Also - while there certainly still are some issues (this is still closed beta after all), all the issues OTHER than "Item 1" are "local" to particular users, locations, ISPs or hardware configurations, and thousands of other players may not even be aware there are any. But some of the current issues are SIGNIFICANT - and we are in the process of addressing them. And as such; if you are in any of those unlucky groups affected (which we are really sorry for), the more specialized the issue is to your situation, the longer (unfortunately) it may take to sort them out (and in some cases require you to make some changes on your end), and the more general the issue is, the faster it will get fixed, especially if it's in one of the top items listed here.
But with that - let me roll out the list of top known issues that are now being worked on:
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 1: Multi-second lagspikes every 20 minutes
This is actually a PB server-side network spike. Today we have rolled out a fix on two of the districts in the US. If that fix holds up and doesn't cause any other issues, then we will roll out the fix on all servers over the next two days (this particular patch does not require any major maintenance). Therefore this goal is to have the issue solved by Friday this week. All you will notice is that things are not freeze-lagging any more.
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 2: Lag/Latency to servers that SHOULD be close to you, still making the game APPEAR laggy, which will be fixed with coming Routing update.
In the last two weeks we have run in to a condition where some end-users from certain ISPs report INSANELY long trace-routes to our datacenters, thus destroying their personal game experience. In some areas and regions it seems to affect ALL ISPs, and in some regions (like the US) it mostly affected ISPs using Comcast's backbone.
The issue has been isolated to an issue where one of our ISPs has a "visually optimized" routing system that "hides" their internal route hops, with the unfortunate side-effect that some network traffic now actually travels VERY LONG physical distances since it "appears" that the route presented by this ISP is "short" near the target servers (even when it's insanely far away).
The routing protocols incorrectly pick the long physical route with very few hops instead of a TRUE close route with MORE hops. The exact technical BGP4/OSPF reasons why this happens is too long to go in to here, but, needless to say - it causes BIG issues in the game when you live in Northern California, and your network traffic goes to Los Angeles, then goes to Virginia, and then back to Los Angeles and only THEN reaches our server (!) (as was the case with Comcast customers from Northern California this week).
Last night (May 10) we made a change on the US side and now anecdotally we have seen players who had complained about 200ms traceroute end-times in the US, are now again seeing the correct 10ms ping and traceroute end times (as they should have all along). We will post more instructions on the forums to repeat this test from the European side (where we have to perform something very similar to suppress the rogue routes).
The Test targets (to try your route distance you can either tracert or ping these locations:)
US West (Los Angeles): 18.104.22.168
US East (Washington DC): 22.214.171.124
Europe (Frankfurt): 126.96.36.199
The only thing to note is that US East will show a 'break' in the traceroute until the game actually goes live there next week (there will be a * * * response as part of that trace route at the moment, which is expected)
For everyone's reference, from our offices in California we get the following ping times: 10ms to West, 69ms to East, 167ms to Europe.
That means if you are in Germany for example you should under ideal conditions see the reverse of that (10ms to EU, 90ms to East and 170ms to West). If you are getting something completely different than that, then you are having a route problem (or more accurately, your ISP is having a route issue) OR your ISP might just be located really "far off" the main trunks of the Internet and giving you a lot of hops just to reach the "super-highway." So test it out and refer to this forum thread for more information: http://forums.gamersfirst.com/index.php?showtopic=159972
If you are in Europe and seeing 100ms+ or 150ms+ ping times to the Europe IP included above, then there is potentially a serious route problem on your path. If so post your information in the forum link above.
