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WWII Online: Battleground Europe News

News from the front line. WWII MMO FPS, Play For Free. www.wwiionline.com

Author: XOOM-CRS

1.31 Production Update 11-26-09

Posted by BEMotormouth Monday November 30 2009 at 2:26PM
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Written by Dana "GOPHUR" Baldwin
Senior Producer, Playnet Inc.

Today marks a milestone in the development of 1.31. of the six hundred plus tickets we've had through the development cycle, one third of them are closed and another third are in the QA cycle, ready for testing. This leaves about a third of the known issues to complete but several of them are minor issues that don't really count. In other words, the end is near.

Or the beginning I should say because when we've cleared out the tickets from test, we'll have killed most of the known issues and that will signal that we are ready for open testing. Open Test will allow you guys to have a look at the client offline and then progress into a series of online Focus Tests which will bring us fully into the QA phase and begin preparing for release. Something that we are all anxious to have happen.

So, while I'd like to be announcing the Open test schedule today, we really have some more work to do. It is actually counter productive to the release time line to start the Open Test too early. There's no need for you guys to spend time reporting issues we are already aware of and honestly we want our first impression to be in a more polished state. Instead today I'm going to go through the read me and highlight the contents of the upcoming release. Some of these you'll have seen before but there are likely several things that you aren't aware of. This Production Update will also be a great source for some questions from the community that we can answer in anticipation of the Open Test. In no particular order, let's take a look at 1.31, the next big content release for Battleground Europe!


Click to embiggen

Deployed Weapons

We've redone deployed infantry weapons in several ways. First it will be easier to deploy on a variety of surfaces because the deploy check now follow your eye point when you look up or down. We also fixed some issues where deployed guys were sinking in to the ground a bit so you'll better match up to objects in the world. RAMP also added a new Smart Undeploy system that many of you have been asking for. When you're deployed and you decide you want to move, say jump up and sprint, you'll now be able to do that with out first undeploying. That will happen automatically.

Corpses

Infantry corpses now have ragdoll physics. When infantry take a killing blow they will react to the amount of force applied and fly through the air. They'll also drop their weapons and leave a bloody mess behind.

Capture

The capture mechanism has changed. There is no longer a capture table. Instead players will begin capture when they enter a capture building with a flag on it. To augment this there is a new HUD element that gives situational information. It'll tell you your lat/long as well as the town you are closest to and what the ownership is of that town. The new HUD element will also tell you all of the capture related information that used to be in the capture pop up. That's right, you can capture, and move, and shoot.

Speaking of the new HUD, there's a new mini map and the maps now have alpha. Infantry guys can now run with the map up. You can thank RAMP for all that extra awesomeness.

New Combat Stance and Idle Animations

We've reworked the standing pose to be more of a combat stance, slightly lowered, when you are idle and we've added some new animations that play when you are idle for an extended period. These animations do not affect crouching or prone so you'll want to use those stances when you want to hide with no movement. This work has also required an audit of the various first person eye heights so they better match up with third person. You'll come to a full height when aiming your rifle but now you can peek over the Army Base wall without being fully exposed and crouch to become hidden from view.

No Fire Zones

Infantry spawn points now contain a no fire zone. These zones are limited to the immediate area where players spawn. For instance the garage area of the depot spawn building and the roof are not no fire zones, neither is the vehicle garage.

This zone prevents other players from killing enemies as they spawn in. In the past we have chosen not to manually police these areas however, in the course of normal play it should be difficult (read on purpose) for players to find themselves in a no fire zone. If you enter a no fire zone you will receive an alert. If you attempt to fire in a no fire zone you will receive an additional alert and a head shake instead of firing your weapon. These zones only apply to infantry and infantry spawn points.

New Buildings

The list is too big to go into here but all of the older buildings have been replaced with new high poly models with normal and specular mapping. You'll have to play this to really get a full appreciation of the work the art team has done here. It is truly a heroic effort.


Click for larger!

New Foliage

All of the trees and bushes in the world have been redone. New berms and stone walls complement many of these objects. We've also redone the infantry and AT gun revetments that dot the landscape. One of the coolest things we've added new is large grass fields that dot the landscape. You'll be able to use these for concealment in the field.

