Master your own destiny! Command a nation!

Stress tests and how to ruin the servers’ day

One of the areas we focuse on now is to increase the amount of users our servers can handle at once. This goes for both the action servers (currently limited to 24 people per battle) and the strategy game servers. This post is about the strategy servers.

Of course, we design, build and program the servers, to handle high numbers of players at once. But there will be bugs and unexpected bottlenecks, so we run some internal simulations of lots of people, to test if everything is ok. But no simulation is as good as the real thing, which is why we also run load tests with the players from time to time.

The idea behind the load tests is to get enough people on to get at least one of the servers into trouble. The tests tell us 2 important things:

1) How many people we can handle currently

2) What we need to fix in order to increase that number

In order to maximize the amount of people coming in, we close the servers for about 24 hours leading up to the test, and send out a bunch of new beta keys.

Server timers

A graph showing various timers from the servers.

The tests involves a lot more people than are usually on, so they are usually quite chaotic and the servers are less than perfectly stable. The chat channels are burning with questions from new players (and old), while we on the dev team are focused on the performance data coming from the servers. Stressful as it is, i still think it is fun to be part of.

Last time we had a load test was about two months ago. When we reached 300 users, one of the servers started showing problems and at 600 it had all but given up, and we stopped the test (it was the server that handles statistics about everybody’s kills, deaths, captures, favorite weapons etc.). The good news is that all the other servers seemed to be coping just fine. Since the last test, we have been working on fixing that issue, and we are almost ready for another test. Thanks to everyone who joined!

See you soon for another test.

Intelligence Bulletin Vol 2 * No 26

intelligencebulletingvol02no26 The Dietl build went up last Friday, and we’ve been fixing a few bugs this past week. It was mainly bugs related to the refactored Ribbons/Combat Badges and player rank system, and we believe (fingers crossed) that we have now fixed the most grave bugs related to this.

Some of you might have noticed that some Ribbons and Combat Badges have disappeared or changed, and this is because some of them were awarded wrongfully due to bugs in the backend-system.

You should also be aware, that when you log in you might not see any Ribbons or Combat Badges at all, but after completing one mission, all stats will be re-calculated and the correct Ribbons and Combat Badges will be displayed. This re-calculation only needs to be done once, so it will not happen everytime you log in.

SO… when do we send more keys???

Well, if the Dietl build with all its hotfixes behaves nicely and doesn’t bite, we’ll do a stress-test in the beginning of next week… Including sending 8000 new Beta-keys!

Do you want to receive the weekly Intelligence Bulletin by email? Then go to your Account settings, press ‘Change account settings’, check ‘I want to receive weekly development updates’ and press save!

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1000 Pre-stresstest Beta-keys sent

The Dietl build is up, but before we run a massive stress test and send thousands of new Beta-keys, we’ve just sent 1000 new keys to see if the servers can handle that. So open your inbox and check if you’ve received one!

It can take up to a few hours for a mail to find it’s way, so remember to check again later today and also check your junk/spam folder.

The stress test will probably be held next week, and a larger number of Beta-keys will be sent for that occasion.

See you on the Battlefield!

Strategy! Features and sneak peek at changes to Assault Teams!

We’ve been awfully silent, due to the fact that most of us have been on vacation for the last couple of weeks. So in order to get back in gear after the summer, we’ve decided to show you what we’re going to be working towards with the strategy game.

The current mockup of our upcoming revamp of the Assault Team ScreenWarning: Clicking on the picture opens a new browser window that is running a Flash Website with a concept demo of the coming Assault Team screen!

Read on to find out what features we’re planning to get up and running.

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Intelligence Bulletin Vol 2 * No 25

intelligencebulletingvol02no25 We’re slowly picking up speed now that most devs are back from vacation, and the offices are starting to buzz again.

We’ve just deployed Dietl on the live server, and if it doesn’t cause too many problems, we’ll do a server stress test sometime next week.

The upcoming stress test also means that we’ll send a quite large number of new beta-key, and we’ll also try to gather all the veteran alpha- and beta-players to participate in the stress test.

But if you do have a key, and access to the game, you’re able to play the new Dietl build now, and please remember to submit crash-reports, submit bugs and give us feedback in the forum!

In other news: Google Chrome has now officially been released in version 21, which means that you can only install new plugins/extensions through the Chrome Webstore.

The impact is has on Heroes & Generals is, that you can’t install Heroes & Generals through Chrome at the moment. The immediate workaround is to use another browser, but we’re working hard on a new installer. However, if you have already installed our “retox” plugin you can still access and play the game.

Do you want to receive the weekly Intelligence Bulletin by email? Then go to your Account settings, press ‘Change account settings’, check ‘I want to receive weekly development updates’ and press save!

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Do Zombies eat Bacon? – In DayZ they do!

So sometime last week I was sitting in our chat while at the office as usual and Fontan comes along. We chatted a little bit and I called him a traitor because he was talking about this new game that he just started playing called DayZ.
He gave me his sales speech on it and caught my attention.

bac2 One..two..three..many zombies

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Tutorials, accessibility and usability

usability “…now, where do I start…?”

Heroes & Generals can be a quite deep and complex game, if you want to explore all the possibilities of the game, but it’s our goal to be able to present it to new players in a simple and fun way. So, we’re currently discussing at the office, how to make Heroes & Generals easier and more intuitive to newcomers.

H&G is in its core a shooter, and it’s our intention to make a shooter that is easy to learn, but hard to master.

The strategy/campaign part of the game is truly what makes H&G unique, but it’s also what might confuse a lot of new players and might scare them off, before they even get to play the shooter part. And basically we need a lot of players who just want to play the shooter part of the game compared to the amount of players needed for the strategy part of the game, so we really need to find a great way of introducing the game in an easy and “edible” way.

But before we reveal our thoughts on this matter, we would like to hear your unbiased thoughts.

So, in your opinion, what can we do to make H&G easier to get started with for new players?

Should we make a tutorial, and what should the tutorial go through? Should we hide the campaign/strategy part of the game for new players? Should we make a mentor-system, where experienced players can train noobs, and in that case, how should we design it?

Please post all ideas and comments in this forum thread:

Intelligence Bulletin Vol 2 * No 24

intelligencebulletingvol02no24 The nice weather has finally hit Scandinavia, and luckily it is in the week where the majority of the Reto-team is on vacation. The offices are quite empty, but those left behind are working hard to stabilize the servers, fixing bugs and tweaking stuff.

The Dietl build is now on our stable server (the last step before reaching the live server), and with a little luck we might be able to deploy it to the live server next week. If Dietl behaves nicely there, we’ll set up a server stress-test and send a huge batch of new beta-keys. But as always: we might encounter issues that will delay things!

The most prominent feature (or fix) in Dietl is a new stats-database and backend-system for handling character and player stats. While it seems invisible to you when you play, it’s really what has stopped us from pushing huge numbers of Beta-keys out the door. The old system was unfortunately too slow and couldn’t scale as well as we had hoped. But this just reminds us of why we’re still in closed beta, and haven’t opened the doors yet.

Quite a few interviews and previews has been published during the past 4 weeks, and we have also published a handful of interesting Developer Blogs, which you can see below… Oh, and sorry for a quite “thin” Team Debriefing, but even game developers need som R&R. ;)

Let’s proceed…

Do you want to receive the weekly Intelligence Bulletin by email? Then go to your Account settings, press ‘Change account settings’, check ‘I want to receive weekly development updates’ and press save!

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What are you waiting for soldier? We need heroes on the battlefield and generals to lead them!