AMA recap

May 5, 2024 | PC

AMA recap

Where has Matt been?

  • Matt has been engaged with a special Fallen Earth project funded by a 3rd party investor. Unfortunately, the project was way behind in its deliverables due to technical implementation issues, and has spent the last 4 months course correcting the project.
  • Soon, Matt aims to lower his development involvement on this project so he can get back to working on other games such as APB and Unsung Story.

Fallen Earth Update:

  • The back-end rewrite is close to being done.
  • The servers are running on an Operating system that is no longer supported and has problems that make the servers slow down over time.
  • There is a core issue which is requiring the servers to be manually restarted which needs to be addressed.

Decline in the Gaming Industry:

  • The gaming industry is experiencing a decline. As such, many companies are being forced to reduce staff and Little Orbit is in the same situation.
  • Little Orbit has shifted resources to move a previous APB Engineer back on APB. Currently, there are 3 dedicated resources with 3 other support staff.

APB

Easy Anti-Cheat:

  • The game has had various Anti-cheats solutions in the past, Epic’s Easy Anti-Cheat has previously worked the best.
  • LIttleOrbit worked with Epic as a beta partner to help them improve Easy Anti-Cheat which unfortunately led to multiple issues including false-positive bans.
  • The Easy Anti-Cheat ban-appeal user experience was bad due to the lack of communication between Easy Anti-Cheat and the Players, leading players to think the system was broken.
  • There will be an unban-wave to address the false-positive bans. (More details on what the unban-wave is going to look like sooner to when it happens)
  • We’re looking into other solutions to move away from Easy Anti-Cheat but are still investigating our options.

Mirage:

  • Matt did a majority of the work on Mirage. He is aware of the issues, which are not difficult to fix, and will return to the project once he is able.

Matchmaking:

  • Matt considers Matchmaking as one of the biggest issues APB faces and therefore puts it at the highest possible priority.
  • Matt is proud of the system when it works but there are issues in its current state. When the system works, the overall match quality is better than the previous system, however, it needs improvements.
  • Running matches on the World Server rather than on each individual District server was needed for future improvements such as Cross-district matchmaking. However, this has introduced instability to the World server which isn’t ideal.
  • Since the release of Matchmaking the development efforts were shifted to move the code from running on the World server to its own, exclusive Matchmaking server. This effort is close to being done and the goal is to test it on OTW in the coming weeks.
  • There are edge cases in the algorithm when players fail to match.
  • After the initial stability issues of Phase 1 of the new Matchmaking system were worked out, we collected a lot of good feedback regarding backup and we are addressing these issues. We know the Backup UI is confusing and has some bugs.
  • Matt does not want to get rid of the Faction system for Mission districts, there are better solutions to fixing Matchmaking issues related to lower population.
  • Matchmaking has always struggled to match high MMR players, especially now that asymmetrical missions are no longer a thing, we are looking into ways of solving this.

Server Merge:

  • The merge was tested internally and it had a lot of issues.
  • There is not going to be a server merge, instead, we pivoted to the Cross-district matchmaking solution which will enable players from different worlds to play in any district regardless of region.
  • Conflicting names between servers are an issue and we plan on having a Discord-like solution that will let players with duplicate names from different servers be easily identified.
  • We still plan on releasing inactive names, however, doing so now would cause issues in the future so we are waiting on the right time to release all of the inactive names.

Content:

  • The new contacts are still being itemized, Matt was not happy with the previous plans for them.
  • Some content may be added to previous contacts retroactively.
  • The Joker Store is an ongoing project and we are committed to adding more things to the Joker Store when we can.
  • Internally, we’ve had great discussions regarding balance, focusing on buffs to very underutilized weapons that nobody plays.
  • Players get frustrated when the game is facing issues such as Matchmaking not working and our focus is on Balance passes so we are looking for the right time to do them.
  • New guns are a cool idea but we would like to make many of the existing guns more compelling first.

First-Time User Experience:

  • The tutorial tells you how the basic mechanics work, but does not tell you how APB works which is a massive issue. It is a high priority to look at and fix but not as high on the list as Matchmaking.
  • Getting PvE into APB is a mess but it would be amazing to have as a way to teach new players.
  • We are considering a mode for newer players that lets them shoot any weapon in the game in a shooting range while also providing them with more information such as damage numbers while they are within that district.

Consoles:

  • Microsoft and Sony do not allow games to be transferred from one publisher to another which has led Little Orbit and Plaion to mutually agree to shut down the console versions.
  • Once the console versions are fully shut down in September, we have full control over the console versions.
  • Console ports of the PC versions are likely what is going to be submitted to Microsoft and Sony when we are ready to publish the game on consoles again.
  • Resubmitting the current console versions is not going to work.
  • Controller support is being looked at.
  • Previously Little Orbit had to submit builds to Koch Media which ended up never submitting those builds to Microsoft/Sony due to QA reasons.

VOIP:

  • Reloaded had a contract with Vivox that expired some time ago which prompted Vivox to shut down the servers.
  • VOIP is important for a game like APB and made Console APB special.
  • We want to bring back VOIP, however, doing so requires a new version of Vivox to be implemented which is time-consuming.

APB Priorities: Marketing:

  • Marketing is still on our Radar, however, there are key points that need to be addressed first such as Matchmaking, Anti-Cheat, and new Content such as the new Contacts.

Misc:

  • APB can’t be upgraded to Unreal 4/5 though PBR (Physically based rendering) may be possible in the future as well as improvements to APB’s post-processing effects such as some of the original shaders.
  • Adding more developers to a project doesn’t mean it’ll speed up development, especially when working on complex things such as Matchmaking.
  • Griefing is still on our list of things to look at and fix.
  • Translations are heavily outdated - We are considering running our English translations through systems to generate European and Russian translations for players to use - The Russian translation is still supported but outdated.
  • The Trade-lock system should be better at telling players what they were Trade-locked for.
  • Most players that are permanently Trade-locked did something and are Trade-locked for a reason such as credit card fraud.
  • Improvements to the Inventory need to happen.
  • There’s a lot of documentation on how to make Waterfront a better district.
  • The Clan system needs an overhaul.
  • There should be a colorblind mode, however, messing with APB’s colors could introduce new issues.
  • A way to officially support arranged matches between players is something we would like to support in the future.
  • The bug that causes characters to slide at high FPS is still on our radar to fix.

Unsung Story

  • Matt hasn’t given up on the game.
  • Unsung has a huge upgrade to what is offered internally, about 80% of what was shared publicly is implemented.
  • Unsung remains a priority on our roadmap.

Customer Support:

  • LittleOrbit moved away from Zendesk on April 25, 2024 to Zoho which provides more features & flexibility for our current needs.
  • APB Reloaded customer support has to work with 14-year-old tools which can lead to easier tasks taking more time than usual to resolve.
  • Recently response times have gone up, we are sorry about this. However, we are committed to solving player issues.

Got any questions? Want to chat with other players? Then discuss this article in our Forums! You can also follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

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