The Halloween event and free weekend went great, but it was not without its issues. Luckily we were able to resolve the issues without needing to do a steam update by using our extension system (these are the Lambda, Delta, and Omega extensions you see when you join a server). We try to limit our use of the extension system to avoid conflicting with mods, and that is the main reason we are patching this week, and why it is a light one. With this maintenance patch we are integrating those fixes into the main game, clearing out the extensions, and attempting to deploying the badge customization UI for the second time. We also realized that not enough people knew about the new shoulder patch that was able to be earned during the Halloween weekend by playing Infested, so we’ve decided to remove the time lock on it, and allow it to be earned at any time through games of Infested.
There are plenty of other exciting features coming down the pipeline, but they are not quite ready.
Come and see what this Alien vs Marine shooter / strategy hybrid is all about. We've got new-player-friendly servers springing up all over the world, so don't be shy, come and get bitten by a Skulk!
NS2 has continued to receive constant updates over the past four years, with Update 311 being released earlier today. Even if you've played NS2 before, chances are there are lots of new features and improvements to explore.
It’s crazy to think it has been four years since NS2 was launched and even more so to think that many of us were playing Natural Selection 14 years ago. Things have come a long way since then and to allude to the perfect pun, they continue to evolve.
We decided to run a free weekend starting today at 10 am PT to invite every player out there to celebrate this anniversary with us!
Furthermore we wanted to do something special for you ... So say hello to The Infested - an entirely new game-mode which we will be releasing on the Steam Workshop this Friday (October 28th)!
You have been dispatched to deal with a dangerous pathogen which has been detected within a remote TSF outpost. Race to repair the air filtration system before the pathogen corrodes it too severely and the air becomes overwhelmed by infectious spores. But watch out, one of your teammates has already been infected!
Work is also continuing on our conversion to 64-bit, FSFOD is hard at work chipping away at the pieces of this large puzzle and we get closer everyday to unlocking more potential for the future of Natural Selection. Signs of life are appearing, so stay tuned ‘cause there is plenty more to come over the next few months! We can’t wait for you to see what’s in store for NS2.
Additionally this patch includes some spooky/fun enhancements to the official maps and yes, you can throw candy in the ready room again!
Happy Anniversary and Happy Halloween!
Update 311 Changelog
Players can now see who the enemy commander is during pre-game, to help get games started faster
Made lights more spooky
Tweaks / Improvements
Revamped Training menu to be more orderly and useful for new players
Added the beginnings of a new Progression System to Hive
Just a first step to pave the way for many future enhancements
Moved player’s badge customization from old Hive website to be in-game via the Customize player menu
Play now window restyled to fit new themes and look nicer
Made some changes to prepare for Infested’s launch
Added new Halloween effects to various parts of the game, which will automatically change per a server’s seasonal setting. (Thanks IronHorse!)
You can now throw candy during warmup mode
Fixed several edge-case issues with Hive’s skill calculations
Fixed edge-case issue that prevented Hive from updating round data when submitted
Fixed conflicts with Hive changes within Hive Challenge and Tutorials
All map readyrooms have been made more spooky (Thanks Zavaro, Flatrectomy, and Samus!)
Fixed Overview.exe to not render seasonal groups
Fixed Decoda update.dll load error
Added more non colliding and commander invisible seasonal groups for use by mappers
Fixed that Modloader.SetupFileHook returned an error message even on success
Fixed that Filehook entry files could not be used as filehook
Today we have a treat for you. New first person animations have arrived for all the core pieces of a Marine's basic kit: Rifle, Pistol, and Axe! Every single animation has been rebuilt completely from scratch and ran through a new modernized pipeline to improve the weight and feel of the weapon handling and movement in NS2. In addition, while updating the animations, we have also fixed many issues in the animation graphs that control which animations play and how they blend together.
For many, playing the game with new animations may feel like a bit of a shock considering we've all been used to the same animations for upwards of five years; but give it a chance and I think you'll come to love them.
In addition to new animations, we also are switching the game over to Hive 2. This is no miracle fix for team stacking issues, but it does give us a lot more control over the system and ability to fix issues as they come up. There are many technical improvements to the new system, some of which you can read about here.
