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Squad Alpha 15 Released

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Hey squaddies!

Alpha 15 is freshly deployed and ready for action. If you haven’t auto-downloaded the update, why not check out the patch video while it downloads?

Yep: they’re finally coming! The first iteration of tutorials! Here’s to all the squad leaders who braved the Summer Sale. Oh, and let’s not forget the 550RPM death machine that is the BMP-2.

Read on for the full list of changes:

Alpha 15 Patch Notes

Systems



  • Added an Infantry Tutorial orientated at teaching new players the basic ropes of Squad.
  • Added an Interface Tutorial that teaches the Deployment interface in a first-time event capacity.
  • Added the ability to load and unload supplies via the Vehicle Interaction Radial Menu. This allows players to load and unload supplies via one common menu now, from any seat or outside of the vehicle. This also allows multiple players to unload the vehicle faster than if it was just one player. Increased rate of loading/unloading to 100 points every 0.5 seconds, making the process a little less slow.
  • You will not be able to load or unload supplies from a vehicle while it is moving.
  • Removed old Left Click/Right Click system for loading and unloading supplies.
  • Removed Voice Command system temporarily pending further internal development.



Game Modes
  • Territory Control: Increased hex capture times from 40 seconds to 45 seconds.
  • Territory Control: Added a more dynamic ticket bleed system.
  • Territory Control: Added TC Layers to all maps.
  • New RAAS layers added to Belaya, Chora, Fools Road, Gorodok, Kamdesh, Kohat, Kokan, Skorpo, Sumari, and Yehorivka.
  • Invasion – added more Random Invasion layers.



Infantry Gameplay
  • Increased RPG7 HEAT penetration capability from 320mm RHA to 400mm RHA.
  • Increased RPG26 penetration capability from 320mm RHA to 440mm RHA.
  • Set all LAT rockets (British High Penetration AT4 included) to have a minimum arming distance of 25m.
  • Set all HAT rockets and ATGMs to have a minimum arming distance of 40m.
  • Added a visual effect and audio for when a UGL grenade or rocket impacts a surface before being armed, helping give feedback to the player that the target was too close.
  • Fixed British High Penetration AT4 variant not dealing more penetration and damage compared to its US Army counterpart.
  • Fixed the RPG7 Fragmentation round doing way more penetration than intended.
  • Decreased damage value of the US Army AT-4 (from 1400 to 1248).
  • Increased damage value of the M3 Carl Gustav HEAT round (from 960 to 1248).
  • Updated Militia kits to have less SKS rifles and more AK74 rifles.
  • Set all LAT kits to have 2 smoke grenades.
  • Added binoculars to all HAT kits that do not have rifle scopes.
  • Added binoculars to RU LAT kits that do not have rifle scopes.
  • Fixed 50m sight alignment on the L85A2 AG36 Grenade Launcher.
  • Fixed snapping in movement while going from Prone to Standing while you have your bipod deployed.
  • Fixed a bug where weapon accuracy parameters like sway and recoil are being reset by switching weapons.
  • Fixed a bug where it consumes a field dressing when bandaging already bandaged soldiers.
Vehicle Gameplay



  • Added the BMP-2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle. This is a second-generation Russian IFV, succeeding the BMP-1 from the 1980s. The BMP-2 has a 3-man crew and can hold up to 7 passengers. It is armed with a 30mm auto-cannon firing AP or HE ammunition at a blistering 550 rounds per minute. It comes with a turret-mounted Konkurs ATGM for dealing with heavily armored threats. Additionally, it has a standard PKT 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and smoke grenade launchers for smokescreening.
  • Added the BMP-1 ZU-23 Anti-Air Variant. This variant basically replaces the turret on the BMP-1 with an external, manually operated ZU-23 Anti-Air Autocannon.



