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Friday, July 24, 2015

AS WE HEAD INTO AUGUST WITH APB


Hello citizens,

With the month of July coming to an end, it is time for a quick update on what is going on and what you will see going into August.  We hope you enjoyed participating and earning the awards from this year’s July 4th event.   Statistics from our weapon testing district are still coming in strong and of course we thank you all for providing feedback over the last few months as we get closer to the Unreal Update.  With that said, we have some information to provide regarding some elements we will be adding to the main game, and others we will be removing.

THE REMOVAL

Weapon Pick-up/Drop Mechanic
As most of you know, we implemented a weapon pick-up/drop system over the last few months, which was implemented with our previous season events as well as being used in our weapon test districts.  We will still see it being used in the testing districts but as was commented previously that we would potentially be adding the drop mechanic to the main game.  After reviewing all the feedback and comments provided, the decision to implement this mechanic into the main game has been shelved. 

THE ADDITIONS

Engine Update Video

Many of you (if not all J) have been asking for some video footage to be shown of the latest update work being done to the game.  We are happy to provide the first of a few videos highlighting the difference between the present APB and what it will look like running with the upgraded engine.  Below is a video clip of the Social District where we reveal the differences between old and new.  We are excited with the possibilities and feel you will appreciate them as well.





TTK Test District

During my vacation time, I reviewed most of the forum threads regarding the TTK in APB (those most recent and going back a few years).  I will admit that I have been having in-office debates regarding this topic and with the present feedback, I feel it is time we give it a good old, once over review.  We will therefore be setting up a TTK district to test out some numbers as well as provide you all with the chance to see how the game feels with some modified stats.  I personally am pro increase of TTK, but I will add that I am also a fan of implementing a stamina system to coincide with any TTK changes.  My view on adding stamina (if any) will be addressed at a later date following the results we acquire from this test district.

Since I am not married nor steadfast on the idea of adding a stamina mechanic, feel free to leave your feedback and comments as it will help decide if this is a good addition to the main game.

IO: GROWL

We are excited to try some new things with APB and the creation of new vehicles was a perfect start.  We wanted to introduce not only new vehicles but to also prepare for the introduction of new lore, future content as well as allowing us with options for new gameplay elements.  The aim is to have a more varied feel between each vehicle model, with very visible advantages and disadvantages between them.  Moving forward we will attempt to create more mods as well as provide gameplay reasons for specific vehicles being used in relation to the tasks the players require to complete in mission.  


Therefore, in the next few weeks we will be unveiling the first of two new auto manufactures and their vehicles.  The first to be unveiled is the IO: GROWL, a new sports car to hit the streets of San Paro in a very long time.  This will be the first, of hopefully many new models that the players can purchase, earn or unlock.  With an opportunity for us to show something new, I figured a good way to promote this new addition would be to have (drum roll) BeardyD, the artist responsible for the GROWL to discuss the process of creating and implementing vehicles into the game. 

Take it away BeardyD   :-D 

A BASIC OVERVIEW OF VEHICLE ART DEVELOPMENT IN APB: RELOADED

Hey there, my name is BeardyD, I am one of the artists at Reloaded Productions. With the IO: Growl now unveiled, we thought it might be interesting if we discussed some of the procedures involved with creating it.

DESIGN AND MOCK-UP

Our first step was coming up with the vehicle we wanted to create. When MoK came into the office and proclaimed “What we need is a new vehicle (arm stretched and finger pointing), that can allow us to create something different for the future” and then doing his “sales pitch” for what the new car(s) should be and why we needed them that way.  My response was, “this guy is crazy” but he actually made sense.

Once we had decided on an initial design, we started with setting up a proxy for the new car. This consisted of a fully rigged asset that had a proxy mesh in place for each individual component. We started with this so we could test that the vehicle’s design would work within APB’s animation constraints, and also so that our design team could begin immediately on setting up some basic handling for the new car.

Before long we had a drivable asset in the game.


CREATING THE MAIN MESHES

After some initial testing and tweaks for the proxy, the next step was to create the main in-game asset (or LOD-0 as it’s referred to internally).

The LOD-0 started as an exterior shell, which was built as one mesh, smoothed out, optimized and then separated in to the various components required for the customization system. These components were then unwrapped and assigned a paint mask to support colour customization and decal projection. Anything that doesn’t support colour customization is mirrored to save on texture space, which is even more important in APB as our unwrap procedure differs from most as it needs to support our component mask system, which allows players to literally cut out and piece together various textures as custom components get added.

Smoothing groups are also set up to allow for a better normal map (which we’ll get to later).
After these new meshes have been imported in, the interior, base structure and wheels were then created in a similar manner.


HIGH POLY AND TEXTURE CREATION

With these meshes in and working as intended, the next step is to create the high poly mesh. We use a high poly mesh to generate normal and ambient occlusion maps (a procedure called “texture baking”). This helps smooth out surface shading and also provides the illusion of more texture detail.


With the base textures now generated, a final detail pass is done in Photoshop. It’s during this time that the specular map for the vehicle is also created.


