Happy New Year everyone! We took a break over the holidays to spend some time with family and separate from all of our day to day life responsibilities. Kevin and the kids went sledding, and I laid in bed sick. XD
Anyways, I won't keep you here with a long introduction. Here are the Map Contest results:
Deep Freeze 35%
Entropic Universe 19%
Ice Age Britain 4%
Congratulations to the winners! I will be including these in the tournament rotation for January. Looking forward to some of the new map styles.
We have also posted December's Contest Winners. Log in and check the Contest page
to view them. Congrats to our winners this month. Nominations were a bit quiet, so I hope we were able to capture everyone's contributions. I know a lot of people have been taking a break, so it makes sense that there are only a couple of winners this month.
Hope everyone had a great holiday! See you in Deep Freeze. =)
Here goes the first month of the nomination style contests! Thank you to all who submitted nominations. Before you read about the winners and their great contributions, I wanted to touch briefly on the new system generally. I kept the bar very high this month because there were quite a few nominations for quality work. That being said, nominations will not be retired on a monthly basis except for those that contribute towards a winner's award. For example, if I am nominated for something this month and I do not win, I can still win based on that nomination and future nominations at a later date. Keep working hard towards winning an award and it will pay off! Don't forget to continue nominating your fellow uTankers for their efforts in this upcoming month as well.
Also, there were many map submissions this month. We will select the best 10 and release them for voting, so check back soon for the poll! Read the new Cartographer Contest Guidelines if you need a refresh or have not read them yet.
Alright, with that out of the way, log in and visit the Contest page
to find out who won for the month of November!
So I played the tourney on Wednesday, and I was amazed by how much the game was lagging. So I looked into it, and made a few (big) changes, hopefully the game isn't broken ;).
*Fixed multiple issues to reduce lag
*Fixed issue with RSS feed displaying incorrect leaderboard numbers
*Changed how tournament winners are displayed on RSS feed
*Fixed ferry graphic desync when a player quits the game while on a ferry
*Fixed "Yes." in-game message to show "(all)" instead of "(team)"
If all is well, I hope tonight's tourney will be a lag free one!
The update should take a few minutes if everything goes smoothly.
See you on the field!
Got a lot of the little things done today, as well as revising a few things.
*Placing an obstacle on top of a mine destroys the mine and gives two promotion points
*Laying mines over enemy mines gives two promotion points per mine
*Fixed some issues where tanks would appear to drive over mines
No, I won't clean up on my way out the door. =)
Just pushed a small update tonight after the tourney which should contain the following fixes:
Fixed health state sync issue with radaring updates
Fixed move from off-screen to on-screen that always shows the tank at the lowest health state
Fixed issue where off screen moves would end up on different tiles for different players
See you guys on the field! I enjoyed the small mob and tourney we had today.
As you know, we have been focusing hard on lag for weeks now. We dug in hard on this issue to make the game more playable and provide it the infrastructure for future growth. We have seen some remnants of lag still that will take further investigation, but mostly we have rebuilt some key areas to handle a larger player base moving forward.
In more exciting news, it has been a busy week. We have fully replicated and condensed the updated bug list from the forums (thanks evolv and Ben!), individual bug lists (thanks Kacy and Silverfrosty!), and our own observations. We started to run through some of these with both criticality and pay off in mind. We definitely wanted to focus on some of the things that you are asking for today, but also made sure to address some of the deeper rooted issues with client desyncs and exploits. Tonight (approx. 9 ET) we will release a major update that addresses many bug fixes. Pease do your best to test these out and report back on the developer forums
with your results. We want to make sure we completely clear all of these out of the testing cycle as soon as possible.
In this update:
*Toggle for FPS on/off: F1 (this is currently not reassignable and must remain default)
*Addressed multiple exploits that allowed ferry deletion
*Fixed bug with out of date equipment toggle status on the client (armor shield issue)
*Fixed old equipment state upon join bug
*Made fuel barrels top priority in the hover text (second to tanks only)
*Fixed issues with "Nothing detected here." message sending to local team
*Fixed bug that caused strange behavior when a bot died to a mine
*Fixed bug where all tanks regardless of rank destroyed a 3x3 area of mines if the mines were unradared
*Fixed issue with mine chain reactions where mines could trigger explosion of other mines through unwalkable tiles (mountains, water, obstacles)
*Design change made that prevents a diagonal mine chain reaction
*Fixed issue where obstacles would become permanently stacked after placed on the same water tile
*Fixed issue where a "ghost" shot could be fired at friendly tanks if missiles or homing shots were enabled
*Fixed issue where players failed to see the tournament results screen at the end of a tournament
*Fixed the death to a mine does not derank bug
*Changed text of "Teleportation Activated!" to pink for visibility purposes
*Fixed some issues with mirage tanks
*Fixed shooting angle errors where a shot would travel to the wrong location in certain scenarios
*Fixed multiple issues around desync'd clients (invisible obstacles, dead tanks as obstacles, ferries)
*Fixed some issues around "Crash! Resync" scenarios
Thank you all for your ongoing efforts to help improve the game, and we look forward to hearing from you on the status of these fixes! Stay tuned for Kill Bug Vol. 2!
We have been quite a while without a contest, so I have been thinking about how we can fix that issue. I also thought it wise to reach out to a few of you and get your opinion on things. Before I go any further, I want to explain why we have not had ongoing monthly contests. There are a few reasons to note:
1. Inconsistent activity and prerelease state
2. Lack of meaningful contests and support for contests
3. Lack of time to coordinate contests
4. Great controversy around choosing winners of contests
We must overcome these challenges if we are to make these awards meaningful in the long run and sought after in and out of game. After much thought and collaboration, we have devised a new way to go about running contests and choosing winners. Today, we are announcing new contests that will begin now and remain active indefinitely. Please see the new contests and their descriptions here.
A few items of note:
1. As you may notice, there is no mention of SOT points, the previously used system to determine the winners of this award. We are completely scrapping this system. Points will no longer be redeemed or used for obtaining this award. Please nominate players you feel deserve a higher tier/additional Shield of Truth with this in mind, and of course nominate new players who have contributed towards the game's improvement as well. These contests will be monthly, so consider this a controlled mechanism to ensure that the value of all awards even out/increase in the long run. This doesn't mean that the contributions and SOT points are now irrelevant! Your contributions can still be recognized with this system at a more paced and regular awarding cycle.
