Valorant has become one of the most popular first-person shooters in the world and one of the most-watched esports in just six months. But during that time, Riot developers have received a lot of negative feedback about their updates and patch stability.
This was addressed in the most recent dev diaries video, where senior producer Arnar Gylfason explained why some patches have been buggy and how the development team plans to improve this process in 2021.
Gylfason said that there’s often a “web of complexity” when a patch goes haywire. While many players may believe some bugs are “simple fixes,” Gylfason noted that there could be 100 reasons why something went wrong. This is why the team rolled out patches every two weeks, in an attempt to be “fast and agile” with their updates and attempt to quickly respond to player feedback.
But patch 1.11 proved that the development team had to change up how they were updating the game.
Gylfason explained that there are a lot of teams working on updates and deliverables. When the team has a “release candidate” they are hoping to get to players in the next update, each team will do a “feature freeze.” This means they hold off on larger and riskier updates so they can focus on the release candidate.
The release candidate is worked on for about 2.5 weeks, Gylfason said. In the future, teams will have stricter “feature freeze targets” and there will be “more testing” to ensure that the release candidates are the prime focus. Once the release candidate is ready, the teams all come together to test it for two days, identifying “release blockers” and addressing them.
“Some may feel that’s a really long time. Some would say it’s short. We trust our teams with that narrow window since each team delivers quality work. But when all that work comes together, we sometimes get unexpected interactions between seemingly unrelated systems,” Gylfason said.
For that reason, Riot is adding 24 hours to that test time. This will allow them to get more test cycles in.
Next year, developers will also be pacing their releases so there’s “less critical high impact changes” all coming out at once. But the biggest change comes in the form of a public test server.
There are currently no specific details on Valorant’s upcoming public test server, but developers stated that more information would be revealed in 2021. Gylfason said that adding a public beta environment to Valorant will allow real players to help developers catch potential issues before they make it to live servers.
“We will continue to improve our tools and processes to ensure that your experience matches our promise of high competitive integrity and happiness,” Gylfason said.
Executive producer Anna “Supercakes” Donlon appeared excited about the addition of a public test server. She said that this will “really help” with their development cycles. It should lead to a lot more stable patches in the near future.