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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Merge Cleanup and Final NA Merge Date

Hey San Paro!

As players continue to merge characters into the Citadel, our team has been working hard to tie up loose ends this week.

The TL;DR version; while 99% of characters were moved successfully during the EU merge (you can read more here), the remaining 1% had various issues, which means our dev team has been deep into sorting out the unique circumstances that lead to these conflicts. The team is updating the merge code as they go along to avoid those same issues during the NA merge. To give them sufficient time to sort out the current customer support tickets and updating the code, this unfortunately means we have to push the NA to Tuesday, June 2. It really does suck we have to move it, but this will allow for the smoothest possible NA merge.

Current Citadel Merge Status


Here is a a list of merge issues we have either fixed, or are working on fixing:
  • Not being able to merge certain characters, or unexpected behavior during the character select screen 
    • Fixed
  • Mail in inbox being reversed, from oldest to newest
    • Fixed
  • Unable to restore deleted characters from EU1/EU2
    • In progress. While we still store deleted character info, retrieving and transferring this data from the old servers is a complex task. We are building a set of tools to streamline this process.
  • Clans being renamed
    • In progress. Some clans that contained banned characters had their names mistakenly changed during the merge process. We are working on fixing these clans.
  • Unable to create new clans
    • Fixed. We temporarily disabled this feature while investigating an issue where new clans could potentially take the names of pre-existing ones from EU1/EU2. This is now re-enabled, and un-merged clans from EU1/EU2 will have their names reserved until they merge.

NA Merge Date


As mentioned earlier, our goal is to make sure that all the kinks are ironed out before we kick off the Colby/Joker merge, and we are now set to start the NA merge on Tuesday, June 2. More details will be posted as we approach this date.

Thanks for your patience, and we look forward to another successful server launch!

Jobs

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Welcome to the Citadel!

[Note: the merge has been completed, and you can follow the "merge clean-up" thread on our forums here: http://forums.gamersfirst.com/topic/381541-citadel-merge-and-fixes/  !]


After weeks of planning, building and testing and we are pleased to announce that the new EU server - the Citadel - is now open for you to play in!

A few weeks ago, we let you the players vote for the name for our new server, and Citadel was an overwhelmingly popular choice. We agreed, and thought this was a fitting choice - the Citadel is now APB's largest server, boasting 3.1 million characters, 193845 clans across 2.5 million accounts. 

What to do Next

Just log into APB!

As we mentioned in an earlier post, most characters will be merged on-demand as you log into the new server for the first time. This will only take a few seconds in most cases, but some accounts may take longer, especially if you are the first member of your clan to login. Once you see your characters in the selection screen, the process will be finished and you can start playing.

Earn Your Special Treat for Being an Early Bird!

Simply log back in to the EU server to automatically merge your accounts before June 30, and you will receive the special Early Merge Bonus Package, featuring 3 X Joker Mystery Box 17's, 5 X Premium Days and ONE Exclusive Title! 

Later This Week: Get The Juggernaut Strike Pack Season Pass

As a special treat, the eagerly-awaited Juggernaut Strike Pack will be available this week. Compared to our previous bundles, this season-pass style pack will bring you more, exclusive content than ever before from May through August. 

The Juggernaut pack will include:
  • Bighorn/Mammoth Vehicle
  • Frenzy Assault Rifle*
  • Strike & Blend Weapon Skins*
  • Urban Strike Clothing Set
  • Manic Submachine Gun
  • Rabid Light Machine Gun
* denotes pack exclusives


As an added bonus - players who pick up the Juggernaut pack will get all of the Bonus items for that phase and later!

Happy Hunting!

We sincerely hope you enjoy playing in the new Citadel and look forward to the intense matchups, new friendships and clan activities from here on out.

Jobs

Monday, May 18, 2015

EU Merge Countdown

Here we go! We're ready to start the EU server merge on Tuesday, May 19th at 200 AM BST (May 18th 6:00 PM PDT). The EU servers will remain down until the server merge has completed, once it has completed we'll post on the forums and social media to let you know! We'll also be creating a separate thread for EU players to post after the merge should they have any unexpected problems. We're hoping that everything goes smoothly and the thread won't be needed!

Joker, Colby, and Han will go down for maintenance at 8:00 AM BST (12:00 AM PDT) and be back in service at approximately 11:00 AM BST (3:00 AM PDT).

Once the EU merge is completed we will determine the best day to execute the NA merge based on the initial merge results (and if there are any new cleanup tasks the team has to perform after the EU merge).

Next Up; Server Name Unveiling and the Juggernaut Strike Pack info.


Keep your eye out for a new post once the merge process is complete, where we will unveil the new name of the EU server, and where we will share the details and preview images of the upcoming Juggernaut Strike Pack that arrives later this week.

Jobs

Friday, May 8, 2015

The Big APB Roadmap Update; new EU hardware, server merges, engine upgrade, console games and surviving GTA-V (again)

(note: read about the latest server merge schedule here)

A mighty northern wind...

Citizens!

As we recover from the storm that blew in across our northern border from Los Santos two weeks ago, down here in San Paro we are still plugging away on the jam packed schedule we are facing over the next three months.

