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Saturday, December 29, 2018

State Of The Game (2018)

State Of The Game (2018)
Hi everyone,

As the New Year approaches, I thought it would be good to reflect on 2018, and then discuss what is planned for 2019.

Let’s take a look back at 2018:


This year brought a lot of change to Little Orbit. From my perspective there were many days where it felt like we were drinking from the fire hose. I appreciate the patience and help that we have received from the community. None of this would have been possible without supportive players like you.

May:

We announced our acquisition of GamersFirst and APB. It took a few weeks to sort out new forums, GDPR systems, new forum rules, new Terms of Service, and a new Customer Support site. I finished that month doing the Q&A with Kempington. For those that missed it, you can see it here https://www.twitch.tv/videos/265424620. This was my first experience doing anything like that, and I’m sure at least a couple memes were born that day, but overall, I had a good time.

June:

We launched BattlEye and cleaned out cobwebs from the code in order to deploy our first new build in months. I also put out our first public roadmap, which you can read here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/6/22/apb-roadmap. As a quick recap, I outlined several phases including (1) Infrastructure, (2) Unification, and then (3) Critical Mechanics / Minor Content update. I am pleased to say that for the most part we either stuck to that schedule, and in some cases we added to it.

July:

We ran our first sale for Independence Day and adjusted G1C to be 100 G1C for every $1 to make it easier for players to understand. I realize on the outside, this was a small thing, but the entire team got involved to learn how G1 pricing worked, how to give free Premium for the event, and how to message it properly to the players. We improved the Friends system, changed the networking system to help with DDoS issues, and started Weapon Balance testing on OTW. You can read that update here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/7/30/end-of-july-update.

August:

This month brought us the Showstopper, an exciting new addition to our arsenal.

September:

We launched the new Trading System, made a series of fixes to long standing issues, exploits, and bugs. This month also saw a bit of a hiccup - Weapon Balance. While not our best moment, we learned a lot and we changed the way we handled major changes going forward. You can read more about that here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/9/15/mid-september-update.

October:

We launched our first all-new event called Epidemic and re-worked ARMAS pricing. This was a significant departure from the roadmap, and I think we surprised a lot of people. The event wasn’t flawless, but I am proud of the Little Orbit team for getting this out on a tight schedule. It was critical for us to wrap our head around building more new content, spending time on cool rewards, and then structuring good ways for players to earn them. I also started a Developer Discussion area on the forums (https://forums.gamersfirst.com/forum/112-developer-discussion/) to discuss big community issues like Matchmaking, Cheating, and Updates. You can read about the ARMAS changes and Epidemic event here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/10/29/armas-marketplace-refresh-and-pricing-changes and here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/10/30/epidemic-walk-through.

November:

We launched Autumn Assault this month as an effort to try and reuse an older event with some new mechanics, and it just didn’t work as well as we planned. Ultimately, more player testing was needed. I also put out an update on the roadmap here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/11/21/updates-on-apb-development-progress.

December:

We closed out the year by re-forming the SPCT, adding two-factor authentication and the all-new Slay Bells event, which had new clothing items. I think it is our best event to date. We even did some marketing around the game. You can read about it here https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/12/7/new-apb-event-slay-bells.
At this point, Project #1 Infrastructure is done, and I’m also pleased to announce the Project #2 Unification is done for PC and nearly done for console. We substituted some of the Minor Content for Epidemic and Slay Bells, but I think we did well against the roadmap this year.

What’s coming in 2019:


There is a lot coming for APB in 2019, and this blog is already too long to map out an entire roadmap, but here are some of the highlights.

1) Transitioning APB PC to Unreal 3.5 To be honest, I had really hoped to get this on OTW before year end. We are so close.. but not quite there. We just staged all of the internal testing environment, and today was the first time I was able to log into this version. I am reasonably confident that a build will go to the SPCT team in January, and then based on feedback, we might have a public OTW build sometime in February. I want to set expectations properly - there are going to be bugs, and I expect OTW testing to take a while before this gets launched for the larger community.

2) New Unreal 3.5 builds for PS4 and XB1 This is the other major priority for Q1 2019. We are one library away from starting full QA testing so we can submit to Sony and Microsoft. I know we have a lot of console players who are struggling with that version of the game. I’ll continue to post updates on our progress.

3) New progression to sync PC and console Once we get all three platforms on the same code, we are going to release 2 new contacts with new in-game missions and rewards.

4) ARMAS refinements and progress The first phase was completed in October, and I’m looking to continue development here through Q1. We want to create the best place to get the cool gear you want to play your best.

5) New team Challenge Mode For those of you who participated in Epidemic and Slay Bells, you have seen the beginnings of what this mode can be. This will be a hybrid of Battle Royale and Territory Control mechanics where players get to choose the parts of the map that collapse. We are very excited about this new mode and look forward to sharing more with you as we get closer to its release some time in the first quarter.

There are more exciting developments in the works, but need just a little more time before we can reveal them so stay tuned. As always, we appreciate your ongoing support and are eager to bring you the best In APB.

Thanks,
Matt

Friday, December 7, 2018

New APB Event - Slay Bells

New APB Event - Slay Bells
A cold front has arrived, and the local criminals and enforcers are taking advantage of the snow to fight for supremacy in San Paro as it slowly freezes over.
As each round starts, checkpoints become available to capture. Your objective is to hold at least one checkpoint at the end of every round. If you do not, your team will lose a life. Each team starts with 3 lives. If your team gets down to 0 lives, they will enter a state of sudden death where any member killed will spawn as a ghost until your team gets a point. If they do not hold a checkpoint by the end of the round, the team is eliminated. If the entire team is killed before the end of the round, the team is eliminated. If you do happen to hold more than one checkpoint at the end of a round, you will gain a life for each checkpoint held over the first.
The game is played in two stages. During stage one, if your team is eliminated, the players on your team will be distributed onto teams that are remaining, but this will permanently reduce the number of teams. During the second stage, if your team is eliminated, you are out of the game. You will still be around as a ghost.
As the game progresses, blocks are chosen to be 'frozen'. Blocks that are currently frozen over are indicated on the map. While in that block, you will take damage indicated by the distinct weather change.
This continues till there is only one team remaining. Fight for your supremacy.
Special thanks to all our public play testers that helped test and submitted screenshots to help explain the event.

Here is a breakdown of the rewards:

NOTE: Activities work in both the Slay Bells event district and Beacon, so you can finish in 5 days.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Updates On APB Development Progress

Updates On APB Development Progress
Hi everyone,

I've gotten several requests to talk about our progress on the integration of Unreal 3.5 and our goal to merge the PC and Console codebases. I'll do my best to breakdown for you where we are currently and where we are heading on our path to upgrade and sync the game's core foundation.

FIRST, A LITTLE CONTEXT:


THE PC VERSION: Currently, APB is running on a heavily modified version of the Unreal 3.0 codebase. APB is made up of many custom systems including the personalization tools, symbol editor, music editor, and various modes of play. Due to supporting 3.0, this older version of Unreal only supports exporting these assets in a very limited number of formats.

THE CONSOLE VERSIONS: Currently, this version of APB is running on Unreal 3.5. This codebase was originally created for Xbox360 and PS3. (Epic has since funded external development to port their engine to XboxOne and PS4.) Due to this and development constraints, APB on Console is a bit more limited in scope. It was released without the music editor and minimal usability in the symbol systems. This has resulted in rendering bugs, slow frame rates and inconsistent textures.

