2021-05-21_02.55.04

6th Anniversary Roadmap

Hello all,

As you might know, the 6th anniversary of the server is coming soon, and with this opportunity we’d like to present a roadmap for things that will come to GunColony in the 6th Anniversary Update, as well as over this summer.

MINECRAFT UPDATES

Minecraft 1.12.2 is almost 4 year old, and it is about time to start taking advantage of features from newer Minecraft versions. We plan to use a gradual transition to ensure that players have time to update.

  • On May 31st (the 6th anniversary date), we will release a resource pack update, but the server will still be fully functional on Minecraft 1.12.
  • In June, we will release a resource pack update that makes use of the custom font feature from Minecraft 1.13+. You will still be able to join with 1.12, but these new features will be unavailable. You are encouraged at this point to update to the latest version of Minecraft.
  • In July, we will release a resource pack update that makes use of the CustomModelData feature from Minecraft 1.15+. At this point, you will still be able to join with 1.12-1.14, but you will need to use 1.15+ for any new weapon skins and certain equipment models to display correctly.
  • At some time in August or September, depending on Minecraft 1.17’s release date, we will release a resource pack update that makes use of the vertex shaders feature from Minecraft 1.17. You will need to update to the latest version of Minecraft to get these improvements.
  • At a yet undetermined time during late summer or fall, we will update the server itself to either 1.16 or 1.17, making new blocks and in-game features available. At this point, you will need a Minecraft version at least equal to the new server version in order to join the server.

We are aware that in version 1.14 and above, there is movement lag when aiming down sights. This is a vanilla bug and can’t be fixed serverside, but it is not very distracting once you get used to it. If it still bothers you, TheShwarma has created a mod to fix it: https://guncolony.com/MovementFixGuncolony-1.1-MC1.16.jar (Requires Fabric API, 1.16+)

UPDATE NUMBERING

Starting from the 6th Anniversary Update, updates will be numbered. There is no cost to adding a numbering scheme to updates, and it both increases organization for purposes like a wiki, and makes it possible for infrequent players to see how many updates have been released since they’ve last been on the server.

The 6th Anniversary Update will be numbered as Update 1.0.

WEAPON REMOVALS

According to two recent polls on the Discord server, it was overwhelming agreed on by our long-term players that having 140+ weapons was a significant friction to development and balancing, and as such we needed to remove most of our weapons temporarily to rethink how GunColony’s gameplay should work.

We are thus planning to remove more than half of the weapons during the 6th Anniversary Update on May 31st. There will still be roughly 65-70 weapons remaining in the game, which is still more weapons than there are in most FPS games. Also, some of the remaining weapons will get access to new modifications like weapon-specific barrel and ammo choices. The removed weapons will remain in your inventory and will still be usable in Competitive, but they will be unavailable in PVP and Mob-Arena, and players who don’t own these weapons will be temporarily unable to earn them.

The month of June will be a long experimental period when weapon and attachment stats will be changed frequently to find a formula that works best. The balance might be wild and out of whack at times, but the goal is to arrive at a final balancing that is better than before, while encouraging better weapon variety and an increased number of high-skill weapons that shine in the right hands.

In July and beyond, the removed weapons will be slowly added back to GunColony, and each weapon will receive new attention to detail and its own weapon-specific modifications. You will keep your weapon levels and progress. We understand that for some people,  their favorite weapons might be among the ones that will be removed. Please know that this removal will be temporary and will be important to improving the game as a whole.

You can participate in future server polls in our Discord server.

LOADOUTS

Massive changes are coming to the loadout system used in both PVP and Mob-Arena.

We will wait until the 6th Anniversary Update drops to announce most of the changes, but we thought we would share a few details for the sake of letting you be mentally prepared for the scale of this update.

  • You will now create your PVP loadouts before the match, rather than hastily clicking buttons at the start of each round.
  • You will now be able to choose explosives in Mob-Arena.
  • Speaking of explosives, there will now be grenade launchers and RPGs in both Mob-Arena and PVP. We make no guarantees that they will be balanced at first, though we will definitely make them balanced eventually.
  • In both PVP and Mob-Arena, you will be able to earn money during the match to purchase additional items beyond your loadout.

COSMETICS

Minecraft servers cost a lot of money to host. You’ve probably seen this sentence many times before, but it is true especially for high-performance servers that can provide a stable first-person shooter experience. I know that some of our players are willing to support the server, but currently there’s almost nothing to show for the donation besides a tag in the server chat and Discord. Other players don’t even know that an option to donate exists, given how little we have been promoting it up until this point.

A part of GunColony’s identity has always been creating a first-person shooter game without the greed. We would like to keep our monetization model based heavily on cosmetics and compliant with Mojang’s EULA, while making sure that our monetization decisions do not influence the core gameplay in any way. That said, we believe that it is finally time to add some cool cosmetics to the game as donation rewards. Although we dislike prioritizing the development of cosmetic items over essential gameplay features, we’ve accumulated a backlog of cosmetic items over time that have been finished by our builders, and they can be added to the game without compromising on other ongoing development.

Various types of cosmetics will be released over the course of this summer, including helmets, weapon skins, bullet tracer customization, reticle customization, and more to come. Some cosmetics will be available for free to show off your long-term dedication in the game, while others are reserved for our supporters. For the foreseeable future, all funds earned from purchases on our store will go towards server hosting bills and and development costs.

