April update from Matt
Tomorrow I will be releasing a walkthrough of RIOT, but in the meantime I thought I would give a general update on other topics.
Why release RIOT before the engine upgrade?
This question has come up a lot.
The simple answer is that we uncoupled these two efforts because I couldn't predict when the engine upgrade will be ready to officially launch. To put that statement into context, there is a big difference between opening access to the new engine for public testing and officially launching it. We're close on one date for opening access, but the date for launching it is still an unknown.
As a project, RIOT was mostly about content, art, and design systems that have been in the works since mid-last year. This effort had known requirements and a timeline that we could measure and work towards. While I am very aware of the current state of the game, I also believe we cannot only upgrade the engine and expect players to get excited about APB again. We need new content, and from its inception, RIOT was designed to ride alongside the rest of APB with the fewest dependencies possible.
The engine upgrade is a different beast entirely. For a long time we didn't have any idea of how much was left to do. As we were working through upgrading libraries, the game sometimes wouldn't even compile. Until recently, it was hard to gauge progress. At this point we're down to only a couple remaining tasks that can't be sped up by adding more team members.
Next week, we're going to start open testing on RIOT.
Please know that while RIOT will launch first, the team's highest priority is getting the engine upgrade into public testing, and then everything will come together so we can begin the work on phasing and matchmaking.
Next, I want to acknowledge a recently discovered challenge with the Banning System.
I have already talked about the escalation system that we use with BattlEye for temporarily banning suspected cheaters so that my team can review the ban and make it permanent. When we took over last year, it was important to me that we make sure to avoid the problems caused by Fairfight and Punkbuster in the past. Unfortunately, it looks like there was a bug that prevented the saving of permanent bans in some cases. This meant that when the temporary ban expired and our internal system showed the player was permanently banned, they could still log back in. This didn't happen in a majority of cases, but it did happen. We apologize. The issue has been fixed now.
I also want to give a small update on Nekrova. This was announced on the forums in March and then covered in the March blog post.
At this point Innova / 4Game cannot retrieve the payment records from their backup database. The team and I are working on a new plan to compensate these players. I'll update the community on the forums when that is ready. I still hope to get the migration complete as soon as possible.
Engine Upgrade - General
Lastly, here's the latest update on the engine upgrade.
We have completed the multithreaded renderer! Some of you may have seen my tweet from last week.
At this point there are two main areas that need additional work:
There are a number of small rendering issues with textures and lighting that we hope to fix fairly quickly. This is the main reason I have delayed showing off any screenshots for the time being. I want them to be as accurate as possible to what we'll be shipping.
There is some inconsistency in the benchmarks and initial frame rate tests. For instance, some hardware is running better than the current game and others are running worse. We already have another build queued up for testers this weekend with another round of changes. Improving the frame rate is critical, and that's an area that we will be focusing on until we can match or exceed the framerates in live.
For content, all of the new code that Little Orbit created since last year has been migrated over. We're currently fixing compiler issues, and after that we'll start migrating content packages that have been updated which includes everything for RIOT.
For User Interfaces, the SPCT has reported a fair amount of issues that need fixing. We're moving pretty quickly through these and the last crash bug is being fixed today. Overall this effort needs to undo some of the console work and bring the UI functionality back to where it is for PC.
For art, we need to finish optimizing lights around the level, fixing collisions, and addressing texture issues. The team has already gone through and adjusted time of day color ranges and values.
Engine Upgrade - Console
The Xbox One and PS4 versions are in good shape.
At this point both builds are working correctly and can play matches in our development environment. We still have to fix the texture issue on PS4 and the multithreaded rendering work needs to be ported to Xbox. But we're going to go ahead and pass both of the current builds off to QA for extensive testing. The hope is to get a release candidate so we can patch both systems just to get through the process, and then we'll patch again as soon as the major fixes are ready.
I want to finish this blog by saying that the team is passionate about APB and the upgrade. Lots of late nights and weekends have already been put in. I recognize that the community has already waited years. I'm excited to get it into your hands as fast as possible.
See you guys tomorrow with a full breakdown of RIOT.
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