Sunday, February 27, 2011

End of Week 15 Update : The Closed Beta Has Arrived

The closed beta build is finalized, servers are getting spun-up as I type this, and we are about to release the first wave of Closed Beta in the wild!

Today is a BIG LONG POST with A LOT of information. You guys deserve info. And we hope it will help everyone enjoy the first beta much more (and the release note information should be helpful in getting us the beta feedback we very much need).

Some cautionary notes first: we are rolling the Beta out in waves. Wave 1 is going to be US-West (since that's close to our base of operations), which means US-East and Europe we will have to wait just A LITTLE BIT. But for good measure we will let a few people from Europe and South America actually play on US-West to test high-ping-time traffic as well. Wave 2 will be Europe. And Wave 3 will be US-East. We also have a Wave 4 planned for Sao Paulo, Brazil, since we have a datacenter there - however, that location will probably NOT be live until Open Beta or even later (importing high end six-core Intel hardware into Brazil turns out to be tricky, expensive and time consuming :) ).

In the first few hours Friday morning after we sent out the Closed Beta Application keys, we had tens of thousands who completed the final application step (and no - we have NOT YET notified anyone of their status, and we expect to do so Monday through Friday this coming week). Tomorrow (Monday morning) we are performing the final formal review of who met the min-spec requirements and who did not.

There were some interesting data points in the first 40,000 or so application replies we received Friday morning (which probably represents about half of all completed applications we expect by tomorrow), so I figured I'd skip ahead and share some of those here. We are finalizing the data sets this week, and next week's post is going to be a whole demographic discussion, so this is just a sneak peek;

Initial beta tester responses
(keep in mind - this is a snapshot of those who replied FIRST, so this is NOT the final number for ALL applications, and we expect to have the final numbers later this week):

Demographic Stats:
  • 97% Male, 3% Female
  • Median age: 22 years old.
  • 86% of testers are in the group 18 to 31 years old.
  • 10% of testers are in the group 32 to 65 years old.
And if you are counting that means some percentage of players officially told us they were under 18. Clearly that means you CANNOT play the beta (at least not at this time), and during live operation it will be dependent on the rating of the game where you live (ie 16, 17 or 18 depending on your location, since the various rating agencies have slightly different criteria for the game).

Country Stats:
  • 34% of all Applicants are from US and Canada
  • 39% of Applicants are from the EU (UK being the largest single country)
  • 15% of all Applicants are from Russia + the former Soviet republics (Ukraine, Belarus etc.)
  • The rest of the world (mostly Australia and Brazil, followed by various countries in Asia) make up the remaining 12% of Applicants.

Oddly enough; 8% of all applicants came from the Nordic countries combined (Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Iceland etc.), and slightly less than that (7.2%) came from Germany. That's odd because the Nordic countries only have a combined 24 million people, and Germany has 82 million people. In other words - this game appears (at least from very initial responses) to be 3X-4X as popular per capita in "the Nordics," than in Germany or in USA. Or - maybe it just means that Swedes and Finns are much more timely and punctual in filling out applications than their German counterparts and got their applications in first and got counted in this first snap-analysis? (we'll see next week when the final numbers are actually in).

It could also be that the Nordic hordes just like testing and breaking stuff, more so than their German gamer friends? Who knows? Since I am Swedish myself, obviously this all warms my Nordic heart :)

From a world perspective, the game appears to have huge interest from all corners of the globe, and we are particularly excited to see an even global distribution in our key markets (the US, Germany, UK etc.). We are a little surprised at the interest from Australia. While modest in absolute numbers, there is clearly a bit of a contingent "down under." There are no current plans for servers in Australia, but maybe we may have to rethink this in the future? Or maybe someone with really powerful servers down there want to partner with us on this game (hint, hint?)

To talk more about the final closed beta build (rather - version 64 of the closed beta build :) ), I am introducing you to Scott Stevenson, our Development Producer, to discuss the hot off the presses release notes for the Closed Beta. Now - KEEP IN MIND that all the discussed changes over the past three months are still underway (the new districts etc.) but of course are not in release stage yet. However - as you can see from the release notes below, there is a staggering amount of changes to the game that have already taken place. Based on the upcoming Beta feedback from all you gamers who are in the Closed Beta, the team is clearly going to continue working on tweaks, improvements and updates for many months and years to come. Just make sure you write smart and legible bug reports for the teams to review :)

Happy Beta-ing!

