(Post by Qwentle, Lead Designer of APB)
With 1.7.0 out of the way, we thought it's about time to talk about what we've been working on with the next big update. While there will be a number of items and updates in 1.8.0, the big talking point that I'm going to discuss is the introduction of Weapon Skins.
Over the past couple of months we have added a number of uniquely textured weapons as part of various promotions, both in Armas (The Sitting Duck and Hazardous Tommy Gun) and in-game as Fight Club Challenge Rewards. While we are big fans of these unique looking weapons, we felt that it was a bit unfair to have to purchase new weapons each time you want to have a unique skin, and a bit clunky to have to pull mods out of one gun and into another each time you want to change your look. To solve this, we're adding the ability to choose your weapon skin as a drop down option for a lot of the weapons in the game.
How Do Weapon Skins Work?
By default when you unlock a weapon skin, all skinnable weapons in the game will gain access to that skin. In some cases however this will be unique to the weapon, available to all weapons of that type (Shotguns for example) or archetype (Pointman weapons etc). When you are near an ammo zone, you can choose from a list of all weapon skins, mousing over them to preview the item. If you select an unlocked skin (shown highlighted in white) your weapon will immediately switch to the selected object and if you mouse over a non-unlocked skin (greyed out) you will be told how to attain it.
Why aren't all weapons skinnable?
To get this feature to you guys as soon as possible, we'll be initially rolling out a limited selection of weapons (generally one from each weapon group). Adding the ability to switch the skins quickly and with a minimum of network traffic / memory has required us to completely switch how the textures on the weapons work, and it takes time to convert from the old version to the new. As such, the first release will include the following weapons, with more to follow as they are converted:
OCA-626 (and variants), NTEC (and Variants), CR5, STAR, JG, CSG, NFAS, Obeya CR-762, OBIR, SHAW, HVR (all variants), Colby SNR, Obeya FBW.
While we understand that there are a number of other weapons in-game that are much loved by you guys, we wanted to ensure that we had an even spread to start, and felt this was the best selection we could make for an initial release.
In addition, any unique weapons (for instance the Fireball from the Challenges, or the Sitting Duck from the Joker Random-Box) will be unable to have their skins changed.
Why can't I completely customize my weapon?
The massive amount of customization in APB is a feature that makes us stand out from the crowd, but it comes at the cost. The amount of customization over the large number of players in any one district means that sending and building of customizations is one of the most resource intensive parts of the game. Full customization of weapons would increase the number of items being built per character from 2 (Vehicle + Character) to 3, an increase of 50% of customization data being sent. The increased bandwidth here would put too large a strain on the clients and servers, so is unfortunately infeasible, despite how cool it could have been. By selecting from a large selection of pre-made options, we keep a lot of the benefits of visual weapon customization while only sending a tiny amount of information across and removing any customization building.
How Do I get Weapon Skins?
Firstly we will be adding an extra level to each of the Weapon roles. Completing these will unlock a unique skin for those weapons. On top of this, some weapon skins will be available through Armas. Each faction also has a special skin that is unlocked through completing a new achievement that is triggered from completing the boss contact with that faction. This will likely mean that for players that have completed the organizations / killed a lot of players with certain weapons, a number of skins will unlock when you log into the game following the patch.
Can I see weapon skins in actions?