First of all, a huge thanks to everyone who stuck around in APB Reloaded during the last two weeks, and to those who simply decided to come back after checking out some of the great storyline gameplay in GTA V.

Second, a very warm welcome to the slew of new players that found APB during this heightened interest in urban city combat! We admit we may also have wandered over to that "neighboring" city of Los Santos for some exploration, before we returned to APB with great ideas for how to keep APB unique and different, especially by focusing on and refining APB's multiplayer combat both on PC and Console.

Also, it has been interesting to see the competition step out of the safe confines of the console world with their new online PC experience, and attempt to deal with the crazy challenges that come from being a PC online game. We wish them the best on handling those situations, as it seems they have had their hands full the last few days.

On our end, as a small team juggling a lot of new releases and changes, we wanted to get you up to speed with a new roadmap post, particularly as we depend on your ongoing support to keep APB running, for many more years to come.

The Roadmap...

We are really excited to share the new roadmap, with its list of really important releases being worked on right now. We will also make a few individual blog posts for some of these key features as we near each launch.


May-Aug 2015 Roadmap:
  • Completion of all EU District Server Upgrades (NOW LIVE!)
  • Joker Mystery Box 17: Urban Legends (NOW LIVE!)
  • EU PC Server Merge
  • US PC Server Merge
  • Espacio Season Pass
  • Refer-A-Friend
  • CRISP: Community Moderation System
  • New Matchmaking Release
  • PC Engine Upgrade Release
  • PS4 Launch and Xbox One Launch

Live (May 1): All EU districts have been migrated to the new server hardware

So after what feels like thousands of iterations, all EU action districts are now running on the newest upgraded district server hardware. So far the hardware performance has been great. Of course we have seen problems with some malicious individuals still DDoS-ing things (making things feel slow), but when there are no network storms going on, we are now running a steady 33ms frame times on all action districts. That's exciting and should be a great experience improvement for all players.

Live (May 6): Joker Box 17

We are excited to release the next Legendary weapon model series, the Urban Legends, as part of the next Joker Mystery Box. Each of the 3 fully-automatic secondary weapons (Bloody Mary, Jersey Devil, and Hitchhiker) comes with their own unique modifications and deluxe skin designs. We hope you enjoy using them as much as we did crafting them!




Going forward: 


US and EU server merges

After massive amounts of testing, the very hard desicion was made to move the EU server merge from May 6 to the week of May 18-22 (the same week as the US server merge). More details here.

Aside from the ongoing engine update work, completing the merge preparations is currently our very top priority, not only to prepare for the upcoming console releases, but also to make sure that everyone will have a great experience on the PC version going forward. The merged servers will effectively double the current population, but will also set the stage for the "Server-Wide" matchmaking system that is being worked on. In short, the server merges are a critical cornerstone to a massive amount of upcoming new launches.

Introducing the JUGGERNAUT STRIKE PACK (THE JUGGERNAUT STRIKE PASS – Early purchase)

Since releasing the Heavy Duty pack in December, our art team has been crafting a bold new body kit design for the Espacio vehicle, along with matching clothing items and weapon.

We are planning to release the Espacio Pack at the end of May, but with a bit of a twist. Since we release a pack about once every 3-4 months, we are planning to release the upcoming Espacio pack as a "Season Pass," where for the same price as a normal content pack you will get even more content over a period of time: pack exclusives, Joker Boxes and other items every month.

The earlier you buy the more bonus items you will get. The goal is to make new content and extra bonus items available to you each month as a Pass holder. And also to pave the way for a fixed predictable long-term release schedule for these large content packs.

CRISP Community Moderation

Whether in missions or hanging around the Social District, APB is at its core driven by constant and positive social interaction between each of the players. Each day our team strives to create an inviting atmosphere so you will not only feel welcomed among other APB players, but also invite your friends to join you here. Still, we realize that our small GM staff is not always able to properly address all the harassment, scamming, and offensive language that takes place and much more needs to be done. So over the next couple months, we are introducing two major initiatives that will both tackle this toxic behavior head on while bringing the next generation of players into APB.

First, we are nearing completion on integrating a sophisticated community moderation solution called CRISP Thinking into APB. CRISP works seamlessly in the background to automatically detect and moderate toxic players anywhere in the game, then take instant action as necessary. Unlike conventional filtering systems, CRISP is able to look beyond 'bad' word usage and examine the context of entire phrases. Harassment, hateful speech, and even scam attempts can be detected and acted upon in real-time while keeping positive players protected. We are aiming to introduce CRISP this Summer.

Refer-a-Friend

We are finishing up our referral system that will award prizes for bringing your friends into APB! While there are other referral systems out there, APB's Refer-a-Friend is the deepest, most rewarding and most convenient system devised in a game like this.

As you invite friends and help them achieve milestones in APB, you will earn points that you can choose to spend across 31 different prizes at launch! After over a year of development, designing and balancing, we are expected to unveil the Refer-a-Friend system at the end of May.

