Dev Blog

Game Designer Letter from Fuzzhead – 24th July 2020

posted on July 24, 2020

Hello squaddies,

We hope you have enjoyed all the content releases this week, with the new roadmap and our first SquadChat in a while explaining the future of Squad. We’re not done yet though, oh no! You’ve had some time with B20 now, and we have a survey we’d like you to fill out to help us understand the aspects you’ve been enjoying (or not so much) since it released.

We also have quite the extensive Design Letter from Fuzzhead for you all to pour over, so get comfortable in your favorite reading chair, stoke the fire and get reading.

Have a great weekend everybody.


Greetings from the Squad Design Team! We wanted to give an update today on all things Squad Development and Design!

This letter will be a bit longer than usual, and will dive into details regarding:

  • Squad has a renewed focus on it’s own roots as a game focusing on the core principles of teamwork, communication, coordination, and having a friendly community ethos. This letter will explain a bit more in depth about what that means.
  • The new living roadmap that was just released for Squad has many details on upcoming content, this letter will explain more.
  • Many new gameplay tweaks and features are inbound for Squad in the next few versions, this letter will go into a lot more detail surrounding those features.
  • This letter will also explain the broader overview of the design philosophy of Squad, with a bit of retrospection on the history and direction moving forward.

Squad Living Roadmap

If you have not already seen it, our “living roadmap” can now be viewed on its own page on our website: For more detailed information, we also have made available a Trello board: I’d like to stress that although these are our current plans, the living roadmap will continue to change if and when challenges in development occur and / or the community needs shift.

There are many things that are not yet listed on the newly released Squad Roadmap; either they are too far out, planned but not yet started, or still in design concept stages and not yet ready. As well, there are no doubt unseen challenges that may delay or prevent us from implementing something on the roadmap. And still there are many ideas, tweaks and modifications that will form based on results of implementation of some of the critical elements to gameplay on the road map. When new information arrives, we will keep the roadmap as updated as possible.

The Squad team wants to continue to increase the flow of information to all of you, our dedicated community that has a passion for tactical gameplay that emphasizes teamwork, communication, coordination and being a welcoming and friendly community. We recognize that increasing our transparency and providing more information like the roadmap to our community is very important, and are now excited to have transitioned to a more open policy with that information, especially having moved through some difficult work regarding engine upgrades and working through technical issues. I hope to include more frequent, but bite sized Game Design Letter’s to increase that flow of information.

Squad Project History & Direction

I’ve recently taken on the role of Project Lead for Squad (in addition to Game Design lead). This means that I am continuing to help lead the charge on shaping the vision and principles that make up the core gameplay experience. Squad is however, very much a group effort. We have an incredibly talented Squad dev team that work together in the planning and execution, and we welcome constructive feedback both internally and externally.

During the life cycle of Squad’s Early Access period, the gameplay design has gone thru several revisions. This natural development progression has shifted the focus of Squad’s gameplay direction a few times. We are now looking at shifting back to a more appropriate middle ground, to align with Squad’s core principles. To help on that endeavour, Squad has been growing the size of our design team. We have plans for increasing the Design team even further, so we are entering a time with a very capable team.

Over the lifetime of Squad’s ~5 years of development, the project has been in various stages and has emphasized different aspects as it grew and took on new features, a larger community, and different approaches. Over the past ~15 months, we have introduced several long planned features including Tutorials, Helicopters and Commander Role. We’ve also seen a lot of healthy growth in new players joining the community, which has helped further strengthen Squad and ensure a very bright future!

There has been a heavy focus in development during this period primarily on new player onboarding and decreasing the entry barrier for players that may be coming from the broader FPS genre. We made a lot of progress in many of our UI aspects to help with this onboarding, in addition to the full blown new player Tutorial as well as the first time spawn menu tutorial. We still have work to be done with a full User Interface / User Experience overhaul, but overall Squad has had many improvements on explaining UI functionality.