2. We have eliminated the old time bound, guideline mandated contest approach to allow for the best of the community to win awards for truly original contributions. That being said, we as player-developers will also nominate players ourselves from time to time if we feel they are doing good work for the game. We are going to strive for transparency with these nominations as well. You will see this in action at the beginning of next month. Your participation drives this new process! Please nominate your fellow uTankers!
3. These are only a couple of the major points, which were made explicitly to anticipate the greatest areas of reaction. I know there will be a lot of commentary on this new style, but I want to make sure everyone understands the system as well. Please post your questions below, and I will do my best to answer.
Best of luck to everyone, and we look forward to seeing some nominations for November!
P.S. There is some cleanup for us to do with the way the link works, so make sure you log in to view the new content. =) Thanks everyone!
Tonight we believe to have found one of the last major sources of lag. From April-May and September-October, we have spent hundreds of hours tracking down memory leaks, optimizing and applying best practices around database maintenance, and minimizing network footprint. This final piece was the last to be attacked with various optimizations as of just a few minutes ago. Tracking down root causes to symptoms like this is not an easy task. Imagine the show 'House' and how they go through multiple different approaches to treat a patient's symptoms. This is what we have been going through for quite a while now. With us, though, it requires some stress testing (voluminous activity) and some time to determine if an attempted solution has had any effect. Not until recently have we been able to test our April-May optimizations and continue identifying and optimizing key areas of concern. Please continue to report noticeable lag, though I believe (knocks on wood) that the random 4-5 minute lag spikes as of late will not be seen for awhile. That being said, there is no silver bullet to these issues.
Thanks for all of the help along the way and to all of you who helped report issues and narrow down the causes of lag for us. These things really do help (and save me a lot of time when I would be testing blindly as opposed to doing more focused false/true tests and analyses with the metrics in front of me).
Stay tuned for more updates on our development progress, and a shout out to Winter for the latest donation!
Oh, and there might be some site errors here and there with the latest changes, so bear with us. Thanks.
We have been working on some boring stuff this morning, but essentials nonetheless. We fixed the 3AM reset, which was not happening. It is amazing to see that the game had been running for months without downtime or noticeable lag related to lack of reset. All of that hard work plugging memory leaks last Spring paid off!
We also did some work to clean up idle tanks. For example, the other day evolv told me that he shot a single mine for 2 promotion points and skipped a few thousand numbers (tanks). We ran a script in the database to clean those up and eliminate them from the leaderboards. This helps make leaderboard sorting more efficient and overall decreases potential sources of ongoing lag.
One of the things we have not been able to do much about is the most recent lag that randomly occurs for about 3-4 minutes and causes good 30 second wait times per turn. We upgraded the servers, which solved part of it, but now we are seeing another issue on the hosting side. A lot of people have helped us narrow this down. Among others, Zub told us that the bots seem to get more shots off when it is lagging. With reports from the players like this in combination with monitoring server health, we have come to the conclusion that the lag is most likely network related. If the game is not lagging itself (little to no memory leaks), the database is well maintained and cleaned up, and the server hardware is running without high CPU utilization, the only thing left to look at is the networking aspect. Sure enough, we notice network spikes that correspond with the symptoms we are seeing in game. We will continue to monitor this, as always, and keep working on lag related issues when they are within our control.
Anyways, just wanted to communicate a little bit on what we have been doing. A big thanks to our most recent donor, Derka, with a $50 donation to help us pay for monthly server costs. Also, thank you to everyone who brainstorms and posts great ideas for uTanks every day. We do see these and consider them in our development process, even in the absence of a forum comment or email response from a dev. Some of the best ideas are sometimes just too far out of scope. Others are great to be saved for the future, but require a bit too much to be implemented in the present. Either way, we love reading what you have to say.
As always, thank you for your ongoing support and help in refining the game. You never know what we as devs will notice based on something that might seem irrelevant to you. Keep the feedback and ideas coming!
PS- I am thinking a new contest soon might do us some good. What do you think?
Hello all! The upgrades to the server went well, we threw in a number of fixes last night:
-127 Armor Bug should be fixed(Thanks Stefan for finding this one)
-Removed 5 hour limit on accounts in tournaments to allow for the new players to join in on the action.
-Removed the 1000 hour limit on tanks, this required a lot of modification to the database and website. Let me know if you guys have any problems with this.
-Fixed a bug related to slow minimap performance
-Enabled diagonal scoping within the minimap
-Rewrote fuel spawning and distribution algorithm (May)
-Added fix for cups not being awarded (May)
We are working every day to get close to our goals, stick around for further updates on this.
See you on the field!
The servers will be offline for maintenance on Thursday, October 11 from 9PM ET - 12AM ET. See you afterwards for some late night uTanking! Also, servers will undergo maintenance Sunday, October 14 for brief periods before and after the tournament.
We will be addressing a couple of server side issues that require planned downtime on both of these dates. Thank you for bearing with us.
7 5/8 width x 9 1/8 length x 1/8 thick
I love it!
Congratulations to Arctic Island for winning the May Cartographer Contest! It was very close, but Arctic Island (51.8%) managed to edge out Battlefield (48.2%) by just a small percentage. Stay tuned for upcoming Cartographer Contests and keep impressing us with new maps!
Andy from the uTanks Staff talks about:
Weekly Development (00:00)
Next Week Dev (03:45)
Request to the Players(06:33)
Contributing to uTanks (08:27)
Questions and Closing (11:30)Episode 8 Discussion & Questions for Episode 9
Andy from the uTanks Staff talks about:
Kevin's Absence and Server Migrations (00:00)
Weekly Dev Update(01:04)
Next Week's Focus(08:13)
SOTs and Carto Contest (10:04)Episode 7 Discussion & Questions for Episode 8
Recent events within Kevin's personal life have prompted a regretful decision on his behalf. After some minor tweaking and cleanup in an update due this week, Kevin will be taking an extended leave of absence effective immediately. He will not be involved with uTanks or Bad Sheep Gaming until further notice. All of his accounts have been disabled. I think I can safely speak on behalf of the uTanks Community in wishing you the best, and that we hope everything on your end works out okay in the next couple of months. Good luck, bro.
