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Monday, September 26, 2016

Happy Fall!

Happy Fall Everyone!

19 years ago a game called Ultima Online released and I had no idea how much it would change my life.  Ultima Online is the first game I started working on in this industry, and back in those days, the worst we dealt with from players were dupes, scams and macroing while unattended.  Today companies still deal with  dupes and scams, however cheats have become more sophisticated.  It’s a constant cat vs mouse game, we update our cheat detection, cheat makers will up their game on cheats being detected and so on. We’re not hiding from the fact that there are cheats out there for our game or other games, and we are constantly working on ways to combat cheating. PunkBuster and Fairfight are a couple of the ways that we do this, and we have other means at our disposal.  Sometimes you may feel we’re not doing anything, but we assure you, that this is something we address very often within our game.  Additionally, we’re also working with Gameblocks to get Fairfight automated; this will take some time to implement but it’s a goal we’re working towards.

Hoplon migration has passed our internal testing and we’ll be moving it to external testing later this week. Those that have signed up to assist with account testing will be receiving an email for testing within the next week or two. 

We’ll be getting a new release to the OTW servers which will have the Halloween event for testing. This year we’ll have a new customizable backpack and we hope you like it (see image below).   The OTW server will also be changing and accessible by players with a premium. More information on this as we get closer to testing.

Xbox One will be seeing an update in the next few weeks which will also include the Halloween event. More information on this as we get closer to the release date.  We continue to work on the PS4, and it’s getting closer! After that Engine Upgrade! 


If you’re attending Twitch con let us know here and maybe Tiggs or CapnJosh can get a chance to meet you.  



Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Recent Happenings and More

Howdy!

I’m not much of a blogging gal, but I’m trying my best. Here is what has happened since our last blog post. We’ve accomplished many small tasks while the team focuses on PS4, and I’ll play catch up for those that haven’t been hanging out on the forums.

Introducing the Mod Squad.  This thread was a long time coming, and is about getting to know those that help out on the forums.

Welcome back to our APB Brazilian players. 
We’ve lifted the IP block for Brazil and are working with Hoplon on migrating you back to our service.  There will be a database copy on August 22nd and Hoplon will be shutting down their APB services on August 28th.  We will have more information about the migration after we look over the database copy.  Of note, Brazil and a bunch of other countries can now access APB using Steam.

Event Tracker 
With the existing team busy working on PS4, the community is pulling together and helping with event suggestions, and some of these community-suggested events have already rolled out to you.  You’ll see who suggested the event in the event tracker UI, so jump into the discussion and provide your feedback for future events.   Some events may have a few bugs (we’re still getting the kinks out), so if an event doesn’t work don’t worry, we’ll get you a prize a few days later as long as you give it a try. 

Armas Weapon Free Trials 
We reset all weapon free trials on Armas and added the free trial option to all weapons (excluding those added in the last week to Armas).  We will make sure that the free trial option will be reset again on a consistent basis (every 3 months is what we’re aiming for).

New Armas items 
Based on feedback from players we’ve done some digging and have released some items on Armas that were not available previously.  Check out the Armas featured tab to see what’s available.

District Max Capacity 
On Friday we lowered the districts to a max of 80. We’re monitoring this to see how it impacts performance for the player-base.

Things we’re looking into (this does not mean it will happen; we’re in an exploratory stage)
  • District Queuing - We're looking into this. We may be able to salvage some of the older code from the RTW days and make it workable with our modern game client and server.
  • Seeing what other items are available to add in the mix. We have a really talented community with a lot of knowledge of past and present APB content. We're reading your comments on this and will continue to see what's feasible.
  • More daily events – check the event tracker every day! You never know what you might find if you read the description for the events.
  • We’re in touch with our friends at Innova and investigating what items and events we can use to give our players more content.
  • Armas Pricing - We're evaluating our options regarding pricing and making costs more uniform across weapon types. There are clear gaps in the logic for pricing where some items are over-priced and others are under-priced. When we have more information to share we will.
  •  Looking into the ability to have player content added to the Joker Store, how long this would take, and legalities.
  • Adding to Loyalty rewards to those that are existing. 
  • Investigating the option of having open test servers vs closed.  

Community Discussion:

Here’s a good one I’d love your thoughts on: What would be your priority for the rest of the year if you were calling the shots?  Tell us here
  • Complete the Engine Upgrade and no content releases
  • Put the Engine Upgrade to the side and release new content
  • Define what you feel would be new content
  • Other thoughts and suggestions?
I'll end this update with this funny moments in APB video.  Warning: Don't drink and watch this video, it may cause spewing!

Have a great week. 











Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Exciting things are afoot!

Big, dramatic, and dare I say exciting things are afoot! I’m sure you’ve heard rumors or other juicy tidbits on the state of APB, so we figured it would be wise to jump in to give a good, solid update. My name is Josh, aka “Capnjosh”. Tiggs and I will be taking on the production-related tasks for APB over the coming few weeks. Tiggs will be spearheading most operational aspects and I’ll be aiming to make sure she has all the resources she could ever want or need. I will also help support the Dev team while they close in on some big milestones, though honestly they’ve got pretty much all of it in fine shape ;) We’ve got some really cool events and plans, and I’ve seen a fresh sense of excitement for all the cool opportunities we can deliver on. The Dev and operations teams will be more closely integrated going forward, and I think you’ll rather enjoy the results. With that, I’ll turn it over to Tiggs to give a run-down of what she sees now and where she sees things going.

Hey, everyone! 

Let’s start off with the APB Team.

Last week we had some pretty big changes in the UK Dev team. In short we had to let a number of people go. We’re sad to see them go, we’re very grateful for all they have done, we wish them all the best of luck, and honestly they’ll be missed.

What does this mean for APB? This means that the APB Team will begin to move over to the US office. This will allow for better team communication, the ability to have meetings in one time zone, allow for more efficient control over updates for the game, and better lines of communication with you, our players. As a note, there will be a transition time while things like people and offices move. We will update on that as things develop. The Dev team now has a lot of programming talent, so I’m confident we will be able to create great things.

I know that there have been many promises made that have not been followed through. My main goal is to keep you in the loop on what’s going on, what we’re thinking about and what we’d like to do as much as possible. This is the game that you choose to login to play and we know there are many options out there for games, we’d like to see APB Reloaded continue on with you a part of it. If there is something we can’t do or complete, I’ll let you know, even if it means upsetting you.

The Future of APB is a bright one - we don’t have any plans of closing down and quite honestly there is a palpable excitement in the air. We do want to move forward with the PS4 release and Engine Upgrade. PS4 update is the main priority right now, since we need to get all platforms up to the same code base before we can complete a number of engine-level changes we all know are of such great interest. Yes, I know you’ve heard all this before; it actually is what needs to happen. We’re hoping to have this (PS4 release) completed in September. I’m not sure of a time line on the Engine Upgrade at this time, and I don’t want to say an estimated time until I can delve into things deeper to see where we are at.

The Find the Dev event will begin to wrap up soon, since it would be in poor taste to continue with Devs that are no longer with the company. Down the road we can start it again if you enjoyed it. I’m waiting on word back to see if we can get a title put into the game for those that qualify, along with an additional prize. If we can’t do the title, we’ll figure out something else.

Speaking of events, we have work being done on a dynamic event system. This will allow us to turn events off and on much easier; the goal is to be able to start and stop the larger in-game events without the need for a client patch.

To our Brazilian family, we’re working out the logistics to transition you over to our servers. Once we have a solid plan in place on how this will work out, we’ll post and let you know.

In closing, I want to say that in the past I wasn’t privy to information about patches, new item releases, or progress on consoles/ engine upgrade until a few days prior to release. I’m beyond thrilled to say that with the team changes all of this will now change, and it will allow me to communicate much more effectively with you.

I know that trust is earned and that you’ve been burned in the past and I’ll need to earn that trust. I hope over the next few months that not only do I prove to you, but the team as a whole will prove to you that we appreciate you playing APB and we will have earned your trust. Looking forward to the new beginning.

Tiggs






Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Mid-July update

Hello Citizens,

We are just short of reaching the mid-point for the month of July and we still have more for you to enjoy.

Due to the popularity of this year’s Anarchy event, we have extended it for another week, and the event will now end on July 20th. So for all of you that have not yet had a chance to participate, here is your chance to enjoy a fresh take on our established Chaos events.
We are also happy to announce the return of our “Meet The Dev” blog post as well as the corresponding “Find The Dev” Event.  The “Meet the Dev” blog will be posted on July 27th, with the event following the week after. 
We'll also have a store wide sale coming up, keep watch on the forums for more information. 
So with the PC side of things taken care of, we want to make sure that our Xbox players don’t feel neglected. We know that since yesterday’s patch, many of you have been experiencing crashes as you navigate the busier districts, and that our players who put in their ten hours of playtime in APB’s first month on Xbox are yet to be sent their founder’s weapon skin reward. At the time of this blog being written, we are working hard on fixing both of these problems, as we want as many people as possible to be enjoying their time in APB on the Xbox 1.  

That's it for now citizens, be safe and return next week for a new blog update with information on upcoming events, looking forward into the month of August.

