State of Production #12
September 30, 2020
Hello everyone, my name is Tim Perreault and I’m the Executive Producer at New World Interactive. September has been a productive month for us. We’ve got a hotfix for the live game, a CTE Preview Event for our next update, and we announced a Mapping Contest for Insurgency: Sandstorm!
Key Points of State of Production #12
- 1.7.1 Hotfix 2
- 1.8 Open CTE Event
- AI Update
- Mapping Contest
- Operation: Breakaway
1.7.1 Hotfix 2
We’ve been spending a lot of time investigating the stuttering issue that some of our community members have been encountering. With the help of Epic we’ve found the cause relates to a recent Global Invalidation change that was done to improve performance. For the time being, we are disabling global invalidation. Because this did have a meaningful impact on the game’s performance we’ll be looking to reimplement global invalidation in the future when we can do so without any unintended side effects. This hotfix also addresses a few other issues that were annoying to the community including the lack of collision on Summit point D, mines not detonating when being run over by vehicles, and an issue preventing kills from AI controlled fire support for counting on Commanders and Observers.
Open CTE Event Results
Our Open CTE Event was quite successful. We had great participation from the community both turning up to play and providing feedback. We’ve collected a lot of information on player sentiment about the upcoming update as well as found a few issues to correct before we go live. We’ll be spending the coming weeks before our release on October 6 addressing all the issues we can reproduce. For our next CTE event we’ll be expanding the abilities of our bug reporting tool, which allowed players to provide us with feedback and information during this public test.
I’ve asked Jason Campbell, our AI Programmer, to speak a bit about the upcoming AI improvements coming with the Operation: Breakaway update.
What’s coming in 1.8?
In Operation: Breakaway we’re releasing the first major improvements in our AI Overhaul. The largest issue with the AI right now is how unfair it can feel at times. Getting shot through the wall, through smoke, from halfway across the map, or just getting nailed with a laser guided Molotov is just not any fun. For this update, our highest priority is fixing those unfun behaviours. This gives us a solid foundation that will allow us to look into ways to add new, more intelligent behaviours that will make the AI more fun and interesting in future updates.
When deciding if the AI should shoot a player, there are two major questions to answer. Should the AI be aware of the player’s presence? If so, how quickly and accurately should they react? Both of those questions are deceptively difficult to answer. Most of our changes in Operation Breakaway are focused on getting better answers to the first question. To that end, we’ve migrated to Unreal Engine’s newer Perception System, which gives us more detailed information regarding what the AI can hear and see. Once we had that information we could nail down the situations in which the AI were being unfair and added a bunch of new configurations to tune them to be nice reasonable soldiers who give you at least a little time to shoot back.
Another aspect of AI in Operation: Breakaway is the special enemies for Outpost mode. While most of these were simple to add through configuration changes and playtesting, a few of them needed some new logic to be written. We made sure to make this logic configurable, so any modders will be able to use it in any new maps or modes they dream up.
So what happened with 1.7.1?
Some of you may have noticed that after Operation Clean Sweep the AI seemed to have gotten upgraded with wall hacks and aim cheats. This was a side effect of including the new Perception System in 1.7.1, but without the extra configuration and polish that we’re bringing you in Operation: Breakaway. When we were testing 1.7.1, we got reports back that devs were getting snapshot and wall banged, and of course we knew that wall banging and snap shooting were issues in 1.7. Since we planned to fix this in 1.8 we marked it as a known issue and moved on. However because we didn’t have the scope of testing that comes with a larger release, such as the public community test (CTE), we didn’t realize just how much more frequently these issues were occurring until it hit the live servers.
Fortunately, we were able to learn a lot from this situation and we’ve already improved our testing process for 1.8. Not only do we have the full CTE (as we do for all major releases), but we began internal testing of the AI much sooner, and have been testing much more frequently to allow us to iterate on the behaviours faster to get better tuned AI. Those of you who tried out the CTE should have had a much better experience, even before we’ve had the opportunity to take your feedback into account. We’re now being more thorough about our before and after observations to help ensure this doesn’t happen again.
What can we expect to see in the future?
While Operation: Breakaway was focusing on the AIs awareness of players, in our next updates we’re going to focus on the AI’s awareness of the world around them. If they’re running to attack Objective B we want them to know if they’re crossing an open field, down narrow corridors, or through a rubble filled courtyard, so that they can change their movement accordingly. If they hear gunfire from 10m to the west, and see a window 8m to the northwest, they should realize that there’s a good chance the window leads to the room with the defender, and is a great place to lob a grenade.
At this point in time, we’re focused on wrapping up Operation: Breakaway, and we are just beginning to work on these next set of changes. The first step of the process is to get the information the AI needs to make more tactical decisions, then build out the behaviours that make use of it. To make sure we don’t have a repeat of 1.7.1 we’re going to continue testing the AI early and often. This means you shouldn’t expect the AI to begin maneuvering like a well oiled special forces team in future updates, but you should see steady improvements as we go.
We recently had a stream announcing the Insurgency: Sandstorm 2020 Mapping Contest. It’s our largest contest to date, in collaboration with Nvidia, Intel, Epic Games, Focus Home Interactive, Saber Interactive, and Mod.io. There are over $17,000 in prizes available so if you’re at all interested in map making, download our Mod Tools and let your creativity flow.
NWI has a deep-rooted history in the modding community and our previous contests for Insurgency and Day of Infamy have led to some amazing community maps. We’re very excited to see what our community comes up with this time!
Submissions must be received before January 28, 2021 at 2PM EST. For full contest details, see the post here.
We’re very excited for Operation: Breakaway to release on October 6. Between now and then the team will be putting the finishing touches on the update. If you missed out on the open CTE event you can still check out the website where you can get a sneak peek at some of the content (including a few things we didn’t have in the Open CTE!). That’s it for this month’s SoP, until next time, keep your stick on the ice.