Brian, Peter, and Viktor give us the lowdown this week on the current blocker issues, as well as let us in on upcoming work from the design and animation teams.
Dev Update / Hicks
Now that PAX is over lets take a quick look at what we're doing to tackle the last Status Report’s listed blockers, and what issues are between us and .60 hitting experimental (so you're all in the know).
The QA, Design, and Gameplay Programming teams have isolated the cause of the issue, specifically tied to stalling of item respawn - while initial server spawn, and server cleanup are functioning properly. The Gameplay Programmers responsible for this are hard at work nailing down a fix to this issue, and a possible solution has been handed to QA - we will run it through the QA department for verification.
This issue has been resolved, and the QA Team are no longer able to reproduce it. Strike one more issue from the list.
All of the reproducible methods for causing this issue have been flagged and resolved by the gameplay programming team, and have been verified by QA.
Playability of New UI Inventory
The team has finished all remaining changes needed to be ready for .60 experimental - once the build is in the hands of the experimental userbase, we'll be able to make any required adjustments or improvements based upon how they interact with it.
In addition to these previous issues, the engine and gameplay programming teams are currently working on resolving two issues we'd like to see solved prior to hitting experimental:
FPS Drop / Clouds
Internal Testing discovered a 100% reproducible frame drop to single digit factors on limited hardware configurations. While the issue only appeared on 2 out of 30+ PCs, we're taking it very seriously. That said, the engine programming team has committed a fix and QA are verifying it as of the time of this report.
We've encountered an issue with unconscious players reconnecting / logging in to a fresh server sometimes causing the server to suffer an unexpected crash. Obviously we'll need to get this resolved before pushing to a large userbase because no one likes playing on servers that are consistently crashing - and we all know there will be plenty of unconscious survivors throughout Chernarus. That said, the gameplay programming team have a solid repro, and all the crashdumps and server logs they could want, and are tracking this issue down as I write this.
As you can see, we're knocking issues down one by one, and each day brings us closer to pushing the first .60 experimental build to Steam. Keep in mind, this will be just like every other experimental upload and will have issues. So lets all chip in and make sure to submit good bug data when encountering them - Quality Assurance Lead Ondrej Klima gave some excellent pointers in how to submit the best bug data possible in our last Dev Q&A video on the official Youtube Channel (youtube.com/dayzdevteam).
All of us here at the DayZ dev team cannot wait get .60 on to experimental branch. The excitement and support at PAX East was overwhelming, and there are still so many more improvements to the technology powering DayZ to come!
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
Dev Update / Peter
I would like to talk about base building in this issue of Status Report a bit as it didn't get much attention in SRs from me yet, thus the community was naturally left with many questions which needs to be answered. It's known that we are using base building as a common name for a broad set of activities that leads to creation of your very own base of your operations made from different facilities which can provide you or your team shelter, storage, food, water, fortification, outlook or even an electricity grid.
Alongside pitching the stock tents which can be found or improvised ones made by crafting when needed and other features like barrels, fireplaces and such it's the sturdy made structures which turn a basic campsite into a base, may it be the barriers to secure the perimeter of a base or a watchtower to get a better overview of the surroundings. Structures are again divided into premade and crafted ones. Ready to go mesh containers which may be found at military bases are an easy and fast way to form desired barriers as they can be transported to site, placed and filled with soil and eventually emptied in order to reorganize the barrier or to take them to a different location. On the other hand you can made your own walls, sheds or watchtowers with proper tools, materials and a bit of dedication. Because I'm not a huge fan of premade whole objects when it comes to building mechanics in sandbox games I wanted to allow as much options as possible within the scope of our game to allow players to create varied results. Construction of non-portable structures starts with placing of their basic elements so as to form their foundation. Characters can interact with this foundation to extend it into a desired state. Walls have split lower and upper halves and it's up to you whether to mount wooden planks or metal sheets with connecting materials like nails to fill them or optionally leave one or both halves without any filling. To gather wooden planks or metal sheets you will have to look for pallets which will be spawned as a dynamic event similar to helicopters or police cars although with admittedly higher chances. After you run out of material for filling, don't worry that your construction urge will be halted as there is the possibility of crafting planks from chopped trees at several sawmills across Chernarus. However, it needs to be said that metal sheets give your walls more protection than wooden planks. I admit that plain walls could be quite bland after some time so you will be able to enhance them with some goodies like camo netting for added camouflage or light chains when you wish to achieve something completely opposite, may it be a trading post, a trap or just to add some cozy atmosphere in a harsh world. Tents can be also equipped with both of them. Anyway, there are more things to do to improve the functionality of any given wall. Improvised hinges turns a wall into a gate broad enough that even a V3S can pass through, or the addition of barbwire fence helps protect close proximity of the wall itself as, don't forget it, even a wall can be disassembled with proper tools like a crowbar. To step even further, barbwire can be plugged into an electricity grid maintained by a power generator turning it effectively into an electric fence so you will think twice before taking it down with pliers.
