Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #6: War Star Empire, Mars Frontier, Thunder Run, and Days of Valor Updates

📢 Attention War Star Empire, Mars Frontier, Thunder Run, and Days of Valor Commanders:

Welcome to the 6th installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the minds of Battlehouse Developers. Last week, bh-nirgal took a deep dive into some of the current projects he’s working on for Battlefront Mars, and this week he’s providing us all some updates on his War Star Empire, Mars Frontier, Thunder Run, and Days of Valor projects. So without further adieu, here’s bh-nirgal:

War Star Empire and Mars Frontier Developments

War Star Empire has received a lot of dev cycles over the past year, thanks mostly to the presence of Promethium in the game. The three currencies allowed a 1 to 1 conversion and reskin of the turret system in Thunder Run, Days of Valor and Firestrike. I have a few minor changes in the pipeline, but I want to give players time to finish off the Central Computer L8 tier of content.  I do have some questions for players:

  • Would you prefer more levels of existing units, elite versions of existing units, both, or neither?
  • Would you like more defenses like mines, or no?
  • Would you like to be able to swap out the security teams on your buildings with ones made up of different units?

Mars Frontier is our quietest group of fans. Other than making an Opportunity Rover building security team add-on in memorial to our little rover friend, I haven’t spent much time working on Mars Frontier, and I’ve never received any requests or feedback from the player base. Is there anything you all would like to see, or are you pretty happy right now?

Thunder Run and Days of Valor Developments

Days of Valor has had the economy portion of the TOC12 patch for two weeks, and will get the Infantry patch tomorrow. Thunder Run is getting the economy portion of the TOC12 patch tomorrow. Portions of this patch will automatically unlock through January.

Now that this project has shipped, I’ll be tackling a major redesign of the introduction tutorial and rebalance of lower levels of content. There are two versions of the new player tutorial being tested in Days of Valor. We try to test and fine-tune things like these to see if we can figure out what will acquire and retain more new players. Based on the numbers in Days of Valor, we’ll either incorporate the new tutorial into Thunder Run as-is, or make tweaks to both the Days of Valor and Thunder Run versions. Once this is ready, we’ll be launching some new ad campaigns. I hope this will answer some of the good player questions we had on what we’re doing to grow the game.

While this is going on, I am working on some small UI changes and improvements. I’m testing the ability to move buildings that are being constructed, repaired, or are crafting in Days of Valor. Its release to the other games is pending.

I added in the ability to toggle the advisor and opponent AI portraits. It was deployed to Days of Valor for testing on October 26, and will be added to Thunder Run on October 31.

Looking for an update on where the Dev Team currently stands regarding various recent community suggestions? Check out our new “Voice of the Commander” trackers below:

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see addressed in our “Voice of the Commander” trackers? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #5: Battlefront Mars Developments

📢 Attention Battlefront Mars Commanders:

Welcome to the 5th installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the minds of Battlehouse Developers. Last week, bh-nirgal took a deep dive into some of the current projects he’s working on for Firestrike, and this week he’s giving Battlefront Mars some love. So without further adieu, here’s bh-nirgal:

Battlefront Mars Developments

Battlefront Mars has been a “problem child” behind the scenes here at Battlehouse, but those problems led to improvements in all of the games.

We had a dedicated hacker who kept making alt accounts in order to destroy rivals of his clan using a weapons range hack. Our hacking detection system detected each of these, but required an admin to pull the trigger on a ban. On the plus side, this helped us refine and improve our alt detection systems and the hacker eventually exposed his main accounts and received a ban on those accounts as well. Eventually, we implemented criteria the hacking detection system is allowed to use to ban an account without admin intervention. Admins still review any automatic bans, but this allowed our systems to stop the damage caused by an unleashed hacker destroying other players when an admin wasn’t available to monitor the servers live.

The next round of troubles came from speed hackers. The CS team and I were both under the impression that our hacking systems could detect and defeat speed hacks. Upon further review, we found that previous members of the dev team had deployed our speed hack countermeasures only to Thunder Run. After a round of tests in Battlefront Mars, this got deployed to all of our games.

That covers the recent history for Battlefront Mars. What’s next for this game?

Currently, whenever I have a spare dev cycle, I work on porting the turret mounting system currently in all of the modern military games and in War Star Empire. This is taking longer in Battlefront Mars because unlike the other games, it only has two resources instead of three. With no Prometheum in the game, I can’t simply port over the turrets from War Star Empire.

When a turret converts, it also has to change a lot of the player’s game file under the hood. In the modern military games and in War Star Empire this only needs to account for ten levels of three turrets, but in Battlefront Mars there are twenty-eight levels. This means a lot more values to manually account for.

