Predecessor Report - July 2023
Welcome back to another exciting edition of the Predecessor Report!
July has been a busy month here at Omeda HQ, with the team busy putting the finishing touches on our next original Hero, Lizard!
That’s not all though, the UI team are making huge progress on the Predecessor’s visual identity and the brainiacs behind our skill-based matchmaking have been chipping away at a number of big improvements.
Today we’re covering all of this and more - offering you some sneak peeks at upcoming content, never-before-seen development insights, and our usual round up of amazing community content!
Let’s dive right in!
Codename: L I Z A R D
What can we say about Lizard…
Well for one he can’t change colours, he has a reptile dysfunction! Okay that joke was a tad scaly, but we had to snake a few in! Badum-hisss!
Okay seriously though, with V0.10 nearly upon us (we’re currently targeting August 8th), it’s finally time to talk a little more about our next original Hero!
You’ve known them as Lizard for a while now, but today we can reveal their official name!
Oh it feels good to finally use that name. Zarus. ZARUS. Z A R U S.
You might recognise that shield from the Season 2: Road to Ascension roadmap too!
Zarus, known across the lands as The Champion of Nyr, is a melee bruiser with the agility to chase down his foes and the power to make them wish he couldn’t. His abilities combined with his durability encourages fast paced, high-risk high-reward trade-based gameplay that we hope you will love.
Speaking of abilities, here’s a sneak peek at a few of his ability icons!
Any guesses as to what these abilities might be called or what they might do? I’ve got money on that one on the right being a cake stand of sorts…
That’s all we’ll shed on Zarus for now though; you can expect to learn more about this mighty fighter next week!
A match made in heaven!
Earlier this week we released Sr. Operations Manager, JShredz, from his deep, dark, data den to shine a light on what’s been going on with Predecessor matchmaking.
The long and short of it is that true skill-based matchmaking is incredibly hard to do well, and takes a lot of time, data and resources to tune just right.
We’ve made some great improvements recently which have already had a substantial impact on the quality of matchmaking, and we have further plans for some major back-end changes that will make things even better still!
Don’t just take my word for it though, go read our dedicated Matchmaking Improvements blog!
New UI hype!
So we’ve spoken a bunch of times now about how we’re prioritising delivering a new User Interface (UI) over new features right now. As already explained, this is because the UI is a major piece of infrastructure that many other features depend upon, meaning that the longer we put it off the slower and harder it becomes to deliver other new features. It’s also an important milestone on our journey to console!
So that’s the technical reason, but you might still be wondering what benefits the new UI will bring to you when you boot up Predecessor.
Put simply, the new UI will overhaul the entire Predecessor experience (well, everything except the gameplay side of things). It impacts which buttons you have to press to travel between the various screens and menus, how items in the shop are displayed, what settings are available to you as a player, and much, much more.
So what does it take to overhaul the UI of an entire game? Research, time and iterations. Lots and lots of iterations. And even that’s a massive over-simplification of the process!
So let’s explore that process a bit more.
Below is an example of an early wireframe design for the new Hero menu (taken from much earlier in the process). The finished screen will probably have a lot less Kiras.
The wireframe lets our team fiddle with the layout quickly and once approved, serves as the blueprint for what the finished product will look like. Then it’s mocked up.
This step is much closer to what we’d expect the finished product to look like, but there’s still a long way to go. Even at this point there will still be a number of changes as we continue the iterative process. The image above is again from very early in the design process, so not everything you see here will be in the first release of the new UI. Specifically we don’t immediately expect to include the search bar, filter button, chat functionality (which as you can see is one of the features that already went missing between the wireframe and the mock-up) and it’s likely the background will look different. Whew, told you this took a lot of time and iterations!
Furthermore the mock-up above isn’t actually rendered in the engine - it’s created in specialist illustration software. Once we have all the necessary screens mocked up like this and we’re sure we haven’t missed anything, we can finally begin building the scenes in engine. Only once we’re happy that it all matches up and that all the functionality is correctly plumbed in, can we finally ship it!
Whilst we’re not able to confirm a delivery date right now, we’re very pleased with the progress we’ve been making and are hoping to roll it out very soon. Once it is released we’ll also sit down with some of the UI team in a dedicated blog which will go into much more detail about the whole process (as we’ve barely scratched the surface here today)!
It’s still a common question, and we’re excited to see such an unstoppable eagerness from our console community!
While we don’t currently have a confirmed release date for console, we have recently hit a couple of crucial milestones meaning that we’re closer than ever:
◆ One of the requirements to submit a game to console is the creation and implementation of a Code of Conduct or, as we’ve called it, a Community Charter.
◆ We’ve completed a number of important branding, key art and asset requests from PlayStation that are required in order to list on their store.
◆ We’ve begun submitting game builds for review by Sony and Microsoft as we start the process of getting Predecessor in front of their various checks and balances.
That last point is particularly exciting, as it’s easily the biggest step towards delivering Predecessor on console. Obviously just sending them a build for initial review is still a long way from having the game actually listed and downloadable in their stores, but it’s a big step in the right direction.
Keep an eye out for more news and information, including a release date for console, coming soon!
Let’s talk toxicity!
Let’s not beat around the bush. There are a minority of players that are purposefully making games unenjoyable through the use of grotesque, overtly aggressive, or outrightly discriminatory language. And we won't stand for it.
Earlier in the month we unveiled the first step in our journey to tackle this malicious behavior - AI controlled, automated chat muting.
We're pleased to confirm that (as of the time of writing) we have identified zero incorrectly assigned chat suspensions from the new automated system!
