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Developer Interview

Reddit Q&A - September 26

Big thanks to everyone who came out to ask questions and provide some feedback. We tried to stick to answering questions around the future vision of the game and the three new weapons

Here's a recap of our Q&A. You can find the full Reddit thread right here – Anthony Castoro

 

Q:

1) With player counts at record lows compared to record highs in earlier seasons why has the current direction not been halted or reverted?

2) Why do you guys continue to do major patches every 1-3 months vs smaller updates?

3) The community has continued to ask for a reduction in POI's yet more keep getting added every patch?

4) You guys state that you want quick 20m games yet have completely changed the design of the game to promote slow paced game play. Does your design team understand that with increased number of locations to loot up fully this pushes players to play the late game?

5) FPS issues continue to be a problem this game once ran beautiful in all the big cities with most machines able to run the game at high fps. A lot of players struggle with low FPS, Stutters, and fps drops. Will this ever be resolved seeing as the game once ran well?

6) Rewards were talked about ages ago by Ken Adams however almost a year later and nothing has been changed. Your game hasn't rewarded anyone for doing anything in it for over a year. Will this ever change?

7) Why do melee weapons continue to spawn in the game when melee is a completely broken mechanic currently?

8) Why not have bandages spawn vs clothing? Why not have your loot tables make sense but while still having enough diversity to not have every spawn just be guns.

 

A:

1) The short answer is that the combat update/current direction is not the cause of the CCU changes people are observing on Steam. Our DAU and peak concurrency has been significantly affected by the streaming ban in China. This has had knock-on affect on the West-coast NA population, which is multiplied by two other factors: A) we've been aggressively banning thousands of cheater/hacker accounts a day, the majority of which emanate from China. B) The combat update included a new system to prevent high ping players from using VPN to work around the ping lock, which is something most players wanted. Removing that, East Coast US and European DAU have been UP since the combat update.

2) We actually do both. If you look at our updates on steam and here on reddit, you'll notice that between hotfixes, game updates and updates to test, the service is constantly being improved and updated, often in direct response to player feedback. For example, we're about to release an update today at 11AM PST which is about a month after the combat update with several small updates in-between.

3 & 4) Some people in the community have asked for fewer POIs. Some have said "That's enough" and others like the new POIs. The team looks at all of this and will continue to evaluate, but we don't intend on adding more POIs after this update. re: faster games: The team understand that having more places to gear up allows some players to avoid conflict longer. On the other hand, the vast majority of players die in the first few minutes of the game, followed by a lull in the mid-game. This is a multi-dimensional problem that relates to more than just the number of POIs, including gas timing, gas speed, loot distro, starting player density, as well as vehicle availability.

5) Yes. We're working hard on this issue. We've tracked at least one of the micro-stutter issues down to a Windows Security Patch and we're working to see if it's a problem on our side. Overall FPS is a major initiative for us right now, with some significant code and asset re-work being done to increase and stabilize FPS. We have a new Sr. Art director who is working with the team to ensure asset performance budgets are being revised and adhered to as part of this initiative.

6) YES. The reward loop for players and progression is about to get serious effort put behind it. This is one of the things that has to be fixed before the game can be considered ready to exit "early access."

7) Today's loot system update reduces the number of melee weapons in the game until melee can be overhauled entirely.

8) Related to #7, loot is going to get an overhaul, including things like lammies, in the near future. It just needs to be fully thought through, communicated and then tested.

 

Q:

Why are you guys taking this game in a direction that is based around power weapons. The whole fun of this game is the even playing field when it comes to fights. You now give an advantage to people who go for these crates and get ATTACHMENTS on the same gun I have. I'm sorry but I'm pretty sure the community made it clear we didn't like the idea of tiered weapons. If you guys want to spice your game up with new guns in crates, then do that. But don't make it to where somebody with a TIER 2 or 3 AR kills me because I landed somewhere farther away or was fighting away from the drops.

