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  1. Hi everyone, This was another productive week. We fixed the blown out ColorLUT issue that I posted pictures of last week. We are knee deep in fixing an in-game browser issue that causes a crash when opening up ARMAS. We are also working through more collision and game-play issues in Asylum. And lastly, that's right, we are working on lighting issues in the districts. I know this is something that has been taking forever, and several players suggested that we release the Beta with unfinished lighting. However, just to show you some of what we are fixing, I pulled some images that went back and forth between the team this week. Building lighting in Unreal is actually 2 different processes: (1) Baking lightmaps and (2) building indirect lighting 1. Baking lightmaps This is an ancient technique for generating fast lighting that doesn't require very powerful graphics cards. The primary downside to lightmaps is resolution. Lighting is baked to a texture and then wrapped around objects just like normal textures, but if your lightmap is too small, then you'll end up with very jagged results. Conversely, if your lightmaps are too big, then you'll eat up a lot of texture space. Also, you can only build lightmaps for objects that are static - meaning they don't move. So it's not a technique you can apply to everything in the scene. Ultimately, even though this technique is very old, lightmapping works well if you blend it with several other techniques. In our case, we don't build lightmaps, we build shadow maps. This enables us to change their color and how much they influence the scene at different times of day. We can only build shadowmaps for static objects that don't move, and those objects require a separate UV channel to map that generated texture into. Buildings are the best example of objects that we bake lighting for. However, Unreal is very finicky about the UVs it maps into. For those that don't know, UVs are a 2D position on a texture that is assigned to each vertex in a mesh. This defines how textures map onto the mesh. Lightmaps require "unique" UVs. That means each vertex maps to a unique spot in the texture, which makes sense because the lighting generated into the lightmap would be unique for each part of the building. If any of those UVs are slightly overlapping or touching the edge of the texture, then Unreal errors and aborts lighting that object. We run lighting with error color coding turned on to see which objects have issues. This looks something like: The orange area indicates that part of the lighthouse entrance doesn't have correct UVs. This specific case likely wouldn't be a big deal for Beta. However, this next case is, because every ceiling in this part of the district has no lighting and looks terrible. As you imagine some districts have thousands of individual meshes that require lightmap UVs, so we have been going through by hand to fix all the areas that aren't building correctly. Corrected lighting ends up looking like this: 2. Building indirect lighting This is a new system that was introduced in Unreal 3.5. I'm sure Reloaded felt this would be the biggest visual upgrade for players, and they aren't wrong. However, the new lighting engine in Unreal 3.5 also costs quite a bit more to render, so all of our initial performance tests were terrible. We have spent a lot of time optimizing so that players will get the benefits of better lighting, but not take a huge performance hit. Indirect lighting is built into a 3D grid and it samples the various lights in the scene at that location, so that when a moving or dynamic object is in that area, it is quick to apply the lights. This next image shows off some of the better lighting which is a combination of overhead dynamic lights, dynamic shadows, baked shadowmaps, ambient occlusion, and built indirect lighting on the player). It also shows off one of the big flaws in how indirect lighting is built. The indirect lighting in this shot is the orange light casting on the player. The flaw in the shot is that there is no obvious source of that lighting. In fact, that orange light is coming from just inside that building. This only happens if they get too close to the wall because the 3D grid is 4ft x 4ft, which doesn't have the resolution to sample lighting from both inside and outside the building. To fix this, it requires us to build lighting volumes that "trap" the light inside the volume by inserting extra cells in the 3D grid for indirect lighting to emulate where walls would prevent light from leaking outside. The art team has been building lighting volumes for these cases. Lastly, we had a couple players mention that we needed to turn on ambient occlusion. It's there, it just has problems. Here is what ambient occlusion looks like right now in Asylum. It's very faint, and it's being calculated on a very dark frame buffer in the pipeline. That's also being looked at. Thanks, Matt