I do have someone else coming in to work on the game here and there in their spare time. I can't make any promises on that person's behalf at the moment, but we will proceed with weekly updates as a starting goal. The game will move forward uninterrupted.
Andy from the uTanks Staff talks about:
Weekly Dev Update (00:00)
Next Week's Focus (02:32)
Activity and Competition (05:52)
SOTs and Underground (08:53)
Questions (10:13)Episode 6 Discussion & Questions for Episode 7
Andy from the uTanks Staff talks about:
Plans for this week (01:31)
Tank Deletions (03:11)
Questions (10:22)Episode 5 Discussion & Questions for Episode 6
Andy from the uTanks Staff talks about:
Fixes for the week (00:00)
Critical Path (01:50)
Minor focus (07:19)
Duplicate Names/Team Management (08:22)
SOT Process (09:21)
Tournaments and Free Kills (12:08)
Questions (14:42)Episode 4 Discussion & Questions for Episode 5
War Correspondent #2 was an extremely competitive contest. I had a hard time deciding how to choose winners. At the end of the day, I decided to award those that truly contributed something more to category for which they chose to write. Creativity and fresh perspective won this contest. The following are your WC #2 winners. Congratulations to:
Thank you to everyone who participated.
Don't forget to watch uTVision: Episode 2
and tell us what you think
. Have a great Easter weekend!
War Correspondent #2 has officially come to a close. Thank you to everyone for the submissions. We will be reviewing them this week and hopefully announcing winners by next weekend.
In other news, make sure you watch and comment on uTVision: Episode 1
and let us know what you want to hear for next week!
We've also opened up requests for SOTs. You can find the thread for that here
. Just log in with your uTanks username and password and submit your request with the form provided.
See you next Friday with uTVision: Episode 2.
Just wanted to throw out an update on the team's status. We are really chill right now, kind of trying to get some order back into our lives. We have not been working on the game. Life has been a bit crazy lately with Kevin and I. Once I get internet installed at my new place, I will be on AIM more to talk about whatever.
I know a major source of concern has always been around the server going down and whatnot. Now that we have reached a higher level of playability, we will be implementing a solution that will automatically restart the game if it crashes. Once we get that in, we will be taking an official break before starting on the extra features and cool stuff slated for final release. It's been really hard to get motivated about uTanks lately, and it shouldn't be like that. We need to enjoy the work we do on uTanks to make it worth our while. When it starts becoming like a second job, it stops being fun.
Anyways, I just wanted to keep the communication flowing and let everyone know what is going on with us. Feel free to hit me up via PM or AIM if you wanna talk uTanks or anything else.
Oh, and the WC contest will go on as planned. No worries there.
So we are remixing the WC a bit in this second contest and bringing it back to a more traditional writing based approach. We are looking for some fan fiction to serve as a post registration page and another for a solid introduction page. We are also looking for a new stand alone "About uTanks" page and a revamp on the Recruit's Manual.
You can write for one of these or all of them to win, but only one award can be won for each tank. The final submission may be edited by the uTanks Staff before going live. All submitted content is the property of Bad Sheep Gaming. Winners will receive a War Correspondent award on the tank of their choice. Remember, quality is better than quantity. We prefer you write higher quality for one page than lower quality for multiple pages.
Please email each submission separately to email@example.com
. Use the following template when submitting your entry(ies):
Category (Choose one): Post registration, Introduction, About uTanks, Recruit's Manual
Failure to follow this template may result in disqualification. The contest will run until April 1st or as otherwise specified by uTanks Staff.
As a final note of importance, please email any questions you may have on the specifics of the contest, and we will be happy to keep an updated FAQ here in the main post
. Thank you for playing uTanks, and we look forward to reading your submissions. Good luck!
It has been long awaited-- check out uTanks Podcast #4 below! We have been very busy lately, but we are still here.
uTanks soldiers on.
Sup home slices. I finally made a new blog profile. I couldn't find a picture that didn't make me look super pissed off when I thumbnailed it, so just imagine that a bee stung me or something.
Everyone probably already knows that I'm back on the team but in case you don't pay attention or you're new, I'm back on the team. I do tilesets and higher level code architecture and help kevro with his maths.
I know, I know it's been a while. I've been extremely busy working out all of the issues with the games code. We've reached a very major mile stone and that is we now have the ability to detect 80% of crashes at actively resync the game in turn without crashing the game entirely. Most of you have probably seen the new "Crashed... Re-Syncing Viewport!" message. Don't worry we still get the reports when that happens so that we can try to eliminate that from happening entirely but it certainly makes the game alot less annoying to play.
We also are working out some of the ACTUAL crashes that still occur and i have an update tonight which will hopefully resolve all of them that we have seen so far.
We have a WC Contest scheduled for the month of march, and a PH contest scheduled for the month of april. More details to come on the exact entrance requirements for these contests.. Thanks for being patient with us as we perfect the games overall stability and performance before we push for activity. We think we are getting close to trying to bring the activity back.
Lastly, I want to sincerely thank everyone for the amount of time and work you all have put in to helping track down bug reports. Putting in bug reports takes alot of effort and sometimes it looks like it goes unappreciated because we simply have so many, it's hard to respond to all of them individually. So once again, on behalf of the entire staff we thank you for your continued efforts and sticking with us through this tough learning experience. We are growing up! As a company and the overall community, we get around 20% new visits a month from all over the world. Thats no coincedence!
-See you on the field!
The Cartographer Competition has officially ended. The winners are as follows:Gold Cartographer
Frozen Impact (RATED)
Archipelago (Nu Cru)
Arctic Galaxy (evolv)
Treasure Island (SW) -- TIE
Pangea (ChapStick) -- TIE
Battle Royal (zub) -- TIE
*Glacier (magicman) -- TIE
Congratulations to all of our winners! It looks like we will have to take eight tournament maps due to a four way tie at the bottom, but the more the merrier. We are happy with the results. Oh, and check the Tournament Calendar. =)
*There were two maps named "Glacier" submitted. When verifying the winners, we realized that the wrong user was announced as the owner of the winning "Glacier" map. Congratulations to tomsawyer on his winning entry!