-Reloaded Team

Thursday, June 30, 2016

July 4th Login and Win Event!



Hello Citizens,

As was mentioned in this weeks blog post, we are happy too provide you with rewards over the Independence Long Weekend event. Login into APB Reloaded on each of the following day’s and earn yourself a free clothing item for you to use.

Login times and Rewards 

Day 1: July 1st 5:01 PDT PM – July 2nd 5:00 PM PDT to earn Day 1: Patriot Jacket
Day 2: July 2nd 5:01 PDT PM – July 3rd 5:00 PM PDT to earn Day 2: Eagle Mask
Day 3: July 3rd 5:01 PDT PM – July 4th 5:00 PM PDT to earn Day 3: Uncle Sam Hat

So enjoy this weeks Anarchy event and remember that each login during this holiday weekend comes with free goodies for you to enjoy.

Till next time Citizens,

Reloaded Team

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Anarchy Event and other news.

Hello Citizens,

As stated in last week’s blog, we will be introducing the new Anarchy Event. This event takes elements from our Chaos Events and adds a new twist to its overall game play. While the previous Anarchy event was fun, the lack of a concrete goal (above personal survival, an optional challenge) resulted in the game mode feeling somewhat aimless. In addition, the factional nature could often result in one team steamrolling the other through sheer numbers. To fix these, the Anarchy event now looks as follows:

When the event starts, all players are split into two teams.

Unlike before, different faction members can be on the same team (it's Anarchy after all) and we use matchmaking to ensure the teams are fairly event. Groups are never split up, so make sure you and your friends are together before entering if you want to ensure you play together.

When you spawn, you won't have a primary weapon. Instead, we spawn them around the map. The game mode is a simple Death-match, so it's up to you whether you want to search for a weapon of your choice, or head straight into combat with your secondary and grenades and take one from the enemy.

If you survive long enough, you'll start passively gaining score. You'll also start to gain a score multiplier that ticks up over time. If your score reaches above 500, you'll gain access to your primary weapon, meaning you don't have to search for weapons any-more. Careful though, when this happens you'll also be shown periodically to your enemies, giving them a chance to hunt you down.

As the game progresses, and team lives go down, more weapons start spawning in different locations, providing more varied game play. Legendary weapons will also start to appear, but be shown on the map. Best be quick, or be ready to kill whomever took it (friendly fire of course is disabled in this game)

In last week’s post we also mentioned that the Independence day event will be taking place on the upcoming July 4th weekend. Unfortunately, we will not be having the event this year. In lieu of this, we will be awarding all players with redemption codes during the holiday weekend which awards players with items that would have been earned during the event. Information and codes will be provided shortly before the long holiday weekend.

That’s all for now Citizens, be safe and enjoy the new Anarchy event.

Reloaded Team

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer Fun In APB!

Hello Citizens,

The month of June is almost over but we still have something in store for you!

Starting Friday, June 24th at 4:00 PM UTC until ending on Monday, June 27th at  4 PM UTC we'll have a store wide sale with up to 50% off (excludes JMBs see store for discounts).  



Marked for Death Event : Friday, June 24th - Monday June 27th

Start your weekend off right with the introduction of our new "Marked for Death" event. Take to the streets of San Paro and mark your enemies for death!

Each day requires a larger and larger number of kills in order to earn 20 JMB’s.  Participate each day and earn yourself an extra 5 JMB 19’s.

Friday
Kill 20 to earn 20 JMB 19's

Saturday
Kill 40 to earn 20 JMB 19's

Sunday
Kill 60 to earn 20 JMB 19's

Monday
Kill 80 to earn 20 JMB 19's

Compete every day across the entire weekend event and earn yourself a bonus 5 JMB 19s. You marked them for death, now it's time to pull the trigger and get your just rewards.

Note: The 5 additional Joker Mystery Boxes will be delivered within 72 hours after the events end. 

Good luck and get those kills!  See the event tracker for more information.

From Wednesday the 29th till the 13th of July we will be bringing you a new Anarchy Event. This event is an updated version of our popular Chaos event that contains modified game-play in order to give the players a fresh twist on an established and popular event.

We will also be seeing the return of our Independence Week Event, which will run from June 29th till July 6th.

Rules and information for both the Anarchy and Independence Week Events will be provided in next week’s blog post.

We also wish to remind those players that have not yet downloaded and played APB Reloaded on the XBox One; that time is running out for early adopters. Login before July 4th and be rewarded with the XBox One Founders Pack. This exclusive pack contains the Fireworks Flare Launcher and the Mikro JC14 ‘New-Cross’ for Criminals or the ‘BobCat’ Vaquero PRC40 for Enforcers. Additionally play more than 10 Hours and receive an added bonus of an exclusive Title – XBOX ONE FOUNDER and the exclusive XBox One weapon Skin.