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 3: 32-bit Win 7 / Vista users with 4GB of Ram CAN make their experience much better by using 3GB switches
This issue is that in spite of what's installed in your machine, any 32-bit version of Windows actually can only use 2GB of User Mode RAM. Through some new uses of DXT compression we have been able to cram down the requirements to about 1.7GB to 1.8GB of RAM, but depending on the setup of your 32-bit machine - this might still cut it far too close to the limit to be stable (and leads to crashes and instability in some setups). The answer (other than installing 64-bit Windows which is the best solution) is to utilize the 3GB system switches provided in the new Windows versions (which on Win 7 and Vista are actually NOT called 3GB switches that at all). Autodesk has a very similar recommendation on their side for intense applications like AutoCad and 3D Studio Max: http://usa.autodesk.com/adsk/servlet/ps/dl/item?siteID=123112&id=9583842&linkID=9240697
So while this is certainly a hard-core tweak (it requires the bcdedit /set IncreaseUserVa 3072 command to be run from the command prompt as an Administrator - and if you have no idea what I am talking about, you probably should not try it), those that have used it now report that they have gone from crashing 5 times an hour down to not crashing for several hours. The reason is that when the game uses 1.8GB of RAM, you have VERY little left to run anything else (Virus-scans, or even just more components of the operating system), so by enabling the memory to use all the way up to 3GB of memery (with the last 1GB reserved for O/S and Kernel) you can perform much better in the game. HOWEVER (and this is key), once you do this, your O/S or Kernel COULD become unstable, if you have far too many drivers or other components loaded (or just crapware on the machine). But on a reasonably clean machine, this is a pretty harmless tweak (but again - do NOT attempt this unless you fully understand what you are getting in to).
Pre-Open-Beta Issue 4: Green graphics splotches / lower frame rate with compression / White Purple Glow / Invisible Man problem opponents
The team is also working on several DXT compression related issues. DXT was added specifically to help performance of 32-bit systems with 2GB of RAM (see Item 3), but as a side effect, there are now cases where it creates strange artifacts for both 32-bit and 64-bit users (such as green-glowing pixel issues on certain clothes) and we are researching if this addition is also potentially affecting frame rates on certain video card combinations. The first part of this issue will be solved in version 1.5.1 permanently (the version after Open Beta), but in the meantime we are working on this. In particular the White Purple Glow and Invisible Opponent problem is clearly an issue (and no it's not an exploit thankfully, just a graphics glitch confined to your local system).
Item 5: Various driver and sound issues causing potential crashes and other technical issues.
So above and beyond the top collection issues that we are working on there is also a secondary category of issues that are a bit harder to track down, for example an elusive sound driver problem for certain sound cards (and in some cases that's ALSO tied to the 2GB limit issue for 32-bit Windows). These issues will also be squared away one by one, and once we also will have much more extensive QA times for each subsequent patch.
Positive Game Play Enhancements - First Open Beta:
On the positive side of things, we are working on two critical game play enhancements for Open Beta, which we think will be great additions to the game;
(1) Skill Ratings based on actual skill (has been detailed extensively in an earlier post: http://apbreloaded.blogspot.com/2011/03/missing-skill-ratings-and-thanks-to.html ) where we expect the Skill Rating part itself to become part of the Open Beta and
(2) Meta-grouping for Level 9 players (aka "Rating 9" in APB terms). It turns out we have a GIANT group of players who got to level 9, which is the first group right after the tutorial, and then simply stopped playing. If you don't both find a group and also ready up ("K"), you COULD end up roaming the city for hours with nothing apparent to do. Before Open Beta we expect to have this enhancement added as well, which takes care of this particular issue.
Positive Game Play Enhancements - Later Open Beta
After the first OB build our focus is on two other items (to be included IN the Open Beta)
(1) The District segmentation by Threat and Skill Rating. This will basically allow you to "progress" to harder / more skilled districts over time. It also (potentially) allows us to ease up a little bit on the upgrade restrictions, since as you get better (or buy better stuff), you will enter in to better and better districts. It also means you can manually enter a higher ranked district, but not go to a lower district.
(2) This one is key: Purposeful End-Game PvP. Without going in to all the details here (but I will do that in a much longer post once we get to the Open Beta), we are working on a very significant improvement to the game that will give actual purpose to teams and clans, and more importantly, gives a purpose to continue challenging others to fight you in the game itself for a very very long time. We will share more about this once we get to the actual Open Beta, but the short version is that just like guilds are important in WoW we are making Clans important in APB, and the long term survival and glory of clans will be critical to the game's success.