Developer Newsletter #12 – End Game and Postmortem

08/08/2018

Greetings Commanders!

This newsletter we’re going to jam together a couple of topics. The first of which is the improvements we’re working on for ARENA’s end-game content.

T10 Leaderboards


This is something we’ve teased, but finally we’re happy to share some more details! You’ll show up on the leaderboard after you’ve completed your 3rd battle with a T10 unit. Every battle you play will increase or decrease your rating depending on whether you win or lose the battle. The leaderboard will display the Top 100 players, but it will always tell you what percentile of the player base you’re in.

T10 Ability Swapping


This is something you guys have been suggesting for a while, and we’ve always replied that it’s a cool idea and that we’ll look into it. Well, we looked into it, and it’s something we’re going to implement.

This initial system will allow T10 units to swap out some of their abilities. We’re currently deciding on the specifics of how this will be implemented, which abilities will be available to which unit types and how many abilities can be switched. It’s an exciting feature, and we’re looking forward to seeing what combos you guys favour and which abilities are the most popular.

Achievements


Alongside this, we’ve seen some discussion recently about achievements being bugged. I’m happy to confirm that we are looking into this thoroughly, and we’re currently working on fixing several bugs for achievements, including:

Corona Conservator not going to the right player

  • Erroneous unlock of ‘That Only Counts as One’
  • Corona Civica given to the wrong player
  • Aquilifer I being granted without that being shown
  • Corona Obsidionalis being given to the wrong player
  • Corona Muralis being incorrectly awarded
  • Making sure the statistics for kill based achievements are correctly tracked.

3.1.8 Postmortem


So that’s coming up, but we thought we’d take a bit of time this newsletter to discuss the deployment of the previous patch, and give you some transparency into how we deal with those kind of situations.

So, some of you may be aware, but 3.1.8 shipped last Thursday with a pretty nasty bug hidden in it. Within the first few hours of the build being live, we were hearing several community members claiming that the movement speed debuff from Anvil was not wearing off for the entire battle.

This immediately set off some red alerts and we set out to try and reproduce this issue, asking you all to send your replays of this issue to us. We plugged these replays into our system, but found that there were no errors, and that abilities were working perfectly fine. This meant that finding the steps to reproduce this issue was going to have to be done through videos, screenshots and anecdotal recalling of what happened in the battle. While this was happening, we were also getting reports of Vengeance and Momentum having zero build-up time, which we assumed was related.

This led to QA and community working together, scouring and reproducing every scenario that was given, before finally spotting the recurring theme in your videos and screenshots: multiples of Anvil were always used, never a single cast.

We tried this in a custom battle and found the root bug. Double stacking Anvil cause its effects to be cast indefinitely. When we cracked this, we spread out and tried a whole host of abilities, finding that this bug applied to all AoE abilities, but not to targeted ones. With this information in hand, the programmers looked though the code and found a bug in one of the bugfixes (ironic, I know).

While they worked on this, it was confirmed by QA that the intensity timers for Ad Portas, Vengeance and Momentum were not working, and the abilities were immediately hitting full intensity. This was found to be an issue in the system’s re-evaluation of a stats activation/deactivation when intensity changes.

We managed to get a working build with these fixes roughly 4 hours after the issue had been found. However, we wanted to make sure that these changes didn’t break more things than they fixed, so we put it through an intensive set of tests and playtests (which had to be done the following morning) before signing it off. We were, in effect, working against the clock. The countdown to everybody getting 100k Free Exp as a login reward was approaching fast, and we didn’t want the influx of new and returning players to immediately experience this balance-breaking bug.

We worked through the checklists and procedures and things were looking close. The countdowns were saying there was 30 mins left, but we still had some final checks to make. Finally, at 11:05 (the countdown finished at 11:00). We managed to get the hotfix pushed out. After the rush died down, we started evaluating the events of the last few days, working out where we can put processes in place to make sure that situations like this don’t occur again. We’ll be implementing more thorough checks on ability code changes, and making sure that all changes have the full extent of their possible footprint on the build.

That’s all for this dev newsletter, we hope that you enjoyed the insight into the dev process, if you did, then we’ll try to have more of these postmortems. Thanks for reading all!

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