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  1. Hi all, This week I'm going to try and make up for all the missed updates. Bear with me, this is a bit lengthy. I've seen the "Where is Matt" thread, and I appreciate the concern. I'm fine. Just busy. I figured I would start this update with a bit of context for what is happing in the studio before I jump into APB. At the beginning of January, we started a very large project alongside a longtime partner of ours. These are important projects for the health of the studio because they augment our cashflow and ability to continue investing in projects like APB. This first period of any game is a ton of work. The team is organizing milestones, delivery dates, the checklist for how to evaluate those milestones, and then the detailed overall schedule that has resource allocations for every staff member on the project. We are also working through wireframes for the user experience (UX) flow, doing mockups for the User Interface (UI), polishing up the Game Design Document (GDD), and writing the Technical Design Document (TDD). This project was based on some older tech that was written back in 2013/2014, so there has also been a technology upgrade effort to bring everything up to current standards. Per usual, I've been knee deep in all of that reviewing, asking for changes here and there, and generally building the momentum we need to finish pre-production and get into production. We're submitting the deliverables for Month #2 today, so now I can step back and let my production team take over the reins to manage the staff and continue progress. Now before I start seeing posts and panic, the team working on APB are separate from this new project. Alongside all of that, we have a second new project that we have finished organizing and reached terms on. Just waiting for paperwork and then we'll start that one too. Yep. You guessed it, I've been handling the more complex parts of business development and scope on that title as well. Some of the work will be done in-house, but most of development will be with an external group we have used before. Little Orbit's main focus is the publishing and launch for the game later this year. I've done the majority of my part already, so this is getting handed off to a producer for the next steps. We also have a big round of changes being completed for Unsung Story to get back out to our Early Access backers. And lastly, I saw mention of Descent on the forums. It's been a long hard road. I appreciate the patience of all the Kickstarter backers and Early Access fans who supported that title. I want to get the game in their hands as much as they want to play it. I promise we will share news as soon as humanly possible when we are legally able to. We are nearly there. TL;DR - 2021 has been insane for me so far, but I'm getting caught up. So that brings me to APB. Even with those various other projects happening in the background, my primary role right now has been managing the major overhaul to APB 2.1. As I mentioned in my last update, there are two main systems that were dropped during the initial console work. These systems were replaced with standard graphics techniques and removed, so it wasn't obvious to us they were ever missing. The team managed to uncover these missing systems during a line by line comparison with APB 1.20. The systems are: #1: Night lights / AO shadowing #2: Building Feature rendering We're focused on System #1 right now. As of today, we believe all of the missing code has been merged into 2.1, and it finally compiles again. Imagine spending a month moving code into a project and only now getting it all to compile. That's how much was missing. I seriously doubt that all of the logic is perfect, so there are going to be bugs littered throughout. Regardless, this is a big first milestone. Now we're recompiling the game's Unreal scripts, which isn't quite working due to some custom classes that can't be autogenerated. Once that is resolved, then here is the rest of the steps to get this part of the project completed: 1. Get the Unreal Editor working with no crashes. Let's cross our fingers. In theory, this part shouldn't take a lot of effort. There is some Day/Night Weather data that needs to be reimported from APB 1.20 through the Editor, and then this step is done. 2. Test in a very small Unreal test scene for both APB 2.1 and APB 1.20 that only has part of a street, a main directional light and a "night light" such as the street lamps. We need to generate lighting for this small scene and then compare the results side by side. Not just the visual results - but stepping through both sets of code during the process and comparing the actual data. Night lights generate individual custom shadow maps that can be turned on and off depending on the time of day. Those maps light all the static geometry they effect, but it's virtually free to render at runtime. Right now, every night light in APB 2.1 was altered during the console