It isn’t an unsurmountable project, it just needs more time. I’m hoping to deliver a converted turret system by the end of the first quarter of 2020, at which point I’ll start enabling new levels for content already in the game.

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see Nirgal talk about in the future? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server (for Thunder Run players), or on Clan HQ (for all other games). See you all next week!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #4: Firestrike Developments

📢 Attention Firestrike Commanders:

Welcome to the 4th installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the minds of Battlehouse Developers. Last week, bh-nirgal took a deep dive into some of the current projects he’s working on for Thunder Run and Days of Valor, and this week he’s giving Firestrike some love. So without further adieu, here’s bh-nirgal:

Firestrike Developments

Firestrike is the first Battlehouse game I played, and the last one to be moved into my area of responsibility. Weird, huh?

Firestrike is one of the more difficult titles to develop. The other games are all set by hand. A Rifleman in TR and DV has 15 levels manually set by the developer. Hit points, damage, movement speed, and so on are chosen by whichever developer worked on the unit. Individual levels can be adjusted. This can lead to poorly balanced units. Firestrike was developed on an automatically balancing algorithm. The downside to this algorithm is that concepts that weren’t in the original design are hard to add in without breaking everything else. Firestrike’s revenue is also a lot lower than other games. Firestrike makes about as much in a month as Thunder Run makes on a Saturday.

To justify the development resources to upper management, I proposed that Firestrike get to test new concepts before they go to other games. This meant that I had to get some new tech working in Firestrike. Landmines had to go in first so that I could (later on) add new types of landmines. The armed TOC was the first example of a new gameplay mechanism that Firestrike got first.

The next steps for Firestrike will be to add a new tier and to aid lower level players in levelling up.

The Vault, a building present in Thunder Run and Days of Valor, will be added in to help new players avoid a total disaster when attacked by higher level players. Ideally, a player should be able to retain enough resources to fully repair their base and army and to complete at least one new building level or new technology research, regardless of how many times they were attacked while logged off. Player input is welcome and requested for several topics:

  • Which would you prefer, many upgrade levels per tier, or one upgrade per tier? Assume the resources and costs would be the same regardless.

Tier 16 will add more levels to all of the defensive technologies, more building levels, and four new units. What are those units, though? Player input is key here! As veteran players know, each tier gets an Infantry unit, an Armor unit, and an Aircraft unit. These are balanced by the algorithm, so the only real choice at play is the art assets to use. Anything that is currently in TR and DV is available. What would you, the players, like to see as the Tier 16 units?

Tiers can also receive a “special” unit of any type. Tier 16 is going to receive the UH-60 Blackhawk as a “special” unit. It will most likely not be deployed in the initial Tier 16 patch, because it will require an engine change. More details will be disclosed in a future blog post, but I will disclose Firestrike will get to try out a new mechanic with their implementation of the UH-60 before any of the other games.

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see Nirgal talk about in the future? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server (for Thunder Run players), or on Clan HQ (for all other games). See you all next week!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #3: Thunder Run/Days of Valor Developments

📢 Attention Thunder Run and Days of Valor Commanders:

Welcome to the 3rd installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the minds of Battlehouse Developers. This week bh-nirgal will be diving deep into three active projects he’s currently working for Thunder Run and Days of Valor. So without further adieu, here’s bh-nirgal:

Thunder Run/Days of Valor Developments

There are three major projects underway for our flagship game and its sister game.

The first project, slated for release in Q4 2019, is the TOC12 tier. The Tactical Operations Center will be one of the new armed buildings. Starting at level 12, players can mount special turrets on the roof of the TOC. The turret designs currently in testing are built on the concept of the Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), meant to disorient and debuff incoming troops while doing little damage. It will have a much greater range than other turrets. For players who prefer a damage-dealer, the TOC will also have its own version of the High Energy Laser (HEL). Unlike turret HELs, the TOC HEL can target ground and air targets, at the cost of somewhat decreased damage. As part of this update, all mobile units will have their level caps raised to 16.

The second project, which should follow quickly on the heels of TOC12, is an overhaul of the Vault building. Every TOC level will get 2 vault levels. At the second level per tier, the vault will store enough hardware to be able to repair the base itself and the most expensive possible combination of Base Defenders units. The first level will be halfway between the old cap and the new cap. So let’s throw out some wildly inaccurate numbers and say it costs 300k Hardware to fully repair a TOC8 base and the best (or at least most hardware-expensive) army units in the game. If you have a level 16 Vault, you have that much saved from attackers. You can immediately start repairing. You can’t necessarily repair your field batts or protect what you have saved for research, but you can get your base back in business. 

