enemy is shooting more shots in your direction than you might realize.
Third Perception - Cheats that Aren't
Third - there are some supposed cheats (some that are even sold to people) - that in fact are not cheats at all. The best example is the 'no-spread' supposed cheat. If you use a 'no-spread' cheat and fire at a wall - you will THINK that bullets are hitting a wall and strike a tight area (or even easier - you can muck with local INI files and see visual changes in your client without having any effect on the server or opponent games). That's because it's a client side change. But, in spite of what you might see on a wall, shooting another player is handled entirely on the server. Turning on a 'no-spread cheat' might make you FEEL you are aiming better (and maybe you DO aim better because you 'feel' better) - but you are actually just as spread-y against opponent players as you were before the 'cheat' from the point of view of the server and the opponent player. Ie the cheat has no effect other than on your computer.
Are there any cheats right now ?
Yep. No bones about it - that some people are using wallhacks and aimbots (or after the current update, are certainly trying to use them with the 1.5.3 build), and there clearly is a delay before they get banned. Therefore we are very interested in seeing the changing pattern during this patch version (1.5.3) and then followed by the upcoming 1.5.4 through 1.5.7 series of builds. What will players do? What will the cheatmakers do? We will all find out!
Other possible solutions - player kicks ?
We often get the request to implement cheat-vote-kicking. A small sidenote, when Zak/Qwentle jumped in to Combat Arms for some quick analysis on how they handle something he was trying to work on, he was quickly vote-kicked by the Combat Arms players for being a 'cheater' (something you can do in CA). He clearly was NOT cheating, but he was simply just very good at playing the game, even though he had a brand new character. So player-banning also have problems.
So - what are we going to do ?
In 1.5.3 we have done some interesting stuff. In x.x.4, 5, 6 and 7 we are doing additional interesting things. Depending on how they work out, we will start disclosing exactly what has changed. Let's first see how people react to them...
Third issue: Wrong Motivation Goal - and Driving People Nuts (aka the evils of Threat Levels)
So - not only do you have a lack of player control (ie you get handed a random mission, and if you quit it you lose Threat Level) you also start thinking (incorrectly) that Threat Level is actually something you really want to care about as a progression metric and a community status symbol. It was never intended to be either.
We really apologize for not addressing this earlier... Threat Level (or ELO rankings or Glicko Rankings) should actually never be a driving factor for your enjoyment of the game, but partly because of how they are presented, it's become the ultimate status symbol.
To use a golf analogy, if I had to continually show my golf handicap (which is not great) and every day I played I was constantly shown Tiger Woods' handicap (which, even in his current slump is probably a sub-zero handicap), I would simply not feel all that great about myself. Or having my high-school football team compared to a professional football team every day (American football or European football - same issue :) )
In games like Golf (or Tennis, or Football) we get around this comparison problem by simply 'grouping' ourselves in logical cagegories, divisions and leagues. NFL teams (or Premiership / Bundesliga teams for the football games where you actually use your FOOT) are never ranked against or compared with high-school or low category club teams. And that's for a good reason. It doesn't make sense.
We are working on a drastically different way of representing Threat Level and progression in the game. Some aspects will be the same (a cool symbol), but what the symbol means will be radically different (and potentially more informative).
Here is our latest idea of how we will do this. You will be assigned a skill rating and a progression. The skill rating (based on the underlying system we have today) will give you one of four colors; Green, Bronze, Silver and Gold. Players will be assigned one of those four colors based on skill rank.
The actual symbol will be one of 20 different symbols (initially) representing the progression you have made in the game; 0-9, 10-19, 20-29 etc. So you will get a different progression symbol every 10 levels from 1 through 195 (until we expand the 195 to permit higher levels as well).
In all matchmaking locations where today you see the Threat Level symbol, you will instead see the new combined Skill / Progression symbol giving opponents information both about your general threat, as well as your progression through the game.
This way you actually get better information about the gear and content that a player is likely to have equipped. Especially for Gold players there is significant difference between a Gold who is progression 25 and one who is progression 125,since the higher progression player has a lot more versatility in equipping the right gear for the right encounter. With the current TL system, this critical information is never communicated.
Will you EVER get to see the 'real' underlying detailed skill information? Potentially yes - in particular in our upcoming Clan Warfare system you are likely going to have the ability to 'see' your mates detailed data (partly so you can build the most competitive clan fighting team to defend your clan ladder rankings). There is becomes important info (and not unlike how WoW deals with the ELO levels, and the same reason you can only see your own team's detailed rankings, but not your opponents).
New contacts coming soon
Now in order to expand the game for those player who are already high level, we are also working hard at adding new levels of progression above the current contacts. Those who have completed both organisations for their faction will be given the chance to work with several specialists which we are adding in the next several versions of the game leading up to the Live Launch.
In addition to expanding the Progression range above 195, new rewards for working with these contacts will also include High level Vehicles, Symbols and the first parts of Tactical Gear / SWAT Gear (Helmets, Pads, Loadouts, Webbing Armor etc).
More importantly, they’ll also unlock a plethora of new Modifications that are not yet in the game, giving players new options and choices to make when deciding on the best mods for Weapons, Vehicles and their Character.
Back to the Grind-Stone...
These are the three areas where we are really putting a lot of focus as we race toward the first 'Live' finished game. As we roll these features out, we hope to continue getting your feedback (though, you may want to wait with final feedback until the features are live :) ), and then get to a successful 1.6 Live Launch.
Next week I will post the updated Roadmap at the top of this page, so, check back then for more details about the upcoming changes, as well as the design details of Proving Grounds.
Until next week,
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 11 août 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.2 (117)
Notes de Patch version 1.5.2 (117).
Mise à jour du "launcher" APB afin d'avoir un affichage correct.
Corrections de mission pour sortir des missions (principalement dans l'interface utilisateur).
La Liste des Mondes devrait maintenant afficher les mondes Premium uniquement en bas.
Élargissement de la Liste des Mondes afin d'afficher jusqu'à six mondes avant de devoir la faire défiler.
Corrections du becquet des deux Vegas prédéfinies. Cela devrait faire ressembler la "FU Fighter" et la "Thornicator" à leurs photos affichées.
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Vali
Mardi 9 août 2011
Lag Serveurs = résolu // Niveaux de Menace – Changement Evaluations // Support NVidia SLI // Améliorations avec le patch 116.
Beaucoup de correctifs, de nombreuses optimisations et des améliorations ont été travaillés en parallèle pendant un certain temps, ce post vous donnera donc un aperçu de tous ces changements.
Latence Côté Serveurs Résolue
Premièrement - Depuis cette semaine nous avons officiellement trié toutes les causes qui entrainaient les latences de certains serveurs à différentes et étranges intervalles (5, 10 et 20 min en général). Sans entrer dans les détails extrêmement technique, il s'est avéré que la méthode utilisée, pour invoquer les diverses bibliothèques externes, pouvait dans certaines conditions causer la surcharge du réseau par le serveur lui-même. Ce problème a été résolu dans les 10 derniers jours, et est combiné avec le nouvel équipement de réseau « Internap » qui optimise le choix du tracé à partir des joueurs individuels, la plupart des conditions de latences côté serveurs sont maintenant complètement éliminées.
L'optimisation des taux de tranferts réseau est assez sympathique, comme nous avons pu l'observer en temps réel, certains joueurs reliant l'Australie à Francfort (peut-être pas la meilleure idée pour se connecter d'aussi loin) ont pu voir leur "ping" baisser de 1500ms à 500ms. Bien sûr pour les 500ms restants, nous ne pouvons faire rien (étant donné la distance physique), mais l'amélioration de 1000ms est déjà très significative.
Êtes-vous certains de voir vos amis ou ennemis toujours à retardement dans le jeu ? Sûrement - sous trois conditions;
(1) votre réseau domestique tourne en surcharge (téléchargements en cours).Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
(2) Votre fournisseur d'accès Internet est devenu dingue et rate ses routes de transfert.
(3) votre ordinateur familial n'a pas les spécifications requises et vous finissez tout le temps à la traîne (but that's of course client side lag which is a whole different beast).
Prise en Charge du Mode SLI NVidia dans les nouveaux pilotes WHQL 280.26
Cette semaine, NVidia nous a informé que APB est désormais inclus dans les nouveaux pilotes WHQL. Les profils SLI ne sont pas répertoriés dans les notes de version, mais, si vous installez ces pilotes et de tentez de lancer le jeu en utilisant la configuration SLI NVidia, vous verrez que le jeu fonctionne FINALEMENT comme prévu. Ci dessous le lien pour les pilotes.
(De plus - Les jeux listés dans leurs notes sont pour la prise en charge du mode 3D Vision de NVIDIA, une chose que nous n'avons pas encore ajouté, mais elle est aussi sur notre liste d'optimisations à venir prochainement).
Révisions des Niveaux de Menace
Il ya quelques semaines nous avons édité un code qui a modifié le matchmaking, mais en faisant cela, le code a aussi (en fait, à ma demande) inclus une nouvelle valeur de modificateur 'd'incertitude' qui a essentiellement créé des matchs avec des nouveaux joueurs légèrement plus 'incertain' (et pour plus d'informations sur les changements du matchmaking vous pouvez regarder les posts précédents).
En raison d'un intéressant comportement mathématique - le système d'évaluation a correctement évalué les joueurs (donc chacun sur une base relative a l'évaluation appropriée). Voici un histogramme d'un ensemble de 15 000 évaluations d'un monde en un jour dans le jeu en utilisant les données d'évaluation BRUTES (sous-jacentes).
Gardez à l'esprit que ces données n'égalent pas les niveaux de menace en jeu (ce que vous pouvez lire à partir du schéma ci-dessus, les cotes sont de négative à positive et les niveaux de notation ne sont pas alignés avec les valeurs NM (TL). Cependant pour ceux qui aiment les mathématiques, les notes FORMENT une agréable une courbe en cloche , qui EST en fait le résultat attendu de notre système de notation.
Donc si les évaluations BRUTES semblent former une belle et agréable courbe, que diable s'est-il donc passé en 'traduisant' les évaluations aux Niveaux de Menace dans le jeu ?
En bref - l'emplacement du milieu de la courbe en cloche n'est pas là où nous avions prévu qu'il soit lorsque nous avons mis en œuvre les formules. En fait - dans les données réelles au centre de la courbe en cloche apparaît autour de la valeur "5.5" et non pas à la valeur attendue (qui était prévu pour être beaucoup plus haute sur l'échelle de valeurs). Il ya beaucoup de raisons mathématiques pour avoir un résultat de ce "monde réel" (après tout - nous utilisons la bêta pour comprendre), quelques-unes des raisons étaient concernées par les formules et les paramètres utilisés, et certains ont eu pour résultat le système de mission APB et la façon dont les joueurs du groupe ont des évaluations différentes pour les missions.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Donc qu'est-il arrivé dans la version actuelle du jeu ? Et bien - nous avons accidentellement arrêté CETTE version bizarre aux niveaux de menace que les joueurs ont vus dans le jeu :
Ce qui est en réalité arrivé c'est que la version de données d'évaluation BRUTES aux informations de jeu visuelles (des niveaux de menace) a poussé 35 % des joueurs au Niveau de Menace 1 (c'est-à-dire Bronze 1). En fait un total de 50 % de TOUS les joueurs ont été évalués Bronze 1, 2, 3 (!). Cela signifie qu'il y a une ÉNORME différence dans les compétences entre les joueurs au sein de ces trois niveaux d'évaluation - et ensuite tous les autres ont été répartis sur le reste du spectre. Ou une autre façon de penser - la différence dans les compétences entre le joueur Bronze 1 (le plus bas joueur) et le Bronze 3 était aussi grande que la différence dans les compétence entre un joueur Bronze 4 et un joueur Or 10 (!).
Il est clair que ce n'était PAS le résultat attendu des joueurs dans ces niveaux de menace, et les valeurs TL sont devenues assez inutile pour évaluer les compétences globales entre les joueurs.
Malgré la susdite question de la version, bien que les DONNÉES BRUTES sous-jacentes soient correctes, la traduction visuelle dans le jeu réel n'a certainement pas fonctionné comme prévu, et a conduit à beaucoup de préoccupations et les plaintes des joueurs.
En conséquence - avec le patch 116, nous avons ré-écrit toutes les DONNÉES BRUTES, en nouvelles valeurs de Niveau de Menace. Lorsque le patch 116 sera effectif, alors la distribution du Niveau de Menace réelle ressemblera à ceci:
L'idée avec cette distribution est que 30% des joueurs seront en Bronze (1-10 dans le susdit diagramme), 60% seront Argent (11-20 ci-dessus) et 10% seront Or (21-30). Dans ce système d'évaluation seulement 0.2 % des joueurs seront Or 10.
La grande majorité des joueurs vont se retrouver dans la gamme Bronze 6 au 8 Argent (80% des joueurs), ensuite les joueurs au dessus (Argent 9 et plus) ou en dessous (Bronze 5 et moins) seront assez plus rares (environ 10% au-dessus et au-dessous de la valeur moyenne fixée).
Argent 5 sera la note la plus courante, avec 9% des joueurs ayant un rang Argent 5.
Aussi ce soir, lorsque vous vous reconnectez au jeu - ne soyez pas surpris sur le fait que votre niveau ai changé. En fait - il peut avoir sauté d'un Bronze 1 pour un Argent 2 (si vous étiez au maximum de la gamme Bronze 1).
Donc la nouvelle version de menace devrait vous donner une information beaucoup plus utile sur les matchs que vous avez avec les joueurs adverses.
Y aura-t-il d'autres versions liées au NM à l'avenir? Probablement - mais le plan à l'avenir sera de rééquilibrer l'affichage des NM au moins mensuellement.
(NM - Niveau de Menace / TL - Threat Level)
Lancement du serveur Premium à Hong Kong, et prochainement pour la Russie et la CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States).
Si cette expérience fonctionne, nous allons également envisager d'ajouter un serveur Premium en Australie, ainsi qu'en Nouvelle-Zélande, étant donné la quantité énorme d'intérêts que semble nous porter les Australiens et les Néo-Zélandais, où le coût du service Internet est également astronomique.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Nous avons fait des progrès sur le lancement du jeu en Russie et en CIS comme propre territoire distinct, et je mettrais à jour le blog lorsque nous aurons plus de détails sur ce lancement. Quand cela sera effectif, nous serons également en mesure de réactiver l'utilisation des caractères cyrilliques dans le chat, les pseudos, etc. ... pour les mondes Russe et CIS, ensuite nous migrerons tous les personnages russes à ce monde.
Allez-vous à la GamesCom ou à la Conférence Européenne de Développeurs de Jeu (GDC Europe) ?
Nous avons un contingent à la GamesCom et la GDC Europe. Si vous y allez en tant que joueur (GamesCom) ou en tant que personne de l'industrie (GDC), n'hésitez surtout pas à venir nous voir.
Nous avons une présence assez faible à la GamesCom (surtout pour 'fun'), mais nous distribuerons quelques codes gratuits et quelques autres articles promotionnels, alors arrêtez-vous au stand APB, si vous prévoyez d'être à la conférence. Vous pourrez également rencontrer certains Devs, Artistes et Designers qui seront présent à cette cession de la GamesCom.
Patch 116: Diverses Corrections et Reduction de la "Fenêtre Contextuelle"
S'il vous plaît, allez voir les notes de patch (116) sur les forums, mais l'un des plus grands changements a consisté à réduire le facteur de désagrément de la fenêtre du menu contextuel, que nous avions ajouté plus tôt pour indiquer la différence claire entre des joueurs premium et non-premium. Nous sommes partis un peu fort (oui je sais - peut-être même TRÈS forts) avec la version précédente de la fenêtre avec l'énorme quantité de notifications. Dans le patch 116 nous nous sommes calmés et avons réduit la nature "spammée" des notifications à un niveau beaucoup plus raisonnable.
La nouvelle version de la fenêtre n'apparaît pas dans le Didacticiel, et n'apparaît pas lorsque vous êtes "primé" (Heat 5), il apparaît UNIQUEMENT après 50% des missions effectuées pendant le jeu normal. Bien sûr, avoir un compte premium supprime complètement le menu contextuel (youpi!), tout comme la télévision par câble "premium" n'a pas les publicités.
Cependant - pour toutes les personnes qui ont exprimé leur préoccupation à propos de cette "popup", il est à noter que les conversions en Premium ont bondi de près de 40% par rapport à l'ancien taux de conversion, quand nous avons ajouté cette notification (potentiellement les gens ne réalisent pas ce qu'elles étaient manquantes:)), Nous allons donc continuer à utiliser le menu contextuel (quoique sous une forme beaucoup plus douce). Ce qui augmente après tout notre capacité à lancer plus de choses, tout en étant en mesure d'augmenter notre personnel pour travailler sur toutes les questions en suspens dans le jeu. Après que la popup ai été ajoutée, environ 33% de l'ensemble du CCU sont maintenant des joueurs Premium sur n'importe quel serveur, et le nombre va croissant.
Deuxièmement - Nous continuons à travailler très dur sur les optimisations et corrections d'exploits ainsi que sur la prochaine série de modifications de fonctionnalités. Nous faisons maintenant un travail vraiment intéressant, nous avons fait quelques progrès considérables et à un certain moment nous prévoyons de publier simultanément un grand nombre de changements, ce qui prendra probablement la tangente de nombreux exploits actuels et futurs. Je ne partagerai pas plus avant que tout soit prêt à sortir (étant donné la quantité énorme des choses en cause), mais dès que nous serons prêts, nous partagerons beaucoup plus de données.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Enfin les nouvelles fonctionnalités (ClanWarfare, Racing et Asylum) sont toutes en progression, quoique avec l'équipe relativement faible cela prenne un peu de temps. Une fois que ces fonctionnalités seront proches de la sortie, nous partagerons ça ici et puis on commencera à préparer la version finale (non bêta) de l'ensemble du jeu APB Reloaded.
Restez à l'écoute - et rendez-vous à la GDC et / ou au GamesCom au cas où vous passeriez par là!
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 9 août 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.2 (116)
Notes de Patch version 1.5.2 (116).
Basé sur les retours des joueurs, nous avons apporté les changements suivants au menu contextuel premium. Nous allons continuer à surveiller la situation et apporter les ajustements nécessaires.
Le menu contextuel premium apparaîtra maintenant seulement après chaque autre mission.
Le menu contextuel premium ne s'affiche plus si vous êtes "Heat 5".
Le menu contextuel premium n'apparaîtra plus dans le Quartier Tutoriel.
Le menu contextuel premium n'enlèvera plus l'écran gris après votre mort.
La "Thornicator" et “FU Fighter” ont maintenant les pots d'échappement correct.
Mise à jour des valeurs de conversion des niveaux de menace afin de mieux refléter la menace du joueur.
Ajout de fonctionnalités pour les mondes premium seulement. Ceci en préparation pour le lancement imminent de notre centre de données de Hong-Kong.
La "Thornicator" et la “FU Fighter” ont un becquet incorrect. Ceci sera corrigé dans une prochaine mise à jour.
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Vali
Vendredi 29 juillet 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.2 (110)
Notes de Patch version 1.5.2 (110) Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Correction d'un objectif de bombe qui était au milieu de la route dans le District Financial
Mise à jour de "There's no EYE in team" basé sur le rapport de bugs dans le Forum.
Correction d'un problème avec "Get Look" où la dernière étape n'était pas présentée.
Correction pour la mission "Cocktail d'ananas". Suppression de la condition de remporter l'avant-dernière étape. Ajout de texte à la scène finale.
Ajout d'opposition sur plusieurs fins de missions.
Corrections et améliorations pour les missions suivantes:Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
‘Dirt on the Department’
‘Fire and Brimstone’
‘Bugs and Drugs’
‘Game Copy Crackdown’
‘Divide and Conquer’
‘Bride and Boom’
Correction d'un bug avec le Stabba - PIG "Susanowo". Il dispose maintenant de 3 charges dans son magasin.
Mises à jour pour Obeya CR-762
Augmentation de la précision standard, Diminution du modificateur d'adresse au tir, Augmentation du modificateur de course (quoique ceci soit compensé par l'augmentation de la précision).
En général cela rend l'arme de base un peu plus précise, mais a moins d'effet sur "Myope".
Réduction des dégats des grenades à percussion (Augmentation des dégats de blindage pour compenser). Elles font maintenant moins de dégâts aux joueurs (plus de 1-shot), mais font un peu plus de dégâts aux véhicules.
Augmentation des modificateurs de sprint pour la précision des armes à tous les niveaux. PMG: Réduction des dommages (Tue toujours en 5 tirs, mais signifie simplement qu'il faudra 6 tirs pour tuer plus rapidement après que son premier tir efficace est donné). Capacité chargeur abaissé à 18. Réduction légère de la précision et de la régénération de la précision. NFA-9: Dommages réduits (15 coups au lieu de 11) Augmentation du taux de tir de façon significative (un peu plus long pour tuer qu'auparavant, mais une précision accrue de l'arme), augmentation du recul horizontal, réduction de la taille du chargeur à 20. Ajustement du recul afin que ce soit désormais à droite comme à gauche. Réduction du temps de rechargement. SAS-PDW: Nouveau recul, il a maintenant peu de recul horizontalement mais beaucoup verticalement.
Remplacement des améliorations sur l' Espacio 'Shift' et la Vaquero 'BobCat', l' Espacio a maintenant Réparation Rapide, et la Vaquero a Blindage Moteur. Mikro / Vaquero: Réduction plus nette de la vitesse dans les missions avec les fonctions Objets/VIP. Mhuller M1: Réduction plus nette de la vitesse dans les missions avec les fonctions Objets/VIP.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net Général
Apporte un changement qui peut amortir les effets de la latence (lags) du serveur apparente.
Valeurs du "matchmaking tordu" revues en réponses aux retours des joueurs.
Correction des secteurs dans les District Financial et Waterfront où les joueurs pouvaient sortir de la carte, en raison de la hauteur de saut accrue.
Correction de la machine d'apparition de véhicule au Nord du District Financial.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Changement du terme "Meta-Team" en "Alliance-Team" pour mieux représenter ce que la fonction affecte
Redimentionnement des colonnes du tableau de score pour les "Kills", "Aides", "morts" et les "arrestations". Classe aussi les détails du joueur.
Nouveau menu contextuel supplémentaire détaillant les avantages du mode Premium.
La fenêtre de chat affiche maintenant les informations de bonus d'argent et la réputation auprès du contact.
Remplacement des noms des objets suivants
'Bandit Mask' devient 'Domino Mask’ (pas concerné en VF)
'Vest Bodywarmer' à 'Bodywarmer' (pas concerné en VF)
'Boots High Top' à 'High-Top Boots' (pas concerné en VF)
'Gask Mask SnoutFilter' à 'Gas Mask (Snout Filter)’ (pas concerné en VF)
Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net Correction de bugs
Résolution d'un problème où l'icône de menace disparaît si une évaluation de compétence de joueur va au-dessus d'un certain niveau.
Résolution d'un problème où le joueur ne pouvait pas sprinter pendadnt le temps de rechargement.
Résolution d'un problème où il était possible de "Moonwalk" en tirant avec une arme vide en sprintant en arrière.
Mise à jour des différentes icônes des objets à déverrouiller.
Correction de fautes de frappe.
Ajustement des modificateurs de sprint à tout niveau pour atténuer les problèmes potentiels avec les précédents changements "Action / Animation"
Traduit par Zazoou
Posté par Neume
Jeudi 21 juillet 2011
Open Beta 2 (version 1.5.2) maintenant en ligne (ainsi que le support de la technologie SLI de Nvidia dans très peu de temps)
Donc - après quelques délais supplémentaires par rapport à la date initiale (Rappel : nous avions établit la date du 30 Juin), la version 2 de l'Open Beta d'APB Reloaded a été lancée ce matin.
Le patch initial avait quelques problèmes de stabilité à pleine puissance, ce qui veut dire que nous devions rapidement le re-patcher, donc notre équipe est en train de travailler en contre la montre sur un autre patch dans le but de résoudre le problème de déconnections qui demeure encore, dans les prochaines 24 à 48 heures surement.
L'Open Beta 2 (alias v1.5.2) contient les plus gros changements de mission, matchmaking, skill rating et auto-attribution de quartier à l'heure actuelle, et il est très difficile de simuler certains effets sur les serveurs de test. Donc durant les prochaines semaines, nous surveillerons de très près toutes les données issues de ces changements, tout le monde devra alors s'attendre à voir défiler fréquemment des patchs dans les semaines à venir.
En d'autre terme - OUI - entre maintenant et vendredi prochain soyez prêt à voir des message d'alerte "Déconnexion de l'instance dans 15 minutes" qui fermeront les serveurs le temps d'un court patch. Si cela ce produit, s'il vous plait, attendez, puis retournez sur le jeu pour nous permettre de tester ces patchs.
Support du SLI NVidia implémenté dans le prochain pilote Nvidia
Nous venons de recevoir une notification de la part de Nvidia indiquant qu'ils allaient finalement inclure un Profil dédié à APB Reloaded dans le prochain Pilote Beta 280 qui activera le support SLI. Le driver actuel (275) à été publié le 22 Juin, nous pensons que la version 280 fera son apparition dans les deux semaines. Une fois ce nouveau pilote en ligne, nous recommanderons grandement aux possesseurs de carte Nvidia de les essayer (et d'en dire des nouvelles). Cette mise à jour du pilote devrait résoudre les gros problème lié au SLI dans APB Reloaded. La prochaine fois, nous ferons en sorte qu'AMD fasse de même pour le CrossFire, pour ensuite nous concentrer sur les problèmes de pilotes audio.
Une fois que ces problèmes matériels seront résolus, nous déciderons si nous allons créer l'Open Beta 3 (alias v1.5.3) qui incorporera les futures principales mises à jour et optimisations, pour ensuite se diriger vers une version finale/release (v1.6.0). Plus d'informations viendrons après que nous ayons patché et mis à jour la version 1.5.2 et que tout soit stable. Viendra aussi une longue discussion au sujet de l'amélioration du support des OS 32 bits (qui affecte tout de même 24% de la totalité de nos joueurs).
Matchmaking et changements liés au Niveau de Menace
Le principal résultat aperçu ce matin est que les joueurs ont de meilleurs matchs, mais sous certaines circonstances, nous avons remarqué une large réduction des niveaux de menaces par rapport à avant, même en cas de victoire. Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Nous allons analyser ces données aujourd'hui et demain car il semblerait qu'il pourrait y avoir un bug dans le système de menace. Toute fois (et c'est important), les changement que nous avons effectués peuvent aussi vous faire parvenir à un nouveau niveau de menace dans ce nouveau système, même après avoir gagné cela peut conduire à perdre un niveau. Il est possible que le système fonctionne correctement et soit seulement en train de re-calibrer votre niveau, mais nous allons encore une fois de plus vérifier les données.
A cause de ces changements, tout le monde devrait démarré brutalement en tant que Silver 2, et ensuite, monter ou descendre en fonction de l'issue des matchs. Maintenant au lieu que tout le monde démarre en tant que Bronze 1, puis augmente, (il est techniquement possible de baisser même en Bronze 1 mais resterait Bronze 1). Ce changement seul peut essentiellement laisser penser une baisse globale de 12 niveaux sur votre niveau de menace (une chose qui, bien sur, ne se produit pas vraiment sous la surface, mais qui est beaucoup plus sophistiquée que ça).
Pour faire simple, le système de menace est basé sur 2 paramètres, (1) vos compétences attendues et (2) l'incertitude au sujet de vos compétences. Si le système est très incertain à propos de votre niveau de compétences, il utilisera la valeur la plus basse pour déterminer votre nouveau rang. Tout ça pour dire que si vous battez quelqu'un ayant un rang vraiment différent de vous ou qui a un rang très INCERTAIN, même si vous gagnez, il est possible que le système détermine qu'il soit encore plus incertain de niveau de menace réel. Si cela se produit, le rang risque (paradoxalement) de baisser, mais en réalité votre niveau de skill reste statique, mais l'incertitude sur vos capacités force la diminution de votre niveau de menace. Si vous continuez à jouer, votre niveau se stabilisera à sa juste et nouvelle valeur.
Cet effet s'explique par le fait que dans ce patch 1.5.2 les nouveaux joueurs ont une incertitude plus GRANDE quant à leurs compétences, par rapport au système original (ce qui les fait demarrer au niveau Silver 2 et non Bronze 1), et comme ces nouveaux joueurs jouent avec d'autre vrais joueurs, ces incertitudes sont répandues à travers les autres joueurs (bien sur, le calcul derrière tous ça est un peu plus compliqué). Mais cela signifie aussi que par delà le temps, le système se stabilisera. Toutefois, cela POURRAIT SIGNIFIER que si vous étiez rang Silver 6, votre future rang pourrait être Bronze 9 (ou tout autre faible niveau).
Au final, comme vous allez être mis dans des districts avec des rangs similaires, ce changement ne devrais PAS avoir un impact trop important sur vos performances.
Nous continuons à vérifier les données et nous déterminerons si, en plus du re-calibrage, il pourrait y avoir d'autres problèmes qui doivent être résolus. Si nous en trouvons, alors nous appliquerons un nouveau patch, modifiant ainsi les niveaux de menace actuels. Plus d'informations à venir dans quelques jours.
