It's time for that update on what's been going on during the past two weeks. We have a bit of info on blocker issues for 0.60 as well as which subjects will be in focus for the immediate future.
Dev Update / Hicks
Hey everyone. While I don't have an experimental build for you today - I do have good news and an update on what is going on with the blockers, how far we've got with them, and so on:
User controls within the new inventory look to be at parity with the old inventory system. The last few remaining issues are a few nasty blocking bugs on the functional side, such as items missing their icons.
The QA team have worked with the design and animation teams to get a firm handle on exactly where the inconsistencies are with the new reload mechanics, and said teams are working on resolving the issue. I think we can all agree that when we push a large change to how weapons reload - they damn better all reload with the same mechanics ;)
Character Loading / Saving
Proper character loading/saving is back, and in the process some nice network optimizations in this area were made!
Renderer based blocking issues
We've cut the list of blocker flagged issues tied to the new Enfusion renderer in half since the last time we talked - and in the time since our last Status Report the Enfusion engine team has made some outstanding optimizations across Chernarus - which you can see the result of in the latest .60 Dev Log video that you see below.
In addition, while the Enfusion engine team was able to commit and test their latest optimizations, the automated performance benchmarking tool briefly discussed in the latest .60 Dev Log video has enabled the environment team to begin to isolate problematic issues with certain areas of the map that would not otherwise be noticed. We're excited to see these fixes give us yet another small bump up in Enfusion's new renderer performance.
As we get closer to bringing .60 to experimental branch, I lightly urge you all to temper your excitement with a few brief statements of reality about public development of a title, and its engine:
.60 is focused on UI, and Renderer - it does not feature the new animation system, player controller, or user actions
We still have plenty of issues ahead of us to tackle, the renderer is but one hurdle on the road to a complete DayZ
Network Optimizations, Server Performance Optimization (This is a big one, standing between us and more players, more infected, more animals), Animation System, Eden Update Audio Tech merge, and more are all ahead of us
So I encourage you to keep your eye on the proverbial prize here and report your bugs over on the official DayZ forums, be active in testing these new technology changes, and be a part of moving DayZ towards 1.0
"I frequently get asked why a specific bug might not be resolved yet, or why something hasn't been addressed yet in development that from a players perspective might seem critical.
There are a lot of things to take into consideration in development when weighing a bugfix, not to mention when you're dealing with a title transitioning from one engine, to another one that is *in development* Lets take a quick look into a brief break down of how the thought process goes:
- First off - what is the risk of this fix at the current time?
What are the goals for the upcoming build? Does this potentially represent larger issues that will push the build back? Is this issue tied to a technology that is going to be replaced?
For example - Is this an issue tied with the legacy renderer?
Is this issue related to ongoing investigation of a larger issue with wider sweeping impact on the title? If this issue IS tied to a system scheduled to be rewritten or replaced - what is the estimated time involved in:
Work resolving the issue itself Test pass on the issue Overall BVT test pass to ensure related issues are not encountered Regression testing on the issue
Are all things that are slated to be resolved, or at least mitigated with new technologies that are being worked on *right now* - so the hard decision has to be made - Do we potentially waste valuable development time and resources on something that will *not* end up in the shipped title? Honestly - we try to do that as little as possible. We still end up going a very large amount of it to try and keep the consumer steam branches as playable as possible, but frequently the unpopular and hard decision has to be made to stay the course, and dedicated those resources towards the final product / final systems / final technology."
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
Dev Update / Peter
I'll continue were I left off in my last Status Report entry and write a bit about the planned changes to the systems and functionality tied to such mechanics as attachments, crafting or the quick bar. As I said few times already I want to see DayZ's gameplay as much physicality as possible and controls as less obstructive as possible.
One of the problems we are facing is a quite non readable agenda or to say it better, limits of the game that we set - what can be done or achieved and how all these various mechanics work, coupled with a rather chaotic approach to the usage of these systems, it leads in most cases to force players to visit community wikis and find out there. Of course in the past with the dawn of the original DayZ mod it was really refreshing and stunning to find out all the obfuscated in-game mechanics by yourself or learn them directly in-game from other survivors and at the end it contributed to creating one of the most beautiful game communities out of these shared experiences. It was one of the key points of mod success without any doubt, even when it was a virtue of necessity in the light how it all began and was made. However do we still need to keep the same approach after such time, where most of the orthodox players already known everything and new players came to the game mainly for all sort of experiences and stories they seen or heard about? If this is what we are offering to the players - experiences and stories - then we should not stay in their way.
