Operation Ares Development Update (September 2019)

It's been almost a year since we first announced that the development team would be starting Operation Ares, and since then the team has been putting countless hours of work into creating the new codebase that Stratus will run on. That being said, we realise we haven't shared much information about what Operation Ares is actually going to look like once it's on the server so we thought we would take this opportunity to talk about the tech we've been working on for the past year.

A brand new Java framework

An important part of Operation Ares has been rebuilding the PGM gamemodes from scratch using a simpler and more efficient framework than PGM. As a result, we're able to develop new features much faster than we were able to with PGM (KOTH and Domination were coded in under two weeks). OA is also much more performant than PGM is, meaning we’re able to deliver a more consistent player experience while using lower-cost servers. The new framework is also more flexible, allowing us to create new gamemodes which don't follow the typical rules of the Ares gamemodes, like UHC, putting us in a great place to expand to new audiences or create new experiences for our core competitive audience.

A scalable infrastructure

With Operation Ares, we've created a new cloud-based infrastructure backbone for us to deploy our services onto. Without getting too technical, this basically means that we're able to open and close servers on demand and scale the network dynamically for any amount of players with ease. This helps us handle any influx of players we may get, control costs, and it makes tournament hosting as trivial as running a command. We already have a rudimentary version of this system on the staff Discord as a bot, and I've attached an image below of Delta opening our OA test server to show how easy it would be for our staff to control. We're also putting an emphasis on making our infrastructure more reliable. With OA, we've put an effort into using more reliable technologies while also making sure that, as a whole, our system is tolerant to faults. For players, this will mean less downtime and a smoother experience overall.

Deltuh creating a server by running a command in our staff Discord

We're also improved our admin panel to make it easier to manage our server configuration. Here's a picture of our admin panel for managing permissions.

Permissions being managed from our admin panel

A slimmer and more useful website

Our current website is PGM's neglected step-child. It's slow and contains plenty of half-completed features which don't add much but clutter the website. Our new website will focus on what matters most to our users: statistics and forums. In the future, we plan on making plenty of statistics and leaderboards available to players to allow them to compete in every aspect of the Ares gamemodes possible (although to start we'll be simply aiming to match PGM's features). For the forums, we'll be switching from an in-house solution to a pre-existing open-source forum solution. This means that, with minimal development effort, we'll be able to deliver a featureful forum experience while still being able to customise it to our needs.

What's actually new with Operation Ares?

In terms of concrete improvements to the player experience, you're not necessarily going to see too much right at launch. To get OA out as quick as possible, we're simply aiming to be as good as PGM before launching (this is no small feat, PGM is a five year old codebase). That being said, here's what you can expect to see at launch:

  • Our new scalable infrastructure with better performance, uptime, and
    the ability to handle much larger amounts of players.
  • Our new conquest gamemodes.
  • Our new website.
  • A better system for punishments and chat infractions.

There wouldn’t be much point to Operation Ares if that was all we had planned for it, and this is far from all we have planned for it. OA will allow our development team to create new features rapidly to deliver a better experience for our players, and we have plenty planned for the future including (in no particular order):

  • A new system for joining matches, which will allow you to choose what
    modes you want to play.
  • New and revamped gamemodes. We plan on bringing back Payload (but
    making it good this time).
  • A fully automated system for Ranked which takes place entirely in-game.
  • Cosmetics for premium players (including a premium revamp coming
  • Anticheat.

We have tons more ideas in our back pockets as well which are in various stages of planning. If you have any suggestions/questions, feel free to talk about them below and on Discord.

We’re looking for Developers!

At Stratus, we develop production ready software using technologies like Java, Ruby+Rails, Kubernetes, React.js, and more. Whether you’re a hobbyist programmer who’s just toyed around with some personal projects, in school for computer science, or a full-time developer looking for a side-project, if you’re passionate about the Ares gamemodes and want to help build them, we want you to join our development team. If you have experience in any of the above technologies, then feel free to make an application here on our forums. These are volunteer positions for now, but working on projects at Stratus gives you valuable experience which can help you secure full-time software engineer positions. We’re willing to act as a reference on a resume/CV.

Glad to know you people are (kinda) coming to an end on this huge ass project. I hope the server grows to be as great as Overcast (or even greater, for that matter). Just don't forget all the things Cubist and Electroid taught you.

Yo someone make sure you can't abuse the admin panel in regards to ranks the way you could on avicus (the admin panels looks very similar and I know you've used some avicus code for OA).

If you want to know more I'm sure Austin knows, but feel free to message me.

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