Right now we’re making a bot AI. This is to guarantee matches for everyone at any given time on any continent.
At first we make a keeper bot which is planned to be in the new release – in the next couple of weeks.
Here you can see the bot pass to me in “practice alone” and save my shot:
When the keeper bot is done, we’ll also do the other positions until the end up february (at least that’s the plan).
In the end the bots can be used in any mode except ranked.
You can play completely alone against bots. You can play with your friends against bots.
If there are 3 more people in queue with you, the bots will fill in for the remaining 6 spots.
The system we will bring to you guarantees a match with maximum 30 seconds of waiting time.
This however can only be guaranteed with bots. If you want to play with bots is up to you. Matchmaking will allow the advance option to only play with humans.
Customizations + Shop
When the bots are done we’ll focus all we have on making the customizations and the shop system working for when we go free2play.
Here are some concepts for the shop:
Please keep in mind that the numbers in these concepts are completely random and are only there for visual concept reasons!
As currencies there will be diamonds and coins. Diamonds are the currency you buy for real money and coins you will get from playing matches.
In the concept you also don’t see the skins that will only be buyable for diamonds. The “King”, “Caveman”, “Goth” and “Wizard” are actually “common” skins and can be gotten for coins. So for real money you will get skins like
“Space Captain” and “Serious Clown”
or “Archeology guy” and “Time travel guy”
We’re working on a lot of those to make sure there is something for everyone!
Crowdfunders will get their promised amount of ingame cash! People who bought the game during Early Access will also get diamonds as reward.
What we’ve been doing:
- Released party matchmaking
- Had a sale
- Ran facebook and youtube advertising
- Customer support for the new influx of players
We are towards the end of the steam sale period. A few thousand new people have picked up the game and we are seeing 50-70 matches played each day (in the preceding weeks this was ~10 per day). In terms of income we’ve probably bought another month of development time on top of what we already had banked.
What’s been really nice is seeing parties of new people playing repeatedly. We also now have good data on the behaviour of the system. We know when people joined, what options they picked, how long it took to find a game, how well balanced the games were etc. Fundamentally we think the matchmaking system is working. When there are players, matches happen quickly, and where possible games are being balanced well.
What has been less nice is that we now have the data to see how long people wait in the queue before either finding a match or giving up. We haven’t crunched the numbers in detail yet, but of the players who left the queue before getting a match we can see that the largest group of players (42%) wait between 1-15 seconds before giving up. Only half wait more than a minute.
Of those who joined the queue and did eventually play, 37% got a match within 15 seconds, 49% within 30 seconds, 58% within a minute, and 65% within 2 minutes.
So what does this mean? It means that if 42% of people are only going to hang around for 15 seconds before giving up, and of those people, only 37% will actually get that match, we’ve got a large group who will not get a match.
Let’s put some real numbers on it: Let’s say that 42% who will only stay for 15 seconds is approximately 2500 people over the last two weeks. 37% get a match (925), leaving 1575 who do not. So how do we cater for the 1575 instances where we couldn’t find a match for someone in that crucial time window?
This is partly down to player numbers, but not entirely. Imagine 100 people online all playing matches. Another 9 join the matchmaking queue. Until either someone else joins, or one of the matches ends, the 9 will be stuck waiting. The more people you have online the more likely there will be games ending, but as we’ve seen in the matchmaking data, some players will only hang around for 15 seconds. For matches to be finishing every 15 seconds would need roughly 40 simultaneous games (and that’s ignoring different match types and skill levels).
The consensus seems to be leaning towards having bots to fill in the gaps and get matches started, and then as new players join the queue, they can swap in immediately. This is no small job, but is likely to be the next big thing we’ll be looking to add over the next couple of months. We also need to think carefully and discuss how we do this as there are various complications such as ranked matches (we probably don’t want to add bots to these), different skill levels, substitutes, player preferences (some may prefer to wait for all-human games) etc.
We also still have lots of stuff remaining on matchmaking, but in the realm of enhancements rather than any fundamental changes. Once everyone is back from various holiday commitments we’ll be putting together a release plan and publishing it.
What we’ve been doing in the last two weeks.
Party Matchmaking. This has been a massive undertaking. I have personally written more than 15,000 lines of code in the last fortnight, just on the frontend. Fundamentally it works, and we’re now shaking out the bugs. We did a beta test on thursday which showed a few problems still to fix, but we’re definitely on target for our next release date. There’s been some interesting problems to solve along the way, and we’re all really happy what we’ve managed to put together so far.
So what have we done so far?