Revised Match-Making

This summer we are looking to launch our new matchmaking system we first described here, internally named Dedicated Automatic Matchmaking (D.A.M.). By introducing the ability to match teams with equal ratings located on different servers, the new system was designed to promote more balanced, frequent, and engaging matches across all districts so that you can truly enjoy the unique multiplayer gameplay that sets APB apart from the competition.

Combined with a more concentrated population, D.A.M should vastly improve your chances of having those elusive, exhilarating and insane "APB moments" that will stick with you for a long time.

PC Engine Launch

It feels like an eternity since we began the complete rebuild of the underlying APB game engine. When we started the project back in 2013 (in fact if you go back to our October 17, 2013 blog post we shared that the engine upgrade project had begun July 17, 2013), we were wildly optimistic that we could complete the project in about 9-10 months.

That was insanely optimistic for a whole host of reasons. First we didn't count on the amount of other ongoing work APB needed just to stay operational day in and day out, so when the team was pulled away to solve other problems, the engine work slowed down. But most of all we hadn't anticipated the ungodly amount of work required to undo years of custom systems that would no longer be part of the new engine.

The Console game actually helped the team refocus on the engine update since the upcoming Console versions absolutely had to use the later version of the engine.

Below are screenshots from the current game (left) and the updated engine (right) that we are currently running in our office. Clearly the new look will be great for the game, but more than the visuals, the simplified workflow will dramatically improve our ability to actually make new meaningful content going forward for all three versions of the game.

Our current expectation is that the PC engine upgrade will go live either concurrent with, or just after the release of the Console games. It's been an insanely long road to get here, and when the engine and the console versions are launched we will finally breathe a sigh of relief, and then we will go right back to building new things for the updated game!



The upcoming Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions of APB Reloaded

Finally, we are also getting closer to the launch of our first ever console versions of APB Reloaded! While we don't yet know the final Console launch date, all the teams involved, i.e. our internal team, the external console development partner's team and the publisher's team, have been working around the clock to get the Beta and Certification versions readied for submission.

Unlike the PC game which can basically be launched "when ready," the Console versions require a long series of approvals from Publisher, Microsoft and Sony before anything can go live.

As soon as the formal launch date has been finalized, our publisher will be sharing that information through their channels, and after that we will be able to share that information here as well.

Thank You


Finally, it’s an awesome privilege to work on a game with this kind of longevity and ongoing community support. I am thrilled with all the changes that are coming, the big leap it will mean for us in adding new content with the new systems, and I cannot thank you enough for your continued support of the game. See you in San Paro soon again!

Jobs





Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Merge Update

Hey San Paro,

Just a quick update on our progress as we prepare for our massive server merges. First the TL;DR version; after a lot of testing and simulated merging even through today, we have decided to postpone the EU merge this week and are moving it to the same week as the previously scheduled US merge (the week of May 18-22), with the EU merge likely occurring at the start of that week, and the US merge occurring during the second half that week.

The fundamental concern; if this merge runs in to any issues, it would be nearly impossible to reverse once it's set in motion, and any post-merge repair job could take a very long time to complete. At this point we don't have enough test data showing us that the merge will succeed in all cases.

Therefore the decision was made today to give the first merge at least 10 more days of QA and testing time before we pull the trigger.

An insane number of merge simulations...

These server merges may be the riskiest operation we have ever undertaken with the game, other than maybe taking over the game in the first place, since it's going to be nearly impossible to undo or reverse once it's been kicked off.

Over the last two months we were busy writing the merge code and revising database systems to handle the size and complexity of the merge, while also running simulations of every type of merge we could conceive of.

Our first approach "worked," but yielded merge simulations showing the game might have to be offline several days and nights to complete the merge! Therefore over the last couple of weeks we reversed course and designed a new type of merge that lets us bring the game back online in less than 24 hours.

Old Plan: Merge 5.7 million characters in two rounds. 

Since APB:R launched in 2011, a LOT of characters have been created by you and your friends - over 5.7 million characters to be exact. For each one of these characters we store each character's customized appearance, vehicles, symbols, themes, inventories, friends lists, in game mail and a whole host of internal parameters that relate to each character's relation to all other characters in that world, like clan membership, the "author" of any items in your inventory you bought from the auction house etc. 

Suffice to say, reliably moving this data is a colossal undertaking in terms of both scripting, hardware configuration and sheer processing time. As you might expect, the most time-consuming pieces to migrate are related to character customization and inventory.

On the technical side, each of our 5.7 million characters "own" a set of around 30 distinct, long XML blocks, and each of these must be converted, validated and potentially modified as they move to the merged database.  This is why our last tests using this method showed it would take a colossal 3 days (72+ hours) of continuous downtime to merge the EU servers, and slightly less than that to merge the US servers. This would simply be an unreasonable amount of time to keep everyone out of the game this week.

New Plan: Merging On-Demand active characters.

Over the last couple of weeks our lead engineer in charge of the merge team devised a clever new way of reducing the 72-hour downtime down to a more manageable 8 hour downtime window, to fit in an "extended maintenance" period. Rather than merging all characters at once, the team implemented a new system to merge a lot of the preliminary data first, and then merge each character in real-time as players log into to the new world for the first time. This means that you will only need to wait 2 seconds for each of your characters to "arrive" before hopping right into APB again.