Radial Clutter

The radial clutter is all new and it is very impressive. It has a much improved density and draw distance. This grass is for immersion only and does not offer concealment.

Shadows

Infantry have improved full body shadows and trees now cast shadows on the ground. There isn't much to say here but the effect in the world is worth a thousand words.

Weather

We've added cloudy days and rainy days to the mix. This weather will offer reduced visibility below the cloud deck with clear skies above for your dog fighting pleasure Players will be able to test these settings offline.

Input

Those of you running multiple monitors will be pleased that the mouse now stays correctly locked to the game window. No more turning you rifle to the right just in time to snipe that sneaky sapper to find yourself launching your mail client just in time to die. We've also fixed the need to run in compatibility mode under Vista and Windows 7 so that your mouse will work. This is all part of a complete upgrade to the input system under the hood which should be seamless to you guys.

Attack of the Clones!

We've added clones to the offline part of the game. By using the space bar you can drop a copy of what ever vehicle of infantry you are using and that clone of you will remain in the game world in the state it was in when you dropped it. Sure, it's a marketing tool so we can set up elaborate screen shots but what's more fun is setting up a hundred troopers on a cliff and seeing how much hang time you can get from the ragdoll physics as they slide down and launch of the lip of the river! These guys don't (yet?) have any real damage modeling so don't try and use them for ballistics testing.

Infantry Draw Distance

We've been playing around a bit with the infantry draw distance. We've brought it in slightly to try and see if we can improve game play (undecided) or improve performance by lowering the need to draw LOD1 (high poly count) objects so far. We'll be looking to test this a bit more in Open Test when we can get some big infantry battles going and get some real time feedback.

Will There Be Sniperz (Training)?

Why yes, yes there will. Our kick ass intern BOOMKING has worked up some new tutorials with a little help from BLOO. We now have advanced training for ATRs, grenadiers, mortar men and snipers.

New Effects

Every effect in the game has gotten some love. New muzzle flashes and explosions are particularly nice. New tracers all around too and several weapons have been given tracers where they had none before, like the infantry LMGs.

Infantry now have blood splatter effect when you hit them. They even leave some splats on walls and things behind them. Wicked. Boats have new wakes and sprays. Hit debris has been improved. The list goes on and on.


click to enlarge

Widescreen Support

Those of you with Matrox Triple Heads or those fancy new Eyefinity cards from ATi will be happy to see that the HUD now supports these wide resolutions. I think we're going to see a lot more of you with these cards in the future. RAMP took mine “for development”. Funny how I haven't gotten it back...

Terrain Engine

Very large internal code rewrite of all terrain merging functions. Several of the processes have been moved from run time to build. This should result in better performance. Basically we're precalculating a bunch of the stuff like placement that used to happen at run time. This is what is allowing us to move to much more high fidelity terrain objects without melting your CPU. There are still a few wonky floating things to square away but JAEGER has done an outstanding job here.

Next up, performance tuning the engine. JAEGER and AHWULF are both tackling this. They've got culling routines and memory management issues to resolve as well as a bunch of other coder magic that makes my head swim a bit. This work will be ongoing through the Open Test. We're not going to release until it is squared away but we don't need that work to begin getting feedback and testing from you guys. Performance right now is on par with 1.30 in most areas but we have good plans in place to make it better.

The Return of the Death Cam

We've gone back to the old style revolving death cam and even made some improvements to it.

Vehicles

These items are best served in the read me format so here ya go:

* KwK.38L42 (PzKw.IIIh tank) APHEC (capped round) replaces earlier APHE round
* Crusader II replaced AP with APCBC
* Reduced over-penetration against amour plate of 75mm, 76mm and 88 mm HE rounds
* Adjusted bomb penetration on sc250he, f200, gp500 and mc500 for improved direct hit kills on heavy tanks
* Blenheim IV now carries gp500 bombs
* Hurricane IIc now carries mc500 bombs
* Upgraded the Char model
* Upgraded the Spitfire 1a model
* Upgraded the Spitfire Vb model
* Upgraded the Bf109 E4 model
* Ju52 now has ammo counter for tail gunner
* The rear armour error on the Pz.38t is now corrected


The Game Engine

Several of these features point directly to changes in the game engine that allowed them to happen. These improvements take form from improving core functionality all across the engine including new terrain systems, new shader implementation, improved render pipeline and an almost top to bottom review of the code base with fixes to memory handling, host stability and a vast array of subsystems. The only word to describe the work the team has done is monumental. We're looking forward to sharing our hard work with you “soon”.

