July 15: Vehicle Upgrades
An update from King of the Kill Producer, Chris Wynn!
Hey everyone, Chis here. We have another large update to talk about this week. We are nearing the end of the kinds of large scale changes that you have seen recently, and will be turning our attention towards stability, bugs, and performance for a little while.
We are still looking into frame rate, and what has caused some of the loss of performance over the last couple of updates. We have a number of things active on this all at the same time. These include your general run-of-the-mill optimizations that making the game run faster. We have had a number of these in progress for some time, and are getting into the testing phases for some of them right now. Finally, we are taking a look at our default settings and configurations to make sure that they are as optimized as possible for different systems.
Watching the combat update in the wild, we will have a few changes coming to further address some feedback. Some of those fixes are bugs involving collisions, cameras, and reticles.
We think we went a little too far on nerfing jump shooting, so we will be bringing ADS back to jump shots, but it will be tuned to be very inaccurate. What we didn’t like was that it breaks your habit in an unnatural way; it is not a behavior that you would expect.
There are still a few bugs where hit reacts still play when they are not supposed to, so we are tracking those down and getting rid of them as intended.
We found a small bug where strafing while ADS was causing some errant shots to occur and we have fixed that up as well.
Other than that, we are really happy with the way the combat update is performing and the positive impact that it has had on the game experience.
Now for the meaty part of this letter. Our next update to the game, coming in early August, will be some changes to Battle Royale focusing on two things: making the mid-game a bit speedier and more engaging, and putting in a system to address gas camping.
The biggest change that we are making to the mid-game is dynamically changing the size of the safe zone based on the number of players left. The fewer players there are left, the smaller the safe zone. This is going to force people together a bit quicker and cause more conflict. It will also add some tension to how long you can scavenge and craft as you prepare for the end game.
For gas camping, and this will also affect mid-game a bit, we are adding a new system called Toxicity. Toxicity is a new resource pool that fills over time when a player is in the gas (currently takes 3 minutes to fill). Once a player reaches max Toxicity they take increased damage from the gas. The main goals of the system are to prevent long term gas camping by making it harder to stay in the gas for long periods of time in the early game, and impossible in the mid-late game, without making the toxic gas more punishing for players that get stuck in it for a short period of time.
The parachute sequence was smoothed out a bit. Some new animations have been added for overall polish. The biggest change that you will see that is good to mention is the actual landing sequence is smoothed out. Instead of plowing straight into the ground and then magically appearing on the ground, your character will level out and make a smoother landing on the ground before detaching from the parachute. Your first thought might be that it puts you at a disadvantage, but it does the same exact thing for every single player, so it is an even playing field. This was all about smoothing out the landing and fixing some bugs associated with landing, like taking small amounts of damage when you landed.
Air drops were polished up a bit. If you look at the plane, it should be obvious if it has dropped its payload or not. After dropping the payload, the plane will bank upwards for visual clarity. We also tuned the whistle sound effect on the bombs to have a larger radius to give you a bit more warning when they are incoming.
We did not want to mess with the core BR formula too much as that it is so enjoyed in the game, so outside of the very specific items mentioned above, the rest of the changes were small polish items and bug fixes.
The final change coming with this update is that we will be removing the Battle Royale: Zombies mode due to low player population. There are some people that really enjoy it, but the population is so low I would prefer to roll them into the general BR population for better matchmaking. We will retain the ruleset and use it for skirmishes in the future for some fun, but as a regular mode it will no longer be available.
The other large system that underwent a lot of tuning and polish was the vehicle physics. We have put off tuning this for a long time as we focused on other things, but its turn came up to get some attention.
This includes the key and hotwire changes that were discussed some time back. If you missed out on that, instead of needing batteries and spark plugs to run a vehicle, you now just need a key. Keys will be in most cars already making them easy to utilize and take. Players can take keys with them and not leave them in a car. So there is also a new hotwiring mechanic. Hotwiring a car will take some time leaving you vulnerable to someone to come along and find you, but will give you access to cars without having to worry about having batteries or keys.
Physics for all car types have been tuned and adjusted to be unique to each car. The police cruiser is faster than the truck, but the truck has better suspension for off-roading, etc. All of the tuning included adjusting top speed, acceleration, suspension, and handling. You will need to practice a bit to get used to the new feel, but in the long run it is going to drive a lot more predictably for you (less bouncy and squirrely).
Part of the physics was addressing what happens when your car flips. It should no longer slide along the ground as if there was no friction. It will come to a stop (or sometimes roll depending on the terrain). You will have to break the habit of flipping and then thrusting to cause the car to flip upright again. Flipping now comes with a little penalty; you will need to exit the car and manually flip it over (just an interaction with the vehicle itself). This is also a handy addition to times when you inadvertently flip your vehicle cruising around the map.
We changed up the seating positions for the truck a little, particularly with team games in mind. Passengers in the bed now have the ability to utilize a wide field of fire around the entire vehicle by being able to be in a standing position directly behind the cab. The penalty to this is that those players will be more exposed to incoming fire.
Collisions were improved: vehicles to players, and vehicles to terrain. The whole system was cleaned up and improved.
Finally on vehicles, we did a full audio pass on everything to do with the vehicles. New engines, balance pass, skidding sounds to let you know when you are losing control, horns - it is all there.
Z2 is continuing to make progress. We are just wrapping up all of the world building, ensuring all of the objects are in there correct locations, collision all works, etc. And we are now heading into the polish and optimization phase, which is the last phase prior to being ready to launch it live to replace Z1.
We are not planning on putting it up on Test for this weekend. We have some fun activities planned next week on the Test servers with Z2 so we are going to focus getting it ready for that, and from there our sights will be set on launching it.
Weekends throughout July will continue the double health skirmish. We are playtesting some fun ideas for August. More on that when we get into August!