Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #15: Regional Map Lag and Suspected “Cheats”

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

Welcome to the 15th 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 and Staff. This week, it’s bh-cameron’s turn:

It’s been a little while since we’ve been able to grace you all with a Dev Blog, as the current Developers Roadmap has temporarily been “on hold” while we continue to press forward and make solid progress on our “Project New Horizons”. Since we don’t have a lot of immediate content projects to talk about right now, the purpose of this particular dev blog entry is going to be to touch on a long standing game issue that has causing a lot of player confusion for some time now (and stirring up a ruckus recently on our Discord server): suspected battalion movement/attack cheats on the regional map.

Players call this suspected cheat many things when they see it happen: “batt skipping”, “batt jumping”, “batt flickering”, “batt speed hacking”, etc. But the one thing all of these instances have in common is that a player who’s trying to attack another player’s battalion on the regional might occasionally see instances of “battalion lag” wherein it can appear as if the batt you’re trying to attack skips ahead by a hex or two, or skips back by several hexes. This often allows the other player the ability to attack your battalion before you can even get to them and get a chance to click “Attack”.

What we want to officially drive home today is the explanation that this type of battalion behavior is 99% of the time NOT a cheat, and is usually just the result of a little bit of client-side browser lag. This situation can occur on the regional map when players use the “halt” command on a battalion before it reaches it’s destination. If the player seeing the “batt skip” is either running on a slow connection, or experiencing any temporary connection hiccups in their browser it, it can result in that player’s browser taking several milliseconds to properly update the map with the halted battalions true location as it’s stored in the game server.

Here’s a more specific breakdown of how it all works:

  1. Player A tells batt A to go from X0,Y0 to X100,Y50.
  2. Server accepts instruction, tells the rest of the world what’s happening.
  3. Player B sees batt A start heading from X0,Y0 to X100,Y50.
  4. Player A tells batt A to “Halt” when it’s at X10, Y10.
  5. In the time it takes for Player A’s “Halt” command to get from Player A to the server to player B, player B’s client keeps animating batt A’s expected progress towards X100,Y50.
  6. Server tells the rest of the world that batt A has stopped at X10, Y10.
  7. Player B’s client has batt A at X20, Y20 when it gets the server message that it actually stopped at X10, Y10. It appears to “skip” to X10, Y10, even though it was never actually at X20, Y20.

All of this being said, it’s simply not a cheat, but rather just a side-effect of how the regional map systems were designed and how they’re currently intended to behave.

As Battlehouse Developer bh-nirgal once said:

“You absolutely, 100% cannot rely on the apparent travel speed of other players on the regional map. The server and the client constantly disagree on where something should be. When the server tells the browser what the actual position should be, a battalion will leap ahead to get to where it’s supposed to be. The regional map is not and never was intended for simultaneous PvP. It’s for moving units around to attack AI bases, quarries, strong points, and parked battalions. The game is designed around Player vs Environment content and Player vs Player-Owned-Environment-Controlled content. The underlying technology just doesn’t support a true head to head game. You can play battalion fights if you want, but you’re going to constantly see things that look like bugs or cheats. The only thing that’s meant to be consistent is your own battalion’s speed.”

bh-nirgal (Battlehouse Dev)

Now that you understand why this isn’t a cheat, you might now asking why we don’t change how the regional map works, or why we don’t update battalion attack rules to make these instances less common. We’ve thought about this a lot, and after several team chats on the topic, all of the potential solutions that we can think up all come with their own suite of side-effects:.

  1. We could remove the Halt command. (“Choose wisely before calling a battalion!”) But does anyone really want to lose their ability to halt a battalion?
  2. We could stop animating battalions, and replace “ghost” battalions at a destination with a generic marker until they’re actually in place, but this would make the regional map less exciting for many.
  3. As we already do in Firestrike: We could add a cooldown similar to FS, wherein a battalion has to undergo a few second long “regrouping” phase before new orders can be given. The current timer in FS is 5s, but we’re open to trying a duration that’s less drastic. As we’ve already heard from many players throughout Battlehouse games over the years though, “regrouping” cool-downs aren’t the answer.

