Hi everyone, and thanks for taking the time to give this a read. I know that many of you have poured countless hours into H1Z1 and all of the developers thank you for that.

For any newcomers, I try to provide a development update each Friday to convey current priorities and focuses for the King of the Kill and Just Survive teams, along with information on the next planned publishes. If I happen to be out of the office, then I might combine a couple updates, but for the most part expect to hear from me regularly. My updates will be brief but informative. I am prioritizing timeliness over a beautifully written piece.

I will be back next week time an update to Just Survive (more restricted base build servers coming!), but let’s talk about King of the Kill today.

Next test for Ignition Mode

We are working hard on Ignition with the goal to do another weekend playtest on our Test servers April 1 (not a joke!). We collected a ton of feedback from the one and are running through that list before going for round 2 with this new game mode. Quite a few changes were made based on community’s feedback; this second test will be really valuable to us.

Iterating on a live Test Server is really important to the development of new modes, as is the whole idea of these servers. We can get new features and changes up for large scale testing that we just cannot replicate in a closed internal environment. Thank you to everyone who is willing to jump on and try things out for us. The feedback you provide on what you are seeing when you play there is invaluable.

Bug Fixes and changes to King of the Kill (these have not been pushed live yet, but are being tested internally)

  • A really nice update is that arms and legs now take their own damage. We saw that high level players would shoot for someone’s legs if they were wearing Kevlar, as it would essentially bypass the benefit of wearing the armor. Now that arms and legs take less damage (i.e., more shots to kill) to remove that advantage, if you find and equip Kevlar, you should feel full the benefit of that moving forward.
  • We shortened the duration of the effect from flashbangs. It is about half of what it used to be, so you can get back in the fight quicker.
  • That really annoying exploding tombstone bug in the Box of Destiny is gone. We will get this up to the live servers next week.
  • We spent a lot of time fixing up some of the cameras that were not working well after our last update. Problems with interior spaces, vehicle cameras, etc. These changes are on the Test servers right now. Please check them out and let us know if they are working well.
  • Bandages will be back in loot bags.
  • LOD’s were tuned, so characters should look better at large distances.
  • We turned down the density of the poison gas so it's not so visually obstructing anymore.
  • Taking small damage at the end of the parachute sequence should be back to normal, meaning no damage.
  • Getting into vehicles is more forgiving, there were times when you had to spam “e” in order to enter a vehicle. That was tuned to be much easier.

Current Focus for King of the Kill

We are putting prioritization into bugs and quality of life fixes. We gathered info from our internal QA, the dev team, and players through Reddit to compile what that list looks like. Some of those were fixed and mentioned in the list above and will be making their way to the Live server soon. Others are being looked at right now and we are getting through them as fast as we can.

Next Planned Release

Taking a step back, I’d like to talk about updates in general. We were not very happy with our last update in particular. We broke too many things, and if I could go back I would do have done things differently. Luckily, we can go forward and make improvements to our process for the future, but the biggest change to that process is proper testing. We are ensuring that we get proper testing time not only on an outgoing build, but on any additional changes before pushing to our live environment where you play. Our goal is to send the latest fixes and changes to our internal QA team weekly. Those changes will spend at least a week in QA to ensure they are stable and solid before being promoted up to our Test servers. We will monitor for at least another week to ensure the stability at scale before promoting those up to our Live servers. If something is not ready, we can keep it where it is while we fix it up. The train keeps rolling on at that point with weekly pushes that cascade from one environment to the next.

The goal is to reduce failures being introduced into Live, and it establishes a nice rhythm for the development team to get into. The downside is that you will see a several week delay from starting this until the next push to Live. Once we get over that initial delay, our goal is to get into a cadence of regular releases. Right now we are working on some issues to do a Live update next week, and then we will see a small delay in change while we get this rolling. I don’t think it means that we will never accidentally introduce something into Live that we did not intend, but it should catch a lot more issues that we were before. In the event something does leak through, we always have the ability to hotfix directly to the broken environment.

Thanks for hanging in there, and please continue to send issues that you see so that we continue to see them and prioritize those issues into our priority lists.