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Updates Intel Report #014: November News
Intel Report #014: November News

Another month, another Intel Report!Have you been keeping up with our monthly Intel Reports, by the way? Make sure to check out the news and previews for the last few months: Intel Report #011 (August) Intel Report #012 (September) Intel Report #013 (October)? We're quickly approaching our release target for V1033 — the end of the year. As a result, this Intel Report (#014) will be the last one until the release, so that we can fully focus on the update itself.Before we lock into release mode, let’s get on with the dev news and showcases for this month.One welcome, one farewellYet another programmer has just been welcomed on board the GROUND BRANCH team: Callum Coombes, who has previously worked on Rising Storm 2: Vietnam alongside environmental artist Will Bullen, is now among the ranks of BlackFoot Studios.That doubles the amount of code guys from what we had just a couple months ago to a total of four, which should allow us to tackle more areas of development more efficiently.Happy to have you, Cal!A bittersweet “goodbye” to MiksonWe’re sad to announce that long-time contributor Mikson is leaving our team this November, after a 4-year tenure. But his departure has a silver lining, as he’s leaving BlackFoot Studios to join none other than major studio Infinity Ward — a massive career move for Mikson, who became an intern for GROUND BRANCH while still in university.In these 4 years, Mikson has personally recorded and processed dozens of firearm and folley sound effects, mixed countless library recordings, created and implemented soundscapes and ambient effects for all maps, directed voice acting, composed our main menu theme, and had an active voice in various areas of development. Hell, he even put together the V1032 launch trailer!We couldn’t be happier about his work in GROUND BRANCH — some of you may remember the pre-Mikson days and how much his sounds added to the game — and we’re very proud to have had some kind of role in giving him a little exposure boost into the triple-A industry.Thank you for all the passion and talent you put into the project, Mik. We wish you the best of luck out there!? Audio goes on: Zack Regan, introduced in Intel Report #011, is taking up Mik's sound designer/engineer mantle.Birds and blastsParticles and other visual effects continue to get improved by Charles, with assistance from our programmers and the audio team.A small but cool detail is the seagull/bird flock, which will add some more life to certain maps:It’s a simple yet robust system that allows us to create bird flocks of various sizes and have them react to gunfire.Speaking of gunfire, muzzle effects are also getting a lot of love. In this video, Charles showcases his system for muzzle flash to display different sets of sprites depending on the camera angle. Take a look:What does that mean? Well, for those who don’t know: particle effects are typically composed of 2D textures — like flat pictures painted on a cardboard cutout — that are always facing the camera. By always facing the camera, you never get to see these flat textures from a different angle — which would give away the fact that they have no actual depth.With the system showcased in the video, the side-facing muzzle flashes (that look longer) automatically transition to front-facing muzzle flashes (that look rounder) based on the camera angle to give the illusion of a real-world tridimensional effect.? The muzzle flash effects are being created in various sizes and shapes to both offer visual diversity and fit the various weapons in the game.Charles has also setup an initial implementation for muzzle blast effects — more specifically, the dust raised from certain surfaces when hit by the shockwave created by the proximity with a shooting gun:Lastly for today’s VFX showcase, the old, funky-looking door chunks created after a door breach are being replaced with an updated particle-based effect. This effect is likely transitional — as in, it will make way for a better one later on — but quite a bit nicer than the silly door chunks currently in V1032:Quality-of-life updatesWe have already shown you some quality-of-life improvements on the server/online side (see Intel Report #013), but we’re eager to streamline and improve the player experience in other areas too.? This section is largely brought to you by the same guy making all of this cool stuff: Matt "Fatmarrow" Farrow.The handling of custom item builds in the Customize Operator screen has been given some love. We know you like your custom builds, but browsing them can quickly become quite unwieldy. So we made a change whereby when you open the item browser, custom builds are initially “stacked” under the default item. Click on the stack, and it will expand to display all your custom builds:How big will your build stacks get?We are also aware of the number of times you get pop-up dialogs and are asked to fill in item build names when editing your loadout. We don’t want this to get in the way of your Tactical Barbie™ activities, so we put in a new feature using the new mutators system: your item builds are now given default names based on what you have put together.So your new MK17 CQC with a suppressor and a Specter DR scope is now given a default build name of, say, “MK17CQC SD SpctrDR” (see some examples of automatic build names in the gif above). If you change the build enough that it gets a new name, it gets saved with that new name. If you don’t change the build that much, it just silently