Statistiques sur les Cheats
Donc nous allons poster un mur de la honte, sur le blog (il y a déjà un aperçu de cette liste sur les forums), mais cela conduit à des difficultés techniques avec l'énorme volume de comptes (et les bloggeurs qui n'ont pas une bonne méthode pour inscrire plus de 6000 entrées) donc nous sommes toujours en train de travailler sur une méthode permettant de lier ça au blog. Dans ce, et futures, patch(s) il y aura également de nouvelles méthodes pour détecter les cheaters, nous allons faire monter doucement (mais surement) la pression sur ces cheaters en nous rapprochant de la release.
Contrairement à ce que les gens pensent, le pourcentage de cheat est vraiment mince (statistiquement parlant) et nous avons trouvé, banni ou suspecté environ 1.3% de la base de donnée entière des joueurs (d'un autre point de vue, 98.7% des joueurs ne trichent pas). Et oui, Punkbuster est peut être, de temps en temps, lent à les attraper, spécialement les jours qui suivent la mise à jour de leurs cheats payants, mais ils finissent par être repérés. Nous avons des groupes de joueurs que nous suspectons de cheater qui ne sont pas encore bannis à cause de certains abus techniques (les "Je crash mon ordi au lieu d'être détecté" et vous vous reconnaitrez), mais je m'excuse pour ces trous du cul qui dépensent autant d'argent dans des cheats pour un jeu gratuit, surtout après que nous ayons mis en place le "Mur de la Honte"...
Bien sûr, même si il y a un faible pourcentage de cheaters, ce sont, ironiquement, des joueurs fréquents, ce qui veut dire qu'ils se montrent parfois plus présents que les non-cheaters. Le résultat est qu'habituellement, un cheater est capable de jouer une serie de match avant qu'on l'attrape (notre système de "Name and Shame" possède également ces informations). De plus, il y a une large différence dans le pourcentage de cheat en fonction des régions. Par exemple, un joueur Russe a 2 fois plus tendance à tricher qu'un joueur Américain. Aussi, ceux qui payent ont largement moins tendance à tricher (même si certains le font, ce qui perturbe un peu les esprits).
Encore une fois, ne le faites pas, vous risqueriez d'être banni à vie de tous nos actuels et futurs jeux, même si ce cheat est passé (et que nous vous avons pas encore banni). Cela n'en vaut probablement pas la peine, surtout que sur APB, tricher vous amènera à combattre des personnes plus fortes que vous ne l'êtes, le résultat est que pour maintenir votre rang, vous serez forcés d'utiliser des cheats (c'est un cercle vicieux). Si vous arrêtez de tricher, vos matchs seront alors plus faciles au bout d'un moment, votre rang descendra forcément, et pendant cette période, vous perdrez beaucoup de matchs ... Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Prochains Serveurs - Russie, Hong Kong et Australie
Aucun de ces serveurs n'existent pour le moment - mais nous nous y dirigeons. Pour la Russie, nous sommes en discussion avec différents éditeurs Russes afin de prendre tous les joueurs russes pour avoir un éditeur hôte afin d'exploiter le jeu directement de la Russie. Il ya beaucoup de raisons à ce que nous voulions séparer la communauté russe, mais c'est surtout parce que nous n'avons pas un bon réseau de paiement en Russie, et aussi afin de gérer cette provenance de la Russie qui améliorerait la performance du marché local. Nous vous donnerons plus d'informations sur ces serveurs russes lorsque nous aurons ces partenariats.
A titre d'essai, nous prévoyons quelque chose d'intéressant, nous allons mettre des serveurs de district à Hong Kong et en Australie. Mais - en raison des coûts de l'hébergement, de la puissance et de la bande passante exorbitants dans ces domaines (la bande passante en Australie est cinquante fois supérieure au prix des États-Unis) - nous allons créer ces serveurs de quartier limité aux comptes Premium. En d'autres termes - comme à l'heure actuelle, les milliers de joueurs en provenance d'Asie qui jouent sur les serveurs de Los Angeles, peuvent toujours y jouer gratuitement, mais si ils veulent jouer sur un serveur local (Premium), ils auront besoin d'avoir un compte Premium.
Un fois que nous serons plus proche de ces nouvelles configurations, nous partagerons plus de details, mais je voudrais que cela arrive avant Septembre (et quand ce sera fait, la liste des mondes montrera simplement un nouveau "Monde Premium" que vous pourrez selectionner).
Les prochaines semaines seront incroyablement intense pour toute l'équipe, nous travaillons sur la version 2 de l'Open Beta, et préparez vous pour les Batailles de Clan et autres importantes mises à jour qui arriveront très vite. Nous apprécions vraiment le support de la communauté et continuons de travailler pour faire d'APB Reloaded, le meilleur des jeux Free2Play(R) de la planète . Evidemment, quelques problèmes critiques reste à régler, mais après que toutes les corrections soit appliquées, nous aurons des bases vraiment solides pour la prochaine grosse release du jeu. Avec le patch d'aujourd'hui, nous avons fait un grand pas en avant vers cet objectif, surtout quand tous les petits déséquilibres seront fixés avec l'Open Beta 2.
Traduit par Unskilled et Zazoou
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 21 juillet 2011
Mise à Jour 1.5.2 (103)
Notes de Patch de la dernière version 1.5.2 (103). Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Mise à Jour 1.5.2 (103)
Nouvelle fonctionnalité: Recommandation du district
Ajout d'une nouvelle fonctionnalité pour vérifier le niveau de compétence d'un joueur et lui recommander automatiquement un quartier contenant des joueurs de niveaux similaires.
Cela permet aux joueurs de bas et au haut niveaux d'aller dans des districts avec des joueurs ayant des compétences similaires, cela améliore considérablement leurs chances d'obtenir de bonnes confrontations dans des missions d'oppositions.
Les joueurs peuvent utiliser cette fonction en choisissant l'un des deux boutons du District d'action sur l'écran de sélection de District Principal..
Comme avant, les joueurs peuvent toujours utiliser l'onglet 'Instances' sur l'écran de sélection du District et choisir manuellement un quartier.
Le système de matchmaking a été recréé pour mieux s'intégrer avec le nouveau système d'évaluation de compétences.
La plus grande amélioration sera le système de matchmaking prenant en compte le système d'évaluation de compétence ainsi que le niveau de compétence des joueurs. Cela devrait aboutir à des matchs améliorés, particulièrement pour les nouveaux joueurs.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Nouvelle Fonctionnalité: Alliance d'Équipe
Ajout d'une nouvelle fonctionnalité pour associer automatiquement des joueurs "prêts" individuellements ou en petits groupes dans de plus grandes équipes pour participer ensemble dans des missions.
Cela augmente les chances de confrontation des joueurs ainsi que les chances de participer à des missions avec plus de joueurs de chaque côté (soit plus de missions).
À l'issue de la mission, les joueurs se verront présenter uneboîte de dialogue contextuelle, leur demandant s'ils veulent rester dans le groupe en place. Les joueurs qui répondent "Oui" seront ensuite placés ensemble dans un groupe.
Les joueurs qui ne souhaitent pas prendre part à l'Alliance de l'Équipe peuvent décocher l'option dans le menu " Groupes et Amis " .
Amélioration du Système d'Animation / Action
Changement de l'ordre d'importance des actions (les actions pourront être interrompues par d'autres actions).
Cela signifie que le tir prévaut désormais sur chaque action, y compris le sprint. Cela ne permet pas de tirer tout en sprintant, mais cela signifie que lorsque l'on sprint et tire en même temps, l'action de sprinter s'arrêtera et c'est l'action de tirer qui l'emportera.
Il y a un problème connu où les joueurs peuvent de temps en temps exécuter l'action de sprinter dans une direction opposée à celle qu'ils exécutent dans le jeu. Nous poserons un correctif à ce problème dès que possible.
Autre changement, les joueurs peuvent changer d'arme lorsque le processus de remplacement d'armes est en cours, et également changer d'armes lorsqu'ils sprintent. Les joueurs peuvent maintenant directement s'accoupir lorsqu'ils sprintent.
Mises à jour de plus de 60 missions, en changeant principalement leurs étapes finales avec des objectifs opposés (les deux équipes auront quelque chose à faire, et pas simplement attaquer ou défendre).
Désactivation de certaines missions qui nécessitent une totale restructuration.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Ajustement des chronométrages de plusieurs missions afin de mieux les équilibrer (ceci affecte principalement les missions de VIP).
Fusillade : Fonctionne désormais correctement, contrairement au Build précedent.
Atterissage réussi : Réduit la distance à laquelle un joueur peux tomber sans que son personnage effectue l'animation d'atterissage (Ce n'est pas exactement un nerf, au niveau 3 la distance n'a pas changé par rapport à la version 1.5.1).
Correction des améliorations qui ne sont pas retirées et récupérées lorsqu'elles sont sur une arme non équipée qui a expiré.
Correction des statistiques des fusils de chasse qui montrent seulement les dégats par plombs par opposition aux dégâts de tir complets.
Correction du mauvais nom de l'ALIG 762 R & D III dans l'Armas Marketplace.
Ajout d'une icône, ALIG 762, pour la fonction "tué par xxx".
Augmentation légère de la hauteur de saut pour améliorer le flux de mouvement.
Augmentation de la distance de laquelle le joueur peut chuter sans entrer dans l'animation d'atterrissage lourd.
Augmentation avec une ligne supplèmentaire de la "boite" de chat.
Correction de quelques plantages de serveur à basses fréquences.
Correction de quelques plantages de "client" à basses fréquences.
Correction de Michael Simeone envoyant un email vierge.
Correction du message "Renfort" (Backup) sur l'interface utilisateur en montrant le nom d'un joueur arrivant en renfort alors ce que dernier est déja dans la partie.
Correction du fait que certaines fois, l'icône du niveau de menace ne se mettait pas à jour si le joueur était dans un vehicule.
Correction du fait que l'icône du niveau de menace ne se mettait pas à jour dans le menu "Groupe et Amis"
Correction du message sur l'interface utilisateur montrant la menace "Entrainement" alors que le joueur est Bronze 1
Correction de la fenêtre de clan dans le menu "Groupe et Amis" qui montrait uniquement la menace "Entrainement" au lieu du niveau de menace réel des joueurs.
Ajustement des récompenses de missions, d'activités et de progression des contacts.
Gain d'argent réduit en atteignant le niveau maximum avec un contact.
Suppression du montant d'argent supplémentaire pour les joueurs non premium pour les derniers contacts. Les joueurs Premium recevront maintenant 125% d'argent spupplémentaire, provenant des missions (sur le tableau des score), par rapport aux joueurs non-premium.
Réduction des gains d'argent pour les joueurs non-premium sur toutes les activités (Open World, Kill / Arrestation / Tâche d'achèvement).
Ajustement à la hausse du montant permanent pour les joueurs Premium:
30% de plus par rapport aux joueurs non-premium sur les contacts de Tier 0.Traduction par Bandedehoufs.net
Hausse additionnelle de 15% pour chaque niveau au delà du Tier 0 (45% au Tier 1, 60% au Tier 2, 75% au Tier 3, 90% au Tier 4).
Ajout d'une machine d'apparition de véhicule à la sortie du Casino Karnak dans le Quartier Financial.
Correction du plantage client lorsque l'on applique un symbole blanc ou vierge en graffiti joueur.
Correction d'un bug où le jeu ne chercherait pas en priorité des missions avec opposition quand tous les membres du groupe sont prêts (en les mettant au lieu de cela sur une mission sans opposition, avec la possibilité d'opposition plus tard), si le leader de groupe était déjà prêt depuis plus de 30 secondes.
Les captures d'écran sont maintenant sauvegardées en fichier compressé (.png), au ieu de fichiers bitmaps (.bmp).
Traduit par Zazoou & Unskilled
Posté par Vali
Jeudi 29 juin 2011
Waking back up?
Alright. We have had an incredibly intense three weeks, so really sorry for the long posting gap (while of course the team has kept updating Facebook and Forums regularly). This will just be a quick preview of what's coming up, and I hope to follow this up with much more detail at 'some point™' when some of the critical items we are working on have gotten sorted out, and at that point also post a brand new roadmap.
We just released patch 220.127.116.11 tonight, which fixes various issues, and adds more server-side controls for certain items to reduce some specific client exploits. That's the good news. Keep in mind patch 96 is a specific hotfix patch, and does not contain the large items the team has been working incredibly hard on for version 1.5.2 of the game.
The Next Big Thing - version 1.5.2
1.5.2 introduces many new items outlined in the roadmap, most importantly district recommendation and skill-rating based matchmaking and it ALSO introduces a lot of items we had not yet talked about; meta-grouping for better PuG-ing, action grouping relaxation (fancy way of saying you will be able to shoot right as you stop sprinting instead of being blocked from shooting), 70+ different mission fixes, new clothing, new items and a boat-load of various bug fixes and improvements based on much of the forum and tester feedback we have had. So there is much more to talk about once that version is ready to go live.
The plan had been to get the 1.5.2 build out by June 30 (per the roadmap), but right now it seems we will go past that by 'some period™', partly because of the massive amount of changes requiring a lot of testing. In the next few days we will also decide if we will use this build as the first one to go up on the Public Test World. We have recruited and selected about 500 volunteers (who do not yet know who they are I should add), and people with those accounts will be able to test builds going forward before going live to the public. The next few days will determine if the PTW system will in fact go live before 1.5.2 or vice versa.
We have also completed the networking upgrades that were scheduled on the roadmap. Now players in Europe will also be able to connect through Telia, which should give customers a drastically reduced ping when going to the servers especially from Northern and Eastern EU. We are in the next few weeks also adding TiNet (an Italian telecom) which has improved network coverage for Southern EU, for areas such as Spain, Italy, France and Greece.
Some Currently Known Issues in the Beta
Finally - we are fully aware of several annoying issues we are tracking and hoping to address shortly. There are a lot of specific or individual items that are on our list - but there are two in particular that are more general and requires a special mention here - Latency spike and 32-bit issues.
There is a latency issue that kicks in every few minutes or up to every 10 minutes for several players, where suddenly latency spikes to 800ms in the game. However, if you simultaneously happen to be running a long-running ping in the background to 18.104.22.168 (our ping probe in the EU) or 22.214.171.124 (ping probe in US-East) or 126.96.36.199 (ping probe in US-West) - you'd see that the network ping/latency actually stays low during the spike, and server side and client side frame-rates also stay normal during the latency spike. So from what we can tell the current spike is not a direct networking, datacenter or server issue and instead appears to be a client side issue, at least the most likely culprit at the moment. We are working to sort out what other dependencies trigger the random client latency spike, but because of the complex interactions of all the components it will take a bit of time to isolate the root cause. We will update as soon as we have a patch that addresses this particular issue.
And the biggest issue of them all continues being 32-bit optimization for those who do not yet have 64-bit systems. APB LOVES memory. The districts are VERY large (compared to other high end games APB's districts can even be described as HUGE), and therefore the game demands 1.8GB of memory or more (and especially after a few district switches and encountering 100 other players with their customizations, that usage easily hits 2GB plus). We are working to optimize this, but at the moment the game will continue running close or at the 2GB limit. Unfortunately 32-bit windows by default only addresses 2GB of RAM, so this can lead to crashes on Vista-32 and Win7-32 in particular (XP-32 tends to fare a little bit better).
For MOST Vista-32 and Win 7-32 systems, especially if you have 4GB of Ram we continue to highly recommend TRYING (at your own risk) the bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 3072 command (here is a great reference from Autodesk which uses the same trick for AutoCad and 3DS Max on 32-bit systems). This command will increase addressable application space from 2048MB (default) to 3072MB, minus any memory mapped devices (such as graphics cards). Unfortunately it also means if you have a large memory mapped device (such as 1GB graphics card) this setting could cause conflicts. Some players have reported success when using a slightly smaller amount - in particular bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 2560, which sets the user-mode (program) address memory to 2560MB, which often seems to be enough to keep APB and it's very large world happy for a few hours. Here is the Microsoft reference on the bcdedit /set command. Again - try all these commands at your own risk (or go the proven route and upgrade to 64-bit Windows 7, which is clearly the preferred route).
There is a pretty good collection of known workarounds by moderator nXe here, which we have not fully vetted - but certainly feel free to try these as well in case you have compatibility issues.
Expanding the Team; more C++ game coders needed!
Also - as a result of the great response the game has had in Beta, we are right now expanding the development team in Edinburgh, UK. If you (or someone you know) is a fantastic C++ coder interested in either game engine development or game play development you can send in your cover letter (describing why you would be great for a critical job on the APB team), and your CV/resume to careersUK /a t / GamersFirst / d o t / com (split apart just to help with our spammier friends - so your first test is to see if you can figure out what email to send your resume too ).
There is some additional info on this page (click on "UK" to see the description): http://www.gamersfirst.com/corporate/?q=Careers. Our team is located right at the heart of Edinburgh, one of the coolest cities in Europe, with many great direct connections to other key cities on the continent. If you or someone you know are up for an amazing job and an amazing challenge where you will have a lot of impact, certainly drop us a line and try to convince us why you would be a great team member. Only friendly, well adjusted, optimistic and nice people need apply . And we are pretty serious about that requirement, since the team requires incredibly tight collaboration between all team members around the planet at all times.
So - in closing - this preview is intended to get everyone up to speed, and prepared for the next major build, which really is the foundation for the more complete game that we had envisioned when we set out on this journey many months ago. A huge thanks to everyone who have played, tested and engaged in the world of San Paro for the last three months. We expect the game will be that much better thanks to all those efforts.
See you in San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 28 juin 2011
Game Update 1.5.1 (96)
Here are the patch notes to the latest version 1.5.1 (96) update hot off the press.
Game Update 1.5.1 (96)
Fixed a bug where Criminals could add police lights to the Dolton Broadwing.
Added a server security update.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 21 juin 2011
Game Update 1.5.1 (95)
Here are the patch notes to the latest version 1.5.1 (95) update hot off the press.
Game Update 1.5.1 (95)
Fixed an exploit where players could make a death theme last the same length of time as a song (5 mins), which they then used to grief other players. We also added a ‘surprise’ for any players attempting to still use this griefing tactic.
Fixed preset vehicles having the wrong mail text.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 7 juin 2011
Game Update 1.5.1 (93)
Here are the patch notes to the latest version 1.5.1 (93) update hot off the press.
Game Update 1.5.1 (93)
Fixed a knock-on bug that caused the matchmaking system to not always check for dispatches before offering unopposed missions
Relaxed the matchmaking restrictions slightly to allow more potential matches.
Fixes a stall-issue in the patcher itself
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Lundi 6 juin 2011
The Development Road Map
In our effort to "hyper-communicate" about what we are working on, today we have released the Development Road Map (also reachable as a tab on top of this blog page).
At the moment it only has the high level public items we are working on for the next 30 days (and a lot of low level details which are not yet published). However, later this week we are going to expand include all the cool long-term features that we are working on, such as Clan Warfare, Asylum, Racing etc. which really will open the game up to a whole new set of experiences.
Instead of answering the same questions (and quite frankly - zany conspiracy theories) over and over again on forums and on the blogs, we figured we'd rather publish all the ongoing work in one place, so if you have any concerns or constructive suggestions, hopefully the most common issues (lag, queues etc.) are addressed as ToDo items in the Road Map; for example the upcoming Firewall rebuild happening this week in the EU, the new ISP peer and IP provider we are adding next week to improve latency for EU players, the launch of the CBAK (Closed Beta Appreciation Kit), the launch of car kits, the new matchmaking and the new district recommendation items.
So - while the current list is just a taste of what we are hoping to share, at minimum our aspiration is to NOT promise things "soon" Wow-style, nor on "Valve-time" but instead the plan is simply to share things that we feel comfortable promising within some reasonable time frame. Will we ever miss a date? You'becha. And occasionally we will beat a date or two by getting there a tad early. But the general development direction should certainly be very clear from the roadmap itself.
Development Road Map
Version: June 6, 2011 (Short Term Public Roadmap)
The below items represent our public Development and Operations roadmap for APB Reloaded. Keep in mind that this roadmap changes frequently, but should give you a good general idea of what items are currently being prioritized by the development, network and operations teams.
On the other hand we are trying very hard to NOT do any of these items using the WoW definition of "Soon", not on "Valve-Time"
Instead we are going to try to be as accurate as we humanly can be. If we are not certain it can be done in a certain time frame we will TRY avoiding putting any time on it (just the sequence in which we ANTICIPATE these things will happen).
While you are not going to be able to make comments on this direct page, you can provide comments on the related blog posts that refer to this page.
Short Term Road Map (next 30 days)
Re-engineered firewall deployment in EU-1 and EU-2.
The upcoming firewall change enables removal of all current remaining game queues (at current traffic levels and will also add 50% headroom). Even though we have been able to drastically shorten queues using other optimizations, the upcoming firewall expansion and refactoring solves most EU capacity problems and allows us to expand rapidly in the future should the need arise.
Week of June 10
Deliver the Closed Beta Appreciation Kit to CB players.
All Closed Beta participants, plus any previous RTW players who used the same email address to register their GamersFirst account as the one they used with the RTW version of the game, will receive the CBAK. Delay: not yet possible to recognize CB players in-game via special in game "veteran" color or flag. Delivery will proceed without this feature during week of June 10.
Week of June 10
Car Customization Kits
Adding the first car kits to the Armas cash shop, as a precursor to the present Enforcer and Crim cars that are coming up shortly thereafter.
Week of June 10
Enable Telia as direct IP transit peer in Frankfurt.
The addition of Telia to the ISP pool in FRA will provide vastly improved traffic peering and lower latency from northern Europe to EU-1 and EU-2. This will reduce the use of PacketExchange Amsterdam hop for non-UK and non-Benelux users.
District Recommendation System
This system will alter the district logic, so that instead of having 100 players with random skill levels in each district, instead various districts will "skew" toward a certain skill level, and the default selection from the district select screen will drop you in to the proper district for your skill level. Therefore you will be joining approximately a "low", "medium" and "high" level district, still with quite a wide variety of levels, but much more narrow range than today. The result should be much faster and better matches, since the match making system doesn't have to work nearly as hard to concoct a workable match from a more narrow range of skill levels. While players will not be stopped from moving around to different districts, as a future enhancement there will be penalties for very high level players joining low level districts and trying to ROFL-stomp newbies.
Quality Score Match Making
The current match making system, while functional, does not compute a proper "quality score" for the match before it gets initiated. This enhancement to the matchmaking system will actively seek out matches that "score" well by doing a pair-wise comparison of all possible matches in the district. This will significantly improve match quality.
Additional Dev fixes
Fixes for various bugs and compatibility issues, hack items, including external dependencies such as getting Nvidia to support proper SLI profiles.
Patch 92 onward
Long Term Road Map for 2011
Coming Soon! Our long term roadmap includes the list of our next major developments in the game from July onwards. We plan to release the long term roadmap later this week.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 3 juin 2011
Game Update 1.5.1 (90)
Here are the patch notes to the latest version 1.5.1 (90) update hot off the press.
Game Update 1.5.1 (90)
Fixed an exploit where players would close the game in order to avoid losing a mission and losing Threat. All incomplete missions now count as losses and player Threat will adjust accordingly.
Added a background to the chat area of the screen to make the text easier to read. Both chat and the background fades out after 15 seconds of inactivity. Reduced number of lines of text in chat from 8 to 5. Full chat (accessible via the 'Home' key) is unchanged.
Fixed a bug where if the group leader had been ready for over 30 seconds before the rest of the group was ready, the mission system would skip looking for dispatches and go straight into an unopposed mission.
Fixed the Social District graffiti display points not activating.
Adjusted the reward weighting for font pages to make it more likely to receive them first and added them to the following Contact's random reward lists:
Players past this point can still receive these packages by pledging to the contacts and playing missions.
Weapons and Vehicles
Updated Bishada Rapier and Patriot Jericho V20 handling.
Increased turning speed
Increased suspension speed
Slightly increased health
Rebuilt from scratch basically
Now fast, fairly nippy (though not as much as the rapier)
Increased Nitro power at max torque.
Reduced Nitro cooldown from 90 to 60 seconds.
Fixed an issue where pearlescent paint on preset vehicles wouldn't display correctly for the owner, but would display correctly for other players.
Fixed a subtle issue with car interior lightmaps showing incorrect colours.
Removed debug projectile tracers toggle in game files that players were exploiting.
Updated the inventory and kill icons for the STAR 'LCR'.
Fixed an issue where the STAR bought from ARMAS would use the old weapon model.
Fixed the Scoped NTec not having a unique kill icon.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 29 mai 2011
Player Explosion during Beta
(update May 30, 1:30pm PST; as a temporary measure, in order to reach the in game store to buy premium or character slots without first logging in to the game, you can access the store at the following location: here . We will permit regular we access as long as the queue-ing remains in the game. Note:item purchases should be performed from inside the game.)
Ok - so first off - I want to cautiously remind everyone that we launched APB Reloaded "Open Beta" only six (6!) days ago.
Open Beta means primarily that there will be no more character wipes, and while the game is getting very close to final production quality, and it's certainly already a blast to play APB Reloaded in it's current form, the game still needs some key changes, fixes and upgrades before it is fully production grade. There are code improvements to be released for matchmaking, more purchasable items to be completed for the item shop, and key upcoming infrastructure changes to be rolled out. In short - the game is still in Beta, and every week it will continue improving.
This is also why Premium accounts (ie upgraded accounts that accelerate game progression, unlock customizations, increase drop rates and gives players item purchase discounts) are only priced at $9.99 to start, and $7.99 for renewals. This rock bottom "beta pricing" includes a good 33%-50% discount compared to other MMOs.
Now don't get me wrong - while still a little rough around some edges (such as a few pesky sound bugs for some specific sound cards, some occasional district DC issues, and the fact that the large map size dislikes 32-bit Windows, but LOVES 64-bit Windows, as well as more cheat related changes still to be made, and the fact that we are working to add more things for people to do, game modes to use and districts to explore after they get really high level) - APB Reloaded even in Beta is STILL a really great game, with a ton of wild fun to be had in the city of San Paro.
Premium holders getting a leg up, because they are doing their part to help rebuild San Paro
Getting a premium account supports the development team, and also ensures updates are rolled out even faster since more support means we can invest more in speeding up the development effort. And - best of all - if you don't want to upgrade, you still don't have to. You can still play the game for free. But I do want to take a moment to THANK all the thousands who have already jumped on board and gotten premium accounts! Your support is invaluable. And therefore, we are of course going to let you "cut in line" when things get into a capacity squeeze.
Having a huge volume of free players means that free players will occasionally have to queue for slots at peak times, since it's important we provide priority access to paying players. Even so, our explicit long-term strategy is actually to make sure that everyone (include all free2play players AND all paid players) get basic game access without major game queues, especially when the game goes "Live" after the current Beta phase is over.
But during the massive growth phase we are in right now, or during large upcoming game changes, priority certainly always goes to Premium members, and others will be placed in queues only when network conditions require it, to make sure the game experience is not destroyed for everyone else trying to play the game.
Records set during the 6 days since start of Open Beta, and a blog post "Stat Scoop"
The purpose of the Open Beta is to test the limits of all the equipment and systems. On that score, the Reloaded Open Beta has been a smashing success so far :) !
The good news is that today we again set new records for beta players in the game, and the bad news is that during the beta phase there are some limits on network capacity, with increased capacity originally scheduled to be ramped up over time (which of course - given the response for the game, will now be sped up - a lot).
To give you some inside stats (we can call this the exclusive blog post "stat scoop") even though I will not expect to normally share many (if any) realtime stats. But given the week we have had I will certainly share some of that; at peak today, after only six (6!) days in Open Beta, we had just under 24,000 peak concurrent players connecting to the game globally (aka "Peak CCU") with a somewhat larger number of players logging in to the game in Europe than in the US, with more than four times that number of unique players logging in to the game during the last 24 hours, each player with an average playtime well over 3 hours per game session (average!). This load also meant the system automatically fired up over 200 district server instances around the globe to handle the load from the gamers.
To put that in some perspective with some of the great games out there (some F2P, some subscription); Eve Online announced back in 2007 that they had reached 35,000 peak CCU, which was 4 years after the game was released. World of Tanks announced in April this year that their PCCU reached 25,000 after a year of Beta testing. Nexon announced that Combat Arms beta had reached 12,000 PCCU in Europe in their open beta running for 10 months from December 2008 to September 2009.
So for us to get to 24,000 PCCU in six days (and WELL over 12,000 PCCU in Europe) is certainly a very good start, especially when you consider its still only Beta, and it has not yet been a week :) (and we have now also capped our servers to boot).
That also means the game is consuming A LOT of servers and network capacity to handle the growth, since unlike games that are super-low-server-impact-per-player (FarmVille, Kingdoms of Camelot etc), APB Reloaded consumes an insane amount of processing resources to keep track of 100 players, 250 cars and over 1000 NPCs real-time per district, and performing a large-scale physics simulated district at 30 frames per second server side. To continue the comparison with Eve, the sever side frame rate of APB is an order of magnitude higher than the server side framerate of Eve. Granted, it's not a fair comparison (Eve is a viscous liquid equation system with click to move mechanics that update rather infrequently, and APB is a frame-rate dependent shooter, so both are great games - just of course doing it very differently, even though CCP's upcoming games might change that). But you guys get the point; there are a LOT of sensitive computations going on in this game at a rather massive scale in our datacenters, which also makes the game somewhat "fragile" to large network issues.