In addition, we are working on some donor rank changes, including making the old VIP rank obtainable again. There will be more to share about this soon.

amd

Host Upgrade

Hello all,

Today I have upgraded the main server that GunColony runs on to a higher tier OVH game server. Here are the specs before and after the upgrade:

  • CPU: 4790K -> Ryzen 3600X
  • Memory: 16GB -> 64GB
  • Storage: SATA -> NVMe
  • Bandwidth: 250Mbps -> 1Gbps

The CPU performance should be nearly doubled compared to before, and the memory was quadrupled. Also, the new higher tier server has a better DDoS protection, even though the protection was already good in the previous server after some issues were addressed.

Note that the game servers are currently unchanged. They are still running on the same machines running Ryzen 3600 and 3700X CPUs. However, the spec upgrade to the main server machine will allow me to move all current game servers onto the machine in the very near future. This should reduce the effective ping for all players by around 30ms (the ping displayed in tab list won’t change) – which be the main benefit of today’s server move. The other server machines will remain to run future, extremely CPU-demanding gamemodes – massive Mob-Arena’s anyone? – and as a measure to handle player spikes in case of future server advertisements.

Finally, I would like to say that hosting these servers is expensive; please consider donating if you would like to support us in keeping the server running and growing the server in the future.

2020-11-30_16.30.21

Server Hosting Upgrade

Hello all,

Up until this summer, GunColony has always been restricted to ~20 players due to lag. But one step at a time, I have worked hard to bring the server up to the performance standards of a large FPS game, and we’re finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Today’s upgrade should mainly allow a >15x increase in upload bandwidth on our game servers. This means much less stutters, and ensures that a match starting/ending does not lag players in other matches.

Also, thank you all for the feedback on the new balance update, y’all are awesome! I will do another minor update in 1-2 days to adjust some things like 7.62x54R ammo and M1919, as well as another performance improvement. (This one also has to do with server hosting so there could be another downtime.)

Keep on mining and gunning!
Hky

TECHNICAL DETAILS – AND NEXT STEPS

As some of you may know, the game servers in GunColony are home hosted. Your connection, however, is forwarded through a dedicated server hosted on OVH. This is mainly to ensure that people can’t take down GunColony through a DDoS attack, but it has a latency penalty of about 30ms compared to running the server on the OVH machine directly (more on that later).

Today I have switched the home servers from Comcast to Verizon. This increases the upload speed from 35 Mbps (4.4 MB/s) to 880 Mbps (110 MB/s) on paper, but speed tests actually measure closer to 500Mbps. Still, this is absolutely a massive increase and means that my home servers are no longer bandwidth-bottlenecked and I can use them to their full potential.

There was previously a large bandwidth bottleneck on my hosted servers. The main issue was that when a game first starts, it took forever to send the chunks to the players that teleport into the map, while also lagging players in other games during this time. Furthermore, from my calculations, ~200 players is enough to saturate 35 Mbps of bandwidth constantly, so it’d be impossible to host more than a few games and expect them to not lag. However, to saturate the new 880Mbps of bandwidth would require 5000 players – probably more than the total number of players in every Minecraft gun server combined – so it’s safe to say that bandwidth is no longer an issue after the upgrade.

The next bottleneck in my current server setup is RAM. Currently, a PVP server with ~10 people in them use roughly half of a Zen 2 thread, and 8GB of RAM. My main server machine has 32GB of RAM and a Ryzen 3700X CPU: if I hosted 4 PVP servers with 10 people each, it would use all of the RAM and only 2 of the 16 threads! However, I’ve recently figured out a JVM optimization that solves this problem admirably: by using 32-bit IBM J9 instead of 64-bit HotSpot, I was able to reduce the memory usage per server from 8GB down to roughly 2GB while preserving the smoothness of gameplay. This quadruples the amount of servers that I am able to host on the same hardware! The improvement will come in GunColony’s next minor update, set to release within this week.

In fact, the RAM improvement is so big that it will allow me to host some servers on the single OVH-hosted server as well. Previously the lobby server alone used up most of the 16GB RAM available, but now I can host multiple PVP games alongside the main lobby, directly on the OVH hardware. This doesn’t have the 30ms additional ping compared to forwarding traffic to home servers, so you’ll be able to get lower ping than before whenever you are playing PVP/Comp after the next update.

I am also planning to host a VPS or dedicated server in Europe that will serve as another access point to my home-hosted servers, effectively removing the 30ms ping penalty from home hosting for European players. (You’d still connect to the same server, just with a more direct route.) However, this does require multiple BungeeCord proxies and thus requires me to write a custom plugin that syncs up the scoreboard and total player count between them. Therefore, the idea could take a while to be implemented.

Speaking of European players, the final frontier for optimization is likely to open separate servers in Europe. This is technically challenging due to the requirement for replicating the database, and also presents an issue of splitting players and impacting matchmaking. Also, it is costly as I would have to host any EU servers on a dedicated server provider. However, it could still happen one day if GunColony grows bigger… and growing bigger is more possible than ever if performance is no longer the largest bottleneck.