Following the 0.63 Stress Test weekend we are back with a new issue of our biweekly Status Report. Today, Eugen looks back at the first results from the weekend, Peter talks about missing visual indicators in the current Stress Test builds and Viktor gives a glimpse into the progress of the animation team. The Community Spotlight is defined by your first reactions to 0.63. Let's dive into it!
at first, I would like to thank you for the amazing participation during the weekend Stress Test. It has helped us to identify a number of new issues that we are investigating as I write this. Let's take a closer look at some of those issues.
Crashes and general game stability issues
There have been about 200 crashes altogether over the period of two days with a couple of different causes. Some of them are new, but most are known. Hopefully, the amount of data generated will identify the pattern to replicating these issues internally and getting them fixed.
Character locked in database
Besides the stability issues, we are still tracking situations where a player character gets locked in a database. Although happening less often than previously, this is still a major problem that is most likely tied to a server/client crash/freeze not closing the connection gracefully, and not unlocking the character as intended. We have a possible fix for these outlier issues and crashes in our internal main Development Branch of the game and should roll these out in next few Stress Tests.
Basic Central Economy balance
There is an investigation ongoing into Central Economy loot distribution. Specifically, we're looking at cases where the intended gameplay loop is not properly supported by items presented/spawned to players exploring even the most remote corners of Chernarus.
DayZ Central Economy
The Central Economy is a complex system that controls the distribution of loot across Chernarus. It's supposed to sustain a barrage of ongoing player interaction on a given server (player picking up and dropping loot, taking it across different servers...), with the goal to keep the core gameplay loop during a gameplay session challenging, encouraging players to learn, and eventually master the survival in DayZ. At the same time though, it needs to be a fun gameplay mechanic.
It's important to note that the Stress Tests are our first real opportunity to really see how the Central Economy behaves in 0.63, as we're just not able to internally reproduce the behavior of large amount of players in the game. That ultimately puts us at the very beginning of all the balancing. During Stress Tests, we are extracting economy states over periods of time to understand the players movement and their interactions. This in turn helps us understand where our priorities should be within the spawning system.
The second part of our loot/basic survival mechanic problem is the character representation itself - meaning how healthy/hungry/thirsty your character is. That sets the pace to this core gameplay loop of keeping your character fed and alive. Any potential tweaking of character representation values depends on the findings of our loot distribution tests. We will have to cover a lot of possible border cases that happen to players.
Additionally, we will (as previously suggested) also play around with the overall player numbers per server, and we will need to see how to scale the Central Economy with the player numbers going up, possibly all the way to a 100 players per server.
How do we prepare the Stress Test release packages
Since I've mentioned our internal Development Branch earlier, I also wanted to explain the process behind the scenes that goes into releasing a Stress Test itself. Internally, we have created a new branch of DayZ for data and changes that we specifically need to run public Stress Tests.
We've been merging various fixes and surgical tweaks to the game on that branch, while the regular development has been ongoing on our main Development Branch. With Stress Tests, we are trying to gather data on specific problems that require a high-stress environment with tons of players coming in and out of the server, pushing all gameplay systems to their limits. That is specifically the case with loot distribution and all player interactions tied to it.
Stabilizing these interactions and making them somewhat consistent with a decent amount of variety is our primary goal. We want you to experience that feeling of discovery when you find what you need at a certain moment. Especially if it's a rare item. Looting is a big part of the DayZ gameplay, we know how much this can affect the enjoyment from fighting for your life in Chernarus, so with each Stress Test, we set a goal and a particular combination of data that we want to gather within a specific gameplay element or system. Then, we add extra logging to these interactions, helping us to decide on the next action we should be taking.
It's only a small part of the development though. The Development Branch has seen a lot of additional optimizations already, even including fixes to several different issues that you have been experiencing, so our goal now is to leave the Stress Test branch to keep the development pace going forward. Our Development Branch is where the progress towards experimental goals happens, so it's about time we make sure this branch is viable for live playtests. To ensure we really are ready to do that switch, we will release a short Stress Test based on the code/data of that branch before we go on for another longer Stress Test.
Once again, I want to say a BIG thank you for the feedback coming in, it's what makes this community special. All of us want a great game, no doubts about it!
