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Uber Can Tweak Monday Night Combat Without A Patch

Wave goodbye to Title Updates for small fixes in MNC.

Post-release balance tweaks and fixes can be a hassle for Xbox 360 developers. But Uber Entertainment, creators of Summer of Arcade release Monday Night Combat, is hoping to skirt the logjams that tend to develop by an interesting use of server-side storage that will, ultimately, allow it push out fixes on the fly.

Each potential Title Update that a developer wants to put out requires time, effort, and a Microsoft-side certification pass. In general, this is why it takes so long while for a patch to arrive. But this will not be the case for MNC when it comes to smaller things like balance or XP tweaks. Uber has dropped the class-based shooter's balance numbers in Title Managed Storage, Xbox Live's server-side developer storage. All Uber has to do in order to change a character or fiddle with XP earnings is re-write the file. No patch, no screen, no wait, no worries.  



== TEASER ==Uber's John Comes explained this to Penny-Arcade, after Joystiq brought up this little factoid in its review of MNC.

"…So what we did is put a text file with all of our balance numbers [in TMS] and when the game starts up it overwrites the balance numbers with any numbers it pulled down off of TMS," he said. "Unfortunately, late in the process we found a bug that made about 80% of the numbers not work and were unable to fix it. But that other 20% is total fair game. [It] enables us to do things like double earnings nights, extra bacon nights and a few game play balance tweaks. When we found the bug, part of our second certification patch contained some global knobs to tune the power of various things 'on the fly.'"

The first certification pass for Monday Night Combat went as planned. It aced the Microsoft test like every other Summer of Arcade release before it. But Uber spotted some errors that it wanted to correct late, and thus a second pass was needed, according to an earlier Kotaku report.
 

   
Comes later gave an example of what can be changed via TMS.
 
"For example, if I found that Snipers earn juice way to fast, which is actually a concern of mine, I can make the change to the over all speed in which Snipers earn juice, upload it to TMS and the next time everyone boots the game, they'll get the new number. Now granted, if someone never boots the game and is always the host of their online sessions they won't get the change. But, that's going to be few and far between."

It's doubtful substantial updates to the game can be rolled out via TMS, but at least character balance, so crucial in class-based shooters, is something that can be addressed in a much more efficient manner. 
41 Comments
Posted by BradNicholson

Post-release balance tweaks and fixes can be a hassle for Xbox 360 developers. But Uber Entertainment, creators of Summer of Arcade release Monday Night Combat, is hoping to skirt the logjams that tend to develop by an interesting use of server-side storage that will, ultimately, allow it push out fixes on the fly.

Each potential Title Update that a developer wants to put out requires time, effort, and a Microsoft-side certification pass. In general, this is why it takes so long while for a patch to arrive. But this will not be the case for MNC when it comes to smaller things like balance or XP tweaks. Uber has dropped the class-based shooter's balance numbers in Title Managed Storage, Xbox Live's server-side developer storage. All Uber has to do in order to change a character or fiddle with XP earnings is re-write the file. No patch, no screen, no wait, no worries.  



== TEASER ==Uber's John Comes explained this to Penny-Arcade, after Joystiq brought up this little factoid in its review of MNC.

"…So what we did is put a text file with all of our balance numbers [in TMS] and when the game starts up it overwrites the balance numbers with any numbers it pulled down off of TMS," he said. "Unfortunately, late in the process we found a bug that made about 80% of the numbers not work and were unable to fix it. But that other 20% is total fair game. [It] enables us to do things like double earnings nights, extra bacon nights and a few game play balance tweaks. When we found the bug, part of our second certification patch contained some global knobs to tune the power of various things 'on the fly.'"

The first certification pass for Monday Night Combat went as planned. It aced the Microsoft test like every other Summer of Arcade release before it. But Uber spotted some errors that it wanted to correct late, and thus a second pass was needed, according to an earlier Kotaku report.
 

   
Comes later gave an example of what can be changed via TMS.
 
"For example, if I found that Snipers earn juice way to fast, which is actually a concern of mine, I can make the change to the over all speed in which Snipers earn juice, upload it to TMS and the next time everyone boots the game, they'll get the new number. Now granted, if someone never boots the game and is always the host of their online sessions they won't get the change. But, that's going to be few and far between."

It's doubtful substantial updates to the game can be rolled out via TMS, but at least character balance, so crucial in class-based shooters, is something that can be addressed in a much more efficient manner. 
Edited by Wolfrum_920

Interesting! 
 
Wooooo! Quest over!

Posted by SumDeus

Oh wow forgot about this game.

Posted by Tebbit

Uncharted 2 does this as well. Too bad it takes me a solid 5 minutes to log into the multiplayer in that damn game.

Posted by Volgin13

This is very awesome news. Good job Brad!

Posted by takua108

I am actually interested in this game. I might get it, especially if it's TNT next week!

Edited by Raakill

Great idea on Uber's part. Game looks like a ton of fun. Fuck you Microsoft, for not bringing Live Arcade to PC.

Posted by Zvarri

I sorely wish this game was coming to PSN. I need my console-based TF2 surrogate, damnit! 
 
I hope more games adopt this approach when possible. The easier a dev team can tweak a game post -release, the longer said game should remain viable.

Posted by PjotrLeschenko

  Uber Can Tweak Monday Night Combat Can Without A Patch 
 Can Tweak Monday Night Combat Can
 Can Tweak Monday Night Combat Can  
hmmm
can can?

Posted by Faint

sounds like a very interesting idea if its execution is flawless. if it doesn't go as smoothly as they are hoping for it could be a disaster and the game would be remembered for the wrong reasons.

