Dev Diaries: Updates
In this issue of Developer Diaries, we will talk about how we are preparing the new game versions for release, why we need updates, and why fixing of a minor bug can take two months.
World of Tanks Blitz doesn’t tread water. Every three to four weeks we release a new update: we add new vehicles and maps, introduce new features, or improve the old ones. Updates enable us to hold various events and even change the gameplay!
Updates: Big and Small
Not all updates are equal. In some versions, we add useful features, while in others we introduce new vehicles and maps, or tune vehicle parameters in order to improve the balance.
Our Development Team includes several specialised departments. This structure helps us to work on all game components at once. However, the time taken analysing, creating, and testing different features is not the same, so it’s impossible to release everything in one update.
We also cannot omit specific technical reworks, which are usually unnoticed by players. Such reworks are included in every update and solve important issues, like:
- The modernisation of work processes and development acceleration.
- Creating a foundation for new features.
- Architectural, graphic, and server game optimisation.
What exactly will be included in a version depends not only on the team's efforts, but also on some external factors. For instance, the M4A3E8 Fury was added to the game as a tie-in for the movie of the same name, which was released at that time, and the Chinese Tech Tree was saved for the game’s official release in China.
Code, Test, Release
Preparing big updates like Crew Skills, Clan Supply, or Camouflage takes some time and has a lot of stages. There is no point in concentrating on only one feature, as many things depend on the complexity of the feature and the results of the tests.
When a new feature is ready, it is included in one of the upcoming game updates. However, it will still be a month or so before you get to play/see it, and here’s why:
- Game client stabilisation takes two weeks. During this time, the builds of the new version are assembled and tested. After that, the developers find and fix the bugs and issues found while the trail is still hot.
- When a stable version is ready, we submit it to our partners in Apple and Google for verification, which can take up to two weeks.
- After receiving all the necessary approvals, we set the release date. By the way, it’s usually on Friday.
These final stages can overlap in different versions. As a rule, stabilisation of the following version starts two to seven days before the actual release of the current version.
Due to such time-consuming preparations, you may feel that some features are getting delayed. For instance, the reload timer and range finder were ready before the release of Update 2.10, but there wasn’t enough time to include them in that update, so they will be introduced instead with Version 2.11.
Together with the new version releases and planned restarts, we often update the server side of the game. This helps us to quickly solve network problems (long response times, connection-stability issues, etc.), and also to fix other critical bugs that are not directly connected with the game client.
The Hellcat reloading time bug is a good example: we fixed it quite quickly on the server, so that the tank destroyer had the planned parameters, but the display of its rate of fire could be fixed only in the client update.
It’s a one-month-old bug!
Imagine the following:
- Update 2.10 was released on 8 June.
- By that time, Update 2.11 had been stabilising for one week already.
- On 15 June, we submitted it for verification.
- On 16 June (only a week after the release of version 2.10), we found a bug that could only be reproduced on some devices or rare configurations.
So what stops us from fixing the bug we know is out there?
First of all, Update 2.11 is already “gone”, meaning that we cannot include the fix in it. Secondly, version 2.12 (or whichever comes after 2.11) is probably being stabilised. So we end up with only one week to find, fix, and test the bugs.
- If we manage to find the bug quickly enough, we will be able to include the fix in Update 2.12.
- However, if we don’t have enough time before submitting the version to Apple and Google, the fix won’t be released until Update 2.13.
Therefore, if we find a minor error on 16 June, it may mean that it will be fixed by mid-August – and we are talking about minor bugs that most of players won’t even know about.
We hope that the processes described above will give you an idea of why we can’t fix all bugs instantly. Besides this, we always rate the severity of problems. The bigger the bug and the more frequently it appears and interferes with the gameplay, the faster we will solve it. This does not mean that we ignore minor issues – they will all be eliminated sooner or later, just have a little patience.
Update 2.11 is about to be released. But now you know that the next version is almost ready as well, so details for that are coming soon too. Stay tuned and keep on battling!