In this week's Status Report, Lead Producer Brian Hicks will be covering a lot of ground going through several topics such as the Infected, the animation system, soft skills, status on version 0.59, as well as other tasks going on behind the scenes, and Lead Designer Peter Nespesny will be handing us some info on the work ahead regarding user actions.
Development Board Spotlight
Dev Update / Hicks
So, this is the first SR since the change in vocal style and frequency - and it just happens to come on the heels of our Quarterly Review and Beta discussion at PAX Australia. I appreciate everyones patience as I deal with jet lag catching up with me. We have some cool stuff to talk about this week - not as cool as the last Status Report - but cool enough I think.
I'd like to kick off this week with an update on a few key areas of the engine I know everyone is waiting to hear about.
Renderer: I touched on this a bit during the PAX Australia presentation (and that audio/slides will be put out as soon as I get back to Prague)
Post Processes: IN PROGRESS
Water & Ocean Surfaces: IN PROGRESS
Optimization & Paralellization: IN PROGRESS
Current Status: Actively under testing with internal QA
We've made some great progress over the last few weeks. I prefer to manage expectations - so I'm going to say don't get too excited. Issues could pop up in QA over the next few weeks, but morale in the office regarding the renderer is getting high. I'm excited - but keep in mind we don't want it to hit experimental until we're confident in a strong -initial- performance gain.
New Animation System: While we've made strong gains on this that has enabled the design team to start working on a complete rewrite of all player actions currently in game (demonstrated in the last SR) we're still working on the last few areas that -must- be completed in order to fully merge the player over to the new player controller. We'll keep you all updated on this.
Infected: As we mentioned in the last Status Report - Infected will be making a return in .59 - but as covered in the PAX presentation there are changes we'd like to look into making to the infected, specifically in the area of spawning and distribution that should go miles towards a more rewarding (and scary!) experience when it comes to crawling through cities looking for gear.
.59 Experimental: As of the time that I boarded my flight to PAX Aus - the last remaining major blocker towards moving this build to the exp branch was sitting specifically on vehicle position sync. It is critical we at the very least provide a more enjoyable experience with vehicles than on previous builds, especially considering the increased quantities. The gameplay programming team has been working hard on doing just this.
Aside from the stuff mentioned above - we do have a few cool things to share with you guys.
As those of you who watched the TwitchCon presentation, you know part of the character progression path we've been working on in addition to soft skills - is the life span of the character. Specifically shown at TwitchCon as beards for male characters. What we didn't share at the time was that we were a bit further along with this than just a few renders of male heads.
We still need to work on the lifespan impact for female characters - but we do have growth over time functioning on internal builds as seen in the above video. Animations for shaving still need to be completed, but the functionality for choosing to remove said beard as there as well.
In the same vein as character life span - I spoke today about how the initial skill set for soft skills was functioning internally (albeit without UI elements allowing you to track said skills).
In the video above, we have accelerated the growth of the skillset that governs the amount of resources you gain from harvesting. (In this grim case - it happens to be a human body) The more a character performs an action that falls under this skillset, the higher yield the resources he gains from the attempt. In the accelerated video we have a character who very often skins and quarters bodies for meat, bone, and so on. As the character goes through each body, we accelerate the skill gain for the purposes of the video - but you see that with each action/attempt - the yield of meat is increased.
We want to kick off the character soft skills with base skills in the areas of: Medical, Resource Gathering, Repairing. Once we see how these operate, we can expand upon them further.
The little icing on the cake I like about the video is how Peter snuck a little treat in there that you can easily overlook.
As the character skins and quarters the body, his hands and forearms are covered in a bloody mess. The character -can- wash this off should they go to a body of water, or have some on him. Alternatively, he or she could just as easily choose to keep this appearance.
Oh! Before we move on to Peter's bit this week - Things are looking really good for the 75 player servers, I'm excited to see how it plays out on experimental.
Questions? Suggestions? Make sure to head over to the official DayZ Forums and join the Status Report discussion thread for this week.
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
Dev Update / Peter
In the last status report, there was a nice showcase of new implementations of user actions which are currently work in progress. There was an idea back in the day (and I mean it was a really long time ago, more then year and a half) about simplifying of how user actions operate and streamlining controls in general.
User actions as we know them are great as they are very robust and allow usage of anything in any way you like, which leads for such a great ArmA 2 mod as DayZ to happen. Imagine if there were only shooting and door opening - such a situation would leave you with a very limited possibility for application of your creativity as designer. On the other hand user actions are also known for their not so friendly behavior like scrolling menu, issues with precision and our underlying implementation of actions on own character and others in SQF paired with old and limited animation system led to many problematic situations, to mention some, no elegant way to cancel action, spamming actions or serious ones like duping.
New user actions and controls are designed to be modern, user friendly and of course to address all issues which we run into with the old system. Actions will be contextual, for example performing same eat action will feed yourself, or your friend when you are looking at him. They can behave as single event or can be performed continuously, think of flipping the switch by clicking the use button or drinking from a water bottle while holding it. You can perform them during other animations, so you will be able to eat while traversing countryside. Canceling continuous action can be simply done by releasing the use button. All this and more means that scrolling menu will become redundant in the end as all possible situations are covered through different usage, based on context and duration of action.
