[BB], 2017 in review

For most of us New Years is on the hinge of opening up. With that said lets review [BB] in 2017! This year the review will be geared more towards core [BB] as a whole as opposed to looking at gamemodes individually. Some of this will still occur but we’ll be primarily ignoring or summarising minor events, if at all.

Forums

This year we got a new forum design! With how [BB] had exploded in usage again we decided it was time to actually get ourselves a proper design instead of using the default XenForo skin. Kaiden was tasked with finding us at least a strong base design we could work off. It can be quite time consuming to come up with a strong palette, design etc and so Kaiden tottered off to find some shortlisted designs. We weren’t able to find any that quite tickled us the right way so we were able to settle on a base design and to modify it from there; which is the forum skin we have today!

In general the Skin works far nicer for us, especially as instead of having categories flowing down towards the bottom of the page, we instead have multiple elements per page. It nicely compacts for unregistered / guest users and spreads out nicely for those who are! We’ve seen a very small uptake in the forums as a result of the changed design which has been a nice net benefit. Design however isn’t the only thing which create participation so in the new year we’ll be looking to somehow incentivise players with using the forums more.

And before people think I’ve forgotten it – we also had a new banner created for us by Ender! It’s a pure vector image create in SVG meaning that it’s fairly flexible where we can deploy it and keep it looking sharp. Sadly GMod itself doesnt directly support SVG, but then again it’s never been great with non vmt / vtfs as a whole.

Ban Page

More of an extension to the previous point – we finally got the ban page prettified up with a few little design secrets in there – again courtesy of Ender. Under the hood the web aspect of the punishment system uses Aegis. More on this in the future.

Escape

Last year we alluded to Escape possibly coming out this year. It ended up being pushed back but not without just cause! Our original design of Escape used a map with a predefined amount of actual cubes. Now the pattern of the cubes, which ones were trapped and so on we randomised each time but there was a key flaw. If you could get to the very edge of the ‘arena’ you could wait (hopefully in the right position) and hop on to the escape cube as it did its rounds on a predefined path.

Now the game itself wasn’t particular easy. Play tests have shown that it’s actually fairly hilarious and good to play with a nice low chance but again this was a concern for us. It limited the field of play quite strongly for those that got used to the game and the limited area to squeeze through we foresaw as being problematic.

With this in mind Killermon has been working on it for the past year and I can say design-wise, we now have potentially unlimited cubes for the player to go in any direction with! Now on a more technical level we probably won’t allow for this (at least, not without further testing) even with the heavy levels of occlusion going on to make sure the server doesn’t get totally destroyed. The lack of an arena edge does create bit of a logistical issue on how the player(s) escape – but that’s for us to solve!

With any luck in the new year we’ll have something up and running so you can all finally enter the Cube.

Surf

Surf in terms of groundbreaking design was somewhat stagnant this year. Various things we wanted to accomplish with it ultimately got put on the backburner for one thing or another. Maps were added, maps were removed with some minor adjustments here and there. The biggest features we added were autohop zones and a bonus-lite system as well as the release of the solorun feature. We also standardised the seasonal rewards both in the rewards issued and how many players are rewarded.

Primarily we spent this year refining some of the backend of Surf and fixing outstanding bugs (spectator keyboard anyone?). With 2018 we should see some additional Surf features finally come online that players have been requesting.

Climb

Climb (for those who didn’t see it) was a test to see if it had enough substance for players to enjoy. For those questioning where Climb has been – it’s not been left out in the cold or forgotten about!

There’s a concern with it at the moment in terms of balancing – ie do we balance based on giving the maps their own times, gravity and such. There’s also a strong disparity between maps of a good quality and maps that just make no sense other than they want to give you the ultimate carpal tunnel. Climb is one of the older games that came along with Counterstrike where it’s done the odd thing and not really ever been standardised.

Other gamemodes such as Deathrun, Surf, Gungame and so on all developed their own sub-genres and rulesets whereas Climb just… didn’t. As a result of this we’re trying to work out how to give you the best experience and make it feel rewarding as opposed to just.. jumping simulator 2018.

BBase

Last year I said it was unusual for BBase to be the highlight of a blog post – yet this year it’s a similar story. A whole load of stuff has found its way in to BBase, including but not limited to – Achievements, Crafting, Statistics Tracking / Personal Bests, Item upgrades (full painting), Item outfits, MVP enhancements and so on. Work on these systems continues to streamline it both for ourselves and you, the players and as a result much of this has taken up our time. Almost all of these systems have initially been accepted with open arms; some requiring further tweaks but as a whole I think everyone agrees it was time well spent.

It’s worth mentioning that we did have an unfortunate casualty this year – the group system. Due to a GMod update changing some internal core Steam functions we’ve lost the functionality (or at least, the method to best do it) for the time being. It is being looked in to and we want to get it back ASAP however due to a lack of the C++ API Steam provides by both myself and Killermon, some further research is needed.

Trading

In the works. We’re still having to work out how we plan to solve various issues and to keep it as painless for both yourselves and us. What we don’t want is the great Steam trading disaster for when that first released.

Server Upgrades

While not quite BBase, this year due to unforeseen consequences we changed the entire core of how our servers work. While there were initial teething issues and configuration changes, we can safely say we’ve seen an entirely net benefit from these changes. Having the ability to redirect players to different IPs, mitigate unfortunate events and generally not having to worry about Windows shitting out has all been a refreshing breath of air. We may have older harder powering [BB] but we’ve gave it a new lease of life – and one that means when it finally becomes time to move we can move it without issue in a virtual sense, as opposed to a metal sense.

It was a long time coming to do this and it all proved to be very valuable experience.  A stressful weekend but I would do it again.

Honourable Mentions

Roleplay

Again, this year we had queries about it. Unless there’s one hell of an audience for it that are willing to play – the answer from the last yearly review still stands. Apologies to those that want their fix – it’s just super hard to justify at the moment. If people want to put together a loose wishlist of what they feel would make it fun with a [BB] twist, feel free to do so. The only requirement is you dont make x amount of fucking pointless jobs because why do people even do that.

Trouble in Terrorist Town

For the eagle-eyed, this has been missing since the server infrastructure change. It’ll be back! Probably within the next month or so.

Discord

Yeah, we use Discord now. Apparently cool kids don’t like Mumble or something.

All in all, Discord has proven to be a decent platform to use and it seems players of todays age prefer it more to the old style forums that were previously more common in the past. So we’ll maintain our current Discord for as long as required.

Deathrun

Minor fixes / changes here and there. We now offer a Weekend Madness bonus event for you to earn extra cubes with!

Overall

I’m happy to say that all in all various systems that have since taken root have been effective. Though some were initially a bit slow to come to fruition more people feel they are able to participate easier in [BB] activities. The goal for us now is to try and ensure you all have these activities (and more!) to enjoy and to have fun with your friends.

We hope you’ve enjoyed your time here at [BB] so far and continue to do so. From all of us here at [BB], happy new year.

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