The Title and Weapon Skins will be given out during the game's first update and are exclusive to early adopters with the required play time. The title and skins cannot be bought or earned after the “Founders” period ends!

That’s it for now citizens, enjoy the upcoming events!

Reloaded Team

Thursday, June 16, 2016

APB Reloaded: Weapon Pipeline Overview

Hello Citizens,

As most of you know, APB Reloaded is now available for the Xbox One. There's still time to join in the fun and earn yourself a nice Founders pack, which contains all you need for your gaming pleasure.

We received great feedback from our Character Pipeline Overview post that was done a few weeks back. The team wanted to provide you all with a little insight on how we create the weapons you all use when playing APB. Without further ado, I pass the remainder of this post over to our talented art department.

Concept and Proxy

The initial design and concept for a new weapon is usually centered around a new mechanic or unique visual design we’d like to incorporate into the game. The design space we have to work with is somewhat limited however, as each new weapon must currently use the existing animations/sockets and materials/skins.

Once we have settled on a weapon we typically design unique variations to maximize resource usage and to offer more options. These unique variations often introduce new optics, stocks, foregrips/handles, etc.

A typical concept may look like this:



Once we’re happy with the concept we now need to create a simple 3D model, or proxy, that can represent our weapon in game for testing. This is an important step as the new weapon must conform to the existing animations and varied character mesh sizes. We also need to test any unique aspects of the design, such as unique fore-grip elements.

If things don’t fit or feel right once in the game, we can adjust the proxy mesh on the fly until we achieve a nice balance between the concept and in-game practicality.

The proxy mesh for the Medusa:




The Medusa has a unique handle that is angled at 45 degrees from the main foregrip. This means we needed to test that the animations would still work as expected with the hand in this new position.

Modelling

Using the concept art and the proxy model as a reference, the first stage of the final asset’s production is to create a high poly model of it. The high poly will be used to bake Normal and Ambient Occlusion textures for our in-game, low poly mesh.

Given the low triangle count and texture resolution of the final product, the high poly needs to incorporate large visual elements whilst still containing as much detail as possible.

The High poly model of the Medusa:



The details here are exaggerated and simplified to give them more resolution when baked down to a low resolution texture.

Creating the low poly and baking down the details from the high poly is where the real fun begins. With a poly count for weapons ranging from 500 – 1,500 triangles and final texture resolution of 256x256 – 512x256 pixels, it can be difficult to balance the details between the normal map and mesh. On top of this the same texture and triangle budget is shared with the variations designed in the concept.

The low poly mesh for the Medusa:




Textures and Masks

UV mapping APB’s weapon meshes can be tricky, as we have little texture space to spare given our budget. Any extra space we can get out of our UV map means more space for texture details.

A lot of mirroring and reusing elements occurs here to help save space. Such as the foregrip handle on the medusa which is mirrored twice breaking it into quarters. And the receiver which is mirrored but the large unique details of one side, like the feed guard, are built to sit over these mirrored features.

The normal map comes next, and is baked down from the high poly to low poly directly in 3DS Max. There is some trial and error here, making sure the details are being picked up well enough, making sure the UVs aren’t stretched and that any mirrored/reused elements are showing up ok.

The low poly mesh with the normal map generated from the high poly:



Due to the vast number of skins and material types available to weapons in APB, we use instances of a super shader for weapon materials. Using instances of a parent shader minimizes the impact on resources, but also means we don’t have the full freedom of a unique material. Because our weapon skins can range greatly in material type (Gold, Chrome, Wood, etc.) and be unique in color and texture, our weapons don’t have a dedicated diffuse map. Instead we use an ambient occlusion map (detail and shadow map) to help the details stand out, but this contains little color or detail typical of a diffuse map. As such, we rely on masks to break a model up so the shader can apply the correct information to the weapon. For example, we distinguish unique elements like the handle, the receiver, the stock, the sight, etc.

The masks for the Medusa:



The Medusa with the normal map and the ambient occlusion map:



Completing the look of the weapon after this point takes place in the editor.

Editor Setup

Setting up the weapon in the editor is straight forward but time consuming. After creating a package for the weapon, we need to create an instance of each material (weapon skin) available to date. Each of these materials will need to be edited to use the new weapon’s textures and masks. In some cases materials need to have parameters changed so the skin will fit and line up with the new weapon correctly.