Game Signups and Social Media Growth
The game has also settled into a steady growth pace by adding an average of nearly 1,000 new signed-up game accounts PER HOUR for the past several days, and our Facebook page is getting an average of 6,000 new likes PER DAY (which is great, since we now are using Facebook to post all key game status alerts, which gets info out much faster about game status than just using email, forums and other old skool formats). The page has grown from 48,000 on May 17 to 120,000 on May 29. In fact our facebook page has now surpassed the pages of other great games out there, or is heading toward the same like counts as other games that we all admire. Clearly that increases the pressure many-fold on our teams to live up to the qualities of the games that we are now going to be compared with.
Growth Strategy and Issues
The strategy on the GamersFirst side has been to roll out the game with a large but reasonable amount of investment to avoid starting the project from a big financial hole during the redevelopment phase (since this game certainly had a VERY bad history of not doing too well previously), in particular because this game has massive server side hardware requirements, far beyond most normal MMOs, with several hundred servers to execute the district logic for this volume of players.
But interestingly enough, we actually have plenty of server capacity to spare on hand. In fact right now we have sufficient server capacity on standby that we could power up that will give us 40,000 Peak CCU capacity if not more for the game.
Instead the issues we have seen for the last 6 days in Europe have all been firewall related. Even though the best firewall sales people on the planet will tell you that THEIR firewalls (Ciscos, Junipers, you name them) can handle XX Gbps of traffic, as soon as we throw millions of packets per second of encrypted UDP at any firewall, chances are that the "specs" go out the window. This resulted in the theoretical 7Gbps firewall pair we had in the EU croaking at 737Mb/sec (or less than 15% of the "theoretical" limit) and at much fewer pps than ever "rated."
So, alternatively, we COULD run the servers without any firewalls (that would actually solve the packet loss and firewall congestion issue instantly (!) ). But that would be religiously a pretty bad move. And certainly other game companies have shown that would be a rather bad idea. But, that's often the way this type of issue gets solved (throw the servers out on the net without firewalls). The network performance would surely go up. Be so would the risks to the game and the players.
Therefore, what we are doing instead is a measured increase over time, and also rolling out various changes to our core systems that will permit us to slowly increase all the server caps.
Also, we are cognizant that players can come and go, so we are going to continue performing somewhat deliberate growth during the beta phase and plan to pull out all the stops when all final changes, updates, fixes and features are fully in place.
Sidenote to clear up minor mis-information on the interwebs?
One of our forum members pointed out a video segment by some random reviewer that got a lot of things wrong about APB, and to top it off referred to Gamersfirst as an Asian company "doing mostly things in the Asian markets." Let me quickly clear that up; Gamersfirst was created in California originally under the name K2 Network, is based in Irvine, and its largest investor is Intel Capital. While we have global operations all over the planet, we only publish games in the regions of North America, South America, Europe and the Middle East. So while that maybe "touches" Asia a little bit, we are actually an entirely a western market focused company and currently do not publish any titles in East Asia. Hope that clears it up (if anyone were to ask :) ). Also - all this information is easily google-able too (for example google: k2 network investment), but I think that would be too much trouble for some people.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 26 mai 2011
Temporary player limits and game queues placed on European APB worlds during network maintenance
A quick update, we are preparing to perform network maintenance in Europe this evening EU time to deal with network packet loss, and while we prepare for those changes we have enabled Queue-ing on the European servers in order to improve network performance for those that are already in the game and playing it. It will take about one hour right now until the player levels have dropped to the point where the network performance should return to normal.
After the network maintenance is finished late tonight, at that point we will remove the limits again. For the future if we ever have to use queuing and limits again, then we will let Premium players bypass them (that is not the case at the moment unfortunately, but will be in place as of tomorrow).
So apologies for all EU players placed in a queue at the moment while we rapidly work to expand network capacity to handle the massive influx of new players.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 26 mai 2011
Patch 88 success, EU network packet loss spikes last night, Premium Re-Ups for Only $7.99 and New items on sale shortly
Today we continue the "blog of full disclosure"
Patch 88 release successful
Last night PST / morning EU time we released patch 88 which performed a lot of minor tweaks to the game. The patch launch went well, and we saw quite an uptick of players after the patch. In fact - we ended up setting a record in EU today with tens of thousands of players logging in to Open Beta simultaneously from Europe alone. The game has been growing at a rate of 50% per day globally for the past 5 days, though we expect that pace of growth to taper off rather soon.
Packet Loss on Europe 1 & 2 networking equipment last night
That giant Open Beta turnout wave caused some unexpected network behavior during EU peak times yesterday. The servers were unaffected (since they scale horizontally and new districts will just start firing up), but we did run in to an unexpected problem with our main network edge devices that caused sudden severe packet loss conditions in Europe, even though the devices were in theory running at only 10% of capacity. vThe result was that between 16:00 and 22:00 CEST on the networking gear connected to Europe-1 and 2 (ie Patriot and Obeya) we saw several sporadic but big spikes of up to 40% packet loss during those hours.
Inside the game those packet loss episodes manifested themselves as severe rubber-banding, even though ping time and server load would actually remain very low (however, you would be able to see the packet loss conditions if you happened to use the test ping IP we provided on the Forums).
We are working closely with the manufacturer of the networking gear overnight to see if they can resolve the issue before tomorrow's peak time. They are potentially able to provide a fix and if it can be confirmed, I will post the information here as an update to this post.
US-East and US-West did not experience the same issue, partly because those locations have of course been split between two different physical datacenters and in effect have double the amount of networking gear infront of the game servers at each location.
Again, we hope this issue will be resolved very swiftly, but keep in mind this type of testing is what Open Beta is all about - to test the crap out of all the equipment at full throttle. So, while we apologize for the un-fun experience in Europe during that time window, we hope people continue logging in and playing since that will help us troubleshoot the problem in much more detail tomorrow night.
New Items on Sale Tomorrow
This week we are going to start posting a lot of cool new items in the store, and we are going to start introducing some permanent items as well on a rolling schedule. We will announce the new items on Facebook tomorrow so stay tuned (or simply log in to the Armas Marketplace when we launch the items).
Renewal of Premiums during Beta - only $7.99 USD (£4.99 GBP / €5.99 EUR) !
So in the next two days our first batch of Premium Players are going to get reminder emails that their first 30 days are almost up. As we have said before - during the Beta period the cost of premium is only $9.99 for all of the cool premium benefits that let you vastly accelerate your progression and item drops, and gives you complete artistic freedom when you design your characters plus a whole range of other benefits including a 20% item purchase discount.
Thanks to this discount when Premium Players re-up (adds 30 additional premium days) before the end of his/her premium period, those premium extensions get an automatic 20% off (!) off the Beta $9.99 price.
The result is that premium renewals are only $7.99 in the US, £4.99 in the UK and €5.99 in Europe. And - any benefits that you accrue, including standing, achievements, customizations, permanent items or permanent weapons you buy during Open Beta carry over to the live production launch of the game as well.
And finally - a big thanks for Open Beta testing our game!
And a final word to everyone trying the game out; a really big THANKS for Open Beta testing our game (and liking us on Facebook!).
While we will try to keep the game as near production quality as possible at all times during OB, there will of course be some hiccups along the way, and that's expected at this stage of Beta. But we are working around the clock (litterally) to ensure the best possible "near production" experience along the way. In the next days and weeks we will continue performing network updates, traffic improvements, game tweaks etc., while also working on the major upcoming changes that we expect to launch before the big formal release of the game!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Lundi 23 mai 2011
Threat Level update, and matchmaking update at 2:30pm PST / 5:30pm EST / 22:30 GMT / 23:30 CEST
In Saturday's post we noted that the visual threat levels were off given the current curve. We also discovered another critical issue with low-level matchmaking that will be fixed with this current patch as well (fewer wild 1 v 4 matches).
One of the temporary side effects of the change though is that new players will appear to be Silver 2 during their first match before moving around properly. In fact, what SHOULD happen is that for the first few matches the player has "NO" rating, until we have some idea of what direction he/she is moving.
We probably are likely to perform yet another update later this week as we continue tweaking the system.
Today we are patching the game at 2:30pm PST / 5:30pm EST / 22:30 GMT and 23:30 CEST, and this would take about 1 hour.
----- (update) -----
The servers went live again 4:15pm PST after a slight security patch delay. Enjoy the game!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Samedi 21 mai 2011
Visual adjustment to Threat Levels coming on Monday
The skill rating system is actually working very well at the moment, HOWEVER, we have realized that the end-user display of the data (the Threat Level Symbol - like "Bronze 1") are out of alignment, in particular since they visually show a very large number of players as Threat 1 for much too long while the system is learning the player's skill. In fact we will start changing the TL symbol much earlier in the process.
It's important to know that a player's REAL skill rating are going to be unaffected by this upcoming change, and this just alters the translation from the real system wide skill rating to the Threat Level display since the current translation skews too low to be practical (in other words, right now there is a VAST difference between people at the very start of TL-1/Bronze-1 and at the very end of TL-1/Bronze-1. In fact the difference between start of TL-1 and end of TL-1 is greater than the distance between TL-3 and TL-11, which clearly is not an appropriate alignment to communicate how "dangerous" or "skilled" a particular player is).
In the higher threat levels the alignments are a bit more appropriate right now, and therefore will only be slightly adjusted by the upcoming change. And yes - we already have a few players (well under 0.5% at the moment) who have reached TL-30 (aka Gold 10). And they seem like the correct players in that category.
When the new threat level visual chart gets implemented Monday, everyone should see drastic jumps in their visual threat levels at that time (though - again - the underlying skill rating stays the same).
The other tweak we are working on a little longer term is modifying the matchmaking system. Because the new skill rating system produces numbers of a whole different magnitude (and accuracy), with the increased player volume they also don't translate very well into the original match making system. It works, it's just not terribly optimized for the new data, and seems to produce too many 4v3 and 2v3 and 2v4 matches at the moment for lower level players, leading to large backup call sequences. Interestingly, the skill rating gets accurately computed in the end no matter who was in the match (ie - if the match was uneven against you, but you still won - then you will clearly gain a lot from the match, in fact, losing a bad match under some conditions can make you move up in skill rating).
Therefore the other upcoming priority is to tweak how the matches are set up, especially now that we have far more information about a player's REAL skill level than we ever had before. Which is a very nice basis to start this change from. Based on this information we will be able to tweak the matchmaking to create better matches in a district at both low and higher levels.
And, there has been a lot of discussion about how we compute Skill Ratings. Without digging in to extreme detail, the basic paradigm of the new system is that at the end of a match the system takes all the ratings of the various team members, then determines a particular person's "participation" quotient in the match (if you don't participate much, you don't get much of the effect), and then the system updates players ratings in accordance whether they were EXPECTED to have wont the match or not. If one group of players were expected to have won, but still lost, then the penalty is much greater than the award they get if they were expected to have won and did win. If they were expected to lose, but still won, then they are going to get a much higher boost to their skill rating.
We will make a future dedicated post to skill ratings, and also start posting some of the data from the real live games so people can get a sense of how these matches play out and how players are shifting in skill ratings over time.
Finally - today for the past several hours we have had well over 250 registrations PER MINUTE for the game, and we expect all these new players to arrive in full force on Monday (except of course for the super-double-secret-early-invites we are doing before Monday morning - but those are of course a big secret). But Monday is also the day we will be formally reaching out to new players, so this coming week certainly should be very interesting.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 20 mai 2011
Open Beta Set for May 23 at 6:00am PST / 9:00am EST / 14:00 UK / 15:00 CEST
The last patch fixed the annoying disconnect issue we were dealing with, so now version 188.8.131.52 will in fact be the formal Open Beta. Since it is STILL a Beta game, keep in mind we will have various known issues, but at this point we are confident the game will hold up technically while we work on the series of game items we need to improve on and polish (and part of Beta is of course to get those kinks worked out).
We very much look forward to welcoming the Open Beta crowd to the game on Monday.
After we go Open Beta, we will turn our focus to further game and feature polish, as well as inserting some of the new features and functions during Open Beta, all of this leading up to the formal launch, which is likely to take place sometime in the next few months.
The official release is now set for 6:00am PST / 9:00am EST / 14:00 UK / 15:00 CEST on Monday May 23.
Today (Friday) we are having some major site maintenance starting shortly, so everything should be set over the weekend for the Monday launch!
(edited to add: even though I will not promise anything - there is a chance we will have some super-double-secret number of accounts enabled to enter the Closed Beta during both Saturday and Sunday leading up to the beta launch, which "might" permit access to the game for people who had previously registered an interest in the game, so downloading the game early and trying it out probably will not hurt anyone. If you get in - good for you :) ).
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 19 mai 2011
Open Beta Release On Hold until next week - Release 184.108.40.206 maintenance today 4pm PST
Here is Thursday's update - and the aim here is clearly to be crazy-transparent with what we are doing, so for those not that interested in the technical stuff, the short version is; Open Beta is on hold until next week. For Closed Beta users we are going to roll out patch 220.127.116.11 at 4pm PST / 7pm EST / 24:00 GMT / 01:00 CEST today
For the longer version continue reading below;
The Closed Beta issue we have run in to causes the disconnection of all players on a server. Unfortunately it happens to be of those vexing problems that only shows up at full production load, and an issue that leaves almost no traces of its origin in our logs. During QA and testing loads the issue doesn't materialize (throw 50 people on a server and everything seems just fine), even with large static loads and testing the game from multiple locations.
Specifically the issue manifests itself where districts with 60-100 players suddenly lose IPC (inter-process communication) functionality which then leads to the district dropping all players and the district crashing. This happens anywhere from 1-6 hours from the district starting up. Normally this would be easily grabbed by our crash processor and it's usually a pretty straight forward to identify the location of any GPF, however with this particular issue, the logs don't show anything that helps narrow down the scope other than it's part of the changes for Open Beta.
Rolling back several versions is certainly not the preferred option as it puts us firmly back into Closed Beta, but could be done (it would take us back to somewhere in the 18.104.22.168x range), so instead we are making one last push to get through the current issue with the production load, and we continue to ask our Closed Beta testers to help hammer the servers over the weekend so we can reevaluate where we are on Monday.
Today we are also pushing ahead with release of 22.214.171.124 which further adds information to what is happening, fixes an unrelated client-side GPF that happened when a song changed tracks (a general Audio GPF), and potentially MIGHT solve the district disconnect issue (but again, won't be visible until it's on full production load for a few hours).
Once we enter Open Beta, the patching schedule becomes very different (and slower). We will also at that point recruit our first "Test Monkey Crew" for APB - basically volunteers who will get early access to builds in return for running live tests on a public test world, specifically designed to catch these types of hard-to-QA issues. The TMC gets various in-game benefits for being early testers. But again - that system goes in to place after Open Beta goes live and Closed Beta has ended.
I will continue updating this blog daily until the the game is in formal Open Beta. Also while this is being worked on, be mindful that very few of our tech staff will be active on the boards or blogs, since this is pretty much an all-consuming issue for everyone.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 18 mai 2011
Open Beta on temporary hold while we evaluate a player disconnection issue
We have come across a new player disconnection issue that cropped up in the last 48 hours that has made us put a temporary hold on the launch of Open Beta until further notice. We are releasing a new Closed Beta patch today (patch 84) to further investigate the issue and will evaluate as soon as that patch is live this afternoon PST.
The issue manifests itself in disconnecting some groups of players after one to two hours of gameplay, which clearly is not acceptable in Open Beta.
In the meantime we are looking to our devoted community of Closed Beta testers to continue playing the game so we can continue recording data related to the issue and track down the root cause of this particular service-affecting problem.
If we determine after the next patch that the issue has been resolved, we will then proceed to release the game to the public.
As soon as we have more data we will update the community on Facebook, Blogs and through Twitter.
We are clearly disappointed that this afternoon's public launch has been put temporarily on hold, but in the end we strongly believe that first addressing this issue is the most critical and important step we can take as a development team.
As we have done throughout the entire re-launch we will continue being extremely communicative with the community, and will share any status updates as soon as they become available.
On a positive note, we are also in the middle of preparing a thank you “goodie-pack” of game items to all our Closed Beta players for their efforts over the past two months, and we will release that pack the week after Open Beta is released to the general public.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 17 mai 2011
New patch (83) today
Just a quick note; there will be another maintenance today to release a fix to some minor issues in patch 82 that came up in the live environment. In particular this patch will address an issue where people under some conditions receive "negative" ratings which triggers unpredictable matches such as repeated 1 v 4 matches.
One of the side effects of setting ALL players (tens of thousands of players) to 0 simultaneously has been that the matchmaking then has tried to adjust people in some cases to unexpected values.
So stay tuned. More info to come.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Lundi 16 mai 2011
US East being set up and release of 126.96.36.199
US East is being launched today - and patch "82" just went live on the servers. Enjoy!
We will post more info as we steam toward the OB, and alert the gamers of any issues if they arise!
Game Update 1.5.1 (82)
Here are the patch notes to the latest version 1.5.1 (82) update hot off the press.
Matchmaking Update Part 1
APB Reloaded now uses a Bayesian enhanced version of the Glicko rating system to determine the relative skill of players, based on the outcomes of opposed missions. The believed skill of the player is known as that player’s Skill Rating, which is then translated into the player’s Threat Level (shown on the UI), and also used by the matchmaking system to construct matches where the skill of each side is as evenly matched as possible.
The total number of Threat Levels per faction has been increased to 30 and spread across 3 tiers – Bronze, Silver and Gold – with each tier consisting of 10 ranks. For example, a ‘Silver Rank 5’ player is believed to be better than a ‘Bronze Rank 10’ player.
All players will start from Bronze Rank 1, as the new system has to start from scratch in order correctly calculate the Threat level.
Note that we expect players to see large fluctuations to their Threat early on, as the system narrows in on your actual Threat level over time. So don’t be surprised to jump between tiers as well as ranks for the first few matches.
Witnessing and Open World
Fixed an issue when players went out of bounds on a witness mission. The mission now ends immediately and the stash is lost.
Fixed Enforcers on opposed missions sometimes seeing the ‘witness’ icon on criminals.
Fixed Enforcers in vehicles not seeing the stash value on criminals.
Fixed the heat multiplier not updating while in a vehicle.
Fixed an exploit where players were abusing the ‘AFK’ state.
Updated DXT settings to match the following rules:
64-bit OS users will no longer have any character or vehicle textures compressed at any time.
32-bit OS users will not have their OWN character and vehicle textures compressed at any time, but all opponents’ character and vehicle textures will be compressed at all times due to 32-bit memory restrictions.
These are not to be confused normal ‘Level of Detail’ (LOD) shifts as well as standard texture streaming that occurs when customisations are being built – these have not changed.
Fixed a separate issue that could cause your own character symbols to have lower detail based on distance and relative screen space (affected small characters more).
Added 1280x720 as an officially supported resolution. Also resized the in-game browser to 1024x720 for all resolutions.
Updated inventory and kill icons to match the weapon’s silhouette where this wasn’t the case.
Updated Contact icons to match some updates to the Contact models.
Fixed several issues where the expiry time tooltip could display wrong values about the time remaining on leased items. Note this was an interface issue and did not affect the actual expiration of any leased items.
The ‘auto-AFK’ timer now kicks in at 2 minutes, instead of 5.
Fixed a parking symbol that was floating above the ground (diagonally opposite LeBoyce spawn point).
Fixed an out of bounds error near the Church in Financial that some used as an exploit.
Added Pallet stack to roof under Freeway in Financial to simplify an irksome route onto the freeway and to make it possible at all for those with Kevlar implants.
Added new double ramp so that the troublesome one-way jump near the ruined warehouse is now possible in both directions, no matter what the vehicle.
Added new “use at own risk” ramp behind ‘Planetaget’ building on the turnpike. Best jumped in a Cisco. Best avoided in a starter car.
Fixed wall decal bug where decal was bleeding across floor outside Stu Phoenix’s spawn zone.
Hunting Sight and Reflex Sight: Now Increase or Decrease Movement Accuracy and Marksmanship accuracy.
Slightly lowered fire rate increase on Cooling Jacket.
Decreased effective range on both SMGs and reduced their minimum damage at 100m to 0 (so the ramp off is more drastic). Also lowered their marksmanship modifiers slightly.
Upping ammo counts of Obeya CR762 and OBIR to match other weapons (5 clips rather than 4/3).
Replaced the base STAR with a new model to differentiate it from the leased STAR ‘LCR’.
Slightly increased maximum reticule bloom when firing STAR full auto.
Adjusting handling for Dolton Broadwing and Sungnyumun Morai.
The Broadwing has slightly improved handling, better acceleration, more health and weight and heavily increased ramming damage. It's a good car for intercepting and taking others off the road.
The Morai has been tweaked considerably. It’s now much quicker to respond, with a fairly loose rear end allowing for some advanced manoeuvres. Acceleration is up heavily, top speed is up slightly. Health and weight are reduced very slightly (though weight is not really noticeable since you have a lot more punch with the increased speed). This is more of a 4-door sports vehicle now, able to keep up with the roadster (though not quite as nimble and the larger size means it can't squeeze through the same gaps).
Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 11 mai 2011
Pre-Open Beta currently known issues being addressed; key status update before OB launch!
Ok - so time for a long Pre-Open Beta post that outlines some of the current issues that are in the game, and where they are on the "fix-it-spectrum," since we have people yelling "LAG" and other things and I wanted to clear up what main issues we are currently working on from our side, and how some of those might be the same items that you are seeing from your end (in case you are in the unfortunate groups that are having current problems this week).
Also - while there certainly still are some issues (this is still closed beta after all), all the issues OTHER than "Item 1" are "local" to particular users, locations, ISPs or hardware configurations, and thousands of other players may not even be aware there are any. But some of the current issues are SIGNIFICANT - and we are in the process of addressing them. And as such; if you are in any of those unlucky groups affected (which we are really sorry for), the more specialized the issue is to your situation, the longer (unfortunately) it may take to sort them out (and in some cases require you to make some changes on your end), and the more general the issue is, the faster it will get fixed, especially if it's in one of the top items listed here.
But with that - let me roll out the list of top known issues that are now being worked on:
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 1: Multi-second lagspikes every 20 minutes
This is actually a PB server-side network spike. Today we have rolled out a fix on two of the districts in the US. If that fix holds up and doesn't cause any other issues, then we will roll out the fix on all servers over the next two days (this particular patch does not require any major maintenance). Therefore this goal is to have the issue solved by Friday this week. All you will notice is that things are not freeze-lagging any more.
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 2: Lag/Latency to servers that SHOULD be close to you, still making the game APPEAR laggy, which will be fixed with coming Routing update.
In the last two weeks we have run in to a condition where some end-users from certain ISPs report INSANELY long trace-routes to our datacenters, thus destroying their personal game experience. In some areas and regions it seems to affect ALL ISPs, and in some regions (like the US) it mostly affected ISPs using Comcast's backbone.
The issue has been isolated to an issue where one of our ISPs has a "visually optimized" routing system that "hides" their internal route hops, with the unfortunate side-effect that some network traffic now actually travels VERY LONG physical distances since it "appears" that the route presented by this ISP is "short" near the target servers (even when it's insanely far away).
The routing protocols incorrectly pick the long physical route with very few hops instead of a TRUE close route with MORE hops. The exact technical BGP4/OSPF reasons why this happens is too long to go in to here, but, needless to say - it causes BIG issues in the game when you live in Northern California, and your network traffic goes to Los Angeles, then goes to Virginia, and then back to Los Angeles and only THEN reaches our server (!) (as was the case with Comcast customers from Northern California this week).
Last night (May 10) we made a change on the US side and now anecdotally we have seen players who had complained about 200ms traceroute end-times in the US, are now again seeing the correct 10ms ping and traceroute end times (as they should have all along). We will post more instructions on the forums to repeat this test from the European side (where we have to perform something very similar to suppress the rogue routes).
The Test targets (to try your route distance you can either tracert or ping these locations:)
US West (Los Angeles): 188.8.131.52 US East (Washington DC): 184.108.40.206 Europe (Frankfurt): 220.127.116.11
The only thing to note is that US East will show a 'break' in the traceroute until the game actually goes live there next week (there will be a * * * response as part of that trace route at the moment, which is expected)
For everyone's reference, from our offices in California we get the following ping times: 10ms to West, 69ms to East, 167ms to Europe.
That means if you are in Germany for example you should under ideal conditions see the reverse of that (10ms to EU, 90ms to East and 170ms to West). If you are getting something completely different than that, then you are having a route problem (or more accurately, your ISP is having a route issue) OR your ISP might just be located really "far off" the main trunks of the Internet and giving you a lot of hops just to reach the "super-highway." So test it out and refer to this forum thread for more information: Forums
If you are in Europe and seeing 100ms+ or 150ms+ ping times to the Europe IP included above, then there is potentially a serious route problem on your path. If so post your information in the forum link above.
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 3: 32-bit Win 7 / Vista users with 4GB of Ram CAN make their experience much better by using 3GB switches
This issue is that in spite of what's installed in your machine, any 32-bit version of Windows actually can only use 2GB of User Mode RAM. Through some new uses of DXT compression we have been able to cram down the requirements to about 1.7GB to 1.8GB of RAM, but depending on the setup of your 32-bit machine - this might still cut it far too close to the limit to be stable (and leads to crashes and instability in some setups). The answer (other than installing 64-bit Windows which is the best solution) is to utilize the 3GB system switches provided in the new Windows versions (which on Win 7 and Vista are actually NOT called 3GB switches that at all). Autodesk has a very similar recommendation on their side for intense applications like AutoCad and 3D Studio Max: Autodesk
So while this is certainly a hard-core tweak (it requires the bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 3072 command to be run from the command prompt as an Administrator - and if you have no idea what I am talking about, you probably should not try it), those that have used it now report that they have gone from crashing 5 times an hour down to not crashing for several hours. The reason is that when the game uses 1.8GB of RAM, you have VERY little left to run anything else (Virus-scans, or even just more components of the operating system), so by enabling the memory to use all the way up to 3GB of memery (with the last 1GB reserved for O/S and Kernel) you can perform much better in the game. HOWEVER (and this is key), once you do this, your O/S or Kernel COULD become unstable, if you have far too many drivers or other components loaded (or just crapware on the machine). But on a reasonably clean machine, this is a pretty harmless tweak (but again - do NOT attempt this unless you fully understand what you are getting in to).
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 4: Green graphics splotches / lower frame rate with compression / White Purple Glow / Invisible Man problem opponents
The team is also working on several DXT compression related issues. DXT was added specifically to help performance of 32-bit systems with 2GB of RAM (see Item 3), but as a side effect, there are now cases where it creates strange artifacts for both 32-bit and 64-bit users (such as green-glowing pixel issues on certain clothes) and we are researching if this addition is also potentially affecting frame rates on certain video card combinations. The first part of this issue will be solved in version 1.5.1 permanently (the version after Open Beta), but in the meantime we are working on this. In particular the White Purple Glow and Invisible Opponent problem is clearly an issue (and no it's not an exploit thankfully, just a graphics glitch confined to your local system).
Various driver and sound issues causing potential crashes and other technical issues.
So above and beyond the top collection issues that we are working on there is also a secondary category of issues that are a bit harder to track down, for example an elusive sound driver problem for certain sound cards (and in some cases that's ALSO tied to the 2GB limit issue for 32-bit Windows). These issues will also be squared away one by one, and once we also will have much more extensive QA times for each subsequent patch.
Positive Game Play Enhancements - First Open Beta:
On the positive side of things, we are working on two critical game play enhancements for Open Beta, which we think will be great additions to the game;
(1) Skill Ratings based on actual skill (has been detailed extensively in an earlier post: Here ) where we expect the Skill Rating part itself to become part of the Open Beta and
(2) Meta-grouping for Level 9 players (aka "Rating 9" in APB terms). It turns out we have a GIANT group of players who got to level 9, which is the first group right after the tutorial, and then simply stopped playing. If you don't both find a group and also ready up ("K"), you COULD end up roaming the city for hours with nothing apparent to do. Before Open Beta we expect to have this enhancement added as well, which takes care of this particular issue.
Positive Game Play Enhancements - Later Open Beta
After the first OB build our focus is on two other items (to be included IN the Open Beta)
(1) The District segmentation by Threat and Skill Rating. This will basically allow you to "progress" to harder / more skilled districts over time. It also (potentially) allows us to ease up a little bit on the upgrade restrictions, since as you get better (or buy better stuff), you will enter in to better and better districts. It also means you can manually enter a higher ranked district, but not go to a lower district.
(2) This one is key: Purposeful End-Game PvP. Without going in to all the details here (but I will do that in a much longer post once we get to the Open Beta), we are working on a very significant improvement to the game that will give actual purpose to teams and clans, and more importantly, gives a purpose to continue challenging others to fight you in the game itself for a very very long time. We will share more about this once we get to the actual Open Beta, but the short version is that just like guilds are important in WoW we are making Clans important in APB, and the long term survival and glory of clans will be critical to the game's success.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 8 mai 2011
Releases 79 and 80, plus US-East server move before going Open Beta
The blog went a little quiet last week as we were dealing with a lot of post monetization items and preparing to get ready for the big May 18 date. In the meantime the moderation team on the forums have been cranking out a lot of answers, so go check out the forums in particular if you are already in the Closed Beta.