conversion to be a dynamic light. There's a double whammy here. First, dynamic lights themselves are super expensive. But second, the shadows for night lights are being calculated all the time. They are just set to 100% transparent during the day! 3. Do the same test to work on the missing "ambient occlusion" map data. In APB 2.1, they decided to go with Screen Space Ambient Occlusion (SSAO) which is done in GPU shaders and rendered at runtime. But even after selecting that system and getting it working, the console devs disabled it when APB was launched on console. We found out why when we turned it back on. It doesn't work. During the Open Beta tests, you guys all saw the flicker that happens when running or entering a car. This is because the camera's field of view changes which in turn causes the flicker as an artifact. We spent quite a bit of time looking for how to fix this, and nearly everything we found said it couldn't be solved. The math just doesn't work. Back in APB 1.20 they cheated and baked out AO to a different style map that could be overlaid on the scene. Not only is this much faster to render, but it doesn't flicker. It also solves another problem - small shadows. In Step 2, I talked about all those dynamic night lights. Each of those casts shadows on everything includes foliage/grass. You can imagine how expensive it gets during portions of the map that have lots of foliage. The AO map takes care of those small shadows without all the overhead we have today. 4. Merge Unreal 3 and Unreal 3.5 render techniques. With all the data in place, then we can actually bake lights for a simple test district and run around. This is the trickiest part. We want to preserve the dynamic lighting from Lightmass, the new lighting engine in Unreal 3.5. Lightmass has a very slick pre-calculated grid of light samples that are used to cheaply light moving or animating objects in the scene without having to resort to expensive dynamic lights. But for static objects, we want to use the older shadow map / AO data combined with our newer multithreaded techniques. That's a bit of a jigsaw puzzle to work out, but there's already been some work being done to try and identify all the shaders that need to operate together. As soon as step 4 is done, we'll benchmark everything again. It's possible we may be able to launch APB 2.1 based on this single system, and then we can work on System #2 in the background for more improved performance. Additionally, for all those players who felt the districts were too dark or the lighting was odd, my hope is that we'll capture the color corrections from APB 1.20 but with slightly better looking techniques. I know this sounds like a lot, and it is. Unfortunately there aren't a lot of small milestones that I can talk about in between each step, which makes these updates more difficult to write. I'll do my best moving forward. I'm hoping once we get to Step 2, I can start posting screenshots. But right now I can't commit to the same weekly updates like before. That's it for now. Again, sorry about the lack of updates or responses to my inbox or discord. My schedule is nonstop right now. We want to get this completed for you guys as soon as possible. Thanks, Matt
  2. Hi all, It's been far too long since I posted an update. I'm actually working on the Engine Upgrade project as a dev, so my free time has become pretty heavily impacted. At this point we are focused on two systems that got removed during the initial console project. One involves a custom lighting solution that eliminates the overhead of dynamically lighting and shadowing thousands of objects in the scene. We found just enough hints of it to have the guys find the rest of it in APB 1.20. It's a lot of code to port in, and it touches the editor, tools, and the runtime game. Work is well underway, but I won't have a sense of how long it will take for another couple weeks. It's not as simple as copying code in and hitting compile. Unfortunately there are extensive differences between the rendering pipelines. I'm sure this is why it wasn't brought over in the original console work. Alongside that, there is another custom solution that Real Time Worlds created to batch render and efficiently handle building features and interiors. Again, there is a lot of code that was removed, but this part will be slightly more difficult. We are also missing all the data that drives the proxy system. That will have to be gathered from APB 1.20 and then imported into 2.1 once we are done. Work continues. Thanks, Matt