  2. Hi all, I missed posting this yesterday. With the significant rise in population, we are continuing to see lots of new tickets.\ As of today we have: 229 new tickets 364 total tickets We are responding to tickets submitted on 3/27, so we're were at 7 days to respond yesterday. Thanks, Matt
  3. Hi all, Let me step in here to provide some clarity. First, I want to say that I respect the OP’s opinion. I’m going to disagree in my answer, but I can appreciate the dialog this has raised on this thread. Next, I think it is important to remember that the game itself is rated M and has pre-existing references to prostitution and the term itself. I’m not going to start diluting RTW’s vision for a gritty world with mature themes. As has already been pointed out, the term refers to a male or female, and more importantly the title was meant to be more of a joke than anything since it refers to candy on Easter rather than prostitution. This is a case where I do think the OP is taking this a bit too seriously. Having said that, if you don’t approve of the term, you have agency on whether to apply the title to yourself or not. Lastly, the forums are PG-13, and have always had different rules than the game. Previous management felt the need to blacklist the term here, which I’ll respect for the time being. Thanks, Matt
  4. For anyone experiencing high latency, please go in-game and run /latencytest Then open a ticket at http://support.gamersfirst.com and attach the .CSV file from the APBGame/Logs directory. Right now we are seeing 1 of 3 scenarios: 1) We had an issue in the last patch that was spamming the network which got rolled back. We fixed the issue, so that code is active again since the Easter patch (players are helping diagnose with latency tests) 2) Some home network providers are overloaded due to all the people working from home 3) Our servers have been hit relentlessly with DDoS - for the most part this has had zero effect on players, but occasionally a large spike results in momentary lag Thanks, Matt
  5. Hi everyone, This week was a mixture of success and frustration. We made a lot of progress knocking out bugs, and the only thing blocking the release of the Beta are some inconsistent crashes with RTX and higher end cards. At this point, we're starting to get more specific issues reported. These are things like "The stairs in this part of Asylum cause a jitter as I go up them" or "This object needs to allow shots through it." I'm not sure how much longer I will hold the Beta while we fix some of these smaller issues, but until the last of the major crash bugs is fixed, I have no choice but to hold this back. Lighting is getting very very close, but this continues to be one of the more frustrating areas. The main issue right now is color balance using Color Look Up Tables (Color LUTs). These are images that modify how specific color ranges are displayed. Here is an example of what a ColorLUT image looks like. We use this one for color grading Financial at noon. Here are some references from Live (if you look closely you'll notice some flawed lighting with foliage). All of these shots accomplish giving the game a moody look and feel while also keeping the character lit enough to see where he is. Midnight Noon 5pm Here are some shots from APB 2.1 as it stands right now. All of these shots have much better lighting consistency (ie. foliage doesn't glow). However the scenes don't have the same punchy color as Live, and the character is far too muddy while standing in shadow. This gives the overall scene a very flat feel. Midnight Noon 5pm This is all very correctable with ColorLUTs, because we punch up the contrast on specific colors. Except.. that system isn't doing what it is supposed to do. Here are some pretty awful examples of what we see right now when the team tries to enable some pretty basic ColorLUTs. This system works fine right now on console, so somewhere along the way it broke. Noon 5pm Thanks, Matt
  6. Hi Ketog, You raise some good points, and I think the answers are a lot more simple than you might expect. When we took over APB, we only had Reloaded as an example of how to run things. So largely we started by following their previous policies with some smaller changes. I also took a very conservative approach, because aspects of the community were very scary (ie. calling bomb threats to Tigg's home). For the safety of my staff, I chose to expose my identity up front, but that allowed everyone else at LO to remain somewhat anonymous till we got a better feel for things. Beyond that, we stepped into a very difficult spot. Towards the last couple years, Reloaded promised a lot of things and never delivered. Initially, we tried being more transparent with dates and things coming up, but most players responded either neutrally or negatively because those dates are often challenging to hit. This is really the only comment that confused me. I post every week about the Engine Upgrade - good, bad or ugly. I also post Customer Support stats every week. Those are areas where we are already giving 100% transparency. For the most part, I see those efforts as successful, so I am looking