Bjorn / TechMech


Hi Guys

I’m new to the blog so I’ll introduce myself; I’m Scott “ScottOMon” Stevenson, now Development Producer for APB Reloaded (and formerly Associate Producer and Release Manager at Realtime Worlds). I’m here to talk a little about the team as we head into Closed Beta as well as giving you a sneaky-peek at the release notes from our initial Closed Beta Build!

Oil Tankers, Crash Diets and Razors
The original APB was a cruel mistress, bringing both unparalleled awesomeness and crushing disappointment throughout development. My take on it is simple. Some not so great decisions were made along the way, some parts of the organization didn't let things occur that probably should have occurred, and, overall, it was just plain-old difficult.

The best analogy I have is that the original APB was an oil tanker. Massive, complex and impossible to steer quickly – with the potential for massive success (large amounts of crude oil?), as long as we could only get the APB-tanker into port safely…

Unfortunately, our course was set long before the end. One hard landing and a pretty spectacular fireball later, here we are – incredibly much leaner and meaner: we are in fact Reloaded.

A new team that loves APB, a team that has added more than a few members that already put blood, sweat and tears into it for some years each. A team now with the opportunity to improve and, if necessary, protect APB Reloaded in order to right those wrongs and turn it into the bombastic game it absolutely has the potential to be.

So, let's just say that the new team is both compact and multi-national at the same time. A far cry from the nearly 200 people that used to work on the game. But, a small tightly knit team turns out to be very flexible and agile, especially when the new management gives us great freedom to simply “Get Stuff Done™”.

Here is an example of how we are much more nimble than before; the original APB had a ‘feature’ where your character would sometimes get into the back seat of an empty car even though your character was standing next to the driver-side door (the door you would actually enter was based on where your reticule/cross-hair was pointing, and not your character location, something really hard to control in the middle of a fire-fight). The problem was known for quite a while – 476 days to be precise and if anyone is counting that is. Plenty of us had suggestions, but agreement could never quite be reached as to what to do. Not even the great Qwentle was immune to this issue. Many were dismayed.

Fast-forward a bit to APB Reloaded, this issue comes up in a meeting (among a million items to be fixed) and we all agree that it needs "fixing." One good suggestion in a design meeting and 30 minutes later Aphadon (Johann) has done just that. Fixed. Job done. 30 minutes. Added to Beta build. Razor sharp. Bjorn was so happy that he even delayed closed beta a few days just to make sure THAT one feature got added in the first public Closed Beta. It became build 63. RC for Closed Beta (the final Closed Beta is actually CB build 64, but who is counting?).

Closed Beta and Not Having It Explode Your Face

The truth is that the original APB’s Closed Beta really wasn’t a Beta designed for taking feedback since the original team was still finishing core components of the game right up until the end of Closed Beta. Therefore there was very little time left to tweak or adjust the game based on feedback from the community before launch day. Something we clearly are NOT repeating with APB Reloaded.

The new team knows exactly what we need to do for Closed Beta. Listen and react. All our team members are active on the forums and every good idea or valid concern will be considered as we move through the stages of Closed and Open Beta. We promise – we’re nice like that. We won't implement every suggestion. We might not even have time to read ALL suggestions. That's just a fact of life. But our goal throughout is to pick out all major enhancement suggestions, and make sure Gamers Have Fun. The end goal is to make sure this game becomes a LONG TERM sustainable game, with sustainable high-level fun for years to come. And a game that makes it not just "Free2Play™" but also "Fun-To-Pay" as well. In other words - if you don't have fun in the game, we don't expect you to pay. If you ARE having fun, then we do want you to pay for some of that fun, at least just a little bit (if anything - to keep the development going and to continue expanding the game world for years to come).

TLDR (aka The Good Bit)
Enough talking – you’ve been asking for details and we’ve got ‘em! Below are the first Closed Beta 1 Release Notes. We hope you all find something in these that excites you and gets you even more interested in APB Reloaded, but do remember that we’re only at the Closed Beta stage, so expect many more changes along the way. The team are thrilled that Closed Beta is just around the corner and are desperate to hear YOUR feedback on the changes we’ve made so far once you get in to the game.

