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Producer Letter: The Reaper Update


Producer Letter: The Reaper Update

ONE MONTH OF MECH ON MECH ACTION

It seems like only yesterday our indie shooter took its first steps into Open Beta. To mark HAWKEN's first month of being open to the public, we are proud to unveil its first new mech and a whole lot more in The Reaper Update. Coming January 24, this major patch not only adds the titular light mech assassin, but also introduces important balance tweaks and bug fixes.

In anticipation of The Reaper Update, we'd like to touch on recent and upcoming changes to the game and share the strategy and mechanics behind them.

A BALANCING ACT

The Reaper Update also introduces a pair of game balance adjustments that have been at top-of-mind for us since the start of Open Beta: the EMP item and the "stunlock" effect of explosive weapon damage. We believe you'll be pleased to hear both of these are being brought in line with other items and tactics.

The EMP effect duration will be reduced by 20 percent to 5.5 seconds and its area of effect is being reduced to the size of the visual effect. This may not be as drastic a change as some pilots would like and we will continue to evaluate its use after the update. Regarding the knockback effect of explosive damage, it was never intended to immobilize mechs, only to jostle them around a bit. The effect has been significantly reduced for all explosive weapons.

As always, community feedback is what drives change in HAWKEN. If you have an opinion on a gameplay feature, stating it clearly and constructively on the forums is the best way to foster support from your fellow pilots.

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MATCHMAKING EVOLVES

We wanted to take a moment to talk about what Matchmaking is and how it will work in HAWKEN. Matchmaking for our purposes is essentially a math formula that looks at different players' skill levels and does its best to create a match where the players all have a 50/50 chance at winning in the case of free-for-all modes like Deathmatch. In team-based modes like Team Deathmatch, Missile Attack, and Siege, the matchmaker does its best to match two teams in such a way that there's an even probability that each team will win or lose. The idea is that either team would have to play better than their usual skill level to win.

Ten days ago, we introduced the first of a series of updates to the Matchmaking system in HAWKEN. This change adjusted how we weighed player skill in order to place players into groups that should give them the best experience possible.

So how are things working right now versus before? From the beginning of Open Beta until our last patch, we had only enabled what would be considered "Quick Match". This system was designed to simply find the nearest open game for you to join and gives much less regard to your skill. We did this because we weren't sure what our concurrency would be in the beginning and we didn't want anyone to have to wait to get into a match.
As of our latest patch, when you initiate Matchmaking, the system looks at the selected region and game mode, and then polls all active servers that match those criteria, assessing your skill level against the server's average player skill level. It then prioritizes servers that are closer to capacity and adds you to the best overall fit.

What does that mean for you? The bad news is you'll have to wait a little longer to get into a match; up to 30 seconds in the worst case. Hopefully it will happen much faster (5-10 seconds). The good news is that you should be put into matches that will feel much more competitive for your skill level. New players will be matched with new players and experienced players with experienced players.

This means that even if you're taking your brand-new level 1 Reaper out for a stroll next week, you may be pitted against pilots in higher-level mechs as mech level isn't a complete measure of player skill. There are a number of variables that go into calculating player skill, but we won't go into those because we don't want players chasing after numbers to the detriment of their team. Additionally, Matchmaking will continue to evolve and improve as we evaluate gameplay data and harvest your feedback on the forums.

SUPPLY DROPS EN ROUTE

This week's patch marks the start of our content release schedule, which encompasses mechs, maps, and everything in between. We aim to have two patches every month, one introducing a new mech and the other addressing balance and follow-up tweaks. While all new mechs will have a unique chassis, some will also introduce new weapons, items, or internals. New cosmetics such as camouflage and drones will be also be added in each new mech patch. Two mechs will be available to test drive at any time, rotating out every one or two weeks. Newly released mechs will be part of this rotation, usually a few weeks after being first introduced.

Maps, taking longer to develop and polish, will be introduced on a three to four month schedule. As you might imagine, new game modes will take the longest amount of development time. We'll be sure to keep you updated on what we have planned for HAWKEN and how things are coming along.

REAP THE WHIRLWIND

It's a very exciting time to be part of the grassroots HAWKEN community! We've packed a lot into The Reaper Update and are eager to take it out of the garage and send it into the wild. The Reaper and a lot more are coming at you this Thursday, January 24. Be sure to check out the patch notes.

We'll see you on the battlefield, pilots!



Back to HAWKEN News


40 Comments

View Post[HWK]PabloPwnage, on January 22 2013 - 05:06 PM, said:

We'll see you on the battlefield, pilots!
I wish that was true..Im on UK server..and havent seen any Devs..even on DevHunt day.. :(

View PostGunhed, on January 23 2013 - 07:18 AM, said:

View Post[HWK]PabloPwnage, on January 22 2013 - 05:06 PM, said:

We'll see you on the battlefield, pilots!
I wish that was true..Im on UK server..and havent seen any Devs..even on DevHunt day.. :(
They actually play West Coast USA all the time... it is not uncommon for me to see one at least once a week... hop over the pond ~9PM PST -8GMT and you'll see them.
nothing new, kinda pointless tread
Why dont set priority on Community things, like Group joining, Clan supports and things like that ?? But im also Happy about the update too :)
Hello,

nice Patch BTW - ADH/Meteor Ent. but....

Matchmaking is a minor thing to fix - Since Hawken is a Team-based FPS it should at least have the possibility to join as a group! This was mentioned allot of times in the Forums and allot of Clans want to compete to each other. Right now this is not possible!

I know critic and so on - Flame on but still this is a necessary function for this type of game....

Allot of our Clan Members are just frustrated that this is still not implemented!