We decided to unveil how things work with addition of meaningful assistance especially in the inventory side. You will find ghosts/silhouette placeholders for all possible attachments that can be attached to systems like player character, weapons, vehicles, constructions, fireplaces, etc. Of course it can ignite pursuit for "filling those spots" notably for completionist style players. On the other hand it will help to orientate what is possible and what isn't as in reality you know that you can definitely can put a second rifle around your neck but you can’t in game, so instead of trying by yourself it's better to be told straight that these are the cards to play with instead of trying all the possible combinations to find proper one like in old school point and click adventures (which I love, to be clear). With the possibility to add and remove all attachments within the inventory screen and with the need of securing some of them with tools in mind comes a secured/unsecured icon - think of vehicle wheels which you can attach to the hub but you need to fasten them with lug wrench for proper functionality or they will simply fall off during the drive or nail down the planks to make a fence from simple frame. With this locking of attachments via user actions it comes hand in hand need of the unreachable functionality for attachments, again think of how visually unpleasant it will be to teleport wheels to front hubs of bus standing at very different side or by its back, this will get you to the right spot if you want it to drag and drop it from inventory instead using direct in-game attach user action. To quickly mention some other aids for convenient usage, we plan to introduce lighting bolt icon for electricity system to clearly overview if object it's plugged in/under current or needed amount of some specific item to be able to turn it into desired state like number of planks to barricade the doors.
Crafting is another important part of the game and it is critical to bring it out to the light from the darkness of the inventory screen. Intended plans for field crafting changes is that it always needs to be initiated from the hands with the one of the two required ingredients for said recipe. Combining wooden sticks with rags is a good example. Crafting can be initiated in different ways, solely in inventory by putting let's say rags to hands and drag and drop wooden sticks on them from vicinity or cargo, second possible approach is a bit of a shortcut when you have let's say wooden sticks already in hands and rags set in some quick slot and pressing this quick slot number to invoke the crafting recipe, or the last way is with direct interaction with the item in the world by pointing rags in hands onto sticks gathered from bush. All of these options of crafting initialization let you to choose how you want to craft directly in the world instead of the inventory, in that case a torch, splint or fireplace and by holding the right mouse button craft it the same as you would use a canteen to continuously drink from. Some of the positives of this approach is that it eliminates automatic removal of previous item in hands so you don't suddenly loose your precious double carried item, adding tangibility and actual feel to execution of crafting actions or the possibility to walk during some crafting actions like opening cans or feeding magazines with cartridges. Additionally feeding a magazine will be a continuous action, the same as feeding the internal magazine of a gun which takes some time, one by one cartridge loading as long as you perform that feeding action which leads to a much more believable tension with planning ahead and tactical approach instead of that game where the fastest fingers win the crucial situations. At the end of the day the advantage of magazines lays in how many rounds you can fire with the current set without manipulating too much with the weapon or magazine instead of making nearly endless stream of fire with juggling with just two mags and ammo piles. (Keep in mind, we aren't going for 1:1 realism - obviously in a video game, round by round loading will be a bit faster than in real life).
As in the good tradition of DayZ all new changes will have visual feedback to players like attaching something to gun, picking item from ground, dropping it, feeding the magazine or crafting something. Everything should be readable by other survivors to make it clear what's going on and to be able to react on your performed actions which can offer time windows to take advantage of. All these changes will shift how DayZ is played a bit but I truly believe these they are introduced for a good reason and help to form a higher principle.
Nothing should stand between you and your stories... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
Dev Update / Viktor
We are now focused on adding missing animations for vehicles. For the new animation system we have been adding some offset poses to allow player to look around inside the vehicle and also changing slightly how steering wheel looks to allow animating shift gear in the future.
Obviously never ending work on guns is still in progress. That means we are adding chambering animations for more guns and polishing existing reloading anims. The player graph now containes some new actions like animation for emptying bottle. Some more wounded moves have been created. The bow and pistols now have the same set as rifle - standing walk and run.
I am also planning next mocap session to capture some animations for operating the vehicles like engine repairing or attaching doors and wheels. More wounded anims are also on mocap list so we can continue on this feature.