Every item can be used as melee weapon, and with redesigned controls comes a fresh breeze to melee fights as there is a difference between one click which performs quick attack and continuously charged heavy attack which is performed by releasing the melee button. This allowed us to finally use firearms as melee weapons - bayonet stabs, buttstock hits or pistol whips. Best of it all is that we removed so called aggressive stance which was mandatory to attack with melee or shoot from firearms and it felt forced as it was too static. Now readying the firearm for shooting is a continuous action so once you release use button your firearm is lowered to waist level. Prone position and bipod can make your life easier as far as keeping your firearm ready, also we would like to examine weapons resting in the future. Items can be dropped, rolled or thrown which is especially useful for grenades.
I'm convinced that with new user actions and controls coupled with new animation system and physically based character, DayZ will become a fluid, modern and pleasant experience. I'm looking forward to this day, as with these changes it will feel more like DayZ 2.0 than with any others.
See you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
Community Video: The Last Day Of The Chernarus Club
The following video showing the "story about a group of friends that have always been together", as described, turned up in our gallery. To begin with I wasn't too sure if there was an event going on, if there was supposed to be a story line going through the video, or whatever else the deal was. Any which way, as it turns out, it seems like it's just exactly as described - a group of friends having fun together in Chernarus.
On top of showing some nice positive attitude during combat, the intro/outro for the video is quite well made. Thanks for the entertainment guys!
As always, if you guys out there have a nice video containing DayZ footage you'd like to share, or if you have come across some DayZ footage from other content creators, just post it in the Gallery section of the DayZ forums and we'll happily have a look.
In this week's Status Report, Lead Producer Brian Hicks will be addressing topics such as audio, design, and will be revealing a bit of upcoming map/world changes. Also, there'll be a bit of insight on what the status is on the road going towards 0.59 on Experimental branch.
Dev Update / Hicks
We're going to be trying a few new things with the Status Reports from now on (from here till release). First off we're going to go ahead and move Status Reports to a two week schedule. The reason behind this is mostly due to the nature of the major tasks at hand, we're all working on larger scale tasks that impact the game as a whole. The other change I'd like to make to the Status Reports is to change the tone to a more casual and informal tone - rather than typing up the report as if we're discussing a press release, I'd like to try discussing DayZ and the ongoing changes from the perspective of one DayZ player to another.
Before we get into the cool things we'd like to share with you this week, I'll get a few of the areas that are still in progress and not ready to be shown.
As of this report the Engine team is focused on post processes and making sure that we have visual parity (making sure the visual quality is at least the same as the original renderer). Once that is done they'll be focusing on optimizations and multi threading. This will require a good amount of QA time before it hits experimental, but as we've said before - we need to have a visible improvement on performance when it hits experimental.
We're going to be spawning infected again at strong quantities in 0.59 as the gameplay programming team has been working hard on making sure we can have a smooth 75 player experience (which is looking really good guys, I'm pumped!). However! Internally we're going over some strong suggestions and ideas on how to maximize the concentration and spawning of infected across Chernarus. I don't want to speak too much on this until we have a concrete plan on how we want to handle this. Hopefully next Status Report we'll be able to cover exactly what the plan is in more detail. Needless to say, if everything works out - I'm pretty pumped about it.
Nasty 0.58 Bugs
Things like "ground swimming" - known duplication methods, farming of the quonset hut barracks, and such are ear marked as critical gameplay fixes for 0.59. They might not all be resolved in the first 0.59 experimental push - but they are top priority for the move to stable.
First up this Status Report I thought you guys would like a brief peek at some of the audio changes coming up. Now while I mentioned a few Status Reports back that the ambience is being reworked entirely (and will be significantly quieter than the originals) I don't have anything ready to show you on that -right now-. One of the things I'm excited about gameplay wise related to that is the volume balance changes, with different shoe/boot types hopefully soon having different sound profiles, gunshots themselves will also inherently be much louder in comparison with the rest of the world.
In the video up above we've put together some of the changes to weapon sounds. Sure, its not the new ambience - BUT I'm personally excited about any movements towards making each weapon have a unique audio signature so when we're all sneaking through a dense urban environment or sprinting across the wilds of Chernarus we can identify what weapon is being fired by audio alone. Some tweaks will more than likely happen before these sounds are finalized, but we wanted you guys to hear how they are sounding right now.
Now lets talk about something that *really* got me excited. The other week I sat down with Peter our Lead Designer, and Honza one of our Senior Designers to check out some of the things they were working on as they get access to the larger changes we've been waiting for quite awhile on. I spoke with Break71 the other week about how we thought how silly the whole idea of being locked into an animation when performing an action was. Besides the myriad of bugs that are associated with how this works and has worked throughout the Early Access - it just felt like such an immersion and fun killer.
Just to be clear - the video is above is rough! However it shows what I'm talking about. The design team has significant work ahead of them rewriting every action to match with this behavior. What we're looking at is a change from an action triggering an animation and success/failure being dependent on the completion of the animation. In the example we see Senior Designer Honza (Jan) eating a test bag of rice. As he triggers the action (eating) he is holding down the assigned test key (I believe his left mouse button) his character begins eating the rice. As soon as he releases the key, the character stops eating and is free to move or perform another action.
