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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Big APB Roadmap Update; new EU hardware, server merges, engine upgrade, console games and surviving GTA-V (again)

(note: read about the latest server merge schedule here)

A mighty northern wind...

Citizens!

As we recover from the storm that blew in across our northern border from Los Santos two weeks ago, down here in San Paro we are still plugging away on the jam packed schedule we are facing over the next three months.

First of all, a huge thanks to everyone who stuck around in APB Reloaded during the last two weeks, and to those who simply decided to come back after checking out some of the great storyline gameplay in GTA V.

Second, a very warm welcome to the slew of new players that found APB during this heightened interest in urban city combat! We admit we may also have wandered over to that "neighboring" city of Los Santos for some exploration, before we returned to APB with great ideas for how to keep APB unique and different, especially by focusing on and refining APB's multiplayer combat both on PC and Console.

Also, it has been interesting to see the competition step out of the safe confines of the console world with their new online PC experience, and attempt to deal with the crazy challenges that come from being a PC online game. We wish them the best on handling those situations, as it seems they have had their hands full the last few days.

On our end, as a small team juggling a lot of new releases and changes, we wanted to get you up to speed with a new roadmap post, particularly as we depend on your ongoing support to keep APB running, for many more years to come.

The Roadmap...

We are really excited to share the new roadmap, with its list of really important releases being worked on right now. We will also make a few individual blog posts for some of these key features as we near each launch.


May-Aug 2015 Roadmap:
  • Completion of all EU District Server Upgrades (NOW LIVE!)
  • Joker Mystery Box 17: Urban Legends (NOW LIVE!)
  • EU PC Server Merge
  • US PC Server Merge
  • Espacio Season Pass
  • Refer-A-Friend
  • CRISP: Community Moderation System
  • New Matchmaking Release
  • PC Engine Upgrade Release
  • PS4 Launch and Xbox One Launch

Live (May 1): All EU districts have been migrated to the new server hardware

So after what feels like thousands of iterations, all EU action districts are now running on the newest upgraded district server hardware. So far the hardware performance has been great. Of course we have seen problems with some malicious individuals still DDoS-ing things (making things feel slow), but when there are no network storms going on, we are now running a steady 33ms frame times on all action districts. That's exciting and should be a great experience improvement for all players.

Live (May 6): Joker Box 17

We are excited to release the next Legendary weapon model series, the Urban Legends, as part of the next Joker Mystery Box. Each of the 3 fully-automatic secondary weapons (Bloody Mary, Jersey Devil, and Hitchhiker) comes with their own unique modifications and deluxe skin designs. We hope you enjoy using them as much as we did crafting them!




Going forward: 


US and EU server merges

After massive amounts of testing, the very hard desicion was made to move the EU server merge from May 6 to the week of May 18-22 (the same week as the US server merge). More details here.

Aside from the ongoing engine update work, completing the merge preparations is currently our very top priority, not only to prepare for the upcoming console releases, but also to make sure that everyone will have a great experience on the PC version going forward. The merged servers will effectively double the current population, but will also set the stage for the "Server-Wide" matchmaking system that is being worked on. In short, the server merges are a critical cornerstone to a massive amount of upcoming new launches.

Introducing the JUGGERNAUT STRIKE PACK (THE JUGGERNAUT STRIKE PASS – Early purchase)

Since releasing the Heavy Duty pack in December, our art team has been crafting a bold new body kit design for the Espacio vehicle, along with matching clothing items and weapon.

We are planning to release the Espacio Pack at the end of May, but with a bit of a twist. Since we release a pack about once every 3-4 months, we are planning to release the upcoming Espacio pack as a "Season Pass," where for the same price as a normal content pack you will get even more content over a period of time: pack exclusives, Joker Boxes and other items every month.

The earlier you buy the more bonus items you will get. The goal is to make new content and extra bonus items available to you each month as a Pass holder. And also to pave the way for a fixed predictable long-term release schedule for these large content packs.

CRISP Community Moderation

Whether in missions or hanging around the Social District, APB is at its core driven by constant and positive social interaction between each of the players. Each day our team strives to create an inviting atmosphere so you will not only feel welcomed among other APB players, but also invite your friends to join you here. Still, we realize that our small GM staff is not always able to properly address all the harassment, scamming, and offensive language that takes place and much more needs to be done. So over the next couple months, we are introducing two major initiatives that will both tackle this toxic behavior head on while bringing the next generation of players into APB.

First, we are nearing completion on integrating a sophisticated community moderation solution called CRISP Thinking into APB. CRISP works seamlessly in the background to automatically detect and moderate toxic players anywhere in the game, then take instant action as necessary. Unlike conventional filtering systems, CRISP is able to look beyond 'bad' word usage and examine the context of entire phrases. Harassment, hateful speech, and even scam attempts can be detected and acted upon in real-time while keeping positive players protected. We are aiming to introduce CRISP this Summer.

Refer-a-Friend

We are finishing up our referral system that will award prizes for bringing your friends into APB! While there are other referral systems out there, APB's Refer-a-Friend is the deepest, most rewarding and most convenient system devised in a game like this.