- Viktor / Lead Animator -
Community Spotlight: Days of Z
Ah nice, another live action movie of DayZ. I know, it's a bit over a year old so some of you might already have seen it. Still, I'm always amazed at how some people are able to put together videos like these (looks like it was fun being part of this production), so here we go, I hope you'll like "Days of Z" as well:
If you also have some videos, screenshots/artwork, or photos of you in your real life DayZ gear that you would like to share, just jump across to the DayZ Forums and post it. We always love to see what you guys come up with!
Brian, Mirek, and Viktor will be giving us a bit of info this week in regards to subjects such as current blocker issues, work on spawn systems and network code, and the new animation system.
Hey guys, its that time again - Status Report day. I know you all wanted to hear some crazy hype tastic reveal like - FREE OCULUS RIFT HEADSETS UNDER EACH OF YOUR COMPUTER DESKS OMG YAY (but more specific to our upcoming .60 experimental push) but I'm afraid I don't have that for you today, and we don't do hype like that anyways. While we've made strides in client side performance functionality, we're still chipping away at blocking issues in the following areas:
With the move to Direct X 11, we'll no longer be able to support the legacy user interface. Thus, functional parity with the legacy UI -has- to be achieved on the new UI. The design team are currently working on resolving the last few bugs blocking us from having that parity.
The move in .60 to involving manual bolt cycling, as well as misfire and jamming management via the charging handle on weapons such as the M4 has an impact on every firearm in the game. We're currently working to resolve some functional hiccups in the switching between magazines, and the need to chamber twice before firing from a new magazine.
A very large volume of unneeded traffic was discovered when investigating issues with character loading - a rewrite of the methods used to save and load from the central hive. Once we restore proper functionality, this area will no longer be a blocker.
60 Build Optimization Pass (Performance in cities increased by 50% from initial build - optimization is ONGOING however)
Cleared Rendering Test Pass list of visual/rendering based bugs
Renderer settings UI
MSAA Hardware Multisampling Support
Alpha to Coverage GPU Feature (Which will increase quality of vegetation rendering)
Finalization of In-Game UI Features
We've heard a lot of feedback wanting some changes to how we're communicating development information over the last year - and we started steps a few months back towards adjusting to try and meet some of these requests. We've expanded the community team and put processes in to ensure that regardless of development tasks, the Status Reports will come out on schedule (Tuesdays, BiWeekly). In addition, we've begun using our YouTube channel more - to show upcoming changes to DayZ as they are developed. (Status Reports talk about development progress, and what changes are planned in the future - where as the YouTube channel should show what is coming in the next build - when it is functional enough to demonstrate)
We'll also be trying a team Q&A type video where folks can ask questions about what its like to work on DayZ, work at Bohemia, and such - our first video on this from our Quality Assurance team should be coming shortly. Our Community Manager Smo55 is ramping up his presence on our subreddit and official forums, our new Brand Manager DHawkz is working with Bohemia Interactive publishing to expand the options for DayZ merchandise on the BI Store, and a redesign of DayZ.com, as well as working with our hardware partners to create opportunities for raising awareness of DayZ as it moves towards our Beta, and Release goals.
I'll be discussing some of the systems and pending changes tied to the new animation system and player controller over on the official forums later this week, and next up for the YouTube channel we're working on our next Dev Log video on .60 covering performance comparisons between Direct X 9, and Direct X 11 rendering.
Once .60 hits experimental branch, we'll start putting together our first "Whats new with .60" video - where DHawkz, Smo55, and I go over the changes in .60 and what to expect gameplay wise - for our YouTube channel.
Lastly - as .60's time on experimental starts to draw to a close - we'll be bringing back the official DayZ survival gaming e-sport, The Survivor GameZ. The Survivor GameZ VII Qualifiers will be a fantastic way for us to stress test .60 before it hits stable, and to see how the new inventory, and reloading/chambering mechanics work in a high stress situation. Keep an eye on the official Survivor GameZ and DayZ twitter accounts for more info on this - twitter.com/survivor_gamez and twitter.com/dayzdevteam
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
Last two weeks, we spent our time mostly on bug fixing of some critical issues like client/server crashing or issues with weapon reloading, because we want that first release of 0.60 experimental will be in the best state as possible.