The third project, slated for an uncertain future date, is a rebalancing of the TOC tiers. This is one of the less-defined plans, and player feedback is highly encouraged. Ideally, I’d like to see the average player base level increase so that the top-tier players have worthwhile opponents to fight and the average player can hold their own. This would involve reducing research and building times for lower building levels and lower tech levels, and would involve reducing prices for older blueprints (or removing them altogether for some lower turret levels).

There’s some delicate terrain to navigate here. The game lives or dies based on players who pay to play. We cannot change that. So long as internet infrastructure costs money and so long as we have to pay our rent and pay to eat, we can’t make an entirely free game. Many of the players who pay to play are touchy about other players getting for free what they paid for.

I’d like to come up with a compromise. My plan is to divide the player base into a rookie tier, a regular tier, a veteran tier, and an elite tier, based on unlocked content.

The Elite Tier would always be the newest level of content, in this case all the stuff requiring TOC level 12. It doesn’t change until the theoretical release of TOC13, and is intended to give non-paying players at least six months of construction and research projects to complete. There are many players who won’t play if there’s nothing new to acquire, so the top tier needs to cater to this type of motivation.

The Veteran Tier is the last two levels of content, the stuff requiring TOC levels 10 and 11. It gets a slight nerf in ONP/hardware prices, research times, and build times, but no more than a 5% cut. I’d like to see players go from Veteran to Elite in half a year or less.

The Regular Tier is everything from TOC level 6 through TOC level 9. This gets a decent nerf in prices, research times, and build times, but never more than a 20% cut. I’d like to see players go from Regular to Veteran in a quarter of a year or less.

The Rookie Tier is everything at or below TOC level 5. This gets a generous nerf in prices, research times, and build times, up to a 50% cut. I’d like to see new players go from Rookie to Regular in less than a month. Sprinkled into the nerfs would be some removals of blueprint requirements.

How would it make you, the veteran players, feel if newcomers got for free some of the things you worked long and hard to acquire? Does the thought of new faces to fight and befriend make it worth it, or does it bother you to see cheaper availability?  Please send me your thoughts.

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see Nirgal talk about in the future? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server (for Thunder Run players), or on Clan HQ (for all other games). See you all next week!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #2: Discord AMA Recap

📢 Attention Thunder Run Commanders:

Welcome back to the 2nd installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the minds of Battlehouse Developers. This week bh-nirgal will be recapping our recent 2nd ever Thunder Run Discord Dev AMA, as well as expanding deeper into a few of the great questions that were brought up. So without further adieu, here’s bh-nirgal:

Discord AMA Recap

Our Dev Talk/AMA session from October 4 was a ton of fun. I (Nirgal) greatly appreciated your comments and questions. We’ll be sure to do this again soon.

#1 – Mystic Puzzle asked: Are we going to get Poacher and Virus single player campaigns back anytime soon?

  • Our response: This has been on the dev wishlist for months now. It dropped behind some engine changes and major content patches in multiple games, but I do believe we’ll be able to devote some time to bringing back these events. They most likely won’t be in the regular ONP schedule, but it wouldn’t be out of the question to see them in the Hardware week line-up.
  • More thoughts: I know a lot of players want to obtain the achievements related to these events, so when we get to the point where we can launch these, we’ll be sure to keep the achievements enabled. This is now officially a work in progress. Kim will make the first return, but I won’t have an ETA until I finish dusting off the old maps and deciding where to insert them into the schedule.

#2 – MamaSandy asked: Nirgal did I read your blog right that to have interactive batt fight need a different platform?

  • Our response: @MamaSandy, the engine doesn’t currently support truly head-to-head combat with two human controllers in game. The closest we have is a click-race to be the human in charge of a battalion vs battalion fight. That’s led to a lot of frustration and complaints from various groups of players who want the game to work in different ways. My blog entry on it was brainstorming/idle chat about possible changes to the system. Nothing is happening right now. If you liked any of the ideas (or really hated them), we’d love to hear.

#3 – mehedi kaisar asked: whats your plan about bringing new players i tr ? all i see is if there anynew member of tr its a alt and its really make me sad

  • Our response: Different members of the team focus on different parts of this.  Bh-nirgal and bh-cameron are focusing on making the tutorial process easier, we’re tailoring ad campaigns, and streamlining the upgrade process to make it easier for new players to survive and feel like there’s a reason to come back and play. There’s a lot about this in the next dev blog post, but the bottom line is that we’re working on making low level content easier and with a gentler learning curve to bring them into the war! Best thing you can do to help is let your friends know about Thunder Run! 🙂

#4 – Steelrain asked: Do you think we’ll ever see Level 5 leaders?