Keep up with Battleground Europe on our website!

Still Thrashing on 1.31

Posted by BEMotormouth Friday November 13 2009 at 3:55PM
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Written by Al "RAFTER" Corey
Executive Producer, Cornered Rat Software

I'm sure there are a lot of players out there watching our site and the Twitter feed for signs that open Beta for 1.31 is on the horizon. Nobody wants that to happen more than the dozen or so Rats thrashing away on the last of our TO DO items. There is good news though, the last major code check-in took place earlier this week and we are now trying to build our first open Beta candidate. What does that mean? Keep reading to find out.

While we've had most of the features slated for 1.31 in closed Beta testing for a couple of months, we've been anxiously awaiting some major code which alters the way the terrain is populated when your game client is loading. This code should net some good results in reducing stutters while playing and reduce memory errors we've seen creeping into the game. It has been a long road to get this completed as it touches a lot of the game engine components. It also affects almost all the objects in the terrain and our artists have been scrambling to make changes to the objects so that they work with the new code. All this is a way of saying, we're closing in on the home stretch.

Our plan is to build an open Beta candidate this week and get it into testing as soon as possible next week. While it's tested in closed Beta, the final host support needed for 1.31 features like the new capture changes will be completed. If these both prove out as stable and (mostly) complete, then we'll likely announce a date for open Beta.

We had a meeting on Tuesday to determine our goals and plans for the 1.31 open Beta and have decided that 1.31 will first be available for offline testing prior to opening up a Beta server. Dana "GOPHUR" Baldwin, Goeff "DOC" Evans and Steve "BLOO" Daniels are writing up focus testing requirements that will be made available to all players for the offline client.

So rest assured, we are working hard to get the open Beta started and will post as soon as we can when it's ready. For those of you waiting on system specs for 1.31, GOPHUR and BLOO are putting together a 'budget build' test rig this week for a final check and then we'll publish the specs in time for you to upgrade your rig if necessary for 1.31.

 www.Battlegroundeurope.com

 

V1.31 - More Than Just Eyecandy!

Posted by BEMotormouth Tuesday November 3 2009 at 10:56AM
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Amy-Lynn "Motormouth" Engelbrecht
Public and Community Relations, Playnet Inc.

I like eye candy. It makes it easier to sink yourself into a game and for a few hours, transport you to a different place and time. Graphics, sounds and special effects are major contributors towards that "suspension of reality" feeling you get from good games. We have long been criticized for neglecting the look of the game in favour of mechanics and so, here comes v1.31 and now there are rumblings that this is nothing but a "lipstick" pass on WWII Online. New buildings, new trees, ragdoll effects, weather & rain... it's all just eye candy, isn't it? Nope.

It is so much more than that. Virtually every feature or upgrade in 1.31 will have some effect on game play. From the addition of more grass fields to rain and clouds, everything effects game play. It's part of the whole experience of playing WWIIOL. When you spawn into 1.31, you will be entering a game world that has more depth and richness than ever before. A world of 3D buildings that offer concealment, shelter, and possibly harbor enemies. A world of shadowy forests with thousands of new trees, grassy fields littered with stone fences, berms and rural buildings. Where rain sometimes falls and clouds cover the sky as your eyes struggle to spot your enemy. When you find him and fire the kill shot, new ragdoll effects kick in and you get a whole new level of feedback from your victory.

Here's review of some of the features coming in 1.31 and how they are expected to have an effect on the game;

Ragdoll, Blood Splatter, Muzzle Flashes

ODE physics will create a virtually endless variety of death animations for infantry. Combined with infantry smoothing, new muzzle flashes and blood splatters on walls and pools on the ground, the results will have you out hunting endlessly for more victims. Even the alterations to the Death Cam will leave you fascinated. In testing, we have found that rag doll is providing more and better feedback about the result of your weapons fire. Seeing your victim crumple to the ground from behind a tree you will no longer have to guess whether he has simply gone prone or has met his end. Game play changers? You bet.