A:

Every game needs to evolve, otherwise it will become stagnant. So, the idea that we want to test out with the community is to create more moments of contention as the match plays out. The team wants to build on the current airdrop mechanic with the hunting rifle/laminated armor to experiment with the dynamic that would be created by having more objectives to contend with.

The specifics of how that plays out have not been finalized at all and we've heard the feedback and agree that getting killed by an upgraded version of an existing weapon isn't the right idea. We posted an article yesterday that explains more on the current thinking: https://www.h1z1.com/king-of-the-kill/news/three-new-weapons-coming-soon

If you get to an airdrop, you might find a new weapon that wasn't just lying around in the world. In our current thinking, there will be no tiers for any gun, but you might find a KH-43 in an airdrop that serves your needs better than the AK you were toting around.

 

Q:

1) Are you guys playing the game ? Do you enjoy it as much as before ?

2) Why, most of the time, you don't listen to the community and want yours ideas to go live despite being highly criticized ? (I'm not talking about the recent bloom specifically, but in general)

3) Are you going to balance the pace of the game ? At the moment, the early game is just a bloodfest where people spawn and fight in the same warehouse, and if you survive the first 5 minutes, we are 30 players left and have to wait the 1st gas (which takes years to progress) before we have a chance to see people. 

A:

1) Yes, I wish I could play more, but I am Platinum 2 this season. Many of the team members play a ton, which is something I definitely look for on a team. You'd be surprised how often devs don't play there own game...that's usually an indication of a big problem. Right now, we have daily play tests and we usually have 50 or more people participating during the work day.

2) I think we can do a much better job of communicating what we are doing and why. There are a lot of different ways that we interact with the player base, reddit and social media is only one. For example, in game surveys sometimes send a different message than other channels. That being said, we have a lot of new leadership and I think we all learned a lot with the combat update and hopefully this newest update on Test is a good example.

With the latest stuff on new weapons, we're sharing that really early in the design phase and we're already listening and making adjustments. I'm pushing hard to start these conversations early, which can make things awkward, but better to do that and end up with the right solution than to hold onto ideas and work in isolation.

3) Yes, I've address balance in a few other posts, but we are definitely going to tackle the balance/flow of the game.

 

Q:

Why do u keep constantly working on huge updates instead fixing & polishing the game. The amount of bugs & problems this game has is ridiculous and they are gonna pile up even more if you drop another huge gamechanging update. Im not saying that you should stop working on further updates, but atleast take some time and fix the current product.

Also, what do you think caused such a huge amount of players leaving? 

A:

We have to do both. The update on test is a good example of fixing issues and adding some new things.

In terms of why our steam stats have shown a decline, the primary reason has been because of the streaming ban in China which has had an impact on DAU (daily average users) from that region. We're working diligently to find the right solution to resolve this regional issue and to support our players and content creators across the globe.

Other big title launches have had short term impacts on population, however, in general since the combat update, the DAU in the West has been pretty healthy. We think working with the community to get the up-coming changes right is key to bringing new and lapsed players into the game.

 

Q:

What's the motivation behind pushing new features to this game before core features are optimized? Will gladly provide examples if they aren't clear to you.

A:

We have to do both. We have multiple teams, some of which work on optimizing/fixing the current game and some which work on new features. For example, the update currently on test has a pretty healthy mix of optimizations and player-driven changes.

 

Q:

Will you guys ever consider anything towards adding anti aliasing or changing up colors in cities to make people more visible?

A:

We've definitely heard the feedback about player visibility on a few fronts since the most recent update. Our new art director is working hard to make sure we balance overall look with gameplay needs in all future updates. This includes player visibility and FPS improvements.

 

Q:

Pacing of the gas circles and player count. The timing and pacing of the match still seems to not be working quite right. I play mostly doubles, and although we are Royalty, it is pretty challenging to get more than 12 kills in a game. We usually end up between 2-4 kills in the initial stage of the game. After this, it follows up with a lot of driving around looking for players before the first gas circle closes in. This is the part of the game where you can use your cars and positioning to pinch teams. It forces us to land in PV if we want a chance to come out of the city with 5-6 kills.