The important thing to understand is that there is a significant difference between PC and Console versions. We are working to merge the two but still have some work in front of us to actually sync the codebases and align progression paths.

SECOND, LET'S TALK ABOUT WHERE WE ARE:


As it has been mentioned before, I don't think this is going to be a massive upgrade visually. Some players may not even notice. However Unreal 3.5 is built for 64-bit systems, and it has a multithreaded renderer, so my hope is that it will take advantage of newer GPUs and computers.

Reloaded had already done a lot of work on this upgrade before the consoles were released, however since the music editor was never included with console, it was also missing from the PC Unreal 3.5 code base. Additionally, there are also ~40 external libraries that needed to be upgraded.

At this point, we have finished rebuilding the music editor and all but one of the external libraries are upgraded. After that we know there are several graphical issues, and some frame rate issues we need to address.

Based on where we are in the process, I have recently started reaching out to specific community members about reforming the SPCT. Our goal here was to choose veteran players that covered a wide range of play styles who could devote time to testing with us and give in depth feedback. They are under NDA, none of them will be able to publicly discuss what they are working on.

[ ON A SIDE NOTE, PLEASE DON'T REACH OUT TO US TO JOIN THE TEAM ]


This early round of testing is to help us get performance stats across several hardware configurations, so we can compare against the current Unreal 3.0 PC build. It is my hope to start this in the month ahead on a locked down OTW server. From there, I really can't give an estimate on when we'll open access to that version of the game to regular players. It really depends on how testing goes. Even if we allow players onto OTW to help finish testing on Unreal 3.5 for PC in early January, I doubt this will be ready to launch publicly before the start of Spring 2019.

LASTLY, LET'S TALK ABOUT WHERE WE ARE GOING:


You can read more about the XboxOne and PS4 project back in my July update:
https://www.gamersfirst.com/apb/news/2018/7/30/end-of-july-update

In order to update each console, we must do the following:

  1. Upgrade the projects to the latest Visual Studio compiler
  2. Upgrade the manufacturer's SDK and integration
  3. Upgrade all the external libraries
  4. Testing end-to-end by our QA and then fixing the defects
  5. Certification testing by Microsoft and Sony and if they kick back the build, we go through a round of fixing and testing again
Last time I gave an update, we had already upgraded Visual Studio, and we had also finished the PS4 SDK. We were working on updating the XboxOne SDK, and we had about 32 external libraries to finish upgrading. As of today, we have finished upgrade the SDK, and we are down to ~11 external libraries remaining to upgrade for each console. Some of these are small and some are rather large.
Unlike upgrading an external library for PC (which is mostly done), the process is a bit different for console:

  • Add and configure new platforms and configs for PS4 and XB1
  • Get the code to compile for PS4 and XB1
  • Modify project files for maintainability to simplify upgrading in the future
  • Hook up the game to use the new library
  • Fix any compile or link errors
It's difficult to estimate how much longer we have. There are several developers working on the external libraries now. Based on how our progress has been so far, my best guess is one more month, but it could take as long as two. That means we will potentially start testing early next year. If that happens, then we might be able to submit for certification in the February 2019 window with an update shortly thereafter.

It's important to note that we just want to get the same build submitted and passed. There may be a couple small optimizations, but the plan is to pull in new content and fixes on our 2nd first party submission.

That means we're currently looking at a March or April target for 2019. Given where we started, I am pleased with the progress. As we get closer, I will keep you up tp date. Thanks for joining us on this exciting journey.

Thanks,
Matt

Friday, November 16, 2018

New APB Event - Autumn Assault

New APB Event - Autumn Assault
Autumn Assault is a near 3-week event running from Nov 19th through the 4th of December. During Autumn Assault we will be running daily Gun Game matches in each district. Nearly 100 chances to win the new ACCOUNT BOUND Weapon Skin!

Gun games are back but with a twist!

In Gun Games matches, players are assigned a pre-set weapon. You are tasked with scoring points for that weapon. Once you meet your goal, your weapon is replaced with the next weapon in order. This will continue until you have conquered the final challenge, at which point you win the game.

Here is how Gun Games matches work, in case you need a refresher:
  • Streak: In Streak, you are tasked with killing your opponents. The higher tiers require multiple kills without dying. Should you die your streak for that weapon is reset and you will need to start over from that same weapon.
  • Pistols: This Gun Game is a bit different from Streak. Instead of making sure you have multiple kills in a row, in here you earn points for kills and assists and once you reach the correct score, you are given the next weapon. As the name indicates, every weapon in this game will be a pistol.
  • Explosives: Explosives Gun Game works exactly the same as pistols but every weapon, except one special one, is a form of explosive.
  • Joker Box: The scoring system of Joker Box is the same as Pistols and Explosives, but for this game, you are given the legendary weapons that can be found in Joker Boxes. Score kills and assists with these legendary weapons and if you win, get the top rank, and already own the Autumn Assault skin in addition to the Joker Tickets you will also be awarded 10 special consumables that can be equipped and placed on the ground. Once placed on the ground it will spin around and explode throwing a number of temporary versions of Joker Box legendaries that can be picked up by nearby players.
For players who participated but did not win the match, they will be rewarded with Joker Tickets based on how high they ranked in the event. The top 2/3rds of players will receive 100 Joker Tickets and the remaining players will receive 50 Joker Tickets.

A series of three Gun Games will be spawned every day - that's three daily matches on Citadel, Nekrova and Jericho. Due to the system intensive nature of the explosive Gun Game match, we will only be running those on selected days which will be announced beforehand.

The explosive game requires you to have a very good PC as well as a very good connection to the internet otherwise your game experience might be affected.

The schedule for the Gun game matches will be published later this week.

During the Gun game matches, we will also be having a Social Media Challenge.

You will have to customize your character or your car to blend in with a background of your choosing (it must be in the game). Players will be able to redeem AUTUMNASSAULT to get 2-day premium! Read more about this challenge on our Facebook page or Twitter!

EVENT SCHEDULE

  • Daily 5:00 PM PST (Jericho)
  • Daily 5:00 PM UTC (Citadel)
  • Daily 5:00 PM Moscow (Nekrova) 


UNIQUE WEAPON SKIN

Autumn Assault skin

Autumn Assault skin

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Epidemic - Walk Through

Epidemic - Walk Through
Hi everyone,

Epidemic is here!


And with it comes a nefarious plot to poison San Paro's Residents and turn them Evil! Having discovered a dangerous contagion that will turn citizens into mindless zombies, an evil corporation has paid our players to spread it amongst the masses. Unbeknownst to them however, two other corporations have had the exact same plan, and are preparing to release their own pathogens.

Meet the three Epidemic teams:
Epidemic Teams

Here are some details and a quick rundown of how Epidemic works.

Epidemic Daily Activities:


We've created daily activities and rewards which will be randomly assigned once a day when entering this event. Complete these side tasks to gain extra rewards!

