It's likely I won't reply, I barely log into the forums to begin with. I don't mind if the community agrees or disagrees, as this is mostly opinion based with some facts sprinkled here and there.
I'm adding this chunk up here after I typed everything out, exhausted now I might not know everything about everything, and I might not be the smartest person in the community, but as a player, and a gamer, someone who knows games, and has seen countless fail and dwindle away after once being sustainable, I felt like venting somewhere, and I was also sick and tired of the game disconnecting me with Error/Disconnected. Yeah, that's a real helpful error code to send to the support staff in resolving the fucking issue causing it. That gets discussed a bit more here too.
Lets start with a little backstory first. I'm a no name who's played on and off since about 2012. I've played for a few years at a time, quit for a few years at a time, and for some reason always come back. Well, I recently came back, maybe a month or two before Valentines day. Now, I played enough to know what was wrong with the game, what wasn't, and why certain things were the way they were. For example, my main games allowed weapon purchases with in game funds for permanent ownership, I understood that their monetization model allowed for that. As for APB, I noticed the weapons were leases, and I quickly noticed that the monetization model, also, allowed for that, and was designed around that, and worked. That's not why this game is dying.
This game is dying for various reasons, many things just adding to the pile of old things that never really got addressed or were overlooked. First, I noticed that within a week of my return to the game, we were still suffering from server problems and what not on the NA side of things, okay, so that hasn't changed, no surprise honestly. I'll admit, as of recently that's actually not the case, the servers have been 'mostly' stable, I say 'mostly' because there are still random disconnects that happen, for no reason known to me. I came back, and had no idea LO had even acquired G1, everything was exactly the same as I had left the game, except maybe for some new skins, and shotguns feeling different than they had used to. It took people informing me that the game had been purchased by a new company, and that they actually cared! I was like, that's a great joke, but you're full of shit. Well, turns out, LO was indeed real and it wasn't an entirely wrong statement from those people.
This is where it gets a little bit ranty. One of the first things I found out, after being told that shotguns had been rebalanced, and were overall in a worse state than previously, was that there had been a reversal of any FairFight ban that wasn't for scamming or fraud. Well, that's already put this new company into a negative light right there, this game had enough cheating problems to begin with, but hey maybe that's just a one off thing and they probably had a reason right? I still have yet to figure out that reason. Almost every single person I've talked to who had their ban reversed, has admitted that at one point they cheated. Every single one. Doesn't seem like those people needed to come back, right? I'm sure a large majority of people would agree, if someone wasn't wrongfully banned, they shouldn't be unbanned, right? This is a large amount of people I'm talking about too, not just 3 randoms I talked to and they were like, oh yeah blah blah blah. No, this is maybe upwards of 20 people, I talk a lot okay? I'm also good at figuring shit out too, relating to people, personalities, information. Information is key. See, until the person has admitted they cheated, I look at them as having been banned wrongfully. Now, when I get them to actually admit, without even prodding, asking, just through casual conversation, everything starts to fall into place. As for me, I have yet to meet someone who was unbanned by this wave, who was wrongfully banned, or who hadn't cheated in the past. There's also the matter of there are still cheaters present in the game, bypasses are readily available, all that stuff is easy to find.
Now, here comes the stability of the overall game itself, this is trying to leave the server issues out of it, one, they're pretty fine now anyways. Okay, so, what 5 or so months and I get my first good thing. Okay, so they've done something positive, finally, maybe I came back at a bad time right? Stable servers don't mean anything, if the game client itself is just as unstable as those servers had been prior to rectification. What good are stable servers, if the game client itself is going to crash to desktop, lock up, or randomly disconnect and boot someone to the login screen. Now, I'm aware of the /latencytest command, and I've been using this quite a bit, any little hiccup, I use it, I want LO to have as much data as they need to fix this right? Diagnostic tools exist for reasons, data is sent from users to the providers so they can comb through and find inconsistency, and work towards fixing something. I'm glad they've added this command. I'm glad there exists a tool for crashes as well, I send the report every time it crashes. The one small problem with this though, is there is no way to predict when the game is going to disconnect and boot a user to the login screen. Sadly, that means the latencytest command will not work in this situation, unless by chance the test had been running when the disconnect occurs. As far as I'm aware, no diagnostic data is recorded when disconnecting in such a manner, and since it is not a crash, there is no use in the diagnostic tool, which is meant for crashes anyways, not disconnects. The problem is that the disconnecting to the login screen has been consistent and continuous since I've come back, and I'm not the only one with that problem. APB is the only game I experience this in, process of elimination tells me it's unlikely to be on my end. If I were a new player, and I'd tried 2 games I was interested in, and liked both just as much, and had to choose one that didn't disconnect during missions, didn't crash, or one that worked fine, was harder to play, ran a little slower, but was overall stable without causing a loss in progress and in game rewards, I'd pick the more stable one that wasn't crashing. There's nothing more irritating than doing good in a missions for once, in your first half hour or playing for the day, and getting kicked to the lobby, with no way to get a little dopamine high and say, well I sent something useful to the devs so they can fix it. latency test after the fact is pointless, the error has already happened.