Suspensions are only issued when the content of a message combined with the user's chat history truly justifies intervention, and we are confident in the actions taken thus far.
That said, and in the interest of transparency, we have identified a handful of cases in which players were incorrectly (though only temporarily) muted during a match. We set the system up to favour a high response speed to prevent toxic speech and conversations from escalating, though we do not apply any lasting account limitations for single-match mutes.
We're continuously working with the AI provider to refine and improve the model, including significantly reducing the impact of "non-directed" profanity, meaning you're free to swear like a sailor as long as you're not aiming it at anyone. You might get censored, but you won't get muted. We still want to prevent cases in which players are using offensive language towards each other of course, but have identified some cases where "non-directed" or "self-directed" profanity was improperly triggering a mute.
All in all we’re confident that the system is operating effectively and comprehensively for the benefit of the wider community.
Obviously there’s always more to be done to improve the in-game experience, such as continuing to take steps to tackle AFK'ing, feeding, or draft-dodging, but we’re pleased with these initial results and the improvements we’ve seen to the health of in-game communication.
For more information, please read Community Experience Manager Zuzu’s blog post, Tackling Toxicity.
Runway or run away?
Over the recent months we’ve really been stepping up the production quality of our marketing assets, and we couldn’t be more pleased with how they’re coming out!
Most recently you probably saw our TwinBlast key art.
Did you know it was inspired by the timeless Call of Duty: Black Ops box art?
Unfortunately however not every render comes out quite so cleanly. In fact, there’s a surprisingly large amount of Hero photoshoots that don’t get to see the light of day for one reason or another.
Today we're sharing a handful of wonderfully cursed renders that you’ll wish we’d kept to ourselves.
Told you they were cursed!
Omeda Asks - Acquazzone
This month we’ve been deep in the trenches, battling all sorts of data. From toxicity to game balance, sales revenue to matchmaking; data is at the heart of everything we do.
So with that in mind, we thought it would be a great time to sit down with Acquazzone, Principal Data Analyst here at Omeda Studios, to go over why data is so important.
Q: Hey Acquazzone! So what exactly does a Principal Data Analyst at Omeda Studios do?
A: Lots of things, but mainly (and with around one and a half million matches played up to today) Predecessor has lots of telemetry events, so my job is to make sense of those data points and use them to improve the player gaming experience.
Q: Sounds like a lot! So how important is data to the Omeda Studios team?
A: We like to think of ourselves as data-informed, meaning any decision we make about Predecessor will always try to incorporate data among the information used. This leads to better precision and increased confidence that we’re doing the right things.
Q: With a dedicated but admittedly small player population, how confident are you with the results you can draw from gameplay data?
A: Oh, we can draw quite a lot! A small but dedicated player population is incredible to improve and polish the game before we launch on console and free-to-play. For example, we can get strong inferences about general gameplay, improved understanding of UI flow, information about marketing audiences and more. Granted some conclusions aren't exactly the same as what we expect to see when Predecessor is free-to-play, but they can help guide us towards a good product direction if handled with care.
Q: Sounds technical… and complicated! To some people data might not be the most interesting part of the game design process. What is it that you love about your job?
A: I am confused, is data not interesting to everyone?!
I personally love how often my beliefs are wrong and therefore how often I learn new things.
Whenever we design a game we repeatedly do a lot of assumptions about player behaviours, for example: "players will react to this feature in this way because of x,y,z". Data shows that often players don't react like we assumed at all and therefore we have to change our beliefs . That new belief will then be held as truth until proven wrong again.
I enjoy this circle of learning by iteration: belief, negation, new belief, new negation, and so on. I tend to say that "my interpretation is correct until someone comes along with a better explanation for what we see".
That’s a wrap on our conversation with Acquazzone for now! Let us know who you’d like to see interviewed for future Predecessor Reports!
COMMUNITY ROUND UP
She’s a Kira, queeeeeen…
We love with this fierce Kira artwork shared by MADDKATT! Those eyes alone could pierce more enemies than her Purge ability!
Who doesn’t love a good enemies to allies storyline? Shout out to MR.BANE for their beautiful team up artwork of Kira and Countess!
Check out some of Arkokin's stunning screenshots, shared with us on Discord! Which is your fav?
Predcasts ft Omeda Studios Staff!
In case you missed it, a lot of the Omeda Studios team have been popping up on the community Predcast, a weekly livestream hosted by WinduTheMace, TheBeardedWolverine and JoeYoursTruly! Here’s a few you might have missed from the last month.
Robbie Singh - CEO
A few weeks ago the Predcast team were joined by none other than Omeda Studios CEO, Robbie Singh to talk about the future of Predecessor.
Demonde - Junior Game Designer
Shortly after that they had Demonde on, Junior Game Designer here at Omeda who spoke about delivering a game on console as well as our plans for the upcoming Mastery system!
JShredz - Sr. Operations Manager
Most recently the Predcast featured JShredz who spoke at length about matchmaking in Predecessor!
Prime Championship Circuit 5
Following the success of PCC 4, the Prime Championship Circuit is back with a prize pot of $3,500 and teams made up of some of the most talented Predecessor players out there!
For those of you in the dark, the PCC is the premier community tournament series, featuring professional casters and unbelievable gameplay. If you’re at all interested in the Predecessor competitive scene, you should definitely be checking it out!
Sign ups are now closed, but you can watch all the action on the PCC Twitch Channel on August 12th!
That’s about all we have time for this month!
What do you think? Want us to continue this style of monthly blog post? Tag me over on Discord (@Karifora) and let me know!
Until the next time!
~ Kari, Senior Community Manager