Start of the Game:


In the Epidemic District, there are three beginning territories (top, bottom left, and bottom right) that your character will randomly get spawned into and these represent the different starting points for the infection teams: Undedox, Zombicine, and Necrocite. Your team's color is in the team icon at the top of your HUD and there will be the same colored toxic gas surrounding you. Don't worry! Your team's toxin can't harm you.
Financial Epidemic


Game Goals:


1 Transportation of Toxin Barrels:

These are immediately available in your team's starting zone and need to be transported to neutral areas in order to spread your team's infection. Be warned: these barrels are filled with corrosive chemicals and can only temporarily carry the your team's virus. Once you pick up the barrel, it will slowly degrade and then eventually explode. They will take time to fully infect a neutral territory and they can also be destroyed by gunfire, which makes them vulnerable to attack. More barrels will spawn in captured territories, which will help you take your virus to even further places across the map. These barrels will be visible on your map as barrel icons.
Transportation of Toxin Barrels
2 Conquer Neutral Territories:

When the game starts there will be neutral territories that spawn and noted on your map as task checkpoints (shaped like a baseball diamond). Also, their borders will be blue. To start, there will be six neutral zones that need to be captured by placing your toxin barrel within its boundaries. As the teams increase their infection percentages, more neutral areas will become available for you to infect. The more areas your team controls the faster you'll reach 100% infection.
Conquer Neutral Territories
3 Protect or Destroy Captured Territories:

As soon as a toxin barrel is placed down inside a territory, the borders will change to the color of the team who is currently infecting it. Every captured territory will spawn a large barrel bundle somewhere within its borders and they keep the area infected. Once this bundle is destroyed, the territory will become neutral again and available for other teams to capture. These bundles are built with stronger materials and do not degrade over time. They are difficult to destroy and they are surrounded by toxic gas that will harm enemy players.
Protect or Destroy Captured Territories


End Game:


1 The fight to control Havalynd Central Memorial Park:

The first team to reach 100% infection will spawn the territory that needs to be infected to win. In order for your team to win Epidemic, they must reach 100% infection and capture the park.

2 Reached 100% infection:

If the park is still neutral, then all you have to do is lay down a small barrel and wait for it to complete it's infection timer to win. If the park is captured by an enemy team that's not at 100% infection, you must make the park neutral again before capturing it to win.
If your team is not at 100% infection yet, don't give up. Your team can still capture the territory, forcing the enemy teams to make it neutral again. Protect the captured territory to buy your team time to reach 100% infection and have a shot at stealing the win!
End Game
Thanks,
Matt

Monday, October 29, 2018

ARMAS Marketplace Refresh And Pricing Changes

ARMAS Marketplace Refresh And Pricing Changes
The first phase of the new Store Front be rolling out shortly so we wanted to take a moment a let you know about it.

Our initial focus has been on readability and discoverability for a more enjoyable browsing experience. You will notice the main (featured) page has been redesigned and modernized with the following changes:
New Armas Marketplace
  • FEATURED CAROUSEL - We now have featured items rotating atop the main page to highlight the new and cool items available.
  • LARGER ITEM CARDS - In addition to being bigger, items on the main page are now categorized and scrollable for better browsing.
  • STREAMLINE NAVIGATION - The navigation bar as been updated to reflect how users search, grouping similar categories.
  • WEEKLY FEATURED ITEMS – Check back each week, because we have started featuring selected items with a limited time discount.
  • OVERALL PRICE DROPS – We took the time to review the first batch of our pricing and have standardized in a number of categories, bringing down the overall cost by as much as 20-50%!
More is coming in the weeks ahead. We will be refreshing the individual item pages in addition to the presentation of the items themselves so stay tuned. We hope you enjoy this and continue to look forward to making ARMAS that best place to get all your APB gear.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Getting back to the Fun

Getting back to the Fun
Hi everyone,

We're now exactly five months into taking over the game. Lots of work has gone on behind the scenes with new forums, new website, new anti-cheat, improved DDoS protection, new Trading System, new Weapon Balance, and a slew of other smaller changes.

The work on unifying the code in Unreal 3.5 is ongoing, but the holidays are here, and I want to re-focus on the most important part of APB that we haven't spent a lot of time on... Fun. APB is a game, and we haven't been great about offering players anything new in a while. So we're changing that.
The team did some brainstorming, and we were able to take some bits and pieces of RIOT mode and work some overtime to turn them into some new events for this year's holiday season.

That's right.

From October through December, players will be able to engage in NEW modes and content to earn special rewards.

There is a lot coming up, so for this update, I'm just going to focus on October and November.

Halloween Costume Contest

Next week we are going to announce the rules and rewards for our Halloween creative contest. This will be a fun way to get into the spooky spirit leading up to our first major new holiday event.

Epidemic Event (PC)

Happening in late October, a nefarious plot begins to poison San Paro's Residents and turn them Evil! Having discovered a dangerous contagion that will turn citizens into mindless zombies, an evil corporation has paid our players to spread it amongst the masses. Unbeknownst to them however, two other corporations have had the exact same plan, and are preparing to release their own pathogens.
Players are assigned to one of three teams, each starting in one corner of the district. From here, they will work together to carry poison barrels throughout the district, protecting them until they can infect each block. This takes over the block for your team, and provides the team more barrels to carry and spread the toxins further. Be the first team to reach 100% infection rate in the district and capture the central block to win the event.

Complete unique Daily Challenges during this event and level up your Epidemic role. Keep coming back to gain access to new spooky rewards and a second chance to win some that you may have missed in previous years.

Headless Horseman (Xbox One & PS4)

Starting on October 30th, the pumpkins and Headless Horseman will return to San Paro. The rules are simple:
  • Collect X amount of pumpkins to become the HORSEMAN and start the event).
  • The HORSEMAN must kill other players to convert them HORSEMAN'S army (SOLDIERS).
  • SOLDIERS must kill other players to recruit them into the HORSEMAN'S army.
  • SURVIVORS must avoid being killed, till time runs out (Timer Ends).
NOTE: Survivors blip on the Horseman's army's radar when the bell tolls, signifying that the Horseman Event is coming to an end...keep fighting, running or hiding to survive.

New Gun Games (PC)

Starting in November, GMs will be entering action districts and starting one of several variations of the Gun Games event. Compete with other players to kill with each weapon in a number of uniquely themed weapon sets. Participating in the Gun Games will earn you Joker Tickets, and winning the event will win you the coveted Butcher Weapon Skin.

Stay tuned, and we'll be releasing more details on all of these events as we get closer.

Thanks,
Matt

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Mid-September update

Hi everyone,

I'm very excited to walk through the next big patch coming on 9/19 for PC. I'll get to console at the end. We are making progress, but unfortunately we're not in a position to submit to Microsoft or Sony yet.

Patch 1.19.7

Weapon Balance

One of the biggest things tentatively scheduled for the patch is the Weapon Balance. Again, I take responsibility for how poorly this was handled. I got excited and rushed it out, and then we slapped a bad Band-Aid on it to gain the time to properly finish. I know Beastie has put in a lot of time tweaking stats to help shape the meta where we want it, and I feel like after weeks of testing, we're very close.

On Sunday 9/16 we are going to have another 'Play with the devs' event. 

Please come join us on Jericho in the prototype A district at 12PM noon PDT.

Above, I said we are 'tentatively' rolling out these changes, because while we hope this will be the last test before we patch shotguns and rifling, we also are open to the idea that we could still get major feedback and need to remove Weapon Balance from the patch.

I know sometimes we get quiet, or it feels like we're not listening. I assure you that is not the case. It is just sometimes hard to jump on the forums each day to communicate everything that is happening in real-time.

The exact plan for the patch is to integrate the Test-A changes to Shotguns along with the improvements to Rifling. There are specific other weapon changes/nerfs that we are not ready to rollout yet. The shotgun changes partially retract some of the things we did previously, keeping their benefit while reducing the extreme effectiveness we’ve been seeing with them on live in the last couple of weeks. The changes also allowed us to tweak in other ways, reducing the fire rates of the JG and CSG, allowing them to be effective at close range while now clearly losing out to SMGs in a straight up TTK fight, necessitating dodging or cover to gain an edge. Rifling is now partially percentage based, which helps it affect longer range weapons more.

