Build 261 now live on Steam!

Posted by Hugh 5 months ago
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Today, NS2 got the Humble Bundle treatment. With over 179,000 bundles sold as of this post, eight hours into the three week run, there are some new players about. What better way to welcome them to the NS2 community than with that age old tradition: The new build.

Build 261 is here, it is sweet, and it wants your attention. Like 260, 261 is a collaboration between UWE’s very own Andi and the infinitely energetic volunteer SamusDroid. There are three stand out features: Improved collision, commander keybinds, and reduced early game hitching.

Whenever a player hits something in the environment, an approximation of their model is used to calculate the appropriate physical response. Games do this because calculating physics for an entire player model would be too ‘expensive’ (i.e hurt performance too much).

The most mathematically efficient shape to use for that approximation is a distorted sphere, or egg. Every NS2 player model is approximated to some form of an egg shape. This makes for movement with less hitches, collisions that don’t ‘catch,’ and a general feeling of being able to move smoothly through the environment.

However, NS2 features lots of melee combat. In melee combat, you do not want to slide smoothly around other players. You want to have the feeling of hitting a player, and engaging with them.

To give a feeling of melee engagement, Build 261 now features a slightly bipolar collision detection system. When hitting the environment, players still use their egg approximation. But when hitting other players, they now use a rougher approximation. Here is an example:

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The second big improvement in 261 is commander keybinding. NS2 is a very international game: It is played in countries all over the world, in a myriad of languages, and crucially, with lots of different keyboard layouts.

Until now, users of non en-US keyboards were forced to use en-US commander keybinds. This made playing commander on non en-US keyboards extremely frustrating. Thanks to the great work of SamusDroid, you can now select your own keybinds for commander use.

Samus didn’t stop there. He also turned his attention to early game hitching. By adding several key damage effects to the list of files precached by the game during loading, early game hitching has been significantly reduced. You will not longer have to endure an inevitable hitch during first contact.

It’s not all collision, hitches and keybinds. There is a boatload of other stuff in 261, all manner of fixes that continue the inexorable improvement of NS2. It is hard to believe this game launched in 2012!

Finally, look out for the Humble Bundle newbies. NS2 is a tough game, and it does not take prisoners. If you see a player having trouble, lend them a hand. Explain things to them. Encourage them to jump into the command seat and lose a few games. The long term result will be more players, more smiles and a more vibrant community.

The changelog:

Fixes

Fixed Hive steam effect looping instead of being endless
Fixed overlapping server tabs on low resolutions
Fixed player status overlapping on lower resolutions, and aligned icons with text underneath
Fixed WHIPBOMB missing in gamestrings
Fixed World Championship badges using wrong path
Fixed ARCs not playing/stopping sounds/effects when they should
Fixed ladders not working for Ready Room players
Fixed drifters always turning east before completing a move order
Fixed axe blocking sprint movement when attempting to use it before it’s fully deployed
Fixed out-dated information, and typos in gamestrings files
Fixed bug where the chat would not block the show map key from opening the minimap when typing, dead, and spectating
Fixed tech map not showing tooltips for Contamination, Bonewall, and Rupture.
Fixed being able to increase shotgun rate of fire when tapping primary attack in the right moment
Distress beacon now guarantees that all players will be teleported when at least one spawn point or IP has been found (No, really this time.)
Fixed Armory health bar offset not adjusting according to model
Fixed ARCs not updating their target position
Simplified rifle logic, possibly fixing some instances of weapon jams. (More testing required)
Fixed grass clipping into a tree in the main menu
Fixed health bars clipping inside the model on the Armory, Advanced Armory, Sentry Battery, and players in the Ready Room.

Balance

Removed carapace heal penalty
Slightly reduced jetpack fuel replenish rate (It now takes 0.6 seconds longer to fully restore the fuel tank)
Fade movement will now ignore air-friction immediately after using the Shadowstep ability
Slightly reduced energy used by Boneshield ability
Vortex ability now returns energy cost when consumed
Reduced swipe energy cost by 1
Increased enzyme cloud and mucous membrane cost to 2 (up from 1)
Merged enzyme with storm
Enzyme requires now a shift hive
Drifters turn rate increased slightly

Features

Added loading screen background on game startup
Added Commander Bindings
Spectators can now toggle with F (flashlight) outlining players on their team
Added Chuckle and Request Weld console binds, to allow binding to a key. Type “chuckle” or “requestweld” in console to perform the action.
Added minimal HUD option.

Optimizations

Damage effect decals are now precached (Mitigates hitching during first encounters)
Added precaching for a few files causing big hitches when joining a team

Improvements

Never allow step moves onto other players
Players now use separate physics models for melee and world collision detection
Marines will now spawn closer to their spawning Infantry Portal
Score popups are now green for kills to more clearly separate them from assists
Made Gorge Tunnels easier to place in areas with suboptimal pathing information
Gorge Tunnels may now be placed in areas with slightly greater inclines
Changed Prototype Lab minimap icon to use an unused placeholder icon (was using the Extractor icon)
Destroying a sentry battery now uses a different sound than destroying a power node
Lowered waterfall sound effect volume in the menu
Added Team res to Alien HUD
Made server browser more usable for lower resolution users, especially in 4:3 resolutions
Improved Boneshield ability hit detection
Default consistency config now ignores shaders/DarkVision.hlsl (allows easier modding of Alien Vision)

SDK

Added teleport_destination and teleport_trigger entities
Added console command “selecthallucinations” for debugging and testing purposes

Refinery

Fixed some pathing problems in Containment causing inability to drop Infantry Portals in appropriate places
Fixed several other pathing issues around the map
Changed collision geometry on several staircases to make them more easily navigable
Removed some props from Commander view