Developer Q&A

October Squad Developer Q&A

posted on October 29, 2021

Hello Squadies,

Thank you all for taking part in the first monthly Squad Q&A where you, the players, get to ask the people who made Squad all about the game! We hope this will be yet another channel of communication between us at Offworld Industries and our players. As mentioned this is an experiment, so we may tweak things as we go forwards in future months, but for now we’re delighted with the excellent selection of great questions that we received.

Given that we had well over one hundred questions we were not able to answer all of them. Originally we said we would be answering fifteen questions, but later we increased that to twenty-five to try to accommodate the terrific response. We’re also grateful that everyone who asked a question did so in the spirit of building a constructive dialogue, and while some of the questions were tough they were all fair.

If your question was not answered feel free to ask it again next time.

Thank you all for your participation, and without further preamble here are your questions and our answers!

 

Question: Will Pan Asia be based on the 2000s or 2020? You know, their equipment has changed dramatically over the years.

Answer: Pan Asia will be based on a 2010s iteration of the Chinese military. Their equipment choices and uniforms will be pre-2020, preserving much of their iconic look through much of the 2010s. We didn’t want to go for anything too cutting edge, especially if it was susceptible to change on a dime, as we did fall into that trap in the past. We don’t currently have a timeline for this faction’s release, but we know that once we are able to dedicate more resources to developing it, this is the direction its design will take.

 

Question: Do you have any future plans to promote the more serious and competitive aspect that Squad allows; whether it be through daily announcements (highlighting certain small tournaments for example), or by organizing specific events such as OISC?

Answer: In short, Yes. We have plans for 2022 in terms of running more one off events and tournaments. These events aren’t just going to be geared towards the competitive community, but for the wider community as a whole. As for promotion, we are actively looking at ways to promote events and provide support where we can, you should be seeing more of it in the new year. 

 

Question: Will the roadmap update reflect only the things that were on it previously, or will you guys show other features that have been brought up since that roadmap’s inception? For example, any upcoming changes to suppression, or the physical supply crate system of which a prototype video is available. It feels like there’s a lot going on that doesn’t see the light of day, and discussion of the game’s balancing and future are a lot easier when there’s a clear picture of what the finished product looks like.

Answer: We want to rethink the roadmap a little bit to ensure that we’re setting expectations properly, and under promising while over delivering. We’ll be looking to adjust the roadmap so that it more closely reflects our actual production schedule and allows for some of the inevitable delays that are a part of game development. When you mention adding stuff that might not see the light of day, it’s a good point, and something we’d like to avoid. Unless something is confirmed, whether in active development or greenlit for future development, then it should not be on the roadmap going forward.

 

Question: Are you guys considering making a console version of Squad anytime in the future?

Answer: While we will never say never, there’s currently no plans for a console release. It is a request we get a lot and we understand the desire to see it come to console, but there’s nothing currently planned. Updating Squad to support a console release would require a significant amount of development work, and would be an incredibly complex project. Right now we’re focused on reducing tech debt and working on new content for our players, and shifting development focus to release Squad on console isn’t our biggest priority.

 

Question: With a new CM, will the Squad partner program accept any new partners?

Answer: Yes, eventually. One of the tasks of the new Community Manager that we’re going to be hiring will be handling the Squad Partner Program with an emphasis on growing it, as well as ensuring that we are supporting our partners already in the program. It’s fair to say that the Partner Program is currently not where we would want it, and that’s on us to resolve. So you’ll be seeing more of a focus from us on it in the future.

 

Question: Can we get more features such as… <list of feature requests>

Answer: Thank you for the list of suggestions for Squad. While we’re sure that they’d all be great additions to the game this reads more of a feature request list than a question. One thing we want to avoid is answering a question like this with a “yeah sure, that sounds cool” and then that being taken as confirmation that a feature is being added. So overall as a blanket answer to all the feature request type questions we’ll just say that those are all great ideas and we’ll pass them onto the rest of the game team to consider.

 

Question: Will developer updates or just some kind of progress report of the development process be made more common after this Q&A?

Answer: This Q&A is just a start, and will be a recurring feature. We’re still building up our communications team at OWI to support Squad, as well as looking into establishing the most ideal frequency of other updates. We just recently hired a Senior Community Manager, and are also looking to replace Krispy with a new Squad Community Manager – adding to our staff in this area will allow us to better keep you informed on what’s coming. We want to balance that with ensuring that when we do provide updates, we’re offering interesting and relevant information. One thing that has become clear is that in a bid to be more transparent we have at times shared information before we were ready to. On the flip side, there have also been periods of time where we’ve been silent for too long. Our focus is on improving both the quality of our communications, and re-adjust the frequency of it so we can hit a better balance overall.

