What an amazing release week we’ve been having!
First of all, thank you everyone for giving Untrusted a chance, and a special thank you for everyone who donated! It really makes a difference so, thank you, a thousand times!
The release went way above my expectations: I’ve got so many great feedback, suggestions, reviews and comments that I am having trouble keeping track of everything – hence, I thought that a development update would satisfy some of your curiosity, so here it is!
What happened with the server issues on release?
Untrusted released in Early access on the 29th January, 2021. The CCU (cuncurrent users) from that date until the out-of-early-access launch was 91 players. Back in February, I had to tackle a similar performance issue, and while the network system still wasn’t perfect, it would handle games fine the vast majority of the time.
One common question that I got asked was “Why don’t you rely on a third party service, such as Photon Engine?”. It’s a valid fair point – you don’t want to reinvent the wheel everytime, besides, I use Unity3D, so why not using a library? Well, the answer is that Untrusted was born as my hobby project. I enjoy learning new things and writing my own technology, when I can. With Untrusted, I wanted to explore a bit more how to handle realtime communication and prepare a scalable architecture – that could be suitable for Untrusted and for other games in the future, why not. This comes at a price: you can’t really test your solution until it’s stressed out by real people – synthetic tests only help you to a point.
So, what happened on May 9th, day of the launch? Well, this happened:
As far as I know it’s unusual that the spike on official release day surpasses the spike after the early access launch. Instead, Untrusted got twice as many players as it was ever tested and that highlighted two critical bottlenecks in the network architecture I chose.
What followed was two nights of reworking the architecture to fix the problems (more players = more data to sift through = you can find where your code messed up). It’s not perfect yet, but those bottlenecks have been fixed and this allows me to scale up much better. With the bottlenecks, upgrading the server hardware would work only to a point, while right now, in case of an emergency scale up, I can safely put the server in maintenance mode, increase the hardware specs, and add more player slots on the servers.
Keep in mind, I never expected Untrusted -being such a niche genre, a text based game in 2021- to gain more than 50-100 CCU, so I initially didn’t plan an architecture to scale up both vertically and horizontally.
This is why in these upcoming days I will work in expanding my networking system so that I can dynamically add new servers (maybe in different world locations) shall the playerbase spike up significantly again.
For many of you 250-300 CCU (which now the new architecture handles beautifully, with less CPU strain than we had with 100) doesn’t sound like many – after all, it’s a text based game and games like Among Us have tens of thousands of players, but if you’re a programmer you know what it’s like to have your code behave on a never-tested-before scenario 🙂
I wasn’t ready for such spike, and that was my fault – more improvements are coming and these will make Untrusted ready to scale up much better – whether a new spike happens or not in the future. Better safe than sorry, right? Unless a scale up spike of among-us-disaster-like-propotions happens, even the current solution should help up well until I develop this new improvements.
So what about updates? New features? Bugfixes?
I’m fairly happy with the state of the game right now (excluding the current inability to scale up at will, see the paragraph above) and as you can imagine right now the priority is improving the network stability so that everyone can play and have a pleasant experience. There will be improvements, as I’ve been done for the past year, both in terms of contents and bugfixes, so please be patient with any issues you may find – please report bugs if you find them (either on the discord or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Will you ever release the game in a different Language?
I’ve seen a fair amount of requests to translate the game into a specific language. Translation is, unfortuanately, just the first step in localization. Localization also include guaranteeing a good support, such as being able to read and act on player reports, delivering updates to all languages in a timely manner, etc.
I’d love to see Untrusted in Russian, Chinese, Spanish, and many other languages! However that will have to wait until a specific need from a specific community emerges, and then I’d have to carefully evaluate if I can guarantee a good support.
Will Untrusted stay free forever?
I really hope so! Untrusted started as a hobby project (then turned lockdown project after covid hit) and I really would like to keep it free. So please consider donating donating if you liked the game and would like to support.
There are two main reasons why Untrusted could benefit from a payment model:
– It would help a lot with managing bans. Moderating takes time, and while there aren’t a lot of trolls, there are some subjects that tried to evade the ban. Even when resetting their stats on their main profile, they try to evade by just creating a new account. The amazing moderation team I have is great at keeping tabs on this people, but it is taxing. A paywall could prevent that.
– It would lighten the load on the servers
However, there are also three main counterpoints:
– The itch.io version would have to either become payment-only too, or would have to be regulated somehow differently than the Steam ecosystem. I’m not sure I want that.
– It would lower the server population. It’s currently growing (and that’s amazing!) but Untrusted is not going to stay in the New and trending section of steam forever, so the major influx will dwindle down sooner or later.
– I really prefer having it free.
So for now, Untrusted is and will stay free as long as I can keep it. And even if Untrusted were to become pay-to-play, if you already have it in your account it’s yours – so don’t worry! You won’t have to pay and you can keep enjoying Untrusted regardless of what happens in the future!
Is there any event lined up? After all there was something for the steam early access release!
There’s nothing similar to the Steam Early Access release planned with badges and extra perks, but something better has come out from our our amazing community: streamers are scheduling a multiple stream where you can see the point of view of all players (or at least, most players!) in the same game. The event is scheduled for Sunday, May 16th starting at 18:00 GMT.
The stream links will be posted soon and can also be found on our Discord Server!
How can I help the game grow?
Play the game when you can! Talk about it with your friends or on Twitter! Leave an honest review and be friendly to all new players – everyone has a hard time with Untrusted and it’s fun as long as everyone is nice. So please help new players, be friendly, and most importantly, have fun!
Where can I buy merchandise?
I’m flattered that few people reached out to ask me that – knowing that you like the game so much to hang a poster on your wall or sport an untrusted
shirt T-Shirt. I’m looking into options, it seems actually I can get something up in a way that’s much more easier than I thought but I don’t have an ETA. I’ll let you know so stay tuned if this is something you’re interested in!
When’s the next patch coming? Will it disrupt service?
I am not sure when I will be able to rollout the next patch. Hopefully (But I highly doubt it) this weekend or the next. More realistically, on Sun 23rd or 30th. Yes, the patch will require the server to be shut down briefly (generally 2 to 4 hours while I also do maintenance) but it will be announced at least 48h beforehand.
That’s all for this post 🙂 see you in game, operatives!