This week, you’ll hear from our Creative Director Brian Hicks and our Lead Producer Eugen Harton – as the department leads are fully focused on catching up on their tasks after a short Easter holiday, both Brian and Eugen are doing their best to report for them. Both also explain why some of the long-announced content isn’t in the game yet, and what needs to be done to have it available during BETA.
Mind you, while our today’s Status Report is a bit of a long read, it’s also full of vital development information on the upcoming 0.62 and BETA updates, so get comfy, pour yourself a drink of your preference and reserve some time for reading – it’s worth it! Also, Baty has some nice eye-candy bonus at the very end, so those who make it all the way through will surely be rewarded 🙂
Dev Update: B. Hicks
I watch a good deal of DayZ Twitch streams and YouTube videos in my free time – and over the last week or so, I saw something that concerned me: hearing conversation in regards to gameplay mechanics or systems currently implemented in the most basic form, and if they are intended (by developers) to ever change.
Between the new user actions and rewrite to Enforce script, and the decision for designers to stop writing new systems in SQF and focus entirely on creating new gameplay systems in the new tech – it can easily seem (to those who don’t closely follow development) that we just don’t care about the issues currently on the Steam build, or don’t ever intend to address them. That couldn’t be farther from the case.
For example, Peter and I have been going over functional issues with the central economy we want to see addressed for BETA and beyond – these aren’t things that are being ignored. Far from it, but as always, the goal for the team is getting to the final product as quickly and efficiently as possible.
While the economy functions at a playable level and much of the technology required for the final product is there, the priority for the programmers responsible for the Central Economy of DayZ moves on to the next piece of the puzzle – in this particular case, support for public access to server files and required software, modding, and off-line mode.
When those critical technology tasks (that are being worked on by those specific programmers) are implemented into the internal version of the game, that’s where we can shift our focus on iterating upon some of the functional issues of the Central Economy.
What kind of functional issues with the economy? Well – just to list a few:
- Dynamic Event spawning behavior
- Dynamic Event item spawn quantity control
- Zone/Area restricted items bunching up in specific towns after extended persistence uptime
- Repeated spawns of the same item types in a structure
- Consistent availability of early game basic supplies
Also take a look at Peter’s contribution to the last SR – it’s a good example of how the current state of things is not final, how our features and systems will be iterated upon and improved.
To be honest, there isn’t much of anything in the Alpha phase of DayZ that is functionally (from a design perspective) “complete”. Nearly every gameplay system or mechanic the player touches is at a basic functional level, meaning the tech/script/animations are present and it operates in one way or another. Fleshing it out, addressing functional and gameplay issues – that isn’t something we should be wasting time and resources on, especially when so much of it is being replaced.
“What about all that cool stuff you guys have shown for years but never ended up in the game?” You might ask – “What happened to that?!” – While I know both Eugen and myself have discussed this before, I can’t fault anyone for missing it – it certainly is not easy trying to search or go back through Status Reports on DayZ.com at the very least.
Nearly everything that has been discussed since we stopped prototyping gameplay mechanics in SQF, stopped creating animations for new items on the old animation system, and so on is, and has been worked on. I know it can seem like cool things like base building, soft skills, or player facial hair growth has disappeared because we haven’t publicly associated it with a specific release.
The reality of the situation is, with pretty much everything on that proverbial list being dependent upon the new player, and the focus for BETA being on getting the game stable and playable on the new engine modules – we’re playing our cards close to the chest.
While we may end up with a BETA candidate build that has a huge chunk of the content and gameplay systems backlog functional in it – it’s just as possible that we’ll end up with a smaller chunk of the backlog content and systems in that first BETA build, and the rest of the list will follow up as quick as possible (which should be at a much quicker pace, having shed a good chunk of our nasty tech debt and overhead from supporting legacy and new tech).
We’re in that situation because it is the technology – the foundation of everything inside DayZ that you guys experience – that is setting the pace and progress towards our goals right now.
As we get closer to these core components of DayZ’s underlying technology being functional and usable in a multiplayer state, we can better gauge what the gameplay and content ingredients of the BETA milestone are.