I'm excited to see how players will use this feature to build all the variations of bases to mark their presence in the persistent environment of Chernarus. It must be said that even if we have working prototypes and final implementation in process of construction of non-portable structures and precise object placement (yes, it was postponed), it will not see public release until the arrival of the new character, which consists of the new animation system, new rewritten scripts in Enforce, new controller, new damage system, new controls and other supportive components.
Unleash your inner survivalist architect... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter / Lead Designer -
Dev Update / Viktor
I will continue where I left in previous status report. Last week there was a mocap session. We have captured many missing animations for wounded character and also some weapon specific animations. Once the data are processed the animators can start working on wounded crouched locomotions for player. In general most of basic anims for injured player are already done. However we need to implement it all at once and of course after the new animation system is fully in.
In recent stream you might have noticed some special moves for infected where they were going over some obstacles. Currently there are four different animations for getting over obstacles depending on the height. You should be able to see it in action with the next update. Please keep in mind this is very first implementation of such a feature and we will be working on many improvements to it but I think it works pretty well already and infected are now scary as s.... well have fun!
- Viktor / Lead Animator -
A short while ago I was contacted by one of our forum users HugoStiglitz. He sent a couple of links to videos that his friend CamCANTRUN had made, and it was some pretty good stuff. Especially the "Friendship" series was a good watch. Cam meets a random player Kyle who had a bit of trouble in real life it seems, and it was nice to see how Cam tries to pick up Kyle and take his mind off of things while doing a bit of adventuring through Chernarus. We should all be so lucky as to have a friend like CamCANTRUN.
Do go have a look at his Youtube, Twitch, and Twitter accounts as I'm sure there'll be more entertainment coming up in the future.
If you also have some footage, artwork, or screenshots you'd like to share, you can always swing by the DayZ forums and post it in the Gallery section.
Brian, Viktor, Miroslav, and Raist give us an update on current development in this Status Report. Subjects covered by the guys are blocker issues, network code, the new AI spawner, and the new animation system.
Dev Update / Hicks
It’s that time again - biweekly Status Report time. In addition to my update, we have some interesting reads from Miroslav our Lead Gameplay Programmer, Viktor our Lead Animator, and Raist the Senior Programmer responsible for DayZ's Central Economy. That aside, let’s look at what our current critical issues are for the release of .60 to experimental branch.
Current internal builds have an issue we're chasing down that drops globally spawned quantities of items to about 3,000 in certain situations/server states. This is around 17,000 to 18,000 less than the acceptable minimal operating value. This issue is one of the top priorities for the designers currently, as it effectively makes the title near unplayable.
The gameplay programming team are working on an issue that causes magazines during the reload process to become "stuck" within the players inventory, thus causing several cascading failures with players inventories requiring them to disconnect and reconnect to resolve the issue.
The QA Team encountered a 100% repro rate series of steps to cause players to become stuck in a sliding state - regardless of laying, prone, or erect. These steps have been provided to the gameplay programming team - and they are working on resolving the issue.
Playability of New UI Inventory
The design and gameplay programming teams are wrapping up the last of the playability issues moving to the new UI, as functional support for the legacy UI won't be possible moving forward with the new Enfusion renderer.
