[BB], 2021 in review

And here we are. The first of January 2022.

In many ways nothing changed, we still have covid, Brexit is still a thing and the cost of things are still skyrocketing.
On the other hand plenty has changed. The handover of the Trump administration happened (after an attempted coup), Betty White literally just died and we’re getting vaccination shots out of the wazoo (which you should get if you haven’t already).

2021 wasn’t a bad year but it wasn’t a great year either and some of this I feel can be reflected in [BB].

Donations

Similar to 2020 we’re starting off with donations for transparency and to give a further peek behind the curtain. As of the writing of this post we have a $700 surplus which is the most (+/- $50) we’ve ever had in reserve which is astronomical. [BB] isn’t ran on the basis of making a profit and assuming we didn’t receive another penny from today onwards we could operationally run barebones for 7 months before running out; or for full service this is more like five and a half months.

This is significant! It shows that our current monthly model for Platinum has a proven track record alongside all the other small bits and bobs we offer. Internally we’re regularly discussing if we should bring more to the table although we’re not entirely sure what would appear. If you have any ideas feel free to message someone in [BB] about it!
Last year I mentioned that if the surplus grew big enough we’d consider looking at upgrading parts of (or the entire) machine and if this continues it may very well be on the cards.

S&Box

Although not a part of [BB] at the moment it’s also unlikely it will be part of [BB]’s future either. Earlier this year I was granted access to S&Box and I had bit of a tinker with it to see what was viable, what would it take to port gamemodes like Surf across and what would we could potentially end up with.

The discoveries were somewhat depressing although they were enlightening in their own regard. S&Box essentially is a standalone game portal where Facepunch are attempting to entice developers (ala Roblox) to make what is unique and original content. This would be okay if not for a few problems:

  • There is no native src1 mounting functionality. This means:
    • Src1 maps cannot simply be loaded up in S&box
    • Src1 models cannot simply be loaded up in S&box
    • Src1 materials cannot simply be loaded up in S&box
  • Facepunch are declining to pay for a license for Half-life / Source universe assets so we have to rely on what they make and what we could potentially make.

The long story short: It’s not viable to consider any of the current [BB] projects for S&Box. There were some neat ideas (e.g. Towns) on display and the toolkit is nice but the key difference is this: Garry’s Mod is a mod that gives functionality of the Source (1) engine of which we can built toys in it, S&Box aims to give developers access to Source 2 in a similar fashion of Unreal or Unity, but entirely within Facepunch’s control.


Beyond that, 2021 was actually quite exploratory and refreshing for [BB] with a number of large changes that has probably had some of the biggest impacts ever!

Web API 2.0

As you may (or may not) have heard and seen, we have a new web api over at https://bbservers.dev/v2/ ! While I won’t retrace too much of what the previous blog posts state, the overall impact and development speed this has allowed for is actually fairly significant. The key thing to take away is it allows us to side-load data without it having to go directly through the game servers. A small amount of both BBase and Surf are actually now powered via this web api and it’s running entirely without issue. Additionally we’ve had some people build systems using it which has been really cool to see.

More and more functionality will continue to be built on this over 2022 and beyond which I can’t wait for and it’ll be real neat to see what people come up with as a response!

Surf

For Surf we had a win and a temporary postponement.

The win was that ranks came out! Here within [BB] we’re incredibly happy with how the ranking system turned out and the overall reception to it. I think I’ve only seen one person state they’d prefer the 1/x system which to me is a serious win and shows that we’ve made something far more interesting to players of Surf. What has been a bit funny though is people making up their own theories / lore as to how the ranking system works even though it tells you in F1 > Surf Rankings > Help. It has led to a few eye rolling moments but that’s just how it is I suppose!

What has helped the ranking system flourish further was the addition of the Platinum Rivals / Challengers system. Our Platinum members seem to have appreciated this information and even the competition it creates which has been fun to watch play out.

The postponement comes in the fact the replay system isn’t out yet. Internally a big focus within the last year for [BB] became scalability and making systems that can work harmoniously with adequate room to grow, or to walk back on if needs be and a big concern for the replay system was getting the storage mechanism wrong. The point that replay is in currently is that we can record a players surf experience just fine – however storing that data, sending it to the client and unpacking it was proving tricky to “get right”: or at least what felt right logistically.
With the creation of the 2.0 web api, this has been partially solved and means we have a way of having clients load the data without the server having to load it and then send it down. Replay hasn’t been forgotten, we just want to get it right!

Outside of the above, Surf continued to have a strong year and we welcome many more players to the club! Updates to many maps were made, often in the name of stopping a few cheeky exploiters we had here and there (although I do offer my thanks for those showing what were our blind spots).

Here’s to another good year for Surf!

BBase

BBase didn’t have any particularly ground-breaking changes to it this year other than the support of the new Web Api. In many regards we had a number of bug fixes (quotes working in chat messages!) and included the support of social controls for players when there’s disruption on the servers.

One thing that has been noted (and we’ve had feedback on) is that some systems are starting to feel a bit creaky or that we’ve outgrown it a bit which I’m in agreement with. There are some loose plans on how we plan to go around correcting some of these issues – but I ask for you to bear with us on this. Some of these systems are as old as 2013 where we literally ported them from previous gamemodes that failed (e.g. the inventory system is from Life) or were designed with very specific parameters in mind (e.g. the timetrial system). Additionally there’s only so many times we can update or rewrite parts of systems before we throw our hands in the air and simply cannot face them anymore.

But hey, at least you can turn other players volume down on the scoreboard now!

TTT

Is dead. Other people can do it better than us and I don’t think many people enjoyed our version of it. It’s gone and isn’t coming back. It’ll be replaced by Prop Hunt once I get the front-end sorted.

Other servers

Gofish, Climb and Deathrun aren’t specifically listed here. They’re existing and continue to get some players. Deathrun has some proposed changes coming for it but no guarantees. Climb can probably be designated as “out of beta” now given it has timetrials, although it needs a final pass just to make sure we’re happy with it. Gofish: Boats anyone?


Closing Words

Content probably best sums up the state of affairs at [BB] in 2021. Given the turmoil and changes that have impacted everyone in 2021 (personal lives and within [BB]) we’ve probably had the best possible outcome that we could ask for. We continue to provide a great experience to our players and in kind, our players give us a fantastic community.

Pour one out for those that couldn’t make it to 2022 and for the rest of us that have, lets try to make it the best year yet.

Leave a Reply