While this plan is certainly faster, it makes the upfront development effort significantly more complex, since we now have to consider the edge cases around the fact that characters will essentially be created on the fly on the new server at different times. In essence it became a live "character migration" in real time. The new issues that arise are things like - what does this mean for clans with members arriving at the new server at different times? What about mail that was sent by a character that doesn't yet exist, but might "arrive" at the new server eventually?

After the last few weeks of development we are finally confident we have a good solution, but now we need to spend significantly more time testing all these edge cases.

How long before it goes live?

The merge is something we have been working toward for a long time, and we never like pushing these dates back. So while we can't merge this week simply because we don't yet have all the test data showing us that we have a green light, the new plan is to complete both the EU and US merges the week of 5/18.

Thanks for all your patience. I assure you that it will be worth the wait!

Stay tuned for another post later this week, where I'll be going over the brand new roadmap (including the Engine Update) and unveiling the six new names for the six going forward servers for PC and Console for both EU and US! 

Jobs


Monday, April 27, 2015

Some Important News as we Move Into May

Hello Citizens,

This blog post will be a quick one with a few announcements from myself to you all. 

Last week ended the Easter Event 2015 and a new month is just around the corner. With the upcoming month of May, I will be providing the next batch of answers to your inquires and posting my questions to you very shortly. 

One issue I will address in this post regards our Trophy system that started in February.  The goal was for participants to collect unique items in past and upcoming events and then reward players with an upcoming unique event and customizable versions of their items. 

Much as the idea of a trophy system was solid, the methodology and practice did not perform as well as I expected.  So, with the next live release, all players that have earned the Valentine quiver and Easter egg head trophy will be provided with customizable versions of their very own.




As mentioned in the first Q&A session, we had plans to change the direction of our Trophy system in 2016.  The feedback and concerns from players provided us with the proper info and guidance to create a more valuable and promising system for the New Year. 

For your feedback, I say thank you in making our game better each and every step of the way.

Well, as I said this was a quick post so till next time citizens.

MoK



 



Monday, April 20, 2015

Server Merge Update and Name Survey

Hey San Paro!

We have been working hard this month toward the scheduled EU server merge this Wednesday, and the US merge 2 weeks later. As promised at the beginning of the process, I'd like to keep you updated on where we're currently at.

New Merge Dates


We are pushing both merge dates back by two (2) weeks. This means that the new merge dates will be:

  • EU: Wednesday, May 6 
  • US: Wednesday, May 20

Setting up a successful merge involves a ton of moving parts, including hardware setup (which requires flying out to the data center), database and server configuration, and extensive scripting work. We unfortunately ran into a series of events involving international travel complications and hardware shipments over the last couple weeks that delayed our timeline. 

Still, most of the configuration work is already complete and we are in a solid position to complete the merge. And despite these setbacks, we were considering different ways we could get everything in place by the original date. In the end, we felt it was best to reserve another 2 weeks for simulation and testing to take extra care that your characters appear on the new worlds just as you left them. 

Server Name Survey


We need need six new names for each of the servers that are soon coming online (PC/PS4/X1 on US and EU). One (or more) of these servers will be your new gaming home over the coming years and it's fitting that you take part in their creation. 

After gathering your suggestions for what to name the new servers, we compiled the most popular names into a survey for you to cast your votes. In case your chosen name isn't on that list, we left a space for you to write it in. Should you write yours in, we only ask that you pick a name that appears in the APB universe.

So please cast your vote here by May 1st 11:59 PM PDT! 



Jobs


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Weapon Rebalance and a Few Other Things

Hello Citizens,

We are halfway through April and we have more things to bring to your attention.  First, the Easter Event will be coming to a close and you have till April 22nd to earn those rewards and Egg Head trophy.  For those that have already played or have been playing, we appreciate all your feedback and all data in game and from the forums will be taken into consideration for all future gameplay and events.

We are also happy to say that we have now moved 10 of our newly balanced weapons into the advanced testing stage, our goal again is to give them the good once over before making these changes live.  The 10 weapons again are:


  • NTEC
  • HVR-762
  • VAS-C2
  • ISSR (A/B)
  • OCSP
  • FFA-BULLSHARK
  • COBR-A
  • VBR
  • NFAS-OGRE
  • NCR-ANUBIS


With this testing we are also refining a variation of the WEAPON PICKUP mechanic, which players saw in last year’s Christmas Event.  The goal is to release this mechanic and the rebalanced weapons within a few months.  There will be a forum post as soon as testing is completed regarding our final changes, listing each weapon as well as a brief description of the changes.

The next Q&A session will be started in a few weeks on our forums.  Of course, you the audience can ask any questions you may have.  I do ask that each person please limit your questions to 2, this way the same or similar questions can be answered as one response.  

New questions for the players will also be posted shortly after the Q&A session is posted.  The information you provided previously are actively being considered and in some cases have been implemented in our present weapon rebalancing stage of our testing.