EMISSIVE LIGHTING

With the main models now textured, the next step is to create the emissive maps and masks. The emissive maps are texture maps that are used to simulate lighting on the vehicle. We use one for the exterior (covering headlights, taillights, etc.) and one for the interior (covering interior lighting and dashboard panels). We also use masks for both so the lights can operate independently from one another. 


LEVEL OF DETAIL

At this stage, the LOD0 model is now considered complete and it’s now time to move on to creating the LOD1 meshes. The LOD1 meshes are low detail meshes that are assigned to each of the car’s individual components. These appear when the player is a certain distance from the vehicle so that we can prioritize detail whilst cutting down render costs.


DAMAGE MORPHS AND TEXTURES

The final stage for the main vehicle is the creation of damage morphs. Damage morphs are meshes which each component of the main vehicle references when damage occurs. We use multiple directions for vehicle damage in APB (Front-Left, Front-Right, Side-Left, Side-Right, Back-Left, Back-Right and Top) so there are a lot of meshes to create. We also have to ensure that there is no clipping with the base structure of the vehicle and that certain components are still snapped together correctly.


This entire procedure then has to be repeated for the LOD1 meshes.

We also use an overlay normal map and scratch texture that becomes more visible as the vehicle takes more damage. A dirt mask is also applied for when the car gets dirty.

EXTRAS AND FINALISATION

With the main vehicle now ready to go, we then begin adding extras such as more components, or in the case of Enforcers, police lights. All of which have to go through the same processes as described before.

We have to be careful when adding these components that they don’t add too many restrictions for any future content. As an example, Enforcer light positions restrict any future kit design we may do in the future, as all new versions of a component now have to support them.

With these added, the art development for the IO: Growl is now complete.


I hope you enjoyed the write-up from BeardyD and I thank him for the insight he has provided here.

That is all I have for today folks, till next time citizens,

MoK

33 comments:

  1. Wow, vehicle creation must be painstakingly long!
    Awesome job guys!

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  2. Nice. The video is good. The lighting looks great (but cut the grass in social will ya?). I was hoping to see some footage or more screenshots from the action districts as well though but I'll live.

    The TTK test districts are going to be interesting to try out.
    Also I'm digging this new sports car (Even though more "normal" cars would also be a nice addition).

    I really enjoyed reading BeardyD's part. It's interesting to learn about what is being done to the game and to hear it from the guys/gals doing it!

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  3. A very large part of the playerbase has felt for a long time that the HVR affects the game balance negatively, while not as many have issues with the TTK for example. Many feel the HVR does too much damage. Combined with its ease of use it lets players deal 850 damage easily on all ranges, which either instantly kills someone (if tagged by as little as one bullet) or takes them out of the fight for roughly 10 seconds within which about half of that time if the player is hit again he/she will instantly die. If the enemy has more than one HVR they can instantly kill you from 99 meters and with the mission spawn points sometimes being in line of fire with the mission objective points it lets you or the enemy do this 850 damage or insta kill (if more than one HVR is used) only 5 seconds after they are killed, which in certain mission stages removes all competitiveness, making the outcome of such missions based on being lucky with the mission type and spawn location. These three things in particular (damage, HVR stacking and line of fire spawns) is what makes the HVR feel unbalanced to the point of it being a weapon people use purely because they know it will give them more wins compared to any other weapon. Are there any plans for a HVR test prototype with lowered damage or further balancing the spawn locations for certain missions?

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  4. Is there any info on the console port we've been waiting quite a while and I personally would just like to know if it's keeping on schedule cause by the roadmap it should release by the end of august, although information has been slowly dripping out so there is no info.

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  5. So let me get this straight about the engine update.

    It's fancier grass, palm trees, and a lighting system. Yet, the model detail and texture detail remains the same.

    I'm underwhelmed. It's taken so long to get this update and quite frankly this is one of the reasons why me and my friends haven't come back to play yet. We are waiting on this update so that we can go back and tear up the streets of San Paro.

    I hope you guys have something better planned with this update because right now, it's a little disappointing.

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    Replies
    1. You have to understand that the Engine Update is primarily to improve performance and enable G1 to more efficiently modify and update the game. The fact that they are adding any graphical improvements at all on release is a bonus. I think the new textures, lighting, and environment models look good. Especially since the update is still in an Alpha state.

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    2. Really hope the update goes well though, so players come back to the apb community again.

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  6. so this car will be only available by G1C or what

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  7. Stop trying to hide your game-destroying ttk and stamina suggestions with a huge wall of text about the new car.

    The only reason this game has the small struggling population it does is because of the unique, nearly indescribable feel the game has when playing, combined with the sense of community, no matter how much people love to hate it.

    If you raise the ttk so that you can change the gun mechanics completely and add stamina, you are destroying the game. There's no other way around it. Your team clearly lacks the ability to draw players to the game on its own, so why would you risk losing members of the playerbase you have on the CHANCE that you gain new players, despite the fact that every old vet including myself will be telling everyone they know to avoid the game, it's been ruined?

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  8. oh let me guess, weapon drop mechanic was "Shelved" because "free players might get access to arams stuff !! oh noes !!".. G1 you did it again..

    also i would really really REALLY believe that IO Growl will be available for free. but yet again its G1.. they will "do it again"...