Speaking of doing well in missions, that's a mixed bag for some people, and a straight up easy thing for others. This game has a much larger skill gap than most games, there are many things that the average player would take years to learn, and perfect. This is not an easy game, it's not a game you can just jump into and expect to be fine, like most games out there are. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, in fact I would argue that it's a positive thing, and more games should be like this. There's nothing better than being rewarded with improvement in ones self, especially relating to in game performance, performance being how well you know the mechanics, the split second decisions you make that decide the outcome for the round, or for the entire mission. Running one way instead of another, knowing the other way will be watched, or naded. or whatever. This game is really good, really really good, at making people have to learn new things as they progress, over weeks, months, and years. The problem here honestly stems from the low population we're experiencing right now. There is such a low pool of players, with a large majority of that pool being players who are long time veterans, who have invested thousands, literal thousands of hours into honing their skillsets and making themselves the best they can be, that the matchmaking system would have a difficult time perfectly matching every game, with other factors mixing in as well, like who's currently in a mission, who's currently ready, is this person marked as afk. It's a fact that more often than not, there will be large imbalance between matches. This isn't exactly the fault of LO, this is a byproduct of the games population having dipped so far. However, there are also things that have led to this decline, things that haven't been done to sustain growth within the playerbase. This isn't something that can be fixed on the current iteration of the game, I'm fully aware of this, rebuilding the matchmaking system would be hard given the current state of the game. If I had my way, from the get-go the matchmaking would take into account total account playtime, and factor that into whether the match is ideal. This isn't going to be the case pre-engine upgrade. What can be fixed though, are the players that abuse this type of problem, who know that the threat system is an inherently broken system and find ways to beat it, and cause the gap between skill levels in matches to be even higher than it already is. There should be no excuse what so ever for highly skilled players, who know exactly what they're doing, to be going into areas intended for players who haven't had enough time with the game, intended for those newer players to learn how the game functions and how things work, how guns work, how objectives work, why this happens instead of that, etc. Because of the large learning curve this game has, there is no saying 'well just git gud' that doesn't work here. You won't 'git gud' if you're not given time to learn why this person is instant killing you, why they seem to know where you spawn. New players who experience these types of people likely think they cheat, when in reality, they're just good at the game, and abusing a broken system to fight fresh players. That's never going to sustain growth, not in this game. Other games with lower skill curves, sure, that's not a problem. This game isn't those games.
