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A very busy couple of weeks for the whole team has just ended. Everyone has been preparing for our next big update, scheduled for sometime this month. Some highlights outlined in this post.

Guaranteed Updates

As previously mentioned we want to move from the current situation where the client and server “spam” messages at each other, hoping that some of the messages get through. Because they can’t be sure, the updates have to be sent again and again. This is believed to be the major restriction from breaking the 100 player limit. We anticipate this will be appearing on experimental servers next week, and then onward into the update for this month.

Fireplaces

We’re ready now for our final implementation next week of fireplaces and the ability to light flammable objects on fire. Many visual updates and changes to the engine have occurred as part of this and we’re now making the mechanisms for players to decide where and how to make fires and how to light items on fire.

Physics and Throwing

We will be deploying this to experimental next week to gain some more feedback on its implementation. Progress on ragdoll has been steady although this is unlikely to be in experimental next week and will be ongoing for some time. A new animation system and animations have been made that allow you to “power” up your throw, the same system is used to allow you to draw your arrow when firing from the bow.

Player Mouse Control

Many players have outlined how much the mouse acceleration/controls need to be modified. Players head (view) will move instantly with raw 1:1 mouse feedback. Weapons may “lag behind” depending on how heavy and cumbersome the weapon is. For example, players with a pistol will be able to turn around and fire much faster than a player with a M4, or a chainsaw.

This represented a great deal of work and the complete replacement of the old system, therefore some bugs and plenty of tweaking are expected.

These will be deployed to experimental next week for more player feedback.

From the Art Team: Chris Torchia, Lead Artist

We’ve got our team working in so many different areas its hard to write a small summary of all the work.  

We’re wrapping up our part with archery and have a nice looking improvised bow and crossbow to release soon. Our animators have been spending time in the mocap studio to get accurate drawing, firing, and reloading animations for them and its looking great.  

Our new studio in Bratislava has been hard at work making some of the new food items which were shown by Dean at Rezzed as well as create all new wildlife models and we’re hoping the combination of archery, wildlife, and campfires will create a unique survival hunting experience for our players.

As for firearms, the P1 pistol is complete and configured in game. The same is true for the AKM but we need to spend some time polishing some of the rough edges before adding them to the loot tables and pushing to public. We’re finally going to implement stripper clips with the mosin and sweep through and tweek some of the firearm cfg values. As well, a little project I’ve kept under wraps is nearing completion. The first SMG in DayZ game will soon be ready and I hope you all will like it.

For character art our talented artists have created a couple new player heads for more unique looking characters which we’ll add in soon.  As well, we’ve made a Soviet-style officer hat and the tracksuit!  Next up, we’ll look at police, EMT, and firefighters.

Lastly, our environment art and map teams have continued to create new, interesting buildings and objects, as well as expanding the number of explorable towns, with the addition of Karmanovka – a town containing over 3000 objects!

Weekly Report: A step into survival

Another week for the team pushing towards a stable release. We considered releasing a version to stable branch mid week during maintenance, however there were still two serious issues to fix. The first was related to the testing architecture not being suitable for the large number of servers we were supporting on experimental, and the second related to the invisible zombies and players.

Invisible players and zombies

Fixing the invisible players and zombies was a product of moving to the client/server architecture but retaining some legacy aspects of the architecture. To solve this we have been hard at work continuing to revise the way the game works. A workaround we have implemented is that when desynchronization occurs between client and server, now the server will enforce the players new location by ignoring the clients reported position and teleporting the player to it’s position.

What occurred was that sometimes the straight path to a location was blocked due to desync on the server, i.e. the path on the server was different from the path on the client. This could result in players getting stuck in walls on the client (or server) and issues occurring.

Fireplaces and Emissive Improvements

One key area for our survival focus has been cooking and the ability to make fireplaces. In order to do this we have created a new system for dealing with “emissive” textures that allows us to implement a mask for emissive, as seen in the picture above the result can be very stunning. This has been combined with heat haze to produce some excellent results. Players will be able to make normal fireplaces, as well as upgrade them to makeshift ovens such as below:

Our designers are now working with our art team to implement all these changes so that players are going to be able to hunt and cook in order to survive in the DayZ landscape.

