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Before we get started, I implore you to read through our Season 3 Developer Blog if you haven’t just yet. We covered a lot about how the development team here at Evil Mojo Games is approaching 2020 and beyond in that post, which is going to continue into today’s discussion. We know Paladins has had a rocky history, but the team is confident that we can actively compete with the best games throughout the year!
Working towards our goal of a higher-quality Paladins experience in 2020, we are removing both Killcam and Top Play in our upcoming patch. In their place we will be introducing Death Cards, Commendations, an improved post-match lobby landing screen, and fixes for numerous Death Recap bugs, which will be detailed in our Update Notes tomorrow.
Killcam and Top Play ride the same infrastructure, which has continued to plague our development team since its inception. While we know these systems add value to the player experience on a match-by-match basis, they have actively been working against the game’s success in the long run, costing us valuable developer hours better spent elsewhere. To highlight the tech behind many of these struggles, I wanted to give the stage to one of our Gameplay Programmers – EvilMojoNervousEnergy:
“At the heart of our internal issue when it comes to maintaining Killcam and Top Play is the tech they both share to accomplish replaying a sequence of gameplay from the past. Rewinding to and replaying a sequence of the game is accomplished by having the server which is hosting the match re-send any locations of players, changes of game state, or gameplay events as they occurred during that period of time in the game.
This process is usually fine, but it can lead to extremely weird behavior when the Killcam or the Top Play begins or ends in the middle of an animation or major change in a character. A lot of the things modern champions can do were never considered when the system for replaying Killcams or Top Plays was first implemented, and our QA department can attest to how comically bad things can get if a Killcam begins or ends in the middle of a player rewinding space and time, summoning and controlling a dragon, or using their Ultimate to resurrect themselves in clear defiance of nature and common sense.
In short, our animators, tech artists, and programmers are often forced to implement everything twice: once for normal gameplay and again acknowledging that every change of state or animation can begin or end suddenly or completely out of order. This is simply chaos, but even so, we were initially confident that we could do better than in the past. When we first discussed the possibility of removing Killcam and Top Play, the team was willing to accept the added difficulties that the underlying tech brings in order to keep this feature for those who enjoy it and for the wonderful (sometimes funny) Top Plays that we see our community post.
The biggest factor in our decision to remove the tech, though, was the issue that we can never fully eliminate: the fact that the killer, the enemy, and the server may all have a slightly different perspective on what happened. As much as we are able to mask this issue for our players, we can never reconcile a sequence of events in the past so that both the killer and the enemy would be satisfied in-game. When a player tells the server where they will move and shoot, it will almost certainly take one tenth to one half of a second for the server to receive their command and relay it to other players because of net ping. Players don’t recognize this issue in-game due to prediction, and by having the server validate your shots against where the other player would have been when you actually fired, but from any individual player’s perspective, the server is viewing the game either slightly in the past or slightly in the future.
This is most apparent when a Killcam or Top Play may seem to show someone continuously firing slightly behind someone and still hitting them, because to the server the enemy is where they are seen in the replay, it will treat them as where they would have been slightly in the past for the purpose of validating the killer’s shots. Worse, it would almost certainly lead to even more ways for Killcam and Top Play to break things; it would look unfair to the victim(s); and even then, it may not eliminate all inconsistencies from the killer’s perspective.”
As EvilMojoNervousEnergy just touched on, the poor implementation of Killcam and Top Play has caused our team to spend thousands of hours over the years fixing each new bug that appears – leaving many long-time bugs that we cannot fix without rebuilding the entire system. This year, we feel our time is better spent polishing the core gameplay experience and fixing bugs that hold Paladins back as a game.
We have watched in frustration as players are turned away from bugs only found in, or caused by, the Killcam and Top Play systems. Whether it’s a T-Posing character, looping audio that does not stop, or a Champion being displayed in the completely wrong location, bugs entirely exclusive to Killcam and Top Play are far too present in-game. While experienced players have become complacent with many of these issues, they actively turn away players who assume those bugs are occurring in the actual match.
This isn’t something we want to continue seeing in our community as Paladins moves forward with year, and we’re really looking forward to talking about our new Death Cards, Commendations, post-match lobby improvements, and more in our Update Notes show tomorrow!
If you haven’t marked your calendar yet? Be sure to – we’ll see you at 12:00pm ET on the official PaladinsGame channels!
Ahead of our Update Notes, we wanted to share the issues which have been addressed due to the removal of our Killcam and Top Play systems. Some may still occur due to an end-of-round transition, but at a significantly reduced rate. If you are still experiencing any of these, please report them so we can continue to investigate!