Andy, on behalf of the uTanks Staff
Today is the last day for voting on the Cartographer Competition. Make sure you've voted for seven(7) tournament maps and one(1) ice themed map to be released this Summer.
Upon conclusion of the Cartographer Competition we will be unveiling a new tournament calendar. Testing has been going great and we have been getting a lot fixed. Stability is almost a guarantee. There are some small things left that we will be finishing up this week, but we have made serious progress.
This brings up to the question of reopening registration. We have yet to finalize anything, but you can be sure we plan on making a drive for membership as final release nears. This kind of thing tends to be a snowball effect, so it may not be a magical influx of hundreds of players, rather a grind to the top. Think MMO farming rare items. =P
Anyways, we are working a lot, but at the same time remaining a bit separate from the community in terms of game discussion outside of testing. We want to do things right this time, and the progress we are making is showing that we made a good decision so far. See you on the field very, very soon.
We have opened the game to current registrations and pushed a new client update. We will be watching this
release over the course of the week for new code bugs. The game may be taken down at any time for debugging
and updating. If we are stable enough by next weekend, the biweekly tournament will be held as planned on
Saturday at 12AM EST.
Also, we have created a new uTanks Development Forum
to serve as the main
platform for user discussion on the latest uTanks test candidate. The old forum can still be found at http://underground.utanks.com
, and we plan to make it a bit more casual.
Anyways, We hope you enjoy the reboot.
Andy, on behalf of the uTanks Staff
Just to give you a quick update on where we at bad sheep gaming are with utanks... We have completed our framework changes entirely and have begun private testing(internal staff ONLY atm) of the new framework. Let me just say that so far the changes have made some amazing upgrades to the games stability and overall bugs as well as overall memory usage that the game has.
Here are just a few of the bugs that the new framework fixes:
Tank entering lag
We are also working on a reconnect feature which if for whatever reason you do happen to crash in game, it will automatically restart its self ad reconnect you, rather then make you have to close client out and completely login again which we all know can be extremely annoying and takes those precious seconds away in a stressful battle for number one in a tournament.
Once we have tested and feel like its stable enough to get mass testing we will push an update to clients so that you guys can start playing again. Keep in mind that with mass testing comes unforseen bugs and may result in crashing which we will be closely monitoring and fixing. We may also bring the game up and down as we fix issues we come across. Thanks for the patience guys, we are getting to a critical turning point in development!
-See you on the field!
Ready to decide on some new maps?
After testing the new voting system, it is finally time to vote in the first Cartographer Competition. The
voting period will begin today, January 16th, and end on February 1st at 12:00AM EST. Thank you to everyone
for participating. We had a lot of fun during tournament madness.
One ice themed map will be chosen for the third main map to be released in conjunction with the uTanks Final
Release (one vote each user). Seven tournament only maps will be selected based on your votes and the votes of
the uTanks staff (seven votes each user). We aim to have 10 maps total in the tournament cycle. Good luck!
Hey guys! Hav'nt posted for a while and figured i would give everyone an update on the development status of the game. Kaitlyn and I have been working very hard on getting the code that needed some reworking....reworked :). We have moved from clients trying to maintain state of every tank in the entire map to clients only knowing whats happening in their current screen. This design minimizes overall traffic chit chat from server to clients, as well as getting rid of some world state bugs(ghost mines,tanks, fuel). It also helps with security, no idea where other tanks are or what their fuel levels may be.
Thats pretty much done. Kaitlyn and I have done a thorough code review and are looking for places that are really messy and hard to debug in the code as well. Now is the time to find those places before we goto official release mode. We've identified 3 sections of code, one large and two smaller areas that need reworked. Once these are done we will flow right into what andy was describing as testing next week.
Once testing is going on and we are confident the bugs are fixed, we can start development on the Raid Simulator, the Recording of your session to share with people, and the sexy ass UI that clayton made us.
Stay tuned guys, its been an interesting development cycle and we as a team have learned alot along the way, which was the goal the entire time. uTanks is a big step in the direction we want to go here at BSG.
-See you on the field!
We will kick off our biweekly tournament schedule this weekend on Sunday at 11PM EST with a White Sands tournament. More importantly, private testing will begin the following weekend with some of the new changes we've made. It will be stability testing, pretty boring stuff, but we need to get this stuff done first.
Now, a couple of things to discuss concerning the two main points presented above. Biweekly tournaments may end up moving to new code immediately. It is going to be a pain to two different versions and set it up for that, so that may happen. This weekend will definitely have a monitored tournament, which will be restarted if it crashes (OLD CODE), but once the private testing starts the following weekend we may have to run tournaments on new code or delay until the new code is stable. I just wanted to throw that out there as a sort of disclaimer before we get back into things again. Secondly, we have simply closed registration to the website for private testing. Everyone will be able to play again, although the game may crash a bit and be taken down unexpectedly for maintenance (nothing new here).
I also want to say, from me to you, that taking the game down immediately and without notice was a bit rash on our part. Kevin and I were pretty pissed off, and our threshold of tolerance had been surpassed a long time ago. However, we still would have taken the game down within the next couple of weeks. It is a necessary part of this next step. I want to especially thank everyone who has stuck around with a somewhat understanding attitude. As always, the uTanks experience is both humbling and rewarding every step of the way. Thanks for sticking it out with us.
Despite what some have already assumed in the wake of uTanks Beta's close to the public, we are working hard on dealing with some deeper issue bugs. We expect private testing in a few weeks on the first of these rewrites. Also, we will be allowing limited uTanks play with a biweekly tournament.
