End of First Quarter Review
It's nearly the end of March, and I'm overdue giving the community an update on our progress. Honestly, between travel to our London office and the Game Developer Conference, this month got away from me. I'll do better in the future to try and keep these updates on a more standardized schedule.
There is a lot to talk about this month, so bear with me for the length of this blog. I'm going to rundown status on our various workstreams, and then I'm going to spend some time talking about "Why we do what we do".
Alternate Reality Game: www.redhillinstitute.com
To start, I want to take a moment to thank all of the dedicated players who have spent hours scouring the Internet in our Alternate Reality Game for the Red Hill Institute of Technology. The team has had a fantastic time exploring some of the new APB lore and watching all the discussions on our forums and Discord. We're close to the wrapping that up, and I'm looking forward to seeing who claims the reward first. I'll be talking a bit more about the lore of RIOT, but if you want to catch up on what has happened so far, you can see the discussion here: https://forums.gamersfirst.com/topic/8072-the-redhill-institute-thread/
I announced this on the forums a couple weeks ago, and there was quite a bit of discussion surrounding our strategy and timing. As a quick recap, two years ago Innova ended their support for APB Reloaded in Russia. Based on their different economic pricing, possible GM issues, and some unique items they introduced into the game, it was decided to migrate those players to their own server named Nekrova. During that migration, players retained all their inventory, but none of the actual purchase records were ever handed over. Since that time, concurrency on Nekrova has dwindled to nearly empty, and due to some upcoming features later this summer, we need to finally merge that population into Citadel. There are tens of thousands of components that roll up into thousands of in-game and ARMAS items. Unfortunately it is impossible for us to manually map over all the inventory 1:1. We just don't have the man power. Instead I have posted our strategy here: https://forums.gamersfirst.com/topic/8220-nekrova-migration-update/
APB Engine Upgrade
I know this is the update everyone is waiting for. and we are nearing completion of the engine upgrade. The SPCT has seen the good, the bad, and the ugly for the last couple months. According to last year's Roadmap, I wanted to get the new engine into the hands of players on OTW in February, but we hit a fairly significant snag in the Multithreaded Rendering code. Ultimately we scrapped what was there and completely re-wrote it. We now have most of that working, but there is some work to consolidate code between PS4 and XB1/PC. The only other major task is to migrate all the content from 1.19 and RIOT mode, which has already started. As soon as that is done, I will post some screenshots, benchmarks, and timing for public tests.
APB Console Update
This is the second most asked question on the forums and Twitter. Both the XboxOne and PS4 are now working. Both platforms required extensive system updates along with a complete re-write of our voice chat system. The XboxOne still needs Multithreaded rendering to improve frame rates and the PS4 still needs texture memory fixes. Now that the PC version is synced to the same code base, it means that consoles are also getting the content from 1.19 and RIOT. There are so many fixes already, that I will likely submit what we have to our console publisher and then it will go to Microsoft and Sony just so we can get more stable builds into the hands of console players. Then we can keep submitting console updates on a more regular basis as the other items finish.
In an effort to give a more definititve status on the PC and console upgrade, we currently have 61 open bugs out of 116 total, most of the big bugs have been fixed except for items like centering text on a specific control, adjusting how scrollbars work in an area, or fixing how a window gets closed.
APB RIOT mode
If you missed our APB RIOT Reveal from last week, you can see it here: https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2019/3/14/apb-riot-reveal
That news article got a little press on the Internet, and some fans took to the forums and Twitter to discuss their opinions. With that in mind, I want to share a little bit about "Why we do what we do".
Why aren't we just focusing on the engine upgrade? Why do RIOT first? Why did we introduce the Red Hill Institute?
The simple answer is that we need to do all of these things, all at once. My job is to line them up as best as I can. In my opinion just launching the engine upgrade isn't enough. Launching a new game mode isn't enough. We have been working hard sine May last year to do something big for the community, and this first big step needs to contain something for everyone.
Internally I felt that if we launched the engine upgrade but then took 4-6 months to build out a major new piece of content that would be a mistake. It's going to take a little more time to tackle matchmaking, new core gameplay contacts / progression, and a big F2P initiative that I want to roll out.
So the design for RIOT was very intentional. We needed a shorter term way to support the new engine with new content that rolls out in 2 month season increments. We introduced the Red Hill Institute as a new lens to view San Paro and see how the classic factions that control the city react. Each new season brings an opportunity to progress the storyline with its own thematic flavor and rewards players can earn. RIOT itself is a journey - not a destination. While the gameplay is mostly finished and being polished, every 2 months we have an opportunity to tweak the rules or mechanics to refine the experience.
Lastly, many players have asked about whether RIOT is a Battle Royale mode or not.
Clearly if we look around the industry there is already a lot of variance in what Battle Royale is from game to game. We do have a collapsing map, but it closes off block by block based on player interaction. We do have guns that you can pick up, but we also allow you to come into the mode with your favorite loadout and earn the points to unlock those items for use during the match. In the end, some players will feel this is BR, and some wont.
The key point is that we didn't just copy what other games are doing.
RIOT was built with a larger strategy in mind to help us pull together a lot of different pieces while we continue rolling out updates to the main game itself.
I have an entire deep dive blog on RIOT coming as soon as the ARG ends. It will include full details on the mode, the seasonal reward structure, and even some upcoming regular gameplay meta changes.
As always, we appreciate your ongoing support and are eager to share more.