As part of the player onboarding focus during this period, there were also several gameplay changes that were made that have shifted the community focus, meta gameplay and overall pacing of Squad. Some examples of these gameplay changes that were part of this onboarding endeavour were: Buddy Rally feature, Infantry 10% Speed Increase, Removal of Post Incap Vulnerability, Increase of Logistic Truck seats, Ability for all Kit Roles to revive with bandage, to name a few.

Some of these gameplay changes have since been reversed (an example is the removal of the Buddy Rally feature which was introduced in A13 and then removed in B18). That decision was made after carefully considering the long term side effects impacting gameplay, in terms of depth of play, tactical decision making, and “Consequence of Action”. As the gameplay of Squad continues to evolve, we will continue to evaluate past/current and future features and aspects as we enter a Live Operations development cycle, with the goal of smaller incremental iteration of important gameplay aspects.

We recognize that at certain times in the past, the speed of iteration on critical gameplay aspects had been less than ideal. Squad has been in development since the very beginning of Unreal Engine 4. Many of the early systems built into Squad were built at a time when UE4 had far less tools and functionality than it does now. These legacy systems were also built at a time where the project was still in the start up phase of development, and simply put, the team did not have access to the same level of resources that we do now. As such, some of these legacy systems are now needing replacement, and this replacement process can take time and resources to fully replace. This is what is commonly referred to as Technical Debt, with which we have done a lot of work to reduce, still have work to do. This process can often be a complicated one. 

We have been working towards solutions that will help enable us to more smoothly iterate and improve gameplay aspects, helping to reduce long lag times between releases.

One of these improvements has already been implemented in our update process, which we label as “Major / Minor / Micro” releases. We now have for example the ability to release “Micro” releases, which are small Client only patches that are compatible with servers running different versions. This enables us to deploy fixes faster with less turn around time. We hope to continue to refine this build process, and include more flexibility for design with tools to tweak things faster in the future.

Squad Core Principles

Today I want to let the community know that while we maintain new player onboarding as an important pillar of Squad’s design, it will not come at the cost to Squad’s core gameplay principles. We want to re-emphasis that Squad’s core gameplay principles and primary focus is bringing players together to “Communicate, Work Together, Plan, Coordinate”. We want players to allow themselves to become immersed in an authentic combat experience, all while emphasizing a welcoming and friendly playerbase community.

As shown in the graphic above, the pillars of Modding, Accessible / Intuitive Play, Competitive / Meta Play and Authentic / Milsim Play are all encompassed within Squad, but they should not come at the expense of the Core values and principles. At times in the past, the “Consequence of Action” has been dulled by various gameplay changes which favored new player onboarding, which I believe in the long term can lead to much less emphasis on the ability to Communicate, Work Together, form a plan, coordinate and use teamwork effectively. So the path forward with regards to gameplay features is about finding ways to onboard new players effectively, while still maintaining the depth of play and keeping true to Squad’s core principles.

Part of this decision means that we have reaffirmed and are OK with making game design decisions that will Not be liked by all veterans in the Squad community. Designing features that embrace these core principles, means inevitably we won’t be able to please “everyone”. We are OK with that decision. In attempting to design a game for ‘everyone’, you inevitably end up designing something that no one really enjoys. We very much want to avoid that.

Squad’s vision for the future involves a renewed focus on it’s roots, to allow those core values to grow and truly become the soul of the game and its community.

With all that out of the way, let’s dive into some of the gameplay specific topics that are upcoming in B21 and B22.

