It has been awhile since the last dev update and patch release. A LOT of work has been going on in the background, along with some new and exciting things which we hope to share with the public at some point this Summer.
However, this project, one of our largest undertaking since the original 1996 Battlecruiser 3000AD project, is slowly winding down. Most of the work left to do is related to completing and enabling certain features for CBT testing, tweaks and improvements. For example in the upcoming update, we overhauled the Aim-Down-Sights system, as well as the HAIS drop launch and wingsuit/wingchute flight dynamics. We’re also tackling the fps dynamics because it still doesn’t feel quite right, and most of it is related to physics.
With the above out of the way, and we enable user controlled planetary vehicles, that would be the bulk of the major updates. The changelog has also been restructured for better clarity.
Also left to integrate, are some content (some weapons, vehicles, as well as some planetary environment assets) revisions which will improve game’s visuals.
And we then go through the final wrap-up phase, with the final inventory system to include the implants, and other inventory items (e.g. backpacks) which rely on that system. Of course the on-going bug fixes and tweaks will continue, right to the final release build.
PRE-RELEASE WIDE TESTING
Though we have enough people in the CBT (Closed Beta Test) program to help test point releases, we are still planning to do an OBT (Open Beta Test) at least a month before final release. With the ability to host and join game sessions in the final version, this will enable us to gather some international metrics from those hosting their own sessions.
Though we are still going to have our two official WSG server clusters online for the public to play on, allowing everyone to host their own game sessions (as we did with our previous games, e.g. All Aspect Warfare and Angle Of Attack), allows our international gamers to have a better experience than they would if they were connecting to US servers. We don’t use cloud (Google Compute, Amazon AWS) instances, as we never designed the game around that. Contrary to popular belief, multiplayer cloud server instances are not cheap. And as a small indie studio, we simply don’t want to have to deal with the added post-release costs.
THE QUEST FOR A MULTI-PLATFORM RELEASE
The greatest challenge ahead, is related to the fate of the Havok based custom engine we built for the game. As I mentioned in a Nov 2016 update, we have since lost our console (XBoxOne and PS4) path due to Microsoft finally scuttling the Havok Vision Engine after their purchase of Havok. That pretty much leaves us with an almost complete PC only game, with no hope of a console version of the game.
These are the choices:
1) Release the current PC version in the coming months. Cancel the console versions.
The path of least resistance, and the less risky one. Except for the part where we would then have to recoup dev costs from a single PC game, as opposed to a multi-platform game.
2) Release the current PC version in the coming months. Continue with the UE4 version for consoles.
Another option that’s less risky in the short-term. Except that the PC version may impact the console versions depending on how long it takes to get the console versions out. It also means that, like in the old days whereby PC and console engines were very disparate, we would have to support and update two engine versions in the long-term. Even if we used a third-party studio like we did with our other spin-off Line Of Defense – Tactics, it still means some disparity across the PC and console versions in terms of support, updates etc. And of course it means additional expenses.
This adds, not only additional costs, but also a delay period of 12-14 months between the PC and console versions; assuming that they are not done in tandem.
3) Not release the current version. Complete the UE4 port as a multi-platform target.
The best option, as it unifies and yields a multi-platform game. It is also the most expensive due to the revenue loss from not releasing the completed PC version, while increasing the dev costs.
In addition to added costs, this options also adds a delay period of between 8-12 months.
WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?
At this point in time, we’re still proceeding with option #1, though I have not yet ruled out the console versions. Until we wrap up the current PC version in the coming months, it won’t be clear to me which of the two remaining options to take.
Game development isn’t glamorous; and sometimes you end up having to make decisions like this in order to keep a project on track, and a studio afloat.
Just a quick note to let you know that this patch is coming along as planned. It’s mostly tweaks and minor bug fixes, and not a major update like the upcoming player controlled vehicles update which is being done in parallel.
With the tweaks to handling and flight dynamics for fps controls, wingsuit/chute, HAIS etc, a lot of those are more fluid (than clunky). I opted for these to be done now, in tandem with the player controlled vehicles, so that we could get them out of the way at the same time.
We’ve also made some welcome revisions to weapon ADS, and other similar tweaks.
See the changelog for more.
The revision date of the changelog and known issues is now at the top of those pages, to give an idea of what is new, without me having to create these announcements. So do check those pages, and the roadmap regularly, as they are updated frequently.
As we prepare for the release of the next and final major milestone (player controlled ground & naval vehicles), this patch addresses some pending and new issues in the current build.
We are still doing on-going performance optimizations on planetary scenes. We’ve done a lot, but so far both Nightbridge and Frostbite still need further improvements. Profiling reveals areas such a ice chunks, water reflections etc. We’re going to keep doing various performance improvements as we move along.
Server stability has vastly improved, though we’re going to keep hammering away at that on an as-needed basis.
In case you haven’t read it, this is the latest State Of Play dev update released on 03/17.
We also released some new screen shots on the media page.