  • Our response: Absolutely, beyond a doubt.  You can also expect to NOT have to build another level 4 leader to get your level 5 leader. You will just need your current level 4 leader and one other thing that you’ll be able to get pretty easily.  Expect it in the upcoming content patches.
  • More details: You’ll still be combining your L4 leader with something to promote the leader to L5. It will most likely be a Promotion Papers, an item that you buy from the Leaders section of the store for slightly more than the cost of an L1 leader.

#5 – mehedi kaisar asked: the recent changes of advanced air units making all other units look poor …. so i feel there is an imbalance between unit right now … do you guys have any idea to make the balance between ground air and infantry?

  • Our response: Good question.  We did just release a major boost to the Elite Machine Gunner, though it is a secondary air defense unit. We also released three new levels for the Elite Rifleman.  That being said, the Stingers might need some love, as well as some of the anti-air turrets. We’ll have to run through a few battles and try some different mixes. We don’t want the E-Apache turning into the E-TOS of the skies…
  • More thoughts: Expect some love for the Elite Gaz Tigr and Elite Nimr soon.

#6 – Steelrain asked: When will we see an elite blackhawk that can carry elite riflemen?

  • Our response: We could do it within the month if you’d be happy with it suiciding the way the UH-60 does, but I’m planning to devote some dev cycles to a non-suicidal Elite Blackhawk and a non-suicidal revision to the UH-60.  The engine currently only supports releasing units if the “mother” unit dies. I think the tech investment is worthwhile, so I’m planning to get that done first.

#7 – mehedi kaisar asked: a boost for c ram ?

  • Our response: Probably.
  • More thoughts: Definitely.

#8 – Mystic Puzzle asked: Regarding the Vault, the amount protected seems way too low and the costs are way too high. I think it should be like a certain percentage protected everytime the Vault gets upgraded. Say, for max level should be 30% of fuel and supply resources protected and 50% hardware protected. As hardware is just extremely hard to loot so much and even 1 attack can just deplete all that hard-earned hardware to go poof, as why 50% seems reasonable, while the others a lower percentage.

  • Our response: Here’s what I posted on ClanHQ regarding the vault.  Bear in mind, these are general concepts, not concrete figures:
    • Every TOC level will get 2 vault levels (24 total after the upcoming TOC12 patch). At the second level per tier, the vault will store enough hardware to be able to repair the base itself and the most expensive Base Defenders units. The first level will be halfway between the old cap and the new cap. So let’s throw out some wildly inaccurate numbers and it costs 300k Hardware to fully repair a TOC8 base and the best (or at least most hardware-expensive) army units in the game. If you have a level 16 Vault, you have that much saved from attackers. You can immediately start repairing. You can’t necessarily repair your field batts or protect what you have saved for research, but you can get your base back in business. Ignore the current costs of the vault, I plan on slashing them.

#9 – WarlordKirk asked: Have you guys thought about making a map for level 39 and below only? To keep new players from getting discouraged by the big bases being bullies?

  • Our response: Thought about it, yes.  Come to an accord as a team, no.  There are competing schools of thought on how to give newcomers the genuine Thunder Run experience or to keep them on a guided and safe path to learn the ropes.  We’ll be discussing this further during our new player experience overhaul, which we’ll be working on as soon as the next major content patch is out the door.
  • More details: Cameron and Nirgal have in-depth discussion of this as an agenda item for the newbie experience overhaul. If it gets implemented, you all will know. If it doesn’t, we’ll at least acknowledge it and go over our reasons why not when the newbie overhaul is complete.

#10 – MamaSandy asked: is there any more consideration being given to be able to gift warehouse items to other clan players?

  • Our response: Sure, which items in particular are you interested in gifting?
  • More thoughts: (we’d be happy to receive some suggestions here. If there was a follow-up question during the dev talk, I missed it. Sorry!)

#11 – Mehedi kaisar asked: as per now vault is auto but is there any possibility it can be manual like we can save a certain amount of resource when our depots are full and when we used the res of depots we collect from vault ?

  • Our response: The vault doesn’t really work like that. It’s just another storage slot that happens to be invulnerable. The engine doesn’t support anything like what you’re describing. How often do you think a feature like this would be useful? It would be a pretty major investment of time to add a feature like this.

#12 – Mystic Puzzle asked: For the Vault, how about if we have the ability to choose resources of our choice. To be honest, rather have all hardware protected than the other 2. If possible, can we have the ability to do that?

