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- Hannah Berner, Gizelle Bryant, Kate Chastain & Porsha Williams to Host Bravo's Chat Room (people.com exclusive) "Bravo is launching a brand new late-night series called Bravo's Chat Room, PEOPLE can exclusively announce. Hosted by Summer House's Hannah Berner, Real Housewives of Potomac's Gizelle Bryant, former Below Deck star Kate Chastain and Real Housewives of Atlanta's Porsha Williams, Bravo's Chat Room will feature the four women as they discuss the biggest headlines in pop culture and unforgettable Bravo moments. They will also open up about their own personal experiences in relation to current events. "Porsha has entered the chat! I am so excited to be joining this fantastic group of ladies for Bravo's Chat Room. It's a new virtual adventure we're all jumping into and can't wait for the Bravo fans to see," Williams tells PEOPLE. "There are so many things happening out here in the world that it's really important we all come together and speak from our own point of views. Plus, you know I love to give my two cents!" And due to the coronavirus pandemic, the new series was shot entirely over Zoom — allowing fans to get an even more intimate look inside the host's lives. Immediately following Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, the six-episode season will air Sunday and Monday nights. Andy Cohen will also executive produce, alongside Williams and Chastain. "I am thrilled for these Bravo ladies who already have such big personalities on our network to come together (virtually) for the ultimate group chat,” Cohen tells PEOPLE. "Their quick wit and powerful observations will provide a much-needed voice in today’s pop-culture landscape delivered in a way that only Bravo can." Bravo's Chat Room premieres Sept. 27 and will air every Sunday and Monday night through Oct. 12."
- Preview of tomorrow night's Potomac episode (Queens of Bravo Twitter)
- André Leon Talley teases ‘RHOP’ cast for their ‘wack’ fashion choices (Page Six) "Iconic fashion editor André Leon Talley knows what works both in print and onscreen, recently sharing sharp critiques of the ladies of “The Real Housewives of Potomac” and their fashion choices on “Watch What Happens Live” with host Andy Cohen and “RHOP” cast member Ashley Darby. During a “friendly” game of “Clack or Wack” — in which the two guests share their approval (clack) or disgust (wack) regarding a famous look — Talley didn’t hold back, though he did begin the game with a “clack” for Candiace Dillard Bassett’s glittering strapless dress and light denim thigh-high boots. “I like it” Andre conceded. “I think it’s very modern. The above-the-thigh boots are great.” The same couldn’t be said for Karen Huger’s Season 5 sorbet-hued, puff-sleeved interview look, which prompted Talley to exclaim “WACK!!! I do not love it!” He went on to praise Monique Samuels’ Black Panther movement-inspired lace look, only to deem Ashley’s neon yellow ensemble with bright pink accents “wack” — despite her virtual presence, leading the reality star to call his critique “savage.” Talley went on to call sequin looks from Gizelle Bryant and Wendy Osefo “wack” before ending on a high note, showing Robyn Dixon love for her diamond tights and tux jacket. “Clack,” he said. “Very good.”