Cheats, well, we all know they exist, we all know who we think does and doesn't cheat. We all have our own opinions about whether someone is or isn't cheating, whether they have or haven't cheated. This would be easily cleared up with the returning of ban broadcasting throughout districts. Considering this has been worsened by the mass unbanning, which I know my opinion of isn't favorable to a majority of people. I'm sure a large portion are going to read the first bit about what is in my head about the unbans, and stop reading, dislike the post, and move on, or leave a comment expressing their disdain for my existence. The thing here, which I am also guilty of myself, is there is such little knowledge of whether the anti-cheat(s) have done, or are doing their jobs, mixed with the previous matchmaking and skill gap issues, that it leads to a very high rate of hackusations, and a very high rate of people being labeled as cheaters who shouldn't, people taking no second judgement and instantly assuming someone is cheating. Like I said, I'm guilty of this, there are people I've thrown under the bus as cheaters, and refused to believe anything else. A large portion of this problem is the fact there is no real evidence of the anti-cheat solutions working, sure, we know they're there, we know that it's not a fake non-existent solution. From personal experience, mixed with psychology, friends are more likely to defend friends in situations whether or not the friend is in the right or wrong. Members of the same team are more likely to defend their team mates, members of the same organization defend each other. There's always a common ground, there's something in common between people, the team colors, the flags, the factions, clans, whatever it may be. I've noticed this applies to APB, really, really applies to APB. The way I've come to notice this, is it's mainly between clans, and factions, and of course friends. Friends will in most cases always defend friends, even if they don't know what's actually going on. A majority of the hackusations I've seen, and a majority of rumors I've heard spread around, have been from opposite sides. I more often than not see hackusations from one faction, made towards members of the opposite. Obviously, that's easier, you play against the opposite faction, you spend more time paying attention to how the enemy plays, that's what wins the game. I'm guilty of this myself, I've defended people I know nothing about, never talked to, because they were on my side, doing well, yet I myself didn't know whether they may or may have not been cheating. I've also hackusated people, simply because they were out performing me, and likely because the matchmaking doesn't have a good enough variety in the pool of players. I've got less than a thousand hours, and most people I wind up blindly hackusating end up having in the neighborhood of three thousand, and more hours. More than 3 times the time with the game than me. Rumors, and the nature of people and how that nature applies in this game, make it really easy to look at someone and say, I've heard about them, and they're killing me 10 times to me killing them 1 time, they must be cheating. This isn't a LO problem, this is a community problem, compounded with the lack of satisfaction that the anti-cheat is doing anything. Broadcasting bans was less toxic than breeding internal hatred towards one another based off of nothing. One of the first changes with the anti-cheat I'd make, is re-enabling global broadcasting of bans. I'd also mark anyone who had been banned, on the same hardware IDs with some type of icon, so that people know this person had been banned, and a tooltip for the icon saying what the ban was for. Obviously making a new account after a ban is against the ToS, does that stop anyone? No, does that get looked into? No, that takes too much manpower and time. Hell, there could be even a way to redeem oneself by allowing the tooltip to be a different color if the person has showed genuine traits of being an asset to the community post-ban, helping new players by explaining how things work, I don't fuckin know, just, something better than the way this shit is now. Broadcast bans again.
Content, it's no surprise to anyone that the newest batch wasn't what many people had hoped for, or expected. This has been discussed and shown publicly by Matt Scott himself, with the statistics for RIOT. This shows even more in the playercounts currently for the mode. When was the last time anyone got a match on NA? Overall, this showed me that LO actually tried, maybe not their hardest, but they tried. They tried the wrong way though. There wasn't enough research into what the community enjoys and doesn't enjoy. This game is based entirely around objective based matches. Even the large scale mode prior to RIOT, fightclub, is based around objectives. I'm not saying RIOT isn't based around objectives, but, RIOT doesn't fit in with the mix here. A large amount of people with the announcement of what RIOT would actually be, stated, that if they wanted to play a battle royale game, they would go play a battle royale game. The industry has moved on from making battle royale MODES, to making battle royale GAMES. When making battle royale as a GAME, the entire game can be built around that, balanced around that. It doesn't work very well the other way around in most cases, as the pre-existing game has been built up and designed around what that game was supposed to be. Trying to tack on a battle royale game mode causes more work, and trouble, as things are already balanced for the game that exists already, things already work certain ways for a reason. This was proven when there were bugs where weapons were dropping from players in modes outside of RIOT. I am aware that Matt has stated that this mode was so that the team can learn the ins and outs of the game and mechanics and what not, but this was a burn on the community as a whole. The game has gone a long time without meaningful content, and people had been expecting something that they were never going to get, and that's not good. If this was indeed true, and the mode was simply for the development team to familiarize themselves with the code and how the game works and how objectives work, etc, why not have done this internally, on a separate build of the game. Hyping up a community is only good, when the deliverance at the end of the hype is good, and leads to people trying to bring in others to the game. When the community greatly rejects what's delivered, it only leads to lower morale for the playerbase, and leads to the vocal members, and the members with influence, to tell people that it wasn't a good launch. It spreads further negativity, articles aren't posted about flops either. There was an article when the mode was announced, by a somewhat popular website, who first of all had mis information and tried to say APB was getting a run of the mill battle royale mode, which, isn't exactly accurate. In the future, I would hope more about the game and the players is understood, and a better motive than just a testing ground, is behind what is released content wise.