 

Question: Many of the top NA servers have been suffering from DDOS attacks for the last 2 months leading to a point where server providers are denying us squad server hosting. AWS provides cost effective tools to remediate this issue and allowing AWS as an server host would greatly help the communities that keep this game alive.

Answer: While we’ve seen a few reports of this, it hasn’t been impacting the whole game population on a wider scale. At the time, the server owner impacted was recommended different providers they can use should they want to. Although we have our partnered providers, we are happy for players to use other dedicated providers as long as they meet the performance requirements to run a server. All our partnered providers are vetted and provide high standards of service for DDoS issues. We can’t provide a specific answer related to AWS right now, but can commit to having a further internal discussion on that subject. 

 

Question: As a kickstarter backer (clan pack), i would like to know the status of the clan patch that was promised us.

Answer: We’re sorry this hasn’t happened yet. We made a good amount of development progress on these, but had to temporarily redirect development resources to address other issues. We’d really like to see this completed and will be looking to have the priority raised for the future.

 

Question: Do you have any future plans for in-game optimization in general? (some maps are more or less optimized than others)

Answer: We do! It’s a well accepted fact that some of the older maps have performance problems. We’re actively working on a number of different approaches, we’re already regularly giving each map some love, and iteratively bringing up the standards as we go. From a technology point of view, we are working on implementing some handy engine features into Squad including the use of HLODs and Dynamic Resolution Scaling, and looking to get to the point where we’re working with and actively leveraging the newest features of UE4, especially when it comes to performance enhancements, stability and security.

 

Question: Will we be seeing any updates to vehicles in terms of usage, coax being fixed, better vision, or defensive abilities?

Answer: There is a lot to consider with regards to game balance. We’re working hard to gain clarity on tuning issues, as well as areas that Squad would most benefit from new or improved game design. That’s to say yes, we are looking at ways that vehicles can play a greater role strategically in the game, where it makes the most sense to do so, while also considering the priority of other design goals.

 

Question: now I dont know much about game developing but from my understanding amphibious vics are one of the main holdups for v3 and i was just wondering what about them and what is taking v3 so long on release

Answer: There are multiple challenges facing us as a team right now. Amphibious vehicle logic, behavior, and feel are some of the more complicated difficulties we’re working through. Throughout our feature development cycles we are learning iteratively, responding to changes necessary for the live game, paying down technical debt, and improving Squad’s architecture. Amphibious poses some of our most aspirational and technically groundbreaking dev work that we’ve done in Squad to date, and with that comes the discovery of new challenges we weren’t even aware existed. We really appreciate the patience our player base has granted to us as we continue to push progress forward, and the team is dying to see it finally released.

 

Question: At which point would team view Squad as “completed” product ? Completed In regards to happy with the current state while still acknowledging more could be done but finished with it to focus on new products or new iterations of the franchise. How close do you think you are to these point ?

Answer: In terms of what the original stated goal of Squad was, we feel we came close to completing that vision last October when we released 1.0. There are still a few exceptions. Does this mean we view the game as ‘done’? Heck no. Our goals evolved (can you tell that evolve is the word of the day? Game development is an ongoing journey, after all!) as we learned more about the game we were making, and they continue to evolve. In our view, while there’s still an appetite from our community for MOAR things, then our work isn’t done. 

 

Question: Is the team still fully committed to implementing all changes which were revealed on the roadmap ? Have any possible items from the roadmap been scraped or put aside?

Answer: When we first launched the living roadmap, we made sure to be very clear in that everything on it is subject to change. The roadmap is a window into a list of things that we want to do, but we may need to revisit it. That list is something of a snapshot in time, and as our team momentum pushes forward to implement the things we feel are most important, the future can and often does change. That’s not to say the list is invalid. This year we have done a much better job of maintaining focus on specific initiatives, and we’re keen to get us to the point where our work is more predictable, less reactive, and more frequently delivering new slices of fun. We’re working on strategic planning for 2022, and once more of these plans are solidified the roadmap (and roadmap process) will be updated to provide better clarity.

 

Question: Is 3.0 still on it’s way to being released before the end of 2021?

Answer: Right now it’s looking like this might not be the case – timelines shift frequently and we’re used to having curve balls thrown at us. The main goal with 3.0 is for it to be a compelling and larger release for our community. We don’t want to just release ‘something’ and slap a 3.0 label on it. It also needs to be delivered at a high level of quality. What that means to us is ensuring that we’re working on the most valuable parts of the new release, and avoiding distractions whilst carefully prioritizing work that can come afterwards by way of post release updates once we’re able to learn what the community likes best and where we should be putting more thought into implementation. The work is somewhat reactive and unpredictable, so there is a scenario where 3.0 slips into Winter 2022.

