On the Road
Since I am still on the road, I will make this short - but we have some exciting items to share, so, at minimum I will get those out before crashing for the night. Our team of absolute fantastic troopers are working their tails off on progressing build 1.5.0 (basically the version which will eventually become Open Beta 1), and while all the core code is now in place, they are working like maniacs to track down some final pesky crash issues and other critical fixes that need to be solved before the game can go live using the new version.
1.5.0 - the Beta Path
Originally 1.5.0 was considered to be "Open Beta." Because of the delay in getting this build live, what we are LIKELY to do is the following, which actually makes 1.5.0 the next build in the closed beta series instead;
- As soon as the current issues have been worked out, we will release 1.5.0 in Closed Beta Mode to the current 25,000 players. This will ALSO wipe the current characters and progression from the game (but you will be able to recover them later - see note below).
- If the initial release appears stable then we will bring the EU servers online (see below) and now all 25,000 players can access BOTH the EU and US servers (though you will have to make new characters for each world you want to play in)
- If that works ok, then we will mass-invite at least another 25,000 players (for 50,000 total) STILL in Closed Beta mode (that would be a very large chunk of remaining EU players)
- If that works fine shortly thereafter we will invite ALL remaining eligible Closed Beta applicants.
- If that works fine, we will then GIVE all Closed Beta testers a temporary Premium Account (just to test all premium functions system wide) for 24 or 48 hours.
- If Premiums work fine, then we will ENABLE monetized content (ie leased weapons, permanent mods, character slots etc.)
- If there are STILL no major issues, then we will open up the floodgates, and formally go into Open Beta!
- Once we are in Open Beta, we are looking to see if we can let you reclaim custom characters from the Closed Beta. This will likely be the case. Along the way you will ALSO be able to reclaim any of the original characters from the original version of the game.AND it's likely you will get to keep items that you create in the Closed Beta stage of 1.5.0, when you have short access to the REAL premium account status for free.
After the OB roll-out we expect we will be in monetized Open Beta until August, and will be iterating on new districts, new content, and more than anything, the new balance, progression, witnessing, rating and spawning that will all be introduced during various stages of Open Beta (some from the very start), all the while we will be introducing newer and cooler premium content (did anyone say "Swat Gear?").
We have FINALLY secured the network equipment's passage. What a freakin ride. SUPPOSEDLY it all gets finally delivered on Monday. Presuming this is TRUE (I am not customs and cannot guarantee this), then we have had a fun 3 week adventure in how not to ship and clear equipment. In fact some of it got returned all the way to the US so we could reship it with a different carrier, one that was actually going to be able to clear it through customs. I am now holding my breath it will be there Monday. If it is there Monday, then it will still take a couple of days after that before we are online in the EU. But it's certainly very close at this point.
The End of the Grief-Truck Era
In addition to major changes to spawning, upgrades, witnessing and so on for the first version of 1.5.0 - it's also very significant for a VERY specific reason. 1.5.0 will be the death of the grief-truck. Many have rightly pointed out that what causes the griefing is the fact that it's very difficult to tell the Physics system NOT to blow you up, since collisions between car and car are tricky to separate from car and house, or car and pole (and those two cases clearly SHOULD blow you up, presuming you were not being rammed in to the wall or pole using a grief-truck). However - Aphadon dug around in the darkest corners of the code, and put in place code that actually fixes the issue. Now, there are a few strange side effects from this fix (the grief-trucker will BOUNCE you off a wall instead of blowing you up), but it basically makes you NOT blow up when a non-opposing player smashes you into the wall (no such luck when it's an opposing player). How will this fix play out? Well I for one cannot wait to see it in 1.5.0 to see how people react to it!
The Start of the User Control Era
Through OB releases after OB-1, we will be introducing new ways for users to take charge of their in-game experience. The improved rating systems will clearly help with some of the experience improvement, but, more so all the new ways players will be able to initiate matches, and engage each other. I will share more details as we get closer to the various systems (Chaos, Turfwars, Racing, DJ etc.), and especially as we contemplate which one of the new systems we will be releasing first.
But before any of that - right this moment, we will continue to crunch to get this next giant milestone delivered! Woo woo!