Let us know what you think of these few possible solutions, and feel free to also let us know some ideas of your own over on Discord!

That’s all for now, Commanders. Keep up the good fight! And can we please cut back on the amount of “They’re hacking the regional map!” tickets that our lovely Player Support team has to deal with week to week?

Stay up to date every day on what’s being developed on the dev-tracker channel here.

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

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!

FS: New Assassin Mines, and more – July 2nd Patch Notes

New this week in Firestrike:

Assassin Mine

Watch your step, Firestrikers! The Assassin Mine is here!

  • Available for bases with Level 10 TOC and higher
  • Deals massive damage to Sappers, and low damage to other units
  • 3x harder for Sappers to detect
Assassin Mine

More Game improvements

And that’s not all, Commander! As a response to some Discord suggestions, we’ve added New Security Team Behavior Toggles.

  • Set security team behaviors for each building and for any class of units that has security teams or response teams.
  • Cycle through behaviors through an at-a-glance indicator of the security/response team’s aggression level
    • A – Attack units in aggro radius
    • H – Hold Position
    • R – Relentlessly Pursue

Like what you see, or have more awesome feedback to share? Let us know over in the “firestrike” channel within our TR Discord Server.

Mines require extremely careful balancing to find that perfect balance of making them fun and powerful for everyone without being too over-powered, so we’ll be monitoring player feedback and battle replays closely and may adjust things further down the road if deemed necessary. 

Good hunting, Firestrikers!

FS: New mines coming, Volume Sliders, and more – June 25th Patch Notes

New this week in Firestrike:

More Landmine Improvements

Watch your step, Firestrikers! We’ve made some more much desired improvements to Landmines. Effective today: Landmine Damage is increased across the board.

And that’s not all, Commander! Come July 2nd, a new mine will be available for bases with Level 10 TOC and higher! Stay tuned for more updates!

More Game improvements

Improved Volume Control is here!

  • Instead of just mute/unmute in settings, you can now more precisely control your volumes with sliding percentage controls from 0 to 100, with mouse-wheel and click-n’-hold support.
  • Clicking the volume bar between the plus and minus sign will now mute/unmute your volume. The UI tooltip is updated to reflect this. The game will save your last unmuted volume preference and restore it if you mute. Example: Set music volume to 50%. Click the yellow bar. It’s muted. Click the empty bar. It’s instantly back to 50%.

Last but not least, just another reminder to all that the free daily repair kit giveaway will end on July 1st.

Like what you see, or have more awesome feedback to share? Let us know over in the “firestrike” channel within our TR Discord Server.

Mines require extremely careful balancing to find that perfect balance of making them fun and powerful for everyone without being too over-powered, so we’ll be monitoring player feedback and battle replays closely and may adjust things further down the road if deemed necessary. 

Good hunting, Firestrikers!

“Off-Facebook” Privacy Settings

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

Facebook has recently introduced a new setting toggle that allows users to turn off a feature that they call “Off-Facebook Activity”, and since then several Facebook Sharing campaigns have gone viral encouraging Facebook users to do so. We strongly recommend that you ignore any such advice it as it it’s been brought to our attention that turning off “Off-Facebook Activity” can remove access to our Facebook Game Apps on your account and subsequently cause various issues logging into the game.

What is “Off-Facebook Activity”, anyway? It’s a tool that gives Facebook App Developers the ability to share with Facebook when people are using their app. In the case of Thunder Run, we use it to tell Facebook when a player logs in, and when our system’s ability to do this becomes blocked the user, various errors can occur. You can read more about the specifics of “Off-Facebook Activity” here.

Rest assured, if you have already turned off Off-Facebook Activity and are having trouble logging in, your base and all of your progress remain safe on our servers, and you should be able to fix the issue by simply turning the setting back on. To do this, go to your Facebook Profile “Settings” Menu -> “Your Facebook Information” -> “View Off-Facebook Activity” -> “More Options” -> “Manage Future Activity” -> and then flip the toggle to it’s “On” position like shown below.