For Weapons the changes from 1.19.6 are:
  • Strife: Damage 55 (from 80). Total Damage 931 (from 858). Effective Range 15m (from 7.5m) Min Damage Range 25m (from 15m).
  • CSG: Damage 40 (from 70). Total Damage 620 (from 614). Fire Interval 0.77 (from 0.68). Spread 75 (from 85). Ramp Distance 10m (from 7.5m).
  • DOW: Damage 60 (from 80). Total Damage 424 (from 471). Pellet Scale 0.9 (from 0.86)
  • JG: Damage 85 (from 140). Total Damage 775 (from 700). Fire Interval 0.73 (from 0.68).
  • Shredder: Damage 65 (from 100). Total Damage 394 (from 482). Fire Interval 0.42 (from 0.37)
For Improved Rifling the changes from 1.19.6 are:

Upside Changed from +2.5m, +5m, +7.5m to +5% then +1m, +10% then +2m, +15% then +3m
NOTE: We also fixed an issue with hitreg that will be in this patch.

Trading System

Other than BattlEye, this is the first entirely new system that we've added to the game. 

We hit a couple unexpected snags, so it's a bit later than I had hoped. But I'm very proud of the team for the design, and I'm genuinely excited to roll it out.

This system will allow players to directly trade weapons and in-game money without any system tax. It has been on OTW for a little over a week, and my goal is help reduce the number of scam tickets for Support that are very intensive to solve. 

NOTE: There may still be bugs and exploits. I want to caution players from attempting to take advantage of a flaw they might find. Please just let us know so we can fix it as soon as possible. 

Exploit Fixes

The last major part of this patch is a series of fixes for long standing exploits in the game. 

I want to thank our new Associate Producer ShyLO, Androvald, and several community members who sent us thoroughly documented exploits and how to reproduce them. This has enabled us to address a number of long standing hacks players have been using to cheat in-game.


Future Items

Console & Unreal 3.5 Progress

Next, I thought I would take some time to walk through exactly where we are with console and Unification, so players have a better sense of what we're working on. Fortunately a lot of what we're doing to get console back on track also helps with the Unreal 3.5 upgrade for PC since they share the same codebase.

First, in order to submit a new console build, we have to integrate Microsoft and Sony's SDKs (Software Developer Kits) that allow the game to work on those platforms. It's been long enough now that we are at least 2 major versions behind the current libraries. Neither group will allow us to submit until we update. 

But to get the new SDKs to work, we had upgrade all the supporting "External" libraries that are also used by the game. There 65 externals that all needed to be updated, altered to work, recompiled, and then tested. 

We have now fully upgraded all 65 of those libraries and re-integrated with the game. We're working through the XB1 and PS4 SDKs to get those working now.

Once we have that done, then we'll do a round of testing, submit the build to our console publisher, and then it will get submitted to Microsoft and Sony. Hopefully, if we have done everything correctly, they will approve the builds, and we can push them live.

NOTE: these builds wont have any of the new features or content that we have introduced since we took over. These are just updated versions of what is already on the platforms. There might be small improvements based solely on upgrading the libraries, but it's important that we get the cobwebs cleared for console just like we did for PC. 

This will also be the basis of the PC Unreal 3.5 build.

From there we have about 56 GPU/Engine optimizations that were shelved by previous Reloaded developers before we took over. Each of these need to be examined and either implemented correctly or removed. These optimizations will help the game run better on PC and console. They involve a bunch of different things like memory management, scene management, texture quality, optimizing draw calls, instancing, and other more modern ways of rendering games.

We also have a couple 3D art tasks that need to be finished, and we need to implement a couple missing systems like the Music Editor for Unreal 3.5.

Once these are done, we will likely try to submit another build for XB1 and PS4 which contain these improvements.

Then we'll port all the new features and content like the Trading System, Weapon Balance, Showstopper, new Network Code, and more into the Unreal 3.5 source. That needs to get tested, and that will be the first build for XB1 and PS4 that will have content updates.

This is likely where we will open up access to the PC Unreal 3.5 version for Premium players on a special version of OTW, so we can start beta testing and collecting bug reports.

The last piece of the puzzle for Unification and PC Unreal 3.5 is to align the progression between console and PC. Since there were differences, Reloaded changed the rewards on contacts to give out different things. We plan on implementing two new contacts across all platforms to balance things out and make sure they are aligned again.

Many players have asked me "When will Unreal 3.5 launch?" and so far I have avoided the question because I didn't have good enough clarity on all the steps. However, I'm going to answer it to the best of my ability today.

It is my sincere hope to finish all of this before the end of the year. Just know that there are a million places along the way that might change that schedule.


As always, we appreciate your support.

Thanks,
Matt

Monday, July 30, 2018

End of July Update

Hi everyone,

First, let me express my appreciation for the patience you guys have shown with Little Orbit as we ramp up on APB. We are new at this point, and we're learning. Despite some pretty big networking infrastructure challenges this month, we are making progress.

Second, last month I posted our Roadmap. If you didn't get a chance to review, you can see it here: https://apbreloaded.gamersfirst.com/2018/06/apb-roadmap.html

Lastly before I get started, I'm more interested in clear communication than I am about hype. Today we're not talking about the new mode or Unreal 4. I think it's far more important to update the players on our progress in the Roadmap including a brief update on XboxOne and PlayStation 4 development.

Build 1.19.6 is now available to all players on our Open Test World. Once you log in and create your account, you'll have a bunch of in-game emails waiting with all the weapons in the game to play with. In order to access that system, you need to download an alternate installer for the game. You can download the OTW version of APB here:
http://apb.patch.ot.gamersfirst.com/APB_OTW_Installer.exe

General update for Project #1 - Infrastructure:

For May and June, we focused on 1.19.5 updates that cleaned up leftover issues from G1. For July, I am pleased to announce that we are opening access to our first major update to PC (1.19.6).

This build includes some quality of life changes along with some basic new content including:

- Improvements to networking
This is an ongoing effort to help clean up some of the last changes G1 made back in September of 2017. We've made several changes that need to be tested in a larger environment, and we're going to experiment with opening districts back up to 100 players.

- Fixes to Friends system
We found several bad problems with this system that allowed players to grief other players. You will now need to accept friend invites before a friend is added to your account. No other players can see your exact location till you accept the invite - including on the player search feature.

Alongside this fix we are opening the ignore list for all players to the max size instead of continuing the practice of charging for expanded slots.

NOTE: This will require us to wipe friends list once we push it into production.

- Overall weapon balance pass
I've posted about these changes on our forums, so I wont go into detail in this blog, but you can review my original post here.
https://forums.gamersfirst.com/topic/2439-upcoming-weapon-balance-changes/
These changes are in Baylan A and Baylan B when you log in. Please excuse the weird messaging in Baylan B, we'll fix that in the next couple days. The weapon balance is different between these two districts. We are A B testing them, so try both.

As I said on the forums, the overall goal was to focus on positive weapon changes and help build distinction between categories so we can make sure each of them feel different. This is a little exploratory for us, and it's just a first pass. I expect there will be a couple rounds of iterations before we find the sweet spot. We hope you'll get on OTW, test the changes, make notes on how everything feels, and then let us know.