The amount of rice consumed is calculated based upon the duration of time he was eating the rice - and voila. We see a massive change in how the user interacts with the world, and performs the majority of actions and tasks within DayZ. I know I've said this a lot - but I'm excited and you should be too.
Next up we have a work in progress view at how we're working on vehicle and vehicle parts damage being assigned - and the visual representation of it. I'll put a video down below. The behavior in the video is purely for test purposes. While we're happy with how each part has its own "hit point" value - and can be damaged/destroyed - the behavior of the part "falling off" of the vehicle works for some, but not necessarily for all.
We spent some time discussing how he behavior should operate today - personally while I love each part being able to be damaged individually from the parent vehicle, and that change being visual to players as they attack the vehicle I'd much rather have the part be "non usable" when destroyed. Such as a door that is destroyed being "jammed" and not openable without an action, or a tool being used to force it open.
This however could easily lead to a situation where a character is "stuck" inside a damaged vehicle without a method of escape that looks visually acceptable (like smashing the window and being teleported out of the vehicle when climbing out of it). The design team will be going over the best method for handling the functionality of the damaged vehicle components over the course of the next week or so. I'd like to talk about that some more in the next Status Report.
On the World Design side, Senchi has been working pretty tirelessly on the long awaited renovation and update to Chernogorsk. The major coastal cities for quite some time hadn't really been touched that much since we hit Early Access - and their age compared to the outstanding work the World team had done up north was really, really visible.
Now, these are still moderately early. Senchi and his team still need to replace the original Chernogorsk ground textures, and finish up the the structures - but we thought you guys would like to see how it was going. Chernogorsk is a key city for Chernarus - and its very critical we keep the stylized skyline and key points of interest intact. That said, there is a lot of room for improvement and I'm confident Senchi and his team will knock it out of the park when Chernogorsk is done.
0.59 Experimental hasn't hit yet as you all know, and I get a good deal of questions about when it is coming. As I hate to give solid dates in case something comes up in test, I'll give you guys a quick insight on what the blockers are from it hitting experimental.
This is huge for 0.59, as we're introducing new vehicles and increasing the vehicle quantity it just flat out has to work better than previous builds. We have had some nasty bugs come up while working on this and its held back the experimental push. That said, the programming team is making some commits tomorrow and our fingers are crossed that QA signs off on the improvement.
As the gameplay programming team works on randomization of vehicle/parts state while spawning, as well as potentially randomizing potential weapon attachments on spawning, we've run into a few bugs that caused issues spawning dynamic events (as the tech behind them is shared). Obviously we need to have this resolved - but its not a major blocker for experimental at least, but definitely stable.
We've isolated a memory/handle leak issue that has caused some crashes we want to get resolved before hitting experimental, I'm sure you all can understand the motivation there. The gameplay programming team is hard at work knocking this one out.
Ground Swimming & Duplication
More gameplay blockers than anything, we're all as frustrated with these issues on 0.58 as you are. So obviously we've ear marked these as absolute must fixes. They aren't necessarily preventing an experimental push, but as we're working on the other blockers - these are top priority as well.
Lastly for this Status Report - I know a lot of you have been wanting to see the Q3 2015 Roadmap Analysis, and we'll be covering that as well as some changes to devhub.dayz.com in the future that will give you guys more insight on exactly where we are with the required features and content for 1.0 at PAX Australia at the end of the month.
The talk -should- be live streamed by the PAX folks, and in case any issues come up we'll be recording the audio off board and will present it post-event just like the RTX Q1 & Q2 Roadmap Analysis was done.
I hope I didn't ramble too much in this Status Report, but as we're getting closer to our goal of Beta (End of this year, beginning of next year) there are a lot of large changes coming to the tech behind DayZ, and these tasks take more time than modifications to the old tech and systems.
Questions? Suggestions? Make sure to head over to the official DayZ Forums and join the Status Report discussion thread for this week.
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
Community Spotlight: GamingRoachEntertainment
So, we have a returning content creator for this week: GamingRoachEntertainment. Yep, he was featured once before with his excellent story depicting Quinn Bauer's quest to find his family. Considering the massive amounts of time and effort it must have taken to create a new 13 episode storyline, with each episode lasting between approximately 15 - 30+ minutes, it seemed like a shame not to present GRE's newest series to you all.
This time around, we're presented with Eddy Beck's Story. Without spoiling any of Quinn Bauer's story, which is also still available on GRE's Youtube channel, I'll just leave it at mentioning that the connection between the two characters is that Eddy used to manage Quinn's career as a music producer.
The first three episodes will be linked below, and I hope that you'll take the time to have a look at the full series by using the following link to GRE's Youtube account: GamingRoachEntertainment
Also, in case you enjoy the RP content, GamingRoachEntertainment is streaming DayZ via his Twitch account.
If you have some nice footage of you and your friends fooling around in DayZ, just send it through to the Gallery section of our DayZ forums, and we'll be looking forward to see what you're up to!