As you invite friends and help them achieve milestones in APB, you will earn points that you can choose to spend across 31 different prizes at launch! After over a year of development, designing and balancing, we are expected to unveil the Refer-a-Friend system at the end of May.

Revised Match-Making

This summer we are looking to launch our new matchmaking system we first described here, internally named Dedicated Automatic Matchmaking (D.A.M.). By introducing the ability to match teams with equal ratings located on different servers, the new system was designed to promote more balanced, frequent, and engaging matches across all districts so that you can truly enjoy the unique multiplayer gameplay that sets APB apart from the competition.

Combined with a more concentrated population, D.A.M should vastly improve your chances of having those elusive, exhilarating and insane "APB moments" that will stick with you for a long time.

PC Engine Launch

It feels like an eternity since we began the complete rebuild of the underlying APB game engine. When we started the project back in 2013 (in fact if you go back to our October 17, 2013 blog post we shared that the engine upgrade project had begun July 17, 2013), we were wildly optimistic that we could complete the project in about 9-10 months.

That was insanely optimistic for a whole host of reasons. First we didn't count on the amount of other ongoing work APB needed just to stay operational day in and day out, so when the team was pulled away to solve other problems, the engine work slowed down. But most of all we hadn't anticipated the ungodly amount of work required to undo years of custom systems that would no longer be part of the new engine.

The Console game actually helped the team refocus on the engine update since the upcoming Console versions absolutely had to use the later version of the engine.

Below are screenshots from the current game (left) and the updated engine (right) that we are currently running in our office. Clearly the new look will be great for the game, but more than the visuals, the simplified workflow will dramatically improve our ability to actually make new meaningful content going forward for all three versions of the game.

Our current expectation is that the PC engine upgrade will go live either concurrent with, or just after the release of the Console games. It's been an insanely long road to get here, and when the engine and the console versions are launched we will finally breathe a sigh of relief, and then we will go right back to building new things for the updated game!



The upcoming Playstation 4 and Xbox One versions of APB Reloaded

Finally, we are also getting closer to the launch of our first ever console versions of APB Reloaded! While we don't yet know the final Console launch date, all the teams involved, i.e. our internal team, the external console development partner's team and the publisher's team, have been working around the clock to get the Beta and Certification versions readied for submission.

Unlike the PC game which can basically be launched "when ready," the Console versions require a long series of approvals from Publisher, Microsoft and Sony before anything can go live.

As soon as the formal launch date has been finalized, our publisher will be sharing that information through their channels, and after that we will be able to share that information here as well.

Thank You


Finally, it’s an awesome privilege to work on a game with this kind of longevity and ongoing community support. I am thrilled with all the changes that are coming, the big leap it will mean for us in adding new content with the new systems, and I cannot thank you enough for your continued support of the game. See you in San Paro soon again!

Jobs





33 comments:

  1. wow
    that was
    unexpected
    social actually looks pretty good

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  2. I like this blog post. It is a nice blog post.
    That said, we loyal PC players would greatly appreciate getting the Engine Update prior to or at the same time as the console release, not after. I feel giving it to us after may be a bit hurtful to some PC players who are already worried that the Consoles will overshadow PC.

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    1. Michael - we would love to give to PC players first. Unfrotunately because we don't exactly control the console launch, it's a bit hard for us to know if that can happen. At the moment we aim to have them happen at the same time, but we will come back with more info as soon as we know for sure what the Console launch date will be. If the Console date is later, then it's certainly possible the engine will be on the PC first. But we will share info as soon as we have it.

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    2. Bjorn, can the console launch not be postponed for the PC engine upgrade? Michael is right, we are the most loyal players, and at the time the only of course, but I feel we would remain even more loyal long after it has been released on console. It would secure some more loyal goers if they knew that we were placed before the console users in that way. Just a thought. Great work by the way from the teams involved. I have fallen in love with APB Reloaded and it became more to me than GTA would ever be. I'm sure many feel the same way. However, what GTA is excelling against APB with is the fact that they have so many more car models. If APB Reloaded can secure that extent of models and customization then you would have won the marathon by a mile. Thank you guys for creating a game that I and many may enjoy.

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    3. Thank you for the feedback, Bjorn. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, I and my clan greatly appreciate all you guys are doing to keep APB going. I just want to try to curb any hurt feelings before they happen. :p

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  3. Yay!

    This has been one of my favorite games in the last 5 years. I've put a lot of time and money into it with zero regrets. Unfortunately, I got a little burnt about 2 years ago and it took a back seat to a few other games.

    Intermittently I would hop back on for a quick fix. I really miss the days of this being my go to game when i just want to unwind. However, I completely see myself coming back full swing once the upgrades are put in place, and even though I've always been a PC gamer. I am champing at the bit to play this on my PS4.

    Every day like a child I've been googling for an update and a release for this on console. I have strong feeling I'll be playing console in one hand and the PC version in the other... simultaneously :)


    Classy recognition to Rockstar btw. Thumbs up.

