Console Dev Update October 2020
Welcome back to another Dev Update from the console dev team. Some of you may have noticed that there was no Dev Update for September. We had some last-minute, but very important updates on performance issues and bots recently, so we wanted to squeeze these into this Dev Update as well. Let’s go discover what these updates are.
We’ve been seeing reports of severe freezing in early matches where the game becomes unresponsive for a few seconds. Additionally, many of you have been telling us that loading has been super slow on Karakin – to a point where you load in towards the end of the plane path.
After some investigation, we found that these issues were side effects of some recent optimization work. As we’ve covered in our past Dev Updates, we’re always striving to save memory as the lack of available memory is the usual culprit of game crashes. In order to shave down on memory use, we made changes so that less assets are loaded in at one time, since loading too many things at once could be too taxing on memory. While this change did help save memory, it caused freezing and loading issues to occur when on the plane.
With Update 8.3, we reverted these changes, but our data shows that these reverts didn’t result in much of a change for some of you. As we prepare our next update, we’re testing a variety of fixes and are seeing nice improvements in loading speeds for Karakin.
We are also aware of serious hitches that started to pop up with Update 8.3. This hitching issue was escalated to our engineers as a high-priority task, and we found that these hitches were mainly being caused by how bots were using animations.
For the loading issue, our data also showed that loading speeds worsened for maps other than Karakin as well, so we’re running lots of tests to make sure loading times really do improve with the next patch. And for hitches, we’re not only testing if our fixes will actually work, but we’re testing whether there are other immediate fixes we have to make.
Given how much of an impact these issues have on gameplay, we would have liked to bring these fixes out through a hotfix, but in order to secure enough time to validate our fixes, we’ll be pushing these fixes out with our next major update coming this month.
Central North America Servers
Around early September, we were seeing pretty severe instances of stuttering, packet loss, and freezing in the North America (NA) region. To resolve this, we quickly switched our server provider once the reports started coming in. However, the new service provider doesn’t have servers located in central NA. This has resulted in improved stability for many, but worse network conditions for players in certain parts of NA.
In order to make network conditions more fair throughout the entire continent, we’ll be looking into using another server provider. However, this isn’t as simple as picking a service provider that has servers in central NA.
Each server provider is hooked up to all the ISPs in a different way. This means that even though a server provider might have servers in central NA, even players that are physically very close to the servers might suffer from sub-optimal network conditions depending on how those servers are routed to ISPs. Also, some server providers provide features that are just more optimal to PUBG’s needs.
Therefore, we’ll be trying out different server providers in NA. Obviously, with the aforementioned server issues, we’ll need to be very mindful of things like server stability as well, but our most important goal is to provide server performance that is more evenly spread from the West coast to the East coast.
All in all, picking out a server provider is no easy task, but we know how important this is for our NA community and we’ll keep you updated on any changes.
With radar hacks taken down recently, our sights are now set on unauthorized input devices. This includes keyboards and mice that we’ve never announced official support for, and unauthorized controller accessories.
Blocking unauthorized devices has proven to be challenging, as it is difficult to detect these devices from not only the client level, but the console device level as well. This is an industry-wide challenge, but the console dev team and anti-cheat team have begun working together to research and develop a method to start weeding out these unauthorized devices.
If we have any impactful updates to share in this area, we’ll be sure to do so.
When we introduced bots with Update 7.1, our goal was to not only improve matchmaking conditions, but to provide an additional avenue for our players to hone their skills. After collecting and analyzing data, in addition to reviewing community feedback for bot matchmaking, we are now ready to roll out some experimental changes.
Starting at the times below, we will be making changes to the ratio of bots in Normal matches for higher MMR group matchmaking. Basically, the way matchmaking currently works with bots is that once enough players have convened, a game session will start. The session will wait a few minutes until the designated number of players fill up. If the session fails to fill up, the rest will be filled with bots. Now with the ratio change, if matchmaking conditions are healthy and the match is able to fill up with all human players, no bots will be added to the session.
PDT: October 15, 2020 at 00:00
CEST: October 15, 2020 at 09:00
We will be monitoring closely to see how this affects our matchmaking landscape. If we see that this change doesn’t affect matchmaking negatively, we’ll keep the change implemented permanently and look to possibly bring this over to other platforms. If matchmaking suffers greatly due to this decision, we may have to revert the change. This has been a long-time request, so we’re looking forward to your feedback.
See you on the Battlegrounds,
Joon H. Choi, Console Lead Project Manager