By now, you've hopefully had a chance to take APB 188.8.131.52 out for a spin. It mixes things up a bit, so don't forget to leave us your feedback. We're working on another update for that, with more code fixes and some balance refinements. If you haven't had a chance to play it yet, please do. Pyryle did a great job getting all the tweaks in place.
Concurrently with the APB 2.X branch, work also continues behind the scenes on the next major version (let's call it APB 3.X), which principally revolves around a lot of engine changes.
There are a lot of changes coming, and it's not all just unit stats. That said, a lot of the balancing has been revisited substantially. A lot of old balancing was done how it was because of engine quirks, unsurprisingly; that's why the Hind chaingun was changed to an autocannon, that's why snipers were removed.
Months and years of changing things around and units being added or removed has left us with a bit of a mess. All the raw numbers are being cleaned up and numerous old armor definitions are being discarded or brought into line to make future adjustments easier on us.
Fixing up the armor is one thing I was not personally looking forward to really dealing with, because it's rather clunky and we have a lot of legacy crap in there -- lots of fractional changes have resulted in some weapons doing (for example) 0.1753x versus a particular armor, with the actual weapon set to do 31.067 damage. That's hard to think about, and hard to talk about, and makes it harder to compare units against each other both for players and for us devs.
Moderator Pushwall has recently been promoted to full staff and is working on balance refinement as a logical continuation of how Gamma's weapon/armor interaction worked out. Thankfully, in addition to Pushwall coming on board to help out, Danpaul's also working on some better tools to handle unit balancing beyond "loose text files and spreadsheets and a calculator." Progress!
Talking more about the big update, we've got some battlefield intelligence updates.
Better targeting feedback is being improved. In addition to hitmarks and hitbeeps (audible damage feedback, which you can toggle on and off as you please), your range to target is now displayed when you aim at something.
Since we've added locational damage, we're looking into having the crosshair indicate if you are aimed at a weaker or stronger portion of an enemy vehicle (probably by color). Altogether, you should have a better idea of whether or not your target should be, or actually is, taking damage now.
In addition, context-sensitive radio commands are being looked into. The idea is that you will be able to have a couple keys to press to indicate something about your current target. Instead of just pressing a few keystrokes for a vague "Attack my target" and hoping somebody nearby figures out what your target is, the radio command sent will actually specify what your target is. This way you will also be able to specify a particular building to attack, or defend, just by pointing at it.
Helpfully, radio commands will also specify what you are. Asking for health? Radio commands will say what unit you are, so your team knows if you're a vehicle that needs a Mechanic or a soldier calling for a Medic.
Somebody says the base needs repairs and you reply "Affirmative?" Now your team will know if you're just some far-off Medium Tank that's agreeing, or are a Technician who can do something about it!
To make things more helpful, your radar icon will blink as a little quote bubble for a few moments, too. There was a hilarious bug that cropped up while testing this that ended up breaking all vehicles such that firing your weapon would cause your whole vehicle to stutter. Also, your soldier would stand outside the tank in a T-pose, and the camera would shift underground. The fun things we run into!
Earlier, we added options so that the cameras could be shifted around a little bit more than before. Mostly this was useful for making an offset third person camera for soldiers, or a vehicle like TS:Reborn's GDI Titan mech. But, wouldn't it be cool if you could have a slick offset view for the V2 Launcher, too? Or how about a close "gunner's view" for the Ranger? Each of these would make aiming easier, but you could only have one camera profile per vehicle.
Obviously that had to change. We're able to have an arbitrary number of cameras per unit now, and will be grabbing some help from the testers to craft some new options. After all, everybody has a different favorite perspective. The keybind is shared with the infantry first/third person view toggle and you can also cycle backwards through the list when also holding "shift."
We'll probably have two or three per vehicle, depending on what makes sense and what works well during testing. A Minelayer doesn't really need too many camera options, but a Longbow or Hind could probably use a couple. If you have any suggestions, we're listening.
Battle Info Screens
Alright, so we once had static updates bound to the J/K/L keys for team, overall, and server info. These were opaque, took up your entire view, and also locked your controls, and yet they were just snapshots that didn't actually update until you opened them again. Yuck.
Now, we've got some brand new non-modal displays that will show you your team info, or a player overview, or your base status and they update live as every point or credit is earned, or purchase is made, and so on. Plus, they don't lock your controls, so you can keep on driving/shooting/playing.
The team display shows your teammates, their cash, their score, their kills and deaths, what soldier they're using, and what vehicle they are in. If they're simply riding along in the vehicle, they get a [+] indicator prepended to the unit name. If they're on your team and are a spy, their soldier type has [Spy] prepended, so you know!
The players display shows both team's players, their score, kills, and deaths. The same [Spy] notification shows up for spies that belong to your team. The bases display shows both team's structures, AI-controlled Ore Trucks, support facilities such as Service Depots, plus defenses such as Tesla Coils and their current health -- all updated in real time of course.
That's it for this update. Don't forget to follow us on Twitter at @BHPTeam and Facebook as Bluehell Productions. We're trying to keep these updated with important information and news updates for things like when the site and services (TeamSpeak, IRC, gameservers, etc) will experience downtime. Also if you want to tell your friends about the games, these are easy ways to get them aware.