Battlestar Galactica Online - Development Blog 29 - "Letter from the Chief"
19 November 2015
This blog was meant to be released before the recent terrible incidents in Paris. Humanity is old enough to know better; but then again, those actions had nothing to do with acting humane.
Our condolences go out to the victims of crime and terror all over the world.
This blog will focus on the current reasons for a delay on R53, its content and actually some good news for next year.
- Erlang 18;
- Release 53; and
Since the merge, the team has been contending with some serious deployment issues, of which our beta testers should already be aware. This led to our having to postpone both internal and external tests.
The plan was to use a new method of deployment together with the server merge. But due to a restructuring process in the I.T., the progress has been quite slow over the last 3 months, and the new method of deployment isn’t finished yet.
We are currently sitting down with the IT department to find a solution as fast as possible, so that this all doesn’t last for months and hold back the game’s live releases.
Before Game Update 53, we’ll give you another maintenance update early next week, which will only concern Erlang 18, the new backend version.
Erlang 18 includes several optimizations, especially with regards to timestamp handling in the code. The game uses a lot of timestamps, which can slow down real-time responsiveness; Erlang 18 will handle these more smoothly than its predecessors.
We expect a decent reduction in CPU load on our side. This could potentially result in better performance for all players.
We’ll open up Troy this week for a stress test with all of you who are interested. As there won’t be any new content, we’ll simply ask you to play as usual; start big fights and look for any critical issues as compared to the live version.
Release 53 - Magnetic StormEdit
We’ve run the beta testers through a couple of tests over the last few weeks. Some were testing ship balancing, some, the new tutorial, and early next week we’ll run at least one or two more.
Release 53 will be pretty huge, as it contains lots of fixes for various issues raised over recent weeks and months.
As a rough overview there will be:
- A new tutorial;
- A new sector limit system;
- Ship balancing changes;
- New items (incl. new mechanics);
- Refund for the stealth ship and stealth item set;
- Changes to Tylium income;
- New options to improve local performance;
- Four old ship models available as retro paints;
- Some more windows in the new UI style; and
- And much more…
The tutorial has been on the agenda multiple times over the last years. Some previous changes were helpful, but still not as satisfying as they should have been. We decided to create an entire new tutorial, making the instructions really clear and embed parts of the story into new cut scenes.
Regarding sector limits, we first of all have to mention the issue with the old ones. Right after the merge, we received lots of complaints about the limitations being unfair towards one faction or another. Despite the fact that all main sectors allow the same number of players per faction to join, there have definitely been issues with exploiting the regulations.
The old system wasn’t able to account for players logging in, respawning, coming back from tournaments/arena, well-coordinated mass jumps, undocking, and various other edge cases. Factions were able to “exploit” the limits that were set. With Release 53, a new sector limit system will apply that properly enforces the applied limits, which means that being docked in a full sector or jumping back from external sectors (like the Arena) will lead to being shunted into the next eligible sector. We’ve added new information to the galaxy map so that you can instantly see whether or not you are able to jump into a sector. We’ve also changed the updating routines on the galaxy map, so you’ll see an up to date version immediately when you open the map. Right now it takes up to 15 seconds, during which it still displays beacons or sector statuses that are no longer accurate.
The new system also allows applying a carrier limit to every sector. Depending on the sector, these limits might range from 3 to unlimited.
One of the biggest improvements in R53 is the balancing changes to multiple ships. Around two years ago, there was a plan to make every ship class more powerful to match the recently introduced stealth and carrier classes. The pros and cons of this have been much discussed since, both internally and externally. Over the last few weeks we’ve experimented a lot, together with the beta testers, and while we’re not scrapping the original plan entirely, we’ve modified it.
We’ve bumped up the power levels of some of the ships, but concentrated on those that already were relatively weak. For example, the Blood & Chrome Strikes have been updated to offer a valid alternative to the other strike vessels.
We’ve decided to reduce the power levels in other areas, especially on the stealth ship. It created some variety from a gameplay point of view, but had many weaknesses in terms of fairness. As the changes have been quite drastic, we’ve also decided to refund purchases of the ship, its advanced version, and all systems that are stealth specific.
Together with the revamp of the Basestar/Pegasus, we’ve included some new weaponry which isn’t able to hit or hurt certain classes of ships. This allows weapon types to be better balanced against their primary targets, and works around the weaknesses of the current avoidance system.
As we see sufficient defensive capabilities on short range, these changes might be applied to some of the Brimir/Surtur long-range weaponry as well, depending on the next Troy test results.
Aside from the balancing changes, we will also offer new items that include a couple of new gameplay mechanics and potentially increase the variety of ships you’ll see in a battle. For example, there will be computers that are capable of blocking or slowing systems, such as flak, and others able to deflect missiles or shorten an opponent’s attack range.
Speaking of missiles, I want to point out that the Basestar received a differentiated weapon layout (as compared to the Pegasus). It’s another attempt at making them feel unique and truer to the series. While a Basestar and Pegasus don’t need to be exactly matched in terms of power levels, we’ll always try to make them as equal as possible.
There are new role abilities planned for both ships, but as the original method of implementation didn’t work out in the current system, we’ll postpone their role abilities to a later release.
In response to player concerns about Tylium income, we’re increasing Tylium loot from NPCs by about 20%.
The options to improve each player’s system performance are fairly limited, but we’ve investigated possibilities for how each individual player can improve their game’s performance using local adjustments. We’ve decided to add two new options, one for disabling all paints except the player’s currently equipped one, and one for hiding visible weapon modules on ships to reduce additional downloads or rendering.
There already was an option to hide paints, but this was only applying to some of the older paints.
There have been many requests for new paints. Some new ones will show up during the winter event, but R53 will also include four “Retro-Paints” requested by many players. These retro paints are actually special paints that retain your current ship model and weapon locations for server calculations, but re-skin the surface to resemble an older model. With R53, you can apply the visual appearance of the old Fenrir, Nidhogg, Vanir and Aesir designs to their equivalent modern ships.
The current ETA for the Erlang 18 release is the beginning of next week. Release 53 is supposed to go live in early- to mid-December. Depending on the exact date, it might already include the Winter Event “Typhon’s Revenge”.
Based on the current pipeline, the new tournaments might be shifted to early next year.
Even if some browsers, like Firefox, assured us that their Unity support will last till the end of 2016, it was one of our main goals to be independent of that, in case of an overall shut-down policy for the Unity Plugin.
We can now proudly announce that we’ve reached an agreement to work on a client version from next year onwards.
We’ll sit down together early next year to define how and when we could roll out a client version, but it will be definitely before the browser support of Unity is abandoned.
Having a client doesn’t in any way mean that we plan to stop supporting the browser version; it just offers an additional way to connect to the game without external browser dependencies.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog update, and we hope that the content of R53 really improves your BSGO experience.
Thanks for your patience and continued support of BSGO,