In response to all of the post shutdown comments, I would like to say that while I will of course defend our actions to the death, the practicalities of our mistakes as a development team have been made clear. Without the fog of the game's imperfection clouding our opinions, we can see that there were some simple mistakes we made from the get go. With this revamp, we will be looking to avoid those same mistakes. Now even though uTanks is no longer open to play regularly, we will be communicating more than ever on the progress of the game's development, as well as alerting the community as to the scheduled testing periods. We also plan on creating a new forum solely for development and transitioning the Official uTanks Community Forums into more of an "underground" setting. We previously tried to ebb the tide, now we realize that we must go with the flow. We are a stubborn community, and as the de facto leaders of that community we have accepted that.
As for some insight into the latest development work, Kevin and Tapioca have single screen animations nearly implemented and are just about finished with some major rewrites of the networking framework. They have also begun work on handling client crashes with a friendly resync, where the game reports the error and immediately reconnects a few second later. We are focused on first addressing stability issues before moving on to some of the other stuff.
In any case, expect a more serious approach from us. We are going to go by our own plan before accepting critiques, and in this way we are going to have a more efficient priority within our development planning.
It's become very clear since we've made the decision to shut the game down that not many people fully understand how a games development cycle happens. From misnaming(alpha comes after beta and other nonsense) to complete ignorance (what we have now is pretty much a buggy release). None of these things are true and I feel that alot of the frustration coming from the community is lack of understanding exactly how a TYPICAL game company goes from inception to final production release of a game.
Step 1(Inception 0-10 minutes on toilet): An employee, or game producer is sitting on the pot trying to rid him self of the alcohol shits after a long new years night, and comes up with a brilliant idea. This idea then gets discussed at tuesdays meeting where pretty much anyone with an idea gets to bring it to the table and discuss it. If one is good enough to "sound" like it has potential, they invest resources in making a concept, usually a small team of 5-10 programmers which makes a game that has all *important* functions so that the producers can gauge the fun value.
Step 2(Concept 3-12 months): The programmers usually are given a few weeks to come up with a concept, usually has a single graphics artist to make any art they need and we are talking extremely low quality art. This entire stage is called the concept phase, most of you wernt around for this phase but this is where I wrote a game with my own graphics work that you could move around the screen and see other people move around to. Once this concept is completed the producers play and if they like it enough to feel like it could be a hit, they go back to the drawing board thing of any additional items in terms of story line, game play, etc etc before actual production starts. This typically lasts a few months.
Step 3(Alpha 1 year+): Once the producers have played with the concept, maybe got some outside parties to gauge the fun level they will go to alpha, alpha usually has the real team involved with upper management, team leaders, division of work(algorithms, networking, graphics, controls etc etc). This typically takes a couple of iterations and at the end, they have a (fairly) feature complete game. It usually is extremely buggy has shit tons of issues, more bugs than can be counted and overall gameplay sucks. They bring people in off the street, pay them minimum wage to to repetitive things(jump in a spot for 100,000 times, run over to a barrell and kill your self 1,000 times). They get tons of reports and shut it down. THey collection the information into a nice report, and prioritize and begin working on these bugs. Sometimes its major rewrites of entire sections of code, sometimes its just a little bug fix.
Step 4(Beta 1 year+): Alpha went well, bug reports were collected and the team of developers have fixed alot of bugs and rewrote alot of framework. The rest of the features that were missing are now introduced and typically the game is announced to the public to be expecting it in some general quarter of the next year or two depending on how large it is. They hire more testers to essentially do the same thing as alpha and this is pretty much exactly like alpha. They invest all their graphics resources at this point to finalise any graphics for the game at this point.
Step 5(Controlled Release 4-6 months): You know the "beta" everyone gets to play of gears of war 3 and halo and MW3? Thats actually whats called a controlled release. Controlled release is where the final product is done, there are no more features to be written, the engine of the game is running fairly smooth and they are "fairly" positive they've removed all the bugs. They release this to the public on either an invite, or because you preordered and get special treatment. This is pretty much final release, you get to PLAY the game and there is no testing. You have zero contact with the company who made it, if you do generate a crash its silently reported to the company of the problem. After a few weeks of this, it's shut down. The game programmers get a month or two to find and fix any issues that the general public found and they get fixed. This is the final product.
Step 6:(Release N/A): The final product is released to the public costing anywhere from 20-60 dollars for the game, its still very, very buggy at initial release, its just that the bugs are in dusty dark corners of the game that WILL be found just not yet(refer to the unlimited air calls in mw2). The majority of game developers have been moved back to step 1 on some new game, while a few stay behind to work on any issues here.
I know its long, but it will give you an understanding of how this typically goes. We(bad sheep gaming) are currently in beta. But its kinda funny, we havnt demanded you do something specific, we havnt even asked you to report bugs if you dont want to. Sure, there is incentive for doing so but thats all. We treat you all more like this is a controlled release, and this i believe is where we have met a problem with everyone.
Actually there are two issues, the AAA devs tell you what you are playing on xbox is beta, when in reality its a controlled release. So everyone assumes that since utanks is in beta it should be bug free, very few issues. The second issue is that we are indeed treating this like a controlled release, given that its open to public, we dont ask for bug reports, we dont demand specific things be done etc etc.
I hope this helps you guys understand where we are, and whats going on. Hope everyone had a safe and happy new years. We have started development for the release candidate client today. We are pointing out areas of code that should be rewritten before moving on and we are finding areas of code that could be taken into a shared library for future use in other games.
Ask questions here in the comment and I will try to answer them about anything going on in the games development.
It has been a while since our last update, but we are indeed still here.
uTanks development has taken a turn towards addressing deeper issues. We created a heavy development plan for the last period (which ended December 13th), and through exploring the issues we sought to address, we realized that a vast majority of our bugs could be fixed with some more efficient foundational rewriting. We learn more every day, and for us this is part of the experience. Some of this rewriting has already been implemented, particularly the removal of caching for the database. This addresses a host of scoreboard issues and in game award updating (see Prestige). Anyways, this is the main reason why we have yet to release new tournament types as the last gameplay addition before starting on final release content. We are also working on a voting system for the map competition, which is taking a bit longer than expected. Soon we will have some polls up for voting on the new maps. In the meantime, we will schedule tournaments on a weekly basis. I have not been doing it lately, but I will be checking the replay request thread on the forums to decide the tournament maps of the week.