New towns in Chernarus

Our map team has been very busy, here are some sneak previews of some new areas that are coming in the next update:

New Weapon Content

Our art team have been extremely busy while we work on fixing the bugs associated with our current build. Focus is currently on supporting the designers with their survival features, such as the craftable PVC bow, fireplaces, and cooking. However we have also continued the excellent work done with weapons models, here are a selection of pictures below showing progress.

We’re nearing completion of the AKM and the model was a true labor of love by @artguyharry.  We’re working on staging the model now so its compatible with the attachment system and we really hope to bring variety to the possible configurations. By default the AKM will have wood furniture but we also noticed a great deal of customization in the AK civilian market and wanted to bring some of that more modern flare as well. A side-mounted PSO scope is being developed in tandem which players will be able to mount AK-pattern weapons.

Mouse acceleration and player control

We have been changing the way the player controls their character to improve playability. There was an issue with mouse control that affected many users of high DPI mice which we have now fixed. Changes to character turning should now also be consistent with how freelook works, which was taken from ArmA3. So we hope that this will improve the situation for players although we have more work planned on this.

Physics and Arrows

Continued work on our physics engine means that not only is throwing now nearly complete (it is now functional at a basic level), but it also means that ragdoll is very close to being a reality in experimental branch. This will open up many areas of development.

Work with the bow and arrow has come along very well. Bolts and arrows can now stick into their target, whether player or the ground, or an object. Additionally, animation changes means that we can now make the drawing and firing of a bow look better than ever before improving the versatility of our “gestures” based animation system.

Animals, collisions and zombie pathfinding

We now have an entire team, based in Bratislava, that are working on animals, collisions, and zombie pathfinding. This is a longer term task as it will require new thinking and new ways to fix the problem. We’re excited to see what the team can bring in the coming months.

Persistent Loot and objects

This was close to being implemented fully when we discovered some issues with the central server architecture that would becoming more serious for performance if we went live with it. These are being solved now and we expect to be trying some of those performance optimizations on the central server this Wednesday.

Where is the new build?

We are committed to not releasing builds onto stable to introduce new game breaking bugs. Now that we’ve fixed those bugs, we’re internally verifying and fixing any new bugs that have been introduced. We will do an unscheduled update the moment we are confident we have a suitable build to release

What is next for the future?

Once the current build is stabilized we want to finish up on our “survival” push for the month. This means hunting and cooking finished and process on our “survival combat” which involves the bow and arrow, crossbow, improvised weapons, and thrown items. In the more distant future we’re already planning for vehicles and barricading systems.

We look forward to finishing our work on the current build and having it out on stable!

Weekly Report: Starting our focus on Survival

When is the next update on stable?

0.37 will be deployed to Stable during scheduled maintenance on Wednesday, 5 March 2014 GMT. Changelog will be distributed at that time.

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Bug Fixing progresses

This week most of the team has been focusing on key bugs, and some of the team have started our first new feature scrum.

New Team Members

We are inducting a large number of new people to the team, effectively doubling the whole project. Here are a few screenshots, and a short rundown on some of the key activity for the week.

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Development of Cooking System Starts

This week we started on a cooking system. Heavily inspired by the outstanding cooking system in Project Zomboid, this will be part of a wider push in March to focus on Survival aspects of the game in general. You will turn your cooking device on (fireplace/stove) and then place the items in it.

The items will slowly heat up, and when at the required heat for the required period of time, they will become “cooked” and/or turn into something else (such as soup). Items can become overcooked, and items can also become cold via some process (this will be looked at later).

We’re very excited by the possibilities for this system.

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Animation Progress

In the past week animation team was mainly focused to bring all two handed melee animation in game. We have added gestures for two handed tree, evades and other missing animations. Our next goal is to polish those and finalize them all. At the same time we have created new reloads for Ruger MKII, added stab attack with hay fork and worked a bit on new zombie animations which we would like to introduce somewhere in march. There was couple of bugs fixed, some glitches and animation graph improvements.