for more opportunities to continue doing that. Lixil lasted more than a year, and while she wasn't perfect, I think it's tough for a CM to "compete" with me. I try to get on the forums, twitter, Facebook, and discord as much as possible to stay aware of what is happening. I also try to respond when I can. We made some changes with SakeBee, so that he would have a clearer space to manage without me constantly jumping in. He's still new, but we are working on ways he can hang out with the community and get to know you guys better. I'm not going to defend RIOT. It had its benefits for my team, but we did it mostly because it was "low hanging fruit" that Reloaded had mostly finished. There were some hard lessons learned there. There are going to be a lot of opportunities for this coming up. But right now, we have to focus on the Engine Upgrade. It's blocking everything else, and a lot of the tasks for the Engine Upgrade are more "mechanical" to just getting it working like Live. However, the upcoming Beta will very much be work in progress. It will be a chance for the community to jump in and give us feedback, so we can make corrections. Thanks, Matt
  7. Hi all, We had a lot of new tickets this week from more players returning.. up about 25% per day. The team did a stellar job trying to answer as quickly as possible. As of today we have: 198 new tickets 322 total tickets We are responding to the last 6 tickets submitted on 3/20, so we're at 7 days to respond. Thanks, Matt
  8. I'm looking into South America and Asia servers as well. We have a pretty specific architecture that needs to be supported, so it takes time to identify data centers we can operate out of. It's coming. Some of the crossplay work was paused to get the Engine Upgrade out the door. But getting in support for regions was a big first step.
  9. Hi everyone, This week was a total surprise for me. On Monday, the entire US watched as our government slowly tightened up social rules to help suppress the spread of COVID-19. At Little Orbit, we took the plunge and moved everyone to working remote, and I had to hope things would all work out. And thanks to all of you, we've seen a spectacular rise in population. Keep reading below the graphs to get an update on a new data center location for APB, my Engine Upgrade has big news, and a nod to our folks in Customer Support who have worked hard to get our response times down. First, the population increase. This is our PC traffic from two weeks ago on Saturday the 7th. It shows a total peak concurrency of ~900 PC players. While this is a good measure of Citadel (which is in yellow at 700 peak players). Jericho's peak comes later in the day beyond this graph at around 8pm. This is our PC traffic from today on Saturday the 21st. It shows a total peak concurrency of ~1500 players. That's a net gain of 600 players or 66% growth. I'm extremely grateful that players have chosen to spend their free time on APB during this world wide situation. We had a couple issues with district disconnections, and a client-side issue with this week's patch that causes a hitch every so often which we will correct on Wednesday. But overall I feel like the new server architecture and anti-DDoS got a chance to shine. If this continues, we will be out of server space in the next 2 weeks. With that in mind, we have started the process to open more servers in Warsaw, Poland so our Eastern Europe and Russian players can get better latency. Next, if you haven't been following my weekly updates on the Engine Upgrade, you should check out this week. We are making our preparations for Beta. One player in our community was able to get a copy, and I am now sharing details about the rollout plan. And finally, for those who don't look at my Customer Support updates I also made an exciting post there this week. Despite moving our entire team off site, we are now at only a 4 day initial response time for tickets. We will continue to work hard to bring that down as new and old players join APB, but that is our lowest ever. Thanks, Matt
  10. Hi everyone, We had a great week with the Engine Upgrade with one notable problem that I'm going to talk about first. Due to juggling things around, we inadvertently exposed the new Beta client, and one adventurous player got a copy and was able to get in. I'm not going to block the screenshots on the forum, and he later contacted me to reveal how he did it, so we have fixed the issue. Many players sometimes assume we aren't working on this or that the Engine Upgrade will come out in 2025. And while I want to discourage other players from digging through our systems to find stuff like this, I have chosen to leave this post up simply to show that what we're doing is real. Now that the Beta client has leaked, there are a couple things that I should cover: We are only working on lighting and 8 remaining bugs at this point unless anything new comes up (which has tended to happen on this game a lot) The Beta is going to be limited to only Social and Asylum districts. APB is a massive game, and rather