- New weapon: Showstopper
Lastly we've introduced an entirely new gun. This is our first piece of new content. It's important that it was small and manageable for us to learn how to get it in properly. We'll be providing more details on this gun shortly.

Stats are not final. We'll be adjusting these over the next couple days.



Moving forward we are now focused on testing and deploying 1.19.6 for all players on PC.

We're also making significant progress with 1.19.7 and the new trade system. I'm very excited about this feature, not only because I feel it will help promote the amazing customization system and how it applies to items in the game. But also because scam tickets account for nearly 1/3rd of our customer support issues.

Here is a quick work in progress screenshot.



General update for Project #2 - Unification:

This project focuses on unifying all platforms on Unreal 3.5.

This is where I'm going to talk about PS4 and XB1.

We are currently updating the console versions to the latest first party libraries. We're done with the Playstation 4 work, and the team is working on XboxOne. It's been a while since either platform had an update, so unfortunately we need to resubmit everything from scratch to bring them up to standard.

I want to take this time to acknowledge all of the console players who have reached out with their frustrations. I feel pretty comfortable with our PC development schedule now, so my focus is to get the console platforms under control.

These builds require a few extra steps than PC - which is why we haven't yet done an update. I do want to set some expectations. As soon as we're done with upgrading the XboxOne version, we'll do some internal QA. Once that passes, then we'll work with Deep Silver to submit both builds. It is my goal to get into submission by the end of August. Then it takes a couple weeks to get reviewed and pushed live. I seriously doubt we'll get an approval the first time through.

Regardless I'll update the console players next month on our progress.

For the PC Unreal 3.5 build, we're mostly fixing fairly specialized bugs in the art and in the graphic engine pipeline. 

We are in the process of bringing on 2-3 more devs to focus on some of the remaining unification tasks. These sorts of issues are hard to give time estimates for.

I'm not interested in holding this back from players. As soon as we're confident that an Unreal 3.5 build is actually playable, whether its good, bad or ugly, we will do the same thing we're doing today. We will update OTW, make that build available, and let you guys get in and play with it.

You can discuss this on our forums here:
https://forums.gamersfirst.com/topic/3068-end-of-july-2018-update-1196-on-otw/

Thanks,
Matt

Friday, June 22, 2018

APB Roadmap

Hi everyone,

Today, I'm going to attempt to outline our Roadmap and approach, so you guys can see our priorities for what we're working on.
This is a little overdue, and I apologize for that. I gave what I thought was a decent overview of the APB Roadmap on the Q&A, but since then several players have expressed that they would like to see something a bit more formal.
I'm going to divide the Roadmap into Projects. Some of these occur in parallel using different teams and team members, but I'm going to list them in chronological order here.
As a side note, most of this early development focuses on PC for a number of reasons. APB console currently has a different publisher, so we have to jump through some hoops when submitting those builds to Microsoft and Sony. That slows things down. But more importantly, we're trying to align the PC version with the console versions to consolidate everything on Unreal 3.5. That means that the bulk of the work is focused on PC.

Project #1: Infrastructure (1.19)We're about halfway through this project. It's everything we feel we need to get out of the way before diving into Unreal 3.5.
Version 1.19.5 (PC Only)
For the month of May and June, we've been focusing on cleaning out the cobwebs. It took a little bit of time just to get a PC build through QA and out the door properly. This version focused on eliminating as many of the cheat opportunities in the game.
- Integration with new client-side Anti-cheat
- Some exploit fixes (coming up in the next patch)
Version 1.19.6 (PC Only)
This version focuses on some quality of life changes for players.
- Fixes to networking to help lag
- Overall weapon balance pass
- Fixes to Friends system
- Update to visual design of ARMAS to help with navigation
- Dropping unpopular items from ARMAS
Version 1.19.7 (PC Only)
This version focuses on some quality of life changes for players.
- New Trade System for players to move items and money back and forth without getting scammed
Version 2.1.0 (Consoles Only)
We need to do some basic console SDK upgrades that have to be completed before we can submit any new changes. Our goal is to get this out of the way in July.
Notes on Project #1:
We also plan on supporting Two-Factor Authentication in this Project.

Project #2: Unification (2.2)This project focuses on bringing the PC version up to Unreal 3.5, and then optimizing and adding some features to the console versions. Some of this work will start in July.
Version 2.2
There is quite a bit here that I'm not going to specifically list. This version focuses on the remaining bits of Unreal 3.5 for PC. But it also includes:
- Fix crashes on console related to memory handling
- Fix level optimizations
- Fix bad frame rate for dynamic lights / night lights / day night cycle
- Fix level collision meshes
- Add music studio to PC/console for Unreal 3.5
Notes on Project #2:
It looks like we will be dropping support for Windows Vista when we upgrade APB PC to Unreal 3.5. Microsoft officially stopped supporting Vista in April 2017, so it just isn't worth the extra development time for us.

Project #3: Critical Mechanics / Minor Content (2.2.1)This isn't as far out as you think, but we have some content planned including progression changes, 1 new gun and 1 new vehicle.

Alongside all of this, our 2nd team is working on Unreal 4. This will not be a short project, but it has lots of milestones along the way. We are initially focused on getting the third person shooter mechanics of APB up and running in one of the existing districts. From there we'll start layering on customization and other systems.
I plan on doing regular updates to this Roadmap, and hopefully a dev blog to show off things we're excited about.

Thanks,
Matt

Thursday, June 7, 2018

June 2018 Anti-cheat Update!


Hi everyone,

We're coming up on nearly 30 days, and I am excited to announce that we will be releasing our first patch.

Just to set expectations there is one major outstanding bug, so I'm not 100% positive this will be ready, but with a little testing we should be ready to go. We expect to lock servers at 4am Pacific / 11am UTC, and there will be 6 hours of downtime for patching and testing.

One of our players provided these links to track the exact time in your timezone:

Server going down:
https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=SERVERS+GOING+DOWN&iso=20180608T11&p1=1440
 
Server coming back up (expected):
https://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?msg=APB+UNBAN&iso=20180608T17&p1=1440

BattlEye:

This is the first big step in rebuilding this game as a fun, safe environment to play. Our new client-side anti-cheat is the biggest addition in this update. Our initial implementation should handle a majority of situations, but you can expect that we will continue tweaking this until we're happy with the results.

FairFight unbans:

In my Q&A I mentioned that I had done a lot of research into many of the FairFight bans, and due to a number of factors, I found many permanent bans that were either blatantly incorrect or too subjective for my comfort level. As of this release, we will be unbanning a significant of those players because it's impossible for me to tell who cheated and who didn't. For most players, you should be able to log in on Friday and access these older accounts. If you didn't get unbanned, you are welcome to send in a support ticket, but it will take some time for us to address these, so please be patient with us.

Stripping unbanned accounts:

The community has been very vocal about the fact that we will be unbanning known cheaters. This is unavoidable, even though we know those accounts abused the system and their opponents to their own personal gain. After some consideration, I have decided that all unbanned accounts will be stripped of the following:
- APB$
- Joker Tickets

I realize this will also penalize some of the honest players who were banned unfairly, but it's the only way I can see to make sure we don't flood the game with accounts that have unfair advantages.

Next steps:

I'll be collecting notes from the devs over the weekend, and I'll post the timeline and focus of our next update soon.

