The Community Test Environment for our next update, update 1.5, is now live. Go to your Steam Library and download “Insurgency: Sandstorm Community Test Environment” to play.
We’ll be having a “Play with the Devs” event on the CTE on Tuesday December 3 & Friday December 6 from 11:00 AM MST - 1:00 PM MST. We’ll be testing playlist improvements on the US servers in the official matchmaking of our new game mode Domination (see more information below), NOT on a server under Community Servers as we’ve done in the past. To join us, just boot up the CTE, go to Play, select Domination, and Find Match. All the devs won’t necessarily be in one game, but you’ll see us floating around your matches!
This update features a ton of quality of life improvements, gameplay improvements, optimization, and bug fixes. Please share your feedback on the CTE forums here. The highlights can be seen below:
We’ve made both game and map changes to further optimize Sandstorm. This is part of an ongoing effort to address performance issues with other maps and the game as a whole. Changes include:
- Disabled AlwaysTickPose to minimize CPU overhead of character animations which aren’t rendered on the screen
- Performed optimization pass on the following maps:
Playlists and Matchmaking
Over the past couple of months, we have received and read numerous pieces of feedback from the community relating to playlist changes that were implemented earlier in the year as well as the overall matchmaking experience. The new playlist-based matchmaking introduced several issues and had some undesirable impacts on our queues’ health. We’ve made the following improvements:
- Players are now able to queue for multiple playlists within a game type (Versus or Coop). This should help to ensure that players are spending less time waiting in the queue, and more time playing the game.
- We’ve removed the player count for playlists, and replaced it with estimated queue times instead. This should reduce situations where players feel like it isn’t worth queuing into a playlist that doesn’t have a lot of players, which could have led to some playlists (like Firefight) not having a healthy population.
- Team auto-balancing will ensure that teams are always made even automatically by the server. Autobalancing will occur whenever a team has 2 or more players on it. If you are in a party, the system will work to ensure that you are placed on the same team.
- Players can manually switch teams if they become unbalanced as a result of leavers, disconnections, etc.
Players can now join in-progress matches their friends are already in. This was something technical we had been meaning to do for a while.
- We’ve separated Ground Battle into separate playlists by the mode: one for Push mode and one for Frontline mode.
These are the playlists available in the CTE and will be eventually available for 1.5:
We know that a lot of players would love to see Skirmish make a return here, especially since multi-queueing would help its population. However, we still have issues with the mode’s vehicles, including their bugs and performance issues. We also still feel that the Skirmish gameplay experience as a whole isn’t as strong as these other modes, especially for new players. We can expand our mode selection with the new playlist improvements, but we can only go so far until we risk too much fragmentation and a weak gameplay experience for incoming new players. For the time being, Skirmish will continue to be available on community servers for the players who really want that experience.
Introduction of New “Domination” Game Mode
We’ve added the popular game mode Domination to the game, which some of you may already be familiar with from games like Unreal Tournament, Battlefield, and Call of Duty. In Domination there are three objectives: A, B, and C. Your team’s score will increase faster the more objectives you own. Once one team reaches the score limit, or time runs out and they have the highest score, they win the round. Domination uses the same instant respawning system and weapon loadout as Team Deathmatch, which means you are always in the action and you can use just about any weapon in the game. Right now Domination supports the Hideout, Hillside, Farmhouse, Crossing, and Ministry maps, but more may be added in the future.
We know that adding a new game mode risks further fracturing of the playerbase, something we are trying to address with the playlist changes above. We also know that there may be other game modes that some players would like to see before Domination, such as Outpost, which was discussed in our last roadmap for 2019. Domination was originally created in Sandstorm as an “example mode” using Unreal Engine 4’s blueprint system to demonstrate to modders how they could build custom game modes using our upcoming modding tools. It ended up being really fun when we tested it, and so we decided to include it as an official mode. Domination will still exist as that example mode, and modders are free to use that as a basis to build totally new game modes.
In addition to already having it ready as this unique “sample mode” for modders, one of the main reasons we made it an official mode was because a lot of players have requested that Team Deathmatch be reintroduced as an official playlist. We feel like those players can get their fix from Domination in a way that, in its objective-based gameplay, is less mindless than Team Deathmatch, and thus truer to Sandstorm’s identity. Also, with our upcoming console release, we’ll be getting a lot of new players. Domination mode is a bit more casual and easy to learn, which means it’s an excellent way to ease those players into the more hardcore experience that is Insurgency: Sandstorm. Finally, to be blunt, we see an opportunity to attract some of the new Modern Warfare’s audience. If a player isn’t feeling the experience there, they’re welcome here with a familiar game mode as a vessel for our unique brand of gameplay.
We’ve worked hard to listen to the players and make improvements to various gameplay mechanics. Our intent is to directly address player feedback about shooting and aiming not being rewarding enough of skill, to improve player movement and acceleration to feel more controlled, and to add some flexibility to certain key bindings which have been popularly requested. Additionally, we were able to make improvements to smoke grenades so that particles are visualized reliably across all clients, which has an important gameplay impact of making smoke grenades more dependable. The changes include the following:
- Set up Lissajous curve fixed pattern for sway instead of the more random current Perlin noise pattern seen in the public version since release. This Lissajous curve makes the sway pattern more predictable.
- Reduced sway speed by 20%. Sway magnitude is the same
- Reduced incentive for crouching and proning to reduce sway (crouching now reduces sway by 50% instead of 60%, prone now reduces sway by 70% instead of 80%)
- Reduced sway penalties when moving (sway magnitude now increases by 15% instead of 50%, sway speed now increases by 50% instead of 200%)
- Slightly reduced the sway speed and magnitude reduction when focusing to counterbalance the other sway changes (focusing now reduces sway speed and magnitude by 60% instead of 80%)
- Reduced overall recoil when ADS by 15%
- Reduced recoil incentive for crouching and proning (crouching now 20% less recoil instead of 40%, prone now has 30% less recoil instead of 60%)
- Reduced recoil penalty for leaning when low weight (lowest weight now has 10% more recoil when leaning instead of 20%)
- Recoil penalty while moving should be consistent across all weights rather than favoring players who are heavier (heavier players previously had a greater reduction in recoil)
- Increased Mk 14 EBR recoil with same magnitude as the recent FAL recoil increase
- Sprint speed reduced by 8%
Key Binding Changes
- Jump and Vault keys can now be bound as three separate binds: Jump/Vault, Jump, and Vault. This means you can jump in places where you would otherwise be forced to vault, because they keys were shared by spacebar. The default key is still Spacebar for the combined Vault/Jump key.
- Crouch and Slide can be bound separately. If you want to go from a full sprint to an immediate crouch instead of an automatic slide, you can now do so. The default key is still Ctrl for the combined Crouch (Hold)/Slide.
Client Side Smoke Reliability
- All smoke grenades should now utilize the same seed for all clients so player A will see the same smoke coverage as player B. Smoke also expands faster to be more useful and is no longer frame-rate capped.
Thanks and enjoy! Remember to share your feedback on the CTE forums and let us know what you like and don’t like!