Although Hive 2 is not going to fix team balancing, it does bring with it some significant improvements to the underlying skill learning algorithm. Moultano has provided a great description of how this works, and an image showing the difference between how the two algorithms might perform when trying to discover a player's underlying skill value.
Notice how the Hive 2 value gets closer to the target value much faster (with many less games played) than if the same set of games is recorded by Hive 1. This week we are also working on putting together a 64 bit beta build, which you will be able to opt in to and play with on build 310 servers so that you can help test the stability and performance of the 64 bit version of NS2 in actual games. Come join us in Discord for more details. The more people that help us test it, the better we will be able to make it.
Update 310 Changelog
Onos cost increased to 62 pres (was 55) When pres gain was increased to 1.25 per tick, Lerk cost had to be decreased to maintain the same initial timings. Because of how late into the game Onos arrive, their cost needs to be raised to account for the additional pres gain and restore the old timings. By pushing out the Oni by a minute or two, aliens have a larger need for Fades, and Marines have a little more breathing room and time to prepare.
Increased the Shotgun spread slightly to decrease the one-shot range to approximately what it was prior to the alien hit box changes
Lerk movement tweaks
Increase non-celerity flap force to match celerity to reduce Lerk’s dependence on Celerity
Improved crouch diving mechanics to help with ambushing and spiking
Increased strafe flap force to help with spiking
Decreased Gorges off-infestation belly slide friction so that Gorges can maintain their speed a bit longer (0.2 to 0.1)
Tweaks / Improvements
Instead of a constant learning rate, Hive now uses both an AdaGrad-based learning rate and a constant learning rate. This makes skill values change faster initially, but change slower once they've converged. Expect large changes to your skill value for your first several games in the new system.
Skill values imported from the old hive system have been modified using a function of play time. (Thanks Nordic!) This fixes the issue where some new players started with a skill of 1000, and others started with a skill of 0. This has the effect of reducing all skill values, particularly those of newer players.
Exploits involving switching teams mid-game have been fixed. Players that switch teams will be credited with both a win and a loss, and the skill updates will be proportional to how long they played on each team, weighting the beginning of the game much more than the end.
Games with few human players no longer cause anomalously large skill updates. Games with fewer than 12 human players will have a very small effect on skills.
Added graphical element for mucous shield
Added an additional diagnostic icon which will appear when a server's performance dips to yellow or red
Fixed that script error icons would flash on screen after map loads
Fixed exploit that allowed players to regain all energy by exploiting the “Evolve Last Upgrades” feature
Fixed that you couldn't hit cysts at your feet with the Axe while standing on top of them
Fixed a client crash caused by trying to read from a model that has not finished loading
Fixed an scripted error occurring when bot commander got kicked
Fixed that alien bots tried to evolve upgrades on higher lifeforms even though they couldn't afford them
Fixed that commander bots would try to build RTs in a weird order due to it using birds-eye distance rather than path distance
Fixed that command chairs could not be built by bots
Fixed a bug that would cause a babbler-covered gorge to have a more difficult time heal spraying structures
Improved how cyst chains are placed. This should make cysts more reliably connect to the closest cyst
As we announced in last week’s Changelog, we’re releasing a patch this week! This patch contains all the tweaks and updates we held back from build 308, in favor of having more time to solely focus on the issues that came up after the LUAJit update.
Included in this update is the brand new Marine Commander tutorial. This will teach potential new commanders the basics of commanding and the marine tech tree. So if you wanted to get a basic understanding of commanding without being in a live game, there is now a way to do so.
But that’s not all! Thanks to the tremendous work of Trevor, with the help of a group of volunteers from the community, the new tutorial is packed with more easter eggs and secrets to discover. So even as a veteran commander it’s worth giving it a shot, if only just to unlock the new achievements!
We’ve been listening a lot to the community’s feedback about the current balance situation and the performance issues that have been showing up since the last few builds. With this build we started including changes which are trying to resolve some of those issues that were brought up. More improvements will follow in the future.
Meanwhile the team is still working on items from our roadmap that remi posted two weeks ago.
