Creative Director Brian Hicks shares the latest info on where we are at in the development process, Mirek and Peter are talking about removing SQF and Adam wants to share with you our progress with trees - the biggest change Chernarus has received in the past years.
I don't have too much for you this Status Report, fortunately Adam from the Environment team, as well as Peter (Lead Designer) and Mirek (Lead Gameplay Programmer) are joining us this time around - so there should be plenty of new info for everyone to dig into.
Recently I sat down over on our forums to discuss some of the questions or confusion we get around addressing issues on the Steam branch while development moves forward internally on upcoming builds. I encourage everyone to take a look at it - as it might serve to relieve some confusion around what gets fixed, when, and so on. In addition, our Producer Eugen wrote up a forum post covering the internal milestone we recently reached towards Beta, eliminating support and dependency on the old SQF scripting language that so much of the DayZ Alpha had throughout it. This was a huge step for us internally, and something many of us have been talking about and looking forward to for years. I'll make sure to link both forum posts at the bottom of my portion of the Status Report.
We're continuing to push new builds through Experimental/Unstable branch and on to Stable branch as we try and address the remaining critical issues with .61. Since the last Status Report we've been able to address several issues with memory management on the client, pushed several improvements to server performance, resolved a few known server crashes, resolved several of the performance issues tied to light sources, and we are continuing to address:
Additional Client Crash issues
Server Memory Consumption (Which can sometimes cause issues with player stuttering, battleye time-outs, and so on)
Server crashes tied to vehicles and/or AI
We're hoping to be able to show some teaser video content at PAX East over at the Astro Booth showing off some of the progress on the visual overhaul of wild Chernarus for .62, rest assured this will also be shared through our standard channels if we're able to have this available in time. As I mentioned earlier, both myself and Eugen made two forum posts that are very helpful reading to understand what our priorities are internally, as well as the impact the internal milestone of finally being able to move away from SQF has on development. Check out these posts here (you do not need to make an account to view them, don't worry :) ):
We know the road to the next few major builds hitting Steam might seem long, but the work going into reaching Beta is extensive - and a major change for DayZ as a whole. I know I personally (and I'm certain the whole team as well) appreciate everyone's patience, and feedback as we move towards it. I'll see you all in Chernarus - and remember, gunshots attract attention ;)
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
Last week, we reached one of our internal milestones, specifically the removal of SQF, the high level scripting language which was introduced back in days with Operation Flashpoint. When we started to work on the standalone DayZ, we heavily relied upon SQF with its rich API of commands built over years of usage across the Arma series. Our original plan was to prototype and implement systems and mechanics we wanted to have in DayZ in SQF, and then then hard code them to Real Virtuality engine directly to gain back some perofrmance. This changed once the decision to build new Enfusion engine was made, based on previous RV and Enforce engines. The Enforce engine (used in Carrier Command or Take On mars) used a powerful and fast low-level object oriented scripting language with its own IDE and therefore it was a logical step to carry it over and improve it.
Once the newly established Enforce script was production ready, we started rewriting all of the gameplay and support scripts from the old SQF script, which offered us to become largely independent on programmers and to keep the game open for modding. This process was quite difficult and tedious, mainly because of missing backwards compatibility, specific design and technical dependencies, limitations found down the road, and all that mixed together with our commitment to release playable version of DayZ in Early Access program. All that led us to maintain and develop basically two versions of the game side by side - obsolete one for public to play in the meantime, and a new one for us developers to make the game as good as possible - one that you, players, would enjoy later.
Recently, the new animation system also began to be synchronized between server and client, which was a long awaited impulse for us to switch exclusively to "all new" mindset to push things forward internally. Now every piece starts to finally fall into place, forming something I like to refer to as DayZ 2.0.
The King is dead, long live The King... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
In the last status report, I mentioned that we started removing the legacy scripting language. We're done with it now, so Enforce Script is the only scripting language which runs on our internal version. We will continue removing other legacy systems: the next stop is the animation system.
Synchronization of the new animation system is done, now we have to apply new synchronization rules to the user action system and to events performed only on server side. New player controller is now receiving support for melee combat, which will allow our animation team to tweak the combat animations in-game.
Also, it's important to note that our Bratislava team is applying the new animation system to AI units. This will allow us to have much better interactions between players and infected/animals.
Otherwise, we are still working on some major issues for 0.61, which we also need fixed for the 0.62 update, so every important fix is directly merged into the 0.62 internal branch, too.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer -
As many of you already heard, the upcoming 0.62 update will introduce a first set of audio-visual changes to the environment of DayZ. You may remember that we've already shared some progress on this matter last year. In this status report, I would like to touch on the subject of updating forests in Chernarus a little bit more. This is by far the biggest change Chernarus has received for the past years of its existence within Arma 2 and DayZ. This would be really tedious and unwise thing to do manually (there is a lot of forested areas), so we have internally developed a forest generation tool that will allows us to generate most of the forested areas on Chernarus. While the whole process of getting generated forests on top of anexisting map (that has all kinds of other objects already placed) requires some polishing work of course, we are very satisfied with the results so far.