 

Question: Aussie faction when?

Answer: 3 weeks. In all seriousness though, we understand that an Australian faction is a much requested addition to Squad, and while we want to get it out to players as soon as possible there’s still a great deal of work that needs to be done in order for it to reach a releasable state. Our priority has been on other aspects of Squad, but we would very much like to get this one into the hands of our players!

 

Question: Will there be any improvements for vehicle physics coming up? I love to play armor from time to time, but get really bummed out when my vehicle flips out like I’m on the Moon or something. A lot of the times I flip out during low to medium speeds. Also is there a way to improve vehicle vertical speeds on maps such as Manic and Skorpo? I find that people avoid logi runs on those maps due to the slow speeds on paved roads.

Answer: Refining the way vehicles interact with the environment/terrain is on-going, and we are always looking for ways to improve potential glitches with flipping of vehicles, especially when players are not driving recklessly and are travelling at moderate speeds and not yeeting over cliffs. One of our resident vehicular engineers has a lengthy post here (LINK: https://www.reddit.com/r/joinsquad/comments/o6eo6e/shooting_out_an_apcs_middle_tire_mimics_an_engine/h2ti168/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x&context=3), which discusses the challenges of working on vehicle physics.

Vertical climbing speeds have been dramatically increased over the course of several releases, many of the vehicles currently have significantly more actual horsepower compared to RL specs. Going beyond RL values, begins to create new issues when tweaking Physics simulation. Maps with severe slopes do continue to present a challenge with vehicle driving, this is a difficult balance as giving more power to the vehicle can cause other issues, like being able to drive straight up a wall for example.

The team is continuing to look for ways to improve the driving experience, including building road networks with realistic slope angles. We also plan to include better vehicle interaction when hitting objects in the environment, such as sound FX, external visual damage, mud, and direct buildup, which should provide better tactile feedback for the driving experience.

 

Question: Are there any plans on updating the older maps of the game (Al Basrah & Chora). The newer maps really make the older ones stick out like a sour thumb.

Answer: Improving and updating older maps is something that the entire team feels strongly about, and it’s just a question of how we best use our resources. When our level designers focus on updating old maps, it takes time away from new map creation. We can say that we’ve extensively updated Gorodok and Yehorivka for upcoming releases, and these are 2 of our most popular maps.

A large variety of work goes into these overhauls due to how old some of Squad’s maps are. There can be a lot of strange technical anomalies to sort through along with deciphering the work of past level designers so as to not ruin what players love about certain maps.

With the overhauls of Gorodok and Yehorivka the intent was originally only to prove out and familiarize ourselves with the new terrain shader which is to be used on upcoming maps. It turned out to be a lot more than that, and we hope they are well received by fans of Gorodok and Yehorivka. Looking toward the future is important, as is finding the time to continue updating older maps to meet our newer standards, whether that be just visual improvements or complete overhauls. As for what maps would be next each of us have our personal list of priorities, but that’s also weighted against community opinions, and map popularity. 

 

Question: Why It takes so long to fix glithes like moving vehicles in staging phase, unloading tank gun while switching to coaxial?

Answer: Squashing bugs is a complicated business. Firstly, we have to constantly balance between fixing existing bugs, creating new features (and fixing bugs in them), and creating new content. So our focus and resources are constantly redistributed among these things. Fixing a game crash bug in a new release would have a higher priority, than continuing work on a new feature. Little annoying glitches are a lower priority than potentially game breaking issues. In some cases, despite community reports, it can also be hard for us to reliably reproduce certain bugs in order to resolve them. 

For example, the glitch with having to reload a tank gun after switching to coaxial. This particular issue is caused by inflexibility of our current weapon and inventory systems. Sadly, to make it right, we would need to basically rewrite them from scratch, and we just don’t have the amount of free resources needed for it at this time. And just before you will say “but the Post Scriptum has it!”. The team has consulted with an engineer from Periscope who was in charge of it, and by his own words, it took them multiple very dirty hacks to make it happen. In a way, you could say that they used tons of glue, nails and paper tape to make that code hold together. It is absolutely not a flexible, nor maintainable approach. If we’d do it in that way for tanks for example, we wouldn’t be able to reuse it for other vehicles with multiple weapons, like BMP-3, and we’ll have to do another bunch of hacks.

 

Question: Have mods like Steel Division, Combined Forces Mod, and “Fast ropes” influenced your perspective and how you might implement other types of helicopters?

Answer: We love our modding community and seeing what they are able to achieve is amazing! They inspire the team daily with their passion for the game, and changing up playstyles.

We have plans for different helicopter types, but there is a lot of ground work to be laid before moving forward with this. For example, adding new weapon systems to helicopters which are greater than small caliber and capable of air to ground delivery presents a lot of design challenges that we need to account for before introducing weapons such as 12.5 HMG, 20-30mm cannons, dumbfire rockets, laser guided bombs, etc.