This week we are going to release Patch 80 on Tuesday night US time, and we are also going to perform the "formal" move to the "real" US-East location, in Washington DC later in the week (probably on Thursday this week) - which should really improve latencies for everyone east of the (imaginary) Dallas / Oklahoma City / Wichita / Omaha / Sioux Falls / Fargo line across the US.
Or - put a different way - if you live in Dallas - you should have approximately the same latency to either side - but since local cable conditions vary wildly (for example - Comcast LOVES peering in Washington DC and if that's your provider certainly go that direction), it's entirely possible that you will in fact be much better to one location specifically (so test it out once it is live).
Patch 80 fixes a lot of little things that will make for a better game now that they are patched (see below) and improves a few stats for some Armas marketplace weapons, while the team continues working on the BIG patch items that are upcoming in the next release. After the "80" patch is out, the team is really focused on working on the formal OB patch, and we should know this week if all the features we are aiming to add can make it in to the final OB version.
And - I realized that I had not posted the Patch 79 notes on the blog from last Thursday night (though Vali and Nueme handled that on the blog), so I have added them here as well. We were unfortunately forced to perform a music wipe in that patch to fix long running music bugs that were unable to be addressed any other way. Going forward that should not have to happen again.
Looking forward to the Open Beta excitement that's just around the corner!
18.104.22.168 Release Notes (scheduled May 10, 2011
Made an initial fix for black and dark clothing showing random colour patches on it due to DXT compression. We’ve still got a few fixes to make here but this will remove the blotches of green/purple.
Fixed characters sometimes not being lit in the Wardrobe and appearing as a black silhouette.
More spawning bug fixes.
Renamed female Cowboy hat to Cowgirl hat.
Made clothing items that are not available through progression non-tradable.
Fixed an exploit: Tutorial missions are now only offered to solo players.
Increased Prestige multipliers for Enforcers (as even with witnessing they're getting a much lower cash turnaround than criminals).
Increased the VIP lives on VIP missions by a factor of 1.5.
Named the weapon presets for the ALIG 762 and the Colby PMG 28.
Adjusted Effective ranges for several weapons (Joker down slightly, Obeya up slightly, Star LCR up).
Adjusted damage falloff percentage for the N-HVR's, the DMR and the STAR 'LCR'.
Improved accuracy on Obeya CR762.
Reduced Recoil and FoV on the Scoped NTEC-5. Also increased accuracy loss when moving in marksmanship.
Increasing damage of Armas shotgun. Now slightly less damaging than the JG rather than only half damage as previously.
JG - Extreme damage, medium spread (good at close range, bad at medium range)
CSG-20 - High damage, low spread (worse at close range, decent at medium range)
Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
22.214.171.124 Release Notes (released May 5, 2011)
Moved broadcast messages to upper centre of screen rather than centre to avoid blocking line of sight.
Fixed the one-slot van not having it's one slot
Killing a prestige 5 enforcer as an enforcer drops you to prestige zero.
Fixed a bug in the spawning algorithm.
Songs and Themes
Corrected inconsistencies and bugs across several musical instruments (note sequences off, patterns of sounds out of order) making them easier to use correctly.
Unfortunately this requires a wipe of all character-created songs and themes, since existing songs break using the corrected instruments.
Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Lundi 2 mai 2011
Open Beta Date, Credit Bonuses, New Items, Character Restorations and Cheaters
Ok guys - today we have a lot of interesting things to talk about - so we'll hop straight to it;
Open Beta Date has been set
We have set our formal Open Beta date: May 18, 2011.
With the builds over the last week fixing most critical issues (still some PB optimization and hardware issues to iron out over the next couple of builds), plus the items currently in the pipeline that addresses additional items, and the near completion of the US-East datacenter, we are now heading forward with removing all restrictions to joining the game on May 18, 2011.
However, between now and the Open Beta date (ie for the next two weeks), we will progressively permit access to MOST PEOPLE (17 or older in the US and 18 or older in the rest of the world) who do two things (1) creates (or already has) a GamersFirst Account with the appropriate info (see the link to the right of the blog) and then (2) submits his/her email (matching the G1 account) at the front of the APB page (www.gamersfirst.com/apb) in the "Newsletter Signup Email form." This will let us slowly turn up "the heat" on our servers before going fully "open."
To that end, tomorrow during maintenance we will let in another batch of about 40,000 people or so.
There are still a few important features that are not yet in the game (new skill rating system probably the most critical and skill-based district segmentation and progression), and various tweaks to spawning but those will be added as we move along, and likely some of the new ones will be there before Open Beta.
Credit Bonuses have been processed
In order to fully test our credit charging features, we offered a 100% credit refund to everyone making an APB credit purchase before the end of May 1. Those have now been credited to the eligible accounts, and the notifications (or rather - reminders) will go out tomorrow morning confirming the credits (though you can see the credits in your accounts tonight). Thanks to all Closed Beta testers who helped us test this critical feature. Next we will be working on making some of those charging screens a little bit prettier :)
New Items ready to go
Over the next two weeks we will be starting the process of releasing a new group of items for lease or purchase. We will start slowly with a couple of new leased guns this week, and then will follow that up with actual permanently purchased items, customizations, symbols etc (those are all permanent to your character). We have several hundred items in the pipeline to release over the next several months, some which will be reserved for Premium players as we go along, and some that will be rare and only available for short periods of time.
Tomorrow during the maintenance window (4:00pm PST) we will release the character restoration system, to reclaim old characters and customizations. We will send out emails to everyone that have characters that they can reclaim.
It keeps baffling us that people are cheating in one moment, then paying for premium, and then continue cheating? Seems really odd, given the amount of money you will be risking for something that literally only will help you aim. We have ON PURPOSE not kicked hackers for over a week to monitor what they are doing. That clearly will change. One semi-famous aimbot site realized that we had caught a slew of their users over the weekend (though we did so silently), then they stopped their own hack, and then earlier today re-enabled it. Sigh... when will they ever learn. Anyway - before Open Beta we will perform various changes, which will be good for the game, and bad for the aimbotters. Long term we have a more radical solution to the issue, which we will share when it's ready :). In the short term we also have what we think is a good solution, and you should see the beneficial effects of that by Open Beta.
Anyway - with that long list of items, we are steaming ahead with all the other long term changes, and I will update this as we progress on the critical long-term PvP and team improvement items.
One day the team will even schedule in some sleep time, but we are not quite there yet :)
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 28 avril 2011
Game update 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 - two for one day on patching!
Here are the patch notes to the latest version
Release 1.5.0 (77 and 78) update
Yup it's a 2fer day! Also - note that today's patch time is going to be quite lengthy between 2 and 3 hours long.
Fixed a high-frequency client crash.
Fixed LC vehicles retaining the speed restrictions of task items they were carrying when they
Fixed the field supplier cooldown rates being swapped for premium and F2P players.
Fixed a character migration bug, enabling migration of old RTW characters.
Enabled new PunkBuster build, to reduce incidences of PB stuttering
Changed the factional restrictions in the Social District. Everyone can now enter the ground floor of both clubs, but the upper-levels will be off-limits to the opposite faction.
Adjusted several locations in Financial and Waterfront to improve balance.
Updated the ‘Whisper’ with temporary VFX and SFX.
Improvements to HVR Scout (Premium Leased Weapon) - Improved Accuracy regeneration rate significantly. Increased fire rate to make it equal to the HVR-762. Initially we had it lower as to provide a downside to offset the increased mobility. After testing it definitely feels that the inability to 'almost' 1 hit is enough. This really helps it feel much more mobile than previously. It also now retains its accuracy on the move.
Slightly lowered damage of the NFA-9
Reduced Reload time on the NFAS.
Made a few fixes to the spawning system. Now always uses targets from the current mission stage, and uses probable spawn locations for players to weigh spawning for dying players. Still a few fixes left here, but spawning is getting closer to being finalized.
Localisation/Translation; Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
Next priority items for the team; observe the results of these two builds, review other high priority bugs and items, while the rest of the team continues implementing the new and improved skill rating system.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 27 avril 2011
New release - version 184.108.40.206 now [post updated Wed night]
(note: Wednesday night 11:00pm PST update)
To clarify - the patch itself (version 76) doesn't actually perform the Punkbuster update, it only changes our game so that it can use the update from the Punkbuster side. We are now waiting for PB to push the change live on their end, and once their systems have been updated as well, then we expect the stuttering issue to be resolved.
We expect this update to happen sometime overnight between Wednesday and Thursday PST (so Thursday morning in Europe).
We are now going live with version (76) of the game.
This build contains one specific fix - a Punkbuster time-lag issue that we have been observing which can make the game slow down for a few seconds every 20 or 30 seconds.
The team is additionally working a long series of other fixes as well, and I will update this page when those are live.
Also - at this point we have invited everyone who applied for Closed Beta. If you have NOT been invited it means one of three things (1) you told us you were too young to play, (2) your application was not processed (usually corrupt DxDiag), or (3) you simply didn't get the email.
While you could contact our customer support for this - the easiest method to get early access is actually to simply create a G1 account, and then sign up for the newsletter at the front of the APB page on gamersfirst.com using the same email.
We will pull people from that batch, and enable their G1 accounts for access as the next big step. I will update this post as soon as we are ready to do so (probably after some additional minor fixes)
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 27 avril 2011
Minor payment issue work-around for European APB customers.
First - if you haven't yet read all the various fixes we just released yesterday, and all about the 100% credit promo in the Marketplace, you can recap that here
This post is to discuss a temporary work-around for European credit and debit card holders, since right now EU card holders are having a problem completing credit purchases in the game browser (no such issues with US card holders since they use a different provider, and also no issues reported with those using PaySafeCard in the EU - ie a prepaid card).
We have been monitoring the activity in payments, and just realized that low EU payments at this hour appear to be because some features of our European payment provider do not work as expected in the live game, due to the dynamic nature of the payment options (there is a different set of options for every country you connect from). So in particular the EU provider tries to bring up "Verified by Visa" or "Secure Code by Mastercard" (and similar for each payment type) - but unfortunately the in-game marketplace browser cannot permit these secondary pop-ups.
The temporary work around is pretty simple - just go to GamersFirst.com to purchase the G1 credits separately before you enter the game - and THEN go back in to the game and spend them (and keep in mind you STILL get to participate in the 100% credit-back promo as long as you spend the credits in the game).
To buy the credits on the website follow these steps:
Second - either click the big Get G1 Credits button - or simply go to the following link to buy credits: http://www.gamersfirst.com/marketplace/get_g1c.php
(remember to make sure you are logged in at the top right corner BEFORE you click "I want this")
Third - simply pick the G1 Credit package that you want to add to your account ($5, $25, $40 etc.) and then pick the payment method (a whole range of methods - and more than what's in the game)
And again - any actual G1 Credits you spend in the game will STILL count toward the 100% free credit rebate that runs through May 1, even if you bought the credits from the website (as long as you SPEND the credits in the APB game itself of course).
We apologize for this minor issue (but then again - that's why we are doing this in a bit of a test mode). We are working with the payment provider to get past this issue.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 26 avril 2011
Patch (75) going out, Store Going Live test with 100% G1 credit refund promo, Patch (76) lined up for tomorrow and "Semi Open Beta" process
Ok - the patches are now streaming in to the game like roaring wildfires, all addressing various issues. There will likely be a patch per day for a few days to deal with various items before Open Beta (and do keep in mind this is STILL a Beta game).
First up; Patch 220.127.116.11 is being applied to the servers right now. It contains the following items:
Launch of 1.5.0 (75
Fixed a server crash.
Fixed player losing Premium status under some conditions.
Stopped witness missions counting towards a players Threat Level and Win Streaks.
Fix for Armas Sniper Preset 2. Added second mod (Bandolier) and now using correct model.
Heavily increased the Objective spawn weighting (above 2 now). This means the objective will count for 2+ enemy players in the mind of the spawning system.
Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
Spawning currently has a couple of bugs that we’re working on and hope to get out as soon as possible.
Performance issue, slated to be fixed in next patch.
Armas Underground Cash Shop Going Live for Live Testing (Armas Marketplace)
Tonight we are rolling out the Armas Marketplace. For the first 5 days you will be able to buy a limited set of items and premiums, AND because we are in a testing period on day 6 we will give you a full (100%) deposit back to your GamersFirst account of any G1 Credits you used in APB for the first 5 days. What that means is that you can buy 3 months of Premium Account access today, get a deposit back on Tuesday, and then buy another 3 months if you so chose, while still keeping the Premium you bought during the first 5 days. Of course you can keep your Credits to spend them later in the year when we start releasing our big list of 1,400+ items that you will be able to buy in the game.
So go wild. This is one of the perks of having been part of the Closed Beta!
Scheduled for tomorrow; Patch (76) fixing PunkBuster CPU spike
Tomorrow we are rolling out a fix to a common PunkBuster CPU spike. Once this patch is live, we should see vastly decreased incidences of random 2-3 second CPU spikes every 15-20 seconds. It's a bug in the last PB implementation causing the issue, and the issue has been addressed.
All the other fixes (GPF caused by sound issues, various graphics bugs, new SkillRating system etc.), and THEN going to Open Beta
After the PunkBuster patch, then it's on to a whole series of Other important items to fix - in particular some more bugs that were triggered by all the changes, new skill rating system, new district segmentation system, and only THEN do we plan to go to Open Beta.
We are likely to offer an IN-BETWEEN stage between Closed and Open beta next week which will work the following way; if you submit your email address on the front of the APB page: www.gamersfirst.com/apb/ AND if your GamersFirst account is NOT YET part of the Closed Beta, AND if you have a GamersFirst account with the same email, THEN we are going to enable your account to participate in the Early-Open-Beta period (semi-open?) just ahead of making it fully Open.
Insanity will ensue! But we are thrilled with where we have gotten so far!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 26 avril 2011
Quick patch, more to come!
We just patched which seems to have solved the most annoying District Switching issue. Next we are tackling a few OTHER much smaller (or rather more hardware specific) GPF issues as well. More info at the end of the day Tuesday.
Also - since we delayed the store launch by one day, tomorrow we are going to do something pretty cool as a short-term event in the store to celebrate how close we are to ending Closed Beta. Did someone say "limited time 100% credit refund promo" as an incentive to try some items without buyer's remorse? Maybe! We;ll see how long we can afford to keep that kind of an insane promo out there after the store goes live.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Lundi 25 avril 2011
Monday update - more patches, more info, Item Store on temporary hold for a day or so
First of all, unfortunately in the last build there is a VERY annoying issue that snuck in along with all the various fixes (in v.73) that makes it so that you cannot switch districts once you have joined one without crashing.
The crash actually happens when you try to unload the current district, and the bug is related to what happens when 50+ people have custom characters and it gets pushed to everyone else in the district, and there are thousands of people in the world, and then you try to exit your district. We didn't catch it in QA, simply because we didn't throw enough people at testing it for this last build.
We expect to have a working patch shortly to put out there. Of course patching this bug will be hard to 100% confirm until we put in under live load and this patch may even require a follow-up patch depending on what data we see in live.
For the next few days we anticipate having several patches and updates that we release until OB is really ready (and yes - keep in mind - THIS IS STILL A CLOSED BETA GAME! Some of the comments seem to disregard this time and time again, though we are now extremely close to go Open Beta). So again - thanks to all our Beta testers for their patience and their diligent reporting of the issues (or in this case, the automated crash reporting system's reporting of the issues).
Also once we get through the general issues, we will then turn toward solving more specific case issues. In particular issues related to specific hardware configurations (this is where your Beta Application DXDiag is very helpful to us in conjunction with the crash report) where we solve for more and more unique combinations of hardware, and much less frequent crashes (like the first-time startup issue we are seeing at some frequency).
We also were originally going to put out the Item Store today for the current group, but we are keeping it on hold until we can confirm the current general fixes. We don't want people buying things before the general issues are solved.
So now - back into the grind (!), and we will update this blog as new patches get applied. And yes - we are intending to be the most communicative game publisher/developer of all time :). I hope we are succeeding so far!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Samedi 23 avril 2011
Sunday patch addressing crash issue and various fixes.
(updated post Saturday night)
We ran in to an unrelated issue with Punkbuster when trying to release the Crash patch tonight, so we have pushed off the patch until 9am Sunday morning PST. Patch 73 is now ready to go out Sunday. Happy Easter!
---------- (back to the original post) -------------
Around that time of yesterday's posting on the leased weapon debate (you can find that posting here since it has an interesting discussion about the way leased items work) we also realized that there were some serious issues with the current Thursday patch, and while we have not fixed ALL the issues, we are going to perform a Saturday release to roll out as many fixes as we have been able to address. And keep in mind - this is STILL Closed Beta (though a much bigger one), and we expect to make a few more tweaks before going full Open Beta.
The team worked all day Friday and Saturday to fix these issues:
Fixed a client crash that occurred frequently in Financial, by the freeway near Veronika Lee.
Fixed corrupt vehicle wheels on deployed vehicles.
Fixed issue where players were not given rewards from completing witnessing missions
Fixed an issue where enforcers could receive tutorial part 2 twice.
Removed vehicle speed penalty for carrying open world loot stashes.
Arresting a Notoriety 5 Criminal now makes you Prestige 5.
Slightly reduced the impact of VIPs on vehicle speed.
Stabba CCG - Improved Accuracy, increased recoil.
Added small contact standing rewards for open world activities.
Reduced prices on most body customizations.
So on a total sidenote, there is an ongoing raging debate about LTL weapons (Less Than Lethal) used by enforcers to arrest criminals. So the CCG change should improve arresting capability for the CCG. I am sure LTL is a topic we will come back to.
And (this was in a previous post) US-East servers are NOT currently located on the East Coast (!). The reason was that it would cause a delay to bring them up there. However, as soon as the true East Coast servers are operational anyone on the US-East server will automagically switch over to that location (and should then see much lower latencies).
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech (Traduction Unskilled)
Vendredi 22 avril 2011
The Next 35,000 invites going out - and the giant virtual currency leased weapon debate!
Ok - so - we have just enabled the next 35,000 people to enter the Beta.
You will be getting your notices in the next hour or so, but you are already permitted in to the game with your GamersFirst accounts. Have great fun in San Paro this weekend!
The second item I want to address head on is the peculiar outcry over the leased-weapon expiration for weapons bought using virtual in-game money. So, I will be VERY frank about it. We have done this for two reasons (1) it actually LOWERS the amount of in-game cash (virtual in game money - which really equals TIME spent in the game) that you need to spend in order to try out every single weapon and find your favorite gun. In some cases it lower this "cost" (ie time spent) substantially before you get a chance to try the guns (as in the item now costing tens of thousands of in-game cash instead of MILLIONS as it was before), and (2), we are (and always planned) to use leased weapons (for real cash) and premium account access as a way to monetize the game - but not before you get a REALLY fair chance to TRY these weapons and features completely for FREE!
Also we are NOT saying there will not be permanent weapons in the game. There WILL be permanent weapons in the game. There will even be permanent weapons you can buy for REAL CASH too. Just NOT NOW while we are trying out game balance and watching player behaviors. And since the GAME IS FREE, we feel somewhat entitled to running various tests in Beta that we think will give us the required information before we come back with a new permanent weapon system both for in-game cash AND for real world cash. This will clearly let us design the best system to keep the game alive for the long term.
How much will permanent weapons cost when they DO get re-introduced, both in terms of in-game cash and real cash? Not sure yet. Again - the overarching goal here it to make it so that first time APB players can pick up the game and try almost all of it RISK FREE for NO MONEY. The second goal is to let people with large amounts of free time on their hands basically play the game long term FOR FREE by grinding (or potentially for some REALLY low nominal initial charge like $2 to get some base items that will give you a pile of items that will suffice to sustain you along with some grinding). The third goal is to let people who want LESS of a grindy experience buy a premium account (for something like $10-$15 a month) which REDUCES the amount of grinding substantially (but since they have TRIED everything FREE, you know what you are getting in to and will never be a "surprised" consumer), and the final goal is to let people who engage with the game long term (ie probably someone who ends up spending "retail-like" amounts of north of 50 USD / 40 EUR / 30 GBP or similar) have a really great long-term experience in the game, not too dissimilar from the experience you would have if you bought a retail product (but with far less risk since you have actually gotten to try EVERYTHING before you ever paid for ANYTHING). All this seems quite fair, given the enjoyment we hope you will have.
In the end, the GREAT news for everyone; if you install the game now, and don't like the game play (or the monetization system as it exist right now) - then simply DON'T BUY ANYTHING right now. That's ok (though our Dev Team won't really feel your loving support if you don't upgrade your account). However - it's perfectly ok if you are not ready to buy premium now, or lease a gun (OR BUY a PERMANENT GUN when that option is available), since we will just presume that at some point in the future, when we have added other features you like, you will then jump in to the game and become a PREMIUM PLAYER when you are having fun! For example; maybe you love racing cars and blowing things up? Great - when the racing system is added, then maybe this game is for you? At that point we hope you come back and re-engage with the game. We have seen this time and time again with our other F2P games, people make an account, and 12 months later return and suddenly become really engaged with the game when it's been updated to match their tastes.
Sounds like a heck of a deal to me! A game which will continue being updated, get new features, get more items, get new game modes (Mad-Max style racing anyone!), and you can continue to try it out casually until you find something that grabs your attention. ONLY AT THAT TIME are you ever likely to convert to a paying player.
I think the confusion is that often console and traditional PC gamers feel their games are "free" (since after making the initial purchase it all "feels" free, when in fact you already spent a lot of money to buy it in the first place, often before you could ever try the game out).
Well, here is the perfect alternative model. Try some weapons. Try some customizations. If you like the direction of things, or just want to expand what you do, then go Premium. If you feel this will be great longer term - then go get some serious permanent items (of course, ONCE they are actually available that is). If you don't like things this very moment, then we invite you to hang around for free, chat with friends, try out new tactics, and wait for future updates that might be more to your taste :) !
Nothing is set in stone anywhere in this game and APB will continue evolving along with the behavior of its players. So enjoy it! And support us (by going premium or buying an item) if you enjoy what we are doing! We clearly would appreciate it as that type of support since it will let us continue working hard to bring you an even better product in the future, and turn APB into the amazing virtual world centered around your custom tastes that we know it can become!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 22 avril 2011
Bonjour à tous,
Nous l'avons attendue fort longtemps et elle est enfin là! La version 1.5 d'APB, il ne nous reste plus qu'à attendre (encore ...) de pouvoir se connecter pour tester tout ça ...
Bon même si la mise à jour du site est beaucoup moins volumineuse que celle d'APB Reloaded, sachez que deux fonds d'écran de plus sont venus enrichir la page Wallpapers et ce grâce à notre valeureux Unskilled
Par ailleurs, nos forums sont maintenant actifs et nous vous y invitons chaleureusement
Mise à jour du site
Ajout de deux fonds d'écran.
Ajout de la news officielle sur la version 1.5.
Ajout de la page Bannières dans la section Divers.
Mise en service des Forums!
Jeudi 21 avril 2011
Version 1.5 is Live!
Whew! So with the exception of some last minute visual issues (for example, the Crim starter car has an issue with its shader, making the car and its wheels have a bizzare glow, and a few other graphical issues) we decided to roll out version 1.5 in closed beta mode. We expect to release small patch updates nearly daily over the next few days to clean out the last few issues, in preparation for inviting A LOT of people next week.
It's a 4GB+ sized patch, so clearly will take some time to patch up. Once you do, our first release of 1.5 has the following items:
1.5.0 (72) External Release Notes
Locked and Preloaded!
Build 18.104.22.168 – early Closed Beta edition of “Open Beta RC-1”
Open World Crimes and Witnessing
Witnessing has RETURNED and it's bigger and badder than ever! Criminals earn notoriety and stash by committing crimes all around San Paro. Any crime – ram raids, stealing cars or mugging citizens –will earn Criminals notoriety and add to their stash. Criminals will want to get their notoriety as high as possible before dropping their stash off at the Money Launderer who'll give them an APB$ bonus based on their notoriety.
Enforcers however, need to be on the lookout for Criminals committing crimes. When an Enforcer sees a Criminal commit a crime they can "Witness" them (by pressing ALT) and start a mini-mission. When killed during this mini-mission Criminals will drop their stash which Enforcers can then grab. Whoever has the stash needs to make a run for their drop zone to get the cash! Get rich quick, or die tryin'!
Added new ‘Stash’ logic for criminals. All cash from open world crimes is now added to a stash of dirty money rather than directly to the player’s actual cash. Players are required to drop off the stash at a money launderer to receive the actual cash.
Added new Work in Progress (WIP) Heads-up Display (HUD) icons to show stash amount and current notoriety multiplier – the higher your notoriety, the higher the reward.
Dropping off the stash adds cash equal to the stash amount times your multiplier and then reduces your notoriety to zero.
Money gained from dropping off the stash is split between group members.
While playing in a group, all group members’ notoriety will return to zero when one member drops off a stash, so remember to return stashes as a group!
Added new ‘Witnessing’ Mechanic for Enforcers. Enforcers can witness crimes performed by criminals with a stash over $100. Witnessing this crime starts a 5 minute witness mission between the two player groups where they fight it out over the stash. First to drop-off the stash gets to keep it.
Added new HUD element for Enforcers on targeting a criminal to show stash amount if witnessing the criminal will result in an immediate match.
No HUD element means that you can’t be matched against that criminal due to other restrictions.
Increased rewards for completing a mugging and added a reward for ramraid.
Adjusted amount of items pedestrians will drop when mugged.
Altered vehicle drop off rewards based on vehicle cost.
Altered item drop off rewards.
Never fear spawning hundreds of meters away from your team again. We've made significant improvements to the spawning system so that you are more likely to spawn near your teammates. Also, you are more likely to spawn close to your target and with your other fallen teammates. Gone are the days of spawning right on top of an enemy!
New Spawning system implemented. This takes into account locations of teammates, enemies, objectives and dead players (both teammates and player) to determine the best location to spawn nearby.
Increased spawn time to offset this. Takes slightly longer now, but you spend far less time running back to the action.
Tripled number of potential spawn points in both districts to aid in better spawning.
Weapon and Vehicle Leasing
After serious consideration and review of closed beta participant behavior, we have added additional APB$ money sinks to the game and simultaneously reduced the initial in-game money cost for several items. All weapons and preset vehicles will now be leased for 10 days at a time before the items are repossessed by the thuggish people working the Repossession Squad. After the 10 days weapon or preset vehicle are unequipped and any modifiers that were in the item will be returned to you and can be reused later.
These changes let players try different weapons and preset vehicles without having to first earn millions of APB$. Players can try a weapon or preset vehicle for a short period of time for relatively little APB$ instead of only expensive permanent choices. This change will control in-game inflation and controlling inflation will make it easier and more fun for new players to come into game and participate in the in-game economy elements like the Auction House, and also allows us to create a new set of base prices for future weapons
Weapons and Preset Vehicles are now Leased with in-game cash (this change does not affect Equipment, Modifications and Customizable items).
Leased items are not tradable.
Upgrades are automatically removed and returned to player when a weapon expires so they can be applied to another weapon.
Adjustments to most costs for weapons and vehicles.
Removed pickup time for items.
‘Upgrades’ renamed to ‘Modifiers’.
lMods have been coloured to denote grouping. Characters can only have one mod of each colour type equipped at any time to prevent stacking.
lMost upgrades now have detrimental effects as well as benefits.
Rebalanced all existing modifiers.
Reworded ‘Activate Nitro’ and ‘Activate Field Supplier’ keybinds.
Fixed the ‘look behind’ key exploit for burst fire weapons.
‘Witness’ now set to Alt key.
This leaves Look Behind unbound by default (note: this isn't the fix to the fire bug :P)
Reduced impulse applied to ragdolls from being shot.
Very slightly reduced crouch speed to make it fit the animation better.
Slightly reduced the extra time players stay arrested.
Added neutral vehicle collision immunity.
If a player is rammed by someone not on their mission, no collision damage will be applied in most cases.
The camera now bobs when the player is moving, adding a bit more dynamism to the game.
Fixed the “Supercop” enforcer achievement unlocking after an arrest streak of 1, now unlocks after an arrest streak of 5.
Adjusted the number of levels per contact.
Tutorial contacts have 5 levels, Boss contacts 15 levels, and all other contacts have 10 levels.
The Standing required per contact has not been increased; players now just hit milestones more often.
Rewards spread out more throughout contact tree.
High-End vehicles now unlock earlier.
Enabled ‘Simon Tran’ and ‘Pagan Bloodrose’ again. These contacts don’t have any progression or missions, but we’ll be adding experimental new mission types to them in future.
Added cash reward for levelling contacts.
Items unlocked by contacts are now shown on the contact pledge screen, in order of level unlocked.
Locked items are now shown under the buy menu of all contacts, rather than just the contact that unlocks it.
Players are now able to pledge to and progress any unlocked contact individually, regardless of the group leader’s pledge.
Re-enabled UI stats for weapon properties (they were previously disabled for balance testing).
Colby CSG-20: Now is more accurate with a tighter spread than the JG (though less damaging)
ACT44: Damage lowered
Colby RSA: Increased recoil, slightly lowered firing rate and slowed the accuracy gain slightly.
