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  1. #1
    Community Developer UbiSpectre's Avatar
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    Exclamation Road To Launch

    Character Design Part 1
    Follow the first steps towards the future of GRO character design

    Ghost Recon has always embodied the cutting edge of tomorrow’s technological warfare and GRO must uphold that legacy. As part of the Road to Launch and rebranding efforts, the look and feel of the GRO classes is about to go back to the future. Say goodbye to the baggy, clunky machinery slowing down your Ghost and say hello to the sleek and sexy future. Marlo our GRO Art Director is here with his vision of that future.

    How do we predict the future of warfare? Marlo and his team start with the world today.



    Our inspiration comes from new ergonomics which allow Olympians to move faster on land or in water. We see militaries creeping towards the world of Robocop and soldiers armed from head to toe like 80’s nightmares. Technology is pushing the limits of bullet proof armor with new materials and back-to-basics chainmail approaches for lighter gear. As Ubisoft we can even look in our own backyard at the technologies used in Future Soldier and Sam Fisher’s Tac Suit from Splinter Cell.

    It’s important to make the future feel tangible and avoid crossing over into Sci-fi. To establish realism it’s best to draw on familiar modern warfare and take it a few steps further. We will further incorporate the tactical vests of modern soldiers along with the gritty feel of tan camouflage and desert apparel as it is the most relevant to current affairs and builds a foundation for tomorrow.

    Next we look at the future of technology. Most of us watched PCs and cellphones get smarter, smaller and sleeker every year, which is to be expected in technical progress. As the most dynamic aspect of GRO gameplay, devices play a key role in GRO’s identity and will go through a similar progression in the new rebranding.

    All devices will be upgraded and streamlined to fit into the new fantasy while still packing the same punch. Most devices will shift to a modular system where both devices for one class will work with light-weight interchangeable components. 

    Here is an early render for the Specialist class devices, which are now variants of the same core device displayed with a tube attachment for AEGIS (left) and the core cover removed for BLACKOUT (right).



    The Recon class will function in a similar way with a single core unit on the back and additional attachments on the lower back, visor and shoulder to differentiate between CLOAK (left) and ORACLE (right).



    The Assault class still has a long way to go to being modular but here’s an early render of the new retractable BLITZ Shield.



    Marlo also shared a glimpse of the new character sizes for each class, which reflect their combat roles and play styles. Beefy, shield-bearing Assaults will now be larger than the shorter, more-agile Recons.



    Despite the visible difference in size between the three classes, the composite to the right shows that the ultimate difference is only slight. This difference in size will have zero impact on your ability to hit each of the classes, as Marlo explains in full technical detail:

    "We use collision volume for hit detection and those volumes are composed of primitives that are assigned to areas on the player body. The multipliers are then assigned to those volumes to determine the damage, but the volumes are a little smaller than the actual body mesh which means you can shoot parts of the character without dealing any damage (mostly fringe areas of the character).”

    Simply put: Size doesn’t matter because the system interprets each as identical and has historically always left a tiny fringe area that cannot be hit.

    These are only a few of the many updates to character design coming and we’ll keep you posted all along the Road to Launch!

  2. #2
    Community Developer UbiSpectre's Avatar
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    Map Changes Part 1 - Shearwater 51
    Find out about exciting design changes to Shearwater 51

    Hi Everyone,

    With the big launch coming soon, I’m very excited to unveil our new design changes for the classic Shearwater 51 map. Soon to be renamed to “The Rig”, our goal with these changes is to deliver more atmospheric immersion as well as encourage tactical gameplay and reduce spawn camping. Today I’ll walk you through the main changes step by step.

    Immersion
    Immersion starts the moment you enter the map and now that includes the horse you rode in on. We’ve added a helicopter to build a sense of purpose, urgency and realism (you certainly didn’t swim to the rig).



    Just as you drop down from the spawn you’ll face your first tactical decision of right or left and our new barrier against spawn camping.



    Defenders looking for an easy spawn sweep will be forced to take the stairs and pushed into the line of fire. We’ve also made it more difficult to spawn camp by reducing the space on both sides of the barrier and providing more cover the attacking team.

    Point A

    The infamous flanking route of point A now takes players down to a new third floor below the main platform, where they can safely dodge sniper fire, but face new dangers both above and below.



