Near the end of 2013 we received a notice from GameSpy that they will be shutting down in 2014. Well, as you know, SARPBC is the game that refuses to die, and we can't just let this be the end of it. We can't let GameSpy decide when the game ends. We've been working on an online layer for the sequel, and so the thought occurs to us that we could "port" this over to SARPBC. Well, we haven't done that yet, but we're going to be doing some research in this field in the near future, we're trying to get all the kinks out as much as possible, and then bring it over if we can. However:
There may not be feature parity. We'll know more as we go. That means ranked/unranked might merge together, team matches might go away, other things might change, be added, removed, or simply be different. Your stats might disappear, everything might reset, the whole thing could end up different. This is our chance to fix all the things. Tell us what you want, and we'll see who seems the loudest and then do what we want anyway.
And to show we're serious, we've already done quite a bit to get a start on it. Ben and I have spent about 6 weeks worth of nights working on optimization. First of all, I've done the work of bringing the old code in to the year 2014, using the new Sony compilers with all the bells and whistles. This means more optimized code, which runs faster. This brought about some technical issues that I had to work through, but the result should be more stable code. I've updated the shader compiler, which allows for more optimized shaders that run faster. I've found and fixed a few startup crashes, and think that a few more outstanding crashes might also be fixed. I've fixed a few collision bugs, and made the collision about 30% faster. I've found and fixed a few threading issues, and added some caching that speeds up the rendering thread, and profiled and optimized every level. Ben has gone through the game's effects, optimized them all, and tweaked them with new techniques. Ben has Improved lightmap efficiency, removed overdraw, and tweaked the visuals of each map. The maps have new lighting, some with better textures, and generally optimized the living crap out of the game.
What does all that mean?
- Improved framerate.
- Split-screen and 4V4 perform better than 1v1 did before.
- Maps have improved contrast and sharper shadows
- Generally above 60fps, all the time
Yeah, but what else? It's been 4 years!
- Fixed ball cam. It's not that broken.
- Gas/Brake/Reverse will use analog trigger feature. Yeah, that wasn't even our fault.
- Boost pills/pads reset after a goal. No more being cheated out of boost on kickoff.
- Mute UI fixed.
- Blurry glass cracks in Wasteland
- Aligned start points and boost in Utopia
- Boost pills fade in faster, and you can pick them up even if they fade in while you are sitting inside them, or upside down.
- Brake/reverse lights on your car aren't shared with other players using the same skin.
- Fixed things I don't remember anymore.
When? When? When!?
- Current improvements coming soon. No date yet, but hopefully within a month.
- Online patch planned for the months following. GameSpy closes down mid year, so hopefully before then.
- Sceenshots next week.
I know you have questions, I know you have a million bugs to report, and that's fine. However, we are NOT looking for online bugs right now. We will be replacing a lot of stuff, and so likely we will fix all the bugs, and replace them with new and more interesting bugs. We'll get there, it's just going to take time. If you have small bugs that are easy to reproduce, feel free to let me know. I'll fix the ones I can find without having to try a zillion times.
Finally, and most importantly:
Because of the extensive nature of the update, your existing replays will become obsolete and no longer load after you receive the update. I'm going to try to solve this issue, but at this time I don't think I'll be able to. I'll know for sure soon, and give you as much warning as I can, but be ready for it.