As we look forward to Q2 of 2015, we'll take a look at the goals and objectives internally for the first quarter of this year. From initial implementation of new A.I. for Infected and Animals, to the Central Economy and more. Q1 had the first appearance of some very important work on the road to 1.0 for DayZ.
Central economy (advanced loot distribution)
New Zombie AI
Basic stealth system (zombies, animals, ...)
Improved Cooking & Horticulture
Advanced Anti-Cheat (Dynamic BattlEye)
Basic Vehicles: Praga V3S & Vehicle Simulation
With the first implementation coming in very early on in Q1 - iteration followed throughout the rest of the quarter. Starting from scratch with the physical simulation, the engine and gameplay programming teams paired with the design team brought the first of our basic vehicles to stable branch, the Praga V3S. Looking forward into Quarter 2 - further iteration will allow us to expand into more vehicles, introduce vehicle inventories, and required vehicle maintenance/components.
In addition to the creation of the new physical simulation for DayZ's land based vehicles moving towards a "DayZ" specific feel to handling, design and programming work progressed on manual transmission support. From both the technical engine side, and player controls and overall system design this will allow us much greater customization of vehicles, as well as a more in depth and immersive experience than with traditional "push W and go fast" vehicle control models.
Central Economy: Item Quantity
Central Economy. One of the terms most people are still a bit confused by. The Central Economy is DayZ's backend control over the quantity, type, location, and region of the item or "loot" spawning system. Work continued on this throughout the entirety of Q1, and the first implementation was seen later in the Quarter on Experimental branch - pushing towards the 0.55 release at the end of the quarter. Moving into Q2 - this system is also tied into server side persistence, item cleanup, and proper item respawning and will be iterated upon frequently.
As we push this system from experimental branch and on to stable, it will allow us fine control over the in game economy, and thus how the flow from the coast to the north progresses. As well as allow us to push players more towards alternative food gathering resources such as horticulture, cooking, and hunting.
One of the longest duration core engine tasks for Enfusion, the base engine technology being developed in tandem with DayZ - is the seperation of the existing legacy renderer from the engine side simulation, and the creation of a brand new rendering module. Critical for the flexibility and life of the Enfusion engine - this task is arguably one of the most paramount technology upgrades for DayZ moving forward, and was much more of a task than we initially expected (having been pushed beyond its intended experimental branch date several times). As Q1 draws to a close we are within weeks of the completion of the module itself, and the analysis of time required to implement the currently used DirectX 9 tech was undertaken.
Internal review has shown that the additional time spent to hook DirectX 9 into the new rendering module is near identical to the time that would be required to add in DirectX 11 support. As the original intent to support DirectX 9 in tandem with DirectX 12 gave way to increased DirectX 12 support within the industry, the decision was made to ditch DirectX 9 support for the new rendering module and move directly into supporting DirectX 11. As supporting three seperate platforms (DirectX 9, DirectX 11, and DirectX 12) is not feesible, DirectX 11 was the clear winner for the "mainstream" platform target.
What does this mean for you, the average survivor?
We'll be moving forward with initial support for DirectX 11 only, with DirectX 12 support following eventually.
Windows XP will no longer be possible, as it is not capable of DirectX 11 support.
Windows XP has always been below minimum requirements for DayZ.
With a time estimate of approximately 2 months to complete the last required changes for the new rendering module, and support DirectX 11.
The initial goal is a 1:1 visual parity with the original simulation tied renderer.
Once implemented, the design team will have access to more robust and complex particle effects
Systems such as bleeding, fires, flares, etc will receive the proper visual attention they require
Volumetric fog will be possible within the world of Chernarus
Estimated completion date of support for DirectX 11 is mid to late May 2015.
New A.I. & Stealth (Infected & Animal)
Fairly early on in DayZ development it was fairly apparent that the existing A.I. we had inherited from previous titles using our original tech base was not going to be able to deliver the infected and animal experience we wanted to deliver. As Q1 for 2015 comes to a close, we've been slowly implementing very early versions of entirely new A.I. built specifically for DayZ into experimental branch. With 0.55 we'll begin to see early versions of both enter stable branch. Obviously very core to the DayZ experience is stealth when avoiding or approaching both types of A.I., as well as intelligent behavior and navigation.
