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05/06/20

03: On in-game player behavior and server infrastructure

… And we’re back! We’re a month into the global rollout of the VALORANT Closed Beta, and while we’re all just a little tired, it’s also been a lot of fun. Last week (if you caught it), we announced that our top priority heading into May was to get as many of our regional servers online and running as soon as possible, and we’re so happy to be speaking to a new set of regions today. Welcome Korea, welcome Brazil, and welcome Latin America.

Speaking of Latin America, now we’re getting to the real challenges of this closed beta. As of writing this (it’s April 29 right now), we’re still not sure if we’ll have our Mexico City datacenters online for May 5. Dave Heironymus, VALORANT’s technical director, will have more insights on this.

But first... we want to talk about something that’s close to our hearts and an inevitable challenge we’ll need to overcome in a competitive game like VALORANT: player behavior. So I’d like to introduce myself more formally—I’m Anna Donlon, the executive producer and leader of the VALORANT development team, here to address where player behavior stands as a priority for us.

“I’ll be super real here: harassment and bullying in games is not a status quo I’m comfortable accepting. I replied to a colleague’s tweet last month about my fears of solo-queuing, a problem I’ve had for many years of multiplayer gaming. And I’m not alone. We’ve learned to mute others who are harassing us. We’ve learned to mute ourselves in order to keep the peace. And as a result, we have a competitive experience that can feel compromised. We often find ourselves at a disadvantage.

I worry that if we (Riot) don’t make a larger commitment here, we’ll end up following up with very little, or we’ll stop at providing ‘tools’ to self-isolate, rather than promoting a fair, competitive experience for everyone. So I’m going to make that commitment.

While I’m happy with the features we’ve developed to promote competitive, non-verbal communications (like agents automatically calling out when they see enemies with the spike, or our ping system), I still think there is more that we can and should do to protect those who do want to compete with all the tools available (like voice chat!).

This is a very hard space to take on. I can’t solve society, and some of these issues are really, really deeply entrenched. But what I can say is that Riot takes this seriouslyit’s why we established a dedicated “Central Player Dynamics” team to tackle the science and research of what promotes fair teamplay (it’s not always punishments!) and it's why we were one of the first to join and support the Fair Play Alliance with our partners in the gaming space.

I can also say that as the leader of the VALORANT team, I’ve personally made this a priority for the game and will invest the resources necessary. This is a priority for us, not just in the short-term, but for as long as it takes to reassure a player—any player—that as long as they play to win in VALORANT and respect their fellow human beings, they’ll be guaranteed a similar experience in return.

We need to start by publishing our code of conduct as soon as possible, which might not sound like much, but sets our baseline expectations for how we can build (and yes, punish) this community together. With any competitive game, we expect spirits to get high and things to get tensewe're not going to ban someone just because they got passionate about winning or losing. But I also know that some experiences can go beyond enthusiasm; sometimes they extend into harassment. That’s what we’re not okay with.

We’ll talk when we have more to show but please keep holding us, and me, accountable to keeping up our investment here."

And now… we have no good way to transition out of the topic, so it’s back to the dynamic duo of Joe and Anna, here to welcome Dave Heironymus, VALORANT’s technical director on the topic of how our server rollout has been going.

“I’ll say that things are going as well as can be expected. While we’re happy to be on schedule setting up new regional datacenters (roughly), we’re not as happy with latency and how network performance has been across the board. This obviously has an impact on things like peeker’s advantage and undermines our promise to you the player.

So what’s been impacting latency these days? The biggest problem is the same one hitting everyone else: there’s massive amounts of internet traffic and players are coming in from many, many different ISPs. This is on us to account for, but travel warnings have slowed down our ability to scale quickly (and safely) in this space. The Riot Direct team has been working tirelessly to make sure we have the connectivity we need in place as soon as possible to meet our latency targets. What we’re still dealing with is how internet service providers are dealing with the increase in network traffic - many of which have to load balance by routing connections all over the place. As we mentioned, this is something we’re actively tackling, but continues to be a challenge day over day, especially with much higher than expected traffic.

The final issueand one we hope will be solved as more regions and more datacenters come onlineis making sure players are being matched well with other local players, so they’re not being routed from L.A. to Chicago, for example, just because a few players in the match are on the east coast. This is a numbers and availability challenge that we hope to solve by launch: there should be healthy player populations that can find matches on their nearest datacenter at all times. Additionally, we are constantly evaluating where we’ll need new datacenters to fill gaps in coverage, and we’ll have more news for you when we do pick new sites.”

As a final section, we’re also going to include some “KNOWN BUGS” because some of you like knowing we know the bugs in our game. These fixes will be in next week’s patch.

  • We’re aware that performance has dipped in the last few patches, and are actively investigating for fixes
  • We’re fixing a bug where the Spike UI will sometimes overlap with the HUD
  • Also fixing a bug where enemy players will sometimes show up as having the Spike on the minimap, even though they didn’t

Have a good rest of your week!