- Ashley Darby goes on a "no filter" campaign on Instagram (Ashley Darby Instagram) "Family, I’m on a no filter campaign. I have my own reasons but ultimately I want to celebrate how we look in real life, whether it be fresh faced or with a nice beat. Technology has allowed us to create the most unrealistic standards of beauty that are impossible for real humans to achieve, which can foster a perpetual cycle of insecurity. I’m not perfect, Facetune was a steady favorite, but I’m hanging up the wrinkle eraser and showing you alla dis, pimples, wrinkles and all. And this photo is from when I picked up a beauty blender for the first time in 2 months - and ya girl was proud of herself. Again, I’m not perfect - I have and never will claim to be, but this is what I feel compelled to do. Love to you all ♥️ #RHOP #thankyouSocialDilemma"
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- Erika Jayne Sounds Off on Denise Richards Leaving RHOBH (E! Online exclusive) "You know, everybody internalizes this show differently," Erika said in an exclusive conversation with E!'s Justin Sylvester on Thursday, Sept. 17's Daily Pop. "I would've liked to see her stay, but she has to do what's right for her and her family." "I think the most frustrating part about all of this was that Denise could not even acknowledge what was said on camera," Erika said, likely referencing what could also be traced back to the conversation with Brandi, as she accused Denise of repeatedly badmouthing Kyle, Teddi and the other RHOBH ladies, and though Denise admitted as much about Teddi in a confessional, she denied doing so at the reunion when confronted. "So it's kind of like irrefutable evidence," Erika added. "And then just, 'I didn't say that,'...but it's on camera!" Erika was also upset with the fact that Brandi wasn't able to make her own appearance at the reunion. "Had it been any other Housewife in that situation, Brandi would've been seated right there to confront her," the singer expressed. "But she wasn't...it puts us in a weird place—and you know this game better than me, Justin—so when the Brandi thing comes to light, we as a cast have to talk about it. And we're dragged into it." She continued, "Now you're taking Brandi, who's an important piece of this story for months now, and you're not letting her speak? And I just feel like had it been any other woman, Brandi would've been there." Justin and Erika went on to hypothesize why Denise and even other actresses might struggle with reality TV, with the RHOBH star noting, "There's no stop and start. There's no script." "You're talking off the top of your head. Everything is up for grabs. Everything will and can be used," Erika expressed. "And you have to be able to live in that space. And there's no protection from production or the network, or your friends or, you know, anyone." The harsh truth, she added, is that "sometimes you win and sometimes you lose." "Everybody looks bad. Everybody takes a hit," Erika said. "Everybody stumbles and there's no retakes, really." So where does The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills go from here? Well, if it were up to Erika to find Denise's replacement she'd call on someone who knows reality TV very well: "Come on down Kris Jenner!"
- Teddi Mellencamp on accountability program backlash: ‘It isn’t about certifications’ (Page Six) "After her wellness program, All In, was criticized on Instagram this week for its allegedly restrictive methods, the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star, 39, defended her approach to Page Six via email. “We realize that social media is a blessing and a curse, and it can bring out the best in people and the worst,” she wrote Thursday. “We have so many fabulous friends and fans on social, but there are also detractors, and there will always be people who want to feel better by making other people feel worse. That makes me sad, but it’s the way it is. I decided to start All In when so many of my Instagram followers started reaching out and wanted to achieve the same level of accountability, I had found for myself. I realized this in fact is my purpose and what I love doing. Helping others feel their best. Our focus has always been on clean whole foods and our basic Jumpstart menu is 1100-1200 calories per day. There are a variety of nutritional food options on our menu. We have found that clients do best following a simple menu in the initial stages. We allow lean, clean proteins throughout the program and we encourage clients to eat balanced meals. Protein-rich veggies are a large part of our plan. It’s all about tailoring a program to meet each client’s goals and needs for a healthier lifestyle,” she explained. Mellencamp has also come under fire for her credentials, and those of her employees, which some former participants found questionable. “I became an AFPA-certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant and AFPA-certified Personal Trainer, but that’s not what our program is about. We employ accountability coaches, and each of them has been through the program, which makes a difference. It builds a community and there is a lot to be said for people who have shared lived experiences. “We truly believe that the lived experience makes all the difference. Our coaches are not licensed health professionals and have no healthcare training. We practice what we preach and it isn’t about certifications. If people are looking for certifications, then they need to go elsewhere, but if they want a helpful, nurturing, supportive accountability coach, they’re in the right place.” Other participants claimed that they were forced to sign nondisclosure agreements upon joining, something an emotional Mellencamp addressed on her “Teddi Tea Pod” podcast. “We require a consent form when you come through which actually protects them as much as it protects us because we want to make sure that you are not pregnant. You have not had a past eating disorder. That we are not licensed professionals and we have no healthcare training. So when people are saying NDAs, we want to make it clear that this is as much for you as it is for us. And then, the company has also evolved a lot from when we first started. I originally had an NDA because when I first started the show, people were signing up solely because they wanted to talk to me. And then I realized, like, ‘Okay. I need to put some things in place so people are signing up for the right reasons, not just to talk to a ‘Real Housewife.'”
- I can't see the whole article but this is Michaele Salahi related soooo: Journey Guitarist Loses Appeal Over Wife's Concert Injury (Law360.com) I'll keep an eye out for further details lol.