In a few days APB will be having a Video, Art and Music competition open to our entire audience.  This will be your chance to show off your creative chops and help spread the word about the APB universe and how elements in game should be made to look, read and sound cool.  Details will be made available on the forums within the next few days.

So to recap…


  • 10 rebalanced weapons are in advanced testing – details will be posted on the forums when testing is completed.
  • Introduction of the Weapon Pickup mechanic – as seen on Xmas event 2014
  • New Q&A session – details will be posted on the forums this Friday.
  • APB Reloaded new Video, Art and Music competition – details will be posted on the forums this Friday

As you can see we have a few coals burning and are all excited to see what the end result will bring. We look forward to announcing the release date of the rebalanced weapons, but only when we feel they are fully ready.  But at the same time we are excited to see what your next questions may be as well as the answers you will be providing and the creative output some of you will attempt to do with our upcoming completion.

This is going to be an interesting couple of months.

Till next time citizens,

MoK

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Easter Update Patch

Hello Citizens,

After Thursday’s release the team and I further reviewed our play testing sessions and also read the feedback you all left on the forums. On many issues we agree with you and went forward with some rule changes to the event.

To tackle some of the exploits and obvious balance issues base on play styles, we implemented a few changes with tomorrow’s update:

  • PLAYERS will be invulnerable and will have a speed boost for 10 Sec when Re-spawning with eggs.
  • CAR SURFING will be removed from the Easter Event.

The additions above should remedy a few of the bad experiences players are encountering.

Back by popular demand, we will also be awarding players with Rabbit Ears for just logging in.

Finally, we are introducing last year’s EGG HUNT 2015! ROLE that has been updated for this years event.

Level 1 (250 eggs) : Animal Suit
Level 2 (500 eggs) : Rabbit Mask
Level 3 (1000 eggs): 'Easter Bunny' Title


That’s all from me gang, thank you again for the feedback and stay tuned for a new post from Jobs regarding other game developments.

Till next time Citizens,

MoK



Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Mayor Jane Derren's San Paro First Ever Open Conflict Easter Egg Hunt 2015


Hello Citizens,

Wanted to provide an update on where we are at this week.

After reviewing our options, we have decided to remove the TROUBLEMAKER from the ARMAS store later this week.

The plan is to give it a proper review and balanced the weapon accordingly, once the weapon has been balanced we will announce its return to the ARMAS store.

Those that have purchased the TROUBLEMAKER will still be able to utilize it in game.

The other topic is the Easter Event for this year. Much like with the Halloween Event last year, I felt that we needed just a few issues addressed in order to provide the best experience possible. We were planning to release the event on Wednesday but instead will be releasing it on the Thursday (at the usual maintenance time 9 AM UTC).

That one extra day will allow us to be confident with what was created and to properly review the final changes prior to release.



THE RULES FOR THIS YEAR'S :

Mayor Jane Derren's San Paro First Ever Open Conflict Easter Egg Hunt 2015

OBJECTIVE: 


Collect as many EGGS as possible by MUGGING BUNNIES, CHICKENS as well as other PLAYERS. Collect as many EGGS as you can during the Easter Egg Hunt 2015 to earn TITLES, REWARDS and the coveted TROPHY.
  • The EASTER EGG HUNT 2015 EVENT is a free for all, no teams and no factions.
  • AT START NPC BUNNIES and CHICKENS will be spawned in the district, the first BUNNY/CHICKEN MUGGED will start the game (20 Min playtime)


MUGGING SCORING:


BUNNIES: 1 POINT
CHICKENS: 5 POINTS


RULES:


  • PLAYER successfully KILLS another PLAYER EARNS HALF OF THEIR COLLECTED EGGS (NOT ONES THAT ARE BANKED).
  • PLAYER that has been KILLED will LOSE HALF OF THEIR COLLECTED EGGS (NOT ONES THAT ARE BANKED).
  • PLAYER that has been MUGGED will LOSE ALL OF THEIR COLLECTED EGGS (NOT ONES THAT ARE BANKED).
  • PLAYER successfully MUGS another PLAYER EARNS ALL OF THEIR COLLECTED EGGS (NOT ONES THAT ARE BANKED). 
  • PLAYERS THAT SUCCESSFULLY MUG will be invulnerable and receive a speed boost to allow them to make a quick escape in case they are under threat from others. The invulnerable player will also have their weapons unequipped for the duration of this effect. The effect will be cancelled if you enter a vehicle or activate certain character mods.
  • It’s not possible for other PLAYERS to interfere with a MUGGING
Egg Bonuses:

Once a PLAYER have EGGS, you can bank the amount by delivering them to a contact. Delivered EGGS can earn a PLAYER a BONUS amount.
DELIVER EGGS TO A CONTACT to BANK YOUR EGGS AND EARN A BONUS:

1st Time is a 5X BONUS
2nd Time is a 3X BONUS
3rd Time is a 2X BONUS

All others DELIVERIES HAVE no BONUS APPLIED, but the EGGS will be BANKED

ADDED NOTES:


  • In order to allow players to sneak up on others to mug them, players won’t be displayed on the radar
  • HUD markers will display where the CHICKENS are located.
  • HUD markers will be displayed for the top 20% of Players.
  • BUNNIES and OTHER PLAYERS will not have a HUD marker and can only be displayed by line of sight.