  • Made vehicle radial menu accessible even if the vehicle is not claimed by your squad or you’re not a crewman if the vehicle is on your team.
  • Tweaked vehicle claiming system numbers:
    • 2 vehicles require 2 squad members
    • 3 vehicles require 4 squad members
    • 4 vehicles require 6 squad members.
  • Fixed an issue where vehicle ATGMs were not dealing damage beyond 500m.
  • Increased armor on the Challenger 2’s lower glacis to 300mm RHA.
  • Fixed a bug where the BMP-1 was not getting destroyed by ammo-cookoff.
  • Increased the amount of time to get into a truck or light vehicle from 0.75 seconds to 1 second.
  • Fixed firing sounds on the BMP-1’s coaxial machine gun.
  • Fixed Uparmored FV510 for missing an ammo compartment.
  • Improved handling on the MT-LB series vehicles.
  • Fixed issue that allowed BMP-1 to bypass reloading time near Vehicle Repair Depot.
  • Fixed modifier for HAT damage type on the BMP-1 (and BMP-2). For example, it will go down to 10% HP (and start burning) after getting hit by a TOW missile.
  • Resized and moved ammo rack component on BMP-1 & BMP-2 to be fully covered by the engine and no-penetration block to help minimize probability for vehicles to get cooked off by enemy fire from the front.
  • Enabled all unarmored vehicles (technicals, trucks etc) to receive indirect (AoE splash) fragmentation damage.

Deployables Gameplay
  • FOB Radios will disable spawning on HAB’s if the Radio has been damaged and its health has fallen below 75%.
  • All HASCO related deployables have had their visuals updated.
  • Mortar damage against deployable structures was increased.

User Interface
  • Re-Added Spawn Confirmation. This should reduce the chances of accidentally spawning in when you are trying to see the wait timers for each spawn location.
  • Added a global notification for when objectives are either met or lost. (E.g. Flag neutralizations, captures, cache objective destroyed, etc.)
  • Added a dynamic list of vehicles that are on the currently played map layer. The list is accessible as a button next to the map legends.
  • Added a Favorites filter in the Server Browser.
  • Added British Army, Insurgent, Russian Army, and Irregular Militia victory jingle.
  • Added 10 second delay before incap player can use Medic Callout button and increased the Medic Callout interval from every 5 seconds to every 30 seconds.
  • Improved the look of the Vehicle Repair Tooltip. If you have a Vehicle Repair Toolkit, the tooltip allows you to see how badly each individual component is damaged similar to the HUD when in a vehicle driver seat.
  • Reordered the items in the Key Bindings Window to be more logical.
  • Fixed Invasion Game Mode flags not having lock icons when they are actually not able to be recaptured by the defending side.
  • Grouped kit role request into its own sub-menu in the Vehicle Interaction Radial Menu.
  • Reordered Role variants to have Ironsight variants first, then Red-Dots then Optics.
  • Fixed Medic, LAT, and HAT kits showing up as unavailable (Red) in Role Loadout and Role Quick Select menu when they actually are available.
  • Changed label on the Deployment Menu for Team Selection to “Teams / Game Mode Info”.
  • Changed magazine image to show up as grey as opposed to jet black when empty for visibility when in vehicles.
  • Removed old First Time Event help prompts.
  • Modding UI changes.
Maps



  • Substantially improved performance on Kohat Toi River Valley, Tallil Outskirts, and Gorodok maps. Other maps, including Skorpo and Yehorivka, are being optimized and will continue to receive improvements in upcoming releases.
  • Visually updated Gorodok and Yehorivka.
  • Improved collisions on Tallil’s residential buildings and improved performance.
  • Updated foliage and landscape on Gorodok for improved, blended appearance.
  • Fools Road lighting & foliage updated.
  • Fixed Sumari staging zones to prevent players from jumping over. Don’t be AWOL, squaddie.
  • Changed collision on traffic signs so they don’t stop vehicles anymore.
Map Optimizations and Improvements

Kohat, Tallil, and Gorodok received substantial optimizations and some visual improvements to increase performance and to bring the visual quality of our maps up to our standards. This includes new assets replacing old ones, as well as some different methods being used on our landscapes.

