Developer Updates

Subcategories


  • Join in Live Q&As from the Sea of Thieves Team!

  • Good Afternoon to all you glorious Sea Dogs!

    Jason Cross, Producer on Arena here with a re-balance update.

    We realised how difficult it was for Pirate Legends to achieve Rank 5 for the Legendary Sea Dogs Commendation. Due to this we have lowered the required number of wins for each grade and thus making achieving Grade 5 and the commendation easier.

    However, we have been incredibly impressed with our Legends who have already achieved Grade 5! Therefore, in our next update any Legend who has already reached 240 wins will be reward with a Unique weapon cosmetic.

    Any legend looking to get this Unique weapon cosmetic after our next update will be able to unlock it with 240 wins per the original commendation.

    The old & new number of wins are displayed below:

    Current:

    • Grade 1: 5
    • Grade 2: 15
    • Grade 3: 60
    • Grade 4: 120
    • Grade 5: 240

    Revised:

    • Grade 1: 1
    • Grade 2: 5
    • Grade 3: 25
    • Grade 4: 50
    • Grade 5: 100

    Thanks for all your continued support.

    'Cast Away Cross'

  • Good Morning Sea of Thieves Community,

    Jason Cross, Producer of The Arena here with a quick set of changes to the Arena tavern wait times.

    We have been reading your feedback every day here at Rare and wanted to improve the tavern flow so we can get you back into the action faster whilst keep matchmaking performing effectively.

    We have just implemented the following changes which you will experience right now:

    Reward Timer: 15 seconds - Down from 2 Minutes.
    Staging Timer: 1 minute - Down from 5 Minutes.
    Ready Timer: 1 minute - Unchanged.

    Descriptions:

    Reward Timer: Time spent in the tavern following a contest where rewards are given and the banners are unfurled.
    Staging Timer: Time spent searching for a 5th crew when you have 4 crews in the tavern. If this timer expires your game begins the Ready Timer.

    Ready Timer: Time spent when all crews are ready to go, the countdown music begins to play and your crew can prepare for battle!


    In most circumstances, your maximum wait time in The Sea Dogs Tavern will be 2 minutes and 15 seconds, where previously you could have waited for over 6 minutes.

    Your wait time will still be extended if you are matched with 3 crews or less as the optimal Arena experience is with 4-5 crews. We want you to have the best time possible!

    Thank you all for your feedback, each comment helps us make The Arena a better experience for everyone.

    See you in battle.
    'Cast Away Cross'
    Jason Cross


  • Hi everyone,

    Along with the ‘Friends Play Free’ update for Sea of Thieves released today, we’ve taken a first step in rebalancing weapons and addressing some of the issues that have caused frustration for players. While Drew gave an overview of our overall approach in this week’s update video, I’d like to spend some time going into more detail about the specific changes and why we’ve made them.

    When it comes to the vision for combat in Sea of Thieves, some of the most important aspects for us are maintaining a first person perspective, not having any excessive UI elements and most importantly, the need for combat to handle all the varieties of encounters that can occur while sailing around in the world – 1v1, 2v5, 3v3 etc. This is also alongside the types of locations combat can occur in, such as within cramped decks, on large islands, as well as the interplay between fighting skeletons, before then immediately switching to fighting other players. Even though the ideal scenario we want to cater for is about picking the right weapon for the job at hand, the game is unpredictable and players frequently have to adjust to different combat scenarios.

    Since we launched the game, we’ve been adding new experiences and features for players with the larger updates, but now with the Arena on the horizon, we’ve been taking a look at combat in detail again, with today’s update the first of what we expect to be several that aim to improve the overall combat experience in the game. It’s important that we don’t make these changes all at once, but rather release a smaller set of tweaks and then assess how it changes the experience, shown both in your feedback and the data we receive from the game, before we then rollout further changes.