Squad B21 Gameplay Features

Rallypoint as an Inventory Item

  • This feature will change the way the Rallypoint is used and the meta behind its usage.
  • The RP will become a physical item in the Squad Leader’s inventory, similar to the ammo bag that Riflemen deploy. Squad Leader’s will need to rearm the RP.
  • The intention behind this change is to reduce the effectiveness of attacking and rushing while strictly only utilizing the RP. This change is expected to encourage better supply lines and coordination with ammo-bearing vehicles, and discourage Squads from acting autonomously for long periods of time.
  • Resupply cost for the RP item will initially be set to 50 ammo. This value may be modified in the future based on play tests.
  • Allowing the SL to pickup the RP like an Ammo Bag is a desired trait, although that implementation is still work in progress and may not be in the first iteration of this feature.
  • We acknowledge that this feature will change the behavior of Squads and SLs somewhat dramatically, and will be making observations and taking feedback about its implementation. This feature will be under development, and may be modified or even removed if it is shown to not contribute towards Squad’s core principles. We value your feedback and encourage you to let us know your experience with this mechanic once released.

FOB Bleedout System

  • We are introducing a short recovery window for the FOB Radio. After a FOB Radio has taken critical damage, a team has a short time where they can recover the FOB Radio and prevent it from being wiped off the map.
  • A Shovel can be used to repair the FOB Radio to stop the Bleed-out timer. Repairs need to reach a minimal threshold in order to to stop the timer and prevent the radio from bleeding out.
  • Conversely, the Friendly team can use a shovel to dismantle the FOB Radio when it is in the Bleedout state. This is the only way to remove the FOB Radio while it’s in Bleedout state, other than waiting for the timer.
  • When the FOB Radio is in this bleedout state, the FOB icon that appears on a Player’s HUD when within the FOB radius will indicate the bleedout state using a UI that is similar to the medic incap UI.
  • We are aware that the FOB Radio in its current status is very vulnerable to enemy attacks. No matter the defenses setup, the FOB Radio is still the weak point in a Forward Base. The act of watching over the FOB Radio can often be a dull and tedious element to gameplay, yet is often necessary to keep that FOB operational. In contrast, the act of being a stealthy attacker is usually more engaging, exciting and rewarding gameplay. When on offensive missions to attack FOB’s, Player’s get to experience moving through a wide variety of terrain, practicing being sneaky, having the opportunity to watch enemy movements and having the opportunity to pick when and what targets to engage. The opposite of looking after a FOB Radio, which often results in long periods of uncertainty, and often not knowing when or where the enemy will come from, which oftentimes presents dull moments of waiting for the fight to start.
  • Including the Bleedout FOB mechanic to the current FOB system is anticipated to help alleviate this issue and potentially flip around that dynamic. While sneaky FOB attacks will still always be valuable, with the Bleedout mechanic, they MUST now also be followed up by a full attack from another element of your team. IE: you can send in your sneaky lone Combat Engineer to destroy the FOB Radio, but if that attack is not followed up by another supportive attack element, then it will just have been a nuisance rather than a crippling blow.
  • A deeper overhaul for the entire way FOBs/HABs/Logistics operates is still being considered, but this is still in the early staging / planning phase. We recognize that the current FOB system has flaws, and we would love to incorporate a Logistics system in the future that involves physical supply objects. There are several challenges with doing this, including rewriting the entire FOB system, and the design challenge of maintaining some of the supply granularity that the current Logistics system provides. Stay tuned for a future Game Design Letter that will dive into a more detailed analysis and discussion about the restrictions of our current Logistics system and potential solutions and gameplay implications for an overhauled/expanded Logistics system.

VOIP QoL: Left / Right Radio Channel Options for SL Command Radio Channel

  • We recognize that VOIP comms, particularly for Squad Leaders and Commanders, can be overbearing at times, especially with players that lack comms discipline. Both of these new quality of life VOIP changes will not negate the need for good comms discipline, but will hopefully help Squad Leader’s mitigate and manage the chaos a little better.
  • Players will have the ability to split the SL Command Radio VOIP Channel and the Squad Radio VOIP Channel to left / right ears. This will be an optional setting, and we hope it helps Squad Leaders better focus on and prioritize comms.