Material editor:




The final result after plugging in our textures and masks into the JMB material:




Archetypes come next, and while very time consuming, these are very important and have to be correct as they tell the game which model and which skin to load when required. A copy is made of the weapon for each possible skin that weapon can use. Then a unique Archetype, or reference, is created for each one.

Weapon Archetypes:



Custom skins
Sometimes as JMB exclusives or unique items to be used across all weapons, we need to create unique skins. This process is quite complicated as any new skins we create need to be used in conjunction with the existing parent shader and the unique masks that were created for each weapon.

Skins usually consist of 1 or 2 elements. A unique pattern, a tiled texture that is applied uniformly to the weapons, and sometimes a unique feature element such as the faces on the casino skins or the Medusa skin.

Take one of the casino skins for example:



Once an instance of the parent shader is created with the new skin’s textures, we then create a copy of that material and place it in the package of each weapon that needs to be able to use it. Each copy then needs to have the corresponding textures and masks added for that particular weapon. Then by tweaking certain exposed parameters we can adjust and fine tune the placement of these new patterns/features for each weapon. This is a very time consuming task, but allows us to create new weapon skins without having to create custom textures for each weapon.

Getting it into game

At this point all the archetype information gets plugged into an .sdd table as part of the game’s main asset database. After some initial checks in game, the weapon is then handed off to a designer who will decide on the weapon’s final game play attributes.

I want to thank the Art team for taking the time to provide you all with inside on how we do things here at Reloaded.

That's it for now Citizens, be safe till next time.

MoK

Friday, June 3, 2016

APB Xbox Game Service Status

[11:30 AM PDT June 4 (updated to clarify launch procedure)]

The team has figured out the issue affecting lots of players unable to load the districts and play the game. The fix will not be live for some time, as it will need to be certified and deployed by Microsoft before getting to all players.

The bug is that if you have more than 20 other players on your "block" list in your Xbox account you will not be able to load into the game districts, and you will just be stuck on a loading screen before getting kicked back to the main menu (or remain on the loading screen for a very long time).

We clearly don't suggest you reduce your block list (since often keeping other players blocked is a good thing) and the team created the fix for the problem this morning, and will be working with Microsoft to see how fast we can get it applied on an expedited basis.

Unfortunately that means that dis-proportionally "more experienced" and "older" Xbox accounts tend to be the ones that are unable to play the game at the moment, and we hope you return to try the game again as soon as it has been solved.



[7:30 PM PDT June 3]

The login servers are now back in service. We're still working on the other issues mentioned in the original post.

[6:30 PM PDT June 3]

We have taken down the login servers for maintenance work. Will update when they are back online.

[5:00 PM PDT June 3]

Hello Citizens

With the Xbox One “Soft Launch” underway, we have encountered two technical issues that are affecting certain players on the Xbox One version – and in case you are affected, it means you may have to retry the game at a later time.

The first issue is specific to certain players. Right now some Xbox One players are stuck on a loading screen when trying to play the game (and/or have seen an “Error Code 4” or “Error Code 5” message), and these players will be unable to join a “district” to play a match. Unfortunately those accounts that are affected with this issue will not be able to connect and play until the development team completes and deploys a patch since it’s an error triggered by specific accounts. Our team is working round the clock and on a patch, and we will update the blog here as soon as that issue has been resolved.

The second issue is an intermittent server issue that can kick a large number of players at once. We will deploy a patch for that issue as quickly as possible as well, and will update the post here with more information as soon as new information is available.

Again, thanks for being one of the first to try to game on console, and we hope anyone affected will return to try it once these two items are sorted. As soon as they are, we will signal the “all clear” here on the blog and our social media channels. And the team will figure out a good way of compensating all affected players.

-Reloaded Team

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Xbox One Release and PC Development Update


To the APB community:

The team here at Reloaded Games are happy to officially announce that APB Reloaded will be generally available as an Xbox One download starting June 3, 2016.

The game will remain in a "Soft Launch" mode for the first 30 days (which mostly means it will have limited public announcements other than the formal launch announcement from the Publisher). During this 30 day period we encourage all current and former PC players to try the game and to give us feedback that we can incorporate into the upcoming updates (note: in order to access the private APB Xbox One forums on our servers you first have to log in to APB from an Xbox One).

As a "thank you" for helping us test the game during the first month, we are giving out freebies to all players who log in AND we will be giving out "Founders" tags and "Founders" skins for those that put in more than 10 hours in game prior to the first patch (or during the first 30 days, whichever comes first). After the first post-launch patch for Xbox One, we then expect to complete launch of the PS4 version as well (final PS4 dates are still TBD).