More importantly it is Christmas Eve, and we are all very excited to spend some time with our families. Christmas time can be a stressful season, but finally the time is here. For some reason, Christmas time makes me a bit nostalgic. While writing this update, I had originally started off with "Merry Christmas, uTankers," but I deleted it. It made me think about how many Christmas Eves and Days we spent together as Battlefielders, and that this is our first real Christmas together as uTankers. I remember playing Christmas Eve and late afternoon Christmas Day tournaments. We had some pretty good team battles on Christmas too if I remember correctly. It always seemed to be a time equally as important to our community as it was for our families. I can only speak for myself, but I loved getting into some Battlefield action on Christmas Day. I think moments like these are what originally motivated me to get involved in this project, and the point we have reached now makes me proud of our achievements together. We have finally recreated what was so attractive about Battlefield. We have reunited the community with a solid base of players. We are back. It's kind of strange to think about after all of these years, but it definitely makes me happy that we came back as a community.
So relax, enjoy a few eggnog pumpkin spiced cocktails (21+ ofc), play some tournaments, and do not doubt for one second that there are some Christmas tournament surprises in store.
To a community reborn, Merry Christmas, uTankers.
Hey guys its been a while since i've posted. As most of you know I had 6 stitches put into the inside of my thumb which has slowed me down(not stopped cuz imma boss). Most of you may have noticed alot of slowness, crashing, lag etc etc the past week or so and this is due to a very ibg change in infrastructure on the server side.
The old server code that has been replaced are two vital components of the game, the first was the scoreboard code which all of you know has NEVER been perfect(double cups by the same person, funny problems with last shot not being registered etc etc). Second problem was tank caching from the database, we preload all the tanks from the database into memory on the server, then find that tank from the cache and we dont hit the database anymore. This causes problems when trying to add/update awards(WC,PH,PRESTIGE) outside of the game, as well as changing tank names for whatever reason, and the TIME GLITCHES.
This code had now been yanked out and we hit the database entirely, no more caching. The benefits become very clear when you look at the problems. With new code however, you get problems with performance, problems with bugs etc etc. So far weve gotten the lag issues under control, finding multiple problems where we were saving tanks to the database WAY too often(2,3,4 times a turn). Found some problems pulling a persons rank from the database(taking half a second to do this, got it down to .065 seconds). I think we are finally stable and have all of the issues fixed.
One of the big ones has been getting cups that were not awarded. We will be making an announcement for people to apply for cups they were not awarded yet since this is a manual editing.
We are currently hacking away at a new voting system for maps to be voted on so expect to see that soon guys!
Also, i've been playing the game quite a bit lately trying to find issues and problems. So you will see me playing quite a bit, even if you dont know its me :p
-See you on the field!,
We have released a sketch of our next six week plan, available on the uTanks YouTube Channel
. We have a lot to get through this next six weeks, so please bear with us as we look to push out some new content and fix a lot of old bugs. Oh, and we are also looking to spice our YouTube Channel up a bit, so if you happen to take some good gameplay videos, please send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sound effects on with no music in the background is a must. We need to feature uTanks a bit more and let you guys show off your amazing raid takes where everyone will be sure to see them.
In case you haven't noticed, our forum hosting service has been having issues lately, so we are beginning to explore switching service providers. I can't stand it when they go down. They are a professional service dedicated to hosting and we pay them to do so. Too bad, so sad-- they lose business.
Some immediate issues as of late have been brought to our attention, and we think we are going to go ahead and make blowing up mines worth a few points to help provide some incentive for base destroying. Nothing self sustainable, but enough to coax you in game to get some anti-orange mine campaigns going. ;)
Just like everyone else, the uTanks Staff is gearing up for the holidays. This big push will hopefully allow for us to take a little break from developing and allow us to enjoy time with our families until the countdown to the end of humanity begins on the first of next year. In any case, we hope to see the game more active in the coming weeks. I will soon be finished with school and plan on getting back into the game. Look for a Shiner on Artemis and maybe a secret tank in White Sands from me. See if I can't grab 100 hours and a few cups this December. Look forward to seeing you guys on the field, let's push for some activity this winter!
Hey guys! We have just finished off our last 6 week plan, for those of you that dont know, we compile a list of items every 6 weeks that should be done in that 6 weeks. Andy makes the list, and stefan and I race to cherry pick off the list so the loser gets all the hard/boring stuff.
I hope everyone is happy with the progress we've made. The team has been struggling to find time to work on the game with so many busy things going on in our real life but i'm trying to make sure that we get time in so we can fulfill the 6 week planes. We should have a new podcast out here within the week that discusses the last 6 weeks and whats coming up in the near future. I think you will all be excited about the new items that are coming into the game on this list of items todo! I wont reveal too much so just listen to the podcast when we get it out!
Clayton has been working feverishly on the final client and giving you guys a sneak preview of it while he prepares for the coming winter months. If anyone would like to send him de-icer for his balls hes taking free donations. Hope everyone likes the new client design and feel free to start some discussions about things you would like to see in release or changed on the client. If you want changes now is the time to get them in!
We as a staff have also been making an effort to actually PLAY the game. Its very easy to spot really annoying things that are still apparent in terms of game play when the developers actually play the game. I still suck though. Looking for mentors! :P
-See you on the field!
With the last few days off I have had my nose the the grindstone the last couple of days with the final client and I am very happy to say I am getting very close to completion! ..Whew, Feels good to say. The photoshop file is getting so bulky I ran out of ram to save it and had to do a lot of work over!
Anyways I really hope you guys like the progress so far, Let me know in the comments!
I recently asked a good artistic friend of mine to doodle us a couple of Bad Sheep Gaming logos since I'm no good in that department.
I told her to run with the idea and I figured I would show you her first idea she came up with.
I think its pretty damn awesome!
I love it! What do y'all think?
It sure beats what we could come up with!
At least we had fun with it!
Hey all. Thought I would hop in here and make my first blog post.
I have been very busy with real life these past few weeks. I am getting all my ducks in a row and preparing myself for the Minnesota cold in the Tow Truck game. I'm not particularly looking forward it.. I will be very absent the next four to five months and before I disappear I figured I would show you some of my progress on the Final Release Client. None of this is set it stone and there are still many changes to be made. (I know some of you have already seen 'em) Hope you guys like it!