  • Our response: Hmm, that’s an interesting idea. The engine could conceivably support this, but only in a very clunky way. We’d have to make a Supply Vault, Fuel Vault, and Hardware Vault building, each of which must be deconstructed before building one of the others. Or we could make an equip slot that changes which one it stores, but that would eat warehouse space. Making it not require a bunch of clicks would mean engine changes. 🙁 I’ll definitely think about it, but I think you all will like the planned Vault changes. I’m afraid we can’t make Hardware risk-free, but we will be making a lot of defenses easier to acquire.

#13 – Yooshijin asked: any update on an elite humvee?

  • Our response: Eventually. We’re working our way down the list. Any thoughts on what sort of loadout you’d like to see? Any special abilities?
  • More thoughts: This might be an ideal platform for the engine changes that will allow for two automatic weapons. Right now, the engine supports one automatic weapon controlled by the AI and one special weapon controlled by the ‘e’ key. What would you all think of an Elite Humvee supporting a machine gun for ground troops and a Stinger launcher for helicopters? This would mean it wouldn’t be out soon, as the code changes would be significant.

#14 – Bastian asked: How about a bounty system where players can take out contracts on others?

  • Our response: No engine support… but I love the idea. We’ve discussed internally a “black ops” mission type where you can hide your identity when taking a bounty, but the person who posted the bounty is disclosed… unless you fail the attack! Then you’re exposed! No timeline for such a feature, but I definitely want to tackle it.

#15 – mehedi kaisar asked: how can we edit our base setup more easily ?

  • Our response: A base editor program has been on my features wishlist since I started working here. I can’t offer a timeline for it, but I promise that I haven’t forgotten about it. My blueprint includes stored layouts so you’d be able to swap them around.

#16 – MamaSandy: anything in the works to maybe “beautify” the base ei roads and or trees? be nice to try and hide things a little.

  • Our response: Nothing in the works, no. I should add this to the requirements list for the eventual base editor.

#17 – Steelrain asked: Are players still getting all unit range boosts or have those gone away?  I haven’t seen one in a long time.

  • Our response: The drop rates for the strong all-unit range boosts were nerfed a while back because, based on a survey of battle replays we looked at, they were un-balancing combat quite badly (making whole swathes of units/turrets obsolete due to range limitations).

#18 – Shininson asked: are there any new plans for actual new turret heads aka tesla coils or something.. or long range rocket artilary like v2 rocket in original c&c or since we have air that stuns air … maybe vehicles that stun vehicles lol

  • Our response: The Long Range Acoustic Device is our first new weapon type. A nasty sonic weapon (which is based on real tech) disorients, slows, and debuffs enemy units. Vehicles that stun vehicles… maybe that can be the Elite HMMWV’s speciality.

#19 – Raider150 asked: when toc12 coming?

  • Our response: Very, very soon. I am working on two art assets, then we should be ready to launch.
  • More details: Days of Valor should see the first part of the release on October 17. This is a multi-stage release, so expect new content to activate every two weeks from release through January.

#20 – Achmed asked: When bats are traveling on ma why can’t we call to a new location before bat arrives at first waypoint?

  • Our response: You can cancel bat movement and re-direct after the cancel. But the bat still has to “snap” to the next hex on its path first. This is because the server tracks bat movement hex-by-hex, so it isn’t possible to change anything when a bat is between hexes. It’s sort of in a “ghost” state at that point.

#21 – Upendra asked: Why there is limit of 5 on unit boosts in each slot in Warehouse? and the shields only one? can we make it as equal to the Missiles?

  • Our response: Some of it is, admittedly, arbitrary. I’ve seen in many games that players can succumb to “hoard it for the final boss” syndrome, and limiting space can often serve a good purpose in game design. Scarcity keeps a player focused on making choices. If you can have everything, you’re not really strategizing. One solution I’ve thought of is to increase the stack, but make items expire, perhaps after a month of sitting in storage. Even military hardware has a shelf life.
  • More details: If we implemented such a solution, existing items would be grandfathered to keep their existing stack limits and lack of expiration date.

#22 – Mystic Puzzle asked: PvP suggestion: If a player fails to do at least 50% base damage why can’t they lose PvP and the defending base gets the points instead? (600 maps and this also includes all other BH games)

  • Our response: This would make it too easy to farm up PvP points by setting up fake battles against allies/alts. Maybe if we limited PvP point gain/loss only to specific, server-chosen enemies. But I suspect that would be an unpopular option.

#23 – GrandadN asked: will there be more control over players using alts on non alt maps

  • Our response: We’re continuing to improve alt detection systems. Quite a few alts get moved or banned automatically on a daily basis. If you notice alts on maps where they don’t belong, please send us a report using the in-game Contact Support button so we can investigate.