Thanks,
Matt

Friday, May 25, 2018

Two week update: Q&A notes from my stream

Hi everyone,

I want to start by thanking everyone who came out for the stream today. I had a great time chatting with Kempington. He was a gracious host and put a lot of behind-the-scenes effort into pulling off the broadcast. The community asked many thoughtful and direct questions, and I know he and Lixil tried to include as many as they could.

Before I jump in, I want to talk a little bit of how I like to approach problems.

I like clear solutions that can be largely enforced through objective systems and infrastructure. If an exploit exists, then we should be trying to fix it. Make no mistake, that doesn't give players license to abuse it. Our terms of service clearly state you should report it and that we can ban you for exploiting. However, that also means we shouldn't leave these kinds of problems around for years on end either.

Here are the questions and answers from today:


1. Will you be changing the cheat detection? If so, will you be looking to unban players from the past? Will there be ban broadcasts in future?


The cheating problem in APB is complex. It's a hard game. Our players like it, because it has a unique combination of gameplay that takes a while to master. Managing recoil. Leaning around cover points. Switching weapons for various conditions.

Cheating robs everyone of that experience.

I fully understand the desire to want to put on some training wheels to make your own gaming experience a little more fun. Wall hacking. Smooth aim. No recoil. I get it. But ask yourself what are you afraid of? Being embarrassed? Losing a match? Isn't that how we get better?

We are committed to creating a fair, fun environment to play the game. So, I am very excited to announce that we are implementing Battleye as our client-side cheat solution. It's used by Fortnite, PUBG, and many other games. The implementation is mostly done, and we hope to include it in our next patch. We will be keeping our internal cheat detection and our server-side cheat detection and continue to tune them as well.

Now the second part. Unbanning.

This has been a complicated decision. One part of the community feels that cheaters have ruined the game and that they deserve to stay banned. The other part of the community feels they have been unjustly banned.

For me, this comes down to a single question: “Has the cheating/banning policy been enforced objectively or subjectively?”

In an ideal world, everything is black and white. I've spent the last couple weeks working alongside customer support, talking to players, vetting logs, and testing our cheat detection myself.
The results were conclusive.

Our current system is inaccurate and capable of automatically banning players who are not cheating. I also found a lot of instances where bans were enforced subjectively. That means the punishment or lack thereof was largely at the discretion of the GM or CS person.
In order to grow, we need consistency.

With that in mind, I am going unban a significant portion of the player base.

Before you get too excited or disappointed, let's establish a couple expectations.
  • This isn't going to happen until we release the next patch with Battleye.
  • Please do not contact support asking to be unbanned. That will happen automatically when we're ready, and then we'll message the player base.
  • We will not be unbanning players that violated other parts of our terms and conditions. For instance, credit card fraud or other forms of illegal activities.
My hope is that players will see this for the opportunity it is and come enjoy the game. If they choose to cheat, then we have given fair warning, and we will ban them again.

Lastly, we will not be broadcasting, tweeting, or publicizing bans. We are not proud of banning or catching cheaters. Banning is a failure. It means someone has left the game, and while that person may have clearly violated the rules, it still means we lost a player.


2. Can you give us a rough roadmap on what you plan on working on first? Is the Engine upgrade to 3.5 a priority/first on the list? What can we expect?


Our project for the last two weeks has been "Infrastructure".

We identified a couple key areas such as customer support, anti-cheat, and the forum systems, and we upgraded them to help provide a better base for us to grow on. The PC version has not seen a patch in 9 months. We are clearing the cobwebs, upgrading old licenses, and getting testing processes back in place. We have a little more to do on this including 2FA to help secure accounts better, and a couple other items.

Our next project is "Unification".

We will be completing the upgrade to Unreal 3.5, which will  benefit both the PC players by incorporating a lot of optimizations that the console version received, and also improving the console version by filling out the missing features. This will also include some optimizations to help the game run better, and we will be cleaning up a lot of code.

There are a slew of other things we want to do, but trying to implement any new content onto the top of what we have would be a mistake, so I prioritized this piece first. I'm not going to give a time estimate, but I will give periodic updates on our progress. I will also say that we have an entirely separate team working on the Unreal 4 upgrade. They are starting from an empty project and then migrating one system at a time.

Beyond Unification, we will be focusing on "Critical Mechanics".

This will be a hard core look at some of the long standing issues in the game that need fixing.
Alongside this project, I'd like to do a "Minor Content" update. Just a small project to get back into the content generation tools. We'd like to get a new weapon in the game. Possibly some new clothing items. Possibly a new vehicle. I doubt they will be crazy innovative, but we need to start somewhere.
And then I'd like to do a "Major Content" update.

A new map and/or a new mode. We have plenty of these systems that were already in the works, and some that were nearly finished.

Hopefully we will catch up with the Unreal 4 team at this point, and we'll be able to cut over.


3. Will ARMAS pricing in the future be changed? If so how. On the subject of micro-transactions, how do you plan on tackling the Pay 2 Win stigma that’s been haunting this game for a long time?


I have spent some time looking at this, and this is another polarizing question.

I personally don't feel that APB is Pay 2 Win. The weapons don't make that big of a difference on whether you win or lose. Not every weapon can be used in every situation. A very skilled player will nearly always win regardless of whether an unskilled player has bought the best weapons they can get.

However, that stigma exists for a reason.

In my opinion I think the balance/costs on ARMAS do need to be examined. We have a designer coming in who will be make a pass to balance the pricing of the store. I do want players to feel that we're being fair and not trying to gouge them for money.


4. With the upcoming changes to the CoC and ToS, what areas are going to be scrutinized the most? How will in-game behavior be moderated in the future? What’s the stance on nudity, such as player made symbols and clothing?


I really feel like this question is better answered by Lixil, but I'll answer this question from a high level standpoint.

First, you're going to see us in-game more. So expect to interact with the GMs.

Second, I love the immense creativity at the heart of APB. Personalizing your character, weapons, and vehicles is one of the aspects of this game that makes it fun. Overall, I don't want to dampen that creativity. However we have limits. This is a game. Nudity doesn't have a place here, and it's not allowed. Hate speech or symbols are also not allowed.

Use some common sense, and you'll be fine.


5. De-threating. Will you be looking to tackle this phenomenon, if so how? Will changes to the threat system be made to assist this?


At the end of the day, this comes down to proper matchmaking and creating fair fights.

This is one of those long standing systems that needs to be changed. I want to dig in more deeply, but we are committed to better matchmaking.


6. Will there be a live stream dedicated to Dev updates / Dev Vlog to show active process and work on the game?


I love this idea, and based on the reaction to today's stream, I want to make it happen.

I think the best way for us to build trust with the community is to do what we say we are going to do. Showing off progress is a great way to do that.


7. Will the original login screen, along with some of the previous music within the game, be making a return?


I think so - or some close variation.

I need to check a couple of things like music rights to make sure we can still use that track. Admittedly I had the login screen music track playing on a loop from YouTube for a portion of May 10th. It's a great vibe to start the game with.


8. Will you be addressing the poor performance and optimization on the console versions of the game?


First, I have to apologize, because I saw the Xbox and PS4 forums, but I didn't realize they couldn't post in the main Social Discussion. We've corrected that in the new forums, so console players can better participate in the community.

Second, yes. There are a bunch of areas that we should be improved on the consoles. By unifying the code base, I think we can put more attention on this. The console players need some love.


9. Are there going to be any further extensions to the ignore/friend lists? Will this system be changed at all, if so how?


I have spoke with the dev team, and there is a small "cost" to the database size for friends and ignores, so we can't make these lists infinite.