- initiating a party
- inviting friends/being invited through steam
- new party interface
- selecting position preferences
- party host choosing 5v5/3v3
- handling party members quitting, rejoining
- party members readying up/going unready
- handle more players in the party than spaces available
- fail gracefully when losing the network connection during a party
- party chat
- showing all the preference information to all party members
- queuing as a party and finding a match
- persisting the party over matches
- making sure parties are not broken up into playing for opposite teams
- combining smaller parties with other parties and solo players to make full teams
- Handling all sorts of edge cases (“what happens if a player quits at <insert awkward time here>”)
But wait! There’s more! Non-party stuff:
- Showing your assigned position in-game
- Adjusting colours/effects in beach and moon maps to make players more visible.
- Back-end work required to support more game server hosting companies.
- Treating players with only a few reviews still as new (to avoid the first-game-bad-review problem)
- Trading cards (pending Valve approval)
What we’re planning on doing in the next two weeks
(big disclaimer: Christmas travel/time off will almost certainly screw this plan up completely).
- Polishing the current implementation of party mode and releasing (target is 23rd Dec, but if we get everything ready sooner, we’ll release sooner)
- Setting up more servers
- Matchmaking party time!
- Ranked party matchmaking
- Spectating party matches
- Substitution into party matches
- Practicing in the same server as everyone else in your party
The next dev blog will come in a couple of weeks, so merry christmas to you all and hopefully see you partying on the pitch over the holiday period.
What we’ve been working on in the last couple of weeks:
- Matchmaking mark 2 (We’ve learned a lot from version 1 and we’re pretty excited about the new version. Maybe we are strange people who get excited about matchmaking algorithms, but it is a lot better at handling the interesting situations we’ve observed with version 1)
- Investigating/fixing the inactive server crash (this is worthy of its own blog post at some point)
- Cursing the udk build/cook system
- Cursing udk shader compilation time
- Cursing udk for using floats to store time values (oh, you want increment from 524288 to 524289 seconds? Sorry, udk says you can’t)
- Nerfing practice online to encourage people to move on to playing matches
- Messaging between launcher and udk directly (so we can do things like show matchmaking progress in-game and open servers while you are practicing. No more annoying closing/reopening!)
- Getting an NA server admin ( Vendetta <3 )
- Fixing bug in player review where names were blank
What we’re planning on doing in the next couple of weeks:
- Matchmaking party mode (invite your friends! talk with them! join the same match on the same team! kick ass together!)
- Showing your position in-game (in case you weren’t paying attention before the match started)
- Protecting new players from nasty people in matchmaking games
- Reviewing the dozen or so new things that have appeared on our triage list
What we learned
Especially since the early access release we’ve learned a lot about what is still lacking in our concept of the game. Many people pick it up and even like it, but they are not sticking around.
We primarily blame the lack of a meta-game (a motivation and progression beyond trying to win a single match). There are ranks, but these are not for beginners yet. Beginners have more or less nothing in that regard.
And we also see it’s very hard for beginners to get into the game – it is undoubtedly a core game and we don’t think we can make it super accessible for casual players without compromising the entire gameplay we have. But that shouldn’t be much of a problem because there are tons of core gamers who can’t wait to show what they’re capable of. We just want to make their entry to the game smoother.
Regarding these two problems we’re working on a system to improve the motivation and beginner friendliness. For that we go way back to our original upgrade progression idea that we presented 1-2 years ago. Older players of the game back then talked us out of it even though we all liked it ourselves. So we’re going right back to it because we think it makes the game a lot more motivating for beginners and it also serves as kind of a tutorial.
What is it about? New players will start with less abilities and slowly get introduced to new possibilities and upgrade them step by step. At the same time it will give new players more time to act. They will no longer get knocked out within a second after getting the ball, because the guns of the opponents aren’t as strong yet. Of course we will try to make sure this doesn’t lead to unbalanced situations by only matching equally experienced players. Additionally, you can only start playing ranked when everything is unlocked.
On top of that, Alexey is now working fulltime for us and is creating tons of customizations that you will be able to unlock and modify to your liking, like changing the color of a tie/shirt/belt to whatever you like.
Right now Alexey is only doing skins, after that he will make lots of hats and new guns (you can also tell us what kind of things you’d like to wear). Just keep in mind that every dress is painted on top of our rubber guys and therefore will not bring about geometrical changes. Also, every skin has to show enough team-color.
The entire plan
And for your info of the bigger picture: Supraball will be officially released when these features are done:
– Matchmaking (This is nearly done!)
– Progression/Upgrading-System (We’re just starting with this)
– Customizations (Production is in full swing, but we still need a lot more)
– Club lobbies (This has been put on ice for a few months now, not sure when it will be picked up again).
Our working speed will also improve a lot, because we will soon have more people working fulltime for us.
So maybe we’re done with this list by the end of the year, but my estimations have been horribly wrong in the past, so I wouldn’t bet on it.