Development Blog

Where we pretend to know how to code.

[BB], 2023 in review

Published: 2024-01-01

Author: Teddi

As so once again, we arrive on the first of January. We skipped a year - but that’s fine. Things happen, things change and for one reason or another we fall behind. But we’re back (with the blog)! I’ll lightly cover the highlights from both years, but with a focus on 2023.

2023 for [BB] was a very “meta” year, in the sense of that many of the issues tackled and tasks done weren’t so much for gameplay purposes but instead, ended up being more around the surrounding community. For certain things the cause and effect were evident, and for others it wasn’t.

But at least covid has faded in to the background!

[BB] Community

Throughout late 2022 and most of 2023, we realized that our approach of relying on the community’s inherent positivity and self-regulation was increasingly challenged from various directions. At [BB], our philosophy has always been to empower players with tools and guidelines to encourage their best conduct, intervening only in cases of significant disruption or problematic behaviour. In the past we had also noted that implementing stricter, longer punishments had often led to positive behavioural changes. Remarkably, it’s not rare in [BB]’s history to see such reformed players eventually joining our staff team.

Over the past year, we’ve noticed a decline in the effectiveness of our traditional community management strategy. It’s challenging to pinpoint the exact cause — whether it’s a shift in societal norms or just an exceptionally challenging year. This shift in effectiveness forced us to adopt a more stringent approach, reminiscent of what we internally refer to as ‘martial law.’ This level of enforcement hasn’t been seen in [BB] since 2008-10. Its reintroduction wasn’t a happy event for us, and for some players it came as bit of a shock leading to significant changes in the community, including the departure of some members.

In the [BB] community, the majority of our players are known for their kindness, respectfulness, and wholesomeness. Our primary goal is to safeguard these commendable qualities. It’s crucial to make it clear that [BB] has a firm stance against individuals who purposefully target others for unwarranted reasons. We recognize that many turn to video games as a form of escapism and to help relax, a break from the stresses of daily life. Essentially, we discourage players bringing non-relevant, external issues into [BB].

In short: Please just be a decent person and get on with each other.

Server Move(s)

Something I didn’t have on my bingo card for 2023 was moving server hardware. Since around 2009, we’ve been operating on our original hardware. Back then, owning hardware and co-locating it in a data centre was a cost-effective long-term solution. Fast forward to 2023, and the landscape has dramatically changed. The widespread adoption and efficiency of virtualization technologies, coupled with the affordability of more powerful hardware, have significantly altered our approach. Taking these factors into account, along with other considerations, we made the decision to migrate both our primary game and web servers to a new hosting environment.

For our game server Marruuk, the aging hardware increasingly posed challenges, particularly in procuring reasonably priced DDR3 RAM, which had become virtually unobtainable. Additionally, our data centre provider’s lack of modern network defences was a growing concern. These factors led us to seize a favourable opportunity with an alternative data centre, offering not only more advanced hardware but also a more cost-effective solution. This upgrade has significantly enhanced our server’s performance and so players can now enjoy a smoother experience, free from the occasional lags — like those that could be triggered by simply opening a log file.

But hey, now we have a server with 64GB of DDR4 RAM, so while it’s unlikely I could be convinced, Minecraft server anyone (or a better suggestion)?

The webserver can get an honorary mention here, as we moved it but for slightly different yet not too dissimilar reasons.


Back in the 2021 post I mentioned about donation transparency and this continues. Throughout 2022 we had an incredibly healthy surplus, which has dwindled to $0 as our source of donations have become minimal at best, and with all the changes we dipped in to the reserves further. That’s not to fear - [BB] isn’t going anywhere and I’m not about to shut things down: it’s just nice when the server wipes its own arse is all.

We waved goodbye to Betty-Bot and welcomed Barold Bot

And we also brutally murdered Borris Bot.

It was never really made obvious why Betty had to go (other than bit of an ARG / story that played out in Discord) and in truth, Betty didn’t actually have to go. What started off as a bit of fun with the Bazaar bot and some internal development with Barold just organically became a story of itself, with players reacting negatively to Borris’s negging and “attacks” on Betty.

From a tech point of view, Betty was originally a Python-based bot that was ran 24/7 based on my own chat parsing system. Occasionally she’d have a minor hiccup but that was fine given that she could self-restart. When Discord came out with “slash” commands, the entire architecture around how these bots work was fundamentally different: but in a good way. What I was able to do was create Barold and run him on AWS Lambda for entirely free based on the new Discord slash command system. Could we have kept Betty? Absolutely. Did it make for a better story to have Barold rise from the ashes? I think so. Could Betty return?

We introduced more external [BB] systems

In 2021 the [BB] GraphQL API was released and we’ve continued building on that. Throughout 2022 and in particular, 2023 we’ve migrated and fleshed out a number of systems. Players are now able to view records from other maps in-game thanks to the API. We moved our internal item generator for the [BB] format to the web and moved our guidelines system to a versioned system so players can see changes and when the changes take effect.

There was a casualty unfortunately.

My plan after I had resigned from my job was to work on the replay system, however with issues arising with the performance of the game servers across October and November, it meant my focus was shifted from the development of replays to taking care of those particular fires. Some background work was done however to cater towards replays, so 2024 should be year of the replays!


I’m not really going to bring up the other gamemodes as well, there’s nothing of mention beyond maybe Climb.

Minor segue with Climb

With CS:GO becoming CS2, the entire map schema changed meaning that we don’t know how long GMod will keep CS:GO compatibility for as one could argue those maps are now useless (CS2 cannot play them). This does also apply somewhat to Surf, but the majority of Surf maps are also CS:S maps, unlike kz / xc maps where they ended up being CS:GO only.

There was a steady source of updates to Surf across the last few years. We’ve done our best to get ahead of any inbound GMod updates that has made changes, for example with crosshairs. We also added things like helping to alert the player what their launch speed was when surfing, mesh-based split zones and so on. One thing we’re working towards in the next year is trying to give a bit more recognition / longevity based around the ranking system and an example of this can already been seen with vanquishers, where they now get a permanent reward / achievement for getting so far.

We’ve also tried to work towards giving players a bit more flexibility and agency over surfing where it seems reasonable. More of this is yet to come, albeit how far we’ll go remains yet to be seen.

Closing Words

Summarizing 2022 and 2023 in a single word is challenging, but perhaps ‘the calm aftermath of a storm’ comes closest. Despite a perceptible slowdown in certain core areas, we’ve maintained a strong delivery of experiences over these years. This period has been a stark reminder that resting on our laurels isn’t an option. It has reinforced the need to continuously strive for excellence and explore new frontiers in our endeavours.

Here’s to a positive 2024!

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