One of the most important things for new forests was to have enough variety. There are four key features that allowed us to have more varied forests. First, we have got roughly 6 different generation templates for each tree species (you can imagine this simply as young, mixed, older forests and so on). Achieving such variety would not be possible with the old models, so we have got at our disposal a completely new set of vegetation that contains roughly 3 times more models than the old one (and it is still growing). To give you an idea, lets take a look at the standard beech forest case (Fagus sylvatica). Following picture shows an example of available models for beech forest.
This is quite a big change when compared to the old vegetation set (where we had like 3 available models for this specific species) and the picture is not even showing all models (we also do have dead tree variants). I should also mention that this is not just the case of beech trees, we do have similar-sized sets for oaks, pines, birches, larches and spruces. Just imagine combinations that can be done within just one species alone, not to mention what can we do when we combine them. We of course have some other types of species prepared too (for rarer use within forests and of course for solitary ones within fields and settlements).
The third thing (that helps us achieving forest variety) is the tree colorization feature, which we already announced in one of the last years status report. This feature enables us to differentiate individual trees by changing their color ever so slightly to achieve a better autumn feel. And finally, fourth is the addition of 8 forest surface textures. This allows us to greatly increase variety on the ground level, because configuration of randomized miscellaneous objects is done per one surface texture (we can have one with more grass, one with taller ferns, etc.)
Please keep in mind that what you see here is still work in progress and does not represent final look,
these two are here to give you an idea of how the transformation from old to new forest could look on a small patch of forest within Stary Sobor fields.
We are well past of setting up the generation process of the whole map and tweaking the visual feel of individual forest templates (assigned to forest parts on the whole map). Our primary focus now is to make sure we won't introduce any major performance problems. There is no question about the fact that while the new vegetation models were done to be much more performance friendly, we won't just aim for the same density as the old forests were. The introduction of Enfusion renderer with .60 provides us with an opportunity to go further.
We are currently working with roughly doubled object count (that equals roughly 2.6 mil of vegetation objects). Our PCs are running map benchmarks overnight (multiple times on multiple machines if necessary) to get an overview of how does the current version of Chernarus with new forests perform. We can then use this information to make additional changes to the generation (forest density). Following picture shows what kind of results we get from one type of benchmarks that we do.
There is still lot of work ahead of us, but it is awesome to see that things are finally coming together. We cannot wait to share more info about things to come with 0.62 update (yes, there is definitely more to talk about).
- Adam Franců / Lead Map designer -
Valentine's day is behind us and some love went to Dayz as well! You sent us some nice and creative love poems on the "Roses are red, violets are blue…>" theme and we want to share them with you.
This poem is made by Pedro Silva >and it is not romantic at all. But love is not missing here! The love for weapons.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
i love winchester
but i like SVD too
Jordan Strang send a poem where he talks about his love for killing enemies.
We have a new Status Report for you. Brian is talking about known issues and fixes what are we working now and Victor is sharing some news from animation department. We want to show you an interesting thread from our official Forum and you can find awesome song in Community Spotlight.
This Status Report we're going to cover what the .61 Live Team are focusing on for Stable branch issues, I'll touch briefly on .62 - and then I'd like to give a little perspective on the work currently under way for the bulk of the team (Beta milestone).
Rest assured, the development team is well aware of a good deal of critical issues that have popped up on various builds coming through Exp/Unstable and onto Stable branch. Some of them we're working to address in .61 updates, and some will more than likely have to wait for Beta milestone (as we're on the edge of addressing some issues in technology and systems that won't be around in Beta).
The team has been able to make good strides on addressing server crash issues, but we're also tracking a good number of additional issues that have come in through the Official Feedback Tracker:
Issues with the Central Economy group spawning items and clustering in some areas after extensive persistence uptime
Client side FPS drops from several causes
Issues tied to animation transitions at time of death
Client side network freezing in some cases
Remaining issues with vehicles from Exp/Unstable
Server Performance Issues
We're all aware that these issues are critical to everyone playing on 0.61 Stable, and we appreciate everyone’s patience and participation in utilizing the Official Forums and Feedback Tracker to better allow us to track these issues down. Hang in there and be patient, as mentioned before .61 hit Stable - a majority of the team has switched to working on Beta, and some of the issues might not make sense to spend time resolving as we're working on the .62 and Beta milestones now - but we've not given up on addressing them for .61. If you find any new issues, or have new data - please continue to utilize the Official Feedback Tracker, it might not seem like it helps but trust me - it *does*.
For .62 development, we don't have too much for you in this Status Report - however Adam (Sumrak) is working on putting together some tasty information on the .62 team's progress on their end for the next Status Report. Currently the .62 team is working on profiling the Chernarus with the new trees, and making adjustments to the forests based upon the data they gather from the profiling tools. There are some additional improvements on the visual fidelity side they are looking into - but I won't ruin any of that as Adam is looking forward to what he can tell you all in the next Status Report.