    To further add to the atmosphere, many of the overhead props have been removed to create open spaces throughout the map, which are then often divided into fire lanes. In the case of point A, the lanes force players to tactically decide between the upstairs or downstairs. This applies to both teams and continues up the approach to point C with new routes both above and below.



    Point B

    While strategically very much the same, we’ve modified point B to include more open space and changed the props to differentiate points A and B further as well as reduce spawn camping.



    Approaching point C from point B has one significant change, which involves the stair case on the far right approach.



    Now defenders can advance from either side of the stairs and attackers will be concentrated into a tighter fire lane.

    Point C

    This is where the real magic happens. The action on point C is intense and players were traditionally bottlenecked in the center in few tightly packed spaces with few tactical options. Here you can see in this DNA heat map the concentration of movement for both teams in an average match.



    To alleviate the tight cluster shown on the right-hand side and allow the defenders more viable routes to clear attackers, we’ve modified the cover and created an additional left lane. This is designed to encourage less chaotic fighting and more tactical coordination for both teams.



    We’ve also completely changed the lower level to remove dead space, add to the immersion with additional open space and force teams through a specific tactical route.



    Together these changes further enhance the open feel of being on an oilrig, add depth to the tactical maneuvering and provide a more balanced experience for both teams. These are only a few of the modifications we’ve made to Shearwater 51 – we hope you enjoy finding them all. Keep an eye out for more map modifications to other great maps on the way soon!

    Happy hunting,

    Mark

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    Learn about big plans for AMM and the user experience

    Along the Road to Launch we’re improving many facets of the GRO experience, which includes changes to our matchmaking system and overall user interface experience. Today we’ll be joined by our Design Manager, Simon, and Lead UX/UI Artist, Johnson, as we take a sneak peek at big changes to come.
    Automatic Matchmaking – AMM

    One of the oldest and most intensely debated issues in GRO history, matchmaking is as mysterious to most of the Dev team as it is to you. The most recent brave soul to tackle the subject is Simon our Design Manager, whose plans for change are summed up as: “What do we want? To keep it simple.”

    The main goals of matchmaking are creating balanced matches and allowing every player to contribute and have fun. Other important considerations include: Waiting time to find a match, network lag and the ability to play with friends. Changes made for one goal have important consequences for the others and this is where the difficulty begins.

    Adjusting the system starts with managing its four components:

    1. Player performance: A score given to each player to estimate performance level which allows the other components to predict a balanced match
    2. Match finder: Finds suitable players to put in matches based on performance and latency
    3. Team balancer: Allocates players to teams to form balanced matches
    4. Hot-join manager: Finds players to fill on-going matches


    AMM is a tool for predicting balanced matches, but even a good prediction can’t anticipate a player’s performance on a given day, team chemistry or the size of the player pool online. If a low number of players are searching for a match, it severely limits AMM’s ability to predict accurately in a decent amount of time, which should be improved very quickly with the upcoming launch and marketing push.

    Simon and his team have already begun to explore several options, thanks to new tools developed to simulate its effects on the total population without having to deploy on live servers. This has already brought crucial issues and limitations to light.

    Here are just a few of the many changes we’re planning for the future:

    • Tweak key elements within the match finder and team balancer to improve team balance
    • Rebalance the performance score to reward players properly for working as a team and exhibiting encouraged behavior (not camping for kills)
    • Shift the AMM focus away from faster match times and increase focus on balancing first
    • Improve hot-joining to better serve players already in matches and those searching for them


    User Interface (UI) changes

    Many of the upcoming UI changes along the Road to Launch are centered around our rebranding efforts, but others are based on tech changes and general improvements with three overall goals in mind: Aligning with our rebrand, enhancing the player’s sense of identity and improving usability. Johnson, our Lead UX/UI artist, took the time to explain the high-level changes and share some of his work.

    Rebranding Ghost Recon Online means a lot of work for all of our art teams and the UI team is no exception. As the start of our look and feel changes, UI impacts your experience both in-game and in the lobby. Changing the color scheme is an important step that will drive the user experience away from the previous warm and casual feel to a darker more serious tone that better reflects the story elements, serious military setting and the hardcore feel of GRO firefights. This also includes modifying various icons and medals to give you the same familiar feel and clarity with a sleek new look.

    One of the key direction shifts is placing further emphasis on every player as an individual and less on playing a specific class. To make this happen, you will no longer need to select a class at sign-in but in the match lobby – this also draws more attention to the needs of your team. Another example is displaying your achievements as a persona in the profile leaderboards section to show how your persona develops over time.