The Main components needed are MANPADS (infantry carried anti air weapons), as well as more effective anti air emplacements, and countermeasure flares/chaff for helicopter pilots. But most importantly, it’s essential that helicopter pilots communicate with ground forces as a NECESSITY for effective use of the asset, this is considered a must-have built into the design, and without those comms, attack helicopters should be extremely fragile/vulnerable. 

We want to ensure that Squad’s infantry gameplay remains front and center, and any new vehicles/features/systems work to further embrace teams acting as cohesive units, instead of having the opposite effect. It’s common to witness in other games/mods with attack helicopters, rogue pilots acting out their own agenda without coordinating with ground forces. We want to do better for Squad. However, we encourage players to use mods for that heavy focus on individual air maneuvering.

Without first carefully crafting these important support mechanisms, we feel that offensive air assets would not add a good value for the teamwork and spirit of Squad. 

Other air assets like heavy lift helicopters, would also be an exciting addition, but again, without laying the groundwork first for major updates to the way logistics and supplies function, we would not want to add such assets just for the sake of adding them.

 

Question: How does the team feel about/would you guys ever implement more incentives to stick as a squad? There has been talk over the years of maybe taking reduced suppression near an SL for Conventional forces and I want to know if features like this have ever been considered?

Answer: We have a lot of plans in the future to both incentivize squads coordinating and using proximity based teamwork, as well as making it easier for squad leaders to achieve this. The exact nature of these incentives are still a work-in-progress, but we want to encourage more systemic teamwork. Stat buffs are not at the forefront of what we have in plan. 

We feel the best incentives to stick together come from the need to stick together to survive, and the unique risks involved when splitting up. This is best seen as a risk/reward decision a player can make, rather than an all around buff to being together. There are currently so many advantages to being together as a squad, that if you were to add buffs like that, It could take away from the situational advantages you get as is. In the 2.12 playtests, we saw players sticking together more, and fighting as a team, for nearly no reason other than that’s how they could survive. We’re looking forward to seeing how that develops over time, and evolves with gunplay overhaul in the future.

 

Question: How you doin’?

Answer: The team in general is pretty good, nobody is being milked out of their sweat, which is important specially during COVID – we want our team to stay mentally healthy, so it’s incredible how much stuff we’re tackling simultaneously. It’s certainly been a very challenging year, and although we have pushed out a number of exciting updates for Squad this year, we have had little time to celebrate as there have been many setbacks and unforeseen events. We are pressing on with delivering on our promised features and are excited to get all the team’s hard work delivered to the troops on the frontlines of the servers!! 

 

Question: Since Attacks helicopters are planned, is there any work being done on the net-code side of things? At the moment players with high ping or bad latency skip across the map. Its quite difficult and nauseating at times when this happens, either when you’re a door gunner or AA. Will this be improved before attack choppies come? Thats one of my concerns, though i know that they’re pretty far out from being implemented, nonetheless it would still help current gameplay.

Answer: We have made several improvements to the helicopter net code in the past, and will continue to make network optimizations. The introduction of attack helicopters would definitely need to be preceded by more reliable network performance.

 

Question: Can you explain your philosophy of “there is no wrong way to play Squad” and how that has an impact on your development and design decisions and how you see that mentality affecting the gameplay?

Answer: ‘There’s no wrong way to play Squad’ isn’t a design philosophy, as much as it’s a code of conduct philosophy for server owners and veteran players to be mindful of. The goal of us emphasizing this in our code of conduct is really to ensure newer players are not being punished in game or banned from servers simply for utilizing different gameplay tactics or methods. We also want to recognize that not all players are comfortable with voice chat, and so it’s not a requirement that players need to use in-game. Squad can have a steep learning curve, onboarding new players is deeply important to the overall health of the game, and we want the in-game atmosphere to be welcoming, not restrictive. We also want to encourage veteran players to be patient with newer players, and understand that not everyone is going to have the same level of skill or game knowledge.

That said, ‘There’s no wrong way to play Squad’ isn’t a *design* philosophy. There will always be ideal gameplay strategies, and communication is an effective tool.

Also the “No Wrong Way” is that there are approaches that are non-meta that can be taken to succeed, and being creative depending on the situation can lead to massive gains and success. There is no single option in Squad, but that doesn’t mean every option is a good option.

 

Question: Are you working about ragdolls improvements ? And how status of that and when we will see it in the game ?

Answer: There are some improvements being worked on but we have bigger priorities so this has taken the backburner. They still need to be tested but QA has been busy with more important things too. No ETA for when they’ll be in the game.

Offworld out.

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