And having some newbs to kick around San Paro should be fun as well…



Closed Beta 1 - Public Release Notes
Reworked from the ground up, primary changes are as follows:
  • Organisation Levelling has been removed from game.
  • Leagues removed from the game until we can implement in a less exploitable way (League Display points are now either free or purchasable from the auction house).
  • Contacts split into Weapon and Vehicle contacts, rewards split accordingly.
  • Adjusted rating requirements for each contact level.  This has decreased at low levels and increased at high levels.
  • Majority of Existing Roles moved to Achievements.  All achievements moved to 1 level only and rewards removed.
    • Rebalanced Achievement requirements.
    • This includes Car Thief.
  • Added Roles for each piece of equipment and each weapon niche.  Advancing these roles unlocks weapon upgrades and high level equipment/open slot weapons.
  • Levels in Roles and Achievements no longer count towards your rating.  It is now purely based on contact progression.
  • Added Random Rewards (that are only gifted once), for unlocking each symbol, some pieces of jewellery, and emotes. Each contact unlocks different random rewards (around 50% chance at mission end, depending on mission performance).
  • Reworked item costs for all items. Preset cost lowered, Customisable Asset prices increased. Weapon prices increased, Upgrade prices increased.
  • Reduced Costs of Heat Buyoff to a trivial level.
  • Removed unused tutorial contacts (Simon Tran/Pagan Bloodrose) from progression trees.

Gameplay and Miscellaneous
  • Your group members now show on your radar.
  • Fixed the issue where players would accidentally get into the back seat of cars when their characters were next to the front doors (original calculation was based on reticule location). Now only the front doors are considered valid options if the car is empty (note: did anyone ever really want to hang out alone in the back-seat? if so – Closed Beta participants are welcome to weigh in).
  • The death camera now rotates towards your killer instead of looking at your ragdoll to provide better awareness of how you died.
  • Fixed the railing grid material used extensively in Waterfront originally not allowing bullets to pass through it. Now player can shoot through railings properly.
  • Added new roof access to the San Paro Port Authority building in Waterfront.
  • Added new splash screen images.
  • Added objects to block vehicles from using certain Waterfront areas to jump on rooftops and then exploiting other rooftops with no collision.
  • Fixed collision issues on trees that allowed players to sit ‘inside’ them.
  • Fixed the Ammo Vending Machine having a far too complex collision mesh.
  • Made certain in-game items tradable between players that were previously not tradable.
  • Progress indicators (X/Y) added to Roles and Achievement pages to provide clearer progress status.
  • Camera position moved out slightly to avoid player’s head overlapping crosshair when moving right (comments for new camera position sought from Closed Beta participants).
  • Damage taken from falling increased. It’s now possible to die from impact after falling great heights.
  • Slightly increased the distance players need to fall before playing the ‘heavy landing’ animation.
  • Negative medals (Teamkill, Killing arrested player, Suicide) are now marked as such and have had their negative effect on rewards heavily increased.
  • VoIP now defaults to ‘Push to Talk’ instead of microphone activated (now using “Z” button by default).
  • Player now stays in strafe mode for 5 seconds rather than 2 after firing/reloading.
  • Pickup task items now lie close to the ground instead of floating at waist height.
  • Updated Open World drop off location names; now named ‘Fence’, ‘Chop Shop’, ‘Impound’ and ‘Evidence Locker’.
  • Increased Loading Tip Time to 15 seconds from 5.
  • Loading tooltips added, describing premium and leased content.
  • Players can now jump and fall in marksmanship mode (jump accuracy modifier still takes effect)
  • Weapons now have a separate modifier for moving at walking speed (such as when crouching or in marksmanship mode).
  • Customisation pods removed from the factional areas in the Social District.
  • Disabled Witnessing temporarily until we can fix it (Ready system broke it pretty heavily).
  • Players who have been freed from arrest no longer give rewards for arresting or freeing until they die.
  • Default keybindings have been changed to more logical layout. See chart for details.