    Usability changes impact many things such as: Click feedback, spatial arrangements, pop ups and the user flow within menus and various lobby screens. Changes include condensing clan functionality to a single screen to optimize use, differentiating pop ups to enhance their impact or separating chat into new fields to improve ease of use. The chat system will ultimately be separated from other client functions in order to provide more channels without impacting gameplay service as well as be able to display the total population instead of limited rooms of 50.

    We hope you look forward to these changes as much as we do. Find out about other changes and big plans in the next Road to Launch announcement!

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    Road to Launch – Map Changes Part 2
    Read about coming changes to Korolyov Towers

    Hi Ghosts,

    Senior Level Designer Mark, here again to share with you changes to another map: Korolyov Towers or soon to be known as: “Towers”. We’re making a number of changes to both the overall atmosphere and strategic gameplay that I think you’ll enjoy.

    Previously Korolyov was made to feel like you were in the bustling heart of a city, with plenty of light and lots of white noise such as traffic. We wanted to create a totally new, dark and stormy mood for Towers and replace the white noise with sounds of the storm to draw players into the drama of assailing the rooftops or holding them for dear life. To balance the darkness we’ve added a new series of lights throughout the map as well as increased the ambient light by removing large portions of the beams and ceiling, which makes the map feel more like an open roof.



    Point A


    Strategically speaking, the most immediate change comes with the drop to point A, which now features additional cover on the left flank to assist attackers.



    Point A also has a major change in the center island of the map, which no longer has either the center pillar or center box for players to climb onto. This has two effects: Snipers now have a clear shot across the center on both sides and players are now forced to choose between taking the left or right flank.

    Point B and Defender Spawn

    While point B doesn’t have any strategic changes, the ceiling was modified to allow more ambient light and certain props were changed. A more important strategic change was made to the Defender Spawn zone just behind point B, where players will no longer be able to camp up top and fire at point A.



    Point C
    While point C may not be visually much different, there is one crucial change to the left flank. Now attackers pushing down the left flank will have an alternate route.



    This new route will take attackers up and around the defenders, dropping them nicely onto point C.



    Adding this route creates a powerful way for attackers to advance the line, at the cost of being easy nade targets and easily exposed when they wish to leave it. The goal of this new route is to alleviate the stalemate and bottleneck that forms easily at the bottom of the left stairs and provide players a way to dodge skilled snipers.

    As always, changes to any map are designed to encourage innovative gameplay and force players to make meaningful choices as they advance against their enemies. Hope you enjoy the new look and feel as well as gameplay of the Towers map!

    Happy Cloak Sniping,

    Mark

    Join in the community discussion HERE.
    Last edited by Silvanoshi; 02-07-2014 at 05:06 PM.

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    Road to Launch – Map Changes Part 3
    Map Relighting and You – an illuminative guide

    Art Director Marlo is back to enlighten us about key lighting changes to come on classic maps and to highlight how this will impact you as a player. The Road to Launch is the perfect time for Marlo and his team to shine, as they brighten the player’s experience. As Marlo put it himself:

    "The goal of the map relighting is to create a much variety as possible in terms of player experience. We will create stronger and more unique moods for each map so that they can become more memorable, enhance the level design intentions and ultimately enrich the gameplay experience on these maps”


    Tactically speaking, relighting resolves the murky issue of lighting for different graphic settings. Marlo and his team were struck with the bright idea of baking shadows into the maps with a new engine to produce shadows offline.

    “Maps that have gone through the relighting process would also have baked shadows when switching to low settings. Aside from making the map look better on low settings, this will make gameplay more balanced as areas that are meant to be dark or bright, will still remain on the same level of brightness regardless of graphic settings.”


    The brilliance of this plan shines through especially in two recently-documented, open-air maps: The Rig and Towers.

    Towers

    Say goodbye to blue skies, as the clouds creep in over Korolyov (soon to be known as “Towers”). Towers will now feature a unique, heavy-overcast sky to produce a gloomy and cold feel and be the single brightest value on the map. For Marlo the objective is:

    “To take advantage of the building structure silhouettes which are dimly lit against a relatively bright sky. We will also take advantage of the heavy use of lines in the map by placing some spotlight accents to highlight important parts of the map and create interesting light and shadow effects from the detailed geometry. To top it all off, we will have a post-rain effect on the ground to increase the feeling of depression on the level."