What we are doing now is very similar to how a "Monetized Open Beta" or "Soft Launch" normally works in the PC F2P world. Consoles do not quite have those same procedures given the large amount of overhead involved in launching a console game, but we are following a process quite similar to how other F2P PC to Console conversions were launched recently (for example how SMITE was launched last year on Xbox One, and its current limited launch on PS4).

Also - we would especially like to thank those of you who took part in our very brief launch Tuesday morning to prepare the game for this wider release. Those who were part of that initial test audience will get additional goodies, also at the time of the first game update.
  

Changes and the PC Version

Since the vast majority who read this blog are PC gamers of APB Reloaded, we wanted to take some special care to give all PC gamers an update for what this all means on the PC side from the development and technical ends (and there will probably be a lot of other discussions on our forums as well). Especially since we have been unable to share information for such a long time. And the wait is finally over.

The first thing for all PC players to note is of course that you will have a massive advantage over the brand new Xbox One players just from the fact that you know this game. So if you were Silver and wanted to reach that coveted "Gold" level and couldn't quite get there on PC, there is a decent chance you will be able to get there on the console versions.

As many of you guys are aware, we have been in development limbo (or development hell) for a very long time. The console versions were originally supposed to ship a long time ago and we were contractually obligated to release the new engine on the console version before shipping these changes on PC. Since the new engine performs really well on PC, it has been a bit frustrating to be stuck in this mode for this long. With the Console release finally imminent, we are excited to share what has been going on under the surface, and how this will positively impact the PC version.

APB Reloaded is a massively complex game. Supporting up to 100 simultaneous highly customized players in single fire-fight in realtime is a total coding and server P-I-T-A and requires systems that operate very differently than those that support 8, 16 or 32 players (since most other games like GTA basically run on a peer-to-peer system, whereas APB use central servers, for both good and bad; good being the interaction between players and the environment, and bad being things like driving lag - since driving occurs 100% on the server, not on the client). And of course the original team for APB had 250+ people at its peak, and as those who have followed us for a few years now know, our current APB team is about 1/10th of that original size. 

While we worked with our publisher to augment the team with outside partners, companies and contractors, in the end, for the past several months the internal team ended up shouldering the all the development work to get the game ready for Console. Our team will now finally be able to get back to implementing these new things on PC as well.

The good news is that a very large percentage of the work is platform-agnostic, so completing the back-port into the PC Engine Upgrade is straight forward (see the screenshots here and at the bottom of this post).


Optimizations:

These are examples of technologies that were created for the Console version, and do not yet exist in the live PC version of the game;

Tiled deferred rendering
This is a neat solution created by our team that frees up memory and GPU resources. To compute each frame the screen is now divided into multiple "tiles" in a grid which is processed in parallel on the GPU using something called "DirectX 11 compute shaders." This will mean a nice performance boost on the PC side.

Multi-threaded rendering
Currently, the PC LIVE version of the game only utilizes a single render thread and does not take full advantage of multi-core architectures of modern processors. Multi-threaded rendering will speed up the game for anyone with quad core (or higher) CPU.

Utilization of pre-cooked packages
Unreal Packages (.upk), are where all of our assets are kept. In the original PC version all assets are split into very small groups, which means a lot of different files. In the new system packages that are frequently used together are combined on disk into large groups to reduce the number of separate files needed to be loaded from the hard drive. This, along with reducing the amount of packages involved means players will experience shorter load times and less VM usage on PC.

Improved animation compression
Animation data is now much more highly optimized, freeing up CPU and memory resources.

Various optimizations to night-time lighting.
The switch to a global illumination system also provided us with the opportunity to do optimizations to night time lighting, which now uses the latest distance-field based lighting technology. In this first launch of the Xbox One you will see that lighting is pegged to "midday"(which is temporary) but below you can see what all times of day will look like on the engine when this is "unlocked."

Shader optimizations and improvements.
We have been through some problematic shaders (such as vehicles, characters and roads) and removed all unnecessary instruction data. In some cases we also took the opportunity to improve the shaders visually (which is pretty apparent in the customization studio for Xbox). Vehicles also now have much more realistic environment reflections.

(New shaders on characters in the Xbox One Customization Studio):


Lightmap optimizations
In the larger environments, we fixed a large amount of issues involving lightmap UVs. Lightmaps are essentially pre-computed lighting and shadow information that are applied as textures to various assets in the game. UVs are co-ordinates controlling how these lightmap textures are rendered in-game.

For these textures, we replaced UV sets across large areas of the game with sets that were optimized by hand. These allows us to decrease the size of these lightmap textures without sacrificing pixel density, thus lowering the memory hit caused by these textures.

