Welcome to our very first Devblog! Today we want to talk about the brief history of the project, the roadmap towards release, our biggest issues / top priorities and a little surprise at the end.
You can expect a new Devblog every 3 - 4 weeks, depending on the pace of development with a detailed recap on our progress. That being said, let’s jump right into it!
Brief history of BF3: Reality Mod
More than 5 years ago, 3ti65 and Powback got together with the idea to build a Project Reality style mod on top of the Venice Unleashed (VU) modding platform (https://veniceunleashed.net/about). Since VU was quite rudimentary and not well documented back then, it took about a year of developing different proofs of concept (modifying player movements / weapon stats etc), before the actual development could start. The two of them got joined by FoolHen shortly after and together they started building the actual implementation of the mod.
The project was initially supposed to go live way back in 2016 / 2017, but after more and more people joined and more modding possibilities opened up, it was decided to increase the scope and take it a couple of steps further, namely a total conversion mod. The UI got a complete rewrite based on dedicated design concepts and more and more features got polished or added. That and the fact that modding the frostbite engine with self made modding tools is a rather complicated thing to do, resulted in way more development time than initially anticipated.
In the meantime, the team grew at an incredible pace, as more and more people decided to join and contribute to this first ever total conversion mod built on self made modding tools to a closed source engine. As it stands now at the end of 2020, it evolved into a true passion project involving an incredible amount of 35 contributors, 15 of which are developers.
With the thousands of hours that we put into this project, we want to release BF3: Reality Mod in a state which the team can be proud of and which the community can actually play. With this in mind and being so close to reaching our goal, we decided to delay the release just a bit more to Q1 2021.
Next up we will get into what issues we’re still facing and what’s actually keeping us from releasing in our current state.
Roadmap towards Release
As you might have seen it in our delay announcement on Discord already - we are still facing game breaking issues in the form of frequent crashes and bugs that often require server and / or client restarts. We believe that releasing RM without addressing these issues would render it unplayable.
With the release being delayed, there is also more time to implement and polish a good amount of other, smaller features (UI, Quality of Life) that otherwise would not have made it into the release version.
Let’s take a closer look at our biggest issues / top priorities.
Game breaking bugs / crashes
The main reason why we decided to delay the December release were the critical bugs we were encountering. There are not many, but they are quite game breaking (literally).
Destruction Mass Crash
The destruction mass crash is related to Havok, the physics engine. When some of the destruction gets triggered, Havok causes a crash related to the handling of debris effects and as a result kicks out almost every player from the server.
We could disable destruction, but we feel like destruction is a key part of Reality Mod, so you can see why we want to fix this one as soon as possible. Unfortunately the Havok part of the engine is extremely complicated to deal with so it’s rather time consuming to find the cause, but certainly not impossible.
The Loading Crash is another critical one often encountered when loading into a server. It’s the most common crash we currently have. The good thing about it occurring so often is that it allowed us to gather a good amount of crash reports which have led to a potential fix that is going to be tested in this week’s playtest.
Tac Rose Crash
Last but not least is a crash sometimes occurring when performing a custom action via the Tac Rose.It is used to bandage yourself, create rallies and FOBs and give orders to your Squad as a Squad Leader.
The crash occurring when using the Tac Rose is hard to track down since unlike the two crashes above, it is a “silent crash”. That means it does not create an error dump so investigating what went wrong is significantly more complicated than investigating crashes that do cause an error dump.
All the crashes that happen for no obvious reasons require a cooperation with the developers of Venice Unleashed. This consumes more time, since they’re also very busy working on VU itself, which is still due to release in December.
Four years ago, when we first started this project we had more issues and crashes than we could count, as VU was in its infancy and lacked stability and features. Since the very beginning we have been working closely with the Venice Unleashed devs to provide issue reports and API requests, which has led to a more complete and robust framework. Along the way, we managed to solve each and every issue we encountered so far, some way harder than the ones we currently face. In light of that we’re very optimistic that our current ones can be resolved rather soon.
Implementing VU VoIP / ditching RM Mumble
We are currently using a custom implementation of Mumble (called RM Mumble) as our VoIP solution since BF3 vanilla doesn’t offer such functionality. If you played Project Reality you should be familiar with Mumble. For us, it proved to be extremely annoying and a constant struggle to work with.
Other than being annoying to enhance it, it’s also causing an incredible amount of issues during development and playtesting, but luckily the VU devs are working on implementing their own, custom built-in VoIP solution which we will gladly adapt for Reality Mod.
This is mostly implemented and will be ready soon. We will have to test and polish it properly but once that is done, it will not require any downloads and it’s easier to deal with in general, so we are looking forward to that.
Server Hosting and improved Server Administration functionalities
We think that community hosted servers are the backbone of Reality Mod, just as they were for Project Reality. That’s why we want to make it possible for all communities to host and admin their own servers running BF3: Reality Mod.
For that, we are working on providing a holistic framework to support community servers, both in terms of hosting and administration. While being able to take advantage of already existing BF3 server administration tools, we are also enabling admins to manage their servers from within the game. The goal is to make it as convenient as possible for admins to moderate their servers.
However, what these tools encompass will be revealed in another Devblog, once they’re ready to be shown.
Despite what it may look like, development is not only about fixing bugs and crashes, but also about implementing cool features and improvements to the gameplay. That being said, we want to show you a feature that will have quite the impact (pun intended) to the gameplay. Video and implementation by our Dev Josephus
The effects, duration and damage intensity are still subject to change. The Artillery Strike can be called in by Squad Leaders every 20 minutes. The goal is to be able to flatten enemy defenses (literally), whenever the battlefield becomes a stalemate, or to use it before an attack as a means of suppression and concealment of own movements. More details about this exciting feature including more footage will come in another Devblog.
That’s all for today folks! I hope you enjoyed this Dev Blog, join our Discord if you want to stay up to date or to sign up for Early Access!.
Cheers & stay tuned!
Head of Community Management