OBEYA CR762: Damage lowered, now loses accuracy if fired at full cyclic rate.
DMR-SD: Recoil Lowered, Movement accuracy in MMS increased. Fire rate slightly increased.
OPGL: Fire rate substantially decreased, slightly increased fuse timer. Slightly reduced kill radius.
SHAW: Increased Damage, increased minimum accuracy, increased horizontal recoil.
N-FA9 : Increased Damage, slightly increased accuracy
SAS-PDW: Significantly increased accuracy.
OCA-626: Increased recoil.
PMG-28: Increased recoil.
Re-enabled vehicle stats in the UI.
Task items in vehicles now slow down the vehicle.
Slowdown is based on task item type and number of items.
VIPs now slow down vehicles.
Vehicle spawn cost now varies based on vehicle (starter vehicle is free).
Players are now able to create one character initially for free in a free account. As an extra bonus, during Beta phase, everyone will be able to create a SECOND free character for as long as the game is in Beta.
More character slots can be purchased from the Armas Marketplace, and a player could in theory have a very large number of characters in each account spread across the different servers. The benefit to the player is that if the player buys a "Premium" to upgrade the account, it applies to ALL characters in that account as long as the Premium is active, regardless of how many characters the account contains.
Complete overhaul of all post-process and lighting values.
Modified values to iris response.
Balanced every district material containing emissive values, to help mitigate some of the over-blooming that was happening.
Vehicle emissive maps toned down in order to prevent detail corruption.
Signage balanced so that it is much more legible.
Skyscraper windows balanced so the colour variation comes though.
Depth of field greatly modified in order to:
Set back the plainer, LOD2 geometry.
Help soften the harsh edge of buildings in general.
Give a better sense of depth to the environment.
Improved day/night cycle, including a 1 in 5 chance of heavy fog cycle:
16:00 culminates in heavy sea fog and overcast sky.
03:00 – 05:00 has heavy night fog with darker shadows and brighter pools of light, to give the occasional horror/film noir vibe.
Re-lit many areas where bounce lights were set too brightly.
Ever get bored of grey? We were bored to tears by it. Some of the worst offending spawn zones have had an initial material pass to add a bit of colour and variety to San Paro.
Many spawn zones adjusted in order to ‘plant’ the relevant contact characters more effectively.
Lilith and Jeung can now be found hanging out together at the Beltane with Bloodrose-themed feature graffiti.
Tyron Sennet shifts his focus to matters of planning… A better context and a better view of his jacket customisation.
Bonita Benjamin no longer stands in a dark corner, but is brought out to her own table outside the Golden Mall.
Shift given more boyish pose, and now leans next to some of her own graffiti.
Double B given a more prominent position in the subway.
Mirri Kent now has something to look at.
tu Phoenix spawn zone given some Prentiss theming.
Some of the contacts given a visual update to bring them in line with some of our more recent/incoming character assets. Notable changes:
Miguel Esteban – Urban gumshoe and brawler.
Shift – Riot version as seen in intro cinematic.
Violet Prentiss – Gets a hot cowgirl style to compliment the accent.
Kaspar Danko – Grizzled army vet and overall badass.
South West side of the Waterfront District now has ‘Ophelia Customs’ blimp to aid navigation around that area of the city.
Lots of bug fixes applied to props and features. Some examples:
‘FU’ two-pane shop window corruption fixed.
Glass modified so that restaurant interiors are now fully visible.
Some of the shop windows given a facelift.
Organic food no longer available at petrol stations.
Social District given a bit of a visual revamp:
Vehicle display zones improved.
New banners and blimp.
Introduction of incoming contact, Ophelia.
Shop interiors made more colourful and varied.
Added ramps to north end of Financial District freeway to tie up routes more effectively.
Fixed several locations where players could exit the world or get within geometry.
Added some cover to a roof in waterfront that leads to a nasty camping location. Still work to do here but this should help in the meantime.
Added a large number of new vehicle spawn machines to both maps.
Additionally, all vehicle spawn machines that aren’t in factional spawn areas are no longer faction-locked
Fixed a non-functioning graffiti target in Waterfront.
Removed a possible Truck mission target that was in an area that a truck cannot get out of.
Reduced number of missions from 5 to 3.
Updated initial tutorial mail.
Added ‘Ready’ mechanic to tutorial, with an explanation of how it works.
Removed majority of on-screen popup tutorials.
Removed ‘Welcome to San Paro’ achievement.
Added following tutorial mails sent to players:
Explanation of how contact progression works.
How to equip and use modifications.
Importance of Teamplay and group composition.
Open World Crimes and Arresting…
Players can no longer send each other APB$ in the mail.
Removed the world recommendation when creating new characters. Server names will include their location so players can choose the one they want.
Minimum client screen resolution is now 1024x768, in order to increase the size of some UI screens which were getting cluttered.
Cyrillic and accented characters are now disallowed for character names. Some players were unable to interact with each other due to localised keyboards and OS settings. Russian players will be moved to Russian servers once those go live.
Updated the in-game browser version to Gecko 22.214.171.124 / Firefox 3.6.13.
Fixed the in-game video recorder saving video at the wrong aspect ratio on ATI machines.
Updated the in-game video capture code to use the latest LibTheora, LibVorbis and LlibOgg libraries.
The new version of the encoder should improve performance and video quality, and includes SSE2 optimisations.
Cleaned up the character select UI
Increased the font size of the email address.
The account type is now displayed on the same line as the account type header.
Decreased the size of the header panel and slightly increased the separation between the header and character list.
Hooked up contact levelling emails.
Lengthened contact and organisation biographies significantly.
Added 88 Biography emails as random rewards detailing companies, manufacturers, celebrities and the city itself.
New Developer splash screen intros added.
Updated and reintegrated the intro cinematic.
Fixed audio display points in the Social District having the wrong ‘Obtained By’ text.
Hooked up URLs across the game to bring up the relevant pages using the in-game browser.
Adjusted customisation limits for free players.
Clothing/Tattoos are now 3 symbols per item.
Vehicles are 7 symbols.
Client Size, Performance and Stability
Fixed top stability issues:
Client crash due to rendering issue (seemed to happen to players on death mostly).
Client crash caused by changing the colour of unselected duplicated layers in the symbol designer.
Client crash that happened sometimes when you accessed your inventory.
Added DXT texture compression, which reduces in-game memory usage and significantly improves the texture/graphical quality for players on a 32-bit OS.
Updated WWise libraries, increasing game performance (more so on lower-end machines)
Recompressed the game audio with no noticeable drop in quality. This substantially reduces the total client size on disk (now ~4GB).
There is a known issue with some shaders for the starter vehicles, in particular for the Crim starter vehicles which will make the tires and sometimes the whole car look insane. Will be addressed in an early patch.
Much of the new and edited in game text has still to be translated and entered into the game. Playing APB in languages other than English may result in English text being shown anyway in some places.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 17 avril 2011
Beta Updates; Version 1.5 Updates; Updates all Around!
Ok, last week was INTENSE to say the least. Crazy INSANE in fact.
Also the level of anxiety among our posters seem to reflect the same kind of intensity that we have inside the team. And yes - we are a pretty small team making giant changes, so bear with us.
The Studio Team spent insane crunch hours getting version 1.5.0 up to snuff and in particular battling a couple of really nasty and hard to isolate crash-bugs which eventually were vanquished, while the Operations Team worked it's tail off to make sure that the EU servers were all running as designed. As of Friday, things had finally started to get sorted out.
So, this coming week, we have BIG plans. Unless something last minute comes up with version 1.5.0, we are ready (any day now) to release it to production. Once we release the build - it also means WE WILL WIPE OUT all existing characters and progression, since the new upgrades, progression systems etc, are not compatible with the old way of doing things.
As soon as this build is live, THEN we plan to invite EVERYONE else who applied for Closed Beta (!).
I can hear the questions already so I will try to answer them ahead of time;
Q- what day will you release version 1.5?
A - when it's ready.
Q - when will it be ready?
A - we really truly hope it will happen this week! But as with anything in game development, there could be unforseen snags along the way.
Q - if I am NOT already a Closed Beta tester, but have been sitting on my hands patiently waiting to get back in to San Paro, is there any chance you will invite me before 1.5 goes out?
A - No. But if you DID complete a Beta Application in February, then you are first in line to get in while the game is still in Closed Beta and as soon as 1.5 is out. (see note below). That means this COULD happen this week.
Q - are you SURE you will not invite me before you release 1.5, especially if 1.5 gets delayed?
A - yup - we are NOT planning to invite more people to 1.4.x. Could it happen? Only if there is something terribly wrong and we revert back to an earlier version or there is some massive delay with 1.5 - but barring that - there will be no new invites until 1.5 is live.
Q - why will you not invite me before 1.5?
A - because we have ALREADY tortured and abused 25,000 people (or more exactly the 20,399 people who properly activated their closed beta characters) and now we REALLY want people to experience (and TEST) version 1.5 more than anything else, since that version is so different (and improved) from 1.4.x versions. So no point in having more people in 1.4.x, when we REALLY need you in 1.5. The priority is to get everyone else who completed the beta app in to 1.5 while it's in Closed Beta, and after that, open up the Open Beta and invite the full original 150,000 who registered an interest, and after that slowly open this up to the world
Q - will version 1.5 be Open Beta?
A - sort of. The very first release of 1.5 will in fact now happen in Closed Beta mode. That means people cannot actually buy things on the first day this goes live. There will also be some other oddities with the first version of this build, but we will share those in the official release notes.
Q - will there be another character wipe after 1.5 has gone out?
A - maybe. There will be a wipe WITH the release of 1.5. But even after 1.5 has BEEN out, this is a really tricky question, since we presume we haven't done anything mental. However, in case we have done something mental, keep in mind that this is STILL Closed Beta. And as such, any Closed Beta character and account could in theory be wiped at any time, and even multiple times (though we would hope NOT to ever have to do that). As soon as we officially go to Open Beta (and especially after we start taking payments), then we will clearly try to not wipe anything again (the operative word is "try" - since there are extreme cases where changes have to be made even after OB release).
Critical changes completed
As he normally does, Scott (our Development Producer) will prepare the official release notes for 1.5, but in the meantime I will share the list of the most critical changes that are now finished (or lined up to be added as a first patch to 1.5)
Core changes already in version 1.5:
New Spawning System - unlike the old system where players often spawned in opponents faces or far away from the action, the new system actually works logically; you will respawn near your own team mates and generally away from where you last died. The actual code is quite complicated given the sheer number of strange conditions and team locations the system has to account for. But our development team created something really great. From our playtests the new system makes a lot of sense and actually make you feel part of the same team.
Witnessing - you know this REALLY is working well and is something quite special when one of our developers witnessed another developer during a playtest, and suddenly the entire development team descended into an absolutely insane chase through the city to grab the loot before the crim claimed the money. We lost a large chunk of development time to this unforeseen side effect of making a great system.
Modifiers (formerly "upgrades") - the new Modifiers simply behave completely differently than the original "upgrades" did back in the day. Now if you pick "Kevlar" you will surely become much harder to kill, but you will also run much slower. By the time you have 3x Kevlar implants, you will run like a tank (or like a grief truck). All the mods now also sit in color-coded ‘classes’, with only one mod per class being allowed at any time.
Individual pledging - Say goodbye to district chat containing “Looking for <Insert Contact Name Here> group” since in the new system players will be able to pledge individually when in any group, so you’re always progressing while on missions with your mates.
Camera changes - The camera now moves more naturally when the player is running/sprinting adding that little bit more dynamism to the game.
Reduced run-time memory usage - Implemented use of DXT Texture compression which reduced our run-time memory usage and significantly improved the graphical quality for users on 32-bit machines. Should be a welcome change for all non-64-bit users in the world.
Reduced client size - Reduced client disk space by several changes, much of the savings coming from audio re-compression. It looks like the final build will be just at 4.2GB through the launcher and under that for the DVD-style installer. This means we are now near 1/2 the original game size (original size was 7.8GB) without giving up much (if any) perceptible quality. In fact, the game looks visually much nicer now than it did during the original release.
Critical changes NOT YET completed - but scheduled as a very early patch to 1.5:
Skill Ratings - ie - the brand new threat level system based on a true skill rating algorithm, that in turn will integrate with the matchmaking system, and how that eventually figures in to district segmentation. The skill rating implementation is probably the most critical pending change, and the one we hope to roll out as soon as possible after the first release of 1.5, to finally settle the "why do I get slaughtered all the time" issue.
District Skill Segmentation - to make the game more MMO-like, we will actually let people that have "progressed" in the game go play in their more sophisticated districts (and any upstart who WANTS to go join them can certainly do so at their own risk). This should let people who are casual players play in a world that's just slightly different than players who are more serious competitors. Obviously we will be sharing much more info about this particular feature as we get closer to releasing this.
So stay tuned. Much stuff going on this week, and if you continue following the blog, facebook and the forums, then we surely will have a lot of fun things to share with you this week.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 13 avril 2011
EU Servers are now live!
That was a slog - but as of about an hour ago, the EU servers are now live!
Right now we have two EU servers running in Frankfurt - and I am very curious to see the performance of those that used to play across the pond before.
More news to come shortly about the upcoming patch.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 8 avril 2011
Steaming toward Build 1.5.0, first in Closed then in Open Beta, and then End of the Grief-Truck era!
Another 'phew - what a week' moment!
On The Road Again Still
Since I am still on the road, I will make this short - but we have some exciting items to share, so, at minimum I will get those out before crashing for the night. Our team of absolute fantastic troopers are working their tails off on progressing build 1.5.0 (basically the version which will eventually become Open Beta 1), and while all the core code is now in place, they are working like maniacs to track down some final pesky crash issues and other critical fixes that need to be solved before the game can go live using the new version.
1.5.0 - the Beta Path
Originally 1.5.0 was considered to be "Open Beta." Because of the delay in getting this build live, what we are LIKELY to do is the following, which actually makes 1.5.0 the next build in the closed beta series instead;
As soon as the current issues have been worked out, we will release 1.5.0 in Closed Beta Mode to the current 25,000 players. This will ALSO wipe the current characters and progression from the game (but you will be able to recover them later - see note below).
If the initial release appears stable then we will bring the EU servers online (see below) and now all 25,000 players can access BOTH the EU and US servers (though you will have to make new characters for each world you want to play in)
If that works ok, then we will mass-invite at least another 25,000 players (for 50,000 total) STILL in Closed Beta mode (that would be a very large chunk of remaining EU players)
If that works fine shortly thereafter we will invite ALL remaining eligible Closed Beta applicants.
If that works fine, we will then GIVE all Closed Beta testers a temporary Premium Account (just to test all premium functions system wide) for 24 or 48 hours.
If Premiums work fine, then we will ENABLE monetized content (ie leased weapons, permanent mods, character slots etc.)
If there are STILL no major issues, then we will open up the floodgates, and formally go into Open Beta!
Once we are in Open Beta, we are looking to see if we can let you reclaim custom characters from the Closed Beta. This will likely be the case. Along the way you will ALSO be able to reclaim any of the original characters from the original version of the game.AND it's likely you will get to keep items that you create in the Closed Beta stage of 1.5.0, when you have short access to the REAL premium account status for free.
If anything hits a snag along those 8 steps above, we may pause the roll-out at that step, but at minimum you would know exactly what comes next.
After the OB roll-out we expect we will be in monetized Open Beta until August, and will be iterating on new districts, new content, and more than anything, the new balance, progression, witnessing, rating and spawning that will all be introduced during various stages of Open Beta (some from the very start), all the while we will be introducing newer and cooler premium content (did anyone say "Swat Gear?").
We have FINALLY secured the network equipment's passage. What a freakin ride. SUPPOSEDLY it all gets finally delivered on Monday. Presuming this is TRUE (I am not customs and cannot guarantee this), then we have had a fun 3 week adventure in how not to ship and clear equipment. In fact some of it got returned all the way to the US so we could reship it with a different carrier, one that was actually going to be able to clear it through customs. I am now holding my breath it will be there Monday. If it is there Monday, then it will still take a couple of days after that before we are online in the EU. But it's certainly very close at this point.
The End of the Grief-Truck Era
In addition to major changes to spawning, upgrades, witnessing and so on for the first version of 1.5.0 - it's also very significant for a VERY specific reason. 1.5.0 will be the death of the grief-truck. Many have rightly pointed out that what causes the griefing is the fact that it's very difficult to tell the Physics system NOT to blow you up, since collisions between car and car are tricky to separate from car and house, or car and pole (and those two cases clearly SHOULD blow you up, presuming you were not being rammed in to the wall or pole using a grief-truck). However - Aphadon dug around in the darkest corners of the code, and put in place code that actually fixes the issue. Now, there are a few strange side effects from this fix (the grief-trucker will BOUNCE you off a wall instead of blowing you up), but it basically makes you NOT blow up when a non-opposing player smashes you into the wall (no such luck when it's an opposing player). How will this fix play out? Well I for one cannot wait to see it in 1.5.0 to see how people react to it!
The Start of the User Control Era
Through OB releases after OB-1, we will be introducing new ways for users to take charge of their in-game experience. The improved rating systems will clearly help with some of the experience improvement, but, more so all the new ways players will be able to initiate matches, and engage each other. I will share more details as we get closer to the various systems (Chaos, Turfwars, Racing, DJ etc.), and especially as we contemplate which one of the new systems we will be releasing first.
But before any of that - right this moment, we will continue to crunch to get this next giant milestone delivered! Woo woo!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 3 avril 2011
Short travel update
This week I am on the road, so this will be a very short post. The team continues toward Open Beta at a blistering pace, and we will be meeting to take some important decisions about the direction of the game in the middle of this week.
I will post an EU equipment update in the next few days, and also some exciting news about the progress of the next version of the game (aka APB 1.5), since it features big changes from the current version (including spawning and progression, and later also the new skill-rating methods)
PS - and watch out for post commentary by "fake Bjorn" - someone who has made an OpenID profile identical to my own.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 29 mars 2011
CB4 update (release 68)
So today we launched CB4 (build 68) of the game, in order to perform some tweaks before the next big release. I have outlined the release notes below. The key take-away is that we are making room for the new upgrade system, new progression and new rating system, and in the processes we have temporarily 'suspended' most of the current upgrades, so we can slot in the new system seamlessly.
Also, as a further update on the EU servers, we have some continuing bad news; we are still in waiting mode to get the equipment cleared, and at this pace we don't anticipate it will happen until next week. In order to stop this frustrating process we have also taken some drastic contingency measure and are shipping MORE equipment with a different carrier just to get the stuff (at this point ANY stuff) in to the country. If all goes well it will be there first part of next week.
Upgrades: All upgrades except Field Supplier, Happy Landings, Mobile Field Supplier, Blast Radius and Nitro temporarily suspended (set to 0% effectiveness) until we release the next big update with the new upgrade adjustments.
Bug Fixed: 'SuperCop' and 'Busted' achievements now complete at correct times.
Bug Fixed: Audio display points show correct description text.
Bug Fixed: “Just like Momma used to make” mission.
Kill requirement removed from 'capture and hold multiple checkpoint' missions.
Kill requirement removed from 'capture and hold item' missions.
Improved network latency in Social Districts (nearly doubled the frame-rate)
Dolton Fresno: Slightly raised rear end.
NFAS: Damage Reduced again, slightly reduced spread, increased ammo available.
OBIR: Reduced Horizontal recoil.
SHAW: Reduced Damage significantly. Increased accuracy, reduced horizontal spread, increased vertical spread.
NTEC: Increased Recoil. Reduced Recoil recovery.
OCA: Reduced Accuracy increase when crouching.
OPGL : Reduced Kill Radius.
Joker SR15 Carbine: Improved Fire Rate.
HVR 'Scout': Improved Damage (now a 2 shot kill, 'just'), reduced fire rate to be a fraction slower than the HVR.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 25 mars 2011
The Missing Skill-Ratings, and a Thanks to Hackers
Ok - so time has come to lift the covers off one of the core problems in APB; the lack of meaningful ratings that underpin the "threat" and matchmaking systems.
There are various important core issues that the team is working on (such as spawning in your enemy's face in particular, which the team has been working on some really elegant solutions for), but the lack of real ratings is critical since it causes a ripple-effect of problems. Matchmaking now consist of a very smart and sophisticated matchmaking algorithm, paired with a very "basic" (and maybe even "dumb") rating algorithm.
We are fixing all this as one of the reasonably early Open Beta tasks (not the very first OB release, but in the second round of OB or so), and at this point one of the core feedback items from Closed Beta is - "that's some crappy matchmaking." We agree. Let me explain.
No Real Skill-Rating
For a game that has some really cool and well engineered systems, it was a bit of a shocker to discover that in spite of relying almost exclusively on computer generated match making (unlike games like Counter-Strike where you make your own matches), no real thought was made to create a decent skill-rating system to feed those match-making decisions.
APB has a slew of different level and progression measurements visible to the player with titles like "threat", "rating" etc. This gets terribly confusing since "rating" as used in the APB UI actually means "progression" (or in MMO terms really "Level," not to be confused with APB's use of the word "Level"), and "Threat" is actually supposed to be a rough representation of "skill-rating" in more traditional game language.
Right now "Threat" - ie what 'should' be rating and what is the critical value used by the matchmaking system - is computed using a mechanic that tries to emulate Premiership League standings (or "soccer" to all the Americans reading this). A win gives you 3 points, a draw 1 point and a loss 0. Then APB takes that score over your last 50 matches, with a focus on the last 20 and figures out if you are above or below your opponents using this crude straight-win system. No regard is paid to how many matches you have played (is this match 52 or match 952?) and no regard for what level of player you have beat/lost to in the past. All wins and losses are treated equally. Even if you were to beat uneven odds (like 1 v 3).
Thus if you have 20 wins in a row, your "threat" (your skill-rating) balloons. Even if all you did was beat 20 newbies. And you will then be tossed into 1 v 3 or even 1 v 4 scenarios as you have a high threat level. Killing newbies still shoots your "threat" level through the roof. If you had close fought losses against true veterans, those losses are still considered as bad as if you had lost to some really bad players.
Since there is no consideration for the skill of those you beat, the number of people you beat, nor the manner in which you beat them, you are not ever going to hone in on a TRUE skill rating in the current system, and it becomes easy to game the system. For anyone familiar with the XBox True Skill system the above system probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We agree.
Chess, Glicko and TrueSkill
The fundamental idea behind a good rating system is to let people slowly hone in on the rating they truly should be over a long period of time, and then try to predict matches that will provide the best experience to the players involved.
I have been involved in many different game companies in the past, and we always ended up going back to Chess ratings as the foundation for our rating algorithms ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chess_rating_system ). People have been extending chess ratings for a long time, most recently Microsoft's implementation of the TrueSkill rating system, which is a rather complex system, but fundamentally is an expression of Chess ratings applied in online matches.
There are less computationally intensive rating systems such as Glicko ( Glicko ) which strike a balance between the "drifts" that tend to occur in pure Chess ratings and the complexities of the TrueSkill implementations.
So part of what we are trying out, will be a system that uses a LOT of the different characteristics of the above rating systems. It is still going to be a little while with the current wild Threat system (sure - go ahead and exploit it, lose 20 matches in a row, and then go kill newbies if you like since your threat will suddenly seem "low") - but clearly it's a top priority to get this worked out in Open Beta.
This leads to another requrement...
In Most MMOs (like in Knight Online, another game that we publish) people tend to get grouped into distinctly different combat segments. In KOL the groupings are for levels 0-35, 35-60 and 60-83. The groupings divide players out based on the types of equipment they have and the amount of progression they have made in the game.
In APB this isn't strictly applicable given the hybrid nature of the Shooter/MMO and the greater emphasis on skill rather than progression, but at minimum "protecting" lower rated players from the being "hammered" turns out to be really important.
Therefore the next big thing is going to be creating some basic "skill-level districts." If a player doesn't 'volunteer' to join a higher skill-rated district, then he/she will be kept in the district with the most appropriate skill-ratings for his/her current skill-rating. We'll share more details on how this will be handled, as we get closer to releasing game changes that incorporate this.
Sure a lower level player can VOLUNTARILY join a higher rated district (maybe his/her friends are there), but the default action would be to put you in a district that most closely matches your current skill.
User Control Debate
One of the key items we keep debating internally is the amount of end-user control we should expose to the players in parallel with the Open World systems that will always be the core of the system.
In other words, how "counter-strike-like" we should make the start up of some matches. In Counter-Strike, since you can determine the exact nature of the team and your opponents, you actually are less dependent on a good rating system. So, one potential fix is to permit players the ability to queue-up and start their own fights (of course NOT removing anything from the current city or mission systems, just adding this ability in addition to the the mission systems).
Even though that might seem counter to some of the original APB ideas of launching things under the veneer of the living city, giving people direct game control would potentially let players set up matches that the system would never really promote on its own (who would NOT like 14 v 14 fights if they were available?) Our addition of Chaos rules and Turf Wars certainly adds some elements of session fights, and Chaos and Turf Wars are certainly our next big focus, but in addition to those enhancements, we are also debating if we should add direct match tools to the game. That way you can decide to play Open Missions (the current system), Chaos/Turf Districts or Player Matches.
We are happy to take feedback on this point, though I have a feeling that the true feedback would come in terms of a user trial (ie - we might put some of that in there and see where players go). The timing however, is obviously a little foggy, given the enormous amount of changes we are already working on and the huge backlog of game changes we are working on right now.
Finally - Thanks to Hackers
For the past 3 weeks we have been watching and observing user behavior in Closed Beta. We'd like to extend a "thanks" to the 60 odd players that have been toying around with various hack tools (about 0.4% of the players). Thanks to your hard cheating work, we are now much better equipped to deal with you going forward. How? I guess you will find out.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Quick Friday morning update
First - no - our critical routing equipment is still stuck in customs. Turns out that FedEx is really lousy at moving equipment. Great at moving papers. Lousy at actually getting stuff cleared (unlike true freight-forwarders, which we clearly should have used from the start - a lesson for us). But it's being worked out, and we are hoping to get this through in the next few days.
It's a bit sad since the servers are now all running at full speed in Europe, but the network setup is incomplete until we get the last batch of equipment in place. What we are now operating on won't give us sufficient bandwidth for the live game (we can run and test it from here, but not actually turn on live traffic).
I will provide an update on this Monday.
Also - later today I will make a full blog-post talking about some critical changes that are coming shortly to the game.
And I know that in a few hours our community guys will release something new on our Facebook page Facebook
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 20 mars 2011
End of Closed Beta Week 3 - prepping for Open Beta
This will be a very short update.
Right now we have 25,000 testers in the game, and now also well over 250,000 people that have registered their interest in the game. We continue to see between 600 and 1,600 simultaneous players at different times of the day, which is great and a slightly better than expected number from the small population we have let in so far.
We are still performance testing and improving things during CB3 and working on some alternate configurations to further reduce server-frame-lag, but overall we now have a rather stable setup. We'll analyze this weekend's results on Monday, and then decide where we go from here.
The dev, design and art teams are still working on a few minor tweaks in CB, but are mostly now focused on the Open Beta build that's coming up. Most importantly the OB build works out several core issues that we have to solve before going into OB, everything from how to recover previous character data, to how to test taking premium payments, to working on several progression issues.
The IT side is working hard to get the EU datacenter configured for the CB-3 build. Unfortunately we found out at the end of last week, that a pair of critical network components needed to finalize the build have gotten stuck in EU customs, so it's a little unclear when those will be cleared and delivered. The servers are all nearly set up, but now we need those additional Edge networking components before going live. We hope to get an update Monday from customs, and hopefully get our items back in the next few days. As soon as we do we will enable the EU location.
And yes, as soon as the EU launch is imminent, I will post here - and then we'll unleash at least 25,000 people on the EU datacenter as well (and anyone already playing CB in the US can then ALSO play on the EU location, just for the heck of it).
And NO, I know this waiting thing is KILLING you, and it's KILLING us too, so no point in repeating how much YOU deserve to be in the game. We agree. You DO deserve to be in the game.
And we WILL enable the game to everyone as soon as everything is ready. AND we still promise that all those who applied for the closed beta WILL get early access, ahead of Open Beta. And when the EU location goes live, that's when we will NEED all you additional testers to try it out.
Looking forward to seeing you in San Paro.
I will continue to post at least every 2-3 days to keep everyone updated, as well as daily on the message boards along with all the developers and the designers.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 15 mars 2011
Doubling the community again - 10,000 more invites just sent
This morning we have confirmed the stability of the Los Angeles based servers. We have also confirmed that the server-side frame-rate now is holding steady at much higher levels than in the first part of CB, so we have now been able to bump the district population up by 20% in each district as well.
Based on this, we just sent out the invites to the next 10,000 eligible CB applicants. For those that were included in this wave but who were NOT from US-West locations, keep in mind that you are playing from a long distance and at this stage any lag you see should be network specific.
As I mentioned in the last post, the team in the EU are continuing the work on our datacenter locations, and as soon as that's up and running we will start inviting EU and Russian beta testers whole-sale into the EU location. Right now while most new invites went to North American players, quite a few long-distance players have been also included in this current wave, so just keep in mind the distance to your game server when you participate.