- 'The Real Housewives of Atlanta' Shakes Things Up with Drew Sidora, LaToya Ali and...Falynn Guobadia? (lovebscott.com) "The cast is preparing for a trip to the Carolinas this season — since international travel is restricted due to the ongoing pandemic — and our sources say that another lady is preparing to join them. Her name is Faylnn Guobadia and you may have seen her pop up with some of the girls on social media. Our sources say she’s actively filming with the cast, but whether or not she’ll become an actual ‘Housewife’ or an official friend of the show has yet to be determined."
A Letter From Our Producer - 10th June 2020
Your Producer Arnaud here, along with designer Tom ‘Fuzzhead’ Fancsy. It’s been a while since the last producer letter and with Beta 19 recently out, it is the perfect time to huddle up for a sitrep about all the developments happening with Squad under the hood, as well a taste for our future plans.
First - we want to thank you for your reception to our Black Lives Matter post. The positive messages we received from players exemplified the type of welcoming, inclusive and supportive community we want to continue to expand within the game.
The current State of Squad
The B19 Update
As our community is acutely aware, our latest release took longer than we had intended. We are grateful to our players for their patience! This update included a full Engine Upgrade to Unreal 4.23 - a challenge in itself but we aimed to literally rip out the skeleton of the game and reinforce it to one lined with Adamantium. As we found out, this wasn't the most seamless process and while we were able to make significant changes we were also met with other issues such as our VOIP system breaking, dozens of client and server crashes, game modes not working correctly, file size directory doubling in size, LOD Issues, to name a few.
We also appreciate your patience with the several releases we had to provide in order to support the issues that arose from the b.19 release.
Despite these obstacles, this Engine Upgrade brought a lot to our internal development capabilities. You can read the previously released detailed patch notes for B19 here, but we wanted to touch a bit more on the specific improvements this Engine Upgrade provided:
- Powerful, new diagnostic tools will enable our Devs & QA to more quickly find and tackle issues that affect performance and stability. This advancement allows the team to go full steam ahead on optimization.
- 4.23 has been a real boost for Environment Art - several advancements have been made, some of these are:
- Auto-Instancing Static Meshes - this is the single biggest improvement to Environments for 4.23. It required extra work from our end to get working correctly with Squad, but this has vastly increased our performance budget in many situations. Before this, when there were multiple instances of the same static, level designers would manually have to go through and set them to "Instance" based on their proximity to each other to save memory cost. This is now automatically done in 4.23, which in most cases means more optimization, and no extra development time - Sweet!
- Fog Improvements - 4.23 has improved the fog system, so now our environments can have 2 layers of height fog at once. For example, a map can have low fog that's down in a valley, and can also have a thin fog that affects the entire map. We know fog has been a hotly debated topic, especially regarding the reduction of view distances when helicopters were introduced. We will continue to tweak the fog levels to find that balance between epic long-distance views and vehicle on vehicle long-range battles and the need to optimize and improve performance - the more view distance, the more strain on a player's computer performance, typically.
- Lighting Improvements - 4.23 has improved the accuracy of shadows in some cases, but this needs to be tweaked manually. We know that lower shadows settings have been an issue in Squad for a long time, and are working towards a solution that is both performant, and looking great! We will use every tool available to us to continue to bolster our lighting efforts, and 4.23 has introduced some more tools. We would like to hear what you think of some of the new lighting improvements on our map layers, as well as your thoughts on shadow settings.
While B19 was primarily focused on the 4.23 Engine Upgrade, we couldn’t resist adding a few features that were prototyped but never implemented.
The first new feature to B19 is something that has been requested for many years, and something that the Squad dev team always wanted to implement but was not able to fit into the schedule. That feature is Dragging - the ability to grab your teammates and literally drag him/her to cover to provide First Aid securely.
This prototype has its roots in our former ragdoll simulation overhaul back in A15.4. We decided to fix the many issues with our ragdolls not being networked properly or looking correct. One issue was one player seeing the ragdoll body in a different location than another player. All of these issues had to be resolved one by one, with a lot of trial and error. Without those issues getting resolved, dragging would never have been possible. We then got a rough working prototype of the dragging system. Several months later, we were able to take that prototype, work out most of the bugs with it, and get it implemented!