Mesh and texture streaming optimizations
In the LIVE version of the game, buildings are loaded from the hard drive as you move around the city, causing performance problems and placing design restrictions on the speed at which players are allowed to move around the district. We have now moved to a system where buildings are always available in memory, improving performance and reducing hard drive usage at runtime, and using the updated streaming in the new engine.


FEATURES AND WORKFLOW FIXES:

Lightmass
The entire game was re-lit using Unreal’s Lightmass global illumination system, resulting in more realistic looking lighting.

Foliage System
We have replaced all foliage in the game using Unreal’s own instanced foliage system, as it is far better optimized than what was present in the old engine.

Limited Dynamic Lighting
We can now use dynamic lighting under specific circumstances in the game. Currently, this is mainly featured in the customization suites, however we intend to look at ways to increase the scope of this in the future.

Pipeline replacement
We can now replace old, un-optimized pipelines when creating new content. This means we can now create new content that is designed specifically to get the best performance out of the engine such as modular environment creation. In practical terms, this means we can finally work much more efficiently on brand new content.

Draw Distance
With the new engine we have also been able to increase the draw distance on the PC version.

Improved gamepad support
Naturally the console versions fully support their respect gamepads, including analog driving controls and context sensitive stick sensitivity. We are bringing this code to the PC as well, for players who prefer to use a gamepad on PC.

What’s next - upcoming update for console and PC

Performance - Garbage collection optimizations
We are optimizing the game’s Garbage Collection system, which searches for any memory that can be freed up by removing unused assets. This is one of the main causes of stutter in the current version of the game, and will result in an overall smoother framerate.

Performance - Massive LOD
This is a new feature we are implementing that essentially merges distance assets together to speed up the rendering of objects far off in the distance. This also comes with the added visual benefit of less noticeable Level of Detail transitions, and comes with a nice performance boost.

UI fixes and improvements
With the console ports we were able to create a brand new Scaleform UI for the customization studios and the main menu. As no one wants a direct-console UI on PC, we are currently working to implement a PC friendly version of the new UI that takes advantage of the mouse and keyboard on PCs.

Time of Day
Due to the optimization work carried out Time of Day is currently locked. We are looking to re-enable time of day in the Xbox One version of the game in the next patch, but below you can see the actual "Time of Day" shots from the development version of the PC engine.

Iris Response/Bloom tweaks.
We are adjusting these values in order to fix an issue with over-brightness that some players are having on Xbox One, which should make the game feel less blown out.

Latest Engine Upgrade images (unreleased PC Version):





Latest Engine Upgrade images (w/ Xbox One UI):




Conclusion

Updating APB Reloaded and bringing the game on to a set of whole new platforms has been no small task for a development team of our size, especially considering the massive scale and scope of the original game.

We’re proud of what we’ve achieved so far, and greatly appreciate the patience of our players. It's been a long road to get to this point, and next up we are looking forward to launching the PS4 and the new PC versions, so we can start focusing on bringing new items and fun features to APB across all our platforms!

Thanks to everyone who took part in the brief “soft launch” of the Xbox One port. The feedback we’ve received so far has been extremely helpful and we look forward to continuing the work to bring you guys a great and unique game.

- Reloaded Team


Monday, May 30, 2016

APB Xbox One Soft Launch Activities

[UPDATE: 9:02pm PDT - US player test will not take place now and will be announced later]

Greetings Citizens

Right now there are some Soft Launch activities underway of APB Xbox One designed to test various systems with a small public audience.

The first wave of this test involved European players (the game was available from midnight EU time). We will announce here when the second phase for US players will take place.

During these test periods you will NOT initially be able to make cash purchases, and we will announce here when purchase restrictions have been lifted. Also keep in mind that this is a “Soft Launch” period, so you should anticipate various rapid changes and updates, which means in some cases you may need to reload into your selected district as updates are released for the game.

Stay tuned for more information!

And thanks for helping us out being one of the first to test the game on Xbox One!

Monday, May 16, 2016

MID MAY UPDATE

Hello Citizens,

We hope you enjoyed this weekend’s RUNDOWN EVENT. We are aware of issues that did occur during this event and rest assured we will be rewarding those players effected with the proper prizes. Join us today for the final day of this reward packed event.

This Wednesday is also the last day to participate in the find the Dev event. Locate Ghoulface before end of day May 18th and earn yourself a little prize.

Voting for the first RETURN OF A SEASONAL event has ended and on Wed May 25th till June 8th you will have the HALLOWEEN EVENT available for your gaming pleasure.

 


That’s it for now Citizens, have a fun gaming week.