Keep in mind that when you have been enabled you also get automatic access to our Closed Beta forums where you will be able to post about the Closed Beta experience (when your G1 account has been enabled in the Cloaed Beta you will be able to see the Closed Beta Forum links here: Forums
See you in San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 13 mars 2011
End of Closed Beta Week 2 - CB3 around the corner, new invites will go out as soon as CB3 is live !
Closed Beta Build 3 Status
Unless our QA catches anything unexpected - we presume we will release Closed Beta build 3 (technically build 67) at the start of the week. As soon as that happens, we have queued up another 10,000 new invites to the updated beta to be sent out along with the release of CB3. That doubles the population from 10,000 now, to 20,000 as soon as we go live.
If everything goes as planned (and most of the performance lag spikes are confirmed as fixed in this build) then tentatively this MIGHT be the last major Closed Beta build except a few minor balancing fixes and possibly some progression updates, while the team now focuses on Open Beta and all the new components that are a part of the Open Beta (including the entire purchase sequence, which of course has a lot of interesting issues that we need to deal with and work out), as well as a lot of new functionality.
The European datacenter status
We have engineers continuing to work this week (just as they were last week) in Continental Europe to finalize all the server configs in the EU datacenter. As soon as that's up and running and all systems are "go" - we will then go live with the EU focused tests. The original plan called for March 15 for start of the EU test, but given the amount of work left after last week's heroic efforts by the team (generally until 3am every night), I am ready to bet its going to be a few days later than that. So a more conservative estimate brings that to March 22-23 or so start for the EU CB release and performance test. But if it CAN be done before that date - then we would of course proceed as quickly as possible and invite everyone as rapidly as we can.
In the meantime - below are the CB3 (build 67) patch notes. With these latest balance and performance updates, we are getting very close to prime time (ie the time when we START the very long process of testing out all the new game modes, districts, progressions modes etc that will come to define the game for the long haul)!
Til the next status update
126.96.36.199 (Closed Beta 3) - Release Notes
Fixed server performance spikes in in death camera code (should remove most remaining server-lag spikes).
Removed client and server frame times from latency calculation to better estimate network latency and response (can be seen using /fps and /fpsdetail).
Added new HUD markers and text to distinguish between tainted and fresh targets (i.e. graffiti points that you need to guard vs. graffiti points that you have sprayed).
Altered HUD markers colours, and switched HUD markers to be more noticeable. Markers are now outlines when player has line of sight and solid when not.
Moved Checkpoints in Wilson LeBoyce spawn area to new Construction site out back.
Fixed Cement crucible having an incorrect texture in newly-added construction area behind Wilson Leboyce.
Fixed an incorrect reward package.
Cost of Muscle Car Increased.
Reduced Balkan Kolva Population in both districts down to 1% (Still need to remove a couple of spawners in future builds)
LTL Ammo cost reduced.
Explosive Ammo Cost Reduced.
Most weapons now come with more ammo on initial purchase.
STAR: Bringing the accuracy back up again, but not to the extent it was originally.
Colby PMG: Increased Base Accuracy, Fire rate slightly increased.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 10 mars 2011
Key performance improvement fix coming - or - don't die please :)
After various performance improvements over the last few days (now things are smooth at 80 players per district after all the CPU, speed, OS and core tuning that has taken place), there was still a persistent frame lag spike that seemed to crop up with some regular pattern, causing some rubber-banding on the client.
So Johann/Aphadon, using his great detective skills was finally able to figure out the issue behind some of the strange performance spikes (often seen as rubber-banding on the client when it happens).
Turns out there appears to be a bug in the new death camera. So whenever someone dies in the district and the camera swings toward the assailant, there is a chance the server will suffer a frame-blip/skip/jump during the "look-at-killer" process.
Or, one could say the server is sad for the loss, and will take a brief 100ms moment of silence :). Not a great thing since it drops everyone's performance district wide when it happens. The good news is that we presume it will be possible to fix this spike issue in the next day or two.
OR - we could just ask everyone kindly to not shoot their fellow players in the next 48 hours :). No death = no lag :
That of course would potentially stop the game from actually being a game, so it could be a bit of a problem.
Once this issue has been nailed down by our fantastic dev team, then we are REASONABLY certain that we have taken care of all core performance issues, and then can start looking at expanding all the district to larger populations (next step: 100 people per district), AND adding more people to the Beta Test!
The team is also of course incredibly hard at work for the Open Beta features and changes, and those are critical to re-introduce logical progression and progress into the game again.
I will post another update tomorrow, and if there appears to be a reasonably quick fix (and rubber banding can be reduced) - then we will patch and observe the build in the wild to confirm this.
We also do see some performance spikes with Punkbuster as it monitors players, but at least those spikes are now within reason, and seems compatible with the overall game performance.
Have fun in San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mardi 8 mars 2011
Fixes, fixes and fixes
Performance Tuning - Part Two
In the last 36 hours we have been working on performance tuning, new patch changes and a whole series of changes to the game that will improve server side performance over the next 24 hours. We just made one critical change to how cheat detection is handled, and that was rolled out in the last hour (yes, we are watching what people are doing, just not banning anyone, and that's on purpose...), and next up we are going to perform configuration changes tomorrow afternoon, which we believe will further improve district performance and get us to the stable release we are looking for.
Once we have the new tuned hardware in place tomorrow, we also plan to release the next set of patches. Below are the patch notes for the next patch. I will spend some time AFTER the next update to put together a more detailed status and roadmap for the next few weeks, especially since once we have tested all the core functions, we then plan to roll out all the NEW functions (yay!), starting in Closed Beta, and then moving in to Open Beta.
Again - thanks to everyone who is testing the game out daily. We REALLY appreciate the feedback, and will continue to make quick patches to address some of the basic items.
Personally I cannot wait until we have the NEW GAME MODES in the game, and after Closed Beta has been fully validated, THEN we are going to focus on that as the next really big project.
1.4.3 (66) External Release Notes
Fixed the mission ‘Just Like Momma Used to Make’, where only one item would drop but two would be required.
Corrected Enforcer Bomb Defusal role (starting at 50 rather than 500).
Fixed minor typo with Display Points (was using 'Spray' rather than 'Activate', which is not valid in social).
Added a building site in the 'killbox' warehouse area behind Wilson Leboyce's spawn zone to add cover and interest to the area.
Fixed two district server crashes.
Improvements to the FPS display:
Moved the /fps and /fpsdetail displays down slightly so they don't render over the HUD.
Memory usage is now displayed in MB instead of bytes so it’s easier to read.
We now always render the memory usage in green on 64-bit systems.
Rewritten the LATENCY calculation code to use less bandwidth and give results closer to the real round-trip time of client-server network traffic.
Fixed Macchina Calabria 127 criminal variant showing enforcer front police lights as an option in the Garage.
Small fix to rewards to unlock LTL weapons at Ty rather than Grissom. Also tweaked it slightly so the primary comes from Ty and the secondary comes from Chung Hee.
Fix for Colby PMG-28 open slot versions not having any open slots. NTEC: Slightly lower damage, worse base accuracy, worse minimum accuracy, worse movement accuracy, Reduced effective range to 50m STAR: Reduced effective range to 50m. Slightly worse minimum accuracy. Slightly better running accuracy (to make up for the min accuracy loss, roughly the same overall) Obeya: Worse movement accuracy. NFAS: Slightly improved damage per pellet. ALIG 762: Worse Damage against players. Increased base accuracy, slightly increased rate of fire (overall a positive effect) OBIR: Slightly increased damage. Significantly reduced accuracy loss per shot, Worse movement accuracy (overall a positive effect) Joker SR-15: Significantly improved base accuracy.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 6 mars 2011
End of Closed Beta Week No. 1 - a recap
Wow - what a week!
So clearly I have to thank everyone in our various global teams for coming together in an amazing fashion to make this CB run possible. Very exciting. And a whole lot of work.
What's scary now is the staggering amount of work that still remains ahead for the rest of the year. But at least now we have proven that the game can be resurrected, and the next chapter is entirely going to be focused on improving the game progression, improving the servers and improving everything else that remotely touches the game in the long term.
So first of all - some closed beta observations: The NTEC is all-powerful.
Mid last week we had to de-power the shotgun that could blow up a car in (almost) one shot. This week we will have to deal with how to best handle the NTEC (and possibly even the STAR). So, the good news - the new NTEC surely is a good gun. The bad news, pretty much everyone uses the NTEC in game. That was not really the intent, and is a focus during this week's balancing exercises, which involves actually measuring the usage of all guns in the game.
This IS a CLOSED BETA.
It occurs to me (and the whole team), that some people testing the game are not really familiar with the whole idea behind participating in a closed beta, and instead think this is like playing a live game. It is not. It IS a closed beta test. I do need to point out that most players are doing just fine as CB testers and are diligently filling out reports of issues and bugs, but there are a few who clearly are NOT doing really that great.
The entire purpose of CB is to validate the basic game systems, work out all game balance issues, solve server lag, identify any performance problems, identify any unexpected crashes and identify serious game play or progression issues. Especially since right now we only have the Los Angeles location operating the game to test all routes to that one location. Let's be clear - there are SEVERAL of these issues in the game that we are working on right now. Therefore the biggest help for the team are well written bug reports of issues that you encountered in the game or details of any unexpected behaviors that you can document thoroughly. The least amount of help is pointing out that there is a lot of lag from the UK to Los Angeles. Yup - we know there is a lot of lag from the UK to Los Angeles. Instead we ask players focus on items that can actually help improve the game.
Server performance issues (and upgrades)
It's clear that the 100-person districts can only actually run properly on Intel X5570 processors and above. However, we initially were a bit baffled since the district threads (there can be 4 district threads running per processor) were behaving erratically last week and were randomly dropping the server-side tick rates dramatically (causing some server side lag), until we realized that the X-series processors were configured to run in a standard energy saving mode. That created a lot of random frame-lag on the server side whenever the Intel processors arbitrarily decided to reduce the clock rate. This has since been resolved, and this coming week we are working to further increase server tick-rate performance and aiming to eliminate server side lag as much as possible. One thing to keep in mind with APB Reloaded is that there can be as many as 100 players engaged in a single thread. For comparison, most other FPS games don't permit more than 16 v 16 or in some cases 32 v 32. In theory we could actually turn on 50 v 50 in APB in all-out war mode (which is essentially what Chaos mode is) and for future hardware upgrades go even higher in a single district and still maintain good FPS style performance.
The LATENCY tag in the /FPS in game switch
In the game you can run a command called /FPS and you will see both client, server and latency information. The latency information however turns out to be a bit out of wack. Normally you'd expect there to be a "ping" command (to tell you how far away the servers are), but latency actually creates a hybrid measurement, AND it has a couple of minor bugs in it to boot. Our developers looked at this over the weekend, and it turns out that it measures client frame rate (so a 30fps frame rate would give you 33.3ms for this portion) plus round trip (average of 60ms) plus server ticks (so at 15-20 ticks/s on the server that'd be 50ms). That means it's unlikely anyone will see anything less than 100-120ms. That would be ok I guess (though rather meaningless), except that on the return to the server for some reason the client sends it back as UDP traffic. This means that the packets basically can (and will) arrive in all kinds of strange arrangements (if at all) since UDP is designed to permit lossy behavior. When a packet then arrives out of order or disappears (as its permitted to do in UDP), then the bug is that "latency" starts counting upward until it maxes out at 1020ms - even though that's not actually what happened at the traffic level, since it might just have re-ordered one UDP packet along the way. So, the team is going to work on fixing "latency" so that it measures something more meaningful as soon as possible. The basic idea of an end-to-end processing measurement is a good one. But the current implementation just needs to be refined a bit.
If you are curious about PING times to the game, you can ping the core routers that were listed in the original application. Pinging www.gamersfirst.com will NOT work, since that site sits behind batches of DDoS protection, which WILL mess up ping times.
Pando Media Booster impacting network traffic?
We use a P2P program to get people the client faster given how big it is (and it's used by several other games, like DDO, LOTRO and others, just as Blizzard uses a P2P protocol for their downloader as well). This is also not too dissimilar to how Skype works (most people probably don't realize that all Skype traffic and calls travels across other people's computers to get to the destination, which is why those Skype calls are indeed free).
Normally we don't have a lot of issues with the Pando component, but there have been some suggestions that it might increase the LATENCY counter in the /FPS command (just as Skype or any Torrents might). We haven't seen this happening or being a big issue, but, we will look in to see if we can throttle it while the game is running to ensure no resources are used for anything except the game.
We use Pando so that end-users get much better download speed especially during giant "patch-storms" when new patches get released. Contrary to what some conspiracy theories suggest, it's actually not a relevant price difference when compared to hosting the patches on CDN servers of our own (which we also do) since Pando is something we pay for from our end, but it simply seems to work better for end users and makes the download and patching process incredibly resilient and nearly unbreakable.
This also leads to some interesting situations such as users in Romania getting their games 4X faster than US players, since most of Romanian players play in internet cafes (and since Pando enables patches to move P2P across a local LANs instead of the internet, that means as soon as a single user in the cafe has downloaded the first file, subsequent file requests mostly don't cross the public wire, and the same of course would also be true in case you used the program inside a corporate network or other LAN of any kind).
If you have any issues with the program you can either open the Control Panel that says Pando Media Booster (32-bit), and under "Advanced Connection Settings" you can configure the options the program uses (like limiting upload speeds). You can also use the instructions on Pando's site to disable it completely: http://www.pando.com/help-faq-mb - however - keep in mind that chances are you will need it next time there is a giant patch simply because of the patch load that we tend to see when the patches get distributed.
Where do we go from here?
Wow. Lots of stuff coming up. First of all, we all like the basic premise in the Financial and Waterfront districts presuming we address some of the matchmaking and ranking issues (which is on tap next), but as we have mentioned before, we are also working in the long term to vastly expand the options players have to engage each other in. Everything from actual car-races in-game to all-out turf war missions and possibly entire districts and maps focused on those engagement styles.
Will we send out more invites this week?
Probably. So far we have invited 10,000 people, and are seeing a consistent 1,200 peak CCU during this very initial test phase, which is great. We are in the process of analyzing all the bug reports, Closed Beta feedback information, and a few scattered crash and compatibility reports we have seen to date. So as soon as we have rolled out a few more fixes to the game, we will consider starting up the next round of invites.
What's next this week?
This week is focused on performance optimization, game balance, some minor bug fixes, and the overall EU datacenter configuration. We have another 140,000 people to let in at some point, and we are continuing to work toward letting everyone in to CB in prior to the start of OB.
We also have a slew of new feature and items scheduled for Open Beta, which is why the Open Beta patch is going to be a VERY different beast (but of course incorporating all the balance and game play learning we have gained from the Closed Beta).
I plan on updating this blog mid-week. Our overall goal is to continue providing an enormous amount of information to everyone while we move the game toward OB, and eventual "Live" operation.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Vendredi 4 mars 2011
Double wave now going out. Another 5,000 people admitted to San Paro.
So two hours ago we enabled another 5,000 accounts to access the game and the closed beta and the notifications are on their way to the users. This time it was done on a first-completed-application basis.
We will let this test now run through the weekend to see how the game looks by Monday. Also we had scattered reports of slow download speeds from the CDN providers, so we have now also enabled the game to be downloaded from our normal GamersFirst LIVE installer that you can get off the main site. That installer uses a combination of CDN and P2P and will be significantly faster to complete the install (and it also lets you pause, resume and cancel the download).
So if you received a Beta Application Key at some point and you are now just waiting around for "your wave", feel free to use this tool to install your copy as well so you are ready to go when you account access is enabled. However - if you did NOT get a key we strongly recommend that you do NOT YET install the game, since Open Beta's installer will be structurally quite different (and would trigger a large update if you go from Closed to Open Beta).
See you in San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Jeudi 3 mars 2011
CCU climbing, systems holding steady
This afternoon we permitted another 2500 people into the game. The CCU is now climbing steadily and approaching 1000 simultaneous users.
We performed more server configs throughout the day, which required a few restarts, but now we think we have nailed down a configuration which will in fact sustain the CCU without any noticeable server side lag (other than distance lag for those who play from a long distance to the game or on crappy connections from home).
Therefore - if this holds up overnight - tomorrow we plan to be bold, and are thinking we should DOUBLE the invites!
Right now we have 5,000 enabled accounts. Depending on the overnight performance indicators, we plan to enable ANOTHER 5,000 accounts by midday PST tomorrow. At this point we are just going by order of application and meetings certain minimum requirements, so wherever you are, you will have a chance of getting in.
Next week the goal is to work on the European data center (though it MAY not yet be able to handle the traffic for another 10 days or so, but we will update mid next week on the status).
Presuming the EU build-out goes according to plan, we would start the process of shifting people over to EU that "belong" in EU (since we are now permitting people to play in the US even from a long distance) once that datacenter is live sometime around March 15.
Next update will be in the morning!
First wave - next group!
In the next few hours we will send out invites to the next 2,500 people. In the last 24 hours we have been working on various server side performance items (turning off "power-saving mode" on some machines for example), various minor bug fixes and updates, and some new items we were able to slip in to the patch, as well as addressed a server side bug that would crash out the server when a friend left your list.
As soon as the patch is live, we will send out the next invite group. This time we picked the first 2,000 people who completed the application (and who are not yet in the game), and who HAD played the game before (first come first serve among previous players). Because that group was mostly US based (given the time of day the application was sent out), we added on 500 random non-US people across the planet to make it more even of a test.
We will update on the forums and the blog as soon as the "congratulations your G1 Account has been enabled" message goes out.
Here are the patch notes for the patch that is being released:
Patch Notes 188.8.131.52
Updated Financial to remove vehicle blocking volumes from the ‘Kunst Museum’ stairs.
Lowered contact level requirements for T1 contacts (The second set you unlock).
Removed floating sign in Waterfront Block 36.
Updated location names to be more specific in all districts.
Fixed typo in marketplace. Name being listed as Namef.
Fixing rating requirements so most new players get most tooltips.
Added new loading screen tooltips.
Greatly reduced the amount of time it takes to make a vehicle dirty (so a drive through the park will cake your vehicle in dirt), and also fairly reducing the time it takes for a car to get dusty (5 mins rather than 15)
Updated the customisations on the starter vehicles. Note that this will only affect new characters. Existing characters will still have the old starter vehicle customisation.
Marksmanship mode now defaults to hold rather than toggle.
Fixed PMG-28 doing too much hard damage (it was annihilating vehicles).
Weapon prices adjusted, a couple of higher tier weapons were wrong.
Increased recoil reduction for marksmanship mode on 50 Cal Sniper.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 2 mars 2011
CB progress update
So after a night of closely monitoring the game (from the US and UK sides) things are looking quite good.
We have a few issues to deal with right away (and we will hopefully address these today):
The PMG-28 gun accidentally blows up any vehicle you point it at pretty much right away (ooops, I think Zak went on a wild design spreed and forgot to "normalize" the gun when he was done having wild fun :) ), Closed Beta Forum access has a bug (so CB testers cannot post there) and we have seen a world-server crash that happens every few hours that needs to be sorted out. Interesting though, the Action Districts all have stayed stable, and the issue is in the user management server.
So the plan is to patch the game shortly (this gives us a chance to actually test the patching process - so that will also be interesting), and then move forward as fast as we can.
We will evaluate this afternoon if we can send off the next 2,500 invites, or possibly hold those until tomorrow morning. In this next wave (once we release it) we will have a random collection of global players to test high ping times. One idea is to pull that in order that people actually filled in the application. We will also prioritize some people from the original run of the game for this next wave.
Beta status update - midnight
So - the very first "mini-wave" of 2500 invites went out six hours ago. Mostly we first targeted US and/or West Coast (but not ONLY West coast) players that met certain minimum requirements.
We instantly saw a spike on the CDN side, with one of our CDN providers presuming we were being DDoS-ed as people performed the update/patching process. But that part of the systems generally seem to have held up well.
As we cycle through various systems, we did see an issue in one of the "world servers," and we think it may have been a memory allocation issue, and it forced us to shut it down to reconfigure and restart it to see if it is quickly resolved, or if it will require major surgery in the morning (or if it's an previously un-identified bug)
Now - if overnight things seem reasonably stable - then we will increase the number of players DAILY. There has been speculation that we would wait a long time. That's not the case. We'd like to ramp up as quickly as possible.
In fact, we'd like to send the new wave of "account enabled" messages Wednesday again (of course unless something is wrong or buggy under load with any current core systems, in which case we will hold off).
The current plan is to slowly increase the CCU count (simultaneously connected players) from a few hundred (what it is now) to just over 2,000 simultaneous players this week (which means close to 20,000 actual invitees). If THAT holds up fine, then the next really big wave is to go to 100,000 players and 10,000 simultaneous - though that leap might take a bit longer.
In the meantime we are also processing data and monitoring information as quickly as we possibly can.
And - as a fun fact - we had a team in India (10,000 miles away from LA) just test the game, and it turns out it is SORT OF playable with 180ms-200ms ping times. Certainly not fantastic, but clearly playable. So - if we want to go really wild we COULD enable the game globally to reach LA, but at the moment that is not the plan (at least not yet).
If anything drastic happens overnight I will post here, otherwise the plan is to slowly turn up the heat until things croak (right now we are at a "1 of 10" and we're trying to get to "11 of 10" :) )
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 27 février 2011
End of Week 15 Update : The Closed Beta Has Arrived
The closed beta build is finalized, servers are getting spun-up as I type this, and we are about to release the first wave of Closed Beta in the wild!
Today is a BIG LONG POST with A LOT of information. You guys deserve info. And we hope it will help everyone enjoy the first beta much more (and the release note information should be helpful in getting us the beta feedback we very much need).
Some cautionary notes first: we are rolling the Beta out in waves. Wave 1 is going to be US-West (since that's close to our base of operations), which means US-East and Europe we will have to wait just A LITTLE BIT. But for good measure we will let a few people from Europe and South America actually play on US-West to test high-ping-time traffic as well. Wave 2 will be Europe. And Wave 3 will be US-East. We also have a Wave 4 planned for Sao Paulo, Brazil, since we have a datacenter there - however, that location will probably NOT be live until Open Beta or even later (importing high end six-core Intel hardware into Brazil turns out to be tricky, expensive and time consuming :) ).
In the first few hours Friday morning after we sent out the Closed Beta Application keys, we had tens of thousands who completed the final application step (and no - we have NOT YET notified anyone of their status, and we expect to do so Monday through Friday this coming week). Tomorrow (Monday morning) we are performing the final formal review of who met the min-spec requirements and who did not.
There were some interesting data points in the first 40,000 or so application replies we received Friday morning (which probably represents about half of all completed applications we expect by tomorrow), so I figured I'd skip ahead and share some of those here. We are finalizing the data sets this week, and next week's post is going to be a whole demographic discussion, so this is just a sneak peek;
Initial beta tester responses
(keep in mind - this is a snapshot of those who replied FIRST, so this is NOT the final number for ALL applications, and we expect to have the final numbers later this week):
97% Male, 3% Female
Median age: 22 years old. 86% of testers are in the group 18 to 31 years old. 10% of testers are in the group 32 to 65 years old.
And if you are counting that means some percentage of players officially told us they were under 18. Clearly that means you CANNOT play the beta (at least not at this time), and during live operation it will be dependent on the rating of the game where you live (ie 16, 17 or 18 depending on your location, since the various rating agencies have slightly different criteria for the game).
34% of all Applicants are from US and Canada
39% of Applicants are from the EU (UK being the largest single country)
15% of all Applicants are from Russia + the former Soviet republics (Ukraine, Belarus etc.)
The rest of the world (mostly Australia and Brazil, followed by various countries in Asia) make up the remaining 12% of Applicants.
Oddly enough; 8% of all applicants came from the Nordic countries combined (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland etc.), and slightly less than that (7.2%) came from Germany. That's odd because the Nordic countries only have a combined 24 million people, and Germany has 82 million people. In other words - this game appears (at least from very initial responses) to be 3X-4X as popular per capita in "the Nordics," than in Germany or in USA. Or - maybe it just means that Swedes and Finns are much more timely and punctual in filling out applications than their German counterparts and got their applications in first and got counted in this first snap-analysis? (we'll see next week when the final numbers are actually in).
It could also be that the Nordic hordes just like testing and breaking stuff, more so than their German gamer friends? Who knows? Since I am Swedish myself, obviously this all warms my Nordic heart :)
From a world perspective, the game appears to have huge interest from all corners of the globe, and we are particularly excited to see an even global distribution in our key markets (the US, Germany, UK etc.). We are a little surprised at the interest from Australia. While modest in absolute numbers, there is clearly a bit of a contingent "down under." There are no current plans for servers in Australia, but maybe we may have to rethink this in the future? Or maybe someone with really powerful servers down there want to partner with us on this game (hint, hint?)
To talk more about the final closed beta build (rather - version 64 of the closed beta build :) ), I am introducing you to Scott Stevenson, our Development Producer, to discuss the hot off the presses release notes for the Closed Beta. Now - KEEP IN MIND that all the discussed changes over the past three months are still underway (the new districts etc.) but of course are not in release stage yet. However - as you can see from the release notes below, there is a staggering amount of changes to the game that have already taken place. Based on the upcoming Beta feedback from all you gamers who are in the Closed Beta, the team is clearly going to continue working on tweaks, improvements and updates for many months and years to come. Just make sure you write smart and legible bug reports for the teams to review :)
I’m new to the blog so I’ll introduce myself; I’m Scott “ScottOMon” Stevenson, now Development Producer for APB Reloaded (and formerly Associate Producer and Release Manager at Realtime Worlds). I’m here to talk a little about the team as we head into Closed Beta as well as giving you a sneaky-peek at the release notes from our initial Closed Beta Build!
Oil Tankers, Crash Diets and Razors
The original APB was a cruel mistress, bringing both unparalleled awesomeness and crushing disappointment throughout development. My take on it is simple. Some not so great decisions were made along the way, some parts of the organization didn't let things occur that probably should have occurred, and, overall, it was just plain-old difficult.
The best analogy I have is that the original APB was an oil tanker. Massive, complex and impossible to steer quickly – with the potential for massive success (large amounts of crude oil?), as long as we could only get the APB-tanker into port safely…
Unfortunately, our course was set long before the end. One hard landing and a pretty spectacular fireball later, here we are – incredibly much leaner and meaner: we are in fact Reloaded.
A new team that loves APB, a team that has added more than a few members that already put blood, sweat and tears into it for some years each. A team now with the opportunity to improve and, if necessary, protect APB Reloaded in order to right those wrongs and turn it into the bombastic game it absolutely has the potential to be.
So, let's just say that the new team is both compact and multi-national at the same time. A far cry from the nearly 200 people that used to work on the game. But, a small tightly knit team turns out to be very flexible and agile, especially when the new management gives us great freedom to simply “Get Stuff Done™”.
Here is an example of how we are much more nimble than before; the original APB had a ‘feature’ where your character would sometimes get into the back seat of an empty car even though your character was standing next to the driver-side door (the door you would actually enter was based on where your reticule/cross-hair was pointing, and not your character location, something really hard to control in the middle of a fire-fight). The problem was known for quite a while – 476 days to be precise and if anyone is counting that is. Plenty of us had suggestions, but agreement could never quite be reached as to what to do. Not even the great Qwentle was immune to this issue. Many were dismayed.
Fast-forward a bit to APB Reloaded, this issue comes up in a meeting (among a million items to be fixed) and we all agree that it needs "fixing." One good suggestion in a design meeting and 30 minutes later Aphadon (Johann) has done just that. Fixed. Job done. 30 minutes. Added to Beta build. Razor sharp. Bjorn was so happy that he even delayed closed beta a few days just to make sure THAT one feature got added in the first public Closed Beta. It became build 63. RC for Closed Beta (the final Closed Beta is actually CB build 64, but who is counting?).
Closed Beta and Not Having It Explode Your Face
The truth is that the original APB’s Closed Beta really wasn’t a Beta designed for taking feedback since the original team was still finishing core components of the game right up until the end of Closed Beta. Therefore there was very little time left to tweak or adjust the game based on feedback from the community before launch day. Something we clearly are NOT repeating with APB Reloaded.
The new team knows exactly what we need to do for Closed Beta. Listen and react. All our team members are active on the forums and every good idea or valid concern will be considered as we move through the stages of Closed and Open Beta. We promise – we’re nice like that. We won't implement every suggestion. We might not even have time to read ALL suggestions. That's just a fact of life. But our goal throughout is to pick out all major enhancement suggestions, and make sure Gamers Have Fun. The end goal is to make sure this game becomes a LONG TERM sustainable game, with sustainable high-level fun for years to come. And a game that makes it not just "Free2Play™" but also "Fun-To-Pay" as well. In other words - if you don't have fun in the game, we don't expect you to pay. If you ARE having fun, then we do want you to pay for some of that fun, at least just a little bit (if anything - to keep the development going and to continue expanding the game world for years to come).
TLDR (aka The Good Bit)
Enough talking – you’ve been asking for details and we’ve got ‘em! Below are the first Closed Beta 1 Release Notes. We hope you all find something in these that excites you and gets you even more interested in APB Reloaded, but do remember that we’re only at the Closed Beta stage, so expect many more changes along the way. The team are thrilled that Closed Beta is just around the corner and are desperate to hear YOUR feedback on the changes we’ve made so far once you get in to the game.
And having some newbs to kick around San Paro should be fun as well…
Reworked from the ground up, primary changes are as follows:
Organisation Levelling has been removed from game.