  3. Hi all, It's been a while since I have had to address this, but recently we have had some significant network issues. First, a couple days ago, our provider had an emergency maintenance to replace and move equipment around for our game. It's unfortunate we didn't get more warning, but sometimes we are at the mercy of other companies and their schedules. Second, and more important, we have had some bad network latency in the game. This is NOT our servers or a performance issue. This is due to an extended series of DDoS attacks that began when we announced the Open Beta for today. From the network graph below, you can see that we are consistently getting attacked for between 150 gigabits and 200 gigabits with the occasional spike up to 250 or 300 gigabits. These are big attacks. They take special rules to mitigate, and the attackers keep shifting the form of attack to make things more difficult. It's a shame. We're just trying to ship this new engine. Hopefully we will keep things smooth today, because these sorts of attacks skew our results and make it nearly impossible to finish the network optimization. Sorry, Matt
  4. Hi all, It's been a little while since my last update. We ran our 4th Open Beta test on the 21st/22nd, and last weekend was a holiday for me, so I'm just getting caught up. I will admit that our 4th Open Beta was very frustrating. The team worked hard to clear up the issues from the 3rd Open Beta (or so we thought), but yet once we started testing many of those same issues popped up again. Fortunately this time we had a lot of extended data logging and devs online capturing specific moments to narrow down items. More than 250 players submitted feedback and logs. We've still got a lead developer out on holiday, but here is where we stand: SSAO caused client slowdowns (this was supposed to be disabled in this build) Shadows and time of day lighting not finalized Server spikes in both the world server and hosting code (world server has been fixed) Character baking issue (we believe this is an alternate UI flow to the previous issue that we already fixed) Scaleform/UI tearing (mostly on the opening screens like login) Audio problems (very clear what the issues are with the Vegas) Chrome showing up on cars (we think this is a settings issue where anyone running below a certain graphic setting will see the chrome) Keybinds not being able to be rebound (reported but not confirmed) To be clear, there were many other issues reported, but these were the largest that we felt we needed to fix before diving deeper to start addressing collisions or other gameplay issues. I'll keep you posted at the end of this week on our progress. Thanks, Matt
  5. Hi all, This will be a shorter update this week, and I think it will be obvious why in the next couple days. At this point, we have run 3 Open Betas, and we need more information related to the player hardware along side the performance data. We have a lot of players who say they have had good experiences, but we also have many players who have given negative feedback. We took the time this week to significantly improve our stat collection technique. It will now also include any latency tests. So if you're experiencing what appear to be server lag, then please run /latencytest once before you exit the game. The new data collection will run and upload a dxdiag as well. Before the data had nothing identifiable, and while it is still anonymous, it does contain added hardware specs and other info. With that in mind, we have added a popup when you exit the game that asks whether you want to contribute data. We don't want to violate anyone's privacy, but we hope that as many players as possible submit data on this next test. Aside from APB 2.1 work, we also continued work on console. The build is edging right up to the memory limits on PS4, which is creating some issues debugging. But we're making good progress. Lastly, there will be more info soon on the next Open Beta, but this time we're going to do things in 2 parts. The first part will be a shorter more concentrated stress test, and the second part will be another normal play period. I would love to see as many players join for both tests, and as a little incentive we have added something fun to check out in Social. Thanks, Matt
  6. Hi all, Backtracking a bit. In all the election run up, you may have missed the severe fires that hit Orange County during the week of Oct 26. Half our team had to be evacuated from their homes, and many spent 2-3 days in hotels or with relatives. It didn't make sense to try and conduct business with everyone's focus elsewhere, so we got a very slow start after the Beta weekend. Fortunately, our amazing fire fighters in Southern California kept all the buildings and homes safe, and no property was lost. This last week was much more productive. Here are a list of the major Beta issues that were reported (or picked up from stats), and what items have already been addressed: Graphical glitches in the UI made worse by turning on VSync. These primarily showed up during the login/character/district select flow. "Skinny" characters or loss of character customizations in faces and body proportions. (FIXED) Lots of audio issues. Missing audio. Directional audio not correct. This included left and right sounds or 3D positioned sounds. (FIXED) Graphic/chrome issue on player vehicles caused by spawning a second vehicle from the same spawner. Periodic lag / latency in districts. (POSSIBLE FIX THAT NEEDS TESTING) Stutters on the loading screen. Game crash on accepting a clan invite. (FIXED) Frame rate loss when moving the mouse around very fast. Input delay in the new Fullscreen Windowed mode. For the console players, we also jumped back into those builds to merge over all the recent work on PC. Both PS4 and XB1 are now compiling again with all the new content. We'll be looking at console crashes next week. Thanks, Matt