There is much more to come for NS2 on the horizon, so stay tuned and happy hunting!
Update 309 Changelog
Skulk HP raised to 75/10 (was 70/10) The intent of this is to make early game skulks a tiny bit less fragile and to make early game engagements more stable (the innate regen threw a RNG factor into those engagements)
Machine Gun changes
MG research time halved to 30 seconds (was 60)
Decreased MG spread to 4 radians (from 4.5)
Increased magazine size to 125 (from 100)
The MG is primarily designed to give Marines a chance to hold and extend their territory in the late mid game. The MG wasn’t really able to do that in the past. Halving the research time should help get it on the field before it’s too late. Furthermore decreasing the spread and increasing the magazine should make it reward players better for good positioning.
Railgun damage type changed to Structural (was normal, railguns now do double damage vs structures, and have no change vs players)
The Railguns can be fun to use against alien players, but at it’s current damage numbers it took 2-4 shots to pop a cyst which made it feel very underpowered. Doubling their damage output to structures will help give them more utility.
Marines now can’t turn their upper body as far to the right, without also turning their lower body (this makes it easier for aliens to tell which direction a marine is facing)
Marines now use a different animation while jetpacking, rather than the jumping animation
Tweaks / Improvements
New Commander Tutorial now available in the training menu!
Two new achievements added related to the commander tutorial
Removed the “commander help” in-game tutorial
Improved bot server performance by adding a tick rate for the bot logic routine which is set to 10 by default
This should lower the impact of bots onto the server performance by at least 50%
Updated the bot name list including more recent contributors
All serverbrowser filter act now the same way: Enabled will show given servers, disabled will hide given servers. Old filter settings are converted
The “full server” serverbrowser filter will now also take reserved slots into account
Added the server admin command “sv_rookieonly” to change the rookie only state of a server without requiring a map change or server restart
Replaced the server runtime error (SRE) icon when a script error occurs on the client with something prettier
Added another diagnostic icon which will appear when a script error occurs on the server (it’s purple!)
List the exact number of script errors that occurred on the server in net_stats and the client log
Windows servers now automatically save a mini memory dump into their log folder on crash (if your server crashes please send this to us so we can help diagnose it)
Fixed that the subscribed mods did not show up in server details window
Fixed that the rookie only check didn’t work on most rookie-only servers (this was previously deployed via the extension system)
Fixed that the buttons of popup that showed up when a non rookie tries to join a team at a rookie only servers did not work
Fixed that you could get stuck in place if you attempted to evolve a trait twice before turning into an egg
Fixed a script error in the alien commander bot routine
Fixed a small performance issue in the scoreboard update routine
Fixed that numbers in the options menu were too precise
Fixed that the pistol slide was not staying open when the gun is empty
Fixed that blink effects could cause visual artifacts when bloom was enabled
Fixed that protolab could cause blow out while being biled if bloom was enabled
Fixed that spectators could end up spectating non player entities in a rare case
Added the ability to lock the view horizontally with the space bar in film mode (Thanks Samus!)
Added Client.GetNumServerScriptErrors() to get the number of script errors that have occurred on the server (since map change)
The spread vectors table of the shotgun is now referenced via the class to make them easier to mod
Improved the Lua TraceLogger error messages to include more details
Added JSON Export to Animation Graph editor
Improved Animation Graph editor visuals by highlighting incoming and outgoing lines from the selected node different colors.
It’s now possible to have one-way labels in the Animation Graph (animation state can jump out of this node to other nodes of the same label, but can only be entered by discrete connections)
Fixed an issue that could cause models’ scaling to be strange when playing animations.
Fixed a bug that would cause cameras to not load properly.
Fixed possible crash on exit due to bad access in FMOD dll (when using Spark’s tools)
We'd like to take a moment and shine a light on our partners over at the Natural Selection League. Sign-ups are under way for season 10 of great competitive NS2 action and we couldn't be more excited! Below is all the information and links you might need to get involved with the next season, so gather your friends, create a team and get in on the action!
New to the ENSL?