Gorodok

System Specs:

  • Mobo: Asus Maximus VIII Ranger Intel Z170
  • CPU: Intel i7 6700K @ 4.5GHz
  • GPU: Asus ROG Strix GTX 1080
  • RAM: 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX, 3000MHz
  • SSD: 512GB Samsung SM951 M.2 PCI-e (C:)
  • Resolution: 3840×2160. Disabled AA, High Settings
Main Comparison



Interactive Demo[imgsli.com]

In some areas of Gorodok we’ve managed to drop the number of Triangles by approximately 5m, Draw Calls by about 2k, and for GPU timings we’ve gone from ~20ms to ~14ms, totaling up to an increase of nearly 16 FPS on this particular system and configuration. These are substantial numbers and bring the map down towards our new standards derived from research and investigations related to Squad-specific maps.

While there are some guidelines and tips out there for creating well-optimized scenes, Squad is an entirely different kind of beast when it comes to levels in Unreal Engine 4, so we had to dig deep and come up with some numbers that suit our game.

Please note that the numbers you see on your systems and configurations will vary, but overall everyone should be seeing some gains in one form or another.

Layer Usage



Interactive Demo[imgsli.com]

This layer usage comparison shows the number of landscape layers used per component. We have seen some performance problems surface on components that had 8 or more layers in the past, so we decided that our new landscape shaders would have to contain fewer layers. This combined with removing minimally used layers, unused layers, and consolidating some layers into one allowed us to increase performance on the landscape. As you can see, we got the numbers down from 13/12/11 to 6/5/4 on the majority of components.

Layer Density



Interactive Demo[imgsli.com]

Here is a snippet of some of the changes we did across these maps:

Adjusted Landscape Components

After analysis, we found that some of our older landscapes weren’t as optimized in terms of their technical set up. We experimented with different values and found some that work well visually, retain the landscape silhouette and, most importantly, improve performance by reducing the number of draw calls required by our landscapes.

Adjusted Landscape LODs

The new landscape components allowed us to revise and improve the way our landscapes LOD down, this is something we managed to unify throughout the 3 maps and can apply to other maps.

Adjusted AO settings

Ambient Occlusion can become extremely expensive, especially at higher resolutions. We did some research and managed to standardise our AO settings across our maps, drastically improving performance at the higher resolutions. This is something that isn’t as noticeable unless you play at 1440p and above – but it’s a great change for all.

Created new Landscape Shaders

These new landscape shaders are cheaper for performance costs and they have been more streamlined as well as improved in visual quality. This will allow us to roll out upgrades much more easily and ensure we have consistency across different shaders which makes maintenance a lot faster and straightforward.

Removed unused Landscape Shader layers

New shaders also allowed us to analyse and reduce the number of layers we use on our landscape. After research and investigations, we found a sweet spot for the number of layers that allow flexibility for our Level Designers and Environment Artists but also ensured that we do not create a large performance impact. As a point of reference, there have been parts on maps like Fool’s Road and Yehorivka that drop players’ FPS and these have been confirmed to be a result of too many layers used on one component, increasing layer density.

Implemented Atmospheric Fog

This is a big step in preparation for helicopters as our old Exponential Height Fog was only visible at lower heights and ground level. Additionally, a fog that isn’t limited by height and is more physically accurate allows us to play with better lighting and colours, bringing more life into our levels.

Fixed LODs on Static Meshes

These general fixes provided a huge boost in performance in dense areas such as the villages in Tallil. On the system above it brought up the numbers from ~30 FPS to 60 FPS on High Settings.

Miscellaneous Bug Fixes
  • Fixed rocket engine motor effects still playing after the rocket has exploded.
  • Fixed missing hat on one of the Insurgent soldiers as it LOD transitioned.
  • Fixed first person mesh oddities when exiting Admin Cam.
  • Attempted fix for ragdoll issues caused by origin rebasing
  • Fixed a bug where you bandage gets consumed after you patch already patched soldier.
  • Fixed couple of server and client crashes.



Known Issues
  • ATGMs projectile desync for other players that are not gunner, however, what the gunner sees should be the true synced projectile.
  • Certain effects do not blend with fog on some layers.

Sign Off

As always, a huge thanks to all of you who helped tests this one and get it ready to roll. Enjoy the BMP-2, comrades! Alpha 16 when?

Continue reading...
 

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