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Post news RSS February News Round-Up

In a return to regularly scheduled news updates, we'll cover a load of balance changes and gameplay changes for the next incarnation of RA:APB. Several core game mechanics are being redesigned to bring a bit more depth and fun into the mix. A special emphasis is being given to making infantry combat more deliberate, and the interplay between tanks and soldiers.

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Why hello there, it's been a while, hasn't it? This news update will cover topics discussed in our most recent developer discussions from our website and live chats. In addition to a return to regular feedback, we've updated our site. If you reach us via BluehellProductions.com, you will see the site using whatever forum skin you typically use. Here is what I see, using the Elegant scheme:


Not all of the other skins that may be available to you are updated yet, and a few new themed skins are in development for those who want the site to have a more Tiberian Sun atmosphere, or an Apocylpse Rising chic. If you visit the page via ApocRising.com or TSReborn.com then you will, once they are ready, load up those themes automatically. You can use them right now but will be given a placeholder theme. This is all still in progress, so some elements may be missing temporarily.

Lots of Discussion

In case you hadn't noticed, we've had a few interesting topics in General Discussion about the feel of tank combat or directional damage, the potential for a Soviet Ranger or APC, a discussion on tech levels, what buildings do or don't do when dead. These are all pretty well connected, and we've got a lot of other ideas as we go forward and try to revisit infantry combat, the balance between infantry and vehicles, add Tech Centers, support abilities, and the return of naval units. Internally, we've been having a lot of discussion on these and several other points, too. Not everything is final obviously and some changes might depend on code changes that aren't guaranteed, but we're evaluating what will work best.

Infantry Changes

A while back, we internally played around with adjusting infantry movement to be less jerky and a tad less frantic. Towards that goal, we're going to experiment again with reducing the speed of infantry since they do go rather fast right now. Infantry will not sprint around quite so fast, and we also want to cut back on horizontal movement (tapping A/D) and also make backpedaling slower. Slowing things down should also stop magnifying the effects of any latency as a minor side benefit.

We also want to open up infiltration options a bit more. Infantry who walk or crouch around will not only be much quieter, but remaining motionless or moving slow will cause you to no longer appear on radar. Hide in bushes or behind walls, or even right in the enemy's own buildings.

One reason they were made so quick a couple versions ago was the lack of infantry transportation, something we want to address. So, we're making several changes there.

Getting Places

In order to make large maps remain viable, we need to make sure infantry can still get around on every kind of map. In addition to the inexpensive Supply Trucks, unarmed jeeps will also be available (including found for free, or possibly purchased for cheap). A Ranger-type vehicle will also be available for the Soviet team. Both of the Ranger-type vehicles will be able to carry two soldiers, possibly with the ability for the guy riding shotgun to fire his weapon. The ramifications of that are pretty large and need to be carefully reviewed but it could help create a sort of pseudo-unit, given the teamwork to pull it off, such as a RedEye Ranger.
In order to make very large or very rocky/mountainous maps viable, both the Soviets and the Allies will receive a Chinook. This would allow for maps where there is no ground route between the bases. Similarly, for watery maps, a light watercraft -- like a waterbound Ranger -- will also be available as an early-tech option. Something you can take around coasts or down rivers, also able to carry an additional passenger and/or let the passenger shoot.

Should we go through with those plans to allow passengers to attack while riding the boat, that will allow players to fill roles where there is currently no true unit to do so. Here's a first cut at the little boat, inspired by that one video where a commando team
sabotages a bridge (causing a Soviet tank to ram a Soviet jeep right off). It may end up armed with a driver-controllable machine gun, for harassing naval units if you're daring enough.


I'd also like to see the basic transport vehicles effectively always available. To keep mobility an option, we'd like to add the ability to also call for a transport to be delivered if you are willing to pay a premium (get a Supply Truck airlifted to your location, or even call for the Chinook itself) and if you have the associated structure alive. No Helipad, no chopper evac ability, in other words.

Saying Things

We'd also like to introduce different radar icons if feasible, so a Medic might appear as a "+" icon, and a Tanya or Volkov might appear as a skull (similar to more recent C&C RTS titles). Because infantry may not always have line of sight or know each other's positions, radio commands will trigger a nice, big, easy-to-see indicator extending towards the sky. Tanks would benefit from this, too, of course:


This kind of marking will likely be used by abilities like the Soviet's Spy Plane, with the advantage of revealing otherwise-hidden units. Similar effects can be used for the Sonar Pulse and GPS Sat abilities.

About Tanks

We've posted a few interesting images over at our ModDB gallery that you might want to have a look at. They show early shots of the new view for the Medium Tank and Heavy Tank. You might be alarmed at how "close in" it appears and trouble seeing people sneaking up on you, but that is intentional.

Medium Tank view

It's actually a little bit easier to aim this way, especially in cluttered situations or when fighting uphill. Tank combat is being revisited, in fairly extreme ways. While the effective range for the main battle tanks is mostly the same, their shells now follow a slight ballistic arc-- in other words, bullet drop. At range, this means you'll need to think about your aim a little bit more. Vehicle velocities are being adjusted so it's a little hard to think about how this will impact your ability to hit the enemy.