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  4. well after i saw the picture showing the different in engine upgrade , i kinda feel worries about the game performance on laptop , i play this game on my laptop and i have fps around 50 fps , but with these details i am worried that fps will be dropped to 30 or less , i hope you guys not just concentrate on people who play this game on PC , also people who play this game on laptop

    and i was expecting something to see in this post which is new map , we always getting new weapons and gears but the new map will make this game better than GTA V i hope u guys think about it

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    Replies
    1. Oh trust me, your FPS may as well get insanely better than ever. The current Frankenstein Unreal Engine that APB has, which is a gigantic mix of UE2 and UE3 with a load of new stuff added in by RTW at the time, it takes a lot more resources than the final version of UE3, which is what the Engine Upgrade has been made into.

      But of course, no way of knowing for sure until it's out, but chances are much higher of it being better.

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  5. It looks like someone installed an ENB along with the Data Grass Doe mod from skyrim, then logged into social. It looks great.

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  6. Wow this might get me back into this game. Great Job!

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  7. Hey please keep the game going for as long as possible, I don't want to lose it (personally).

    As for the upgrade, yeah I had a feeling that might happen. While I haven't worked with UE, and I don't actually see the source code for APB. From stories I have heard, what I have seen, and personal experiences (doing upgrades at my work), a delay like this wasn't a shocker to me.

    Now that cross server match-making. I'm still waiting to see how you pull that off. Again, while I don't see the source, just the way the game handles customizations, that has me wonder alone how it will be pulled off (effectively I should probably add).

    Also, please no Palm Trees. They just look off. Of course, when I think of San Paro, I think of like Michigan. I mean Waterfront does have a lake, but to me, it reminds me of the Great Lakes, since it's gloomy over there (and massively industrial).

    Well that's my rant. Looking forward to see what comes next (does that referral program go cross system? I have console friends I want to get into the game)

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    Replies
    1. Interesting. We think of San Paro being representative of San Diego (and Los Altos being Los Angeles) :). But of course all these are fictional places...

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    2. Yes I had a friend who was thinking Cally as well. I could see that as well, the docks at Social are what lean me towards that

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    3. San Paro is meant to be a California like setting, no?

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    4. According to the lore of the game, San Paro is always depicted as a city on the west coast of the US. Palm trees, then, make complete sense.

      So, what is this Los Altos you are referring to then Bjorn? A new setting for a future APB title?

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    5. Lol - typo - but if Los Altos didn't already exist (it's in SF area south of Stanford U), then it might be a good name for a future competitor to Los Santos... :)

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  8. Will be there an option to transfer characters form US server to UE server?

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  9. Thanks for being social the new engine will get me back into the game always loved this game (even my wallet has a relationship with apb) Thanks and much love G1 staff support from The Netherlands

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  10. I like that social image.... it must be wroth to wait 3 years ahahha..i cant wait anymore...Good job

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  11. Any word if PC accounts will transfer over to consoles? After how much money I dumped on this game, I won't even consider playing it unless they do

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  12. Super
    This game is great I really appreciate your hard work guys I be still around supporting you till the end thank you
    Regards
    G37

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  13. A lot of new players stop because they don't understand the game, you should make a better tutorial for new players.
    Otherwise, good job. We all appreciate your good work.

    - Some fat guy that plays APB all the time.

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  14. Plain and simple love the engine upgrade !!
    And love that CRISP is coming!! can't be to soon!!
    Keep up the good work :)

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  15. I am really excited to see a post about the future. I really enjoy this game and always thought that the character creation and customization options were incredible, so much better then GTA. I do hope that there will be added content in the future as well. Amazing work!!

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  16. Hopefully the engine update helps my fps because from previous updates from years back I used to get solid 71 fps but then after the updates I would get 50-10 fps in car explosions and grenades.

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  17. Looking forward to the new update/engine but... hwy palm trees in social? XD

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    Replies
    1. San Paro is roughly based on San Diego, California

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  18. So why not actually add something useful like a new zone or two and some new contacts? New guns you have to pay for.... Not interested. New outfits, woohoo, I didn't know this was a fashion show. New cars, I have to pay for them? no thanks, I should be able to obtain them in game, I can't? Oh well, forget that then. The game looks decent, it's going to look better, I get that. But what use is polishing something to make it looks better if the game play stays the same?

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    1. This guy has a point. Engine update, server merge, new matchmaking...all of there are things this game NEEDS to SURVIVE. For instance GTA V is better at almost every aspect. So after you are done with this (hopefully you ll hit the timeline this time) focus on some gameplay improvements. Make new districts, add new contacts, rework matchmaking, add some FREE TO PLAY content. People are getting sick and tired of that if they want something new they need to pay for it. Missions are too repetitive and you get the same opposition every time. There are only 2 mission districts and 2 fightclubls...many players know streets of San Paro better then they know the streets of their hometown. Biggest advantage of being in a clan (except for having someone to play with) is that you have additional chat group. Community is long asking for a race district....why not give it a try? Not mentioning that it is not very welcoming to the new players as well, because they got dropped in open conflict district, where they got matched against high rank golds...GG WP. This game has really great potential I believe you CAN make it better. You just need to focus on some gameplay improvements as well. Please dont take these words as some sort of offense but this is really opinion of many players out there so please reconsider what I just wrote. Good luck and I m sorry for my bad English.

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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