Make sure “Future Off-Facebook Activity” is toggled to “On”

As you might have already read the most recent edition of the Battlehouse Dev Blog, we’re also in the process of working on getting Thunder Run published on more platforms outside of Facebook, and offering new account login alternatives as part of our “Project New Horizons”. Stay tuned for more information on the next step!

Have feedback to share? Let us know over on our Thunder Run Discord Server!

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #14: Developer Updates

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

Welcome to the 14th 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.

We’re officially now in a new PvP Season, and while we didn’t make much progress on the Developers Roadmap this past season aside from delivering craftable Security Nodes, we have been working on a new large back-end project that we’re excited to finally talk a little bit about now in this Dev Blog entry.

The purpose of this new project which we’re internally calling “Project New Horizons” is to publish across multiple platforms to gain a lot more players, with a goal of gaining enough revenue to substantially increase our dev team size and release boatloads of new content. The first visible step of this project is the Kongregate re-launch that allows Facebook and Kongregate players to go head to head. Next steps include a downloadable client that will be published on several other platforms, like the Windows Store and Steam.

The downside to this project is it lowered the priority of a lot of front-end content. The Developer Roadmap still represents the front-end projects in the works, they’ve just slowed down a bit. After the Kongregate re-launch, expect at least one project on the roadmap to see some development cycles.

We’ve also been working on some projects that do their thing in the background.  The PvP end of season tournaments had some timer entries that were wrong due to typos. To prevent this, we automated the process that times the announcements and leaderboards. The next season tournament should go without a hitch in July.

Our VPN detection software and reputation filter has been integrated with the game engine. This has been quietly in the works for a while. A consistent complaint about PvP is that certain bad elements will have an army of alt accounts on anti-alt maps and hide behind VPNs so that our alt-detection system won’t notice them. Starting after the next end-of-season PvP tournament (July 2-July 9), all anti-alt maps will become anti-VPN maps.  Any player connected on a VPN will not be able to join an anti-alt map. If a player switches to a VPN while already on an anti-alt map, the player will be moved to a pro-alt map.

Now, we know that some of you have to use a VPN for one reason or another. Like our anti-alt policy, we will grant some exceptions to some players. We’ve started rolling out notices on the servers well in advance of the policy change, so if you start seeing messages warning you that you’re on a VPN, submit a ticket to our customer support team now by clicking the “Contact Support” link at the bottom of your game. If you meet the criteria, your account will be flagged as ignored by the automated processes that police the maps.

We are hoping that this will make the PvP tournament a more competitive and exciting event for players going forward.

That’s all for now. Keep up the good fight, Commanders!

Stay up to date every day on what’s being developed on the dev-tracker channel here.

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

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!

FS: COVID-19 – Impact, Helping You Play & Stay Safe

This week in Firestrike:

COVID-19 – Impact, Helping You Play & Stay Safe

Attention Commanders,

As COVID-19 is making it’s way across the world, our utmost concern is the health and safety of not only our employees, but also our valued players while we all traverse through this difficult time together. During this time, we urge everyone to follow all guidelines established by both federal and local authorities. If everyone does their part to help mitigate the crisis it will enable all of us to come out the other side of this much sooner.

In the meantime, to help ensure that our players have ample opportunities for entertainment while many of us will be spending more time at home in the coming weeks, we’re offering a “one purchase per player” 50%-off gold sale, and extra free daily combat and base repair kits – both of which can be activated any time throughout at least the next 4 weeks.

  • If you currently have a different sale offer running in-game, the 50%-off sale will start as soon as your current sale offer period ends.
  • The extra free daily repair kits will be claimable via the “Daily Login Reward” system. The repair kits will show as the new reward for the “Daily Login Reward” system, but the normal daily rewards will also appear when you go to place the kits in your Warehouse.
    • The home base repair kit has an expiration time of 18 hours, and the in-combat instant repair kit has an expiration of 30 minutes.