It is critical to allow the player to both feel like the hunter, and the hunted. Thus work on the A.I. side of the engine during Q1 focused heavily on begining to allow the player to feel as if they could escape the infected using only their wits, rather than brute force - and use that same stealth tactic to hunt and kill wild animals when exploring the vast fields and forests of Chernarus. As 2015 continues and we enter Q2, the existing systems will be iterated upon and expanded to offer an even more immersive and complex DayZ experience.
Be it person to person contact, consuming contaminated water sources, or the cost of a comprimised immune system exposed to the harsh conditions of Chernarus weather - the risk and costs of maintaining player characters health has been something long anticipated. Hitting experimental branch late in Q1, the initial implementation of communicable diseases made its arrival with cholera.
As development continues this initial implementation will of course expand into a more complex system. Fully integrating with the medical and health mechanics currently in game, and expanding into more complex diseases such as influenza, typhoid fever, and many more. Wrapping up Q1, stable branch will see the bodies of water across Chernarus carrying a chance of the presence of cholera. Survivor immune systems, as well as water purification tablets will be crucial to surviving as you trek across the map.
Improved Cooking & Horticulture
Living off the land has been an evolving goal (functionality wise) and Q1 saw the expansion of both the horticulture options, and the hunting and cooking mechanisms. The long awaited expansion on the original early cooking implementation finally made an appearance - with a more complex and in depth expansion of campfires, cooking tripods, and furnaces.
The more complex cooking allowed the heating (and in some cases - side effects) of the heating of most items, including the popping off of firearm ammunition, and compressed containers such as the spray paint cans. This also expands into the progression of raw/cooking/cooked/burnt and so on states for most all vegetables, fruits, and meats.
As the Central Economy implementation evolves, we'll begin to see player farms, and cooking stations such as the fireplace and furnace be tied into the server side persistence on a full time basis.
Working closely with BattlEye over the quarter, the programming and production teams have implemented a more proactive BattlEye to DayZ on Steam. In addition to preventing all traditional external forms of cheating - Over 4,000 cheaters have been banned from DayZ since the begining of February. Obviously this is one in a series of steps in an ongoing battle. No title is without its vulnerabilities, and developing DayZ and its engine platform in the public eye opens us up to a number of security issues. However, the initiatives with BattlEye paired with upcoming additions of a more robust VAC support look to provide an ever evolving aggressive stance against cheating in DayZ.
For Q2 and beyond, in addition to the steps mentioned above the gameplay programming team has and will continue to investigate and address legacy vulnerbilities in the engine powering DayZ. Throughout the remainder of DayZ's Early Access you will see an ever evolving movement against any and all cheating. It is core to the gameplay experience of a title as inherently competetive and persistent as DayZ that the users be provided as "fair" a playing field as possible.
Work is chugging along on 0.55 update for stable branch, and the department leads have been sharing information and images over on the Dev Hub. If you haven’t had a look - head over and you’ll see some awesome work in progress stuff - like the SVD Sniper Rifle, V3S Animations, and new zombie models.
Peter, our Lead Designer will be discussing below in more detail zombies and diseases. This week I’d like to talk about a few in progress updates that I’m looking forward to.
First off, we have the mentioned full randomization of weapon spawn configurations. This ranges from attachment configuration, quantity, type, and condition. When functional, each weapon you find should be as unique as possible per that item type. Be it the chance to spawn with a magazine, potential attachment, overall weapon condition, and so on. This expands upon the uniqueness of each persons kit in-game, and ensures that very few two firearms are exactly the same. Who knows, you might get lucky and find that M1911 Engraved you always wanted, -with- a clip!
Moving on to more advanced weapon customization, we’ve done a good deal of discussion on allowing more specific customization per weapon. Adding in rail systems, shoe horn mount scopes, barrel swaps, and so on. Controlling when and where this is done is critical to the flow of gameplay across the map. Creating hot spots, and high traffic areas for players looking to gear up, and create their favorite weapon. At this point, we’re looking at adding in advanced crafting tables into this existing (soon to be enter-able) maintenance structure scattered throughout Chernarus.
Heading into April, we’ll be discussing the tasks and accomplishments of Q1 2015, what the road ahead looks like and the status of long term engine tasks. From the new renderer, to the new player controller, server side performance, and so much more. Keep an eye on the Dev Hub, and the official DayZ forums for the latest news and information on DayZ Early Access.