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer -
In the last Status Report I was commenting on the community feedback regarding firearms in our DayZ Stress Tests. Today I will continue with different elements which are related to them.
Weapon switching animations
As is pretty obvious, the animations for swapping items from the inventory to the hand slot are missing. Especially with weapons, this creates a gameplay problem, as a lack of visual communication turns a harmless disarmed character into a threat in a split second.
Currently we are implementing these item switch animations and, along with them, we are changing one important thing - shoulder slots will be no longer be dedicated. That means you will be able to carry two long firearms or two melee weapons as needed. As we progress with 0.63, a slot for a belt will also be added, opening possibilities for an additional pistol holster, knife sheet, or quiver. A slot for the bow is considered as well, but there needs to be a bow implemented first to see how it will work with non-dedicated shoulders.
Another part missing is animation feedback of a target being hit with a projectile, as we turned that specific feature off for the Stress Test. We ran into a problem where even additive impact affected the aim of a firearm. Such an authentic affair quickly becomes a very unpleasant mechanic, preventing a reaction by putting you in a disadvantage after being hit - the only chance was that the shooter will miss or have to reload so your aim can recover in the meantime. We will have to address this issue as we would like to have animated feedback following a projectile hit.
On a different issue, bleeding and its treatment are basic DayZ mechanics. Unfortunately, without the new parent-child hierarchy, which is being implemented as we speak, we cannot pin particle emitters to the character properly and animate them with it. We've decided to postpone the visual representation of bleeding particles as well. Admittedly, this is a bad timing, as in 0.63 you have to treat every bleeding source individually. With slightly unresponsive progress arrows of the blood stat icon (more about indicators later) and no way to tell if there are some bleeding wounds left, it’s hard to say how many times you should bandage.
Apart from that, please be aware that many elements you see in the game right now have not been not through a basic balance pass just yet. From digestion, regeneration speeds and stamina, through damages of melee and projectiles to the weight of items, their sizes, and cargo spaces... it’s safe to say that basically everything will be adjusted more or less and it is connected to some degree with the lack of features, mechanics, and content, which will be added down the road during the 0.63 Experimental phase.
Oh, and it will be a ride... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
The animation team is now focused on several parts of the player character. We are now in the phase of improving and finalizing the prone system. Animations for crawling in prone on the back, which have been missing until now, are being added. The cameras and some poses are not final yet as well. And of course, after the animations are finished, we will have to do a couple of rounds of bugfixing for prone on the back before we tick it off as done.
Another important part that is in progress, is overcoming obstacles. We now have a working prototype for jumping, but we are still in the process of adding missing animations. Meanwhile, there has been some work done on climbing over higher obstacles. These are divided into multiple levels, and different animations will be played depending on the height of the obstacle.
Close combat will see some changes as well. As we want to have more variation to the combat, we are adding new animations for the baseball bat. These should better reflect the item. In the future, we want to continue with this and add more item specific attack animations.
Last but not least, there is ongoing work on firearms, vehicles, user actions, infected and also tons of general bugfixing. All of these areas are a longer term task, but you should see constant improvements in the game with everything related during Experimental. But for now, let's check out some gifs! Cheers!
- Viktor Kostík / Lead Animator -
I hope you had a weekend at least as amazing as I did! Why was it so amazing? Because of you! You were simply being a fantastic help during the Stress Test! 30 482 of you have already tried the first version of update 0.63. Wow, thank you! We've had so much feedback, that I wasn't able to read it all in just one day!
We were watching streamers the entire weekend and we are really happy to see your love for DayZ. You had a lot of fun, we saw all the emotions, it was so awesome.
For a while, DayZ was the second most watched game on Twitch this weekend, it reached more than 76 000 viewers and it has been played by some of the biggest streamers such as Summit1g, Anthony Kongphan or shroud and they were having a good time too.
You did a great job with videos this week.
I found this cinematic made by DaGuyd and it is pretty impressive. Check it out, it is only under 2 minutes long:
Another cinematic short named Loot Lost is made by our favorite Status Report reader Septic Falcon. And we like it a lot.
And here is a creepy story about a cannibal doctor who loves the flesh of his patients by MarcusGalic. Eating people is bad, isn't it? Who knows…
Look at this true hero! His name is Reginald and he is a humanitarian in Chernarus. His mission is help to people and he is very good at it:
The last video is from the well known double trouble creators - Vertiigo and MrMoon. It is a really funny story of friends lost in the wilderness - they are best friends until the hunger comes… I almost died laughing watching this video.