PRIZES TO BE WON: THREE NEW TITLES, EGG HEAD MASK TROPHY AND JOKER TICKETS (MAX 100 A DAY).

These rules will also appear on the APB Forums.

Thank you again for your patience regarding the EASTER EVENT delay, as well as the upcoming removal of the TROUBLEMAKER from ARMAS. Expect its return as soon as it is properly been reviewed and tweaked.

Till later Citizens,

MoK

Friday, March 27, 2015

Easter Egg Hunt 2015


Hello Citizens,

I would like to start off with a thank you, to the members of our community that have taken the time to answer my Q&A questions. The responses you provide will better help us to refine APB.

The next Q&A will be started shortly, when it does please feel free to ask a few more questions and I will answer them in the same time span as my last.

Now on to the meat of my blog post J

The Easter weekend is approaching and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new event. The goal for this event was to take last year’s theme and change it up in order to make it fresh.

We took last year’s Bunny Mugging gameplay and changed it up a considerable amount in order to present to you:

Mayor Jane Derren's San Paro First Ever Open Conflict Easter Egg Hunt 2015 aka The M.J.D.S.P.F.E.O.C.E.E.H 2015 (J)



Go out and capture as many eggs as possible. Mug a BUNNY, A CHICKEN or even other PLAYERS in order to claim as many eggs your grubby little hands can hold. Squirrel your eggs safely with a contact or carry all the eggs with you, till the very end. Play your way… choose to play alone, play with friends (no groups), back stab friends or just sneak around grabbing all you can. The event is yours to enjoy, so go MUG, SHOOT and BANK your way to new titles, rewards and the new Easter Egg Event Trophy.

The official rules will be posted in our forums.

So I look forward to continuing our Q&A, reading your answers and hope you enjoy this year’s Easter Event.

The fun starts on 4/1/2015!

So have a safe holiday weekend everyone, till later gang.

MoK

Friday, March 20, 2015

Prepare for Migration to New San Paro World Servers



In our last post, we talked about how we plan to make your APB experience run more smoothly by upgrading the district server hardware to the latest generation technology. Today we'll share our plans to address your calls for server merges, how that fits with the console release, and what you can expect during this process.

Migration Considerations


Two critical factors that affect your gameplay quality are latency (ping time) and population size. Lower ping times mean more responsive combat and driving mechanics (not to mention the separate projected currently underway to change the entire matchmaking system).

Generally higher population size on its own also helps improve matchmaking and creates more vibrant social interactions. Having more servers throughout the world reduces latency for some players by reducing their physical distance, but that comes at the expense of server population size. Our new design should strike a reasonable balance between the two.

First, our new World Server hardware allows us to effectively double the capacity of the original World Servers, which avoids the need now and in the future to have multiple "worlds" in any one location.

Second, APB:R currently has 5 distinct 'worlds' - Colby (US West), Joker (US East), Obeya (EU1), Patriot (EU2), and Han (Asia). After analyzing millions of player data including connection quality, feedback, and even social patterns, we concluded that running 5 worlds overly limits the kinds of social interaction that the APB community thrives on. By combining these into 3 larger servers, we effectively double the population size of each and open up a massive number of potential new connections between characters - by 2,253,728,674,140 in the EU to be exact.

One "World" per continent, per platform.


The plan for the PC game is to construct two new high-capacity, high-performance centrally located world servers for PC, one in the US and one in the EU. In the EU, Obeya and Patriot will be combined into a single world that will remain in Frankfurt, Germany but hosted on the new hardware. Likewise in the US, Colby and Joker will be combined into a new world that will now be based in Dallas, TX. Han (the Asian world) will live either in Singapore or Sydney, and there is still a fierce debate about the best location for that world. 

These new world servers will be both larger and faster than the current ones, with the US server to be hosted on the Softlayer platform outlined in the previous post, and the EU server to run on a combination of Softlayer and the same type of blade servers that outperform even the Overkill servers.

Since the Han server exclusively serves the entire Asia region, we do not plan to make significant changes to it in the near future.

What Should You Expect?


The migration schedule to the New Worlds is as follows:
  • EU - April 22nd
  • US - May 6th
Character Names: Two characters on the combining servers might have the same name. Whenever this occurs, we will choose which character has priority to keep the name. This will be based on: total play time, last login time and character age. Any character that is not given priority will instead be given a free name change option.

So be sure to login and play on your characters over the next 30 days, especially ones that you haven't played on in a while. While we cannot guarantee naming priority, doing so will improve your odds. We will be sending email notifications shortly to make sure most players have received at least a 30 day warning prior to the upcoming New World Migration.

Clan Names: Like characters, clans names might also conflict during the merge. Should this happen, we will give priority to the clan based on its size and the total playtime/recent activity/age of its members. Clans that are not given priority will have their names slightly modified, and the clan leader can submit a ticket to request a new name.

World Names: While we like the current names (Colby, Joker etc.) we are open to calling the new worlds by new names. Any name suggestions would be greatly appreciated on the forums (you can visit the forums here).