All Weapons rebalanced, changing accuracy, shot damage, firing rate etc.
  • Weapon Time to Kill lowered across the board (without adding extra 1 hit KO weapons)
  • Accuracy model adjusted to put more importance on burst firing with most weaponry.  Weapons mostly start accurate then very quickly hit their minimum accuracy threshold.  The rate at which accuracy is regained after stopping firing is also much increased.
  • Balancing with Effective Range reduced somewhat in favour of mainly using accuracy to determine effective range.
  • SHAW moved from an anti-vehicle weapon to anti-personnel suppression weapon.
  • STAR moved from slow firing long range rifle (analogous to OBEYA/OBIR) to a fast firing assault rifle (same niche as NTEC. Less accurate to begin with, but can handle being fired full auto at close/medium range without becoming unwieldy).
  • HVR can once again not switch to pistol until it has completed bolting the next round.
  • New weapons added to progression:
  • Colby PMG-28: Low Cyclic Rate SMG.
  • Joker SR-15 Carbine: Mobile close-medium range semi auto rifle.
  • ALIG-762: Low Cyclic Rate LMG, anti-vehicle weapon primarily.

  • Han Cellente (original starting vehicle) removed from game.
  • Added engine cut out at 20% vehicle health.
  • Improved Turning speed of all low end vehicles.
  • Macchina Calabria 127 added to the game as the new default vehicle.  This is a small coupe with decent acceleration, stable and responsive handling, though a low top speed.
  • Balkan Kolva (Truck): Heavily Increased Weight of Vehicle.  This improves its ramming power immensely, but heavily reduces its initial acceleration.  Also heavily increased HP.
  • Bishada GX 8800 : Renamed to Bishada Rapier and reduced maximum health.
  • Patriot Jericho : Reduced maximum health, increased torque in gear 1 (improving starting acceleration)
  • Patriot Vegas: Slightly improved health, acceleration heavily increased and weight increased.
  • Dolton Montaine (Pickup): Improved health. Increased Top Speed to be on par with Patriot T-25 (King Cab). Increased trunk Capacity to be more than King Cab, Reduced Damping on suspension to make it a little more bouncy. Changed from Rear Wheel to Front Wheel Drive.
  • Increased Weight and Health of Dolton Fresno while keeping acceleration and speed the same. Also reduced suspension damping significantly.
  • Packer Ceresco (Standard Van) is now Front Wheel Drive and has the best Carrying Capacity in the game (25, compared to Armoured Van 20)
  • Charge Mikro: Health very slightly down so it’s just below average vehicle health, rather than just above.  Grip heavily improved. Top speed reduced.
  • Packer Vaquero: Health very slightly down. Top speed reduced. Incredibly bouncy suspension.
  • Very minor tweaks to Sungnyemun Moirai (Exec Saloon). Upped Wheel turn distance and slightly reduced suspension stiffness.
  • Upped weight of Seiyo Espacio
  • Updated Nulander Pioneer.  Now a bit slower, with a lower clearance, but a lot heavier (so it doesn't mount cars any more). Also enabled the Limited Slip Differential, making handling easier on rough terrain.
  • Enabled the Limited Slip Differential for both SUVs (Charge Sentinel and Nulander Kurai), making handling easier on rough terrain.
  • Updated Nulander Kurai.  Pretty much untippable now.  Much bouncier now as well. Ride height increased significantly but suspension stiffness decreased, so it'll rock and sway.  Also, increased cargo capacity from 8 to 10.
  • Ambulance updated. Ambulance is now a fast but very light large vehicle.  It leans around corners pretty spectacularly, but doesn't really fall over much.
  • Added rating requirement to previously existing pre-order vehicles.  Now can be used at the same level as the normal Cisco/Morai.
  • Updated Nitro Effect.  Now much higher effect but much shorter duration and cooldown.

  • Renamed majority of upgrades.
  • Renamed all Preset clothing items to better highlight which outfit they belong to.
  • Added ‘Creator Names’ for each Vehicle and Preset clothing piece.
  • Adjusted descriptions for all Upgrades and Weapons.
  • The majority of weapon presets have been renamed.