I love your creativity and your passion for DayZ on both real and virtual paper. Art pieces like these make me happy and I thank you for them.
This one is made by AStupidAnt from Reddit. It took him about 4 hours and he did a really good job.
This photo is from a true DayZ fan, ScarecrowCOD. He even has a gas mask! And check the painting on the wood he made. Nice!
That is all from me, have great two weeks and see you on the next Stress Test!
Following an entire week of Stress Tests, the team has gathered around to report on the results of our first public testing phases for 0.63. We’ve received so much feedback from you guys and we’re going to dive right into it; but first, there is someone you probably haven’t read in a long time!
I can't begin to tell you how great it has felt for myself, for Peter, and honestly for the whole team to see all of your reactions to the work that has been done on .63, and DayZ as a whole. For what seems like years, a big part of the team (especially Design and Animation) have worked on documentation and internal prototypes without hardly any feedback. To finally be able to start sharing some of this with you all (and thanks to platforms like Twitch, Youtube, Mixer, etc - SEE) and hear your thoughts has been the most uplifting since the Early Access launch on Steam.
It’s a good day for DayZ and the DayZ community. I can not wait for .63 to hit experimental (and stable as well of course!) and begin to be able to spend more time with you all in this new DayZ experience in longer play sessions.
With that said - I feel DayZ has reached a point in which I, much like how Dean felt years back - am no longer needed. I've spent years talking to you all, working with the team, and collaborating with Peter on where we want DayZ to be, how we want DayZ to feel. Now that you have started to see, and touch DayZ .63 I feel like our plans, our dreams are finally within grasp. Peter Nespešný and the design team have a rock-solid grasp of what DayZ is, and what it needs to be. All of our systems have been discussed, documented, and discussed again.
For the last year, I have been slowly taking more and more of a back seat (as I'm sure some of you have noticed) and tried to push folks like Peter, Adam, and others to let their voice be heard. Over that year I have made plans for what is next for me and worked for free with Peter Nespešný in a design consultant role.
I won't lie - it hasn't been easy, and there have been times where Peter and I both were uncertain about how .63 would be received, or how it would perform under full-scale load. I don't want to be a broken record - but I am so happy that all of those concerns have been washed away.
DayZ has been my life, made my life - and been so ingrained in who and what I am that I won't be able to just walk away. Hell, I've just crossed 7,000 hours between two accounts. From here, I look forward to opportunities back home in the States, being closer to family, and playing DayZ as much as I possibly can. I certainly have not forgotten my promise to TSM Smak to do a 24-hour stream when DayZ hits 1.0.
See you out there in Chernarus folks, the sun is rising and the future looks bright.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director -
before I start, I have to thank Brian for his contribution to DayZ over the years and wish him the best in his future endeavors. His passion is an inspiration to many. And I’m pretty sure we will be seeing each other in DayZ all the time :). I know we both wish for the game to grow and improve and finally testing the 0.63 has been a step in the right direction although a lot of work remains to be done.
On that note, I want to thank you for participating in the last few stress tests. Feedback is coming in from every channel and we read all of it; from our forums, Reddit, Twitter, and more. I noticed a couple of topics that are coming up, and I want you to know we will be looking at these in the testing of both stress test build and experimental. We will prioritize resolving issues depending on their severity or their impact on the gameplay, while also working on more advanced features like climbing, vehicles and base building alongside that. I want to remind everybody that these will be part of the experimental build but probably won’t appear in its first iteration. It is extremely important to test these during experimental because as soon as we move the build to the stable branch, we want to focus on bug-fixing and tweaking. Don’t forget that as soon as we hit experimental, customer servers will be able to switch over.
Now let’s get back to the things that were tested thanks to Offline DayZ being available, although it is definitely not representing the DayZ experience yet.
Distant sounds, not hearing a gun or where is it coming from, or megaphone audio not traveling far enough; all of these things require tweaking as most of the initial configuration has not seen a revision yet, we will be looking into these as we progress with experimental.
