Gearbox Software's team-based online shooter BattleBorn will launch for consoles and Windows PC on 9 February 2016, and the first technical test has already started. The Battleborn site has been updated with a new in-house interview with Producer Chris Brock, Creative Director Randy Varnell and Lead Programmer Jimmy Sieben in which they talked about open beta, character adjustments and gear drop frequency. Let's take a look.
A big part of the Closed Technical Test is to stress the servers. How’d that go? What did you find out?
Randy Varnell: As a “Technical Test”, our first goal was to be sure that the servers and technology worked. We had a couple of bumps, and found some great problems that we couldn’t normally find at the user count of our daily internal tests. So, super-useful test in that regard.
Chris Brock: Exactly what Randy said. Thanks to the tests, we found matchmaking issues, which we’ve been able to address. We never would have found those without testing at such a large scale. It was awesome to see that most of our internal services held up great, though. And those that didn’t, we were able to quickly fix.
Jimmy Sieben: It was great being able to simulate some launch-day levels of traffic. In general, our systems performed quite well, but a few surprising issues came up and were addressed in real-time during the event, while others will receive attention now that the Closed Technical Test is over.
Part-way during the CTT, you adjusted Phoebe's abilities. What did you learn about the available heroes and how they're balanced? Will you consider adjusting characters’ abilities similarly when the Battleborn ships?
Chris Brock: We found out that there was at least a perception (and there’s data to back this up) that Phoebe was too powerful. This mostly taught us that we need to make sure we don’t isolate characters from their ‘counter-characters.’ We also learned that we can adjust these things pretty quickly without having to put out a full patch in a lot of situations.
Randy Varnell: We’ve long had running solid theories of how our balance worked, but we simply lacked the volume of play to prove them out substantially. For example, we designed the game to create excellent play synergies between characters. Looking at the CTT data, we’ve been able to statistically demonstrate that a team’s ability to win is greater than the sum of the individual characters chance to create wins. It’s partly a co-op competitive game, and it’s awesome to see the data prove out that our designs are on track!
We also know that you changed the frequency of gear drops during the test. What did you learn about the gear system and how players were using it?
Randy Varnell: The QuickPack drop was an experiment to test the boundaries of our technology, as well as how much we could use the pack-dropping strategy as a delivery for our gear. The technology behaved quite well under stress, but the testers let us know very clearly that it wasn’t fun opening up dozens of QuickPacks. That’s an easy thing to change, so we alleviated some of that during the CTT, and will be altering the loot drop design for the shipping game to balance getting regular rewards with being overwhelmed by tedious pack opening.
Chris Brock: Just adding to what Randy’s saying, this was strictly a part of the test. There’s a particular backend service that’s hit every time a loot pack is opened and we wanted to hammer that hard. Mission accomplished!
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