  • Grouped Upgrades: Only one upgrade of each group can be used at a time. This is a little excessive right off the bat (especially for Character upgrades), but will become a lot more important as we add extra modifications.  Groups are…
    • Health (Character): Coagulant, Kevlar Implants
    • Utility (Character): Happy Landings
    • Activated (Character): Field Supplier
    • Generic (Vehicle): Explosives, Fast-Fix Chassis
    • Chassis (Vehicle) : Chassis Strengthening, Ramming Plate, Steel Plating
    • Engine (Vehicle): Armoured Engine, Fireproofing
    • Trunk (Vehicle):  Extra Cargo Capacity
    • Activated (Vehicle): Nitro Booster
    • Magazine (Weapon): Bandolier, Extended Magazine, Magazine Pull
    • Barrel (Weapon): Heavy Barrel, Improved Rifling, Cooling Jacket
    • Upper Rail (Weapon): Reflex Sight, Hunting Sight
    • Receiver (Weapon): Three Point Sling.
  • Added tutorial mail explaining upgrades, how to equip, and what groups mean.
  • Removed Monolith upgrade (functionally it was identical to survivor).
  • Removed Energizer upgrade (LTLs are now weaker than their lethal counterparts).

Premium Accounts & Leased Items
  • Set Max Primitive Limits for Free Accounts on Symbol Editor, Garage and Clothing Editor. Initially free player limits set at 25, 5 and 5 respectively. Premium Accounts get 100 primitives per Symbol, 50 Symbols per Vehicle and 50 Symbols per piece of Clothing
  • Leased Weapons Added (will be random rewards initially, until the Armas Underground weapons dealer is implemented in the Social District to provide leased weapons):
    • N-HVR 243 Scout: A bolt action sniper rifle with a lower calibre round than the 762, but with the ability to sprint and hang out of vehicle windows with.
    • OCA-626 ‘Whisper’: A silenced SMG with a scope (we’re still waiting for the audio for this, so initially it might not be silenced).  Silenced weapons no longer have tracers.
    • Colby CSG-20 Shotgun: A shotgun that fires a lot more pellets than the JG.  It has the same damage output, but the shot dispersal is a lot more fine so you’re less likely to lose a ton of damage if a pellet misses.
    • Scoped N-TEC 5:  An NTEC with a scope on it for a higher level of zoom.  It’s also got slightly less recoil so it feels the same despite the lower FOV.
    • ACT44 GM: A gold plated ACT44 with an elongated barrel and a scope.  Same damage potential as the normal pistol, but with an improved zoom and slightly better stability.
    • STAR 556 ‘LCR’:  In APB Reloaded, the normal STAR 556 has a comparable fire rate to the NTEC. We’ve added the LCR for players who really liked the old one.
    • OSMAW / O-PGL:  Just the base Rocket Launcher / Grenade Launcher.  We’ve allowed players to purchase them as leased weapons if they can’t wait to get them

Client Size, Performance and Other
  • Integrated the game with GamersFirst accounts and backend systems.
  • Updated and activated PunkBuster.
  • Various small run-time memory usage savings totalling ~50MB.
  • Client size has been reduced from 8GB for the original game to 5GB for the Closed Beta RC1 (note: with future procedural texture inclusion and patch modifications, the target is to get the full client download to 3 GB without noticeable quality reductions).
  • Updated VoIP system to address various voice issues.
  • Improved the in-game compatibility checks at startup and install:
    • Updated the list of detected graphics cards from the latest compat file from Epic, as well as published lists of cards from and
    • Updated the preferred compat level for each card to roughly match the expected performance.
    • Updated lots of cards that wouldn't be able to run the game but were originally given a supported compat level. Those cards probably crashed in the earlier release (without warning).
    • If a component doesn't meet the minimum requirements we now tell the user which component is the problem, instead of just displaying a generic error message.