Distant lights, either a flash from a gun or a camp far far away; now these issues sadly have no simple solution, but we are talking about possibilities and will experiment with those as we get further down the development.
Inventory visuals and functionality; a lot of the underlying tech is in, and visuals are still WIP. However, there are a lot of things we want to improve and work on during the ongoing testing. We want the game to feel physical and consistent in its behavior, as well as making sure things are telegraphed to a player when they need to be, focusing on the user experience of crafting and manipulation. The idea is there it just needs a lot of bug-fixing and tweaks.
Besides the issues mentioned above there is an amazing amount of gameplay feedback, from the crosshair interactions, reload mechanics, aiming, shooting, controls, actions and more. We will be looking at what has been said and discussed and I know Peter will talk about these in much more detail over the next few status reports. As already mentioned before our next goal is multiplayer testing with infected and I’m definitely looking forward to that one!
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer -
Two weeks passed since the first Stress Test of DayZ 0.63. In the meantime, there have been another three more Stress Tests plus we added the possibility to play in an offline mode if you are interested in trying out what’s on the table with the “new” DayZ.
During this time we gathered a lot of qualitative and constructive feedback from you - our community, which I am very glad for (read past Status Report to find more about my feelings designing something without feedback for so long). Now I would like to comment on the most important things through the Status Report, which is the most effective way on how to reach most of our players.
As most of you know, our goal is to make everything to feel as tangible as possible, so you really need to be making things over time, at least most of the core actions. In this respect, we chose to have reactive raise of hands. To maintain the active stance, in which you can endanger others or defend yourself against them, you need to hold a dedicated button. Once you remove your hands from controls, the character should be rendered as relaxed and harmless. Telegraphing intentions and what’s going on is one of the most important aspects of DayZ.
However, from feedback it seems like there is no problem with holding raise to become actionable, but more with the actual switching to iron sights while the firearm is raised. Currently, this is bound to MMB/LSHIFT, which obviously feels awkward and clunky, especially when it’s on another hand than the one controlling aim and shooting itself. One solution is to a double-click of raise and then hold it to enter ADS directly, but unfortunately, proof of concept which was available in first Stress Test, was implemented in a very crude way and it felt very unpleasant, confusing and it did not meet with understanding.
Personally, I think a chain of actions is fine, firstly I’m raising my firearm to do some immediate shooting or I enter aiming down sights to get better precision, especially on mid to long range. On the other hand, I know that I will be upset finding myself in an advantageous sniper position and having to hold raise for the whole time waiting for the right moment to strike the target. I can assure you that we are very aware of this discrepancy and we want to solve it. As many of you already suggested, and we are tending to it for some time already, the solution is to simply have raise still on hold, but ADS (aim down sights) togglable from a lowered stance. While I’m not a huge fan of such kind of “togglability” of states (you won’t believe me how much it triggers me off watching friendly survivors talking by a fire while aiming at each other's faces), we will definitely try some other ways to address this until we end up with implementing this simplest solution.
Another thing which is causing some tables flipping around is ‘hip fire’, respectively how accurate it is. Actually, it’s not hip fire, as the firearm is in the same position as while being ADS - the only difference between these two is the camera position - but for simplicity’s sake let’s call it ‘hip fire’. In the first place, it needs to be clear that ‘hip fire’ is not meant to be accurate by any means. It should be used for immediate reactions at very close ranges. Anyways advantage of it in its current state is coming from several factors. I already mentioned non-ergonomic switching to ADS above. First off we changed how the direction of the projectile trajectory is calculated while shooting from ‘hip fire’. Currently, it’s always heading from the weapon to the center of the screen. In the previous version .62, bullets were always fired out in the direction of a barrel of a gun, which didn’t make sense to anyone, which led us to introduce a floating crosshair to show where the barrel is pointing at (you kinda know to estimate that direction even when firing from hip IRL). However hunting this floating crosshair which is jumping across the screen like crazy is unpleasant and in the end, doesn’t make sense. So why not simply shoot towards the center of the screen - hence the change. Of course, the current implementation has a few worst cases where it’s not working properly or very badly to be honest, but those will be fixed one by one.