However I'm a not a big fan of charging for more ignore or friend slots. I don't know when we will be able to address this, but I'd like to increase the size of the lists and just give that to everyone for free.

Other Questions:


1. What is your stance on the prestige/notoriety system (bounty system). Do you plan to make any amendments to this?


This needs work.

I understand what the designers were going for, but the current system has a lot of feel-bad moments for higher skilled players. Mainly I don't think anyone outside the opposing team should be able to interfere with you when you're in a mission.


2. Will the Refer-A-Friend system be making a return? Do you plan to make any changes to it?


I haven't given this a lot of thought yet.

We do need to implement something that helps players share the game with their friends to help us grow APB.


3. A lot of players are curious to the future of the weapon balance in this game. Do you plan on making changes to the weapons in the near future?


This is tricky.

We are going to have a designer make a pass through the game, but I would expect only minor tweaks to help balance things. My general feeling is that most weapons are decently balanced now, and its a lot easier to mess that balance up than to improve it.


4. In the distant future, will character server transfers be possible?


Character server transfers current have a lot of pitfalls.

I wish it were an automated system, but more often than not when we move characters it screws up some aspect of their customizations. Symbols. Facial features. Clothing items. If we can solve these issues, then I would love to make this available to players with some limitations, because I think it would help our server populations, but we need to do some serious work on it first.

As a side note, we will be migrating the Han players to Jericho. This wont happen immediately because of the issues I mentioned above, but I want to give the Asia/Pacific players a larger pool of players to interact with.


5. Players are eager to see a proper trading system in the game be implemented. Is this a possibility?


Yes. This comes down to infrastructure. It shouldn't be possible to scam players. That's bad system design.

However, trading securely leads to other problems that we need to think through. It's possible that we may need to build in waiting periods or trade locking mechanisms to manage abuse.


6. What plans do you have to improve the competitive scene of the game?


I'm going to be more vague about this.

There are some things in the works that I hope come to fruition. If they do, then I'll point back to this stream and say, "that's what I was talking about". But we are definitely looking at new modes for the Major Update.


7. Are there any changes coming for Joker Boxes due to potential gambling legislation?


For those that aren't aware, the Netherlands and Belgium have approved laws that define Loot Boxes or any randomized reward system as gambling based on specific criteria.
We are watching this fairly closely.

I like the Netherlands approach, because they have specific guidelines and timelines to help publishers get into compliance. Belgium not so much. Most likely we will keep the Joker Box system, but the rewards wont be tradable, which means the price may go down.


8. Will GamersFirst approve the use of shader configs or the Advanced Launcher?


No. This is a super slippery slope.

Once we allow players to modify parts of the game, then how do we detect cheater-based changes from these more innocuous changes? That makes our investment into Battleye useless.

However, I do believe GamersFirst needs to solve the problems that these things address. We need to allow players to change the color of the crosshairs in-game for colorblind people. We need to add a lower graphics processor setting to help people with less powerful machines.

Thanks again to everyone who participated and volunteered questions.

Sincerely,
Matthew Scott

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Changes in Community Management and Customer Support

Hello G1 Community,

It's Day #5, and I want to thank everyone for reaching out with their support and enthusiasm. Please know that we are reading and digesting all the feedback that has come in. I'm not quite ready to walk through our new policies, but we are making progress.

We said that we would be making changes, and that starts today.

NEW COMMUNITY MANAGER

First, we are announcing that Tiggs will no longer be the GamersFirst Community Manager, Customer Support Manager, and Producer.

She has decided to transition into an advisory/training capacity and will be helping onboard the Little Orbit staff to get everyone up to speed on the many tools and systems that go into running GamersFirst, APB: Reloaded, and Fallen Earth. Personally, I want to thank her for the years of very difficult service that she provided. At times she was a one-woman show, running all of these departments by herself. She has a dedicated set of GMs that will remain in-game to help players and respond to tickets. Over the next couple weeks we'll be adding GMs to make sure we're more available.

I don't want to setup our new staff for the same problems and hard ships of the past.

I've already stated that we will be announcing a new set of policies including the Forum Rules, Code of Conduct, Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy. These will have simple straightforward wording designed to help players understand the rules. Our intention is to create a safe place for people to get the full enjoyment of our games, and I want our players to know exactly why corrective action occurred for any issues they might face in the future.

With that in mind, I would like to introduce everyone to Lixil, Little Orbit's current Community Manager. Some of you noticed her logging in and reading the forums. Effective immediately she will be taking over management of social media, the forums, its mods, the GMs, and our volunteer programs.

Also as part of this transition on Friday the 25th we will be putting up a brand new version of our forum software. The team is working hard to QA test that system now. As I mentioned in my Open Letter, we wont be deleting these forums. We will move them to a new URL, and any player who wants to repost any thread is welcome to move it over.

NEW CUSTOMER SUPPORT MANAGER

Second, we are announcing that Selali will be expanding his role as Little Orbit's Customer Support Manager and taking over GamersFirst Support. He will be running customer support along with his internal CS and QA team.

As part of this transition on Friday the 25th we will be launching an entirely new Support Site with a new knowledge base and the ability for players to track their tickets.

Lastly, I also want to acknowledge the lengthy "Questions for Matt" thread on the forums. I'm not ignoring those, as the CEO of Little Orbit I have a couple other priorities that absorb my time. But I still plan on slowly starting to answer those questions as we keep moving forward.

Feel free to comment.

Here is the forum thread for APB: Reloaded.

Here is the forum thread for Fallen Earth.

I look forward to sharing more information with you soon.

And of course, thank you for your patience and support.

Sincerely,
Matthew Scott

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Open Letter to the APB: Reloaded Community

Hello APB community,

My name is Matthew Scott and I’m the CEO of Little Orbit.

Today we have announced the acquisition of GamersFirst, and the games it contains, but to go along with that announcement, I thought I would take some time and write a personal letter to the APB Reloaded community.

Let me start by sharing an introduction to Little Orbit so you can get to know us. We started as a small game developer in 2003, and in the last 8 years we have grown into a small retail publisher. We are not a big studio, and trust me, you wont find any of our previous titles impressive. But over the last year, we have started taking steps to transition into the publisher we want to be.

There’s been a lot of speculation over the last couple months about who would be crazy enough to take on this game. And I’m not going to try and sugarcoat it, we know that the confidence in this game is at an all time low, and odds are you haven’t heard of us at Little Orbit. But that’s OK. There’s a lot of work to do, and I’m not writing this letter to make unrealistic promises or layout a grand roadmap. Instead, I’m going to ask for your patience as we get organized and that you give us a chance to show you that we are sincere in our efforts to make APB Reloaded the game we all know it can be.

I will however make one simple commitment right now. From here on out, I promise to communicate with the community on a regular basis. No more silence. Good, bad or ugly I will share where we are at.

Moving forward there are a number of areas that we need to address for the long term health of this game. Some of them are sexy like new content for the game, and some are just operational changes to how the game is run that I feel need to be made.

In the next 30 days, expect to see GDPR updates for GamersFirst including new privacy policies, code of conduct, and term & conditions. We will also be cleaning up the social pages, implementing a new forum, showcasing a general roadmap for the game and announcing a significant change to our banning and cheating policies.

This is all critical for setting up an environment where you can give us feedback.