    Here’s a breakdown of the changes that we be live following today’s update:

    Preventing the Double Gun Exploit

    The ‘double gun’ is a non-intended exploit that has recently gained traction in the community. It’s essentially the result of the wield animations for each of the weapons being too brief. Up until now, equipping a weapon has played a basic wield animation that finished extremely quickly, and what this means in the case of a gun is that it can go from unequipped to being ready to fire in a short space of time. This has led to scenarios where some players are exploiting the fact that two guns can be swapped between extremely quickly, allowing two shots to be fired in quick succession that can then easily overpower their target. Traditionally, most first person experiences have a more elaborate wield animation to allow for a short ready time before any shot can be fired, preventing any exploits around wielding weapons. Rather than add an arbitrary delay, from the gameplay perspective, it will always ‘feel’ better to have a wield animation where the gun animates to the screen, comes to a natural rest, and the moment the animation looks like its finished, the gun will be ready to fire.

    As part of this, all weapons have new wield animations as part of an inbuilt delay when equipping weapons. We’re confident this will reduce the effectiveness of this exploit.

    As a nice side effect, the new wield animations look much nicer than the ones we launched the game with!

    Reload Improvements

    This relates to a change recently made to the Eye of Reach, but now rolled out to all weapons. It ensures that a gun is reloaded the moment the hammer is pulled, rather than when the full reload animation is finished. This resolves issues where players reload a weapon and think that the reload has been finished, so go into a sprint or change their weapons, before then frustratingly seeing that the animation for their weapon is restarted when then wield it. It’s been so easy to be caught out by this in combat or high pressure situations, but should now function as players expect.

    More Fluid Swordplay

    As part of ensuring that swordplay between players remained super accessible, but also has a layer of depth, we originally launched with an enforced slowdown on the player when performing cutlass attacks. This was particularly frustrating in situations where a swing didn’t connect, leading to situations where control felt like it was being momentarily taken away. While it did lead to some tactics around timing swings, after revaluating this, we believe that removing the slowdown and prioritising more fluid attacks, feels like the better approach. Nothing captured the frustration quite like missing a swing against a skeleton, to then see it back up while chomping on a banana, but being temporarily slowed down and unable to close the distance. It’s gone!

    Increased Projectile Speeds

    As part of having a nod to period weaponry, as well as adding additional strategy, gunshots have a natural ‘time of flight’ and ‘drop off’ before they hit a target, presented as the visual tracers of each pellet. This is demonstrated most critically with the Eye of Reach, with players having to adjust their aim based on the expected distance of the target. With this change, we’ve increased the projectile speeds of both the Eye of Reach and the Blunderbuss. With the Eye of Reach, this means that it’ll be easier to land shots at distance and with the Blunderbuss, it just makes the weapon feel more powerful when fired. While the damage from the Blunderbuss felt right at close range, the feedback from the tracers now more appropriately matches this.

    Removed Scaling Damage Distance

    For many players, this has probably gone unnoticed, instead being perceived as lag or server issues. Up until this update, we’ve actually been scaling the damage on projectiles, with longer range shots inflicting less damage on a target. While physically more accurate, it leads to more frustration and we’ve decided to remove it in favour of a more solid feeling overall experience. If you’re lucky enough to land that awesome shot between two moving ships, we’ll short change you no longer!

    Eye of Reach Damage Reduction

    As part of the two above improvements, the Eye of Reach is now a more effective tool when used for what it was designed to do, which was hit targets at long range. With this in mind, we’ve slightly reduced the damage caused by an Eye of Reach from 80 to 70. This reduction still makes it effective in the right hands but prevents it from feeling too overpowered now shots move faster and hit with consistent damage.

    Increased Hip Firing inaccuracy with the Eye of Reach

    As part of each weapon having a defined role, we’ve made hip fired shots, or shots made without aiming down the sights, to be wildly inaccurate when using the Eye of Reach. This is largely based on some players exploiting it, but also due to the fact that it makes little sense to reward the hip firing of a long range weapon. While it would have been easier to just remove hip firing from the Eye of Reach, we always strive to make mechanics just work as you expect, therefore we always want the fire button to do something, rather than just taking that ability away. Under pressure, you can still get lucky with a hip fired Eye of Reach shot, but it now functions less like a mini shotgun at close range.

