Finishing Nuclear Winter
With so much news about new maps and features for APB 2.0 and work on that front, sometimes it was easy to forget about the existing public build. Throughout June and July, work for the next public upgrade, APB 1.4, continued and became a central focus for much of the team. Subtitled "Nuclear Winter," this new release would reinvigorate the older gameplay model that was last touched late last year.
Gamma testing was essentially put on hold, and Nuclear Winter became our testing focus. Beta had some pretty good balance but there were lots of aspects of gameplay that could stand to be redone. Making too many changes could ruin the nearly 50:50 balance we had managed to maintain so far.
To keep gameplay fresh, we planned to both overhaul and introduce maps, while removing maps that we felt were not fun enough or had problems that could not be corrected easily. Because of the name "Nuclear Winter," we felt a new snow map would be appropriate. Camos Canyon, new in APB 1.4, is shown below. With high income and lots of space to maneuver, Camos Canyon was intended to feature lots of tank combat and running battles between bases.
Staff Updates & New Machinima
Battlelaf recorded a series of new voice clips for quick commands for Nuclear Winter, plus Wallywood and Ateatree joined the staff for audio and written work respectively. Ateatree had been following the community for a while and was looking for writing experience as well as a way to leverage his voice acting talent. Wallywood was well known as a tester and server moderator, and was also recruited based on his experience developing the Beyond the Path machinima. Speaking of which, the third Beyond the Path episode was released at the end of June (production of episode four was put on hold due to production team travel).
New Assets, Now Textured!
Back to talking about Gamma, TheBeerinator finished texturing One Winged Angel's new AK47 as well, which can be seen below. Another notable AK47 change (beyond the new look) is that the alternate fire is no longer actually hitscan, the bullets have a lower velocity now which will make hitting people at close range with the alternate-fire full automatic fire a bit more difficult.
Something a few people had suggested for a while was some sort of binoculars for the Captain and Kapitan, to give them the ability to check health from afar as well as to more easily spot incoming forces or check out what the enemy is buying from a relatively safe hilltop. TheBeerinator took some time to do the texture for r34ch's Allied Binoculars in addition to the AK47 he had done earlier.
TheBeerinator and r34ch were a bit more prolific than that. They also made this high-powered explosive, the bombs dropped by the Soviet's Badger bomber can come either with or without a parachute to delay impact on the designated target. How would you designate a target? It will likely involve an airfield and a flare, but there are also good odds of automatic bombing raids that will take place as an added perk if you can destroy all Allied AA Guns on a map during a mission context. Consider it a bonus objective; a comparable Allied sub-objective might trigger periodic Longbow raids or artillery attacks.
ChopBam spent much of June and July basically reverse engineering all the old maps that we have poor source files for, or lost the gmax source files for, into the very useful 3DS format. This also meant a chance to redo some of the muddy old texture work, address map boundaries, smooth some of the older jaggy mountains, and clean things up for Nuclear Winter (and Gamma too). Some of those boundaries might include land mines. You will be warned. Signs like this might tip you off to minefields, may also help guide you in the right direction, or let you know of other dangers.
Gamma Map Roster
To give you an idea of what we're looking at for a map roster for Gamma, we'll start with the 17 confirmed maps. Anything marked (new) is either completely new (such as Guard Duty), or heavily revamped or remade (such as Fissure). These may get minor cosmetic changes and updates as new assets are introduced and may have small tweaks to be done, but you will definitely see them in Gamma:
- Camos Canyon (new)
- Fissure (new)
- Guard Duty (new)
- Keep Off The Grass
- North by Northwest (new)
- Pipeline (new)
- Ridge War
- River Raid
- Stormy Valley
- The Woods Today
- To The Core (new)
Up next are the 10 maps that are still being finished but will likely be completed for Gamma's release. They are mostly done or maps that we definitely want to see done, with very little chance of being cut:
- AS_Seamist (new)
- Camos Crossing (new)
- Canyon River (new)
- Fjord (new)
- Forest of Illusion (new)
- Glacier (new)
- Killfields (new)
- Luna (new)
- New Moon (new)
- Under (new)
Pacific Threat may very well be countable among those we'd like to see, although it's not for sure. Post-2.0 maps that we are looking at include the following:
- Alpine Lake (new)
- A Path Beyond (new)
- Coastal Influence (new)
- Equal Opportunity (new)
- Excavation (new)
- Hostile Waters (new)
- Hourglass (new)
- Metro (new)
- Nottingham (new)
- Pacific Threat
- Partium (new)
- Shake It Baby (new)
For some new-map previews, we've got somewhat final shots of Guard Duty to show you, and early work in progress shots of North by Northwest. Guard Duty is actually based upon an early RA1 singleplayer map instead of the usual multiplayer inspiration. The only clear objective is to destroy the enemy base, though! MetalFej originally made this, but ChopBam has heavily touched it up. It will be a lower tech map, with a few routes into each base. I know there is a Tesla Coil visible in the Soviet base, but it has been replaced by a pair of Flame Towers.
PointlessAmbler also put together a brand new launcher/frontend for A Path Beyond, to be used by both Nucelar Winter and Gamma. The Nuclear Winter one will have most of the features that the Gamma one does, but the Gamma version will feature better integration with the game servers and a peer to peer server discovery system that negates the need for any "master server." Moving away from a master server is very important; right now, if our server goes down, you cannot view games in the server browser. And if the EA-endorsed XWIS master server goes down, you cannot view the server list in-game AND most servers will have a connection failure altogether!
Beyond the typical stock options you'll be able to push things a little further, so we will continue by encouraging you not to actually use the in-game configuration options. The different settings are actually also commented, so you will know precisely what you are adjusting and what it'll do for you. The manual and server listing will all be easily updated from our end of course, and the manual will also have a second part that reviews each unit so you know what to do with it (and in Gamma's case, know the changes). We're making a bunch of videos, to be displayed both on Youtube and in the launcher itself for convenience, that also give an atmospheric insight into using each unit.
The server listings themselves will be based off a rough "master server" concept but beyond that we are designing it to be pretty much peer-to-peer discovery. That means that you won't need to fuss around adding servers by hand, or at least not as much (you can also now directly punch in an IP, which is saved, for temporary direct connect purposes). But the cool idea is that once you know one server, you could possibly find them all.
In our May update, we had mentioned creating new infantry. Feuerteufel is a masochist apparently because he's readily at work on new skeletons and actually willing to go through setting up new animations for them. Eggman's also reappeared to lend a hand hopefully. One problem in the past has been making the long coats look okay, but there might be a solution yet for that Do realize that this stuff will take quite a long time before it's all complete, unfortunately; there's simply a ton of things that must be done.
Nuclear Winter Released: Full, Patch & Server
The patch is out! Nuclear Winter is live. No more manually updating your server listings, worthless Soviet snipers, or even waiting to download the full installer now.
As of right now, you can get the latest A Path Beyond release, known as Nuclear Winter, in both a Full 1.4.0 Client install and most recently as 1.3.1->1.4.0 Patch. Not only that, you can also get a full server installation with a newly released "Server Side APB" module and plugins.
If you were reading this and hoping you could be playing on Camos Canyon right now, well you can! In case you missed out, here are the links: