Dev Letter: Console Dev Focus
It’s been just over two years since we launched PUBG on consoles starting with Xbox Game Preview. Since then we’ve launched 1.0 on Xbox and PS4, introduced Cross Platform Play last October, and with Update 6.2 in February we added Cross Party Play, allowing Xbox and PS4 players to squad up together and get those Chicken Dinners.
There have been many challenges faced and conquered along the way, and we have many more to embrace and overcome. To that note, we’d like to share what we are focusing on for Console PUBG in 2020:
- Improve quality control to provide stable performance continuously
- Reduce the content gap between PC and Console even further
- Console specific balance adjustments to better suit the console environment
- Strengthen anti-cheat detection and DDoS defense
- Provide better and new ways of communication to our players
In 2019, our goal was to solve fundamental performance issues for the console version of PUBG.
Problems like rendering and low average FPS were our first priorities to tackle. Rendering especially was a problem where players were seeing “play-doh”-like (unfinished/unrendered) buildings upon landing which could take a long time to fully render in.
While we have made big improvements in these areas of performance, there are still other problems that we need to solve. For example, crashing is currently an issue. We have been providing new content and updates each month since launch, which means the size of the build has continuously increased. There is a set amount of memory that can be processed, but an increase in content means that there is more that needs to be processed, which reduces the size in unused memory. This has been causing crashes in some instances. We’re focusing on fixing this issue by optimizing the build to use less memory. Onwards, we aim to provide a better game service by improving our quality control to make sure that any new content that is added to the game is fully optimized to not cause any critical issues.
Hitching is another issue that has plagued our game – more so recently. Update 7.1 will bring fixes for two instances of hitching caused by 1) loading certain skins and 2) achievements. Unfortunately, this won’t solve all instances of hitching, but our engineers are hard at work to optimize many different areas of the game to reduce hitching throughout, and we’ve recently restructured our engineering organizations to dedicate an entire team to work on resolving such issues.
Finally, we know that our players want a stable framerate all around the game no matter which device they are playing on. At the same time, we know that others prefer an improvement in graphical quality. We’re looking at balancing both high framerates and graphics but of course, providing stable framerate is key no matter what. We’ll be tuning up Dynamic Resolution to provide better quality resolution as well as framerate. We also see many requests for a higher frame cap of 60 frames per second. While we’re actively looking for ways to implement this, there are challenges ahead. Any concrete progress and updates on this will be shared.
PC & Console Content Gap
Although the time frame gap between PC and Console content has been reduced to a maximum of 2 weeks, there are still some features that the console community has been missing out on.
We will first start out with working on making custom matches a more robust experience, starting with adding new modes – like the highly requested Esports Mode that we added recently in March. We’re also aware that more customization options for custom matches is something that our community has been asking for a long time. Players will be able to decide on the spawn rate, damage, and other detailed options. However, we are looking into how this affects performance, as too many weapons and vehicles could cause stability issues.
We are also planning to add a dedicated Observer Mode for everyone to help grassroots competitions, but this will take some time to develop. Allowing all resources to be loaded while the camera is moving at a high speed is one of the challenges that we need to overcome.
Lastly, PUBG LABS will be available to console players in 2020. We’ll be making sure console players do not miss out on LABS content where they will be getting the first experience of some new upcoming features.
Console Specific Balancing
We’ve constantly been hearing feedback about vehicle and weapon balancing issues, with these issues often times being specific to consoles.
For vehicles, some of the balance-related work we’ve already done for console was to provide bullet penetration to vehicles on thin metals. Our further plan on vehicles is to reduce collision damage taken when in vehicles, as there are some instances where players take too much damage compared to the actual force of the impact. Also, this is still an idea we’re exploring, but we’re considering tuning the hit points and speed of our vehicles on consoles, as the ability to land shots on vehicles is much more difficult on consoles than on PC.
As for weapons, we’re aware that some of our players think that some weapons are particularly more overpowered than others. But as of now, there is a single universal multiplier applied to the recoil of all our weapons, and basically, the recoil on console is set to half of what it is on PC. In order to be able to balance weapons individually, we need to be able to split the data on our weapons between consoles and PC. However, to make our guns act and feel as realistic as possible, there is a lot of code that is tied to our weapon data, meaning that splitting weapon data must be done very carefully.