    Weapon Knockback

    Swords and guns have all been able to knockback players, leading to fun situations where players can be knocked off ships, but also pushing two players apart, potentially allowing time for other strategies. We believe however that having this across all the weapons strayed too far into making combat feel less solid and dare I say it, a bit goofy. With this change, a cutlass and a blunderbuss will each still cause knockback, but its been removed from the Flintlock Pistol and the Eye of Reach. The same change also applies to skeletons, but we’ve taken the additional step of also taking knockback off the Blunderbuss when it comes to skeletons to further reduce frustration.

    As mentioned previously, this is the first step in a re-evaluation of combat and we’re keen to assess the impact of these changes in this latest release. There are more changes planned… both for player AND ship combat, all with the goal of improving the combat experience across Adventure and Arena. Your feedback and thoughts as ever are greatly appreciated.

    -Mike

  • Hi I am Rob Stothard Technical Director of Services at Rare, I wanted to give a little insight as to what happened to Sea of Thieves on Saturday 8th December. For those that don't know, at around 8am(GMT) a proportion of players started receiving CinnamonBeard errors when trying to join Sea Of Thieves, players that were in game at that time started to have issues when handing in chests or completing commendations.

    Unfortunately, the issue did not trigger any of our automated alerting and continued for about an hour before we became aware and started to investigate.

    The issue manifested as a failure to find a server during server matchmaking, resulting in a CinnamonBeard error at the client. As we started to investigate, it appeared that all the services involved in Server Matchmaking were working fine and that the problem must be in some other part of the system. The matchmaking process in Sea of Thieves is a two step process, first we use Xbox Live matchmaking to organise players into Crews and then we use our own Server Matchmaking service to find a suitable server for that Crew. Having determined that our own matchmaking was operating normally we enquired of the Xbox Live team if there was an issue with the Live Matchmaking and they also reported that there were no issues.

    Having determined that the specific services involved were all operating fine we started to investigate lower down in our technology stack. For Sea Of Thieves some of our inter service communication uses a Pub/Sub architecture backed by a cluster of RabbitMQ servers as the Message Broker. At around 8am that morning some of the Nodes in the cluster had had an interruption to network connectivity resulting in the cluster becoming split. Essentially, our RabbitMQ servers had split into three discrete clusters, each one not communicating with the other two, what RabbitMQ refers to as a Network Partition or Split Brain.

    Once we discovered the root issue we were able, fairly quickly, to bring the cluster back into a good state and then gradually bring the various affected game services back online.

    There were a lot of things that we have learn't from this incident and that we will take away to correct.

    RabbitMQ can be configured to self heal when a Network Partition occurs, we have now made this change to our RabbitMQ install and it will make it's way to our production environment in the coming weeks.

    To enable us to respond quicker, we will add additional monitoring and alerting to the title. In this particular case the most telling symptom was the failure of players to join the game. This is a metric that we already track but do not alert on, we are now in the process of adding alerts to this metric.

    RabbitMQ itself was indicating very clearly that it was having problems, however, the status of RabbitMQ is not as readily visible to our Ops and Out Of Hours teams as it should be. Therefore we will be making additional information available to the Operations teams to allow them to diagnose issues like this much quicker.

    Unfortunately, due to the nature of the incident there were a range of ways in which players could be impacted, from not being able to get into the game to emblem progress not being recorded correctly. As a result we have decided to award anyone that played during the window an in game compensation when they next play the game.

  • Hi everyone,

    Following on from my post on Friday, I wanted to share an update with progress towards our Forsaken Shores release.

    Our priority is to ensure we deliver a stable, polished and bug-free experience that all our players can enjoy. We have just had a weekend of Pioneer testing, which has highlighted a memory issue in the build, which is resulting in an unstable build where a large number of our Pioneers were experiencing crashes. From our investigations this is a complex issue that we are working through solving, but as such we do not feel in a position to release Forsaken Shores to our players with confidence this week.

    Our goal this week is to resolve the memory issue and get enough Pioneer coverage so that we are confident we have resolved the issue, prior to releasing to all of our players. As such, we are moving the release of Forsaken Shores to Thursday 27th September. This will give us time to implement fixes, test, and get builds out to Pioneers to gain confidence.