Another thing is that after the rewrite of the weapons we are missing implementation of dispersion - random cone-shaped spread defined by angle. Previously it was used as kind of an inaccuracy from the manufacturing process where long barrel weapons were most accurate and short barrel ones were least. We are not using it anymore as I think ‘fighting’ some random nonsense on mid to long ranges is over the top, as players are already challenged enough by mechanics like sway, recoil, zeroing, actual bullet speed and drop - all that combined with character movement, which is enough. However, if it’s applied only while using ‘hip fire’ it can help to introduced much welcomed inaccuracy on mid to long ranges. For now, we will try to address it with modified sway while not in ADS to see how it works out.
Next thing is the overly precise crosshair for ‘hip fire’. The former crosshair was ugly for sure, but in its size, it wasn’t precise at all, thus it was hard to assess the center of the screen, but still good enough to show the direction of shots. After a massive outcry about how ugly the crosshair is, we change its look as it is very simple to do - and to show you how a simple change can have a huge impact on gameplay, which, not surprisingly, you don’t like. In the past during internal playtest we ran a series of tests without a crosshair, but people were mostly unable to shoot anything even on close ranges during stress situations which required fast reactions. Personally, I’m for the complete removal of the crosshair, but then there are plenty of 3rd party software or monitors allowing to overlay crosshair on screen, making it unfair to those playing fair. By the way, you can disable crosshair (along with dot) from options (game>crosshair>off). Forcing disable of crosshairs will be also available server side.
As a mix of all the above, there is a possible exploit now with ‘hip fire’ where you can fire immediately after pressing the button for raising firearm where the dot can be abused for super precise aim. Of course, this will be fixed down the road.
Advanced firearms manipulation and subsequently accentuate usage of quick slots as pockets with instant access to items in them, is related to the philosophy of DayZ’s survival element - being prepared for possible things to come. Using quick slots for anything else beyond the switch of items in hands is not standard at all and it needs some time to get used to it for sure. Compared to old DayZ (.62 and previous versions), we changed loading weapons to hold-action, instead of just click, for a reason that weapons with internal magazines will be loaded continuously - same as how feeding detachable magazines works now. Next, we enriched the usage of quick slots for initiating any combining actions, basically crafting, but I have to see someone to using it like that yet, as it can save a lot of time and inventory access.
Anyways quick slots have that disadvantage that they are kind non-ergonomic, especially for hold-actions which is of course a problem. Just the fact, that R key isn’t working as it’s used to work across all action games, which is so deeply rooted standard, inflames most of the players. I would like to point out, that currently, we cannot present you the big picture, where the pieces fit together - and that’s manually charged firearms like bolt action rifles or pump shotgun - which internal magazines can be continuously loaded and have to be manually charged prior to every shot, where R is used for now as it’s manipulation using a mechanism of the weapon. Even if it will be still unclear and uncomfortable after that, we have already plan B prepared, which makes R key to behave in ways people are more accustomed to. In that case, R would reload magazine or chamber (most probably from pre-prepared items in quick slots) while holding R would manipulate with the mechanism, or unjam it in such chase. We will be able to see and evaluate once manual firearms are implemented.
There is also critique regarding weak recoil. It’s good to know, that the new system for recoil is good, however, there is only one setting used across all weapons for now if I’m not mistaken. As it was tweaked for low caliber pistol, of course, it seems very off using an AKM. Better recoil patterns will be added gradually.
From other stuff related to gunplay which is also being questioned is hold breath. To be more specific - its default keybind, which is currently set to left CTRL. At first it seems to be non-ergonomic, but on the other hand, it makes sense as it’s paired with the walk modifier. With the upcoming new input controller we will separate these actions from each other, so we will be able to bind them independently. It’s worth to mention that most actions of the new character are hardwired to the actions of the old one which is gone for a long time now. This means we are in some occasions limited in achieving the desired result (for example we are still missing hold-action for environment interaction - currently bound to F, which limits us in the introduction of continuous actions, like drinking from the pond). Until the new input controller is in I would advise you to not rebind controls as it can completely mess up a new character in some cases.
Seems like I already made it into a solid wall of text even as I wanted to comment on other stuff as well in no particular order, like weapon changing animations, bleeding, hit impacts, falling, stamina, HUD and tendency icons, headbob, fake inertia, clipping issues in FPP, inventory, infected behavior, melee combat, balancing in general, lack of content and more. But I would better stop right there and leave those for next Status Report.