  7. Hi all, Just a quick update before the Halloween festivities start. I want to thank everyone who jumped into the Open Beta 3 weekend. We collected lots of good data from the test. While there was some engine work this week, we are still collecting and digesting all the logs and player feedback. Next week, we will be putting together the next sprint based on what we prioritize. I hope everyone has a safe holiday. Thanks, Matt
  8. Servers have been restarted. Let's see if players start getting opposed missions and the dev gun should be gone from everyone's inventory. Thanks, Matt
  9. Hi everyone, Rough start on Open Beta #3. We're looking at mission problems and removing some guns that shouldn't have been available. Bear with us. Thanks, Matt
  10. Hi everyone, I thought I would give the Community Events Team a shout today today. This is an entirely player run group that recently organized a fun APB Tournament that they just finished. These guys put in a lot of work behind the scenes, and you can join them on their Discord here: https://discord.gg/ZzefFfm Little Orbit has put up all the matches through the Semi Finals. We're still working on editing down the final matches. If you missed them, here's a link to the new CET Sept-Oct 2020 video playlist with the matches in order on our YouTube channel. I want to pass along a personal note of thanks to everyone who participated, the commentators, and to Blank for all the great graphics, Great job. Thanks, Matt
  11. Hi everyone, Here is a quick update: If you don't want to read the details, so far we are still on track to run the next Open Beta - but work isn't complete yet. So there could still be hiccups. As I mentioned last week, the big remaining task is to migrate new or changed code and content from 1.20 to 2.1 so that new players that have their characters copied don't crash. We still have to do a couple other minor things like removing the AVX requirement from the installer, now that we have removed it from the build. Our internal goal is to get a candidate build to start testing by Monday EOD. That will need to be approved by our QA by Tuesday EOD for our schedule to hold. So far we have finished the code migrations from 1.20 into 2.1. That leaves data and content. For those two, we have a couple options: We can try and automatic merge We can accept the newly migrated content from 1.20 We can ignore the 1.20 content and keep the 2.1 content because it's already modified properly Or we can hand merge I believe everything left right now falls into that last category. There are 9 Unreal packages to fix Some audio work and rebuilding the sound banks Some minor map changes And data changes We have divided all of the remaining items across the team, and everyone is working in parallel to finish. More in a couple days. Thanks, Matt
  12. Yep. Missed it. We'll get that pulled down too. Anyone who previously purchased it can keep them. We aren't removing them from inventory - just not selling them any more.
  13. For the OP, Our predecessors made the Trump mask, and after some analysis I made the call to remove it a while back. This was not done for political reasons. Like many other mafia style games, APB is set in an alternate reality where San Paro represents a hybrid of cities in the US. While the world of APB does have politicians, none of them are real figures like Trump. Thanks, Matt
  14. Hi everyone, I knew aiming for the Open Beta this weekend was aggressive, and unfortunately we have hit a minor setback yesterday. As we were testing the new build, we found that new players joining the Open Beta might crash if they have any of the new Joker Store items. This is because we haven't migrated content from 1.20 into 2.1 since Open Beta #2. That process is now started, but it means we won't be able to run the test this weekend. I'll keep you posted. Thanks, Matt
  15. Hi everyone, Small Monday update: We haven't done extensive testing, but here are the early results comparing a build with AVX support to a build without AVX. This was done on a fairly high end PC. The first test was Financial: The second test was Waterfront: NOTE: There is a margin of variance for running these kinds of tests based on pedestrians and cars that go by which means essentially the results are the same. This is just one of the cases where APB does the opposite of what you would expect. In light of this, we are dropping the AVX requirement moving forward. Thanks, Matt
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