It (almost) goes without saying - but the Beta milestone isn't just a matter of plugging a few new things into DayZ. The Animation System ties into effectively everything you guys do in DayZ, and the New Player as well. Tie into this the goal of total removal of SQF support (The scripting language that DayZ utilizes for most every gameplay mechanic) and the teams undertaking starts to closely resemble a skeletal and critical organ transplant. A great deal of work has gone into recreating all of these SQF scripts and mechanics into the new Enforce scripting language over the last year or so, but even so - the risk and work that is required to coordinate across the team, ensure things are functioning as expected, and discovering exactly what impact the total removal of SQF has against the game is a significant amount of work. We're all excited (and a bit winded) at all of this, and understand that it may be frustrating not getting the fixes you all want for .61 Stable as fast as you'd like - but rest assured, the work that we're doing on the Beta milestone will be worth the struggle of legacy bugs on .61.
Lastly, In regards to the Official Feedback Tracker - the BI Webteam has recently added support for logging in utilizing credentials from Facebook/Google accounts for those who might not want to make an additional login just to report issues. We hope this lowers the barrier for some of you that might have data on bugs you're experiencing, but have held back on reporting them.
I know you're all eagerly awaiting visuals and news from .62 and Beta, and no one would love to share awesome stuff with you more than those of us on the development team. We appreciate all your patience, passion, and participation in the DayZ Early Access - 2017 should be an awesome year for DayZ and the road ahead looks like a lot of fun.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
In my short update, I would like to share some news from the animation department. We have been playing around with the player character animations a lot recently. One of the latest additions include extra transitions for player. Now the character is able to move from stand or crouch run/walk/sprint to prone movement fluently. This does not limit the character in any way though, unlike in the past. If player decides during this transition he wants to stop - the character will stop nicely immediately.
We have created combat animations for player and are now about to start testing them in game. We want to find nice balance between how player looks and how it plays. This is a difficult topic as our game is set in multiplayer environment, which means we are bound by some limitations that are not present in single player games.
To mention other areas. Special interaction animations inside vehicles are being created now. Refining the animations is always in progress. We have revised the aimed movement for rifles, and we will focus on hand guns next. We also have received some new weapons from the Art team so we are adding animation sets to those as well.
And finally, don't forget you still have some time left to ask animation related questions for our next Q&A video. Head over to the official forums please and ask anything you are curious about regarding DayZ animations - anything that you want me to answer.
- Viktor Kostik / Lead Animator -
Handpicked: DayZ Forums Topics
We're getting back to our idea of highlighting interesting topics from the official DayZ forums this week - despite the regular, ongoing discussion we're maintaining on the topic of both Stable Branch and Experimental Branch updates, there have been additional interesting topics that you may have missed. Here's four of them, conveniently handpicked and awaiting your replies!
Q&A with Animation Lead Viktor Kostik
OK, you have probably noticed this one already, but we really want everyone to be aware of it: DayZ Animation Lead Viktor Kostik is up next in our series of Developer Q&A videos and he wants to answer the animation questions you're curious about. Make sure to ask your questions under this topic, as that's where we'll be collecting them!
"Who was killed by zombies in 0.61?" by igor-vk
Since 0.61 got out, we've been ensuring everyone that the infected are absolutely meant to be a serious threat in DayZ. While there is still a lot work to be done before the experience is final, the infected are already influencing the play-style of survivors in a way our design team expects - more often than not, frantically running through a city ultimately gets you killed, as witnessed by igor-vk and other survivors in a topic that beautifully describes how deadly the infected became in 0.61:
"Items that don't spawn anymore" by Weyland Yutani
For various reasons, we sometimes prevent certain items from spawning using our Central Economy settings. If you want to check whether an item you're looking for is indeed disabled or you're just being unlucky, make sure to read the following topic - other survivors might help you out, and we'll do our best to occasionally have our Community Manager Baty join the discussion:
Beta Content: PKM discussion thread
To finish off our handpicked section, we've got Brian teasing yet another weapon that's waiting to be implemented into the game during BETA: the unmistakable PKM general purpose machine gun, a truly effective weapon of Russian origin, present in nearly every major armed conflict of the past 30 years:
Recently, you have been letting us know on our social networks like Forums, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit or Steam, that you are having issues with client crashes due to memory errors. Should this error happen to you, we would appreciate if you could send your crash dump files from the folder C:\Users\YourPCName\AppData\Local\DayZ to our feedback tracker. By submitting those files, you can help us to solve the issue.
Now let's move to a community content. I found a new and amazing rap music video about life in Post-Apocalyptic Chernarus with an unexpected ending. CamCANRUN proved again that he can create quality content.
You know that feeling when you need to try something else. Something special. Including some new Dayz experience. That is the reason why some servers organise themed events for their players. I myself attended few "Wild West" events with Magnum, Repeater and cowboy hat or competition with .22 weapons only. But my most favourite are medieval fights with bows, swords and knight helmets. Astros Legacy was also attending such event on Gents Of Novo server. You can find a recording of this entertaining event on his channel.
If you have something you want to share with us just tweet it to our official Twitter channel.