Tanks vs Tanks

Speaking in terms of tank-on-tank combat, there are some other changes. There is some minor splash damage in case you're not landing shots right now, but most of your damage will come from direct hits. The damage of each individual shot has also increased, although the rate of fire has been reduced. You'll be looking at a couple of seconds between shots, but if you land all your hits, right now it takes 10 seconds for a Medium Tank to kill a Heavy Tank ... about five shots. A Heavy Tank takes about 9 seconds to kill a Medium Tank assuming all its shots hit, too. We'll be tweaking these values to make sure ambushes are effective and combat is fast paced, but battles still need to last a meaningful amount of time.

We do intend to add directional damage, and are investigating different ways of implementing this. It's a matter of how we want to make it happen, and deciding if there are good ways to communicate it to players. We want to add a bit more feedback, perhaps a blatant indicator that you've taken internal damage vs trivial armor damage; sirens, an icon, something. Right now it's a little hard to notice that Tesla Tanks are eroding your internal structure. Which they will continue to do, and Mechanics will continue to repair internal structure a bit slower.

Infantry vs Tanks

So tanks will take directional damage, and have a tighter view, and shoot less often. Great news for infantry, right? Sort of, but let's side with "yes." Infantry who aren't moving or in combat will disappear from radar, which will allow them to actually make use of cover such as titular emplacements on Bunkers. A tank can roll right past you, and you can slam an RPG into its back for extra damage. Obviously that works against other infantry, too.

Tanks will also continue to take bonus/critical damage from being shot by small arms once they've lost all their armor, since that's a fun mechanism that lets even basic infantry contribute in tank battles as long as the team has some anti-armor capability (or overwhelming numbers). It also means the loser of a close tank battle isn't entirely out of luck when he bails and only has a rifle, and makes a "leftover" officer class infantry not a waste but a threat instead. Infantry will move a little slower, but so will tanks, so there's no increased danger of being run over.

Tanks vs Infantry

Tanks fire slower, so there is less inbound volume of fire. However any direct hit has good odds of killing a soldier outright or doing critical damage, and a headshot will do so, guaranteed. Using a Medium Tank, a hit to the arm will leave the soldier critically wounded. Splash damage is another story. The radius for effective splash damage is around 6 meters against infantry. However, in a mechanism similar to small arms against tanks, initial attacks on unhurt infantry will be rather useless. This is another plus for infantry taking cover. Right now, hiding right behind a wall (including buildings, and barricades) is bad news if there is a tank around due to the splash damage. This now changes things, especially since you will drift off radar if you move slowly.

So, a soldier with full health can take a reasonably absurd amount of tank shells while staying "in the green," something like 5 direct hits right between the boots will only drop a Rifle Soldier to around 70% health. Barring direct hits, a soldier can get away if surprised by a tank. However, wounded infantry are quite another story. Three or four hits will finish off a soldier who's already taken some small amount of damage from other sources, which is a bit scary because these "hits" have a ~6 meter area of effect.

Infantry in Tanks

This was touched upon in the earlier blog. We want infantry to move around easier, and we want infantry to fight alongside tanks without feeling totally useless. To encourage that, main tanks will be able to carry around a passenger. A Rocket Soldier to deal with Hinds, an Engineer to listen for mines and C4 a building, and later in the match the advantages of being able to have a Medium Tank detonate AP mines before dropping a Thief or Tanya off are obvious.

Originally, limitations were made on passengers to encourage people to take their own vehicles and to avoid certain... abuse. Volkov's now a late-game unit, so it's probably perfectly fine to let him jump in his buddy's Heavy Tank since if the team's really winning he could just buy his own. If it turns out to be absurdly overpowered somehow, we'll make adjustments along the way. One balance adjustment we're looking into is vehicles damaging their occupants if they're in it when, or shortly before, the vehicle is destroyed. Free damage against those passengers!

Goodies in Tanks

RA2:AR and TS: Reborn both were based on a game with a veterancy system, with straightforward rules for improving and upgrading units. RA1 didn't have that, but it did have crates, didn't it? Something we're experimenting with, in addition to the randomly-placed powerup crates you saw in older versions, is randomly-dropping crates. A bit Generals-esque? Perhaps. The idea is that there's a chance for a destroyed enemy unit to drop some useful powerup for your team to collect (the enemy can't). It won't stick around forever, so getting a lucky mine-kill won't leave powerups strewn across the battlefield. Still working on details here, but that's the gist of it. Kill an enemy tank, get some bonus maybe.

As part of the economy re-do, all tanks have other goodies inside: a 25% cash-back award for killing them. So, shoot those enemy tanks! It's probably going to be much more effective to shoot enemy units to get funding than relying on base repairs during a defense/siege situation. Blow up a tank worth 800 credits, and you will get back 200 credits.

Thanks for reading! We hope you enjoy these discussions on where we're going. Next time: Keeping Buildings Alive


WOW! Nice! Keep up the good work guys!

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yay nice to hear some news!

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Looking forward to the next release!

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