#24 – Jhun asked: Sirs. any chance of an anti-missiles troops?

  • Our response: I’m considering some art assets for our future units, and the Patriot missile system is among what I’d like to add.  It’d definitely have anti-missile.

#25 – Cyberton asked: Can we get 10gold for watching an ad?

  • Our response: It’s worth us discussing internally. Thanks for the suggestion.

Two general threads that did not get addressed during the chat were “ghost battalions” (a term players use for battalions with troops at a low percentage of their total HP) and “hardware stealing” (regional map AI bases with their Hardware Depots destroyed while leaving the rest of the base intact). I’ll be giving each of these a blog entry later down the road.

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see Nirgal talk about in the future? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server (for Thunder Run players), or on Clan HQ (for all other games). See you all next week!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #1: About Your Developer, Engine Developments

Welcome to our first installment of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, a place where fans of all Battlehouse games (Thunder Run / Days of Valor / Mars Frontier / War Star Empire / Battlefront Mars / Firestrike) can enjoy regular behind the scenes peaks into the mind of at least one Battlehouse Developer. This week we’ll be getting to know our Developer a little bit better, after which point he’ll dive deep into some detailed Engine Development updates. So without further adieu, everyone meet bh-nirgal:

About Your Developer

Hello, all!  Your blogging developer this month will be Nirgal. My professional background is in cybercrime investigations and computer forensics. I served as a police detective for fourteen years prior to joining Battlehouse. Aside from my developer role, I also work as a computer forensic scientist and forensic software developer.

I joined Battlehouse in May of 2018 as a junior developer. My first project was the anti heavy armor mine. In September of 2018 I became the lead game developer. At that point, I mostly worked within the confines of existing engine features. I had prior experience as a Python developer, but no experience in JavaScript or HTML5, meaning I had little knowledge necessary to work on the browser engine. Thanks to constant immersion in the code and a passion for education, I’ve learned enough JavaScript to make adding features to the engine a regular part of my work. My responsibilities gradually morphed to the point where I’m now responsible for a lot of the game engine and server.

My goals for all of the games have been to improve the chances of defenders by increasing the variety and strength of base defenses, and to make new content for attackers more mechanically interesting to play.

In this blog, I’ll be discussing contents that are currently being developed and the reasoning behind the developments. I will also be discussing planned next steps that have a timeline, and discussing possible future development that has no set timeline. Reader feedback is strongly encouraged.

Engine Developments

Our HTML5-based browser client has been the focus of several recent developments that have affected most of the games. Most of the changes currently in development have been focused on how crafting and upgrading works “under the hood.”

Landmines, which are currently featured in Thunder Run, Days of Valor, Battlefront Mars, War Star Empire, and were most recently added to Firestrike, were a significant problem area for us. Many of the data objects in the game are able to define an item or unit at every level the item or unit has. For example, a level 1 Rifleman in TR or DV is the same data object as a Level 14 Rifleman. Landmines were unique because they required three separate data objects for each level of the landmine: one for the mine itself, one for the mine’s explosive, and one for the engine instructions on crafting and delivering the mines. In TR and DV, this meant that anti-infantry mines had 54 separate data objects. In Firestrike, three landmine types with 215 levels each meant that there were 1935 data objects in landmines. Each data object duplicated data needlessly, and was resulting in larger downloads.

This project was completed first for War Star Empire, and has since been deployed to all other games.

This migration process uncovered problems with how our battle log and battle replay system were designed, which will have to be addressed in a future engine update cycle. Our current plan is to leave the legacy data online until March of 2020, then deprecate battle replays that predate October 2019. If you have an iconic battle you’d like to save, be sure to record it with video software before it’s gone forever.

The second update involves armed buildings. For the longest time the only armed buildings have been landmines and turrets. Each of these use a special crafting interface that other portions of the game don’t need to use. I altered the turret crafting interface to support three other types of armed buildings. During this process, I came across a similar problem faced by landmines. Any turret that consumed power while crafting required a separate data object for each level of its crafting instructions and the turret itself. In Firestrike, the three turret types only required three data objects each, but in Thunder Run each turret required two objects per level, resulting in 56 separate objects per turret type.

Engine Future Plans:

There’s a laundry list of UI tweaks and bugfixes that need to be addressed, but the next major feature change is the grid crafting system. Currently, only landmines use the crafting grid. I’d like to make it so players can craft ambush point equips on a grid, and building security nodes on a grid. We added the inventory tab system as a bandage to the warehouse size issues, but I’m hoping being able to craft what goes into a slot will help players who currently use these features. Currently, interface limitations mean the grid sizes are hard capped at 28 slots. I intend to add support for scroll buttons, allowing us to raise the cap. To be clear, mines, ambushes, and security nodes would all have their own grids. Mines need to be rebuilt, so a “rebuild all” button will be added both to the mine crafting interface and to the base repair interface. Once this is done, I hope to add these features to games other than Thunder Run and Days of Valor.

