Oh, hello there. Hopefully everybody had a great holiday season. I've been meaning to have some testing video for you for the past, well, couple of months at this point but we've had some intermittent issues with the test server and it's sidelined our APB-specific testing. Since we hold our tests only on weekends, this means that ever missed opportunity means a week without good feedback. Jonwil's been rather busy with some real life things and hasn't had the availability we're used to, but he did diagnose the latest problems so APB testing can resume in earnest.
The server problem this time related to changes that allow us to specify your default character for each team. This has some really good advantages over the older systems, as anybody who ever spawned as a "normal" soldier on Luna could probably tell you. The downside is that if you accidentally blank out the default character, the server likes to begin restarting anytime a player joins... surprise. Anyhow, gone are the days of hardcoded "CNC_GDI_Minigunner_0" and it's now easy to pick your spawn characters.
Last summer we discussed changes to "Shooting and Jumping" and showed a first cut at somewhat dynamic stance-based accuracy and sprinting. All infantry speeds have been rebalanced, and for simplicity's sake walking has been entirely removed and replaced by sprinting (while holding shift by default). You will still jump at default speed, so no making huge leaps.
The accuracy multiplier system has been simplified into cumulative add-or-subtract penalties or boons, to make it easier conceptually. In other words, for an M16 with base accuracy of 0.4 deg deviation, walking might impose a +0.1 deg penalty, crouching might reflect a -0.2 deg aim bonus. Every weapon type gets a set of modifiers depending on what is happening. Generally:
- Jogging around has a small penalty
- Sprinting has a moderate penalty
- Jumping has a high penalty
- Crouching has a moderate bonus
- Crouching while moving is a small bonus
- Being hit, or getting lit on fire, is a small penalty
Because different weapons can have different values, trying to use a pistol while jumping will have a smaller penalty than trying to aim an M60 while jumping. An M60 or PKM does get a substantial aim bonus while crouched, and very low penalties for taking damage.
We also mentioned that we've broken the "399m/s speed limit" and have sized projectiles now. After some early testing, this means snipers are indeed back in. With a 700 m/s muzzle velocity made trickier due to bullet drop, and with high penalties for firing on the move, playing a sniper is now a bit trickier than simply a matter of click-the-heads while wiggling to avoid incoming fire. We've most recently tested snipers with a 700m effective range, and are now testing out a reduced 300m range to find a good fit.
The infantry self-healing aspect has not yet been tested, but we'll be testing that soon.
We demonstrated the vehicle damage zones last year, and have had testers focus on balancing the tanks and basic combat vehicles. The system's working well now after some initial oddities that were because of duplicate INI entries that are used to help us define the regions. However, the bonus amount has been scaled back vastly from the initial demonstration.The initial damage settings were as follows, based on the diagrams you can find in our ModDB/IndieDB images gallery:
- The green area, the main armor, receives 100% damage
- The yellow area, the tracks, receives 150% damage
- The red area on the top and rear receives 300% damage
As of the latest testing the weaker portions (yellow in diagrams) now receive 125% damage, and weakest portions (red in diagrams) now receive 225% damage. Weakest spots on the Mammoth and Phase receive only 175% damage.
Sometimes, as tanks weave in and out of cover and weapons range, it's hard to see if you are getting shots in -- especially when you must lead your target or are using something like the V2. To make it more obvious when your tank is doing its job, we've added flashing hitmarkers that appear around the reticle whenever you're dealing damage to a non-destroyed enemy target.
Hitmarks will not show up for friendly fire, or for healing the enemy. They are optionally accompanied by an audio cue. Friendly-fire, if enabled by the server, will not display hit marks but will play an alternative audio cue. They're useful, so hitmarks and hitbeeps also play for infantry combat.
Keeping soldiers interesting and survivable was one of the new goals for the next version. Infantry that like to be sneaky fall off radar after a set period of time (several seconds), making bunkers and tall grass useful. After planting C4 in a building, you could prepare to ambush the defenders by hiding in this way. Firing your weapons, jumping, jogging, or sprinting will immediately reveal you again.
Making the MRJ more useful is another goal we had. Right now we're investigating various "local" effects, including hiding all nearby friendly units off radar (making it powerful in conjunction with the Phase Tank or Gap Generators). Adding a mounted M60 to give it some limited utility while traveling with teammates or when caught alone is also on the table. These changes will make it useful on maps that lack a Radar Dome.
We also are probably going to give it the ability to be deployed and left operational but with the doors locked. That way you could bring it within range of a Radar Dome, but not need to babysit it while your team does the actual attack without you.
The radar and UI is also being given some attention. A newer, slightly larger set of radar icons now exist with some extra markers to make the radar a bit more useful. Aircraft, naval units, and mines will have unique icons. Mission objectives such as the Dome on Seamist can also be marked such that they appear from any distance, like superweapons do. A similar handy icon can be placed by mapmakers to indicate where each base is to help you keep your bearings in case you ever get lost.
Also, rather than scaling in size if a target is at a different height, the radar now indicates if it is above or below you.
Other changes to the radar system mean that infantry will also no longer appear overlaid on the vehicle they're riding in, which includes a unit that has been given stealth attributes.
Some pretty pictures and more words are on your way for this upcoming weekend.