Console Worlds


Along with the new location for the PC Worlds in Dallas and Frankfurt, each of those two locations will also host 2 new World Servers dedicated to the Console version, for a total of 6 World servers; Dallas-PC, Dallas-X1, Dallas-PS4, and Frankfurt-PC, Frankfurt-X1, Frankfurt-PS4 (each of those of course need brand new names as well).

We look forward to bringing you more details as we get closer to the live migration start, but in the meantime, stay connected and simply play APB Reloaded to cement your claim to any existing character and clan names.


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

New APB Servers

Here at Reloaded, our team is made up of avid APB players across the globe—we play countless missions throughout each of the servers and get frustrated at the same gameplay hiccups that you’ve experienced. That’s why we’ve been working tirelessly to find shiny new solutions that bestow upon our awesome international community the smoothest gameplay experience possible. Today we would like to tune you in on our 2015 plans to offer the best server-side performance in the history of APB.

No EU Overkill?

Since we first announced Overkill back in early 2013 (http://apbreloaded.gamersfirst.com/2013/02/optimization-magic.html) - we purchased, built and deployed these ultra-optimized machines in the US in response to your demand for better server-side performance. The Overkill machines are deployed in Colby and Joker provide increased server tick-rates (30 fps compared to 25) and higher maximum district capacities (50v50 compared to 40v40).

The graphs below illustrate how Overkill performs at higher district capacities compared to the standard spec:


(a) Standard (original) server running 4 district instances at 80 capacity, with 40ms frame time/25 FPS. 



(b) Overkill server running 5 district instances at 100 capacity, around 33ms frame time/30 FPS. In both cases, frame time starts to increase exponentially as district population exceeds certain amounts (70 in standard servers and 90 in Overkill servers). Since we try to maintain a minimum frame time 25 FPS (40ms frame time) for ideal performance, there is always a careful balancing act between minimizing latency and maximizing district capacities.


Why haven’t we simply launched them in the EU?

It basically boiled down to the logistics of setting up these highly-customized machines in Frankfurt (where our EU servers are located). This isn't like building a PC at home – birthing an Overkill server overseas takes lots of work putting together the individual components, escorting it to the proper location, racking it in the data center and configuring it for use. Unfortunately once it's in place, it's a hard piece of equipment to maintain, especially relying exclusively on remote assistance.

Therefore we have been on a continual hunt for a more "enterprise-class" solution that was better suited for remote datacenters, especially when we need to deploy them in Germany, where we don't have our own team on the ground.

We never lost sight of upgrading the servers that our EU players call home. The good news; we are launching the final "Gen 2" servers for testing in the EU later this week!


APB in the Cloud

Over the last several months we have been working with several potential cloud-hosting or hybrid hosting providers – like AWS and SoftLayer – to experiment with alternative server solutions. "The Cloud" of course offers benefits like a selection of ultra-modern and high-performance servers already located near existing APB infrastructure. Unfortunately, "The Cloud" can also be unpredictable and unreliable when compared with "bare-metal" hosting.

AWS offers a "pure" cloud solution, whereas SoftLayer provides a "hybrid" hosting solution where they actually spin up new physical servers and give us more physical control over actual "hardware."

Still, finding the right servers able to handle the massive demands of running APB district servers has been no easy task. So far we have put several different configurations through real-world tests.

How did they stack up?


(c) Amazon AWS C3 2680v2 (10 cores, 2.8Ghz) running 6 district instances at 90 capacity. 



(d) SoftLayer 2690 (8 cores, 3.0 GHz) running 6 district instances and 100 capacity. 



(e) SoftLayer 1270 V3 (4 cores, 3.5 GHz/ 3.9Ghz TURBO, thanks to hybrid hosting) running 3 district instances at 100 capacity.

The clear winner here is the SoftLayer 1270v3 at 3.9Ghz (TURBO). That's a bit surprising, since technically it's the "smallest" of the three processors types (AWS C3 is a E5-2680v2 with 10 cores at 2.8Ghz, and the SoftLayer E5-2690v2 is an 8 core 3.0Ghz processor) and by far the cheapest.

However, Unreal eats processor clock for breakfast, and does not properly use multiple cores for its processing tasks. So the smaller processor actually wins out.

For the 1270v3 even with each district at full 100 capacity, frame rate remained close to 30 FPS, and dropped only very occasionally to 25 FPS. This is higher than the current servers’ frame rate of 25 FPS under the best conditions (down to 18 FPS at 80 capacity), and actually better than the US based Overkill servers which run closer to 22 FPS under the same 100-player load!

Sadly, our experiments with Amazon (where we had a lot of hopes in Australia) did not turn out to work very well. While it's a fine piece of hardware, at these extreme performance levels the limited hardware tuning options made the AWS solution less suitable for this very unique hosting requirement.

Over all - the hybrid hosting options have shown to be incredibly promising and if you’re still reading along at this point, you’re probably wondering when you’ll be able to take these for a spin yourself. The good news is that we are configuring both EU1 and EU2 to incorporate the new SoftLayer servers, and will add 12 new districts running at 100 CCU max capacity in the live environment later this week. Once they are live, they will run through the rest of February and depending on our test results and your feedback, we hope this solution will be the final version we deploy for all EU districts.