Updated Control Scheme
Updates to the control scheme are below but all bindings can be customised by the player. A full listing of the default controls is later in this document.
  • Movement – “Crouch” is now bound to ‘Left Control’ as well as ‘C’.
  • Movement – “Walk” has been unbound from ‘X’. Players can manually rebind this if they wish.
  • Combat – “Activate/Deactivate Field Supplier” has been moved from ‘F1’ to ‘5’.
  • Combat – “Throw Grenade” has been moved from ‘Left Control’ to ‘G’, and is also bound to the Middle Mouse Button.
  • Combat – “Switch Weapons” has also been bound to ‘2’, so that players can use ‘1’, ‘2’, or the Mouse Wheel to switch weapons.
  • Actions – “Drop Item” has been moved from ‘Z’ to ‘X’.
  • Actions – The “Player Interaction Menu” has been moved from ‘V’ to ‘.’ (period).
  • Actions – “Ready for Mission” has been moved from ‘O’ to ‘K’, to avoid confusion with ‘0’ (zero).
  • Actions – “Voice – Push to Talk” has been moved from ‘7’ to ‘Z’ to make it reachable without having to move one of your hands.
  • Camera – “Look Behind” has been moved from ‘G’ to ‘Alt’.
  • Camera – “Switch Camera Side” has been moved from ‘4’ to ‘V’.
  • Music – “Previous Track” has been moved from ‘,’ (comma) to ‘[‘.
  • Music – “Next Track” has been moved from ‘.’ (period) To ‘]’.
  • Music – “Pause/Resume Playback” has also been bound to ‘\’, so that players can use that or ‘Right Control’.
  • Interface – “Clan Management” has been moved from ‘[‘ to ‘,’ (comma).
  • Interface – “View Support Pages” (Help) has been moved from ‘K’ to ‘F1’.
  • Interface – “View Leagues/High Score Tables” has been moved from ‘F4’ to ‘F6’.
  • Interface – “Chat Channel Commands” has been moved from ‘F6’ to ‘F9’.
  • Interface – “Chat Console Commands” has been moved from ‘F7’ to ‘F10’.
  • Interface – “Chat Emote Commands” has been moved from ‘F8’ to ‘F11’.
  • Interface – “Screenshot” has been moved from ‘Pause’ to ‘Print Screen’.
  • Interface – “Toggle HUD” display has been moved from ‘End’ to ‘F12’.

Full Default Control Listing


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding





Left Control



Primary Binding
Secondary Binding
Fire Weapon
Left Mouse


Marksmanship Mode (Hold)
Right Mouse

Marksmanship Mode (Toggle)

Lean Left (in Marksmanship Mode)

Lean Right (in Marksmanship Mode)

Middle Mouse
Next Weapon
Mouse Wheel Down
Previous Weapon
Mouse Wheel Up
Activate/Deactivate Field Supplier

Put Away Weapon


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding


Turn Left

Turn Right


Left Mouse

Activate/Deactivate Nitro

Vehicle Special Function
Right Mouse

Left Turn Signal

Right Turn Signal


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding

Ammo Resupply

Drop Item

Player Interaction Menu

Ready For Mission

Toggle Movie Capturing

Voice – Push To Talk


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding
Look Behind

Rotate Left

Rotate Right

Switch Camera Position

Toggle Camera Distance

Zoom In

Zoom Out


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding
Next Track

Previous Track

Resume/Pause Playback
Right Control


Primary Binding
Secondary Binding
Accept Offer

Decline Offer

Call For Backup


Character Info

Groups & Friends




Music Player


Last Hint

Clan Management

View Support Pages


Quick Chat

Quick Reply

Chat Window

Open Full Chat

Chat Channel Commands

Chat Console Commands

Chat Emote Commands

Main Chat Scroll Down
Page Down

Main Chat Scroll Up
Page Up

Print Screen

Toggle HUD


Whoa - this may be the longest post so far. I am guessing next week's post WILL BE VERY SHORT. This coming week is GDC in San Francisco as well as first week of Closed Beta, so we will have a giant amount of work ahead of us. And YES - you WILL get an email with your download and launch status. If you do NOT yet have an email, that simply means we HAVE NOT SENT IT TO YOU YET! So - please do not make one hundred comments with the words "what is my status?" Trust me, you will get an email as soon as your G1 account has been activated for the beta. You will ALSO be told which realm you will be activated in, and keep in mind the three waves I described at the top of the post.

Other than that - we are all thrilled to bits that we are finally here. The changes underway for Open Beta are equally staggering and are getting close to being as long as the list above. However, we clearly plan to leave plenty of room for suggestions from the Closed  Beta to be included, and even after going to Open Beta the goal is constant improvements to the game, until the game is truly a great experience for everyone.

Looking forward to seeing you all in San Paro!