Dean Hall and Brian Hicks arrived yesterday at the E3 2014 (L.A). On this occasion, r/Games from Reddit got the opportunity to ask some questions to Rocket about the development status of the game. We learn that the engine the team was working on is near to be released, they merged it to the old one and called it “Enfusion”. Obviously it brings new perspectives and great possibilites for the DayZ game.
“Infusion”. def: the introduction of a new element or quality into something.
Do you see yourselves beefing up your staff to tackle the other aspects of the game like vehicles and base building in the way that you handled the hunting and zombie AI pathing?
Rocket: So that is what we have been doing over the last three months. It is one of the reasons that development had seemed like it had slowed. The studio is now about 160 people we had a team building event last weekend. It is kind of crazy to see everyone in one spot. I guess the big news that we’ve been telling here at E3 is that we’re actually moving to a new engine. It is called Enfusion. So that is going to allow us to do DirectX 10 and 11.
It is going to allow us to do dynamic lighting, which means no more flashlights going through walls, proper dynamic shadows, stuff like that. So it really kind of opens a lot of possibilities for us and I think it is going to allow us to deal will a lot of those issues. We had to decide, did we want to do a lot of little short term fixes or did we want to focus on the architecture. Given the success of the early access we felt like we really had to invest in the future.
With the new engine is it based on your current tech or is it a complete rip out of everything and rewriting it?
Rocket: It is a complete rip out of everything, but we’re definitely leveraging existing tech. So if you look at Bohemia as a studio they actually acquired a great number of other studios, so really were kind of looking around and taking up tech that is available there and mixing it into the engine, rewriting new stuff from scratch that we want to do as well.
When are you looking at getting the new engine into experimental and then pushed out to stable.
Rocket: It will kind of come in a modular fashion over time.
This one is specifically addressed to Dean: What are your thoughts on the recent successes of Early Access and what effect do you see it having on indie gaming in the near future?
Rocket: The most awesome thing about it is it allows you to really alter your scope for developing a game. The example I use is KSP. When those guys were developing it, it has quite a small scope. If they had completed it completely and then released it, it would have had a very small scope. The fact that is released early means that when it a big success they were able to adjust the scope so the game could become so much bigger. It is kind of the same with DayZ and o lot of these other games. It allows really risky propositions to get made. Which I think is one of the most fantastic things about early access. However there are definite problems for the consumers and developers when it comes to early access. We are only just starting to see some of those problems now.
Do you think that DayZ was released to early?
Rocket: There was sort of a physiological and emotional barrier for us in getting is out in a year. We needed to go away. We’d been crunching for a long time we needed to go away at Christmas and spend time with our families. We really needed to cross that barrier ourselves. If you stay out of the public to long, I think we would have lost a lot of good will with our core audience. Our core audience, I think they are happy with the progress.
They see us tackling the big issues, going at the architecture, those kinds of things. I think that those people understand that. If we focus on, I guess, the wider audience you are never going to make them happy. I think the release time was good. I think that we committed to too low a price initially. I think the Planetary Annihilation model, pricing it very high so you get much smaller numbers might have made more sense, but the problem was we committed very early. I don’t know, I might be wrong with it. I kind of feel like if we’d have been able to restrict the audience a little bit, we thought about restricting the number of keys, but that seemed quite unfair.
What’s the status of internal testing 64-bit servers?
Rocket: It’s done. It’s tested and I think the test is totally successful.
How much does that help you add entities to the world?
Rocket: It is kind of like breaking through to another level. It allows us options for future architecture. If we didn’t do it there is a lot we can’t do. We’re stuck within the RAM boundaries that we have. We were hitting those when we started introducing physical terrain, started introducing navmesh, increasing the number of items, things like that. We’re pretty much bound at the moment in terms of performance, with some RAM boundaries. 64 Bit does really necessary help us with performance. It opens the doors for once we deal with the performance issues we can then triple the number of loot spawns, triple the number of zombies and animals.
How far are they with implementing new navmesh (pathfinding)?
Rocket: The AI pathfinding has been written. We’re using an open source solution, navmesh along with …detour. It’s a very, very smart open source solution that’s been developed. I think the guy who is developing that now works for Star Citizen, so he’s pretty good. That is actually done. What we need to do now is writing the routines that allow the zombies to use that navmesh system. We’re also wring in that their navmesh system…so that dynamic objects like other players, zombies, and physics can actually be included in that navmesh. This is all provided by that open source system. It is pretty exciting for us. We have been focused on fixing the bugs in the current experimental build. We are actually very hopeful that any day now we will be pushing out an update. Unfortunately, the time difference is making it very difficult for us to talk with the team, but their committed at the moment to pushing out an update for the rubber banding issue that is on experimental. We’re very excited for when that is going to happen because that means we can finally get all of the new stuff that is there now on stable.