overwrites the old build when you click SAVE.If you want to use your own name, you can still do that, and you can use the new SAVE AS NEW… button if you want to pick a name. If you want to have more granular item build definitions, you can choose one from a drop-down menu. There are currently 5 options for default build naming, all subject to change: Disabled — Does not provide a default save name for your build (requires manual text input from the player). Just item name — Suggests only the base item as build name. Item name + key features — For weapons, this includes the name of the base item, sights, and whether it has a suppressor. For vest platforms, it lists all pouch types. More verbose — For weapons, this lists all of the above + lights and lasers. For vest platforms, this specifies the amount of each pouch carried (e.g. “JPC 3xPri 2xFrag”). Unique build name for all changes — Adds a unique build designator at the end of the “more verbose” suggestion in case you prefer every change to be saved as its own build.Okay, there’s quite a lot of stuff to unpack there, but overall this should streamline the process of putting together a loadout, as well as give the lazier of us a better set of custom build names to work with.? Don't like the build names or abbreviations the game gives you? Write your own mutator to provide your own naming scheme!Longer mission timer and new Intel Retrieval featureIf you want your quality of life to be arguably reduced, then we also have that covered for you.Congratulations to the person who asked for this: you spoke, and we listened. Now you can have your two-hour mission timer (up from the previous maximum of one hour). No, we will not raise that higher, because you are already about as hardcore a GROUND BRANCH player as we can frankly handle.And if you liked the new Terrorist Hunt “bum rush” feature, you will love the new Intel Retrieval “extraction mayhem” feature (final name TBD). Mindful that the extraction phase of Intel Retrieval missions can sometimes be an anti-climax (usually due to eradicating all traces of tangos in your path), you will now have to be careful what you wished for.Upon successfully hacking the laptop, you will trigger a security alert that will send the enemy AI to either hunt you down, or to boost the presence at the extraction. We may have to tweak this a bit to be more sane, but in the meantime: prepare for EXTRACTION MAYHEM.Match systemAs part of our server quality-of-life update, we have now implemented a match system, where specific criteria can be defined for the end of a match, such as “Best of 3” for PvP, or “Play until win 2 rounds” for PvE. This can be set on servers in the usual sort of way, and also selected in the Host Game menu for your listen server.When the match criteria are met, the server will automatically advance to the next map in the map list. Match type and round/time limits can be specified in map lists per mission, so you can have custom match setups for different missions in the map list. Otherwise, servers have predefined settings for PvE/Co-Op modes, PvP modes, and the new game mode type of PvP FFA (free-for-all), which now includes the Deathmatch mode.But there’s more! The match details can be viewed in the Ready Room on a new screen, along with an interface for all players to vote on what the next map is going to be. Here’s a prototype:Voting takes place during the round, whenever you want, so there’s no delay at the end of a round to hold a vote. The runner-up map will be offered one more time in the next vote. If no one votes, the maps just advanced one by one as before.Depot overhaul nears completionWill’s overhaul of Depot is nearly done, with interiors being now almost complete.Audio and game modes continue to be tweaked for the new structures, and we’re very excited about getting this one out there for you all to playtest.AIAs mentioned a few reports ago, AI is being hooked up with a new light detection system that should make night operations a lot more satisfying.Things were not far along to showcase back then, but they are now — so here’s a short clip to demo some level of sneaking in the dark (with the new white phosphor GPNVG-18 on, as well as the AN/PEQ-15’s IR Illuminator), and then quickly flashing a visible white light at the patrolling AI to showcase the light detection:And while we’re talking AI, here’s a quick little door breach test that our new programmer Chris put together:To make it perfectly clear: the video above is not V1033 material, nor is any of it necessarily representative of final features. We just want to show that friendly AI is indeed being actively prototyped and worked on.? Kris has also been at work with V1033 AI to improve door and ladder navigation, to prevent (or at least reduce) instances of bots grouping up and getting stuck in them.Ongoing asset updatesIn parallel with the more technical and player experience-oriented improvements, older 3D assets continue to be updated to conform to newer models. One such example is the MPX, which is receiving a full remake and currently sits at the low-poly stage, right before texturing:And that is a wrap for today’s Intel Report!As always, thanks for staying in touch with development for GROUND BRANCH!Don’t forget this is the last Intel Report before release V1033 — so don’t expect more dev blogs until we get the update out of the door.Have a great weekend and we’ll see you soon!Stay connected{LINK ENTFERNT}Discord / {LINK ENTFERNT}Steam Community Hub / {LINK ENTFERNT}Reddit / Twitter / Instagram / Facebook
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