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News on our next release, and previews of the redone Coastal Influence map. CI is a naval map that was never quite finished before naval got the axe, but now that boats are coming back, so is this great map.

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It's that time yet again. I was going to have one of these up on Sunday, but I was a little busy for most of the day.

Next Release Info

With the new launcher enabling us to put out patches quicker, and the ability to easily have multiple builds available for testing, we've got the crazy idea to start patching APB more often -- what a shocker. The original launcher from a while ago ran into some complications that prevented this, unfortunately. We're working on a bunch of interesting new features right now, and this will mess with the usual balancing a bit, and make adjusting maps a bit trickier. Put it all together, and it means that our next release(s) will probably be back to a sort of work-in-progress feel with fewer maps available and perhaps with some features removed (to be definitely re-added).

That includes tech levels, which are going to be absent pending a design review of their place in the game (if there is one) and implementation.
We're looking to have the following maps available:

  • Keep off the Grass
  • Fissure
  • Bonsai
  • Camos Canyon
  • Seamist
  • To the Core
  • Coastal Infuence
  • Antlion

This will give us enough to work with to try out a few different things. We've got a couple infantry-only maps (one KOTH style), an assault-style map, maps with aircraft, and a map with naval play. Some with defenses, some without.
We're most likely going to have both a "stable" release up at any particular time, alongside an "open test" version where we can try things out that might literally break the game and leave it unable to run well if at all. That's in addition to the internal testing version where we can break things well in advance.

Speaking of broken things, I broke the most recent test build by neglecting to distribute some new shader bits and bobs. Saberhawk's done some great work on rendering changes, including a redone pixel-depth fog system you can see below (check out the trees).

jlb2n4e.png

It's pretty great. There are a lot of slick graphical upgrades and speed-ups that all of the projects will be making use of, even if the gameplay will still vary. Prior APB releases have suffered from slowdown issues that were often due to last-moment changes that we were unable to effectively hotfix. Things run a lot better now, of course, and if we ever do break anything by accident it will be easily fixed up.

Coastal Influence

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By keeping the map count lower, we can focus on making specific sorts of changes to our gameplay and map design without the need to do it on every single map before evaluating its impact. ChopBam has been using Coastal Influence to try out some new things -- obviously naval combat is returning, and we're also tweaking the interaction other vehicles have with the water (hint: less invisible walls). He's also made a wonderful new bridge setpiece:

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Of course, it wouldn't be Red Alert if you couldn't blow the bridge up. It's made of pieces that you can assemble together and blow apart bit by bit, to make it harder for larger vehicles to pass. As you can see from the second shot, it is quite tall, which also allows us to place it in more interesting locations than just shallow rivers. Check out Chopbam's taste in music, and the destruction, below:

As you perhaps noticed in the first image of CI, the ore fields will be given a more dug-out appearance with visible ore models. Using some code that Danpaul originally prepared for Apocalypse Rising, we're also going to experiment with converting our ore/gem/mixed fields into regrowing patches. This will allow us to do things such as having nearby gems that you could deplete rather quickly in the early game to jumpstart your economy, but force players to return to simple ore or seek out more distance (and risky) gem fields. This also means player ore trucks could over-collect, and dying while carrying a full load is a bit more of an economic hit.

It's actually really well set up, and you can see the results of your effort. Click on it for the animated version, which will be quite a bit slower in-game when it runs:

MPJu46R.jpg

See you next week.

Comments
Foxhounde
Foxhounde - - 416 comments

It's impressive what you all are doing with this game!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+7 votes
Woozle
Woozle - - 2,617 comments

I must have watched that bridge destruction ten times, very impressive!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+3 votes
TKAzA
TKAzA - - 3,154 comments

Why hasnt this been done before!

Reply Good karma Bad karma+2 votes
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