    We appreciate your understanding with this change in our release plans. I know this will be disappointing, but I resolutely believe this is the right decision. We are committed to giving everyone the best Forsaken Shores release experience, and this will enable that.

    Thanks to all of our Pioneers for their support in providing valuable feedback and bug reports on Forsaken Shores so far. Alongside helping us gain confidence in the release from a stability perspective, we have been able to make significant tweaks to the gameplay experience as a result of the feedback we’ve received, and it is better for it.

    Thanks,

    Joe Neate
    Executive Producer

  • Hi everyone

    With the Forsaken Shores release getting ever closer, I wanted to give you a progress update. We are currently nearing the end of our polish and bug fixing phase, and our goal is to ensure we deliver a stable, polished and bug-free experience to all our players.

    As you’ll know, our last couple of updates have seen issues introduced into the build (such as the unfortunate spyglass incident) or have required emergency maintenance immediately following release. With Forsaken Shores it’s our priority to make sure this doesn’t happen again.

    One of the key steps in this process is to deliver a build to our Pioneers, ensuring we identify any issues that may only be present at scale and in a live environment. A near-final build is currently working its way towards Pioneers for testing throughout the coming weekend.

    We will be monitoring throughout the weekend, both for bugs and any final feedback points that we want to address. As we work through the final list of bugs and polish points we have generated internally, we know that there is always a chance of unexpected issues and feedback when we get this out to our Pioneer player-base.

    With this in mind, we wanted to let everyone know that there is a chance that Forsaken Shores may not release on the 19th September as planned. Should this happen, we don’t expect the delay to be longer than a few days, but we wanted to make sure everyone knew in advance so that you can plan your schedules for next week accordingly. It’s very dependent on the results from our testing over the weekend, and we will be in a much clearer position on Monday so please keep an eye on our social channels for more information then.

    Our priority is to ensure that everyone can play the Forsaken Shores update when it launches, without any unexpected issues disrupting the experience. We appreciate everyone’s understanding as we head towards this exciting release. I am writing this after playing the latest build, and I can promise it’s worth the potential extra wait. The new volcanic world region is a huge change of pace and intensity for Sea of Thieves, and my personal new favourite feature, the absolutely brilliant rowboat is just so much fun. I’m looking forward to taking on anyone I meet out there in an impromptu rowboat race.

    Finally, I wanted to thank all our Pioneers for your support in getting involved like this prior to release, providing valuable feedback and bug reports, and ensuring we can deliver a great experience for everyone. You are all awesome.

    Thanks,

    Joe Neate
    Executive Producer

  • Hey Everyone,

    With our Cursed Crews Bilge Rats Adventure moving into its second week, I wanted to talk a little about a change we are making to how we deliver rewards for player actions after these events.

    Bilge Rats Adventures have been a great addition to Sea of Thieves between our larger updates. Whether it was reaching the top of Marauders Arch during Skeleton Thrones, timing those perfect chain reaction gunpowder skeletons or working out exactly how many kegs it takes to destroy a Ruby statue – Duke’s challenges have brought some great stories to Sea of Thieves over the last few months.

    We’ve also learnt a lot during these events and taken feedback from players onboard to help shape each adventure we deliver. After adding Legendary commendations into Gunpowder Skeletons as a way for players to have longer term goals both during and post the adventure, we’ve been reviewing the sentiment around how we are delivering rewards to players – specifically Doubloons. A common area of feedback around our adventures recently has been the time-limited nature of the rewards we make available and how players want more reasons to complete our commendations after the adventure finishes.

    With the Cursed Crews Adventure we are making a change to continue to reward players with Doubloons if you complete commendations after the event has finished. This means that if you miss an Adventure you can still experience the content, unlock the commendations, earn the exclusive titles AND be awarded the Doubloons. Our Cosmetic Rewards will continue to be time-limited so you’ll need to play during the Adventure to unlock these exclusive items.

    We are making this change next week, keeping all Cursed Crews Doubloon rewards obtainable once the adventure finishes, and this will be our approach for future Bilge Rat Adventures moving forward.