VOIP QoL: Priority dampening for Leadership Roles

  • We are aware that being a Squad Leader is very demanding, and having strong Squad Leader’s is the backbone and foundation for Squad Communities, and more broadly having a great game of Squad. Whether you are playing as a Rifleman, Marksman, Tank Crew, Helicopter Pilot, a round of Squad is just far more enjoyable when both teams have switched-on Squad Leader’s that organize, plan and execute sound tactics to win objectives.
  • VOIP priority dampening means that any voice transmissions by squad members will be reduced in volume when the Squad Leader is talking.
  • Likewise, when any voice transmissions on the SL Command Radio VOIP Channel by squad leaders will be reduced in volume when the Commander is talking.
  • This feature does not affect SL to SL transmission or local VOIP.
  • We are considering expanding this feature to Fireteam Leaders after analyzing and gathering feedback on the feature.
  • The amount of dampening can be configured with a slider in Audio settings.

Infantry Speed Adjustment

  • Infantry speed was increased by 10% in A13. This was a fairly major change to all aspects of infantry gameplay, and was among several other gameplay features that has effectively increased the pacing of Squad, which has consequently subverted a lot of former tactics and behaviors that aligned with the core principles of Squad.
  • B21 will see a reduction of infantry speed by 2%. The effects of this will be observed and analyzed, and further possible iterations are anticipated, including possibility of reverting this change. We welcome feedback about your experiences with any of these small tweaks, as we continue to fine tune the core mechanics behind infantry gameplay.
  • The intention of this slight reduction to infantry speed is to improve the ability for Squad Leader’s to form plans, communicate effectively and execute tactics, and to find more value and utility of vehicle transportation more often, which was observed to be subverted in part by the speed increase of A13.
  • A wider, more robust change to the stamina system is planned for a future update.
  • We also want to re-assess the ability to “parkour” through an urban environment solo. We would like the climbing ability to be much more linked to be a teamwork / buddy system element, rather than being an advantage for solo play. Specifically the “double jump” mechanic is one that has greatly affected a Player’s ability to navigate maps with urban environments. For example, with the ability to “double” jump” requiring 2 players, high-walled Afghan compounds would act much closer to their real world counterparts in becoming mini-fortresses, which would require teamwork to navigate these obstacles which aligns much more closely to Squad’s core principles than the current mechanic allows.
  • We are also considering in the future to add a player-carried portable ladder to a kit inventory. This could be deployed to help navigate tall walls or over trenches, and would have the ability to be picked up, similar to ammo bags.

Squad B22 Gameplay Features

FTL Improvement to allow FTLs to place fortifications

  • We hope that bringing FTLs into the FOB creation process provides an onboarding opportunity for players to start thinking tactically and consider supply lines before they try their hand at leading squads. 
  • The FTL will not be able to place Tech Structures (HAB’s, Repair Station’s, etc) or Emplacements (Mortar’s, HMG’s, etc). 
  • This is one part of an iterative process to expand the role of the FTL to a junior leadership role with tactical planning responsibilities. We hope this allows Squad leaders to have more time to focus on the strategic planning of FOBs.
  • We expect this change will incentivize defensive squads by making the FOB building process more communal and cooperative, giving them something to do in their downtime.
  • An example of an intended good behavior from this change: SL “I want a sandbag wall from here to here, make it happen Bravo team. Alpha team stay on watch. Charlie team fortify this house here on your own initiative.” SL will then be able to focus on the higher level task of placing HMGs & TOW with good fields of fire. 
  • Currently, it’s observed that supplies can frequently pile up in FOBs while SLs are too busy with other tasks to micromanage the placement of fortifications. The intent is to have FTLs fill that gap. We are hoping to see more interesting and frequent fortifications as a result, and more onboarding for FTL’s to take responsibility and become junior leaders.

