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.