It's been a great couple of weeks thus far - many of you have noticed that we have pushed some things live, and we have some information to share with you from all fronts of development.
First, I'd like to mention that we have completed the third Hawken content update slated for consoles. We've been working hard on this and it contains a number of elements that should keep you interested in the game and add some dynamics to the game that were not previously. We'll explore those in more detail in this post.
In addition to finalizing the third content update for consoles, we have also started full development on the next content update, which will include the relaunch of Hawken for PC on Steam. While there is no date set in stone for the relaunch itself, we are working hard on ensuring the relaunch goes smoothly for all of our Steam players.
We have started revisiting the PC platform's backend systems again in preparation for the PC relaunch.
The first thing I would like to announce is that we've fixed up the parties system in Hawken - you should be once again able to create a party on PC. I would like to share with you a little insight on what exactly broke there, and for those not technically savvy, this may be a bit confusing:
Our backend services run on the popular ejabberd XML communications platform. This was a design decision prior to our development team, and unfortunately for us, nothing really was documented. When you log into Hawken, our backend services provide you with the means to actually communicate with other players. When Hawken was first acquired, this system was working flawlessly. The instance of the machine that we were using was reprovisioned sometime during console launch, and ultimately the Debian Linux installation had different packages of two aptitude packages that were required to set up this instance. We investigated and the backend module responsible for parties was actually crashing when any player joined a party. This is due to incompatibilities in Erlang compilers. The simple solution, you'd think, is to just rebuild the module in question. Unfortunately, that appeared to not be the case as a newly compiled version of the module in question did not seem to matter.
Ultimately, what we ended up doing is re-building the ejabberd platform using the latest ejabberd server (17.02) and we re-made the custom extensions that Meteor had made to this version of ejabberd. We then deployed and spent probably close to 6 hours actually converting the huge amount of data that Hawken actually has for this backend service. Due to the efforts that the ejabberd team had made, we actually were able to scale down the resource requirements needed to run the ejabberd instance as well
What you're seeing now on the Steam PC game is the work of a research, development, and implementation over a very short period of time. And more importantly, party functionality is once again active on the PC platform.
Over the past few months, we've heard your complaints about missing Mechs, items, persistent stat values, and related complaints about missing things. To be completely blunt, we had a database failure with a third party provider over the course of 2 years. Unfortunately, a lot of the data that is lost is lost forever. However, some of the data exists in a form that we were able to repair.
Last week, we deployed a change that would apply 'fixup' code to Mechs that were affected by this database failure. All Mechs we applied the fixup code to were unable to spawn in-game, providing you with a misleading error of 'Test Drive Failed'. What was actually happening is that the Mechs were missing a key component of their loadout, which in turn would disable them from spawning. This includes the following items:
- Primary Weapons
- Secondary Weapons
- B/C Class Arms
- Abilities - while you could spawn without them, it'd be unfair to the end user.
Our fixup code automatically detects that these are missing and re-delivers them to the Mech that is missing these items.
As for the rest of the items that are missing - unfortunately, we have to admit that we have no way of repairing them. For those of you that are missing purchases, we feel that is completely unacceptable. We sincerely apologize for the troubles, and will be working on compensating affected players systematically and through customer support.
Lastly, I would like to share with you some of the improvements that will be going live in Content Update 3, which will be going live very soon.
I would like to first mention that Content Update 3 should see a slight improvement to framerate on killing another player's mech. This should help framerate spiking significantly on both platforms.
Additionally, Content Update 3 contains a ton of server join process cleanup which should make joining servers less frustrating. The game client's server browser should be more reliable as a result of these efforts, especially with the display of servers that should be available.
Let's talk about some features, though, shall we?
Introducing the daily calendar - a system that rewards you for just playing every day! Consecutive logins over the period of a month will result in greater rewards.
The rewards from the daily calendar will be the first thing that you see when you log into Hawken under Content Update 4. The goal with this is to encourage you to log in and check the game out - plus get sweet rewards for doing so!
Our in-game leaderboard has gotten a facelift. It now shows the player emblem, and functionality in general has been improved. You might even see a few more leaderboards! As part of Content Update 3, we will be resetting the leaderboards. This is due to an unintended bug where Co-Op Bots TDM kills were counting as PvP kills. Now you can *really* see who's on top.
We've added a system named 'Assignments' - what are assignments, you ask? Well, they're basically 'quests' that you can complete every day to get rewards. These are automatically generated when you log in for the first time each day, and stay for 24 hours from the time you log in. This is so they can be completed at your leisure. In the event that you do not complete one in the given amount of time, the assignment will reset after a 24 hour period.
Assignments are also flexible enough that we can add special event assignments without pushing out a client update. Holiday assignments anyone?
With the addition of the assignments system, we have removed the old daily bonus system which required you to complete one game of each type per day to earn HC. We feel that this system is an adequate replacement for the daily bonus system, and we hope you feel that way too.
Here's some screenshots of the system in action:
We have added two new systems that we hope will help enrich our new user experience and get players engaged more quickly than ever before.
First, we have a new system we have dubbed 'Pro-Tips' - this adds new functionality aimed at new users. The system will provide 'tips' dynamically based on what you are doing (or rather, what you aren't doing!) on-screen to help ease players into learning Hawken. After some time, Pro-Tips will automatically turn itself off based on the number of hints displayed. Don't worry, Laila is still there in VR Training if you like being told what to do immediately. Additionally, this functionality can be turned off entirely via the options menu.
Secondly we've changed how the Bots in BotsTDM operate. Bots will now prioritize targets based on a player's in game performance. Additionally Bot difficulty now scales throughout the match, rather than being fixed based on the initial skill rating of the server. These changes make BotsTDM games more contested than they were before and should make for a better gameplay experience for both old and new users.
We have a few new internals launching in this update. First up, the Repair Field Generator - a Technician-specific 1-slot internal.
Secondly, we have the Enhanced Servos - a 3-slot internal.
Third, we have the Afterburner, a 1-slot internal:
And lastly, Thrust Vectoring - a 3-slot internal.
Finally, we'd like to close this developer post out on a good note. We're really, really, really excited about doing the PC relaunch - more than you guys will ever know. We've been going the extra mile trying to polish and improve the game. We look forward to providing both Content Update 3 and Content Update 4 in early 2017.
Lastly, get a good, quick look at this guy. You'll be acquainted with him in the coming weeks :)
Until next time,