We believe players will enjoy the added immersion, as well as the utility of being able to pull your squadmates to safety. More tweaks and fixes for the dragging feature will likely occur down the line. We would love to hear your feedback on how your experience with the dragging system has been!
Helicopter Tail Rotor Destruction
Another new feature we added for B19 is the ability to destroy tail rotors with projectiles. Previously in B17/B18, the Helicopter tail rotors were only destroyable by colliding with terrain, buildings or other vehicles. Now players can target these tail rotors directly, with small arms, AT weapons, and most effectively with larger calibre rounds like 12.7mm, 14.5mm and 25/30mms. We hope you have now had a chance to witness the spectacle of knocking out a helicopter’s tail rotor and revel in watching the bird spin out of control into a crash landing!
The final major new feature for B19 is adding Nvidia Highlights support for Squad. This new feature allows players that use GeForce experience to have moments in the game automatically save clips based on specific triggers in-game. This feature can be turned on and off and maybe a fun way to relive those moments if you are like me and often forget to hit the "save last 5 minutes" button after something epic has happened. We have only added a couple of initial trigger events for B19, they include: destroying a helicopter with an AT Launcher, Triggering an IED and knifing an enemy. More trigger events will be added in future releases. After using the Nvidia Highlights system, we'd love to hear from you about what you think would be good trigger events for this new feature!
B19 full development was underway early in December 2019, roughly 3 weeks before the release of B18. We were aware that Unreal Engine upgrades had caused a lot of headaches and unplanned issues in the past, so we prepared a plan of action that would sequester the update into its own file branch. This allowed the rest of the development to happen unaffected by the 4.23 upgrade until the significant issues of 4.23 could be worked out and safely merged into our main file branch.
Early on, while 4.23 upgrade was being done in an isolated branch, there were many issues, some of which included:
- Several major client and server crashes, some related to PhysX DLLs and NetGUID.
- Many FX particles appeared to play at 1.5x the speed they should play at. LINK
- Dithering appeared to look much more severe on 4.23 than previously, it turned out that it was not related to dithering, but rather due to a new way that 4.23 handles world position and pixel depth offset.
- UMG Optimisations vanished - icons and vehicle scopes went to 4k because UI textures no longer generate mipmaps automatically in 4.23.
- Squad directory took double the size of disk space on hard drive due to 4.22 issue.
- Vehicle wheel effects were spawning waaaay too many particles, causing tons of overdraw and crushing framerates.
- Environment meshes looked like they were culling/disappearing when in fact they were LODing down to a specific mesh after LOD0 after the 4.23 engine upgrade.
- Gridlines on the map were flickering while zooming the map in or out after 4.23 upgrade.
- Helicopters were impossible to fly due to constant warping after the 4.23 upgrade.
- RAAS and AAS Capture Points did not unlock after the 4.23 upgrade.
- DOF (depth of field) settings changed a lot in 4.23, which caused all sorts of issues with blurry ADS scopes, blurry Helicopter instrument panels and other things. This issue took a significant amount of time to figure out and nail down, and it was exacerbated by a discrepancy between how things looked in the editor vs in game.
- Capture points became neutral then captured when the owning team player left and then re-entered the cap zone.
- The Low-Quality Audio option in the audio menu caused several in-game issues after 4.23. This option was removed as we were under the impression that in 4.23 this setting would not provide only a negligible performance improvement, and it still continued to create many issues. We later realized despite our best intentions, this was incorrect. We’ll dig into that in more detail later on in this post.
- Proximity VOIP transmission was delayed by several seconds, it was only first observed in public playtesting and did not affect the Squad/SL comms.
- Special unicode text characters that used to work in Squad B18 were no longer working in Squad B19 due to 4.23.
- Vehicle Turret & Emplacements were lagging / rubber banding/ warping when moving the camera around.
- Grenade projectiles did not respond to Physmats nor Material Effects anymore.
- When placing Map markers, there was a long delay between placement and them actually appearing on the map.