After that we’re going to focus on content. I’ll be working on an exact roadmap that we can publish soon, but over the coming months we would like to add a new mode, maps, clothes, guns, vehicles and a new matching system for competitive play. Alongside all of that we are committed to upgrading APB Reloaded to the Unreal 4 engine. This is a long process that involves a massive rewrite of several core systems and a lot of art migration. I know that this has been talked about extensively in the past, and it has been a sore point with the community for a while. It’s going to take time. We need to start by unifying the PC version on Unreal 3.5, and then moving to Unreal 4. Personally I don’t think Unreal 4 is going to have a big impact on the look or speed of the game. It may not even be noticeable to some. But for APB Reloaded to have long-term viability, transitioning to Unreal 4 is something we need to do.

I look forward to sharing more information with you soon.

And of course, thank you for your patience and support.

Sincerely,
Matthew Scott

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

NEW Summer Survival Event!

It’s blog post time and in this blog we’re asking for feedback from our players on a few different events that we are working on. We will have different forum threads ready for your suggestions and we’re excited to read your feedback.

Upcoming: Memorial Week Sale

We’ll be having sales across all of our Platforms in celebration of our console releases and Memorial Day (US Holiday). For PC users, starting on Friday, May 19th (5 PM PDT) the Armas store will see up to 50% off on items and a 25% Instant Bonus for PayPal purchases of G1C (see forum post for more information). Console Users will have up to 30% off of store purchases.

Xbox One and PS4 performance updates

The PS4 has seen patch and hot-fix updates to clear up the recent crash issues which has improved the PS4 experience dramatically. We are still working on the very latest patch and are aiming to launch it this week. With the work on PS4 mostly completed we are now aiming to push those fixes out to the XB1 as soon as the fixes pass cert for XB1.

The team has also been working with our network provider to mitigate effects of the ongoing DDOS attacks that have been happening since our console soft launch. When we switch to mitigation, players may experience additional lag or stuttering in game play.

PC – NEW Summer Survival Event, with user design input

We really appreciate our PC players hanging in there while we have been obligated to spend most of our very limited team working on the final fixes to the console versions. Now that we are finally out of the bulk of the console work, in order to get the PC players a whole new experience with the team we have in the fastest time possible, we have focused on creating a whole new event for the summer and we’ll be gathering feedback from the players on the forum threads on how we should change or improve the event as we go along. This event will need a new name and logo (feel free to make suggestions on the forum thread) and any other feedback you’d like to provide as we work on it. The goal of the event (after taking player input) is to consider it for a new permanent game mode if it proves to be popular. Based on similar events in the past (our Halloween event with the Headless Horseman’s Army) and seeing the success of Battlegrounds and H1Z1 Survival mode, we realized we have almost all the ingredients in APB to create a gang-land survival game, and we want to your help to make this event as fun as possible.

Here’s a description of the survival event. Numbers in (parenthesis) are subject to change and will be part of the user testing, and forum feedback.

Game Start

Requires at least (10) people in the district. After this, the survival event starts at the end of a (5 minute) timer. During this count-down new players can join the district until the timer hits 0. If at any point (70 players) enter the district it will be considered “full” and the timer will drop to (30 seconds) for immediate match countdown and start.

Limitation: You can only enter survival districts at the start of the round. Once a certain amount of players is reached or the timer hits 0, the district will lock and no longer be available for entry. If you get killed, you will be able to instantly join a new survival district.

Game Goal and Design

Be the last player standing (ends at 1 player left alive and declared the winner). If you die you will be ranked in accordance with your “death number.” In the future we will create special awards for the best repeat survivors.

Teams: Free for all.
Event UI:
Right top:
Players left.
Notice timer: Block becoming unsafe.
Objective text:
In Safe area, stay alive and kill
In (soon to be) Dangerous Area, get to a safe area

While active, the play field will shrink to match the shrinking number of players. This will happen every (70 to 180 seconds) automatically, or (60 seconds) once there are less than (3) players alive per current safe block. Blocks will be selected based on distance from the end-block, with some randomization involved. The status of the blocks will be available on the map. Also the block’s walls will be visualized differently between dangerous and safe areas. Areas that are not part of any block are always considered dangerous.



In dangerous areas players will take (200 damage per second) after a (10 second) delay. When there is only one block left, the “tiebreaker” to get a final survivor is that everyone left will take an additional (10 damage per second) until there is only one player left.

The end-block will not be known to players until the end, and the end-block is randomly selected at the start of the event.

In the first version of the event, your “Survival Number” will be shown, and we will run promotions and giveaways for those with the lowest average survival number over some event period (this is also subject to the design of the event).

Possible addition: Resource Management

A big part of most survival type games is match-length resource management. In order to do that we are considering starting players off with a basic weapon (potentially the players’ secondary weapon), and only unlock their regular weaponry through pick-ups. The ammunition in these weapons will be limited, and players need to find ammunition pick-ups. Ammunition cannot be purchased at joker vending machines and/or ammunition during the match, or these items could provide a limited amount of ammunition instead. Weapon drops would be enabled in this mode so other players can pick up the weapons you drop. Weapon and ammo drops do not respawn.

Conclusion

If this event is successful (especially after initial input from the players), we hope to turn this (or some variation of this mode) into a new permanent mode alongside APB’s normal Mission Mode, Fight Club and now potentially Survival.

We look forward to your feedback and ongoing tweaking to these systems for the PC game. We also expect that survival mode will trigger some unusual behaviors in APB; for example since you can drive around with a buddy in your car shooting out the window, these kinds of collaborative built in mechanics means there will be some advantages to collaborating during survival mode at the start of the game, even though in the end you are bound to kill each other. There is a good chance APB’s version of survival will have its own flavor with some unique tension between collaboration and competition. In fact, we may want to explore this dynamic even further by encouraging initial collaboration turning into end-game competition.

Innova Migration


We’ve moved Innova to their own world (separate from our current EU world) since the Innova devs introduced weapons that we feel are imbalanced. Once ready, Innova players will be able to create a Gamersfirst.com account and transfer their character(s) over.

Once we’re ready, the Innova developers will send out an email blast containing a six-digit code that will be used to verify ownership of their APB Innova-account on Gamersfirst.com. If Innova players don’t receive a code for some reason they will be able to retrieve it with send-to-email functionality (sent to the email they registered Innova-APB with).

Note: We’ll be testing the Innova Migration on the OTW servers in the upcoming weeks.

Contagion Event

Previously this event was held to introduce new weapon into APB. We’ll be using this event to have some variation in events in the game and provide players with a way to win some of the RAF rewards that are no longer being used. The only way to participate in the event is by being infected (killed) by the designated weapon. Once you’ve been killed by the weapon, you’ll receive a temporary version of the weapon and then you infect / kill xx amount of players with it to receive a title. If you have suggestions for the Epidemic event titles, please post them to the forum thread.

Engine Upgrade

Now that we’ve successfully launched a version of the new Engine on the console platforms, the majority of the general engine upgrade bugs relating to game-play and rendering are fixed. Right now a full regression is being done on the PC to confirm fixes. Platform specific optimizations are being evaluated and ported to PC - including multi-threaded rendering and GPU texture generation for customization which the PC version has never had before. 

Once we are done with the first pass we expect to release a new engine version that can be tested by the community on a larger scale than we can achieve internally (especially with more versions of GFX cards and CPU varieties). With the feedback from that testing, we will fix the remaining issues and finalize the engine upgrade release. This all takes time and we appreciate the patience our community has shown while we work on the Engine Upgrade and bringing it all back to the PC.