Greetings Prospectors and welcome to, you’ve guessed it, another quick update about the upcoming Season 3.
Last week, we wrapped up with a bit of a cryptic conclusion about being more technical next time. If you’re wondering what we meant by that, it’s quite simple: today, we’re literally going to talk about technical updates and upgrades to the game since our first betas last year.
So, unless you have good reasons to not read the following paragraphs, in which case I would recommend closing this tab right away, let’s get this show on the road!
Cheating, the bane of online gaming
Let’s start with a highly important topic and an issue we faced when we released the game: cheating and hacking. We’ve talked about that on several occasions before, but we figured this day would be as good as any to do a full sum-up of how we tackled the problem and significantly reduced instances of unsavory gameplay.
Protecting our players
First thing on our list is our Cheating Victim Compensation system, arguably our most important addition in helping to reduce overall player frustration and prevent unfair happenings. The system logs every kill and every death from every Prospector out there. It triggers when a player is banned for cheating, scanning every one of their kills and automatically resending what their victims lost on death.
Next is the inclusion of Shielded Matchmaking and, along with it, Trusted Status. Introduced around the start of Season 2, these systems prevent banned cheaters from immediately creating another account and cause further havoc in our community. Basically, whenever a Prospector drops on the surface, the system takes a good look at their account history (stuff like creation date, time played and even purchases) and decides if they should be thrown into trusted queues or not.
By default, most players out there are identified as trusted, and others can reach that status rather quickly. The feedback we’ve received from those updates has been tremendously positive so far – apart from a couple of unfortunate blunders that really sucked – and we’re making sure to keep a close eye on our criteria at all times to make sure the systems are performing optimally.
Working from the shadows
When Closed Beta 2 dropped and cheating suddenly became the main subject of conversations, we realized we had to step up our game on that front. Our first course of action was to create a new team, entirely devoted to researching and developing anti-cheat solutions. At that point, several of our engineers became 100% focused on that goal, and we’ve recruited additional brain power to muscle through the task.
Yes, this is when our beloved Toast, pièce de bread extraordinaire, joined the adventure.
On the more technical side, we’ve worked with several third parties so far to integrate new software dedicated to the fight against cheating through data encryption. It doesn’t actively prevent cheaters from showing up but makes it so creating cheats for our game is suddenly a way more daunting and difficult task.
Meanwhile, we keep tweaking and adjusting our automatic cheat detection systems as we go. Almost every update since the start of Season 1 included changes to those, to ensure we’re able to catch newly created cheats as they come. It’s a never-ending battle, but we’ve still got a lot of fight left in us.
Friends in adversity
Because there’s always more strength in numbers, we’re also counting on other external help to support us in our endeavors. The Cycle: Frontier uses BattlEye, a software that contributes to the fight by detecting cheats directly on user computers (as opposed to our own solutions sifting through game activity). We’ve been working closely with them since release, and they’ve been incredibly helpful making up for our own shortcomings. Huge kudos to them!
Last but not least, as we want our players to be part of the brawl, we’ve completely revamped our report system in Season 2, by reworking the whole interface and making reports provide us with much more useful data than before. Reporting a suspicious Prospector became a lot less tedious than it used to be and we’ve noticed a sharp increase in the number of players using this function, allowing us to track down and remove cheaters even more efficiently.
Keep those reports coming, Prospectors. The battle rages on!
A comfy user experience
By now, we’ve made clear that cheating was a huge topic for us, as it is for most online games out there. But there’s many other ways for players to get frustrated to the point of ragequitting. Since we don’t want to annoy players too much, we’ve made a few other technical improvements since our official release.
A Prospector’s first steps
One thing we really wanted to improve is the overall game experience for newer players. The beginning of a prospecting career can be harsh and difficult, and it’s just not fun when it feels like a confusing slap in the face – after all, there are countless other games out there, why stick to this one if the first hour is already annoying?
To help with this, we’ve made substantial improvements to our tutorial and general early experience with the game. This includes better explanations on basic mechanics, like how to sell items and how important PvP is to the game. We’ve also added several explanations to the tutorial itself, on top of giving new blood a better loadout, allowing them to discover more interesting weapons and giving them something to look forward to.
Past those first steps, green Prospectors can expect a much smoother and fairer experience than around release. Matchmaking has been fully reworked to make player encounters a lot more balanced. On top of the aforementioned shielded matchmaking, new players also enjoy a bit of protection, preventing them from running into grizzled veterans. Finally, we’ve made our first map a bit friendlier, and made sure shielded Prospectors dropping alone on Bright Sands find themselves in a fully solo lobby. Better than running into a full squad of hardened killers on your lunch break!
Enter the game, stay in the game
Last thing we wanted to mention, stability was also a very important topic for us. We’ve mentioned frustration earlier and let me tell you there’s no greater joy and bliss than losing all your loot and loadout after being booted from the game’s servers. As a response, we’ve greatly improved our infrastructure stability over the course of Season 1 and significantly reduced the lag and frequency of disconnections experienced by players.
For those few remaining oopsies, we've introduced a reconnect feature with the start of Season 2. This change was largely requested by players throughout Season 1 and allows those who find themselves kicked out of the game to log back in and pick up right where they had left. This further helps mitigating frustrating losses, especially on long trips or when taking along high-quality equipment.
With that, I think that’s all we had to share about technical updates. Overall, we want to say the game currently provides a much smoother and more enjoyable experience than ever before.
Next week won’t be technical but more mechanical, as we’ll be talking about a famous piece of architecture that will be getting quite the facelift in Season 3.
Until then, take care, have a great day, and catch you all on the surface.
Fortuna Favors the Bold!
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