I think the opportunities to kill players in the middle phase of the game is very limited. Are you guys aware of this and will you be making changes to make high kill games possible?

A:

Yes, we're definitely aware of this, and I know this is one of the top priorities for /u/game_dev_carto [+1] . Safe zone timing (particularly the first one), gas ring speed, player distribution are all top of mind right now. This is also one of the primary drivers behind the new air drop system, to help drive players together mid-game.

 

Q:

Why do we keep adding new POI's instead of replacing old ones? The new POI's look great don't get me wrong, but completely ruin the speed of the game. Would be better to replace old with the new. I used to be able to drive around in the open fields, and find people in the tree lines running to the safe zone with a little bit of cover, now people have these entire POI's that have replaced open fields to hide inside of forcing shotgun fights around corners in 3rd person where I get 70-80 fps instead of the 150 I get in PV or 200 I get in open fields. Specifically the carnival.

Why are we having certain guns used for certain roles when the loot is RNG based, I liked being able to loot a rifle and have an even chance of killing someone at any range, rather than being forced to have an AR before I can attempt a long range fight. (It is a little better now that AK has first shot accuracy)

These are the two main questions I would like to ask, however I have a load more on my mind. If you can only answer one due to time constraints I appreciate it either way. 

A:

New POIs - We wanted to provide more visual landmarks, more content variety and create opportunities for different combat experiences. Agree that the framerate impact is problematic, so we're definitely re-optimizing some of those areas. There are still lots of open areas in the world and we intend to leave it that way. Hopefully we've struck a balance, but if not, we can always change.

The roles are defined by "optimal" range and cover conditions, but all the weapons should be relatively lethal. That's why the team has tuned the AK based on feedback, it should have still been useful in the longer range fights, but optimal at mid-range. Obviously, we've gone on to enact other changes based on feedback (like the recoil vs. bloom system). So, I guess my answer is, "We agree, let's just get it tuned correctly."

 

Q:

I have nearly 2000 hours in this game and have stopped playing it since the combat update.The changes that were made removed the fun and voided all the time I spent trying to master it.The charm of H1Z1 for me was the simple to play very difficult to master feel it had.After reading the latest plans for change (more weapons/tiered,rocket launchers) and seeing the changes currently on the test server I can not help but feel there is a huge divide.It seems to me the community and developers have a completely different vision for what the game is and should become.So my question is would Daybreak be willing to split the difference and make a community based competitive version that is simple to play and very difficult to master and a casual version that would include the features like tiered weapons, rocket launchers,multiple airdrops etc.?

A:

We've definitely talked about a competitive/tournament build that would have a more streamlined set of rules/weapons etc.

However, my instinct is that the competitive nature of the game is part of it's DNA and success. So what we really need to do is balance the learning curve/accessibility with the true nature of the skill based game and elevate new players to be competitive.

So, things like rocket launchers either need to make sense in the competitive core game (i.e. only good for vehicles, not for infantry, limited fire, lots of bulk) or need to be reserved for events and skirmishes as a fun alternative.

 

Q:

When is the combat deathmatch coming to live servers?

A:

The team is working towards having combat deathmatch as a training/warm-up area in the next major release. I'd expect to see something on Test by November.

 

Q:

Why doesn't it seem like you and your co devs seem to care about the anticheat? Au servers are dominated by teleporters etc.

A:

It's been a huge battle for us and we continue to fight it. We're constantly updating our anti-cheat systems, modifying the base technology and banning based on detection, reports and leaderboard info. We ban thousands of accounts every week. Player reports to h1z1cheater@daybreakgames.com with videos are very effective.

This update on test has some brand new cheat detection tech in it and we have more systems rolling out in the near future.

 

Q:

When will there be new events? Since the last free event has passed 5 months

A:

We're planning to run a test event in the very near future as the event system is ready to be tested at scale which can only be done on live.

 

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