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Technical Issues Update

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#1 Matthew Craig

    Technical Director

  • 867 posts
  • LocationVancouver, BC

Posted 03 April 2013 - 04:55 PM

I wanted to take a moment to discuss the recent concerns about patch stability and long-standing bugs/issues in the game. First of all I’d like to acknowledge that we agree stability is not where we would like to see it so let’s talk about what we are doing to address that.

One of the key challenges we've recognized for a while now is that our feature set is ever-growing and expanding and adding new features without disrupting old ones gets increasingly difficult. Now this isn't a new challenge games have been faced with this for many years. So months ago we began work on a suite of automated testing tools.

These tools are designed to essentially automate a lot of the core regression testing, for example checking frame rate on a variety of hardware across all maps. Until now a task like this would fall to QA which means they have less time to test new features and give feedback. These tools are now coming online within the studio and will allow us greater coverage of upcoming builds.

We also developed internally a headless version of our game, what this is, is a version of the game that runs without rendering. This is useful because it allows us to run up many instances with fewer resources which allows us to generate much broader test cases. Where before 16 separate machines could be needed to test a single game we can now run that same test on a single machine.

Ultimately what this means for you is that we can generate much greater coverage over a larger feature set faster than before. This should help make even issues with low reproducible rates easier to reliably and quickly reproduce where we can debug them. To put it in more direct terms let’s say over the course of a week’s testing QA can complete roughly 150 games, with this new tool a similar amount of coverage can be provided by the tool in a single automated run over night.

This represents a portion of the background development work that isn't immediately visible from the outside looking in.

As you can imagine we expect this will greatly improve our ability to rapidly find hard to reproduce issues and resolve them before they make their way to production.

Now let’s address some specific issues that our outstanding:

Hanging at the end of matches

This was introduced in the recent patch and we have just finished hot fixing the servers to resolve this issue.

Black Screen Issues

There are two separate black screen issues that we are aware of, one that persists where users get a black screen and not the loading screen and drop back to Mechlab, and one where users get into game but experience a black screen instead of the start-up sequence.

The first type remains unsolved but we’ve suspected poor connection quality, high packet loss, poor quality ISP etc. for some time but haven’t been able to 100% confirm this. We ask that you keep submitting user logs (which we’ve been updating with new information) to help us isolate this one further. The second type has been addressed and pushed to the servers at the time of writing this.

HUD related Issues

The random HUD corruption issue that was introduced a while ago we’ve tracked down to a random memory stomp that corrupts the HUDs display list. These type of issues are very hard to reproduce reliably our goal is to use the new tools to try to generate these issues consistently in the coming weeks. We also continue to get suggestions from the community of more reliable ways to encounter this issue that we are exploring.


We’re aware of some of the issues surrounding why users disconnect. These issues are generally not quick fixes. There is work coming for the new lobby that will largely address these issues. We are looking into re-joins also to help address disconnects.

Crashing Mid Game

A new mid game crash was introduced in this latest patch and we have identified the cause and will be hot fixing this issue on Friday.

To summarize, the hanging at the end of matches, one of the black screen issues, the double listing on scoreboards and one cause of crashing mid game have been identified and are being actively hot fixed.

The crash fix coming Friday may also help to reduce some of the HUD issues. As for the remaining Black Screen issue we ask that you file a support ticket and give as much detail to help us isolate the underlying cause. We also continue to add more and more telemetry in the background on a number of these issues that help us to identify their severity and where they occur.

Sorry for any issues you've experienced, as always though we ask that you please file a support ticket describing any issue encountered with your system configuration details and what happened coupled with any crash dump that may have been generated (located in C:\Games\Piranha Games\MechWarrior Online\USER) your feedback is much more useful to us via support and helps all of us where feedback via the forums is less useful (other than the patch feedback forum).

A quick note on another hot technical issue, there is another command chair post in the works regarding the match maker that will outline the work being done to improve it and what will change in the upcoming tuning pass.

Again thanks for your patience while we continue to work to improve this situation for everyone.

EDIT: Yes we are looking into reported FPS drops associated with the latest patch and will update you on any findings.

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