First of a series of Devlogs! This time: outlining why we’ve been quiet since the Early Access release and how we plan to change that, what happened on the 19th and how we handled it and a bit about our plans for the near future and long term.
A handful of facts
Let’s get you some basic knowledge of our situation to better understand why we’re here and how we got to this point. We’re a small, indie developer that took on a great challenge, but with our previous experience and careful planning, we are sure we can handle a project this big. We’re constantly being compared to the biggest titles out there and measured against them despite us having a fraction of their budgets. Because of that our community trust means a lot to us – we know there’s a long journey ahead of us all.
As a company, we have deep experience with multiplayer games, but we’ve never done anything on a scale of World War 3. Multiplayer is a hard thing to do well, and many players, vehicles, strikes and insane customization are all adding complexity exponentially. On top of that, it all has to work blazingly fast and feel good doing it. We’ve jumped into developing something that most game studios and publishers would deem too risky to try in this age of reboots and yearly franchise refreshes, but thanks to the passion our team has for gaming, we know we can achieve what we set out to do. We’re also not backed by a publisher, we’re handling everything ourselves, and we decided to launch our Early Access on every continent at the same time – and we couldn’t have done it without weeks of testing with our players.
We can see our game has great potential and with good decisions and hard work it has a chance to be the next great FPS. Because of that, we are dedicated to keeping the promise of listening to feedback and constantly improving our game.
Because we knew there would be problems and unforeseen challenges, we couldn’t really be sure that a game that relies on balancing, solid netcode and server performance will work day one without a hitch. Also, with pretty much all of us being gamers, we know that multiplayer games cannot grow and evolve without players, and players need new content, balancing, constant updates and new challenges to keep being interested in playing and supporting our work.
Very early on we decided that Early Access is the way to go. It lets us build a solid core of a game, test it properly, balance, build a community and then release fully, after all the problems we couldn’t foresee were fixed and content we wanted to add is done. Working with our community to make the game better is also much easier when the game is still open for changes suggested by them and can still be influenced in meaningful ways.
We first showed our game at IEM 2018 in Katowice, Poland for a selected group of influencers behind closed doors. We got very warm reception from those shows which boosted our morale and helped us steer the game in the right direction.
A few months later we invited some of the polish influencers to play and test our game at our studio, we showed them a lot more of it and let them taste what World War 3 could be like for the first time.
Their great feedback was later extended by people from outside of Poland as well. We had a lot of people visit our booth at Gamescom in August – and a lot more content creators showed up to see what’s the queue for. Conversations we had there were crucial for us in the coming weeks and we greatly appreciate the time those people gave us.
After showing the game for the first time publicly at Gamescom, we felt it’s playable enough to release into Early Access. We knew it’s rough around the edges, but it was at the point that we could start balancing, finding out what can be improved and we could use the feedback and actually implement it. Finishing systems and polishing them up would make changes much harder to implement and could sway us away from tweaking, which we didn’t want.
We opened up technical test servers shortly after, to test the game and see how it plays when it’s not just us, but people that have never seen the game. Thanks to those tests we improved a lot and had more fun each day, we’ve met some cool people around the world in the already forming community, some of which were very helpful in finding bugs and improving gameplay. We had almost 100 000 people sign up for the testing, with tens of thousands keys sent out.
We didn’t see the numbers we wanted from our tests, so we proceeded to send out 10k more keys a few days before the Early Access release to bump up the numbers and really test out the infrastructure. It was all working without problems at all, so we were sure we’re ready for the launch – we wouldn’t push the game out the door if we knew that just a few hundred more players will start to become a problem for our backend.
We pushed the button and it worked fine for some time. After that Master Server started to get overloaded by all the players trying to play at once. While our dedicated game servers were doing fine, our Master Servers couldn’t handle the logging in and sending profile data to all players, as well as saving all the customization, item buying traffic and metagame updates. Because we focused on security over performance, it backfired and we soon realized this is not something we can fix in a matter of minutes and it will need an overhaul. We disabled a lot of the functionality that was already there to let at least some people play and we started fixing without wasting any time.
This was Friday evening after a pretty exhausting week of making sure everything is all buttoned up. The team stayed at work for the whole weekend (with a few hours of sleep each, don’t worry!). The pizza we got from our Discord community was really helpful as well, we ate it all, thank you very much for that. It was not only something to feed us, but also very uplifting gesture among the chaos and non-stop work. By Sunday evening we managed to stabilize the game enough to have most players get to the game, but that was with quick fixes, rather than proper rewrite, so after a few more hours of sleep and a few fresh people we started rewriting the Master Server to utilize new architecture. We had to have someone watching servers and restarting them as needed 24/7 for the last two weeks, which meant the team switched to working three shifts to make sure there’s always someone there. We’ve all done the best we could and the team showed they will not break under pressure and handle whatever happens.
Our main priorities now are:
- Bug fixing and making the game better on a base level with balancing and quality of life improvements,
- Adding new experiences, new ways to play,
- New content – all kind of totally new ingame content like weapons, strikes, maps and so on
We’re still moving the disabled functionality to the new backend, so expect proper profile saving, progression, metagame and other missing stuff to be back soon™. Our focus on fixing the connectivity issues doesn’t mean we’re not also listening to community feedback and implementing changes. Not everyone can help with backend, so others are making sure the game is getting better each day.
Thanks to the trust our community put in us, we can now grow and expand our capabilities, so there are some big things coming to World War 3 in the coming days, weeks and months. We’re fixing last bugs in the first big patch right now and working on a Roadmap, both of those will be out next week if everything goes to plan. There’s also an even bigger update scheduled to come out in the second part of November and at least one more before the end of the year. Using the Roadmap you will be able to see what the plans are and tell us what you’d like to see make it into the game as well.
We’ve also opened up the Public Test Environment, which helps us test patches before they go out to everyone, which has proven to be an extremely useful tool for us. This is because it both speeds up updates and makes them better quality.
After the big November update we’re planning another AMA, so make sure you’ve got the questions ready, we will be answering them.
Lastly we wanted to touch on people playing unfair. We’re fully aware of the problem and it’s not being ignored. We’ve been issuing bans since day one (thank you for your reports!) and those still continue.There’s a system behind how we’re doing it, but due to the nature of this issue we can’t really share any details on how this process works. Rest assured we’re not taking this lightly and this is something we are monitoring very closely. We are also working to include a reporting function inside the game, but – if you didn’t know – you can report bad behaviour and cheats with screenshot or video links at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re looking at them and banning players accordingly and we’ve fixed a few vulnerabilities thanks to your help as well.
This time we wanted to give our players some explanation of what’s going on, but Devlogs are here to stay for good. This is the first and special one, in the future ones we’ll try to focus on showing you how some of our systems work and how we made them, showing you some work in progress as well as videos and images of upcoming content.
We have taken steps to make our communication with our community a lot better, you will see some changes soon.
We’re really grateful for your support and we understand the Early Access launch game didn’t go exactly as planned, but we’ve learned from it greatly – which was always the point of releasing the game before it was done and we’re confident that with your help, we can make this something great.
Thank you for playing!
World War 3 Development Team