    The Rig

    Our other Onslaught map will also get its moment in the sun, as Marlo and his team work their magic on The Rig (Shearwater 51). A new day is dawning on The Rig, which will provide a unique experience for players that reinforces the feeling of fighting on a huge, industrial platform out at sea.

    "For The Rig, we will focus on the experience of being isolated in the middle of a vast ocean. The time of day will be changed to sunrise so the players can see the horizon better and enhance that feeling of isolation. The mood will be very cold in terms of ambient light, but comfortingly warm under the lights inside the oilrig.”




    Stay tuned for more glittering changes to other classic maps such as Markov Station on the Road to Launch.

    Join in the community discussion HERE .

  6. #6
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    More details on Character Design...

    ---

    Road to Launch – Character Design Part 2

    Check out the second installment of upcoming design changes

    In the Road to Launch – Character Design Part 1 [LINK] we discussed the keys to making the future of warfare tangible as well as revealed the new streamlined devices. Today we get a sneak peek at the look and feel of the characters as well as reveal the first renders of the new HEAT device.

    As mentioned in the last update, the goal of these visual design changes is to make each class feel more streamlined and futuristic, while remaining believable. Here is an early render of the three classes in their new tactical suits.



    The Specialist is armed to the teeth, but not a blunt force attacker, which is seen through his comparative size, light-weight headgear and collection of electronics. The Assault is all action and covered from head to toe with new armor. As warfare evolves, so too must the soldier; the Assault’s bulky exoskeleton will be replaced with biological enhancements to his leg muscles. Elusive as always, the Recon is sleeker and now protected with light-weight, protective materials.

    HEAT will undergo the most drastic design change of all the devices and arguably the most drastic change in all of the GRO rebrand. Based on technology employed on the battlefield today, the slow crane action of the HEAT device will be replaced with a floating, Active Denial System (ADS) drone.





    Welcome to the future of frying your enemies alive. Deployed from the back of the Assault, this drone will have the identical function as the previous microwave emitter, but now look 10x cooler. Once released, the drone will be propelled by two sets of rotors to supply lift and a third for stability and turning.

    Find out about more updates on the Road to Launch coming soon.

    Join in the community discussion HERE .

  7. #7
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    More details on Character Design...

    ---

    Road to Launch – Character Design Part 2

    Check out the second installment of upcoming design changes

    In the Road to Launch – Character Design Part 1 [LINK] we discussed the keys to making the future of warfare tangible as well as revealed the new streamlined devices. Today we get a sneak peek at the look and feel of the characters as well as reveal the first renders of the new HEAT device.

    As mentioned in the last update, the goal of these visual design changes is to make each class feel more streamlined and futuristic, while remaining believable. Here is an early render of the three classes in their new tactical suits.



    The Specialist is armed to the teeth, but not a blunt force attacker, which is seen through his comparative size, light-weight headgear and collection of electronics. The Assault is all action and covered from head to toe with new armor. As warfare evolves, so too must the soldier; the Assault’s bulky exoskeleton will be replaced with biological enhancements to his leg muscles. Elusive as always, the Recon is sleeker and now protected with light-weight, protective materials.

    HEAT will undergo the most drastic design change of all the devices and arguably the most drastic change in all of the GRO rebrand. Based on technology employed on the battlefield today, the slow crane action of the HEAT device will be replaced with a floating, Active Denial System (ADS) drone.





    Welcome to the future of frying your enemies alive. Deployed from the back of the Assault, this drone will have the identical function as the previous microwave emitter, but now look 10x cooler. Once released, the drone will be propelled by two sets of rotors to supply lift and a third for stability and turning.

    Find out about more updates on the Road to Launch coming soon.

    Join in the community discussion HERE .

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    Road to Launch – New Features & Gameplay Changes
    Checkout surprising gameplay updates on the way

    Today we’re proud to reveal game-changing features in the works for the Road to Launch. Here once again to enlighten us is the wizard behind the curtain: Design Manager, Simon.

    Tactical Insertion

    Do you hate running all the way back from spawn to join the action? Ever wish you could spawn closer to a teammate? Following the release of “Tactical Teams,” we now present: “Tactical Insertion”. The first of its kind, Tactical Insertion falls under a new category of tools known as, “Field Supports,” which add a new layer of strategy to the GRO experience.