Designers have started to use new damage system, so we have few requests on improvements, but they aren't blockers.
A lot of issues were fixed in loot distribution and some new features were added. For example random loot spawning in world containers. This new feature is now moved to designers, so they can set it properly. We have also prepared new Infected/Animal spawner, but this won't be ready in 0.60 as we need to do some work in AI simulation. We will talk about this new system in next status report.
Maybe the most interesting thing is that we've started to rewrite some core parts of network code, which should improve desync issues and server performance. I hope that we will be able to show these improvements in 0.60, but I don't want to give any promises, because it's possible, that first iteration will break the game even more.
- Mirek Mañena / Lead Gameplay Programmer -
The ongoing work on weapon animations is still far from finishing. As there are more ways in which state gun can be when player will initiate the reload the proper animation has to be created to provide a corresponding reload action. Some reloads are being replaced with more polished ones and many new animations are being created to support possibility to load a chamber with single ammo. The animation sets for each gun now have magazine reload animations, manipulation with weapon mechanism, chambering animations and more is still to come.
The main player graph now contains most of important functionalities but we are constantly going through existing animations and filling out some missing ones or replacing with more polished versions. Also the wounded character now has some sets implemented as a prototype (some walks and runs) but we will have to wait for all the animations until we fully introduce it.
The previously mentioned improvements to pulling out and hiding of weapons was slightly polished in past week. We have achieved what we were aiming for. While standing still you can start arming a gun, begin walking and meanwhile change stance to crouch - it will just work, oh and of course you can stop while doing that anytime. This of course means a lot to other player actions like for instance gestures or eating as can be seen in the video capture from our animation editor preview.
- Viktor Kostik / Lead Animator -
Community Spotlight: Tom's Story.
Wow, a friendly user of our forums sent through a link to the following "real life" DayZ video:
While watching the video, I keep wondering where the film locations are at since it could be awesome getting to see places like that (probably just a matter of asking the guys who made the video). Aside from that of course, you can't help but be amazed at the effort the creators must have gone through in order to make a video like this come together. On top of that, it turns out that there are three more episodes in the series which is available through the following Youtube channel: Denny Onex, and according to their Facebook site it looks like there are even more episodes to come. Very well done!
As always, in case you also have a nice video containing DayZ related footage you'd like to share, or if you have an upcoming event of some sorts, don't be shy to post it on the DayZ Forums.
For this week, Brian Hicks (Lead Producer), Peter Nespesny (Lead Designer), and Miroslav Maněna (Lead Gameplay Programmer) will let us in on details regarding the CLE, the new engine + renderer, and upcoming plans and work for the damage system and Enforce script among other things.
Development Board Spotlight
Dev Update / Hicks
As mentioned as a high possibility, we ended up passing our internal goal for putting 0.60 in consumers hands. However, this was expected as a high chance. We are of course working hard on getting it ready, and on to experimental branch as soon as possible. Our work currently is focused on optimization of the performance inside major cities in Chernarus. New Chernogorsk has caused us some performance hickups we want to resolve to an acceptable playable frame rate. The engine team has a daunting task ahead of them, focusing on the last few hurdles to unlock the capabilities of the renderer while still combating and improving legacy engine scene management. With trouble areas in the DirectX 9 area dipping as low as the mid teens in some situations, we consider it critical to isolate those areas and ensure we can hold a stable 30fps (In Direct X 11) in them. Globally, frame rates on average can be in the 40 to 60 range on average - so obviously our focus right now is in those major cities. It is key to keep in mind as said many times before - this is just the first iteration. In addition to continuing bugfixes on into beta and the 1.0 release, the new renderer technology will open up many new particle effects to the design team, and we'll be working with GPU manufacturers for cross testing to isolate areas in which hardware specific optimizations can be made.
Implementation of all base renderer features
Simulweather/True Sky Implementation
Optimization of major cities
Finalization of New Renderer Settings UI/Options
Implementation of New UI
Bug Fix, Bug Fix, Bug Fix
I'm confident that a global increase in frame rate playability, as well as a huge upgrade in the visuals in DayZ are going to be well worth the work that has gone into the part of the Enfusion engine, and I can't wait to share it with you all. While .60 obviously focuses most heavily on implementing the engine's new renderer - .60 also has continued iteration on the Central Economy (something I think many people don't realize is VERY critical to the DayZ experience) with the audit mentioned in previous Status Reports complete, as well as changes to the tagging for weapons. Changes to vehicle spawn points, initial attachments, and finally - weapons are both spawning with random attachments AND a chance to spawn with magazines that have a random amount of ammo inside them.