Brian, thank you for all your hard work for DayZ, your passion will be missed... see you in Chernarus man!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer -
today, I'd like to write about current Stress Tests, how they are helpful to us programmers (especially server-side stuff) and what's the plan with next Stress Tests. Secondly, I will write about our progress on the infected.
First of all, I want to thank all of you who are participating in these Stress Test sessions. They already helped us to find performance bottlenecks, some thread deadlocks, sources of crashes and connection issues. We fixed several of these issues and we're working on the rest. We've prepared some performance optimizations, which are in our internal branch and are ready for internal testing.
Our current Stress Test scenario, where all players are spawned in the same city, is probably the worst case for server performance and network traffic. Although we're quite happy with the numbers we received, we'll continue to improve performance till DayZ hits stable in version 1.0.
The next Stress Tests scenario (I'm not sure now when it will happen) will look like your ordinary DayZ session, which means that players will be spawned at different places and infected will be present. In these sessions, we will try to continuously increase player and AI numbers to see how intense we can populate Chernarus. Please keep in mind that the AI can be still buggy in these test so don't be angry if you'll be killed by infected which went through a wall (I will explain why this is happening in next paragraph).
So, now about the infected status. Some of you have met them in our recently released offline mode and noticed that they can go through obstacles sometimes. This is known to us and it's happening because we decided to save some performance on collision detection, therefore we've disabled collisions between AI units and static objects during movement - the navigation system should keep AIs on the navigation mesh and that's the reason why we disabled this collision detection. This bug is one with the highest priority and hopefully we will fix this navigation issue soon.
About infected and their features - basic movement, stealth mechanics, and fight logic are in place and we are iterating them. Designers are tweaking infected senses, which means they are balancing how infected can spot a player depending f.e. on player's stance or clothing which they wear.
We're adding some more movement features right now - turns and crawling. Crawling will be there a little bit later because not all animations are ready now for this movement state, but here you can at least see transition animations in the game:
Turning - I think it will be best if you look at these samples, to see what that means - I believe these will make stealth and fight funnier:
And that's all for now. As you can see, stability improvements and infected are our current milestone. Hopefully next SR we will be able to show you more from other game features.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Programmer -
over the last couple of weeks, we've made several improvements. We’ve implemented ambient sound attenuation for interiors and added a smooth transition between outdoor and indoor states. The number of ambient sounds that can play simultaneously is now higher plus we’ve added a few new controllers, so sound can react more dynamically to weather changes. Regarding doors, we redesigned door open/close sounds and added over 200 new sounds in the process.
On a different issue, the localization of sound sources in 0.62 did not work very well. The visual position did not correlate with the position of the sound. Especially with animals, which you can hear over long distances, this slight offset made them hard to locate. This is why we decided to redesign vector panning. We are very happy with the changes we did for stereo configuration and now we are concentrating on surround configuration.
- Filip Čenžák / Sound Designer -
It is finally beautiful weather outside, but who cares when you can play the Stress Tests! We released four Stress Tests already as well as an offline version of DayZ and we received a lot of feedback from you. We are glad you are helping us to fix all these annoying bugs and crashes.
Let's check what you've sent us through our social networks.
This is really cool. An old friend of Sweetest_Kill gave her a DayZ-themed bat with her name on it. It is a nice gift, but please, don't use it on living creatures.
Guys, I want to show you a great video made by HandZ. It has everything - sadness, regret, violence, moral decision-making, betrayal and death. Great work HandZ, it is one of the best live action videos we ever saw.
DickieTheChamp made a cute DayZ inspired USB. It is a small can of Pipsi and I want it so bad!
If you think it is only violence and blood in DayZ, we want to show you that you are not right. You can find love there as well. Mach and FubarBundyy can confirm we are right because they met in DayZ and they fell in love with each other. They are just celebrating one year together! So adorable!
Willkillshill shared his selfie photoshoot with us, from when he was playing on one of the Stress Test session. And it is hilarious.
And now some real Chernarus thing - on Reddit, zverus showed pictures of the real Nord East Airfield named Nalivaikivka airstrip, which is located near Kiev in Ukraine. Check it out, it is really interesting:
That is everything from me today, If you have anything you want to share with us, just send it to our official Twitter account and I will check it out!