Leagues removed from the game until we can implement in a less exploitable way (League Display points are now either free or purchasable from the auction house).
Contacts split into Weapon and Vehicle contacts, rewards split accordingly.
Adjusted rating requirements for each contact level. This has decreased at low levels and increased at high levels.
Majority of Existing Roles moved to Achievements. All achievements moved to 1 level only and rewards removed.
Rebalanced Achievement requirements.
This includes Car Thief.
Added Roles for each piece of equipment and each weapon niche. Advancing these roles unlocks weapon upgrades and high level equipment/open slot weapons.
Levels in Roles and Achievements no longer count towards your rating. It is now purely based on contact progression.
Added Random Rewards (that are only gifted once), for unlocking each symbol, some pieces of jewellery, and emotes. Each contact unlocks different random rewards (around 50% chance at mission end, depending on mission performance).
Reworked item costs for all items. Preset cost lowered, Customisable Asset prices increased. Weapon prices increased, Upgrade prices increased.
Reduced Costs of Heat Buyoff to a trivial level.
Removed unused tutorial contacts (Simon Tran/Pagan Bloodrose) from progression trees.
Gameplay and Miscellaneous
Your group members now show on your radar.
Fixed the issue where players would accidentally get into the back seat of cars when their characters were next to the front doors (original calculation was based on reticule location). Now only the front doors are considered valid options if the car is empty (note: did anyone ever really want to hang out alone in the back-seat? if so – Closed Beta participants are welcome to weigh in).
The death camera now rotates towards your killer instead of looking at your ragdoll to provide better awareness of how you died.
Fixed the railing grid material used extensively in Waterfront originally not allowing bullets to pass through it. Now player can shoot through railings properly.
Added new roof access to the San Paro Port Authority building in Waterfront.
Added new splash screen images.
Added objects to block vehicles from using certain Waterfront areas to jump on rooftops and then exploiting other rooftops with no collision.
Fixed collision issues on trees that allowed players to sit ‘inside’ them.
Fixed the Ammo Vending Machine having a far too complex collision mesh.
Made certain in-game items tradable between players that were previously not tradable.
Progress indicators (X/Y) added to Roles and Achievement pages to provide clearer progress status.
Camera position moved out slightly to avoid player’s head overlapping crosshair when moving right (comments for new camera position sought from Closed Beta participants).
Damage taken from falling increased. It’s now possible to die from impact after falling great heights.
Slightly increased the distance players need to fall before playing the ‘heavy landing’ animation.
Negative medals (Teamkill, Killing arrested player, Suicide) are now marked as such and have had their negative effect on rewards heavily increased.
VoIP now defaults to ‘Push to Talk’ instead of microphone activated (now using “Z” button by default).
Player now stays in strafe mode for 5 seconds rather than 2 after firing/reloading.
Pickup task items now lie close to the ground instead of floating at waist height.
Updated Open World drop off location names; now named ‘Fence’, ‘Chop Shop’, ‘Impound’ and ‘Evidence Locker’.
Increased Loading Tip Time to 15 seconds from 5.
Loading tooltips added, describing premium and leased content.
Players can now jump and fall in marksmanship mode (jump accuracy modifier still takes effect)
Weapons now have a separate modifier for moving at walking speed (such as when crouching or in marksmanship mode).
Customisation pods removed from the factional areas in the Social District.
Disabled Witnessing temporarily until we can fix it (Ready system broke it pretty heavily).
Players who have been freed from arrest no longer give rewards for arresting or freeing until they die.
Default keybindings have been changed to more logical layout. See chart for details.
All Weapons rebalanced, changing accuracy, shot damage, firing rate etc.
Weapon Time to Kill lowered across the board (without adding extra 1 hit KO weapons)
Accuracy model adjusted to put more importance on burst firing with most weaponry. Weapons mostly start accurate then very quickly hit their minimum accuracy threshold. The rate at which accuracy is regained after stopping firing is also much increased. Balancing with Effective Range reduced somewhat in favour of mainly using accuracy to determine effective range.
SHAW moved from an anti-vehicle weapon to anti-personnel suppression weapon.
STAR moved from slow firing long range rifle (analogous to OBEYA/OBIR) to a fast firing assault rifle (same niche as NTEC. Less accurate to begin with, but can handle being fired full auto at close/medium range without becoming unwieldy).
HVR can once again not switch to pistol until it has completed bolting the next round.
New weapons added to progression:
Colby PMG-28: Low Cyclic Rate SMG.
Joker SR-15 Carbine: Mobile close-medium range semi auto rifle.
ALIG-762: Low Cyclic Rate LMG, anti-vehicle weapon primarily.
Han Cellente (original starting vehicle) removed from game.
Added engine cut out at 20% vehicle health.
Improved Turning speed of all low end vehicles.
Macchina Calabria 127 added to the game as the new default vehicle. This is a small coupe with decent acceleration, stable and responsive handling, though a low top speed.
Balkan Kolva (Truck): Heavily Increased Weight of Vehicle. This improves its ramming power immensely, but heavily reduces its initial acceleration. Also heavily increased HP.
Bishada GX 8800 : Renamed to Bishada Rapier and reduced maximum health.
Patriot Jericho : Reduced maximum health, increased torque in gear 1 (improving starting acceleration)
Patriot Vegas: Slightly improved health, acceleration heavily increased and weight increased.
Dolton Montaine (Pickup): Improved health. Increased Top Speed to be on par with Patriot T-25 (King Cab). Increased trunk Capacity to be more than King Cab, Reduced Damping on suspension to make it a little more bouncy. Changed from Rear Wheel to Front Wheel Drive.
Increased Weight and Health of Dolton Fresno while keeping acceleration and speed the same. Also reduced suspension damping significantly.
Packer Ceresco (Standard Van) is now Front Wheel Drive and has the best Carrying Capacity in the game (25, compared to Armoured Van 20)
Charge Mikro: Health very slightly down so it’s just below average vehicle health, rather than just above. Grip heavily improved. Top speed reduced.
Packer Vaquero: Health very slightly down. Top speed reduced. Incredibly bouncy suspension.
Very minor tweaks to Sungnyemun Moirai (Exec Saloon). Upped Wheel turn distance and slightly reduced suspension stiffness.
Upped weight of Seiyo Espacio
Updated Nulander Pioneer. Now a bit slower, with a lower clearance, but a lot heavier (so it doesn't mount cars any more). Also enabled the Limited Slip Differential, making handling easier on rough terrain.
Enabled the Limited Slip Differential for both SUVs (Charge Sentinel and Nulander Kurai), making handling easier on rough terrain.
Updated Nulander Kurai. Pretty much untippable now. Much bouncier now as well. Ride height increased significantly but suspension stiffness decreased, so it'll rock and sway. Also, increased cargo capacity from 8 to 10.
Ambulance updated. Ambulance is now a fast but very light large vehicle. It leans around corners pretty spectacularly, but doesn't really fall over much.
Added rating requirement to previously existing pre-order vehicles. Now can be used at the same level as the normal Cisco/Morai.
Updated Nitro Effect. Now much higher effect but much shorter duration and cooldown.
Renamed majority of upgrades.
Renamed all Preset clothing items to better highlight which outfit they belong to.
Added ‘Creator Names’ for each Vehicle and Preset clothing piece.
Adjusted descriptions for all Upgrades and Weapons.
The majority of weapon presets have been renamed.
Grouped Upgrades: Only one upgrade of each group can be used at a time. This is a little excessive right off the bat (especially for Character upgrades), but will become a lot more important as we add extra modifications. Groups are…
Added tutorial mail explaining upgrades, how to equip, and what groups mean.
Removed Monolith upgrade (functionally it was identical to survivor).
Removed Energizer upgrade (LTLs are now weaker than their lethal counterparts).
Premium Accounts & Leased Items
Set Max Primitive Limits for Free Accounts on Symbol Editor, Garage and Clothing Editor. Initially free player limits set at 25, 5 and 5 respectively. Premium Accounts get 100 primitives per Symbol, 50 Symbols per Vehicle and 50 Symbols per piece of Clothing
Leased Weapons Added (will be random rewards initially, until the Armas Underground weapons dealer is implemented in the Social District to provide leased weapons):
N-HVR 243 Scout: A bolt action sniper rifle with a lower calibre round than the 762, but with the ability to sprint and hang out of vehicle windows with.
OCA-626 ‘Whisper’: A silenced SMG with a scope (we’re still waiting for the audio for this, so initially it might not be silenced). Silenced weapons no longer have tracers.
Colby CSG-20 Shotgun: A shotgun that fires a lot more pellets than the JG. It has the same damage output, but the shot dispersal is a lot more fine so you’re less likely to lose a ton of damage if a pellet misses.
Scoped N-TEC 5: An NTEC with a scope on it for a higher level of zoom. It’s also got slightly less recoil so it feels the same despite the lower FOV.
ACT44 GM: A gold plated ACT44 with an elongated barrel and a scope. Same damage potential as the normal pistol, but with an improved zoom and slightly better stability.
STAR 556 ‘LCR’: In APB Reloaded, the normal STAR 556 has a comparable fire rate to the NTEC. We’ve added the LCR for players who really liked the old one.
OSMAW / O-PGL: Just the base Rocket Launcher / Grenade Launcher. We’ve allowed players to purchase them as leased weapons if they can’t wait to get them
Client Size, Performance and Other
Integrated the game with GamersFirst accounts and backend systems.
Updated and activated PunkBuster.
Various small run-time memory usage savings totalling ~50MB.
Client size has been reduced from 8GB for the original game to 5GB for the Closed Beta RC1 (note: with future procedural texture inclusion and patch modifications, the target is to get the full client download to 3 GB without noticeable quality reductions).
Updated VoIP system to address various voice issues.
Improved the in-game compatibility checks at startup and install:
Updated the list of detected graphics cards from the latest compat file from Epic, as well as published lists of cards from amd.com and nvidia.com.
Updated the preferred compat level for each card to roughly match the expected performance.
Updated lots of cards that wouldn't be able to run the game but were originally given a supported compat level. Those cards probably crashed in the earlier release (without warning).
If a component doesn't meet the minimum requirements we now tell the user which component is the problem, instead of just displaying a generic error message.
Updated Control Scheme
Updates to the control scheme are below but all bindings can be customised by the player. A full listing of the default controls is later in this document.
Movement – “Crouch” is now bound to ‘Left Control’ as well as ‘C’.
Movement – “Walk” has been unbound from ‘X’. Players can manually rebind this if they wish.
Combat – “Activate/Deactivate Field Supplier” has been moved from ‘F1’ to ‘5’.
Combat – “Throw Grenade” has been moved from ‘Left Control’ to ‘G’, and is also bound to the Middle Mouse Button.
Combat – “Switch Weapons” has also been bound to ‘2’, so that players can use ‘1’, ‘2’, or the Mouse Wheel to switch weapons.
Actions – “Drop Item” has been moved from ‘Z’ to ‘X’.
Actions – The “Player Interaction Menu” has been moved from ‘V’ to ‘.’ (period).
Actions – “Ready for Mission” has been moved from ‘O’ to ‘K’, to avoid confusion with ‘0’ (zero).
Actions – “Voice – Push to Talk” has been moved from ‘7’ to ‘Z’ to make it reachable without having to move one of your hands.
Camera – “Look Behind” has been moved from ‘G’ to ‘Alt’.
Camera – “Switch Camera Side” has been moved from ‘4’ to ‘V’.
Music – “Previous Track” has been moved from ‘,’ (comma) to ‘[‘.
Music – “Next Track” has been moved from ‘.’ (period) To ‘]’.
Music – “Pause/Resume Playback” has also been bound to ‘\’, so that players can use that or ‘Right Control’.
Interface – “Clan Management” has been moved from ‘[‘ to ‘,’ (comma).
Interface – “View Support Pages” (Help) has been moved from ‘K’ to ‘F1’.
Interface – “View Leagues/High Score Tables” has been moved from ‘F4’ to ‘F6’.
Interface – “Chat Channel Commands” has been moved from ‘F6’ to ‘F9’.
Interface – “Chat Console Commands” has been moved from ‘F7’ to ‘F10’.
Interface – “Chat Emote Commands” has been moved from ‘F8’ to ‘F11’.
Interface – “Screenshot” has been moved from ‘Pause’ to ‘Print Screen’.
Interface – “Toggle HUD” display has been moved from ‘End’ to ‘F12’.
Whoa - this may be the longest post so far. I am guessing next week's post WILL BE VERY SHORT. This coming week is GDC in San Francisco as well as first week of Closed Beta, so we will have a giant amount of work ahead of us. And YES - you WILL get an email with your download and launch status. If you do NOT yet have an email, that simply means we HAVE NOT SENT IT TO YOU YET! So - please do not make one hundred comments with the words "what is my status?" Trust me, you will get an email as soon as your G1 account has been activated for the beta. You will ALSO be told which realm you will be activated in, and keep in mind the three waves I described at the top of the post.
Other than that - we are all thrilled to bits that we are finally here. The changes underway for Open Beta are equally staggering and are getting close to being as long as the list above. However, we clearly plan to leave plenty of room for suggestions from the Closed Beta to be included, and even after going to Open Beta the goal is constant improvements to the game, until the game is truly a great experience for everyone.
Looking forward to seeing you all in San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 20 février 2011
Beta Applications Keys to be sent this coming week!
Beta Application Keys will be sent this coming week. Once you receive the application key, then use it to access your unique application, and presuming you fill everything out correctly, you will be in line to get back on the streets of San Paro presuming you fulfill the requirements outlined in the post below by Neume.
Bjorn / TechMech
Here is this week's blog post from Jon "Neume" Merriex, Producer for APB
This post contains some important information we think you should know regarding this process. Our beta application process varies slightly from what some of you may be used to and we want to be sure there is no confusion now or later.
About the Beta Application Key
In a matter of days we'll begin sending out emails with Beta Application Keys to players who gave us their email information prior to February 15th, 2011. Given the massive increase in people registering their interest by giving us their emails, we will use this post to re-state some information we have shared previously and make sure absolutely everyone is on the same page with what will happen next week. To redeem you Beta Application Key you must first create a GamersFirst account and then log in with the account on which you want to activate your beta access. Once you have redeemed an application key as part of the application, the key cannot be used again.
First and foremost we want to be clear that Beta Application Keys guarantees that you will have a chance to APPLY for access to the APB Reloaded Closed Beta, regardless of how you received your key (from us, through one of our media partners like IGN or from fan sites, since we will be handing out application keys in the next few days to select partner sites as well).
The closed beta is an important final testing step in our development process that requires a number of diverse system specifications, locations, languages and OS configs. Due to the need to test many diverse configurations, every individual we admit to the closed beta will be selected in accordance with the need to test various parameters (therefore; giving us false info, such as claiming you are close to a server when in fact you are far away will be of no help in improving your chances of getting admitted, since we might in fact NEED people that are far away for certain tests). And because we had such LARGE number of people apply (150,000+), we need to slowly roll out the beta in several waves.
In the end, if you DO fill out the form accurately and completely,we expect that the VAST MAJORITY of Beta Applicants WILL in fact get Closed Beta access well before the roll out of the Open Beta. So the Beta Application Key is your unique ticket to test a lot of things before anyone else gets their hands on the game.
Be a safe email user
When you receive your beta application key email, be sure to check that the email and links in the email you receive are actually from GamersFirst. We normally use our "gamersfirst.com" domain to send emails, so be aware of scam artists who try to use tricks like gamersfirst-beta.com or similar variants to get you to reveal personal information (not to be confused with "sub domains" such as newsletter.gamersfirst.com which are legitimate gamersfirst.com email domains).
When we have begun sending emails and every time we do a wave of new email invites we will post it here, on Facebook and in our forums. In those updates we will let you know the emails are on their way and we will also include the legitimate domain information that the emails will contain.
About the Beta Application
Redeeming the beta application key will require you to fill out an application. While not all questions in this application are required, not completing the application entirely, correctly and honestly may remove you from the pool of beta applicants. For this reason, we encourage you to fill out the application as completely and accurately as possible. At the moment it appears it should take no more than about 15 minutes to complete the application.
The application contains 10 items, from entering your DxDiag info, to pinging three core server locations, and then telling us a little bit about yourself. As a general rule, we at GamersFirst and K2 Network will never share your personally identifiable information with any "unaffiliated third parties" (ie - that's legal speak for strangers or other companies). By "personally identifiable information" we mean things like your account name, password, real name, email address, credit card number, phone number, physical address or any other information that could identify you specifically from any of our other players.
Still have questions?
Our forums is the perfect place to ask questions regarding this process and we plan to have a few people around to help with as much as we can. You can find a direct link to the general forums here: Forums
Thanks and we'll see you in San Paro!
Jon "Neume" Merriex / Producer
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Mercredi 16 février 2011
150,763 requests for Closed Beta applications
So - as of last night at the cut-off time we had received 150,763 unique Closed Beta application emails.
Clearly this puts us WELL ABOVE the 8,000-10,000 people we had estimated were a good initial closed beta group.
Thus, in the next few days (and it hasn't happened yet), we will send out part two of the application, and after logging in with your G1 account, and filling everything in along with your unique Beta Application Key (which will be mailed to you), we then presume some percentage of the above number will be activated in the actual live closed beta.
Should for some reason your account NOT be activated, then don't despair, since Open Beta is scheduled to happen pretty rapidly after closed beta gets underway.
So expect that in the next few days you will get an email from us with the required activation step. After that step, you will get a confirmation email when your account as been activated for the Beta.
Looking forward to seeing you soon in the streets of San Paro!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 13 février 2011
End of Week 13 Update : The calm before the Beta Storm
Ok - so after two weeks of VERY long posts, this week we are taking a bit of a breather as we are all focused on getting the first Closed Beta of game out in the very near future.
This week time to share a key deadline; in order to be considered for the first wave of Closed Beta keys, you need to submit your email at http://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/ by midnight PST on Tuesday February 15.
Once that registration closes, you will be assigned a Beta Registration ID. You will receive an email with this ID along with a custom link that will take you to the actual Beta Activation page. You need to log in to this page using your Gamersfirst ID, then you will need to fill out various survey questions, test a couple of ping times from your system to some of our sample locations, submit you DxDiag info, and then agree to the Closed Beta NDA. Presuming you fill all this out correctly, after passing the basic information review we will then activate beta access to the game using your specific Gamersfirst account.
The Beta will be geographically rolled out, with three different regions planned; US-West, US-East and Europe turned up at slightly different times. Tentatively we are aiming to turn up the first Closed Beta during the week of February 28. Given the million of infrastructure items and dependencies that we are handling in order to get this out the door, we reserve the right to delay the launch of the Beta for any reason if we think that the first launch needs additional infrastructure tweaks or if QA catches any last minute issues.
Well over a hundred thousand people have registered their interest in the Beta thus far! By the time we cut off the registrations I will make a new post with the final number. We also presume that about half of everyone who initially sign up will complete the second step in the process and activate the Beta accounts, so we will far exceed the number of people we actually expected or even needed for the first Closed Beta. But that's clearly great news. Stay tuned, and we will make a quick mid-week update with the final numbers and more launch details this week.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 6 février 2011
End of Week 12 Update : A "New District" sneak peek, plus many things that were wrong
The "Third District" Sneak Peek (with new game modes)
This week we will give a VERY early sneak peek of what will eventually become the "Third District" in the game - the Asylum. Since this district will now involve a whole new set of game modes, there is a lot of work still to be done in this area to redesign it to make it work for its new purpose. But at least showing a few snapshots should provide some fodder for your imagination (and - if you have any creative ideas for how to exploit this awesome environment, feel free to make suggestions. Who knows; a good district specific game-mode idea that we have not yet considered might be lurking out there among the APB fans, and if so we would be all about trying it out :) )
More about Premium and Leased weapons.
We have actually worked out the whole initial batch of leased weapons, and premium items. But, we won't share that quite yet. But we will very very very soon (oh - the suspense is unbearable ! :) )
Things that could have been better in original APB thus - things that are now OUR top priorities
And most importantly, our designer Zak "Qwentle" Littwin is back - this time with a whole series of items that "should" have been different the first time around. So basically a bit of a venting session. But also should give you guys a good idea of where we are heading with more core fixes and updates.
Hey everyone. This week I'm going to be talking to you about things that were not really up to scratch in APB that we are now in the process of improving long term. The only thing to keep in mind that while we are fanatically dedicated to this project, we are a somewhat smaller team nowadays (or maybe the word should be “more focused”) so I won’t promise exact time scales on these changes, but they're certainly top priorities for us for the next few months to help make this game awesome.
As with last week, I've got my typing hat on, so this is going to be a pretty long one.
To be frank, a lot of the current missions are not up to the quality bar that we expect. They focus extensively on spots that can be camped, requiring one team to do something and the other team to pick them off. While this can be fun for some of the game play, it can also be incredibly frustrating in the long term, especially in an area that's very defensible. On the other hand, there are an absolute ton of missions (around 250 or so), and changing them all is a gargantuan task. As such, we're working to fix them incrementally over a decently long period of time.
We're going to add a contact to each district that you don't level and gives out new missions that we'll add that will be more fun for all participants. As the new missions get positive feedback, we'll replace the worst offenders from the existing missions with the new ones. This should hopefully allow us to constantly be phasing out sub-par content and replacing it with great stuff, without just stripping out too many things from the beginning and accidentally leaving too little content. At the same time, we'll be fixing the mechanics on all the existing missions that are broken at a base level to improve the experience (top contenders for fixes include Hold Item, Territory Control, VIP and Chase missions).
As mentioned last post, Money is going to become a lot more important with the new release (or rather – it will be incrementally more important). This of course makes the disparity between the factions’ income something that becomes a lot more important to solve. At the same time, the Ready system added to the game near its end pretty much killed witnessing, and it's something that we really feel is necessary to implement again as a part of the world.
As such, we're changing witnessing, and open world crime significantly in order to make the experience a lot more interesting for both sides. When non-mission crimes are committed, the criminal doesn't receive money directly, instead it's added to a pool of dirty money that they need to visit a money launderer to actually add to their cash. When they do so, the money is multiplied by their notoriety bonus (we'll be making this a lot more obvious for players) to give the amount they actually get, and then their notoriety is reset to the base level. This should hopefully introduce a play-style where criminals want to go on a large crime-spree before cashing in.
At the same time, when they commit a crime, any off-mission enforcer can witness them (the icon will only appear if you can witness them, rather than the previous implementation of being able to witness, but a match not occurring). When witnessed, their dirty-money pool is moved into a small task item in the criminal’s inventory that either team must drop off to end the encounter. Whichever side drops it off gets the cash. If either the criminal or enforcer was on an unopposed mission when doing the crime, that mission will immediately end and the new mechanic will kick in.
The ideal scenario we're attempting to create here is enforcers patrolling the district looking for criminals (the higher cash amount the better) to take down and gain their money, with criminals partaking in a risk-reward situation where the more crime they commit, the better rewards but the more chance they have of being spotted.
At the same time, we're also looking to add backup and dispatch calls to players not within the ready system (but prioritse players within it) so that players patrolling are not removed from the matchmaking pool.
In my last blog post, I touched on upgrades. For closed beta we've added a system where upgrades are grouped into categories, and you can only add one of each type. This solves the 'stacking' problem, but we still have a problem with the power they imbue. Our goal with upgrades is to make them specialise a player, but not improve their overall power. I'll give a couple of examples based on our current upgrades below (we've also renamed most of them, but I'll refer to their previous names for clarity):
Survivor : Reduces Damage taken, reduces movement speed, adds spark effect rather than blood when shot.
Fast Regen: Reduces time before you start regenerating health, increases time before you regenerate to full health.
Nitro: Heavily increases acceleration and top speed when active but reduces handling.
Mobile Supply Unit: Allows you to resupply and switch items from the trunk of your car. Removes the ability to place items in the trunk.
Spray and Pray : Increases fire rate, decreases base accuracy, removes crosshair.
SuperMag : Increases Clip size, increases reload time.
We won't be adding downsides to every upgrade, as if you equip one, you can't equip another one in that slot (which is a downside in itself), so upgrades that don't have a substantial effect won't be seeing them. In addition, certain upgrades have built in downsides (field supplier for instance makes you very vulnerable for its duration), so those won't need negative modifiers. By adding downsides, we can also increase the benefits, to really allow players to specialise in a chosen niche. Ideally we'll also rename them 'Modifications' rather than 'Upgrades' but it's a much longer word and may screw up our UI, so not sure if that's possible yet without extensive UI changes (though to be honest, we'll want to do that at some point anyway).
On a slightly technical note, we're also spending some time into improving how they're implemented. Currently they're hard-coded, so for instance in the Take Damage function there's a line that reads 'If Survivor, reduce damage by X%'. We're putting work into changing this to make it data driven, so instead we say 'If ReduceDamage, reduce damage by X%' and then having a section in the design tables that reads 'Survivor is: ReduceDamage 30%, ReduceSpeed 30%', HitVFX Sparks' for instance. This may not mean much to a lot of you, but it vastly increases the turnaround time of adding new modifications, so we can make and iterate a lot of upgrades a lot faster.
When designing, generally the principle is to go completely over the top first, then lower it down until it's an acceptable value. This often comes up with hilarious side-effects. The nitro for instance works by multiplying the engine torque of a vehicle by a set amount, and as a test we massively increased this amount (generally we want to increase the benefit but decrease the duration and cooldown). When placed on a G20 Vegas (which I mentioned last week that we heavily increased the torque of) it has the following effect...
Extreme G20 Vegas Torque + Power-Up Nitro = Bad Idea
( aka Funniest Bug of the Week from the Dev Team ) :
This is a little bit awesome, but the mod also has a bad effect on other vehicles (the Mikro in particular bounces all over the place if we try using Nitro on it), so it's not something we can add as a general modification without heavily altering the implementation of the effect (otherwise we'd accidentally turn the game into Super-Mario-Cart Extreme Edition).
Our current thinking is we'll make Nitro a modification that players can't normally unlock but that will appear on certain preset or mission vehicles that are done up like crazy stunt cars (though probably not like the crazy stunt above, given just how nuts that makes the world feel). We may have certain over the top fun mods spawning very occasionally on living city vehicles (though we will be careful not to go completely Cyber-Punk or 'The Matrix" style by accident).
Matchmaking and Threat
APB doesn't use your traditional gaming matchmaking mechanics. The closest comparison I can come to is actually the handicap system in Golf. Generally the system is attempting to make you win 50% of the time, regardless of your skill level, to give each side of the match a fun experience. If you are very good at the game, it tries to match you with equally skilled players, and if it can't find them, it matches you against larger numbers of lower skilled players or lesser numbers of higher skilled players (or calls in backup for you if you are over-matched). When explained like this, you can see why determining your skill level based on mission win percentage becomes a little bit silly. In addition to this, the entire idea of determining skill based on win percentage is pretty mental. If you are at the skill level that we call Threat 13 for instance, you should be winning about half your missions against other Threat 13 opponents. But 50% win ratio is what the current system thinks Threat 6 is, so it'll lower you Threat. This leads to players bouncing around a bit too much, and is something we need to sort out. There is currently quite a bit of internal debate about this issue. One camp favors using the Chess-algorithm analogues (ie you move in rank a lot early on, but as you approach your true skill level the swings moderate considerably). Alternatively we are looking at using a non-historical system that determines your mission score (something we actually calculate at the moment, but is not shown to players, more on this later), and using this in comparison to other members of the mission to determine any changes to heat level. It's a fairly complex change, so something that will need tested extensively once it's in.
Spawning in APB is currently very simple. At the moment it just checks for any nearby spawn points based on where you died, and spawns you at the closest one outside a determined range (92m in the live version). Naturally this can lead to some horrible situations where the nearest spawn zone may be 200m away from the objective, behind an entire district block, or in the face of the guy who just sniped you from max range. This naturally needs to be a little more intelligent, so we're looking to implement a formula for spawning that uses the position of your teammates and enemies to choose the point closest to your teammates, furthest away from your enemies, and away from the death locations of any group members (including yourself).
At the same time, we're also looking at some more specific spawning mechanics, such as respawning in waves, elective spawning, and potentially using player vehicles as optional spawn points.
Player performance during missions is governed by an internal scoring system that uses individual activities during missions to determine the amount of rewards given at the end of a mission. While you can work out why you got what you did at the end of a mission, it's rather confusing. We want to make this score visible to players and highlight the amount of score you get when doing certain activities. We can then also increase the amount of benefit that score gives. At the moment, missions award a certain amount, which is then multiplied by your score (without going under a certain minimum). We want to make it so that activities give score based on the mission, and there not to be a multiplier and minimum reward based on the mission at the end. This should give players more immediate feedback and incentives to work as a team to complete objectives, and also stop the problem of AFK bots overnight. There are still some things to be figured out, like how exactly do we reward people doing non-tracked tasks like being the designated driver or covering the person that's performing the activity (and using personal greed to promote teamplay is a great motivator) , but it's something we really feel will provide a great benefit.
Well there you have it. We've a lot of work to go to get to where we feel we have a great baseline to add content to, and there's certainly things to change that have not been mentioned in this post, but these fixes should definitely give us the game we were wanting at the previous launch.