We hope this gesture makes an otherwise stressful time in everyone’s lives even the smallest bit better. More than that – we hope you all stay safe!

Sincerely,

~The Battlehouse Team

Battlehouse Dev Blog, Issue #13: Mid-Season Roadmap Updates

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

Welcome to the 13th 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. It’s been a little over a month and a half since we released the Developer Roadmap. Let’s take a look at what’s been done, and what remains to be done:

All Games – Improved Player Preferences Interface – Done!

We promised mousewheel scrolling, toggle-able scrolling direction, chat vertical orientation toggles, and screen shake toggles. We delivered all of this, including the addition of mousewheel scrolling features to 18 different UI components that weren’t in the original scope.

FS – Sapper Unit – Done!

This new unit added many new features to the engine.  It changed “invisibility” from a constant property to one that can be toggled, it added “detector” as an ability, and added failure chance mechanics to detection.

All Games – Power generation/damage mechanics overhaul – Feature Complete

The engine support is done and the feature is being tested in War Star Empire. Deployment to other games is awaiting our results.

MF – Unit levels, Radiation Tower, and EMP Cannon – Mostly Done

The EMP cannon isn’t done, nor are the levels for the Curiosity, and the Opportunity Central Computer defender, but the Detonator, Phantom Detonator and Elevation Droid have up to L13, and the Radiation Tower is in game.

BFM – Elite Dragon – Done

The unit is in game and ready for the next event to bring it to life.

WSE – Dragon – Not Started

This is a small project and won’t take long once started.

TR & DV – Vault update – Done!

Both games got a massive boost to Hardware protection. Now there will always be enough for base defender repairs and a bit extra to allow a cheap new project or “seed funds” for an expensive one. No matter what, when you log back in you’ll have enough left to get back in the fight.

All Games – Stats display – Pending code review/testing

The impact effects code is done and undergoing testing. It displays the name of the effect, its strength, and its duration. A lot of unit special abilities will no longer be a mystery as a result.

All Games – Security Node Crafting update – In Progress

The code for refunding all of the old Security Nodes is in place. The crafting system for Security Nodes is about 70% complete. The armed TOC means the UI has to be reworked to allow for two craftable slots on the same building. The range indicator for the Security Nodes has not been started.

All Games – Mine and Ambush Crafting update – Not Started

When complete, Ambush Points will become craftable instead of purchased in the store and there will be scroll buttons so the number of Minefields isn’t hard-capped at 28. You’ll be able to trade in your old Strike Teams for an ONP refund, but the blueprints will still be used.

All Games – Consumable Ammo – Not Started

When complete, this will change the way certain weapons work. Players will not see anything right away, since it’s only one step in several towards the finished project.

Right now, there’s only one way to balance how often a player can use an ability is its cooldown stat. Most weapons have cooldowns of less than a second to a couple of seconds.  Some abilities are powerful and shouldn’t be used more than once or twice in a fight. Long cooldowns can be easily “cheesed” by retreating and attacking again.

Instead of relying on cooldowns, we’re going to add the ability to require consumable ammo and items to certain powerful abilities. Examples would be the UH-60’s troop deployment (instead of having them commit suicide to launch the troop), the future Elite UH-60’s troop deployment, and the future Elite Sniper’s stealth ability. The ammo/item would be stored in an invisible equipment slot on the unit and would just appear as an ammo counter in the unit’s stats.

This would be an internal mechanic until the rest of the needed support structure is done.

All Games – Build/Research Time updates while building/tech is in progress – Not Started

When complete, this will check for updates to build and research times when you log in. We’ve planned some time requirement nerfs (mostly in certain buildings), but the current system only records when you started and how much time you needed when you started, so it doesn’t update if the time is reduced later.