Emissive material and masks

Our graphics programmer spent some time redoing the way emissive materials work, this will allow us to better support the new fireplace mechanics that are being worked on.

Guaranteed Network Messages

We now have a new system we are testing internally for sending guaranteed updates across the network. This is very important as we believe this will reduce the problems for those who are experiencing severe desync. We are still testing this internally, and it will be sent out to experimental for more testing next week.

Final word

Much more is ongoing, and we look forward to presenting our Roadmap for the rest of the year very soon!

Here is our latest Dev blog created on the 24th February 2014.

So what’s in the Dev Blog?

Lighting improvements;

We are working on improving in-game lighting, not just from a visual perspective but also from a game play perspective, to improve playing at night.

We have enabled light sources such as flashlights and pistol torches, to emit light during the day as they previously haven’t done. However we still have to do some HDR tweaks

Physics;

This is an area we have wanted to put in for a while. We have added physics middle-ware, which allows us to add throwing items to the game but it also enables us to look at ragdoll and how the characters move within the world.

This is still fairly early days with physics, but we are getting much closer to having something that we can implement into the experimental branch with stability.

Containers;

We want to add world items that are lootable such as refrigerators that can store items, so they can be looted and the items within them can be interacted with.

Bow and arrows;

One of our programmers has been working on bow and arrows, in the video we show a very early work in progress clip of it. So far progress has been fairly quick with good results, so we are looking forward to seeing how this progresses further.

Animations;

Animations team has been working hard on getting new transitions and new methods of wielding melee weapons. This is still a work in progress.

We have moved away from our old way of how the animations were working which caused left handed swings. This restricts how the melee attacks are performed. As the hit detection is done from the item position this allows player to be able to easier work out where they are going to hit. This is still very much a work in progress but we hopeful and we look forward to your feedback.

New map updates;

Our map team has been working with artists to add new buildings into game and fixing collision issues with buildings. We have added police stations and new health center buildings across the map as well as improving preexisting towns. 

We are currently working on ensuring that all buildings spawn loot as this is a big issue at the moment.

Weather;

We want it to be almost like an antagonist, we now have rain and weather is properly synced across all clients so all players experience the same weather conditions. Rain will also currently make your clothes damp and then wet, but at the moment this doesn’t really have much effect but in the long term but we definitely want to expand upon that.

Hunting and cooking;

We have dedicated a whole group of artists programmers and designers with experience with hunting games, that are dedicated to working on animals, their behavior and hunting. To maximise the element of survival, our current sprint is focused on cooking and campfires.

DeSync;

One of the big areas people have been reporting is DeSync, we have been working on this directly this is due to the amount of bandwidth DayZ is using because a lot of the messages to do with the inventory are sent via non-guaranteed messages. So if you or someone nearby you has a large amount inventory items, all these messages will be spammed as the server can’t guarantee the client has received them. We have a couple of hot fixes in place but our long term goal for this is to have a guaranteed message system. So the messages are only sent once and not constantly. This will be an ongoing effort.

Zombies;

Zombies are an area of active development, we want to increase the amount of zombies. Tied with this we also want to improve their collision detection indoors. This will be one of the task of the new team will be the hit detection of zombies. We are also actively working on the zombie respawn mechanics, using some of the optimisations that we used with player respawns. 

We want zombies to be a good experience so they don’t spawn directly in front of players, this is what is taking the time, as we want to do it properly.

Persistent objects;

We want to have some objects have persistency throughout server respawns, such as backpacks, paper with written notes one and eventually when we bring barricading in, wood and wooden barricades and keeping it’s exact location in so far.

Vehicles;

Once we have achieved these objectives we can then look at vehicles as implementing vehicles too early could very easily upset the balance and impact other game play areas. When we do implement vehicles we are likely to start with slower vehicles such as  bicycles. Then we will look at more complex vehicles, where we can have many more degradable parts such as batteries or spark plugs.

Screenshots from today’s multiplayer test - a teaser for the devblog that is uploading to Youtube right now. Thanks for the forum and reddit moderators and Dyslexi who helped out with the testing.

Please note:

  • All shots are taken during a multiplayer, pre-alpha test
  • There is still no set release-date for DayZ Standalone