New Server Structure in Preparation for Console Launches

So to end on a bit of a bombshell, and reward you for patiently reading about low level technical items, in the next blog post we will share the new game structure that we will implement over the next few months in preparation for the PS4 and Xbox One launches.

The new upcoming World structure will feature three Central US Worlds (one each for PC, PS4 and XBox One) and three Central EU worlds (PC, PS4 and XBox One). Each new World instance will have greater capacity than the old ones to handle additional players, and we will no longer need to split players on a single platform (PC/PS4 etc.) onto multiple World servers. Han will remain as a PC world in Asia, and may transition to the new server technology if the EU tests go well.

Til next time,

Jobs





Monday, February 9, 2015

Much Love is in the Air

Hello Citizens

We got a lot of feedback on the forums regarding last month’s blog post from TechMech and myself. I will go over some future plans later in this blog, but first let me present what we have in store for you this month.

Now that February is here, you all know what that means? A time for love, heartbreak and of course action. We have been busy with the engine, matchmaking and other game upgrades so APB Reloaded will be offering you something old and something new for this month.  This year we see the return of the Valentines Massacre Event which will run from the 11th to the 25th of February. New and returning players will be given a chance to earn themes, skins, weapons and a whole lot of other prizes. 

With love comes heartbreak and brand new for this year is the 7 Stages of Heartbreak trophy. Players just need to log in on any of the 7 days of the event and play 3 matches during each visit. Earn new titles (7 in total) and reward yourself with a unique arrow quiver backpack that is not earnable or available anywhere else. 


This backpack will be the first of many participation trophies available throughout the year, so don’t miss on the first one that starts the ball rolling.

Now on to future plans.

We realized with last month’s post and from threads on the forums, that people want more communication from us on what is going on and what will be taking place.  So, as the game's Creative Director I am happy to say that I will be conducting a Q&A session where myself and appropriate team members will answer your questions. This will also give me a chance to ask you, the APB player about what you like in the game and what your thoughts are regarding specific aspects of the game.

This new thread will start next week in 2 weeks and will contain a bit of info about myself, what I do and how the questions and answers will be presented. I am looking forward to it and am excited on the information being exchanged.

So enjoy the Valentine Massacre Event, earn that unique Valentine Quiver Backpack and see you on the forums.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where Jobs will talk about the improvements to our servers that you can expect in the coming months.

Till next time


Ricardo “MOK” Viana

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Matchmaking on a Global Scale

More communication!

(by TechMech)

As shared last week, going forward we expect to post a lot more about what the team is doing right now, and how that will affect the game over the next several months, even before they have fully completed the work. We are starting this series with MoK's initial write-up about the outline of the new Matchmaking system. Followed by blog posts that share more details about the new engine and console game releases, and finally, sharing much more information about the new hardware deployment that's going on at the moment. So a slight change in publishing order, with Matchmaking going out before Engine and Console post.

First up: MoK and Matchmaking


Matchmaking on a Global Scale

(by MoK)

At end of 2014 we ran lots of surveys and in depth APB statistics on matchmaking, since it's pretty clear that our matchmaking system requires some serious overhaul. As a result of that review, the team and I have designed a matchmaking solution that addresses the core problem without diminishing a fundamentally strong mechanic.

In short, while the matchmaking system works exceptionally well inside a single district, the core problem is that there simply isn't a sufficient number of equally skilled teams inside any one 100-person district at any one time. And our attempts to regulate that using individual skill thresholds (silver, gold etc.) per player has not worked, since what matters in the end is the strength of the combined team, not the individual player.

We know from the team stats that when a good and evenly balanced match does take place between two equally strong teams, the outcome of the match is pretty much a 50-50 coin flip, which is exactly what we are looking for, and the condition that hits you like a "shock and awe" attack due to the level of action you are surrounded by. However, if no good team match up is available in your current district, then the next reasonable match on that one server may in fact be very lopsided, and after some timeout period the system today will simply start that less than ideal match, just to make sure people aren't idling around.

To fix this, our new matchmaking system will use a hybrid cross-district team system calculating "team skill" levels for all active teams in the game. What matters going forward is the cumulative strength of your team, and teams will be automatically assigned to the best possible opposition, even if that opposition might be playing on a different district server. There are a bunch of technical issues involved in solving that, so more details will be shared when we are closer to launching the system.

The design goal is to offer a better experience for veteran players by connecting and assigning them to teams where the combined team rating is far more equal to the competition, eliminating the need to dethreat to find competition.  This fundamental goal also lets new players to progress right from the beginning at a pace they feel comfortable with and provides an added level of security against abusive and negative behavior in game.

While this will be a radical departure from the present system, at no time will our loyal and experienced players feel that anything they have rightfully earned be lost, or has been dumbed down.  Rather the new matchmaking system will encourage fair competition, yet will still be accessible enough to let new players mature into the serious competition of tomorrow, without getting noob-stomped along the way.

Till next time.

/Ricardo “Mok” Viana