Beyond .60 - the teams next major updates focus is primarily on the new animation system and player controller. For the end user, it is important to understand these large engine changes have been holding back fixes on a lot of legacy issues with the title, as well as much larger over all changes to how DayZ plays - including, but not limited to DayZ's new user actions - something that I feel paired with the renderer, and new UI complete a 3 part massive change to how DayZ *plays*. In addition, the gameplay programming team's work on the new damage system - which will be explained in a bit more detail below by Lead Gameplay Programmer Mirek. The members of the programming team focusing on the Central Economy also continue to work on the deployable version of the CLE & Database structure for use by both mod authors and private server operators alike - as well as functionality for DayZ's local offline mode.
On the Early Access / Community side - our forum transition is complete, and DayZ.com forums are back online. As some of you may know the feedback tracker is offline while we transition to a new software option for it. This shouldn't be down too much longer, as it is critical to providing an outlet to those testing DayZ's development builds to communicate the issues they encounter while doing so.
We know that members of the community have wanted to see an increase or change in the format of our outbound communication, and that too has received some love this month. We've done some restructuring in the processes behind these, as well as the structure of responsibilities. We're hoping that over the coming month you'll all enjoy the changes in this area - and we'll be keeping an eye on your reactions.
- Brian Hicks / Lead Producer -
Dev Update / Peter
New user actions framework in Enforce Script has been completed and while all actions are being rewritten into it they rely on a connection to the new player and new animation system, we have also looked at crafting processes currently used in game and usage of activities available in DayZ such as preparing fireplace and cooking, creating electricity system, construction of non portable structures, vehicle maintenance, growing crops, placement of objects, weapons handling, interacting with objects in world, doors barricading and others.
With such wide spectrum of different activities which were continuously implemented through the development and honestly most of them ended in prototype, unfinished or experimental state is easy that their usage can become inconsistent especially when we were trying different approaches to it over time. Now during general rewrite of scripted game systems and mechanics to Enforce script and overall heading towards Beta release it's a great time to overhaul everything which makes sense to overhaul and can be reasonable achieved in tight timeframe. Our aim is to bring as much consistency as we can into very different behaviors to unify and simplify them thus they become much more clear and understandable to players. I'm very proud that vision of physicality, tangibility and strong visual feedback through the whole game and it's actions and activities is becoming the reality which is, to be honest, quite unique in games nowadays. For example you can look forward to reinforcing the rule of hands even in crafting which become really close to user actions, or stretching the functionality of quick slots beyond their usual behavior seen in games.
For greatest experiences it's immersion that matters... See you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
Dev Update / Mirek
The legacy Arma damage system was designed only for ranged weapons, which means that every hit was an explosion. But when we've added close range weapons, we've found that this system isn't suitable and it's difficult to balance properly.
It was hard to set up how much damage will be applied to different parts of character's body, and how this damage will be modified when characters has different types of armor and so on. We’ve decided the best solution is to write a completely new system for this, which will allow us to have several different types of hits and wounds, which will allow us to add more game features and easily balance them.
Together with this, we're changing the process of damage synchronization between client and server, so this new damage system will be more efficient for server performance and network traffic, and be secure against the possibility of cheating.
The new damage system is now pushed to our designers, who are creating the initial setup, at which point we will begin testing internally. The team is also working on performance and network optimizations and bug-fixing some major inventory issues.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Programmer -
Community Spotlight: NinjaYourself - One Life Series
How long can you keep a single character alive? Depending on playstyle, that might vary quite a bit. This week we'll have a look at NinjaYourself and a series of videos he's created, "One Life Series", in which he showcases the many encounters, both friendly and hostile, of one of his characters.
Part 3 @9:33 - That is one big bunch of team members!
Taking the amount of encounters into account, it is quite impressive that NinjaYourself managed to keep that character alive for that long. Well done sir!
As a content creator, there is of course a lot of material available on his Youtube account, and you can follow his Twitch account for updates and news in relation to new videos that he pumps out.
In case you also 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 be more than happy to have a look.