- FOBs were able to capture objectives.
- Capture Points could not be taken when a FOB or Rallypoint was nearby.
- Placement of FOBs and Mines would break at seemingly random times.
Initially, things since the release seemed to be going well, all the previous reported issues had been resolved, and we thought we had a smooth launch on our hands. Initial reports from server owners were that there were much higher than average “Ticks Per Second” on the servers, which meant server health was improved upon for B18. Unfortunately, B19 issues were not over. The real problems of B19 started rolling in:
- On May 7th 2020, reports began trickling in about clients crashing in the server browser. As we began to investigate, soon after huge waves of players were crashing in the server browser, and it had dropped the player population of Squad to very low numbers. With all hands on deck, we had assembled a task force team to combat the threat, which turned out to be a concentrated external attack on the Squad community. Through fast action, the threat was mostly neutralized by quick action by our task force team, b19.1 and b19.2 addressed the issue and by Saturday May 9th, things had stabilized.
- Players were reporting much worse client performance in B19 compared with B18, which was supposed to be the opposite. There were several culprits here: b19.3 addressed map performance on Tallil, Mutaha, Al Basrah, and other maps, that were using an outdated “HISM” tool, that now caused massive performance issues with 4.23, this was not picked up on our previous tests in those maps. More client performance problems were addressed in b19.4.1 that were caused by Bleeding Icons on the HUD, the way these were drawn was no longer efficient in 4.23 and caused massive hitches on players machines. Another client performance issue that appeared on several maps was fixed in B19.4, this was caused by an old Telephone Cable Component tool. This tool was used on several maps to connect telephone cables to the poles, and it became bugged with 4.23: normally the cables are placed in the editor, and upon runtime CPU process generates them on the map only for a second, and then they go to “sleep”. 4.23 caused this “sleep” function to break, so the cables never slept, which caused an extreme strain on client CPUs, constantly trying to calculate how the cables should sit.
- Certain Players were not able to launch Squad at all. Through investigation, it was discovered that a certain new Plugin in 4.23 had “AVX” enabled, which caused some CPUs to be incompatible with Squad. Disabling this plugin by default restored compatibility for these Players.
- 4.23 had changed a lot under the hood regarding Visual FX. Extensive work had been done to optimize most VFX in Squad for B19. Unfortunately, more work was needed to get back to B18 levels of optimization on that front, so B19.4 saw an extensive amount of effects changed and optimized to meet the standard. This was all mostly done “under the hood”, so from the players perspective little should have changed visually, other than getting back FPS when lots of effects like smoke grenades, explosions, etc are happening all at once.
- The Low-Quality Audio option is a setting in Squad that is in place specifically to cater to Players with AMD FX CPU’s. The AMD FX CPU does not process the UE4 audio engine correctly, so a special mode was created to help reduce the performance burden that UE4 imposes on this particular CPU. This Low-Quality audio mode reduces audio complexity, the number of sounds that can play at one time, etc. The 4.23 engine upgrade broke several sounds in this Low-Quality Audio mode (missing sounds for M249 SAW and other weapons, various distance sounds not working correctly, etc). The information available at the time of the engine upgrade suggested that only a very small portion of AMD FX users required this sound quality mode in 4.23, so the decision was made to fore-go putting effort into delaying B19 further (which was already months delayed), in order to fix the compatibility issues for the Low-Quality audio mode. We came to realize after the full release of B19, that this was not the case, in fact, ALL AMD FX users suffered massively with the B19 update, and the Low-Quality audio mode was their lifeline to getting Squad to perform well enough in order to have an acceptable experience. Although AMD FX CPU’s fall significantly below our minimum system requirements for Squad, our team wanted to do our best to support these players where we could. As a result, we also dedicated time to fix all the 4.23 compatibility issues with the Low-Quality audio. These fixes were implemented in b19.4.1 and b19.4.2, released May 26th and June 1st. Based on all the other struggles with B19 and getting it ready for launch, It was not an easy initial decision to drop the support for Low-Quality audio mode, and unfortunately, a lot of Players running AMD FX had to suffer for 3-4 weeks before getting relief to play Squad again, we apologize for this.