We’re going to fix that. It will record the total time needed when you start, and check when you log in if this has changed. If it has, it will update the time remaining. This update function will check the times whenever you apply a build time boost item, and will adjust the time accordingly. Be warned, removing the boost will increase the time back to where it was (otherwise you could store multiple build time boosts and apply/remove them multiple times in order to get buildings instantly for free).

All Games – On-Shoot Event Triggers – Not Started

When started, this will add under the hood features. Right now, units and buildings can trigger an event based when they get damaged, when an enemy comes near, or when they get destroyed. This is used to spawn response and security teams. A mechanic needs to be added to allow events to trigger when a weapon or ability is triggered, so that the UH-60 and Elite UH-60 will be able to deploy their troops without committing suicide.

Sadly, projects seven and ten won’t make much difference to players in the coming quarter, since we’ll need to add the ammunition crafting and delivery mechanisms before they can be fully implemented. We’ll get there with time.

Stay up to date every day on what’s being developed on the dev-tracker channel here.

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

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!

FS: User Interface Improvements – January 30th Patch Notes

New this week in Firestrike:

User Interface Improvements

Heads up, Commanders!

This week we made a some highly desired “Voice of the Commander” centric updates to the game’s user interface:

  • Mousewheel scrolling support has been added to multiple portions of the UI: Achievement Categories, Change Rank, Battle History, Battle Logs, Leader Training, Equipment Crafting, Relocate Base, Regional Map Bookmarks, Equipment selection for buildings and units, Clan info, Choose Clan Symbol, and Logistics Dispatch now all support wheel scrolling.
  • Map bookmarks, Achievements, and Player Settings now support “click and hold” scrolling. If you don’t have a mouse wheel, you can still enjoy the fast, smooth scrolling. Just click and hold!
  • The Map Bookmark scroll buttons have also been changed from “left/right” to “up/down” to provide for a much more smooth scrolling experience.

Enjoy the quality-of-life game improvements, and don’t delay on unlocking the all new Sapper Unit during this week’s Event!

To see where the design team currently stands on various Community suggested features and game improvements, check out the Firestrike “Voice of the Commander” Tracker.

For a sneak peak at what’s coming up down the road, check out the “Developer Roadmap” in the most recent edition of the Battlehouse Dev Blog.

Like what you see, or have more awesome feedback to share? Let us know over in the “firestrike” channel within our TR Discord Server.

Good hunting, Firestrikers!

FS: Health Bar Color Updates – January 23rd Patch Notes

New this week in Firestrike:

Health Bar Color Updates

🐲 Happy Lunar New Year, Commanders! 🐉

We’re celebrating with a quality-of-life update based on your player feedback. Players across all Battlehouse games have been requesting more visual cues about the health of units and buildings, and this week we’re here to deliver. Health bar colors have been updated to the following scheme:

  • Buildings and units with health at 0% to 10% will have a red health bar.
  • Buildings and units with health at 10% to 50% will have an orange health bar.
  • Buildings and units with health at 50% to 75% will have a yellow health bar.
  • Buildings and units with health at 75% to 100% will have a green health bar.

To see where the design team currently stands on various Community suggested features and game improvements, check out the Firestrike “Voice of the Commander” Tracker.

Like what you see, or have more awesome feedback to share? Let us know over in the “firestrike” channel within our TR Discord Server.

Good hunting, Firestrikers!

FS: New Sapper Unit – January 16th Patch Notes

New this week in Firestrike:

New Sapper Unit

Are the recently updated mine defenses causing your attacking forces some trouble? Fear not, Commander. The all new Sapper Unit is here to save the day, and help keep those mines at bay. Firestrike’s version of the Sapper will detect mines, shield other units from mine damage, and decimate enemy buildings in the process.

  • The Sapper is the best unit in the game for damaging buildings.
  • Contains a 75%-chance of detecting enemy mines.
  • Reduces landmine damage to nearby units by 25%.

Unlock the all new Sapper Unit today in this week’s Event Prizes Store!

Like what you see, or have more awesome feedback to share? Let us know over in the “firestrike” channel within our TR Discord Server.

Good hunting, Firestrikers!