We’ll be sure to share more news on console vehicle and weapon balancing down the road in 2020.
In the meantime, we’ve been seeing your feedback on the M249 being too overpowered and have decided to increase the recoil on the M249 by 50%. This will be in effect as of Console Update 7.1. We’re aware that there are some players who want the M249 to go back into care packages, and this is something the dev team is actively exploring alongside other balancing options. Please let us know your feedback about the recoil change, and we’ll make sure your voices are heard in our internal discussions.
Anti-Cheat & DDoS Defense
Regarding anti-cheat, many of our console players are suggesting more strict anti-cheat measures from the dev team. Anti-cheat is a very complex and ever-changing area that needs to be constantly updated and improved. We have been banning players using logs and detection system implemented in the build. We’re banning users daily with suspicious logs such as killing multiple players in a short amount of time, as well as from investigating community submitted tickets. Our detection system looks at actions from users and checks if there is any suspicious behavior such as character movement and aim that could be hard to achieve using controllers.
But we know there are still a lot of baddies out there, and we’re looking to implement new processes that will allow us to detect such malicious players in more diverse ways.
There are also some of the anti-cheat features on PC that the console community want us to bring to console. Again, there are challenges in this area due to having to make sure it is compliant with the console environment. But in the meantime, we will be focusing on research and development of anti-cheat measures specifically for the console community.
One such area is radar hacks – or packet-based cheating – and we know how much frustration this has been causing our community. We haven’t been resting on our laurels though, and have been testing out many different solutions to put an end to radar hacks. We don’t want to give out sensitive information for our cheaters to abuse, but simply put, we need to find a packet encryption solution that is compatible with all our console platforms. Implementing the wrong solution could cause crashes and jeopardize the stability of our builds. Judging by where we’re at in terms of our research, we’re targeting Q2 2020 at the earliest for implementing a solution.
Another area we’ve been focusing on for the last few months is DDoS(distributed denial-of-service) attacks. Many online games are forced to deal with DDoS attacks from time to time, and our servers have been no exception to this. When a game server is under attack by DDoS attacks, all players who are in the server almost certainly face connection issues such as network delays, a significant ping increase, and severe packet loss. Unfortunately, our servers have been increasingly targeted for these attacks. Last November, the intensity of the attacks increased to a level we hadn’t experienced before, which increased again in February.
Our dev team has been increasing our DDoS defense solutions, working with various server infrastructure providers and analyzing their effectiveness in order to protect our game servers and provide a more stable service. At the same time, we’re working on our own defense system specifically designed to protect PUBG’s game servers.
While testing various DDoS defense solutions from external infrastructure providers, server locations were often located far away from standard locations, which resulted in increased ping and other network issues for some players. Additionally, many players have suffered constant packet loss issues due to the experimental DDoS defense solutions deployed by these providers. We know that we could have been much more open in communicating these reasons with you, but did not want to contaminate tests and results by letting the attackers know we were doing this testing. Regardless, our sincere apologies to players who experienced ongoing connectivity issues during this time.
The good news is, our recently developed internal solution has reduced the impact of DDoS attacks. This is and will remain an ongoing issue, but our dev team will also continue to work on and implement additional measures to mitigate the impact of DDoS attacks when they occur.
DDoS server attacks are a serious crime and we’ve been gathering all information we can to take legal action against the perpetrators.
In 2020, one of the dev team’s top priorities is coming up with ways to better communicate with our players. We’re aiming to pursue an “Open Dev” philosophy, where we give our community a deeper look into what the dev team is working on, as well as provide better understanding of what our intentions are as we service our game. This not only includes regular updates on how we’re progressing on console-specific features and improvements, but also more transparent and speedy progress updates on how we’re tackling live service issues.
You’ll be seeing these changes roll out in the coming months, and we hope these changes will bring our community and developers closer – change by change.
We wanted to sign off with a note of gratitude for you, our community. We hope that during these uncertain times, our community and all of your loved ones have been staying safe and healthy. We are humbled to be able to provide a space where our players can find a sense of fun and escape, and have a means to be social while still staying safely apart. We are working hard this year to make PUBG on consoles the best that it can be and we are grateful to have such a passionate community that plays our game.
As always, thank you for your continued support, and see you on the Battlegrounds!
Koosung Jeong, Console Producer
Joon H. Choi, Console Lead Project Manager