Posted by Arker101

MNC looks kinda neat. I might pick it up myself. 
 
This "updating without a patch" thing is pretty awesome. I wonder why I haven't heard more about it before? I'd figure any and all multiplayer devs would try and use this some way?
Posted by crapneck

i hope this game is good

Posted by ICryCauseImEmo

50/50 on this game it looks like some good DOTA, TF2 fun but im hoping the community will be there, always skeptical when I buy an arcade game weather or not I'll be able to actually get in games.

Posted by Cybexx

This is basically the same thing that Bungie and Infinity Ward / Treyarch have been doing for a while, they tend to use it to change playlists and give double XP weekends. If you want to do something like fix a gameplay or network bug though you still have to push a patch.

Posted by KillerBears

That's actually really cool. Really elegant way to deal with character balance issues and the lag between putting out updates on 360 titles. 

Posted by FunExplosions

Bacon? Listen, developers: Bacon isn't clever or funny.
 
And is anyone else really turned-off by the washed-out color palette?

Posted by CableCarrier

Bacon is delicious, however.

Posted by fobo98

It's about time.  Too bad this wasn't around for the 360 version of Team Fortress 2.

Posted by Arker101
@fntmx1:  
That part I understand. I just had never heard of it up until now though, which surprised me. 
It seems like a system that would work wonderfully with any competitive multiplayer that requires constant balancing. 
Updates are still required, but for games like TF2, MW2,  BC2, H3, etc, are games that could have benefitted from this system. 
 
It seems weird that it took this long for a system like this one to come out. 
Posted by Russcat

Data being stored on a server, eh? Whodathunkit.

Posted by IkariNoTekken

Nice idea...Seems like a good way to do it. Now I just need to see whether the games any good.    

Posted by Mr_Skeleton

Why can they do that? Because they are Uber!

Posted by Devil240Z

wow that should be implemented on games people are actually going to play.

Posted by LiquidPrince
@Tebbit said:
" Uncharted 2 does this as well. Too bad it takes me a solid 5 minutes to log into the multiplayer in that damn game. "
Yeah that's the catch. Server side causes logins to take a long time every time something is tweaked. It's only once in a while, but it can get annoying.
Posted by prencher

Game looks neat, but why is this picked up? Gears of War 2 (starting with TU3 or so), Halo 3 (and all newer Halos), Modern Warfare, Bad Company 2.. They all do this.
 
Anything to get publicity, I suppose.

Posted by Xeiphyer

This game seems pretty sweet. And for everyone else saying IW and everyone else does it already, they are full priced disc based games, this is an arcade game. Its cool to see arcade developers putting that level of polish and thought into a release.
 
I think I will probably end up buying this game come wednesday, the Team Fortress 2 meets DotA aspect of the game seems really cool. This game needs to get hype.

Posted by LordXavierBritish
@Arker101 said:
" @fntmx1:  That part I understand. I just had never heard of it up until now though, which surprised me. It seems like a system that would work wonderfully with any competitive multiplayer that requires constant balancing. Updates are still required, but for games like TF2, MW2,  BC2, H3, etc, are games that could have benefitted from this system.  It seems weird that it took this long for a system like this one to come out.  "
Just because you can change numbers doesn't mean you can import new assets or code at will. I know for a fact that the reason TF2 was never updated on the 360 was that 1. There wasn't enough RAM, and 2. Valve didn't want to have to deal with certification every time they wanted to patch. You can change a few statistics in a game, but you can't make flat out changes without cert.
 
And as many people have said, this has been implemented in games like Halo 3 and MW2 before.
Posted by Arker101

@LordXavierBritish:
Ahhh, I thought it was new, my bad.   
 
I know you can't outright change the game without the certification(bugs, animations, glitches, models, etc), but couldn't you at least edit a gun's power and player speed/movement? Things of that nature? 
 

   
Posted by Iron_Past
@Arker101 said:
"I know you can't outright change the game without the certification(bugs, animations, glitches, models, etc), but couldn't you at least edit a gun's power and player speed/movement? Things of that nature?      "
Yes, which is what they plan on doing. Anything that runs on numbers that they have set up in this thing (like damage, rate of money or Juice gain, speed of movement etc) can be altered on the fly. These are balance changes. Team Fortress 2 has large, game changing updates that add new abilities and weapons, among other things. Obviously something like a hardcoded bug can't be altered without new code, but say, the rate of fire of the Assault can.
 
People saying MW2 and Halo have already done this are correct, but that doesn't mean they've implemented it well, because they haven't. If MW2 or BC2 needs a class fix, they still need a patch, which usually introduces all new problems.
Posted by Tennmuerti

Article is a bit misleading.

All they can do is tweak settings without patches.
Game fixes or updates still require patches.
This is nothing new and is being done in other games already.

Posted by Arker101
@Iron_Past:
Good to know. Thanks for clearing that up.
Posted by ImperiousRix

Good to know, although it's not as if this is an entirely new concept. 
Have high hopes for this game.  Probably gonna pick it up when it drops tomorrow.

Posted by raikoh05

lots of games already do this, the catch is its just for SMALL updates, for big changes or additions there are still patches.

Posted by MeatSim

Good on them for doing this.

Posted by Damien

I feel like other multiplayer shooters can change xp without patches right now, see Gears 2.

Posted by code_monkey

this still begs the question if it is going to be a "good" game. i hope so. :/

Posted by Iron_Past
@Damien:  But they don't utilize it for balance purposes, which is the point.
Posted by COFFEESPANKS

This is an awesome development! I hope that more developers take advantage of this!

Posted by WholeFunShow

I've never understood why this wasn't done before.

Posted by takua108
@Son_Son: Sorry, what?