Listening to the Community
With Valentine's Day on the horizon and love in the air, I felt this was an appropriate topic. Since we took over, players have reached out with feedback on our forums, Reddit, Twitter, or Facebook. In many cases, they shared important issues. Sometimes they highlight a reason for why they drifted away from APB or have stopped playing altogether.
My team takes these comments to heart, but I recognize that's an easy thing to say. For me, this is not lip service.
I believe that we are wasting our time attempting to release something new, if we don't fundamentally listen to the community and address the core trends that have been brought to our attention. The first step in finding a solution is acknowledging an issue. The second step is sharing the solution and committing to it.
Beyond the active work being done to curb some of the big-ticket items like cheating, DDoS issues, etc. there are three major areas that have been consistently brought up by players. Below we will outline them and highlight the upcoming solutions in the order that we will be addressing them.
1) INCONSISTENT AND OR CONFUSING ITEM PRICING
ISSUE: I've seen this argument come up nearly everywhere that APB has been talked about. I made a commitment to look at the pricing in my first Twitch interview. Back in May, due to the old G1C exchange rate, it was possible to pay more than $40 for an Account Bound gun. We improved the amount of G1C per dollar, and we tried to lower prices a couple months ago. However, we made the mistake of trying to follow the pricing rules that were already in place. Right now an Account Bound ARMAS weapon still ranges from $20 - $32, and when we surveyed other online games, we still found we were priced a bit high.
SOLUTION: With the next patch we will be launching the second update to ARMAS Marketplace. This is an aggressive pass through the entire store - not just weapons. We standardized around a few simple pricing tiers within categories like vehicles, skins, clothing, etc. Additionally, weapon pricing has been lowered on average by 30%. This will make for a much more consistent and ideally enjoyable browsing experience.
2) DESIRE FOR NEW CONTENT OR IN-GAME REWARDS
ISSUE: It's been a very long time since any permanent new content was added to the game including new rewards that can be unlocked through progression. Even Little Orbit has only been able to release the Showstopper on ARMAS and some holiday events with minor items and new symbols.
SOLUTION: In March, we are going to be launching a new game mode. We are excited to share more with you about this in the coming weeks. This will unlock a completely new persistent mode that has contacts and rewards that we will be rotating out on a regular basis. After that, we will be introducing new contacts with more in-game progression items when we launch the big engine upgrade.
3) OPTIMIZATIONS NEEDED FOR MODERN HARDWARE
ISSUE: Players often tell me about the slowness of APB when they run it on their new rigs with high end multi-core processors and state-of-the-art GPUs. The current version of the game is 32-bit running on Unreal 3.0. As counter intuitive as it sounds, in order to get good framerates currently, you need a single very strong processor or a GPU with a single strong processor. This is because, Unreal 3.0 only supports single threaded rendering. For XboxOne players, the game is choppy and runs at a less than ideal framerate. For PS4 players, the streaming sometimes results in pixelated low resolution textures.
SOLUTION: We now have new internal builds running on PC, XboxOne, and PS4 under Unreal 3.5. I have talked a little bit about the upgrade, but I haven't shared many of the optimizations players will see. First, it's 64-bit and makes use of multi-core processors and more RAM. Even our early play tests showed a massive improvement in resource utilization. Second, we are adding support for multi-threaded rendering. Interestingly, the PS4 version of the game has this already. But that code isn't being used on PC or XboxOne yet. This is likely the single biggest improvement that players will see. Also, we have re-worked texture streaming to make it far more efficient and improve performance. This is an exciting development that should go a long way in improving the overall gameplay.
I initially felt that there wouldn't be noticeable visual improvements. And I am happy to report that initial testing with the SPCT have proven me to be wrong. Those players were quite pleased with the upgrade and new effects that bring APB more in line with current games.
All of this is coming in the weeks and months to come, and I look forward to seeing old and new players alike come check out the new APB Reloaded. It’s an exciting time for APB and we thank everyone for coming along for the ride. Keep the constructive feedback coming!
Happy Valentine's Day from all of us at Little Orbit and the APB Reloaded team.
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