Welcome to the Natural Selection League. If you’re looking for getting more out of your Natural Selection 2 experience, look no further. Power plays, crackpot strats, and the greatest competitive minds of Natural Selection 2 converge here to duke it out on the battlefield. Talk strategy, metagame, and high-level concept Natural Selection 2 on our forums, or enjoy a gather and fight to the top of the food chain. If you’re looking for more information, check the bottom of this post.Any questions can be directed to our help desk or by messaging an admin on ENSL, Steam, by email or Discord. A full list of current admins can be found here.
Brace yourselves, Season 10 is upon us! But.. we will be extended the deadlines for signups for two weeks. The signup deadline for Season 10 is now October 13th. We want the potential to seed a lower division as high as possible, with the intent of more and better matches. A reminder to sign-up if you haven’t already, as time is ticking!For all new players, you need a team of at least six players to compete in Season 10, please read the final section of this post on how to create or join teams.
Gathers have picked up steam and are running again. You can join a gather by registering an account and joining up here. Joining is easy, and practice can come in handy for the upcoming Season 10. Be sure to play more rounds to familiarize (or refamiliarize yourself on Mesh (formerly Docking2), Nexus, and Mineral, as these custom maps are staples of an ENSL season, and some have changed for the new Season.
Some of our mappers have come forward concerning high-level gathers on ns2_ayumi, a reimagining of the Natural Selection 3.0 map of the same name. Huge changes have happened recently with the map concerning balance, and feedback is necessary. Contact Kasharic or Mephilles for more information. If you have another map you’d like to see played in gathers, contact an admin.
Joining the ENSL
If you don't have a team or have yet to join the ENSL, it's easy to create an account or team with the following steps. If you want to register a pre-existing team, skip to step 4.
To create a team, register an account and create a new team! Creating a team is not necessary, nor is joining a team. If you’re looking to join a team, find a team and select the Request to Join button on their page. You’re free to use the ENSL website without any pressure from any teams.
Get your players to register and tell them to Join your team in their Agenda, which you can find at the top of the page! You can meet players in-game, in ENSL gathers, or on the ENSL or Unknown Worlds forums. As per usual ENSL rules, you must have at least six players for a valid Season 10 team!
To accept your players on the team, go to Agenda → Click your team name → Edit and scroll down → Members → Change their status from Joining to Member, Leader, or Deputy. These roles can define what a player is to your team.
To join the tournament, go to Agenda → Click your team name → Edit (scroll down) → Contests → Join Season 10 Signups. This will reserve your space in the upcoming Season 10. Get ready to rock!
Verify that your team name exists on the Contest page. If your team does not appear here, please follow these steps again. If all else fails, contact an admin.
A few weeks back Remi wrote up a blog called “Enter the Roadmap” and today we take the first step down that road with the release of Build 308. One of our biggest hopes is to finally take NS2 to 64bit but there are many hurdles along the way, a big one being LuaJIT. FSFOD and the other programmers have been hard at work on an upgrade to the newest version of LuaJIT and testing, testing and more testing. The upgraded JIT allows for more of the overall NS2 code to be jitted, and additional trace stitching which provides more opportunity for improving existing performance logging.
This update was delayed for further testing a couple weeks ago, but thanks to a few community server ops, playtesters and public players we have spent a lot of time this week finally ironing out the last of the major issues. However, an upgrade to a core system such as this is likely to have some sneaky bugs appear and we hope that you can get in touch with us on Discord or through tech support in the forums to help solve those issues.
Tweaks / Improvements
Upgraded LuaJIT to Version 2.1
More code is jittable now (runs slightly faster on average)
String operations have been improved which helps with our GUI code
Switched to JIT specialized table functions
Crash dump always saved before showing report dialogue and command line switch to enable a full dump if requested
Add icon which will flash on screen when a client encounters a script error
Fixed Trace object field access unintentionally always failing to JIT.
Fixed script error when Alien Commander failed to place a Cyst
Fixed script error when Alien Commander failed to place a Drifter
Fixed script error when a ViewModel’s parent entity has been destroyed
Fixed that rifles sometimes cause a script error because its cinematics have already been destroyed
Fixed script error caused by entering hive after activating xenocide
Fixed script error caused by code not expecting there to be nil entries in an entity list
Added ErrorCallback Lua event that is fired every time there is an Lua error. The error message is passed as the first argument of the event
Added `display_errors` console command which will trigger a popup if there is a script error so you don’t need to dig through logs to find the first one. You can also activate this by using the `-debug` launch option.
