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Developer update: June 26, 2020

Hey all,

On June 4 we published a developer update that explained how we’re extending the Pre-Season and restructuring our team to focus on a new set of development priorities, which were largely determined by the feedback we’ve been hearing from all of you. It’s been about three weeks since we made that announcement, so today we’re going to take some time to talk about what we’ve been up to. We’ve shipped three updates in the past three weeks (June 6, June 10, June 18) that were focused on balance, bug fixing and polish, but we know you’re eager to hear news on some of our bigger projects. So let’s dive in:

Voice chat v1

Voice chat remains a top priority for the team and we’re very close to shipping it. In fact, it’ll be in our next release. In full transparency, we had planned to ship it this past week, but in a recent playtest we realized that the implementation at the time just didn’t meet our quality bar—it needed a few more features (push-to-talk, for example), more polish, and we needed to hammer out some bugs that were causing performance problems. Making the decision to hold a feature back is always difficult, especially when we know the feature is as important as voice chat, but we feel that this was the right call.

When voice chat ships, you’ll be able to use it in matches, it will support voice activation (with adjustable activation thresholds) and push-to-talk, and will be an opt-in experience players will be reminded of regularly. We’ll also be adding a new social menu (bound to [P] by default) that allows you to opt into or out of voice chat during a match, mute other players or yourself, and report toxicity. As with all things, the voice chat system will be updated based on feedback we hear from the community, so please let us know your thoughts once you’re able to get your hands on it!

AFK players

We’ve been working on identifying the root causes behind why players go AFK, from being stuck in unwinnable matches, to botting, to stepping away to help carry in the groceries. We recently added the surrender feature to help get players out of bad games as quickly as possible, and after the recent changes to the minimum vote timer threshold, we feel it’s settled into a decent spot—but we’ll still be keeping an eye on your feedback and looking to make changes as needed.

We’ve already made many of our battle pass challenges more active (for example, requiring players to win games rather than just playing them) to remove the incentive for players to deliberately AFK. In our next build, we’ll be taking this a step further by preventing players who are detected as AFK from earning achievement, battle pass, and challenge progress for match completion. We’ll also be allowing players to call a surrender vote before the minimum timer if an AFK player is detected.

These are just the first steps we’re taking. In the future we’ll be rolling out active punishments for those that repeatedly AFK to the detriment of their team.

Gameplay & mechanics

As we mentioned in our June 4 developer update, focusing on one game mode is allowing us to tailor the map and our gameplay systems towards Heart of the Hives. The design team has been hard at work evaluating all of our systems and what role they play, and there’s a possibility we’ll be making some pretty dramatic changes to various components of a given match of Heart of the Hives.

At a high-level, some of the areas we’re looking at first are:

  • Spawn and respawn points: how they’re arranged on the map, how they’re balanced between teams, and how they influence the location of amplifiers, Hives, and other objectives.

  • Creatures: where they live on a map, how much of a challenge they pose, and how connected to the world they feel. For the most part, this applies to non-Hive creatures like Lurkers, Spitters, and Stompers.

  • Events: how they are displayed and how they interact with each other. One thing we’re considering, for example, is having events like Cloak Plant Bloom or Mini-Harvesters affect the entirety of a match, with only one such event being part of each match. We’re currently thinking that change wouldn’t apply to objective-based events like Damage Amplifiers.

We’ll be experimenting with prototype versions of these changes internally before pushing anything into the live game, but in the near-term future we’ll be looking to talk with you all about some ideas and how we think they could play out.

We recently got a very rough version of the mini-map working on our development branch. We still have a bit of work to do before we’re comfortable shipping v1, but things are shaping up nicely and we’ll keep you informed on our progress.

Wrapping up

If you’re interested in a more comprehensive view of everything we’re working on, make sure to check out our roadmap! We made some significant updates to it this morning, and we’re going to continue to add more detail to it as time goes on. Because the roadmap tracks work in development, please keep in mind that the details we put in may change over time—we’re working to keep you informed of the changes we have planned, but those plans might evolve as we get your feedback or get new information from our internal testing and research. For example, the roadmap goes into more detail on some of the gameplay and mechanics changes we mentioned above, but all of that detail might change as we try things out and get feedback.

Before we sign off, we wanted to acknowledge the conversations that are happening regarding the state of the community. We hear you. Right now our team is focused on addressing the feedback that was given at launch and in the weeks since. We have a pretty clear vision for where we want to take the game, and we want to make sure that the early game experience matches up with that vision before we make a big push to bring in more new players.

Thanks for reading and—of course—for playing! We’ll see you next week,

-the Crucible team