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
"It is clear that former, by purpose simplified infected AI wasn’t a hit by any means and it was frustrating to play and look at. When I was talking about the new infected in the Status Report two weeks ago I had a feeling that it would stir things up a bit. A few days after that I made short video with a horde running after a player and recently we released experimental update with the first implementation of infected AI. There were so many positive reactions on the direction that the new infected are heading, that the entire team was pleased. However there were also some which were calling for changing the DayZ lore and turning the infected into slowly moving beings.
I appreciate different opinions but I can’t see any reason why we should make infected as stationary as possible, it will just simplify the game too much in such case. It is important to understand that the infected in DayZ are not the undead, and to be honest I don’t want to see DayZ to become a frenzied ‘run and grab all you can’ simulator. I would like to remind you that DayZ isn’t supposed to be easy and straightforward, it’s meant to be hard and unforgiving. While they are pretty fast right now it is just the perception in comparison with current character movement speed, which is planned to be lowered in general as it was increased intentionally when we had decided to do a complete overhaul on how the engine handles vehicles, and thus they would be absent for some time. As well I’m looking forward to the implementation of a proper stamina system for characters which alone will cut off the constant sprinting across the map and thorough the structures which is just ridiculous. With the agile infected that are able to catch up with you while you are escaping the scene you will think twice about your approach and also the load you are carry as it especially determines how far you will be able to sprint to loose them. To balance things out, the infected have their own stamina and are slowing down during the chase and with the combination of the possibility that they can stumble upon it gives you a some chance to flee if you run into such situations. The infected AI will be continuously worked on, in terms of expanding it further and also balancing it close to the perfection.
I would like to mention that we are bringing to life the long awaited disease system which in fact was hibernating under the hood for some time, but was never finished due the other needs. Diseases are described by their virulence parameters like transferability, invasivity and toxicity and to determine the potential influence on character, which can vary from carrier to heavy impact, they are compared against his or her current state counting in the levels of health, blood, diet and exposure. Diseases can be transferred in both directions, which means it’s not wise to eat from the same meal after your companion, if you suspect that he may be ill. Physical and chemical resistance parameters of disease determines how it can be treated or their effects eased by medicinal drugs and after the disease passed you are resistant to catch it again for some time. System also have the possibility to be expanded with the use of gloves, niosh masks or other wearables which can obstruct transferring of the diseases by specific actions, like crafting.
Stay healthy… see you in Chernarus folks!”
- Peter / Lead Designer -
Standup Notes for the week of 17 Mar 15 (Note: Standup notes are not a change log - they are a quick high level look at tasks the teams worked on throughout this week)
Support for new player character system
Zombie animation bugfixing
SVD Reloading Animations
As the 0.54 hotfix hit stable branch last Wednesday, work has continued on toward 0.55 and beyond. Over the last week with myself at GDC and PAX East, our Lead Designer - Peter Nespesny has shared some of the prototype functionality currently being worked on.
From ongoing work with the infected A.I., to the many crafting options for your survivor base with the multipurpose barrel - the design team has had their plate filled with some pretty interesting stuff over the last week.
Beyond what Peter spoke of, the potential usage for a multipurpose barrel for player bases is extensive. Ranging from lightly effective cover from incoming fire - to the storing of fluids such as fuel, and my personal favorite - catching rain to increase your water stores - I think when paired with functional persistence and global cleanup, the multipurpose barrel will be a must have for any decent sized player encampment.
Even more exciting, pairing with work from the gameplay programming teams - the design team has been able to get their hands on the early implementation of the new infected A.I. - Peter showcased on the forums a brief video of basic grouping and horde mentality responding to a players gunshot.
Again - this is very early implementation, however as work progresses into the next week the design team are working on sneaking and stealthy tactics when dealing with this new A.I. system. Moving into the next experimental branch window, we’ll be looking at pushing the early implementation work out to this branch and testing with varied numbers across all servers.
Last week the 0.54 update rolled out to stable branch. As noted on the official DayZ forums – a percentage of the active user base are experiencing abnormal behaviour with this update. That said, work progresses internally on a hotfix for 0.54 aimed at addressing:
Crash to Desktop
Low FPS in game
Constant “Receiving” loading screens during gameplay
While the programming and QA team members assigned to this hotfix push their work to experimental branch for testing, the rest of the team continues on with work on 0.55. The 0.55 update should be a fantastic one for the users of stable branch – with work focusing on things ranging from:
Animal A.I. iteration
Operational Fluids for vehicles
Testing of Central Economy controls
And so much more..