Anyways, Happy upcoming Halloween to all of you! The girl and I are going to be Calvin and Hobbes this year, I'll be sure to post some pictures on the forum!
Take care of each other,
In light of all the recent tournament crashes due to the new maps, I have cleared the tournament schedule for the rest of October and November. We will be running Blitz and Sands tournaments only until November. The month of November will be a tournament madness month in which we will exhibit every submission.
We have resolved what we think to have been the main crashing issue (besides the networking library issue mentioned in previous blog posts). Once we sort that out we will test a few at random outside of tournaments, and then proceed to schedule the month of November with your submissions.
Thanks, and thank you for your patience.
Hey guys, just got home from that crazy ass phone install. Getting alot of reports of lag in the tournaments. As much as you might think we are doing it as a cruel joke we are not >.<
Believe it or not the lag is good and bad, it's good because it means we are growing into a whole new level of the game. With this growth comes magnification of all the weak spots in the server. As you all know we've been working tirelessly to ensure that the game becomes stable, HOWEVER we have not optimized the code much. Stefan and I will start analyzing and finding spots that could be improved upon and hopefully fix the lag for some more time.
Obviously the bad part is that its incredibly frustrating in tournaments where the stakes are high and the adrenaline is pumping. To find and fix these weak spots means that you will have to ensure another tournament with lag, while we "Profile" and find the problem areas. Then hopefully you should see some improvement. Its very possible this isnt server side at all, and it on the clients them selves. That is why stefan or I will play in the tournaments and profile our clients while doing so so that we can see these problems if there are any.
Glad to be back guys, i know it's seemed kind of stagnant but im getting back into gear this weekend and you should be seeing alot come out of the pipe!
-See you on the field!
Hey guys, sorry i've been out of commissions on a phone install the last week. I've got well over 46 hours and its only thursday!
I've been working today on linking up the blog to the utanks websites RSS Feed so you should be seeing that here soon. I'm also working on the ice tiles and map editor tonight and tomorrow so you should be seeing updates to those here soon.
Thank god its friday tomorrow!
See you on the field!
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We have been swamped with real life this week, but are planning on ramping up further development of our security. Bots and modded clients continue to be an issue, so we have begun an investigation into known botters, modders, hackers, and all of their associates. It is unfortunate that we have to put aside development to do this, but we must secure the game first and foremost.
We will also be working on tweaking tournaments a bit more. Tournaments have improved greatly with the moderator system, increased points required for rank, a stricter limit on deaths allowed, and various other adjustments.
With the map contest in full swing, we are going to be focusing on the Map Editor as well. There are many new adjustments and additions yet to be made to improve fluidity and local editing on the editor. Submissions for the contest will be accepted until October 31st, but we will continue to run submitted maps until each map has been played at least once. After this process is completed, voting will commence. We are very excited about the huge turnout of map submissions (30+ already and only halfway there!).
Finally, I wanted to briefly address the game crashing issue. The physical server is perfectly healthy. It hosts both the www.utanks.com domain and the game, so when you see the red light it is not the server itself. Our issues lately have been with a networking library system we use (not our code). It is an open source software that we have used from the start. Until the devs over there get their own bugs worked out, we will continue to see some of these very basic game crashes. Otherwise, paid software of the same type costs well over $1000 and would require hours upon hours of recoding. In the long term this may be attainable, but this is something we will have to cope with for now. Almost every single random dusty corner ghost bug in the game has been debugged and stabilized. Now, we do still have a lot of small client side crashes to sort through, but the uTanks serverside code is very stable. Client side crashing is something we plan to address in full starting in November.
Anyways, just a small update from the development side. We will keep busting out the updates and changes. We are almost ready to start work on uTanks Final Release (and we can't wait to take a little break XD).
Oh, and don't forget about the new ice tiles. They will be ready for live action very soon!
We think our DNS Service provider is having some issues with an attack. The forums and main site/game are hosted on separate servers, but use the same DNS service. When they get their suspected attacks handled, we will be back online.
The botting fiasco continues. A lot of players are accusing the staff of approving of this behavior, of taking ineffective action against suspected botting, and even cooperating with the botters. Many players are demanding that we ban these alleged bots. The uTanks Staff agrees on the severity of the issue, but will not take primitive steps to resolving it. Below is a post I made on the forums that sums up our strategy on the issue.
Simply IP checking is not our goal here. If the game were in final release and we had to stop this asap, we would. Seeing as this is beta, we are working on ways to actually stop this from happening in the future, and the only way to do that is to monitor suspected bots. Believe me, we are extremely interested in these threads about bots and have been paying close attention. We are working on a real fix that will stop would be security workarounds (which is how you can do things like this in the first place) so that we minimize the hacking when the game is advertised and marketed for growth. Imagine if we perfected the game, banned hackers, and then went live on final release to get raped because of how pathetic our security system is in terms of stopping hacking, modded clients, and bots. It would be a disaster, and there comes a point where IP banning and tank deletion don't work anymore. We need real security, and this is a part of that process. No, we are not aiding or abetting these hackers, otherwise we'd already have a security fix in place. Remember when we didn't tell you about SW? How did you guys find out something was off? He first helped us make the security fix, and then afterwards we allowed him to continue his own testing of various features (essentially disabling the security for his client only). If there was a fix, you'd see a stop to these bots. There is no conspiracy theory here. We aren't working with these people. To be honest we would love for them to come out and tell us how they are doing it so that we could stop it, but I highly doubt they would be interested in doing that. We have some ideas that we are working on, so we will keep you updated on what comes of them. All of us really want this nonsense to stop. You have no idea how frustrated we get when we have to stop working on cool stuff like putting new ice tiles in, badassifying the map editor, and tweaking tournaments just to deal with basic security issues because people refuse to stop hacking the game. It's ridiculous. However, standard protocol for software development in the professional field requires SDITs (Software Developers in Test) and security professionals, neither of which we have. These are the kinds of issues we run into without that kind of support. Anyways, I'm tired of trying to explain this to people in the AIM chat when accusations are being thrown around and I'm on the defensive before even getting a chance to explain the logic behind our actions (or perceived lack thereof). We are working on it, despite the community's inability to see immediate results. You can't put a bandaid on cancer. It is going to take more time than that.