    How does it work? Once equipped, when you die you have the option of spawning next to your Tactical Teammate instead of the regular spawn zone. Turn a lone Recon or last man standing instantly into a deadly duo. Imagine not only bypassing the hike from point C to A, but also spawning deep behind enemy lines next to your Tactical Teammate. All players can equip this powerful device but each use has a cool down period. Prepare to enter the fight faster and always be ready for enemies to drop in on you!

    ABI – ATHENA Battlefield Intelligence

    The latest innovation in ATHENA Squad Combat Systems is the ATHENA Battlefield Intelligence or ABI System. Coordinating with your team has never been easier, now with advanced AI notification of incursions on captured points, team or enemy loses, tactical insertions and more. ABI will also alert you when your own device is ready to help you strategize more effectively with your team. Keep your ears peeled for the soothing tones of ABI coming soon.

    Smoke Grenades

    That’s right. You’ve always wanted them, we always wanted them and guess what? The fog of war is on its way to GRO. Smoke grenades will offer a tactical alternative and will be a complete game changer. As Simon explains it, “Armed with these puppies and a bit of coordination, your team can easily turn the tide of battle or end a stalemate. There’ll be no more of this camping on point C nonsense.” Smoke grenades will become instrumental in team coordination.

    Find out more about these exciting new features and more coming soon on the Road to Launch. Discuss these changes with the rest of the community here.

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    Road to Launch – Weapon Camo
    OoOo pretty colors!!

    Official launch brings with it more customization, more colors and more individual expression. Now anyone can equip their favorite gun with a sleek new camouflage palate. Ten unique varieties of camo will be available initially, with more color patterns on the way. Each camo is available for every gun and works just like a regular attachment.

    Ask yourself: Shall I destroy noobs with my Pit-Viper-green Spas-12 today? Does my F2000 feel like a Wolf-kinda-gun? Would a Sea-Snake SVD piss people off more than an Ember SVD?

    Weapon Camo will be, like all cosmetic items, available for Ghost Coins only. We keep you up to date about the pricing once the feature is enabled!






    Join the community discussion here.
    Last edited by Silvanoshi; 03-07-2014 at 10:20 AM.

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    Road to Launch – UI Changes Part 1
    Get an inside look at the big picture for recent and upcoming UI changes

    With launch coming soon, we’ve begun to see more and more User Interface (UI) changes in every update. The recent update 0.14.5 brought with it a number of changes which are ultimately part of a greater design. Here to help give us an inside look at the method behind the madness is the Lead UX/UI Artist, Johnson.

    The key focus of all of the current and upcoming UI changes is a revolutionary shift from a class perspective to a persona perspective, which impacts three main areas: team play, match making and content.

    Previously, you were always required to immediately select a class when entering GRO, even from the first time you created your persona. This was a decision made purely for yourself, before you could consider the potential needs of your team. By shifting to a persona perspective, you are encouraged to select a class based on what your team needs. This will ultimately mean selecting your class from the match lobby rather than at the opening of the client.

    Thinking of the team’s needs or coordinating with your team is an important step to balancing a match. The team balancing function of the AMM does allocate players to a squad based on class, but it can’t guarantee perfect results every time (due to the number of players available and players changing their class while searching). Selecting your class in the match lobby forces you and your teammates to see what is needed and prevent unreasonable arrangements (e.g. 6 Recons) in order to have a fighting chance against your opponents.

    While it’s fun to identify with a favorite class, the class perspective encouraged players to follow a single path every time they entered the game. Playing only one class limits a user to 33% of the overall experience and as most veterans would tell you: Playing every class teaches you more about GRO. We want every player to enjoy 100% of GRO.

    Johnson explains: “Making this shift in perspective is something I’ve been trying to achieve for a long time. It’s like renovating an old house filled with tenants; we need to consider the reaction from our existing players and plan every step carefully. This shift also has a significant impact on code and inherent class dependencies, which makes change slow, but we’ve made great progress already and I’m looking forward to the coming improvements.”

    Johnson went on to explain that this is part of the plan to streamline portions of the user experience; such as moving away from the menu’s current web-like approach where information and functions are spread out in all directions, to a linear approach that gives you access to the function you need, when you need it (e.g. buying grenades from the match lobby instead of needing to enter the store, etc.)

    Stay tuned for UI Changes Part 2 on the Road to Launch!
    Join the community discussion here.

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