- One positive aspect to B19 during this time was the implementation from our dev ops team of our new “Flexible releases feature”. This allows us going forwards, to release “micro” versions, which don't require both the Server and Client (player) to update. So for the b19.4.1 patch, the “.1” indicates its a micro release, and was only necessary for the players to download from steam - Servers did NOT have to update to b19.4.1 because the changes only affected player’s local machines. This saves server owners a lot of hassle having to update and restart servers, and vice versa, when there is a server-side only patch, only the servers need to update and Players do not have to. This will be an incredibly useful feature in the upcoming months ahead, as we will be able to roll out hotfixes in faster succession, as well as trialling fixes for specific issues on public servers, for issues where it is not as easy to reproduce in a test environment.
- Player’s have reported major rubberbanding/jittedesync issues compared to B19 with Helicopters, Ground vehicles, and Soldiers. We are still working to address these issues - we are working diligently to solve these issues and bring the experience back to B18 levels, and then improve further. B19.5.1 was released to Servers on June 9th, which was a fix pulled in from UE 4.24, which should alleviate a lot of the rubber banding issues with helicopters. The issues with ground vehicles rubberbanding/desyncing is a top priority and are currently being worked on. Soldier desyncing issues are also being investigated and prioritized.
The Mod SDK for B19 was released shortly before B19. Several issues needed to be addressed to get our mod SDK compatible with Unreal Engine 4.23. Shortly after the B19 release, several crashes and other issues had been reported regarding cooking mods with B19. There is ongoing work to resolve all the issues our modding SDK is experiencing due to the 4.23 engine upgrade. Our main focus currently is the shadercore crash when loading custom mod maps. Our team is talking to select modders to get more light on the issue. We are making it a priority to get this resolved and understand the frustration our modding community is currently feeling.
Dev Team Process - A Look-Back, and Movement Forwards
In light of all these recent obstacles, it became clear that we needed to change our approach toward Releases. In the past, we had let you know our commitment to getting out more frequent, monthly releases.
We recognize that the engine upgrade process has been a very lengthy one. So going forward, we will be taking measures to keep our releases within a more satisfactory timeframe. We currently have no plans to do another engine upgrade this year. However, we may decide to add additional new features from Unreal Engine 4.24 / 4.25 if it is low risk and beneficial to Squad, especially for optimization.
Our plan moving forward includes:
- Following a new, updated workflow internally.
- Shifting how we “package up” releases, allowing us to release in smaller chunks more frequently
- Ultimately this should allow us to release updates within shorter periods.
- Continued commitment to transparency in our development process, along with more timely transference of this information.
Although Squad is closing in on having all its core features, you can bet your ass our dev team will still be delivering premium content for the foreseeable future!
We’ll be releasing a new roadmap with further details soon, so stay tuned for that. We want you to know about our upcoming plans, and we want to fill you in on more of the details as content gets closer to completion. There is unannounced new content to come, with our development plans for Squad already extending into 2021!
A few things you can expect to hear more about and see on our roadmap very soon:
- We have a new map coming! We know some of you have heard rumours about Fallujah! Let us tell you, this map is a superb work of art!
- We have a new faction coming!
We have plans for even more additional content beyond this that we’ve already started work on!
Our roadmap will be dropping over the next few months, where you can expect to learn a bit more about this.
What to Expect in B20 and Beyond
- After the long haul of B19, the Programming team has started a deep dive into optimization. The focus is on tackling as many networks focused optimization issues and features as possible.
- Increased Player Pop Server Tests - increased player count is indeed on our minds. We know this is an essential aspect of bringing the full Squad experience together. If server performance allows, we will unlock the increase of players to whatever upper limit still retains a stable server performance. We also know it's going to be very challenging to arrive at 100 players, and it may just not be possible with our current engine. But we will do our absolute best to push this engine to its limits, while still delivering a quality experience.
- Option for Squad VOIP / SL VOIP L/R Ear Selection - This is a long-requested feature by many SL’s and CO’s, and it is currently under development.
Until next time Squaddies, stay frosty!
Arnaud ‘Arno’ Lebesnerais - Producer Tom ‘Fuzzhead’ Fancsy - Game Designer