Since the last Status Report the team has nailed down the last blocking bugs on the renderer side, squashed some nasty virtual machine server exception issues, resolved blocking issues with navmesh generation, infected AI behavior, several critical client crash bugs, a new nasty issue with the desync of player positions, and rolled out the support for configuring all the initial required graphical options within the options menu for the new renderer release.
Looking at what the Engine Programming team have taken on and ahead of them for the Enfusion Renderer:
Alpha to Coverage Implementation
Resolved all issues flagged as "Must Fix" or "Blocker" for .60
Current Focus is on:
New UI and Renderer Major & Minor severity level issues
Aside from the current issues I've mentioned above, personally I'm a bit concerned of the network state of vehicles. With the team focused on the milestone goals for .60 we haven't been able to give the attention to iterating on network synchronization, performance, and physics on our current group of vehicles. I think they're far from where I'd like them to be - but we'll more than likely have to put off improving their state to somewhere more enjoyable for the Early Access playerbase to future builds.
Each day moves us closer to having a build we're confident and able to move to experimental branch, and no one group of people want it out there more than us, the developers. Lastly, before I sign off for this Status Report - I know I've said it before - but I can't say it enough, keep in mind this is just our first public iteration of this portion of Enfusion engine. In addition to iteration and progression from feedback and bug reports from the Early Access player base we'll also be working with GPU manufacturers to figure out how best to use their technologies to the maximum effect, and get DayZ optimized for use in future drivers from said manufacturers.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
Dev Update / Miroslav
In my last status report, I mentioned that we are rewriting some important parts of network code. Well, the work is finished and first testing showed improvements on server performance and server response time. So, these changes will be available in experimental build from start and if nothing goes wrong, they will hit the stable release too.
Two weeks ago, we started revisiting another important part of networking. The login process. Now, it's possible that you are present on server before you can actually play, so you can be attacked by AIs and players and you don't have an opportunity to defend (not common for this to occur, but possible in some edge cases). This will be fixed, but not in 0.60. These changes will allow us also implementation of login queue, which will help us to control server performance in case when a lot of concurrent players are connecting and waiting queue will be available too.
Last time, I also mentioned changes in AI spawner. Here you have a few words from our programmer Frantisek Bidlo a.k.a Raist, who's responsible for Central Loot Economy implementation:
Lots of new and horribly ugly looking infected are going to be swarming Chernarus. We have almost finished the new system and tools on area/ spawn rules/ group types definition in order to create believable distribution, doctors will haunt hospitals, police will be most probably found in the stations surrounding areas.
Different infected types may by stronger and faster than others, every city and village will get various combination depending on it's size, position and importance.
We're still not sure, if new AI spawner will hit 0.60 (or at least experimental), but we will try our best. Here are a few screenshots from the spawner testing, but please keep in mind that these are form testing and it's possible, that there won't be so high AI counts in release.
- Miroslav / Lead Gameplay Programmer -
Dev Update / Viktor
When thinking about what happened in last two weeks in animation team I have realized there is so many different animations being worked on. I have decided to put together a quick compilation of some of them that have been done just recently. There are new reload anims for M4, for Red9 and CR527. Except weapons guys have been busy with adding missing animations for vehicles, opening and closing doors and hoods with tons of variations to cover all vehicles.
We have started to create a new graph for infected for upcoming animation system. Because of that we came back to idea to bring variations for infected locomotions where there will be multiple different idles, walks, runs and sprints so they look a bit different when moving around. Also some extra anims are in progress, like attacking doors. This week there will be already mentioned mocap session so we will get loads of new data for us to work on.
Make sure to check the video out and remember it is all work in progress as always, it may change, but mainly this are animations that have been finished in past week or two so they are still far from implementing. Moreover we still need to have new animation system in first.
- Viktor / Lead Animator -
Good stuff, I should have caught on to Astros Legacy a bit earlier. I always do like me some nice DayZ cinematics, and when I came across the Astros Legacy channel, I was not disappointed when I found this:
Good things are to be found within his channel, and you can always follow him via his Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Also, it's been out for a while, but in case you did not see it yet, concept artist Simon Weaner did the following matte painting of the shipwreck at Rify: