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Producer's Letter

Team Scoring, Pre-Season 5, and More!

Our next large game update has some really great changes in it, and we’re excited to bring it to the Test server! This update brings improved dynamic gas rings, adds scoring for team games and a lot of improvements to grouping, brings new POIs to the Arena, and more. 

Team Scoring

Scoring in team games is now ready for testing. Each time you play in duos or fives, you will see a score for you and each of your teammates. Your team score goes up whenever a full team gets eliminated, a team member gets a kill, or a team member gets an assist. Individual kills and assists are tracked and shown at the end of the match for all team members. The badge that becomes part of your top 10 is the total team score and an accumulation of all kills and assists the team got as a whole, as well as the highest position the last person who was alive achieved. Once you have filled out 10 scores, you will be placed on the leaderboard for that mode just like in solos. We will continue to tweak the score system from season to season until it is balanced. Keep an eye out for a more in-depth article regarding team scoring and more features coming in the future.

Pre-Season 5

We are going to start the next Pre-Season (Pre-Season 5) when this update goes to the Live server.  In addition to team scoring mentioned above, we are making larger changes to scoring and leaderboards that you will notice once Pre-Season 5 begins. There will be a new leaderboard tier in between Diamond and Royalty, called Master, which will make the Royalty tier even more elite. On the scoring side with this update, players will receive a flat score for each kill no matter when it occurred during the match. Currently the value of a kill increases over the course of the match. We’ll be sharing more details about these changes in the coming weeks.

Gas Changes

The biggest change you will notice during your matches on Test is how the gas ring system works. We wanted to create a system that is more dynamic and utilizes the entire map, so we completely rewrote this from the ground up. You can now expect final rings all over the map, including further to reach locations that are currently rarely visited, like the dam. The spawn system has also been updated, and it will now take into consideration where the game will end and adjust how far you spawn from where the initial ring will appear. The rings are still randomized; now they will just utilize the entire map. 

Now that you have some context of the system and a visual to back it up, let’s look at some details: 

  • The match can now end almost anywhere on the map rather than the middle like it used to. 
  • We’re saying "almost" in this case because the far edges of the map just don’t allow for good combat due to topography. 
  • The spawn system has been refactored and takes the initial gas ring into consideration so we don’t start you too far away. 
  • There are server volumes around all of the points of interest on the map, these have been flagged with a “type”. 
  • This will allow us, if we want to, to run Events/Skirmishes/Seasons that have a higher chance to end in specific types of areas. 
  • Control is very important to us, and with the new system we gain a ton of it as it allows us to dynamically change gas wave timing based on remaining players.
  • As always we love data, and to back it up we’ve added a bunch of data hooks. This will allow us to collect more data than ever before on the gas rings, mechanics, and pacing.
  • Randomization is key for us in H1Z1, and while this system has more structure than the old one, it maintains the random feel and you never know where the match is going to end.
  • Topography is very important when it comes to gameplay, so as mentioned before there are a few places, mainly on the edge of the map, that have been excluded from the system to increase the overall quality of our end zones. 
  • Overall replayability has dramatically increased with this new system. The ability for matches to end in so many new places adds excitement and rejuvenates the map when it comes to gameplay and exploration.

We will also be using the Test servers to tune the timing of each gas wave, with the goal of speeding things up a bit. No specifics to share just yet, but keep an eye on Test as we will be tuning continuously before it goes to Live. 

You’ve spoken, we’ve listened. Bombs will no longer spawn in after the top 20 players are left. Now, to be clear, if bombs are in flight and the “Players Remain” hits 20, they’ll still drop, they will just stop dropping after that. So, with that being said, you still may see bombs dropping when there are 20 or fewer left, but with the new setup, you shouldn’t see bombs dropping by the time the top 10 are fighting to the death.

The Arena

Three additional POIs have been added to continue to fill out the space around Pleasant Valley. 

Coy’s Car Salvage – Nestled up on a large hill just west of Pleasant Valley (D6) you will find a large salvage yard dedicated to the collection, dismantling, and shipping of unwanted vehicles.

 

Ponyvale Equestrian Estates – A rustic community for the most hardcore horse enthusiasts can be found on a large peninsula just West of Cranberry (D7/D8). Country living at its finest.

 

Emerald Hydra, Site 7 – East of Cranberry (G8), this repurposed Romero’s grocery store was taken over and fortified as a military HQ during the zombie outbreak.

 

Several smaller POIs have been sprinkled in to provide more areas to land and loot in. 

The in-game map was modified to improve the accuracy of the gas rings drawn on the map. To make it even clearer, we added text to the HUD that will let you know if you are currently in the safe zone or not. If you are really trying to just creep into the edge of the safe zone and are worried you are not in the correct location, then the text on screen will be 100% clear as to your position. We will be spending more effort on the in-game map in the future as well. 

A small change in terms of overall impact, but one that I love, is that trees now look like trees from above!

User Interface Updates

Cleaning up the user interface continues with all of the enhancements targeted at making it easier to play the game. This starts with improvements to forming a duo or fives group in game. Now, there is a section in the group panel that lists the players that you have recently played with. Want to play with that player again? Go ahead and invite to your group and keep playing. If you are part of a group but not the leader, you can suggest someone from your friends list to the leader to invite into your group. 

Invites received through Steam will also persist longer. So, if you receive an invite before launching the game, you will have time to launch the game and accept the invite. If you played with a group of random players and want to keep that group together to play more, there is now an ability to stay together and go into another game. 

All of the end game information will now animate in piece–by-piece on a single screen (the animation can be skipped with a single click). This change was necessary to get a “Play Again” system in place, which is something that you will see in a future update.

A new panel has been added to the main menu to make it easier to discover Events, Skirmishes, and anything else going on in the game. Pro tip: the panel is linked to the area in the game that it is referencing. So, if there is news on a Skirmish in the panel, clicking on it will take you straight to the play menu for Skirmishes.

We finished work on the inventory back-end for the in-game inventory screens. The most obvious change from this is that the inventory will now NOT auto-sort while it is open. If you remove an item from your inventory while trying to manipulate it or loot, a blank spot will remain there for consistency. Only when you close and re-open the inventory will the items re-sort to fill the empty spaces. 

Lammies

After a lot of consideration, we have identified the next set of changes we will be going with for laminated armor. We heard a lot of feedback about removing them completely, but it was clear that the loot system itself wasn’t working as we intended. Finding a laminated armor in the world should be a treat and a very rare moment - right now it is far too common and laminated armors are normally found in groups. So, with that being said, here are our changes and some context as to why: 

  • We will be keeping the current laminated armor spawn cap of 155. This is the absolute cap of how many laminated armors can spawn in a match, not how many will spawn every match. 
  • We have reduced the chance of spawn per spawner from 10% to 5%. 
  • We have reduced the chance to spawn by 50% - this will help make laminated armors rare and special. 
  • We enabled a radius check so that laminated armors can’t spawn within a 250 meter radius of each other. 
  • Grouping is a thing of the past. With these changes, if you find a laminated armor you can be sure there isn’t another anywhere near you. 
  • With these numbers we are looking at a MAX of 3 laminated armors per square of the map. NOTE: The current build on Test will have a 150 meter radius check, but the next build has already been adjusted to 250 meters. 
  • Increased the bulk of the laminated armor from 500 to 1000 to combat the ability for people to carry multiples in the now-rare case they do find them. 
  • The most common place to find more lammies will be to get them from bodies or airdrops. 
  • All airdrops will have laminated armor. 
  • 50% will have a laminated armor. 
  • 50% will have a laminated armor AND a hunting rifle. 
  • For both scenarios they will have 2 laminated armors in fives games.

Vehicles

Pick-Up Truck 

  • The Pick-Up Truck now suffers zero, yes zero, damage and slowdown from destructible objects so feel free to smash through backyards with a bit more freedom. 
  • We also reduced the amount of damage the truck takes from non-destructible objects (buildings, trees, etc.) by 50%. 
  • It has also received a significant engine and transmission overhaul and the acceleration and top speed are now more in line with the Off-Roader. Its 1st gear acceleration is actually a little better than the Off-Roader and it pulls longer before having to shift, while the top end high speed is a little lower than the Off-Roader but much closer than it used to be. 
  • Some center of mass and handling adjustments have been made so that it’s still reasonable to drive now that it goes faster. General handling characteristics should be intact from the way it used to drive – just not as slow. 
  • The Pick-Up Truck's hill-climbing capability was left as it was so it loses 25% of its power on slopes steeper than 40 degrees. 

Off-Roader 

  • The angle the wheels turn with full steering input is now sharper.  At low speeds its turning radius is tighter and more responsive. When it gets going, we do have a speed-sensitive turning factor that has been adjusted so it’s not hard to control or likely to get out of hand. 
  • We have a system to throttle the vehicle's hill-climbing ability which we’ve disabled on the Off-Roader. It now enjoys full power on slopes and is only limited by the simulation's calculations for tire friction and drivetrain.  Before, it used to lose 25% of its power on slopes steeper than 40 degrees - now, it loses none. There are still slopes it cannot drive up, but it’s no longer artificially limited by the system. 

Police Car 

  • The hill climbing of the Police Car was adjusted very slightly so that now it loses 30% on slopes steeper than 35 degrees. This means it can still climb the same hills it used to, just slightly slower. 

Parachute

  • We have added dampening to the acceleration, deceleration, and maximum speed of the parachute once you are less than 150 meters above the ground. This is being done in order to give you a more controlled landing while removing the “snapping” that you do when trying to land in a specific spot.

We will continue to tune and tweak these values until it feels right. What's going to Test is just our first pass.

Other Items of Note 

Spamming hip fire is a hot community topic and one that we do plan on addressing. We are working on larger changes to the overall weapon balance that would include changes to hip fire and recoil here. Pushing these changes out right now without everything that goes with it would create more unbalanced gameplay. We believe players are really going to like these future changes, and this becomes our biggest priority after getting this update pushed out to the Live servers. 

We look forward to seeing everyone’s feedback on these changes. Jump into the Test server and let us know what you think!

 

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