Removed out of date and unusable model source assets from NS2 install. This reduces the install footprint by roughly 1.3Gb. The files can still be accessed on the “build_307” Steam branch.
Progress! These last couple weeks we have been working towards some of our larger goals for the game. We have had multiple public and private test sessions with the upgraded Luajit changes and it is very close to public release. Dependency on Awesomium has been removed and should help with stability and memory leaks. HIVE 2.0 will be launching in parallel to the existing HIVE sometime over the next week using extensions. This will allow us to test our new system in the public and see how well the algorithms and data collection are working and allow us to make some final tweaks before removing the old version entirely (more detail on this in a separate blog post soon).
Looking to make some changes, update 307 includes a new version of Summit with contributions from Wob and Loki. We have been playing it over the last couple weeks and are excited to see how the public adapts to the new changes. There have been continued debates in multiple Discord channels over balance and a wide range of other subjects lately. These discussions have been very helpful and have lead to some inspired changes that you will see in the log below, so keep em going.
Keep an eye out for a new blog post next week showing our evolving Roadmap for the future of NS2 and some of the exciting updates that we hope to be bringing in the near future.
Skulk on and be happy!
Update 307 Changelog
Tweaks / Improvements
Reverted HP to 70/10 (was 85/10)
Increased base ground speed to 7.25 to match wall walking speed (was 7.0)
Increased non-celerity wall jump force to 6.4 to match the celerity force (was 5.2)
Increased sneak speed to be 66% of max speed (was 50%)
Made wall jump noises more responsive to your speed to provide better feedback
Although we felt that increasing the Skulk base HP was a necessary step to restore the balance, we agree with the community’s sentiment that it didn’t improve the feel for either side. Our aim going forward is to make it so Skulks feel effective, even while their small health pool can feel punishing. These new changes in conjunction with the melee box increase should make Skulks feel a little bit more maneuverable and able to get a kill, especially during the early game and when planning an ambush.
Removed the Twitter ticker since it is not used much
Added team say console command `tsay` (Thanks Keats!)
Replaced HTML renderer to use Steam APIs instead of Awesomium
Videos will now play on Linux!
Welcome banner was hidden by the load screen (Thanks Brute!)
Fixed that text input fields didn’t consume key events (Thanks Brute!)
Fixed that enemies were still considered in LOS for health bar display when hiding behind structures and other players
Fixed that enemies were not considered in LOS for health bar display when visible through railings
Fixed that Skulks’ celerity bonus was not being reduced while sneaking
Fixed a script error caused by telling a bot to attack a clog
Fixed that higher level tech was not immediately available in Sandbox mode from the Armory/Protolab
Fixed that missing placeholders in a localization could cause clients to crash (occurred with Serbian selected)
Fixed a script issue occurring on ns2_caged caused by achievement handling
Atrium – Depth of arched pillars increased, tree added and its tube, raised platform at back of summit added console for additional ground cover, fences now solid.
Datacore – New pillar added to give partial LOS block on TechPoint when approaching from Pipe Junction
Reception – Increased height of ceiling and added new pillar
Flight Control -Duplicated roof truss and added tv for cover
Computer Lab – Added small pillar increased height of ceiling, route from comp lab to sub now has 2 additional ceiling recesses for hiding skulks etc
Reactor Core – Slight room alteration + extended angular struts from the reactor prop
Fixed overhead bridge in Biome blocking commander view
Model Compiler – Fixed a bug that would cause FBX models to use incorrect bones for attachment points.
Model Compiler – Fixed a bug that would cause FBX models to have cameras incorrectly oriented.
Model Compiler – Added a directive to the model compiler “material_path_replace”. Takes an input string, and replaces all occurrences of it with the output string. Useful for maintaining proper Maya workflow/naming conventions.