That Laundry List of Bugs:

Mine crafting queue freezing: This looks like something related to how the building repair code interacts with the crafting queue. It will take some research.

Lack of Hardware listing in the repair UI: This is now fixed!

Battle Replays: A lot of data doesn’t get snapshotted properly and becomes buggy when the state of the game changes. The whole system needs an overhaul to take better data snapshots and not rely on the current gamedata. We will probably have to automatically sunset replays older than one month to keep the replay data storage from becoming unmanageable.

That Laundry List of UI Changes:

Allow access to building leaders and stats while the building is building/crafting/repairing: This should be doable. There’s some logic that decides which buttons to show for a building. There will need to be some additions to hide certain menu buttons once you’re viewing the building if it’s busy building/crafting/repairing.

Allow buildings to be moved while under construction: This shouldn’t be too hard, but there may be some surprises under the hood.

Allow buildings with an instant build to bypass the construction timer. This will require some significant logic restructuring to implement and will be a low priority.

Toggle enemy AI picture: I want to make it so you can show/hide the enemy AI at your leisure. It will still have to appear at the start of an event.

Toggle base advisor picture: I want to make it so you can show/hide your base advisor, though it will reappear during important announcements.

Show ONP as a resource: I plan to show it next to Hardware. Mirroring the count in the warehouse will be fairly simple. I will not be able to remove it from the warehouse inventory without a much more significant engine overhaul that would require changes to both the server and browser client.

Damage indicators: I intend to update the hovertext over UI damage indicators to show the modified DPS against a class of unit.

There are many other excellent suggestions on UI overhaul, but I’m not adding them right now. For one, I’m not a UI designer, so I’d probably botch it. For two, I don’t even have an inkling of the time investment necessary, so putting them up here as in the works would be disingenuous.

Vague Future Plans:

I want to overhaul the multiplayer map interactions. Accusations of cheating on the multiplayer make up a significant amount of our fan interactions and customer support tickets. Since actual player vs player is currently beyond our engine’s abilities (and may always be), I have come up with some theoretical changes that are in line with our player vs AI-owned-by-player model. None of these are in the pipeline or definitely happening, but player feedback is encouraged:

  • Make it so battalions can’t be attacked while a player is online, but also that the battalion can’t block a path while a player is online. In other words, no jailing, and no PvP between players online at the same time. This would probably be the simplest to implement, but also the worst idea.
  • Make it so battalions can be attacked and block while a player is online, but only if the player “garrisons” the battalion, causing the battalion to dig in at their current position. Turning off the “garrison” action takes half a minute of real time, but the battalion gets a defense boost while garrisoned. Garrisoning could happen automatically when logging out, or logged out battalions could still require manual garrisoning. Two options for how garrisoning could work:
    • Battalion deploys a few fixed defenses in the form of a small minefield and turret deployment which is generated on the fly and disappears when they de-garrison.
    • A defense and range boost is applied to a garrisoned battalion, which is turned off when they move. It also gets turned off if a lower-level player attacks a higher-level player’s garrisoned battalion (to discourage “jailing”).
  • Make it so battalion strength is boosted or nerfed based on relative power levels of the battalions, to a certain degree. If a squad of fully equipped L15 TOS-1As attacks a pair of L3 Riflemen, it’s going to be a massacre regardless, but if twelve L14 Riflemen attacked six L7 Riflemen, the stats might wind up being closer to twelve L14s vs nine L11s. This would be tricky since it would require comparison of stats on the fly. It might work better to calculate average range, total DPS capacity, and total HP, and boost the defender by 50% if their total capacity is less than 50% of that of the attacker. This would probably wind up being too finicky to turn into a workable idea, but I included it to share some of the places my brain goes.

And that’s about as deep as we’re going to go into the engine today, but check back at the same time next week for a more in depth dive into Thunder Run and Days of Valor, where Nirgal will give us behind the scenes insight into projects he’s currently working on, and how they fit into the bigger picture of the games.

Like what you see in this Dev Blog, or have suggestions on things you’d like to see Nirgal talk about in the future? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server (for Thunder Run players), or on Clan HQ (for all other games). See you all next week!