than continuing to grind through every possible problem in the hopes of some perfect launch, I have chosen to focus the team on a couple districts so we could polish those and let players in to test sooner. I'm very happy with the system performance in Asylum. During this week's tests, I heard a lot of positive feedback on how that district felt to play. The plan had been to release the Beta client 1 week ahead of when servers will be opened to give the players a chance to download it. Then we were going to do an initial test for a single weekend, where we open up the servers for a limited time. There has been very little testing done with a lot of players on the same district, so we want to see how the APB 2.1 servers handle everything. However, with our recent influx of players, we don't have the server capacity to host a lot of beta testers. I'm already working on a solution. As soon as we can host more than 500 players on this environment, then I'll get the gears turning. Thanks, Matt
  11. Hi all, It appears that being told to stay home has inspired many players to check out or come back to APB. We saw a massive amount of new and old players join the game this week which has led to much higher player populations on the servers. We also saw a fairly large influx of new tickets asking for access to get back into accounts and other things with a spike on Monday and Tuesday. Along side that, my team transitioned to working remotely due to coronavirus which meant several days of getting setup and moving computers around. However, I am very proud of our CS team. They hunkered down and powered through tickets - despite all the setbacks. As of today we have: 148 new tickets 298 total tickets And most impressively, we are now (for real this time) responding to tickets from 3/16, which means we are getting back to players in 4 days. This is the lowest we have ever been. Please stay safe and enjoy the extra mini-game events with our GMs this weekend. Thanks, Matt
  12. Hi all, This is a totally valid criticism from the OP. I wasn’t aware Reloaded had done this in the past, and we didn’t do it for the Thunder or the New Glory. But it makes total sense on why players would want to see it so they can decide whether to buy the box or now. We have had a second redesign of ARMAS on the books for quite a while to fix all the small images and lack of detail. I like the production values for the video posted in this thread. Nicely done! Thanks, Matt
  13. Hi everyone, First, for those who haven't seen my announcement from last night, Little Orbit is now requiring all our staff to work remotely to insure their safety and prevent the spread of coronavirus. Next, we spent a portion of the week organizing for this move, but we were able to solve the bad character shadows and lighting issues. This has been a major blocker, and it allowed us to rebuild the lighting for each district. The results are already 100% better - even without any actual lighting changes from the art team. However, on Friday my team was finally able to get a 100% reproducible scenario to fix a memory crash that has been plaguing us. The old code was 32-bit, and the new code is supposed to be 64-bit across the board, but there are many tiny exceptions that need fixing to provide overall stability. Unfortunately that means the game isn't in a runnable state right now. Once we get this issue fixed and a new Beta build is released internally, I'll post some shots at various times of day and in some of the other districts so you can see the difference. Thanks, Matt
  14. Hi everyone, I'm sure by now that everyone has seen the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on their city, work, schools, and entertainment. Starting Monday the 16th until the foreseeable future, all Little Orbit employees will be working remotely until we get different guidance from health officials. We prepped all week to make sure teams had hardware and instructions on how to check in during the day with their leads for tasks and updates. Come hell or high water, the team is dedicated to shipping the Engine Upgrade, and we didn't get this close to be sidelined by a little virus. I know this may be a little scary right now. And APB is just a game. But since many of you will be temporarily home due to work or supporting family members, we want to insure that the game is online and available for all our players to distract themselves with some missions, fight club, or a little virtual socialization in Breakwater. I'm also going to be turning on Free Premium for all players across all platforms. NOTE: We will be snapshotting the active Premium days for everyone, and we'll extend those days once everything goes back to normal. Hopefully that will make Social a little more fun for the time being. I'm also going to ask for everyone's patience with us. We are going to do our best to make this as smooth as possible. And most of all, wash your hands. Don't touch your face. Avoid large gatherings. Stay safe. Thanks, Matt
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