Most doors in real life have simple locks on them, but in DayZ doors do not currently have the ability to be locked. Will exterior doors be equipped with basic locks by full release? If so, will they be destructible by zombies and players? What other things would/will you add to lockable doors if they are introduced?
Rocket: We’ve been looking at doing doors in DayZ and how we implement them. I think probably Project Zomboid has a really good implementation of doors and windows. So the Zombies will path through door and the window, but they will sort of pile up around the door and bang at the door until it breaks. We are looking at how we work in lockable door and lockable containers as well. So we’ll develop a prototype of that.
How many zombies do you plan to have on the map at once at the end of development? As a reference, how many are currently on the map now? Also, are there any complex AI features the zombies will be having in the future? For example, will you be able to hide from a zombie’s line of sight to hide, distract a zombie with sound/light, find loot on zombies, etc.
Rocket: I would say that we are looking at probably increasing the amount of zombies by a factor of somewhere between five and ten of what we currently have now. We need to have our multithread, multicore implemented for that. Every new thing we are developing we are developing with multithread and multicore in mind. An Example being the pathfinding and later the zombie behavior. We are looking at being able to implement the stuff from the mod. You can distract zombies through throwing stuff, noises, placing a radio on the ground and talking through it. That kind of stuff.
What is the current status of persistent items? What items do you plan on making persistent, and how soon will we see some form of it on experimental?
Rocket: Persistent items has been something we have been prototyping. We’ve prototyped the a couple of times and tested them on the experimental severs. That will continue. It is something that we have tentatively planned for the end of June update, but we just need to see how we go with the current bugs with the current build that we have.
A few months ago you released a roadmap. Have you finished at the pace you were expecting, or are things taking longer than expected? What features are ahead of schedule, which features are behind schedule? Are there any major milestones that have changed?
Rocket: We are kind of on track in terms of development with the road map, but we’re not on track in terms of delivery to stable. So we are continuing to develop at the pace we’d like, but we’re not getting what we have developed through to stable. So there is something we need to improve on a bit. I guess that is kind of expected.
Are world containers, such as refrigerators and cabinets, going to be persistent objects, much like a tent in the mod? Will the items I put into one of these objects stay like that after a server reset, acting as a permanent storage place? Also, by full release, will refrigerators actually cool down objects and refrigerate them, opening the door for spoilage?
Rocket: World containers are working sort of as a prototype. We need to go through all of the building and add them to the map. At the moment refrigerators are attached as a model inside the building, not as an actually entity. We need to write a script that is going to place world containers in all of those positions.
Will sleep and fatigue be a feature of the game? Will players have a need for sleep like the need for food and water?
Rocket: I’m not really sure what the status with that is. That’s up to our lead designer Peter as to how we implement that. Basically it is something we want to implement at the engine level and not the scripted level.
Are drugs still planned for the game?
Rocket: Drugs are still planned. Same with Alcohol.
Will there be non-lethal weaponry?
Rocket: Non-lethal weaponry is also planned.
A while back you mentioned new player races. When are those going to be implemented?
Rocket: Those are in progress. Actually to get some high definition reference we have actually taken picture of a few members of the development team. Their likenesses are going to be put in game and they look pretty cool. Including adding hair and stuff like that.
Of all the features you will be adding between now and final release, what are you most excited about, and why?
Rocket: I think barricading is going to add a massive amount to the game. So that’s something that I really want to see come through.
Will it ever be possible to craft arrows from sticks for the improvised bow?
When traps are implemented in the future, will they be a persistent item? Also, will it be possible to craft “shotgun tripwire” traps, or anything similar to that?
Rocket: Traps are planned pretty much in line with what we have got with the mod.
Will barricading by physics based? Will I be able to take the tables and chairs in a building and literally drag them in the world to block doors, or will I build barricades in front of doorways?
Rocket: Barricading will be physics based. I think a good reference to go to for how we are looking at doing that is Dead Linger. They have a very good barricading system. Great zombie type game on Steam, early access as well. That has been a very big source of inspiration for how to approach Barricading.
You recently said you are planning on removing the action menu system entirely. Please give us a few examples (other than chopping down trees) of ways you will be doing this. Opening doors, gathering items, starting a car engine, opening a world container, etc.
Rocket: Changes to the action menu are planned.
Any new revolutionary ideas for your future games apart from Airport simulator and Mountaineering simulator?
Rocket: The first games might be quite simple. The idea is to setup a studio and find some really good people to some work at the studio. You need kind of a simple game to put together to get the juices flowing. I am really fascinated by Space Station 13 and the idea of context gaming, really rich experience very much inspired by EVE online. I really want to explore that in the multiplayer space. I think to get to that point there is a lot that I need to learn and assemble a team together as well.