DV: Welcome to Season 8! New Nimr Unit, and Lots More! – October 4th Patch Notes

New this week in Days of Valor:

Welcome to Season 8

Welcome to Season 8! Going into the new season, all Leaderboards and PvP Points are reset, meaning that it’s a fresh start for YOUR Clan to be the new the dominating Clan of Gundar, and win the Seasonal Clan Tournament Grand Prize of 10,000 Gold for your Clan at the end of the Season in 3 months from now. Does your Clan have what it takes?

Nimr Blueprints

Here’s a familiar face that’s had a little work done. Engineers from the United Arab Emirates took everyone’s favorite Russian armored vehicle and released a scaled-down version optimized for desert combat. The Nimr, popular across North Africa, has landed on Gundar. Armed with a TOW Missile Launcher and some serious speed, this vehicle is perfect for taking out those infamous armored artillery units. Think you can handle the Nimr’s lightning speed?

Features Include:

  • Your drivers may be tempted to go drag racing in the desert. Check the mileage when they get home. The already-speedy Nimr gains a 15% speed buff when fighting on desert maps. This boost does not apply to battalion travel speed.
  • The Nimr is equipped with a variable ordinance missile launcher. Currently it can only load anti-tank missiles, but with some modification it may eventually be able to launch anti-air missiles as well… Maybe it needs a coat of red paint.
  • Heavy armor-piercing ammunition – this stuff blasts right through buildings without detonating and only scorches the eyebrows of enemy infantry, but will completely gut a heavy armored vehicle. Make sure to bring escorts if your Nimrs will face infantry.

To start building Nimrs, upgrade your Maintenance Bay to Level 8 and purchase the blueprints during the Scorpion ONP Event.

Updates to MG Turrets

We have such an abundance of heavy machine gun ammunition that your MG Turret gunners have been instructed to “spray ‘n pray”. They’re going to start shooting at targets much further out than before, though they will not score as many hits until the enemy is inside their previous target radius.

  • All MG Turrets have had their previous range converted to an effective range. This means they will score 100% damage at their old range, and will do partial damage out to the new, longer maximum range.
  • All MG Turrets now have a maximum range that is 25% higher than their effective range. Damage falls off linearly from 100% at the effective range to 0% at the new maximum range.

To celebrate, we’ve discounted the L11-12 Machine Gun Turret Blueprint down to 15,000 ONP for this week only. If you haven’t upgraded your towers before, now’s a great time to start!

Updates to Barriers

We’ve been tinkering with our barrier setups, Commander. One of our engineers came up with a new concrete recipe using local mineral deposits, so our HESCO Barriers are much tougher than they were before. They should stand up much better to most weapons.

  • All barriers have had their hit points significantly increased.
  • Sappers and Truck Bombs do increased damage against barriers.
  • Level 15 barriers are now available for TOC level 10+

Elite AH-64 L1 Unit Equipment

Gundar Arms Industries is rolling out a new set of Unit Equipment for the Elite AH-64, available this week on the front page of the Event Prizes Store:

  • Elite AH-64 Laser Sights I – Laser homing technology that increase range by +3%
  • Elite AH-64 Ballistic Armor MK I – Improved armor coating reduces damage taken by -10%
  • Elite AH-64 Ammunition I – The newest grade armor-piercing ammunition increases damage by +7%

Welcome to Season 8, Commander! Time to get building.

Facebook Newsfeed Fix

Ever since Facebook decided to update their Newsfeed, some of our loyal fans have complained that they aren’t getting important updates from Battlehouse, like “You’ve been attacked” notifications and free daily gift posts.

Fear not Commander, we have included some easy-to-follow instructions to make sure you see these update notifications:

Step One:

Go to the top-right corner of your Facebook page, and click on the down arrow to open the options menu. From there, select “News Feed Preferences”.

Step Two:

From the Preferences menu, select “Prioritize who to see first”

Step Three:

Select “Pages only” to show only the pages you are following.

Once you have filtered for Pages, select any of our games that you follow (for example, Thunder Run,
Days of Valor, Mars Frontier, War Star Empire, Battlefront Mars, or Summoner’s Gate), and select Done.

Step Four:

In game, open your Settings menu using the “gear” button

Turn “Facebook Notifications” Off, then back On, and click Apply.

That’s it! Now you won’t miss any more announcements and posts from Battlehouse.

Tip: If you want to continue receiving “You’ve been attacked” notifications, remember to click them at least once in a while. For anti-spam reasons, if you receive several notifications in a row without ever clicking one, the game systems will automatically stop contacting you.

Don’t forget to check out our Twitter (@battlehousecom or @ThunderRunWoC and Youtube channel for more news and videos, keeping you up to date on all things Battlehouse.