Work continues on larger engine based tasks such as replacing the renderer, work on the new player controller, new audio engine module, and related tasks. On an exciting note, as we look forward to what will be required to support Steam Workshop modding for DayZ teams have begun analysis work on both requirements for new content to be created, and legacy DayZ Mod content to be supported. On the legacy side – we’ve worked closely with Sumrak, the author of the Namalsk map for Arma 2 / DayZ Mod and have completed a basic analysis and test multiplayer session on Namalsk in DayZ. The road to supporting a proper ecosystem on Steam Workshop will take time – but our goal is to have a strong set of tools, documentation, and examples by the time DayZ hits 1.0 and leaves Early Access. We’ll be reaching out to more DayZ Mod content creators over the coming months to gather feedback, and discuss exactly what modding DayZ will look like.
As always – head over to the official DayZ forums – Developers are present to discuss ideas, take feedback, and interact with the community.
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
Back in the days when I was trying to survive and figure out how everything worked in the DayZ mod and apart from many other things I was also amazed with this simple one - during the idleness, infected were choosing their destinations on the fly. At first seemingly irrelevant mechanic makes out for me the dynamic stealth game which is authentic in any case. I cannot count how many times it makes my heart race when infected suddenly changed their direction while I was trying to sneak around them or how I was waiting for ages hidden nearby just to pick point the moment when to move to my desired location just to realize that more infected were coming to that area. This unpredictable behavior made me fear them, trying to minimize my appearance to become successful - to survive in a hostile environment and luckily find and get what I needed.
Fast forward to the present, from the DayZ release infected was one of our main issue and we were very aware of it. Many of you have been disappointed how they work and lack of the visible progress. Hopefully we will revive your faith for proper working infected soon. With the most of the new AI, sensors and animation systems now being in their place we can finally begin to transform infected to the real menace as they always meant to be.
Of course initial implementation based on the new systems will resemble the current state at first as we need to settle things down, catch and solve the most annoying issues and make proper foundation. So please don't expect instant switch to infectsomenauts. I can see you are getting afraid again, but hey we are still deep in the development and you can experience these changes hands on which is part of fun being involved in the early access to the game. I want to assure you that more advanced things will be rolled out continuously later as we progress with their implementation alongside with further development of AI, sensors, pathfinding and animation system.
So what to expect from the new infected in general? At first which is very important is clearly the performance which allows us to add more of them in the environment. Very first test showed us that server performance is pretty solid even with 1500 infected on the map which is 5x more then it's usual on the stable these days.
The infected are designed to be a threat for the survivors as their senses are more sensitive, they are moving fast on short distances and can be lethal in the close combat. You can encounter them mostly in the residential areas, the larger the area - the more infected are present. Areas can be purged which encourages to barricade structures and establish bases. After some time infected will be approaching the area again. As we want to promote stealth approach to encounters you can minimize chance of being seen or heard by wearing darker or camo clothes and light shoes, slowing down your movement, lowering your profile in crouch or prone, avoiding usage of lights and making noise and so on. Fortunately you can also distract them when they are wandering to unwanted destination with throwing the items witch makes noise, light or are somewhat attractive to them. You must be aware in such situation as they are quite interested what's going on around them. When you are focused they will try to hunt you down with no mercy while easily forming packs down the road. Even the doors or barricades cannot be trusted once they want to feed on you. They have fast acceleration but can slow down overtime or lost interest if you get too far after they eventually stumbled. In combat they are using different types of attack, based on distance and force, which makes the combat with them more interesting.
To wrap up brand new infected they will also have new visual and audio appearance which will be released gradually and will replace old models, textures and sound effects. We get together 50 different types of males and females infected, and they will be dressed in clothes you can find around so they will no longer look inconsistent with survivors. Some of them will be generic citizens, villagers but you can also look forward to different workers, clerks, policemans, soldiers, firefighters, paramedics, prisoners, patients, journalist, survivors.. and plenty of others. Soon we will be doing rehearsal with adepts for infected voiceactors and I'm quite happy where sfx direction is heading as it will delivers some shivers and goosebumps.
The dawn is around the corner... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter / Lead Designer -
Standup Notes for the week of 3 Mar 15
(Note: Standup notes are not a change log - they are a quick high level look at tasks the teams worked on throughout this week)
Infected Attack Animations
Support for new Player Controller
Support for new Infected Systems
Barrel configs & scripts
Support for new infected systems
Loot distribution per buildings
Character controller (animations & physics)
Vehicles - Manual transmission and bugfixing