Just trust when I say we are just as upset as you are about this. It will be dealt with and it will be dealt with decisively, but it will not happen overnight.
For those of you that have not been around for long, we have been working on this game for quite some time now. We started almost 3 years ago to this day and while we have had our times of complete dead activity, the map being a ghost town. We've had times where we almost gave up on the game due to life/other stresses.
We never did though, we continued working through it and we have progressed a long way from the first time i posted on bfunity But enough rambling, you guys want to see some funny shit?
First ever concept, this "game" was nothing but a tile engine, with a tank that would rotate to point to where you clicked and move to it, the wall of rock was test that my engine worked, it was slow, buggy, and has no network support.
Several months(6-8) later i came out with the first real version of the game, how fun! It was buggy, shitty, crashed alot, and was incredibly slow
About a year ago, we got to a point where we were finally stable but things were stirring here at head quarters, Stefan had been up for 3 sleepless weeks with me learning as fast as i've ever seen someone learn and while he was learning, tapioca, TTH, and my self were talking about a straight up rewrite of the game from scratch. While the game was stable is was just so buggy, code was a mess and needed lots of work. Here is the final alpha version of the game:
I really want all of you who looked at these and say "yea i remember that" to know i appreciate you sticking through the ups and downs and giving me the drive to keep going on the game when it almost seemed pointless. The game has really changed since those times. Hope to actually play the game some time, maybe stefan and I can trade places for a while, but i think he likes playing with little boys in a swimming pool too much :'(.
-See you on the field.
Hey guys, first post from me on the new blog!
I hope you arnt expecting some awesome mind blowing post. I've been working tirelessly on the blog and work has been running me ragged lately. Next week i have some more free time and should be working on the game alot more so you should see some of that. Lately we've been discussing some policies and flaming control. We try really hard to make sure that the environment is safe for everyone and the forums are as welcoming as we can make them for new people. If we expect to survive we have to make sure that we don't shun new players.
Anyways, my blog post cherry is popped! See you on the field!
We've been getting lots of reports of people making bots to play uTanks (third party programs are a bannable, punishable offense). We are working on getting to the bottom of this, so be on the lookout for more news regarding user botting. We are working to address this issue. People seem bent on hacking uTanks, so we may have to take more time out of real development to continue working on security. It sucks, but we want to keep the game fair.
I have been receiving a lot of maps that still have errors in them according to the competition rules and guidelines. Maps disqualified that need to be resubmitted will be posted on a running list on the main uTanks homepage. Otherwise, do not resubmit your map to update it. We will not be updating maps after they are submitted in accordance to the guidelines. If you think you might want to edit your map down the road, hold on to it until the competition deadline (October 31, 2011).
Anyways, that's about it for today. Tournaments have already been going through pretty intense changes, so be sure to keep us updated on what you think.
After a short period of spending lots of time on anything that isnt utanks, I am getting right back into things again, fixing bugs after bugs upon bugs inside of bugs, with the occasional new development. Just to clarify, I don't particularly enjoy finding and fixing bugs, especially the hard and complex ones I've dealt with lately, like bugs in our sorting algorithm, bot API/framework, and those many client/server desynchronizations, like all of those fake ferries that everybody loves. Of course, it seems like I still have just about every other extremely-hard-to-diagnose-and-fix bug on my plate to finish before the end of the month, and some small gameplay improvements which wont take long to get in. I am looking forward to improving on the bot AI now, but I know once I get into that nothing else will even have a chance of getting done.
I've also just finished doing a bunch of small improvements which seem to be centered around tournaments, and I'm curious how people will react to them, but we still have even more to come.
On a non-development related note, I remembered a map I made and transitioned way back when the original map editor was released and still had a few images of it, and I was able to import it after a little help from photoshop to get the colors right! Im happy that the map isnt gone forever like I thought, considering how much time I spent on it. I think the only other people who can appreciate how much time I spent on it is SR and Andy, who are the only other people that made a detailed map back then, basically because making a map was a 50+ hour commitment. I also need a name for my map!
Finally, in light of the few bug fixes I pushed, I would like to know if there are any new occurrences of bots not responding/fake ferries :)
I hope everyone likes the new blog. Clayton's genius in presenting us with a layout so simple yet so sexy never ceases to amaze.
Last night was a great night for uTanks. Clayton finished up the skin and Kevin got the blog programmed up. Stefan fixed the scoreboard error we saw in a tournament the other day, worked on bot framework, and programmed some new tournament features, mainly the substitution of derank for loss of ranking points upon deactivation. On that note, we are thinking of upping promotion points required per rank, increasing ranking points lost when deactivated, and decreasing the fuel/equipment spawn towards the end of the tournament to allow for more deaths. We are also working on fixing ferry bugs. Oh, and of course getting bots in tournaments. We are thinking on getting these things in and then programming the ability to toggle them on/off to provide for flexibility in tournaments. It should lead to a more diverse and exciting realm of possibilities regarding tournaments. We are pretty excited about it.
We also received final ice tiles, rethemed with a bit of twilight to account for the darkening of colors. I think everyone will be impressed when they see them in action. There's a secret new feature we added to the tiles (hint in the new blue ice). Here is a sneak peek for you:
I have been working on the map submissions lately. Be sure to read my post
on the forums about the updated requirements. If you do not follow these requirements, your map will be disqualified.
Other than that, we are just beasting through. Our priorities right now are map editor and tournaments, so expect a lot of updates in those two areas this month. Hope everyone likes the new blog. We expect to keep this one updated quite often, so be sure to check back soon.
Looks like a realy cool blog- Kevin and Clayton sure did a wonderful job setting all of this up! Im a little pumped right now because I finally fixed a huge problem bots were having today that caused them to freeze up and not do anything, so our bot "framework" is done, now we can do the cool stuff like make smarter ones and put these ones in tourneys :)