Well there you guys have it for this week. As you can tell - we are picking up speed, and with some further team expansion over the next few weeks, we feel well positioned to take this game really really far. But in the meantime, we also appreciate the patience from you guys as we work out all these items. As you can imagine, the task of turning this thing around is pretty staggering.
Til next week
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech et Zak / Qwentle
Dimanche 30 janvier 2011
End of Week 11 Update : Game Changes and Closed Beta Features
This week Zak (aka "Qwentle") our designer will give an overview of design changes to expect in the Closed Beta. I have asked the team to be very open and honest about a lot of the things we are working on, so hopefully you guys will enjoy this week's read.
Hey guys, for those that haven’t come across me yet, I’m Zak "Qwentle" Littwin, now the Designer for APB Reloaded (and previously the Development QA Lead at Realtime Worlds). I’ve been asked by Bjorn to talk about some of the changes we will be testing during Closed Beta. This is going to be a fairly long post, so you may want to get a cup of tea and some biccies. Even so, this is only Part 1 of many posts about the upcoming game changes (and probably these design posts will occur quite frequently as we progress toward the renewed live service).
First; let me be clear – in today’s post we are ONLY talking about the TWEAKS that are present in the Closed Beta (these are items we are actually testing out in this first release round, along with extensive system and server tests), and I will NOT be talking about the much more extensive changes we are planning to implement in the Open Beta and especially for Live Service. So without giving too much away, one of the key changes for a future release (again NOT for Closed Beta nor in this post) is the expansion of game modes (especially the addition of “Chaos” and the creation of the completely new mode called “Turf Wars’) as well as the release of a whole new district (the “Asylum” expansion) which we are working on to turn in to an awesome map, and which will drastically alter how players can engage each other, and potentially will alter (for the better) the whole idea of missions, while leaving in place some of the ideas behind the original game play from the original districts.
These future changes will truly change the game play of APB and will make the game much more sustainable (imagine defending areas in the Asylum in a team vs team or even Clan vs Clan setup). But to be clear – today’s post is NOT about those changes. So forget this little teaser. Instead today’s post ONLY talks about the things that in fact will be in the Closed Beta.
Closed Beta Changes (ie - things we need our Closed Beta players to test)
Integrated Cheat Detection
First; yes – we have enabled PunkBuster in the closed beta. Not directly a gameplay change, but we think this will improve the gameplay experience quite a bit. This is a significant code change and will require a lot of testing (see Aphadon’s post from last week). So there will be a lot of technical changes as part of this update of which some have been mentioned in previous posts. Death to Cheaters!
Over in the Gameplay department, during Closed Beta the first thing you will notice is the change to weapon implementations. While previously the game was fairly well balanced (apart from a couple of weapons), the combat model wasn’t particularly fun in a lot of situations, with weapons not feeling very meaty (though the recoil addition in 1.4.1 helped somewhat). In Closed Beta to fix this, we’ve upped initial damage on all weapons, adjusted recoil for most weapons, and changed accuracy so the weapon very quickly blooms out to its minimum accuracy, but regains it very quickly once you stop firing. These are fairly major changes, and will likely affect balance initially, and it is something we need to try out extensively. This change also gives some advantage to single-shot type weapons. We’ll be testing these balance changes extensively during the beta to see what you guys think. In our internal initial playtests the changes make the combat feel a lot more fun (which after all is the whole purpose of the game).
General gameplay changes (marksmanship, witnessing, camera)
Other gameplay changes include the following items; marksmanship will not disable when you fall short distances, teammates will now show accurately on your personal radar screen, the arrest exploit has been fixed and a few other minor changes across various systems. Witnessing has been completely removed for the time being (the ready system kind of broke it), but we plan to reintroduce it in a near future build in a much improved fashion, as it is intregal to the open world experience. The default camera position has also been moved out slightly so that your head doesn’t obscure the centre of screen when the player runs to the right.
Core Game Progression Change
We’ve done a lot of work with changing the progression system ahead of Closed Beta. Progression was really convoluted before, with rewards at seemingly random points, and it had some strange mechanics that needed a lot of explaining by game prompts. Additionally in-game money pricing structure on some of the game items resulted in massive run-away economy problems. While there are other areas of the game that are higher priority to fix (for example spawning, matchmaking and missions), progression is something that is a lot harder to change once we are in live service, so it made sense for us to look at it now and create the new Progression System to be tested in Closed Beta.
The first thing we did was remove organisation standing. It was a fairly obtuse mechanic that didn’t really fit into the game very well. Then we adjusted the contacts so they each fall under the category of either Weapons contacts or Vehicle contacts. As the names suggest – vehicle contacts unlock new vehicles, vehicle upgrades, and vehicle components, while weapons contacts now unlock preset weapons and character upgrades. All contacts unlock preset and customisable clothing options. Since the presets are now properly named you will now be able to tell which items and combinations are actually meant to be worn together (an annoying missing item in the original release).
Open slot weapons and weapon upgrades are unlocked through specific roles that are levelled through using that weapon class (so shotguns and SMGs are all unlocked through the Pointman role, along with upgrades such as Magazine Pull and Reflex Sight), while higher level equipment is unlocked through performing the activity that relates to it (for example Performing Arsons unlocks better Petrol Cans). One thing that helps a lot is the new ability to see how much progress you have made in a certain role or for a certain achievement. While progress bars couldn’t be added before Closed Beta due to some current technical constraints of how the UI works, we have added a numerical readout (ie. 5/12) so you can see how close you are to actually reaching the next level (making levelling something that now matters a lot more, and has more impact).
All Symbols and some pieces of clothing are now rewarded through random rewards at the end of a mission. Players have a very high chance (50%, modified by mission performance) to unlock one at the end of each mission, with different contacts unlocking different symbols.
High level vehicles are now using a slightly different unlock system. You unlock the base vehicles and presets through vehicle contacts at high levels, with kits and open slot versions gained through completing time trials around the districts with those vehicles (this bit’s not in yet, so open slot versions of the high-level cars, along with their kits, won’t initially be available in the first beta. We’ll be working on getting this in ASAP though).
Another major change to progression is leagues. We felt that leagues were not providing their original purpose, and instead were just causing players to exploit game systems, or ‘Zerg’ things in order to compete. As such we’ve removed them completely in the short term, though we plan to add back Leagues at some point, potentially along with the revised (and more meaningful) Clan mechanics which are used in other games as well.
Finally the "in-game" or "earned money" cost for most items has been drastically increased. It’s better for players to have a load of stuff they want and have to work to get the money together to buy them, rather than be able to buy everything right away and have a ton of money left over (something that had made the original money system strangely unbalanced). These changes are something that will need a lot of testing in Closed Beta to get to the right values, so we’re expecting a lot of analysis of user behaviour in this area. It also ties in to the roll-out of Premium vs. Free accounts (something we will be dealing with before and during Open Beta in greater detail).
We have also done some work on the Upgrade system. We’ve moved all upgrades into groups, so you can only use one of each type (we’ve also renamed them to fit with each system). I’ve also removed a couple of mods that either didn’t fit or were duplicates (Savage is gone, and Monolith has also been removed as it was functionally identical to Survivor). Going forward we plan on upping the difference that upgrades make, but adding substantial negative modifiers also, meaning players will specialise within roles rather than just increase stats. To facilitate this, we’ve also allowed the removal of upgrades without destruction. Initially this was added as a cash sink, but we found from both internal testing and live that it only served to stifle player choice, as players made a decision and never changed or explored other options along the way.
During Closed Beta most vehicles have not changed dramatically, though a few vehicles have changed significantly. The biggest change is the removal of the “Han Cellente,” ie. the starting vehicle. We thought it looked pretty awful and handled terribly, leading many to concludes that cars sucked in general (when in fact, they had just been given a really badly behaved one to start with). Instead we have inserted another vehicle as the starter car that looks a lot nicer, and that has pretty decent handling. We have modified how this new starter vehicle operates and with a couple of tweaks we’re left with a cute little 2-door coupe that handles well, is stable and responsive, but not too fast (maybe not a very macho car, but that's why you will be upgrading at some point). So this should now be a really good vehicle to learn the vehicle system on.
Other changes include the G20 Vegas, which has been given massively increased acceleration and torque from scratch (just enough to make the front wheels lift off the ground if you slam your foot down on the pedal). It’s a nice little effect but if it turns out to cause significant problems in Closed Beta testing we can tone it down a little. But heck – why not go over the top in Closed Beta with a few things, it's the best time to try crazy stuff that might work?
The Fresno has had its weight and power increased (so no change in handling, but better ramming potential). We want it to feel like an old steel chassis vehicle when compared to it's lightweight contemporaries. The Mikro/Vaquero now grip the road a lot better and both them and the Bishada/Jericho have had their health reduced in order to put them just below average hp.
The largest change to an existing vehicle is the Balkan Kolva (Dump Truck). We have made it rarer in the game, and massively increased the weight and torque, while lowering the turning speed and initial acceleration. Combined with much higher health (it is a fully loaded dump truck filled with tons and tons of sand after all), we’re left with a lumbering vehicle that needs a run up to get speed, but packs a rather insane punch if it manages to hit something. Ideally the really low acceleration from scratch will stop it from being a griefing tool (it can’t really change direction to block someone in a pinch), but we’ll have to wait till beta to see whether it works in a large scale environment.
The idea behind these vehicle changes, and more changes we will be making in the future, is to give each vehicle a lot of individual personality and specialisation and unique benefits, rather than everyone rushing straight to the Cisco/Bishada/Jericho/T25.
The Premium Quandary
The last thing I was originally going to talk about was premium accounts and leased weapons since that's another big change for the new version of the game. In short, we want to make premiums highly desirable purchases, but not something that crushes Free2Play players. Our goal is to ensure everyone has fun in the game, while simultaneously encouraging premium activities, since that ensures we can stick around and pay for the costs of running and expanding the game over the next several years. We are also in the middle of creating weapons that can be leased that aren't necessarily better than the ones you earn, just different, more specialized or has some other specific benefits. However, seeing how we are running out of blog space (cough...), we are planning to share all the information about premium/free and earned/leased breakdowns as we get closer to launch. And just another teaser - you might be able to spot some of these new weapons in the images below (and it just means you will have to stick around for the future post where we will dig in to the new weapons in great detail).
So that’s what we’re initially putting into closed beta. All of the above is of course subject to change and a lot of future changes will based on both measuring behaviour as well as reviewing feedback during the beta (since sometimes people request one thing, but actually acts in a completely different way when we measure their actions).
In a future post I will discuss subsequent changes planned for Open Beta and Live (the maps and complete game system changes I hinted at in the top of the post – since THAT will be truly revolutionary to the overall game play for the entire game), but for now I’ll leave you with some screenshots of the updated game highlighting a couple of the weather changes we have added (plus some of the new weapons we're adding).
Qwentle / your Designer
Weather updates in updated game (with some teaser weapons)
Let's all thank Qwentle for sharing a lot of Closed Beta change details in this "Part 1 of Many" series outlining design changes the game will be going through over the next several months. Clearly there are four big "teases" in this post alone; the exact leased weapon configurations, what you actually get for being "premium," the new game modes/engagement modes and finally the actual details about the new world/map (other than the fact that it will be called "Asylum" we know very little). Nice. I hope this has whet your appetite a little bit for our future posts, so we will hopefully see you back here next week!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 23 janvier 2011
End of Week 10 Update : Busting some Punks?
Alright - the time has come to start having the rest of the team start chiming in on the development to help shed more light on what's actually happening under the surface. First up is Johann, who originally had worked on the PB integration for the original release, and is now responsible for the overall anti-hack/anti-cheat detection for the game as a whole. My plan is to let key members share their ideas on this blog regularly, and hopefully that will spark some interesting discussions.
Hi, I’m Johann aka ‘Aphadon’ - previously a Living City / AI Engineer for Realtime Worlds, and now a ‘Pretty-Much-Anything’ Engineer on APB Reloaded. When TechMech recently asked the team if we’d like to share anything on the blog, I thought I’d take the opportunity to discuss in greater detail our plans for addressing the cheating problem. This is a subject we are quite passionate about, and while it may be virtually impossible to ever win the war against cheaters completely, we certainly intend to give it our best shot.
But before I get into the details of where we stand with that now, let me start off by explaining a bit of the development history.
We originally integrated PunkBuster into APB in January 2009. After this was completed, it was disabled and essentially left untested until near the end of Closed Beta (~ April 2010), since it was not deemed an essential feature to enable before launch. However when we finally did turn it on, we were caught off guard by a whole bunch of unexpected issues. Many people were getting kicked due to PunkBuster configuration problems, the servers were hitting lag spikes upwards of 10 seconds every few minutes (we used to joke internally and call them “lag mountains” since they were too big to be called spikes), and some people even reported BSOD’s starting on the day we turned it on. So in a nutshell, it was quite a mess.
We were forced to disable PunkBuster again straight away until we could fix it, and ended up launching the game with it turned off. I offered to help out at this point since the developers in charge of PunkBuster at the time were tied up with other work, and I spent the next two months working closely with Even Balance to track down and fix the majority of issues. We eventually managed to turn it back on without issues for a few weeks before the servers were shut down, and - contrary to what the aimbot sites would have you believe - during that period PunkBuster was able to successfully detect every single commercially available aimbot for APB. Over 1000 cheating players were silently identified and logged by the system, but unfortunately RTW was already having financial difficulties by then and we never had the opportunity to get our hands on the list of cheaters to ban them (since once you stop paying the people with the info, they are unlikely to give it to you).
Fast forward to today, and we’ve just completed a full upgrade of PunkBuster to the very latest version. I’ve been going over the issues we’ve seen before, and Even Balance is confident that all of them will be fixed in this version, along with new and improved detection methods and many other behind-the-scenes improvements in addition to Punk Buster alone. We also plan to have anti-cheating enabled on all servers from the very start of Closed Beta, allowing us to get as much testing done as possible. That way if any more surprises turn up, we should have more than enough time to fix them.
Ok, the non-technical people may wake up again now. The next bit of information I’d like to share is our proposed banning policy. This isn’t set in stone yet, and some parts of it may not even be finished during beta, but this is what we would like to work towards:
If a player is positively identified as running a known aimbot, he/she will be immediately kicked from the district and a notification message will be sent to all other players in that district. The cheater’s account and PC will be immediately banned for a period of time, during which the person will not be able to play using that account on any computer. If an aimbot is detected a second time, the account and computer will immediately be permanently banned, all monies paid will be forfeited and any upgrades or customizations will be revoked.
This might seem quite harsh, but there really is no excuse for aimbotting and this time around it will be treated with zero tolerance. We believe this policy will cut down on cheating significantly, and ensure a fairer and more fun experience for everyone.
Next week I believe Qwentle - our Designer - should have a somewhat more light-hearted post to share with you, containing some juicy tidbits about what we’ve been up to recently (aside from plotting the doom of cheaters, that is).
There you have it. Many thanks to Aphadon for sharing, and as he is alluding to, there are actually in this build going to be things other than Punk Buster to help keep the playing field level. What are those? Who knows :) What we all do know - we take game cheating extremely seriously. At some point we want to introduce bullet-proof vests, and for that to work, we clearly need headshots also be something you can actually achieve.
And everyone should realize that downloading hacks (even commercial ones) almost always entails installing a keylogger and malware on your own machine. Why anyone would ever do that is beyond us.
Til next week.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 16 janvier 2011
End of Week 9 Update : We are still here!
As promised last week, as we move closer to Beta these postings will get really really (really) short, until just before the beta launch when we will indeed have more details to share about the actual beta content.
Therefore this week's post is just a quickie "blip" on the radar, and I will answer just a couple of questions from last week's comments before jumping head-first back into the logistics of getting the game out;
First; YES (and it bears repeating), the goal is to let you keep ALL customizations you created using the old game. In some cases that might mean some odd situations, such as having items that may or may not fit the new progression system, and having items that the new F2P model may not have let you design unless you had a premium account (or similar "issues"). That's ok. You will basically be unique thanks to you having played the game "back in the day" and our goal is to make sure your many gazillion of hours of investment do not go to waste.
Second; To set Beta expectations correctly; we are indeed long term working on "Purposeful End-Game PvP." However, this modificaiton is not likely to make it in to the first beta (and in fact is one of the hardest and most complicated modificaitons we can make to the game). So in addition to the many balance fixes, one of the real goals with the game long-term is to turn it in to a platform for many different unique experiences. As such, high level players need something to sink their teeth into after having done all the initial grinding. But; we don't expect that to appear in Closed Beta, but, we are indeed working hard on ways to add higher-level-purpose to the long term experience. As that initiative gets closer to completion we will clearly discuss that in more detail - both here and on the message boards.
So - with this very short update - til next week. Also starting next week, expect a few guest columnists reporting from the various activities going on in and around the game.
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 9 janvier 2011
End of Week 8 Update : Steps to Join the Beta
Closed Beta Steps - easy now, tricky later
So today's post is going to be short, but somewhat information dense. I will start keeping things short since we are now completely in the thick of getting this game to the finish line.
To register for the beta, we have decided to take a pretty "simple" route in order for you to take the first step;
(1) simply submit your email here: http://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/ in the "stay up to date" box. Make sure you give us one that we can actually reach you on - and not the 14 minute email variation :). (2) Create a GamersFirst account (preferably with the same email, though not required)
That's it at the moment is the actual first required sign-up step (simple - eh).
But then it gets a little trickier. About 2 weeks before the closed beta (which probably means on or about the first week in February), you will receive an email sent to the address you submitted above. That email will have a unique link where you will go to activate your beta request. In order to do so you will be asked to submit a lot of additional data, among other things your DxDiag (if you don't know that is, then you might not be a great closed beta candidate) and some additional information about you, as well as about your system and your own background as a gamer. Once we have verified the data, we will then send you back your actual beta key. If you feel like you don't want to share the additional data being asked of you, you can always back out of the process, and just ask to be notified about the Open Beta when that's ready instead.
So far we have received about 20,000 emails that have registered their interest in the game at the above location, and we do expect that about 10%-20% of players who sign up for the email notification will in fact fulfill all our closed beta registration requirements.
Our goal is to have a closed beta with approximately 6,000 - 8,000 fully registered and confirmed players, which roughly means we'd expect to see 800 players online at peak times during the closed beta, which would be sufficient to test all the various system components before going in to the bigger Open Beta.
So why are we gathering this extra data, and why have a Closed Beta in the first place?
The question of "why have a closed beta" came up in a previous series of blog replies. It might seem obvious to us why we want to run the game with a limited audience as first pass. But happy to clarify.
For one thing, there are several components that have been updated since the game went dormant. Among them are the Vivox voice over IP libraries, the installation and unpacking components, and there will be some new components we need to test in order to see what might be normal vs. "abnormal" gameplay (you know what I am referring to :) ). As part of this process it's critical we gather data on as many diverse machines and systems as possible. Thus we need to get as many normal, common, uncommon, unusual, strange, weird and just plain odd system configurations into the beta as possible. If we don't think we have sufficient "diversity" in systems we would need to seek out more closed beta testers (though at this point that should not be a big problem).
The second main goal will be to test some of the new balance and progression systems. They will not at first be extremely different than what they were during the original run of the game, however, these progression changes are now "starting their journey" toward incremental change for the real long term (and we hope - improvements), so we need to see how people interact with them during the game run.
What do you "Get" for participating in the beta?
In return for giving us a bunch of extra data, and taking the survey when you sign-up for the beta (and then spending hours in the game) we plan to give you something lasting. As a thank you to our beta testers we expect to give away a token that shows you were a beta tester back in the day. Trust us, we will not forget who you were :
Finally - what about those pre-existing characters and accounts from the old game?
First of all NO PRE-EXISTING ACCOUNTS will be part of the closed beta. During the closed beta you will create throw-away accounts. That's the purpose of closed beta.
So this topic is one we will come back to later on, before Open Beta, but at the moment we are trying to allow players to reclaim "lost and found" items as part of the Open Beta (maybe in the "San Paro Lost and Found Department?").
Not all details are finalized for this (since it's really not part of the first beta) - but a few things are pretty clear at this point, and I am happy to share them (though it's possible some will have to be modified down the line);
YES - we plan on letting players of the original APB game reclaim the original content (ie characters etc.) that existed at the time the game shut down, since that data is considered "game content." This would give you most (if not all) customizations, gear, and character names back that you had during the first run of the game. NO - we are likely to NOT give you back all the progression data (though some, but this particular point will be explained in much more detail before Open Beta since part of the changes to the game itself relate to progression). YES - you will need to create a NEW user account (a G1 account that is) before you can reclaim your characters, which means you have to basically sign up and agree to the new terms of service that govern the use of all G1 accounts (ie your old RTW account cannot sign you in to the game or anything else) NO - we will NOT have any of your original payment data on our side, and therefore you also will have no RTW points or cash-equivalent credits. We simply have no information about anything you bought via EA, Digital River nor Steam. So we will have no idea what you did or did not purchase back during the original run of the game. No point in asking us. We simply don't know. If you tell us you spent a bizillion dollars we might feel really sorry for you. And the best sad story might very well win you some sympathy and recognition from our development team. But we simply don't have the data (nor the money) from whatever happened back then. Remember, that company simply does not exist any longer. I know I am going to have to repeat this information many times :(
and finally it's LIKELY - that you will be able to "patch-up" to the new game from the original installation. This gets a little bit tricky due to how patching is handled - but it at least appears plausible. Therefore, at least keep any old installations of the game around if you have the space on your drive, since it will save you a lot of content download time. However, we will get back to you before launch to verify this last part.
So, we will continue working hard to keep everyone informed, and I hope the above info has given you guys some additional clarity this week. More info to come next week!
Posté par Bjorn / TechMech
Dimanche 2 janvier 2011
End of Week 7 Update : Two key "to do" items; CB Client Build and Network Redesign
Happy New Year - time for a New APB!
Happy New Year to all APB-ers. I hope you had a great Holiday, and just like us, I hope you are ready for some really exciting things in 2011. Our New Years vow is simple; launch APB in 2011 :)
So based on the transition work and R&D over the last several weeks, we now have enough clarity to at least make an initial prediction of when we will launch Closed Beta. Right now it looks like sometime in late February if everything goes exactly according to plan (and we know how often that happens :) ), but let's at least put it out there, CB will likely start sometime in February. Over the next week the team (lead by Jon-Enée, aka. Neume) will share exactly how you will be able to apply for participating in the CB, and we will then post the CB signup info as part of next week's update (and Neume will then also start sharing the details on the message boards as soon we are ready).
So what are the main obstacles we are currently facing (ie things that might derail the date, and/or make us delay CB)? Well, that's today's update. Be warned - it's a VERY tech-heavy but hopefully it gives you guys a sense of what we are working on behind the scenes.
Two key items that need to be in place before CB
(1) New Game Client and (2) New Network for GamersFirst
I will keep info on item (1) - the new game client - very short this week. I know I know, that's the most exciting update I could give, so you have to hold on for another week for more details. The exact config of the client will be THE focus for each update in each of the next several weeks, so at the moment all I will say is that the Closed Beta client will be a LITTLE bit smaller than the original shipping client, it will have a basic "premium" system built in, various balance fixes, and we MIGHT be able to turn on the chaos rule-set (!). The last one still requires some extensive QA, but that should give you guys an idea of what we are hoping to include in the first closed beta.
Therefore this week I will focus the discussion on item (2) that has to be fully sorted out before APB can go live; a brand new network for GamersFirst, and that means a brand new network for APB as well. This will likely be my last post that exclusively deals with items "external" to the game itself, since starting next week our discussion will focus on in-game features (so for non-tech-heads, this might be a good place to stop reading :) ).
Separate and apart from the actual APB game development efforts, our top-to-bottom network redesign is now a prerequisite for the APB launch. The redesign is not a small nor simple task, especially as we are in the midst of launching several other new games, trying to minimize any downtime to all our existing games during the transition, and on top of this, are also poised to launch APB with its massive network demands. The best analogy is that what we are attempting to do is like changing the engine oil while speeding down the highway at 100 miles per hour. Really tricky stuff. And bound to cause some mishaps along the way.
So why go through the trouble?
Historically, dating as far back as 2005, GamersFirst had servers in a lot of locations (Irvine, New York, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, London, Sao Paulo and Vienna) using a broad mix of various managed hosting setups as well as directly owned colo configs, and purchasing bandwidth from various single-homed providers. This patchwork of services caused various issues over the years, though our IT team put up a valiant fight in each instance to keep things running as smoothly as possible in spite of a sometimes overly "complex" architecture. After I joined the company a few years ago, one of the long-term wish-list items was to redesign and consolidate all the network assets, especially since some of the original designs were not the most secure nor the most cost-effective (something that became apparent during multiple attempted attacks against Knight Online by Turkish and Chinese nationals trying to inject game-gold and during various DDoS attacks).
Oddly enough, taking on more of the back-end network ownership should actually simplify our lives, and also reduces our long-term cost of delivering high end game services, and improves our ability to pin-point service problems in various regions. APB just happened to pop-up while we were in the middle of this massive redesign. Not really a problem, but something that certainly makes the initial APB re-launch just a little slower than we had originally hoped for.
Owning our network
In late August 2010 we were approved as an AS (Autonomous System) by ARIN and technically also as an ISP (since one of our business lines is to host games for other companies). We then promptly started building out what will become the new network, and have very slowly started moving some test traffic onto the Los Angeles portion of the new configuration. As of this moment 80% of our stuff still runs on the old network, with about 20% of traffic being pushed out of our new network. By the end of February we expect to reverse that and hope to have 80% of traffic running on the new network, and APB would be one of those key items running on the new and improved system.
The new design consists of a peering edge in Los Angeles with more than 20 Gbps of connected capacity, a new peering location (and hosting location) in Washington D.C with multiple peers, and a new peering and hosting location in Frankfurt, Germany (and in the process we are decommissioning New York, Amsterdam, London and Vienna) and a stand alone node in Sao Paulo. Between each of our core hosting locations we are going to be running multiple redundant OC-48 paths, and in the process of doing so, we will also be shutting down the jumble of internet access providers we have used previously (or in some cases, upgrading how their services are delivered to us; from being a consumer of IP services to being a direct IP peer). OC-48 is telco speak for a private DWDM fiber connection that actually lets us cross connect our core datacenters across private fiber optic strands.
The biggest benefit for the player; presuming we are well-peered enough (see the below discussion) you should be able to reach the games using fewer hops from your current internet broadband provider than you would use today. Also as soon as your traffic reaches any one of our new key nodes (Washington, Los Angeles, Frankfurt or Sao Paulo) if for any reason you need to connect to one of our far-away nodes, then your traffic would be routed through our private DWDM fiber optic backbone between our core locations once those strands are lit up (ie - the traffic would be physically "off" the public internet and now literally be sent by direct fibers between our locations). In most cases this would be a big benefit, since our network literally would move the data at the speed of light between our private nodes without any need for a public router hop.
Right now with the limited state of the current setup you can see our initial peering report (courtesy of Hurricane Electric): http://bgp.he.net/AS36187 or in graphical form: http://bgp.he.net/AS36187#_graph4 . It shows that at the moment our not yet fully deployed network is multi-homed with two direct peers (Telia and PacketExchange / Mzima). We will have at least one additional direct peer in each location by the time we go live, in addition to tapping in to two public peering exchanges (which would give us a whole slew of peers).
So, what does all this mumbo-jumbo mean? Being multi-homed (with at least two, but preferably three or more peers/providers) means that if one of our upstream peers were to explode (or do something nutty with their routing), traffic will still be able reach us across one of the other upstream providers. It also allows us to perform some basic traffic shaping (for example, it might turn out that in a specific country we might have better performance using a certain provider, and we can then prefer a certain peer for some of the traffic).
The HE toolkit is actually a great little collection of webpages you can use to figure out what various companies (those 37,000 or so companies that as of today actually announce origin routes globally that is) actually look like on the BGP-networking end:
One word of warning; to have any kind of fun with this, you must be a network geek, but since I figure that some of you reading this blog might be geeks, this could be an interesting introduction to BGPv4 peering for you. It's worth noting that Facebook (the worlds biggest site in terms of visitors) have 63 direct IPv4 peers, and Netflix (the worlds largest site in terms of traffic volume moved per day) has only 6 direct IPv4 peers (though they currently move most of their traffic through LimeLight according to the report, which clearly is extremely well peered on its own).
You'll quickly realize (using the search function), that a lot of game companies don't ever go through the trouble of building their own global directly owned network, and instead rely on various providers to give them the first internet service hop. That's a perfectly fine strategy, and one that we have used for a long time, but with the launch of APB, the launch of four other MMO's on our site in 2011, as well as the complete network redesign that we were undertaking to improve performance and security, it made perfect sense for us to go down this route at this time and become a global wholesale network provider (more or less). Yes - technically you could actually now buy bandwidth FROM us on three continents, though I don't think we really have a business model for that yet :)
All this exciting network stuff just means it will make the APB launch just a little more exciting as well, given the fun complexities involved in launching the game on a brand new network. Our critical IT team will certainly have a lot of exciting things going on in the next several days.
Sticking to our mission that we are planning to share a LOT of information with the community as we go along, hopefully this gives everyone a sense of how the future APB network will operate. As new parts of it go live (like DC and Germany), I will point those out in future posts, as we get closer to actual production time.
Next week marks the beginning of the detailed game client discussions, so stay tuned!