New Infantry Eye Height

The initial infantry model (circa 1999) was created with the eyes closer to the top of the head. The eye height has now been moved to more accurate spot on the head of the character. The infantry model was also updated so that when you aim your weapon, it swings it up level with your eye point from the slightly crouched "combat stance" position. This provides more realistic movement in first person and gives a new level of feedback. Combined with the new combat ready stance, it's looking more natural and makes for a better combat experience.


Dynamic Weather

Beginning with 1.31, we introduce rain into the game world. Rather than impossibly sunny days all year long, a random "weather" cycle will run to add occasional rainfall, reduced lighting and lowered cloud ceiling. A new level of combat will now be played out with rain in your eyes and thunder booming through the sky. Aircraft will swoop in and out of cloud cover with tracer rounds lighting up enemies. New, lower clouds ceilings, reduced lighting and rain sprites are all elements that will change visibility, tactics and the outcome of combat- a major game changer in v1.31.

Upgraded Buildings and Terrain Objects

The last of the 2D (paper walled) terrain objects have been tackled. CRS artists have been chugging away replacing or updating original buildings as well as creating wonderful new ones to play in. Castles, windmills, farmhouses, capture buildings, vineyards, railroad stations, pillboxes, gas stations, petrol tanks, AI towers and pits... they all come together to give you the feel of fighting in a much more realistic and detailed environment. Some changes to buildings and objects should make a significant impact on game play. The new pill-box style infantry pit creates fortified firing positions for defense and berms surrounding towns and cities have been remodelled providing improved staging areas for attacks. New, bush-lined stone walls have replaced many of the generic bush lines providing improved cover for infantry. These are only a few of many changes to terrain objects that will change the way you play.

Persistent Fields, Radial Clutter & Shadows

Not only will persistent, grass fields make their introduction in v1.31, but a new radial clutter system also will be added. Grass fields provide infantry sought-after concealment and radial clutter will improve immersion. No longer will screenshots depict the landscape of WWIIOL as the final 3 holes of Augusta National Golf Course but instead a terrain with fields, short grasses, rocks, stumps and forests. Shadows will add to concealment by providing darker spots amongst berms and tree clumps... again changing tactics for players. While we are providing a way to reduce the impact of some of these features on system performance, some will not have the option to turn off completely. This will ensure a more level playing field for all.


New Capture Mechanics

1.31 will see the end of the infamous "Table Humping" in favor of a new system which transforms the entire building you occupy as the capture "object". We've freed you from having to maintain constant physical contact with a radio table so that infantry can move around inside the buildings designated as "Capture Points". Infantry are also free to move and fire weapons during capture and re-capture, engaging enemies in a frantic battle to gain territory and control the map. New attack and defense tactics will no doubt be perfected as a result of this change.


"No Fire" Zones

In our continued effort to promote fun and fair gameplay, coders and artists at CRS have developed the new "No Fire" zone. This previously unannounced addition to 1.31 means that if a soldier finds himself in an enemy infantry spawn point (FB, Barracks, Spawn Depot) his weapons will be rendered useless. On the multi-story spawn buildings, this will only affect the upper floors where infantry enter the world. Following a warning message on his HUD that he is in an enemy spawn zone, firing of any weapon will be disabled. At best he will have to resort to harsh language and rude hand gestures. Infantry can now feel safe from being ambushed when they spawn inside their own depots.

 

1.31 is big. Big changes, big gameplay improvements, big visual upgrade, big fun. It also opens the door for a lot of new stuff that will be entering development after it's release. The game play changes highlighted above are only a few of the most obvious we've seen in limited testing. We expect many more to come as a result of one of the biggest upgrades to the game in its history. We also expect some fine tuning to features as more testing is completed. We're excited and we're hopeful that we continue to improve the game for you. We thank you for your continued support and enthusiasm, it's really unparalleled in the gaming world today.

S! 
 

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