MoK

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Rundown Event!


Hello Citizens,

We hope you have been enjoying the Find the Dev event. There is still time for you to jump in and find Ghoulface and earn some cool prizes. Remember this event will end on Wednesday May 18th.

If you have not voted yet for the return of a favorite SEASONAL EVENT, you still have time. Voting will close this Monday with the reactivation of the winning event going live on May 23rd.

This weekend, the APB team brings you THE RUNDOWN EVENT. From Saturday to Monday is your chance to work your way down the list and earn Joker Mystery Boxes for each task as well as some bonus Joker Tickets for completing all the daily objectives. The list of objectives and prizes for each day are:




That’s it for now, enjoy your weekend Citizens,

MoK

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Seasonal event voting begins, and other APB events

Hello Citizens,

We hope you enjoyed Part 3 of the meet the Dev posts. With its conclusion comes the next Find the Dev event that will be taking place this Wed, May 11th and runs till May 18th. Here's your chance to participate and earn prizes for the event itself and a unique title at the end of the series.

Voting will be starting this week for the PICK YOUR SEASONAL EVENT. You will be asked to vote for your favorite seasonal event, the winning event will be playable for 2 week period. We will start the voting for the SEASONAL EVENT today, with voting ending on the 16th. Head on over to here and make your selection.

This weekend will also feature THE RUNDOWN event where you work your way up a task ladder for multiple Joker Mystery Box prizes. More info will be provided later this week before the start of the upcoming weekend.

Stay tuned this week for updates and be safe till later Citizens,

MoK

Friday, May 6, 2016

Meet the Dev part 3

Hello Citizens,

As mentioned in this week’s previous post, we are bringing you part 3 of our Meet the Dev series. With this post, I am happy to introduce you to our QA Lead Ghoulface.  He has taken some time from his daily schedule to answer a few questions concerning who he is, what he does and some other topics of interest.  



What does a work day look like for you? Talk us through some of the different tasks you have to perform.

The QA team are responsible for testing just about everything related to APB, and it’s my job to oversee the team’s work.

Generally, our work all starts with a test request from a member of the development team whenever changes or additions have been made. From there I need to assign out tasks to the rest of the QA team, and in the case of new features I’ll also need to write a new test script before we begin testing. These test scripts form the basis of most of our initial testing, as they allow us to ensure the main functionality of the element being tested is working as intended. I then need to report back the findings of our testing to the relevant members of the development team, and highlight any major issues found. I’ll also usually organize a play test with members of the SPCT for any new features, so we can get some additional testing and feedback.

Outside of specific test requests, I’ll generally ensure that bug fixes are tested by the team as they are submitted, as well as then verifying the fixes in builds that are set to be released to the public.

What has changed over the course of your time here at Reloaded? Do you have any memories that stand out as special for you?

I suppose the biggest change for us has been the move from solely developing for PC to also developing for the Xbox One and PS4, and having to adapt to the requirements and capabilities of these platforms.

There have also been some changes in staff here, and on a personal note it’s been great to see a number of QA testers progress into other roles within the company. Despite the changes in personnel though, we’ve always been able to maintain an enjoyable and productive atmosphere in the office.
The one memory which stands out for me, was a company trip to a local museum for a games exhibition. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the sight of one of our producers going all out on Dance Central.

What excites you about the future of APB?

I’m excited about seeing the engine upgrade as a finished product, as I’m sure a lot of our players are. Specifically, I’m looking forward to seeing how we can do things differently as it should allow us more freedom when it comes to development.

What game(s) are you enjoying at the moment?

Right now I’m working my way through Pillars of Eternity, which I’m really loving. As a big fan of the old Infinity Engine RPGs, this is pretty much a perfect fit for me. Other than that, I also have my usual fall-backs of my slight Football Manager addiction (500 hours a year isn’t too bad, right?), as well as my love for Total War games.

Is there a new game or piece of gaming tech that you are really excited about?

I’m really looking forward to the release of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided, since I loved the original Deus Ex and Human Revolution was really enjoyable as well and a step up from Invisible War.

What is your all-time favorite video game?

As I previously mentioned, I’m a big fan of the Infinity Engine games and so it’s not much of a surprise that Baldur’s Gate II is my favorite game. For me, the combination of story, characters and world is unmatched.

I wish to thank Ghoulface for his time and to inform the community that, with the conclusion of this post, we will be preparing the next Find the Dev event that will run from Wednesday May 11th until May 18th.  Get into district and hunt Ghoulface down to be in with a chance to win the ultimate prize at the Find the Dev finale.

That it for now folks,

MoK