    Thanks for all your feedback on our Bilge Rats Adventures so far, looking forward to getting some great new challenges into players hands and seeing the awesome stories that they create.

  • Hi everyone,

    I’d like to share the thinking behind the inventory changes introduced in the last update, why we’ve made such a change now as well as detailing some of the improvements we’re planning to make in the coming weeks.

    First and foremost, a critical mistake that I’d like to apologise for is that we haven’t been pro-active explaining why we made these changes, rather we’re doing it now after the fact. We certainly didn’t make such a change to the core flow, pace and mechanics of the game lightly, but we should have done a better job of being up front and detailing precisely why we feel it’s important to the future expansion of the game. This is something we’ll strive to handle better in the future.

    We’ve also unfortunately ended up in a situation where the Cursed Crews event and the addition of the Cursed Cannonballs are so closely tied that we ran out of time to react to feedback from our Sea of Thieves Pioneers. Let me assure you that the motivation behind this was around pushing to deliver new content quicker, but we’ll ensure that we plan to have more time in future to iterate on the changes we want to make based on valuable Pioneer feedback. This is worthwhile lesson and an area where we want to make improvements.

    In terms of why we made this change, I’d like to look into the future of Sea of Thieves in more detail, especially the areas of the game that we see evolving over time. As you’ve no doubt heard us say many times, Sea of Thieves will continue to be enriched over time, presenting new ways to play, new goals for players and new tools that add to the unpredictable and surprising way the game is often played.

    Up till now, Sea of Thieves has been fairly UI light and we’ve always been especially critical of anything that may change that, however, I’d like to call out some of the changes we intend to make in the future that become unlocked with the new inventory, including changes that will ultimately lead to a richer and more immersive experience:

    Expanding The Game

    Richer Exploration & Resource Gathering

    Although barrels are purely just for resources at the moment, we want to support more possibilities for what could be inside a barrel. Part of the experience of exploring the world is coming across a message in a bottle and finding an emergent quest, and we’ll shortly be adding the chance to find maps in barrels. Beyond this, we want to add a greater variety of items in barrels that can surprise players while adventuring the world, rather than barrels being purely about supplies.

    More Food Types

    Bananas are currently the only food item and the only way to replenish health in the game, but we plan to add more depth and strategy around the use of food. When we added the ‘Food’ barrel to the ship, we did it knowing that it would be only bananas initially, but that this would be expanded to many more food types over time.

    More Ammo Types

    Cursed Cannonballs are the first time we’ve expanded the ammo on offer in the game and we want the flexibility to add further different types, some rare like the cursed cannonballs, but also more core types in the future that players can choose strategically when to use. We don’t feel it’s as flexible to make each new ammo type physical in the world like skulls, chests, crates etc. We also don’t want to be limited by having to add a unique barrel type for every new ammo type we add. Ideally, the inventory system should never be a constraint in adding more variety to the game, which is why Cursed Cannonballs have instigated this change, but this really is just the beginning.

    Upcoming Inventory Improvements

    Although there will never be a perfect time to make such a change, especially one that affects those who have put most time into the game and who have become most adept at using current systems, we feel strongly that we need to make this change to unlock the scope of improvements we want to make to Sea of Thieves in the future. With this in mind here’s some changes we plan to start introducing in the coming weeks, all with the focus of improving the speed and flow of using the new system:

    ‘Take All’ & ‘Store All’

    The biggest and most frequently recurring point of community feedback is the slower pace of resource gathering, including how this impacts tense situations such as skeleton forts and ship battle scenarios. Rather than summoning the barrel interface to then click each resource items multiple times to store and take the desired number, this change will allow players to open the interface and quickly take and store stacks within the barrel with less button presses. While this is still a fundamental change to muscle memory compared to how the system worked before, this will allow players to take and store full stacks of resources in less clicks.

    Quality of Life Improvements

    Examples include swapping around the newly added Equipment and Resource tabs, not highlighting stacks of resources if you’re already full of that type as well as removing empty stacks, allowing players to ‘Take all’ of multiple types without having to reselect another resource. There is also a bug we’re aware of and want to resolve that prevents players looking and moving around immediately after leaving a barrel.