FTL Improvement to include an optional auto-assignment of fireteams

    • At Roll-Out, or when a new player joins mid-game, squads will automatically be divided into fireteams by a system which takes into account such things as proximity, shared vehicles, and optimal role synergies (LAT + Rifleman, no more than 1 medic per fireteam, etc).
    • The intent is to ensure an environment where the SL can command fireteams, not micromanage soldiers. 
    • Pressure will be taken off the SL by automating the creation and management of useful  fireteams in every match, allowing them to take advantage of the more intuitive command experience fireteams are meant to provide. 
    • SLs will retain the ability to manually edit fireteams, and can customize or limit the system to fit their leadership style. (We’re not yet sure if we want to let SLs disable the system).


  • FTLs will be auto-assigned at random, with allowances to ensure first time players do not get the role in their first few games. 


  • This is part of an iterative process to create an onboarding and leadership development path for new players before they try the SL role, and to reduce the pressure put on individual SLs which can lead to player burnout.

HAB Changes – short delay to spawn whenever HAB is first built or enemy overrun has been cleared.

  • HAB spawns are currently still a very powerful aspect of Squad play, with the ability to quickly deploy many troops to a location within seconds. This impacts gameplay with a very polarizing aspect to the spawn points being active / inactive.
  • The intention behind adding a short delay until the HAB spawnpoint is active is to encourage more intentional planning and use of these assets, rather than using the spawn mechanic as a crutch and to circumvent proper planning, or using the HAB spawn as a defacto way to jump immediately back into action.
  • The delay will be shown on the HUD and Map UI in a similar fashion to medic UI, to give a clear indication to the player when that spawn point will be active.
  • The initial implementation of this feature will be subtle and the timer will be quite short. We will analyze its effect and iterate on it further, or remove the mechanic if it does not stand out to reinforce the Squad core principles.

100 Player Servers: Goals & Testing

Squad has 100 player servers as a top goal. We feel that this level of player saturation is essential for getting the correct feeling of epicness and fully realizing combined arms coordinated battles with all the elements. The increase from 80 to 100 players would add 10 extra players per team. The number of vehicles on most map layers currently is unlikely to increase with the increase of players. So the vast majority of these additional players we intend to be adding to frontline infantry units. We are aware that with the newer additions of support elements like Transport Helicopters, CO, Armor, infantry frontline units have been thinned out. We would like to see that filled back in, and maximize the capability to have all aspects of combined arms that are currently represented in game, to be present and active in a server at the same time.

An example of what might be a typical break down of units in a 50 player team, which of course fluctuates depending on map assets and style of play:

CO Squad (2-4 players), APC/IFV Squad (4-6 Players), Mechanized Infantry Squad / QRF (9 Players), Infantry Assault Squad (9+ players), Infantry Defense Squad (9+ players), Mortar Support Squad (2-4 Players), Logistics / Helicopter Transport Squad (2-4 players), Main Battle Tank Squad (4-6 Players). (~50 players per team).

Another aspect to the 100 player servers is that vehicle assets take up a large portion of network traffic on a server. We are continuing to improve the efficiency of our vehicles on the network, but may need to further reduce vehicle amounts on map layers to reach the goal of 100 players. Further analysis and testing is needed before committing to a vehicle reduction audit of map layers.

We have successfully completed one 100 player test in the b20 cycle, which was by far our best result in Squad’s history to date when it comes to having a playable 100 player server experience. The next steps for 100 Player server testing is to further refine our analysis data tools regarding network, so the next test that is run will give us granular details about which areas are costing the most in network performance, and where we will be able to get the best savings. We anticipate these tools to be ready in b21, so expect more testing to begin at that time.  

Closing Thoughts

I want to emphasize that we continue to appreciate your support and passion. We welcome your constructive feedback through the Discord channels, Social Media channels, Reddit, and the JoinSquad forums once they are back online. I encourage all of you to let us know what Squad means to you, and what you would like to see in Squad in the future. I hope through this message, you can understand and embrace the path forwards with Squad’s design and core values.


Lead Game Design

Offworld out.