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  9. Pretty lame you guys removed the pickup/drop mechanic. Added a whole new dynamic. I had more fun picking up random guns that i normally wouldn't of used, but i guess thats no more....

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  10. Please make sure that all weapons are more accurate with the TTK test district. Making hitscan from guns less random is the most important part of what most people are asking for.

    Thanks!

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  11. Im not like Pretty much every other apb player i only see the good (I still notice the bad) But heres what i got from this 1 NEW CAR :D 2 NEW CAR : D 3 I was worried about weapon dropping ruining the game until it was probably balanced and they shelved it ... for now : ) and 4 im artistic and i love the new engine upgrade and the players should show how it increases fps cause most players only see that it makes the game pretty ^^ so far im positive towards g1's changes and even ttk made apb not fun i would still hang around in social ^^
    p.s make hvr do 200 damage at 10 meters ^^

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  12. The car is very beautiful but i think when you'll put the new engine you should think to change the civilian cars too.

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  13. Slower TTK is the only way. One of the most frustrating things about online gaming is being killed before you can even mentally react. Alot of games like Call of Duty love to employ a 50-80ms TTK, and the result is death making it to the player between ticks. This leaves the player feeling they were killed in one bullet, or before they even saw the guy come around the corner. You gotta figure that the average human takes 200ms to react to a change in scenery, then like 1-3 seconds to aim at the guy, then there's 100ms of average network latency in there. Having 500-700ms TTK's are perfectly fine by me. Any lower and you start falling into dice roll territory where the player has little input on the outcome of a fight.

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  14. Engine and the car look awesome but social needs a gardener to mow the grass

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  15. So you guys practically took a Corvette C7 base, put on it pointy-shaped bodykit and renamed it as "IO: GROWL"(Sounds more like an AXN series name more than a car, honestly). GM is going to be so happy about that...

    Well, it was matter of time till you guys introduced a new ride, but you have to be a little more creative.

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    Replies
    1. Well no sht, the cisco is basically a dodge viper, the vegas is a generic American muscle car, the jericho is a mustang, the rapier is a 370z, the espachio is a mercedes van and the pioneer is a hummer.

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    2. I think the Cisco is a BMW Z4M(it meets all sizes just right and I just put BMW logos in my Cisco), the Vegas is mostly based off an undersized Dodge Challenger/Plymouth Cuda(Just compare sides) and Rapier has Porsche 996 tail with some sort of Toyota Supra MK4 front. You're right about the last two, but in my personal opinion the Espacio looks like more a Hyundai H1.

      They really went blatant with the Corvette C7.

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  16. you guys must make the bishada for enforcers too

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  17. The engine update is looking great guys keep it up! loving the new and creative ideas from the developers, it is always good to go outside the box and breath some fresh air, this is what happens. Keep it up guys!, as for the growl, look amazing just hope it does not handle like a Jericho.

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  18. no info about the console version that sucks

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  19. Stamina sounds like a terrible idea...

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  20. the vehicle creation looks difficult even with 3d Max :)

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  21. Dear Development Team,

    Hello i wanted to comment on a couple things regarding the unreal engine. Once the new game engine is established and everything is installed into the platform will the dynamics of the environment change as in more things able to be destructable as in buildings when you hit it with cars, missles or granades....

    About Weather Dynamics

    Will you be able to add rain, snow, and other weather patterns into the environment since i think that would also be very interesting to play under bad conditions...

    When it comes to vehicles, i was thinking for police / military vehicles you should add some type of mesh to the sides of the vehicle like the pioneer where people can hang off the side like how swat does coming to do a raid on someones house in real life. like 4 characters on each side so incase you have a massive "backup" type of mission 8 people could attach to 1 vehicle depending on the type of vehicle and mods the vehicle has...

    Regarding Military Vehicles and Equipment so we got the enforcers and criminals there should also be a military type of faction built into the game as in military and militants and they also should have unique vehicles as in gun trucks, possibly APC type of tanks or armored vehicles, military clothing it would be great seeing possibly some mini helicopters like say in ARMA2-3 where they are called mini birds and 2 people could perch on each side of the helicopter and land on roofs or buildings etc...

    Game World Questions

    Now once the game engine is installed will you be able to add all districts to say 1 big map where the map could also handle more "clients" as in say instead of 50 each faction to 1 map say over 100 each side on each map since the map would be much bigger... something like a GTA5 type of massive map, would you be able to add water, boats, swimming and other type of missions that involve say diving water missions, scuba etc?

    Matt

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  22. The new car looks great, a suggestion would be that the stock version not have the bumpers, spoilers or vents on it please. I'm looking forward to what the other manufacturer is.

    The TTK discussion is good to have, but in my opinion I think TTK is fine as it is. Please do NOT lower the TTK - this is not Call of Duty where a pistol can one shot somebody. A lowered TTK would be awful and there would be a lower skill ceiling.

    The engine upgrade looks nice, though disappointed that there's little effect to models besides adding colour. Good job though.

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  23. All i can see is they turned the graphics settings down to zero and then turned them back up and added palm trees

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