Our latest build continues on the path of refinement and stability, and although small there are some nice changes in this patch. Those of you with antivirus woes when opening NS2 should no longer have an issue as all our windows binaries are digitally signed and secure. As stated in the blog post earlier this week, we increased the size of the melee attack on both the skulk and fade and this change is no longer an extension but part of the vanilla code. We have also decided to slightly bump up skulk HP requiring an additional 2 bullets to make contact.
Behind the scenes we are continuing our work on HIVE 2, which is coming along nicely and should see the public soon! Meanwhile FSFOD has not wasted any time on his upgrade of LUAJit and we will be beta testing those changes starting next week. We are very excited to get some of these new features out into the public, but for now, enjoy the update!
Update 306 Details:
Tweaks / Improvements
All Windows binaries are now digitally signed, which should make AV & Security programs consider NS2 as a validated program. There are some AV programs that will not take this into consideration however (such as Avast Hardened-mode enabled).
Warmup Mode Improvements
Enemies will slowly take damage while in the other team’s spawn location and will receive a notification to retreat
Bots will no longer buy tech or evolve, to prevent overwhelming the enemy team with Onos
Filler bots will be disabled for listen servers
Disabled many rookie-only checks in listen servers
Boosted Skulk starting health by 15hp to 85/10
Size of Skulk melee has been increased to 1.2, 1.2 (was 0.7, 1)
Size of Fade melee has increased vertically to 0.7,1.2 (was 0.7,1)
Fixed that filler bots stayed longer in the teams than they should which could lead to uneven teams
The player list now updates properly in the server details window
Mod names now update properly in the server details window
Fixed that the sv_forceeventeams command wasn’t working
Fixed that the “start commanding” text showed up at unbuild hives (thanks NoM)
Fixed that commander dropped weapons caused phantom item bubbles
It’s been two weeks since our last update, be honest you missed us! Moving to this model has allowed for us to make some much needed changes to our way of implementing and testing changes to the game. This update may seem light, but it has some good fixes and more enhancements to our server browser including a friends filter. This filter will allow you see what servers your steam friends are playing on and get you connected to them.
One of the new additions I mentioned above is “Playtest with the Dev’s,” a weekly opportunity to jump into the beta of next update and play a series of games and give your feedback on the upcoming changes. We strive to make changes that have a positive impact on the community and next to our discord or forums this is a nice direct interface for the players and devs to communicate.
Our newly implemented feedback system has given us some nice results over the last couple weeks. The most selected option for lower rated rounds was “Uneven Teams” and for newer players was “Inexperienced Commander.” To attack these issues we have begun work on a set of new features, the first being a long needed update of our backend Player Skill tracking system HIVE. Hive 2.0 will go a long way towards helping us resolve some old internal bugs, and add some much needed speed to the communication between servers and the database. The second feature is our continued expansion on the tutorials available to players. A new Commander Tutorial is being drafted and developed to give players a better grasp on commanding a team for both Aliens and Marines.
These two features are only the beginning of our Phase 3 plans. We will be starting a new series of QA videos on our YouTube channel to better explain and show off upcoming development on NS2. There will be another blog post next week going into more details on how you can submit questions and feedback for us to talk about in our series.
See the full changelog below and happy hunting!
UPDATE 305 CHANGELOG
Tweaks / Improvements
Added a Friends tab to the serverbrowser
Easily join your friends, wherever they are
Bots will now fill up empty servers up to 12 slots by default
Makes it easier to form teams as player can directly join the team they want to play
Makes Warmup mode engaging even without other players
Makes it faster to start a game without many human players
Bots are ignored by the Warmup Mode check
The cooldown of Belly Slide and Charge get now displayed by the HUD (Thanks Steelcap!)
Increased the rate with which each Minigun heats up from 0.2 to 0.3 to compensate for them being independent now
Autobalance doesn’t stop players from spawning anymore when teams are uneven
Fixed the description of the Machine Gun and Lerk Spores
Fixed that sometimes you couldn’t evolve if you had babblers attached to you
Fixed most issues with stuttering when running past clogs caused by desync of the clog collision in the predict world
Fixed that the server browser was sending significant more pings than needed
Fixed issue with NS2+ causing health bars to show up when players were spawning in