    Cannonball Quick Menu

    Another upcoming change is allowing players to see and select everything they can load and fire from a cannon with less button presses. We plan to introduce a contextual radial that players can summon while interacting with a cannon, allowing them to select any ammo types they have, including standard cannonballs and any cursed cannonballs they may have found.

    With all of these upcoming changes, we’ll continue to identify any further speed and quality of life improvements as we implement and iterate on the above, in addition to continuing to review feedback from each change we make. In the future, we’ll strive to communicate our intentions clearer and ahead of time, allowing the community to have the opportunity to understand the context of any major upcoming changes to the game and provide feedback.

    We’ll share a further update next week on our recent commendation rebalancing and how we plan to grow this in the short term to accommodate more goals for Pirate legends

    We understand the patience needed here and thank you for bearing with us as we roll out these changes.

    Thanks,
    Mike

    (EDIT)

    I missed the following when I first posted:

    We're adding an 'empty' tag to barrels so players know in advance if its empty. This will be available in the next update.

    We're fixing the issue where players get disconnected due to wave / ship movement.

    We're going to review the stack limits.

    Also I want to address the reasoning behind not having a 'take all' option on the fly. This is related to us expanding to multiple items types in a barrel, otherwise this would only work for what are currently single item barrels, although we want to expand the items they can contain in the future. Also, we need to be mindful of potential crew disharmony issues with a single crew member taking all various item types from a barrel in a single button press. This would become the primary way versus making a more considered choice. For players who just want to grab a stack of cannonballs quickly, we're confident the 'Take All' option from within the interface will be a considerable improvement.

  • Hi, I'm the Technical Director on the Engine Team at Rare.

    Firstly, I wanted to address a few key points:

    • The optimisations we’ve made in the patches have been non-destructive algorithmic improvements made by our Rendering Wizards. We’ve not made any changes to intentionally degrade graphical fidelity, on any platform.
    • Our streaming system has always loaded the high detail versions of the islands at the same distance on all platforms. This avoids any gameplay imbalance caused by players on higher-specification PCs being able to see things that players on some dual core laptop with a couple of gig of RAM can't. The screenshots on this thread are either far-off islands with their lower-fidelity LOD (level of detail) loaded or higher-LOD islands where the view is not close enough to display the highest-detail terrain. The second scenario is one where we are investigating a potential improvement for platforms running a higher detail level.
    • The rate at which an island streams in is variable and hardware dependent. If the game is installed on a mechanical disk then the fragmentation of that disk and the layout of the game files on the disk will have an impact on the speed of loading. Differences in loading speed due to this or other I/O work the system is doing will cause the higher detail LOD to appear at different distances.

    However, we take any reports of issues from the community seriously, and we've taken a little time to look into the data around this.

    alt text

    This is the distance in meters from the island at which we make the high detail LOD available – this example is Devil’s Ridge, and the data is taken from Xbox One players on the retail game. There’s no change in the average distance at which we make the island visible across the title’s lifetime. This consistency is the same for all islands on the game, and across all percentiles. The distance you see in game will not always be this value - there is considerable variance dependent on what other loading the I/O system is doing at the time - but any trends would be visible.

    The optimisations we’ve made should not cause any change to the appearance of the game. If you notice any significant changes for the worse, then it’s definitely unintentional and we’d want to fix it! For any specific problems, we’d appreciate any detailed information you can give us! Submit a support ticket with screen-shots, and what hardware/quality settings you’re running with.

  • Hey everyone,

    Just a small update from me, but something I thought was fun to share. Tonight we were putting the final touches together on the marketing art for our keyboard layout, and it made me all nostalgic - so much so I thought I'd take a look back down memory lane at how far we've come together...

    "PC Tech Alpha 1" - May 20th 2017
    alt text

    "Sea of Thieves v1.0" - March 20th 2018
    alt text

    Thanks to all the suggestions, feedback, comments and every other piece of input you've all had on our journey. We couldn't have done it without you and I for one can't wait to see what this is like in another 10 months time!

    Ted "Red Rage" Timmins
    (5 days to go...)