I know - I set up allot of topics that critic ADH and Meteor Ent. - But im not the type of Pearson that sits down and takes it for credit that something just works - It has to work better and Hawken has allot of potential. :)

Best regards

-BV-HotDog

PabloPwnage
Jan 23 2013 12:17 PM

View PostKronguard, on January 22 2013 - 05:23 PM, said:

I am confused about one thing tho.

When you lot say ''introduce a new mech'' you mean as in story,lore,few concept art pictures and some update on the work,or you mean an actual playable mech?
Because i am confused,when the patch hits the servers,will the new mech be available or will we just get updates on the work of it?


Also regarding the matchmaking.
The way i see it,right now the main bases that are taken into consideration is an averedge level of your mechs?!
If that's the case,you have a problem,because even a blind person can get all mechs to max level,it does not mean they will actually be able to play if level equals skill (in matchmaking case)

Hey Kronguard,

Tomorrow's patch will include the new Reaper mech as a playable mech in the game.  We will be preceding the release of new mechs with a spotlight page that includes lore, images, etc to introduce the mech to the community before it is actually put into the game after a patch.

As for mech level, that is not really taken into consideration when matchmaking because as you state, a level 25 mech does not really represent skill.  Right now, the skill trees (as many in the community have noticed) are not creating a huge delta between a max level mech and a minimum level mech since it would create an unfair advantage otherwise so we don't separate players by mech level.  Your skill is how the matchmaker decides where to place you.  

As for the skill tree not having as big an effect anymore, big changes are coming to make them more meaningful without introducing balance issues, so stay tuned for more details!

PabloPwnage
Jan 23 2013 12:23 PM

View PostOllie, on January 22 2013 - 06:39 PM, said:

Quote

We aim to have two patches every month, one introducing a new mech and the other addressing balance and follow-up tweaks.
Whoa, whoa, whoa.  So any imbalances not already addressed by this patch have a bare minimum of 30 days to be addressed in future?  Including emergent imbalance introduced by new patches?  On top of what was already gathered during three alpha/beta phases?

But new stuff to "buy" comes at the same rate?

This bodes not well, Bodhi.  If you're going to ride the perpetual beta/agile train, the whole responsiveness thing is a pretty key factor.  30 day turn-around on critical factors (adjustable by hex edit) makes me a sad panda.

Hey Ollie,

Anything egregious introduced by a new patch would be remedied in a hot fix outside of our normally scheduled patches.  Other balance issues are addressed as they are verified and depending on severity would either be looped into the next patch (so 14 day max) or the patch following if the next patch is already locked.

Balance is a constant concern for us but we want to address issues with well thought out solutions and avoid introducing new problems by rushing to fix something.  Our patch schedule is still something that is being defined as we move forward but for the time being our major concern is providing a stable environment for our players with expectations on what will be fixed and when.

PabloPwnage
Jan 23 2013 12:26 PM

View Postcheshirejak, on January 22 2013 - 06:51 PM, said:

Can't wait until we get a Party update, be nice to be able to stick with my clan instead of fighting to find a server with room and then fighting to get on the same team. Look forward to the fixes and the mixes!

--Jak

Parties are a high priority feature for us and we are actively working on getting them into the game as soon as we can.  We don't have a release date yet for when parties will be available but all of us here on the Hawken Team want to be able to stick with our friends while playing Hawken just as much as all of you :)

Stay tuned for updates!

Conquistador
Jan 23 2013 01:18 PM

I'm extremely concerned about the overlapping roles created by sharing weapons across various different classes, mainly due to the introduction of the prestige weapon system in the very last days of closed beta. This has never been a fully tested HAWKEN feature, and it shows. The usual suspects are the assault completely outperforming the bruiser due to the shared Vulcan ( because Vulcan was never tested for assault in pre-beta) and how the shared HEAT on the scout and infiltrator chassis make the scout a clearly superior mech in all the infiltrator's roles due to its unparalleled mobility.

No patches have ever addressed mech vs mech balance. I am terrified that if you continue down this road, class balance will stick certain lower-tier mechs into a dusty corner where they'll die a slow death, and it should only get harder as new mech at introduced at a rate of one per month.

The prestige weapons desperately require a revamp. Vulcan needs to leave assault and berserker, for starters. Corporate testers would call this solution "low-hanging fruit".
The forums needs more Hughes.

Also, is it possible to add more guns on an individual basis instead of coming with newer mechs so that we could balance the older mechs? Vulcan fever is over~
I would agree prestige weapons should be prestigious, not just another weapon from a different class.  Using a weapon from another class, our more explicitly a weapon of completely different situational effectiveness, kind of muddies the purpose of a class.

View PostNoin, on January 23 2013 - 03:14 PM, said:

I would agree prestige weapons should be prestigious, not just another weapon from a different class.  Using a weapon from another class, our more explicitly a weapon of completely different situational effectiveness, kind of muddies the purpose of a class.

I agree with that too.
Thank you guys for the update. I can't wait for new the mechs.
Finally, I waited

The_Silencer
Jan 24 2013 07:21 AM

View Post[HWK]PabloPwnage, on January 23 2013 - 12:26 PM, said:

View Postcheshirejak, on January 22 2013 - 06:51 PM, said:

Can't wait until we get a Party update, be nice to be able to stick with my clan instead of fighting to find a server with room and then fighting to get on the same team. Look forward to the fixes and the mixes!

--Jak

Parties are a high priority feature for us and we are actively working on getting them into the game as soon as we can.  We don't have a release date yet for when parties will be available but all of us here on the Hawken Team want to be able to stick with our friends while playing Hawken just as much as all of you :)

Stay tuned for updates!

Roger that!
And... in AG&ME we trust; thanks!! ;)