I know for some of you, a good deal of this is information is something you all already know, as Eugen and I both have spoken on it several times before (and I couldn’t have put it better than Eugen’s contribution to the last SR), but for as many of you that may follow development closely and know all this already – there are just as many that might have missed some of this down the pipe. You know what they say: now they know… and knowing is half the battle.
Dev Update: E. Harton
Hi there survivors, since some of you appreciated my last Status Report contribution, I’m going to try and keep them as regular as possible. While knowing that my wall of text is not going to be an easy read for everyone, I do believe it’s necessary to try and write stuff in technical detail in order to have and provide an honest coverage of what’s happening in the DayZ Dev Team offices.
There will be a lot of stuff happening over the coming months, and I want to guide you through it with as much information as possible. At this point, there are two large releases scheduled for this year. and we’re fully focused on those. The development is divided into strike teams – a smaller strike team is working on the 0.62 update, which we internally like to call a “Visual Upgrade”. It contains tweaks to lighting and new forests, as well as general world fidelity improvements (we have more to come in that department for follow-up/future updates as well).
As far as what that means in a bit more detail, the Visual Upgrade coming with the 0.62 update will feature:
- New tree models
- Denser forests
- New clutter (grass, small plants)
- New surface textures (roads, plains and such)
- Improved wind behavior
- New shader for the wind, affecting trees and grass
- Tweaked and changed lighting for the world (for a more apocalyptic feel, yay!)
- Small improvements to satellite textures
- Rain affected by wind and refinement of its behavior in general
- Many reworked locations on Chernarus
- Reworked ghillie (to be consistent with new tech)
- Small bugfixes to some issues from 0.61
The 0.62 update will NOT introduce:
- Any changes to gameplay
- Any changes to buildings and structures (in terms of model graphical fidelity)
- Any changes to player model fidelity
- Any changes to animation fidelity
- Any of the gameplay changes, or new content that we’ve been occasionally mentioning in Status Reports
- (those are all scheduled for BETA/0.63)
After this milestone, the strike team for 0.62 will merge with the current 0.63 strike team, and join their efforts to reach BETA on our Steam branches as soon as possible. BETA/0.63 will be a major change for the game as a whole. That is the update that you guys have all been waiting for, and we have been working hard to reach that goal for the past few years. What does that mean in more concrete terms though?
All the new engine technology we have developed for DayZ, along with the content of the current game – all merged in and improved, as it has been refactored from functionality point, design-wise, and in terms of fidelity as well. Moreover, additional content and features that we couldn’t properly implement on the legacy tech.
Besides all the refined features, content and overall improvements to the DayZ experience, we also aim to release a handy toolset very near to (or along with) the initial BETA/0.63 update. This toolset will contain the much-requested server files.
I know you are all asking: But when?!?! As much as I would love to tell you now, we want to be able to deliver a seamless core gameplay loop without bugs breaking it at first. Our main goal now is to get the melee combat and ranged combat work on the new technology, and in a real game environment, not only in a debug mode.
A lot of work has been done already (like new synchronization, damage system, player representation, and more), so this means mostly adding support in synchronization, and adding content for new features in the animation system are ahead of us, but it’s still a lot to handle.
So just so you get the idea of what work is being done at the moment (from the perspective of disciplines):
- Refactor of hard coded world interactions to script. There were still a couple left (opening doors for example). Creation of core synchronization model for these
- Moving VOIP to server authoritative completely
- New weapons API for weapon script implementation
- Inventory conditions implementation for item states and more
- Optimizations of item spawning for server performance
- AI script API for behavior modification
- New player spawn definition
- New item spawn definition
- Vehicle behavior in new technology
- Backend toolset (srvlet) for central manipulation of economy, and server management (community version)
- User actions manager for the new synchronization model
- Player representation refactor and debug functionality for new player (visualization and toggles for testing and manipulation)
- New hierarchy of item configurations (includes new technology like damage system, procedural coloring and such)
- Data re-structuralization to suit the new setup (file structures at the moment)
- Inventory refactor and optimization according to internal version
- Integration of soft skills to actions in game
- Electricity and its implementation
- Placing of items in world and its implementation
- Implementation of animation player turns
- Polishing new weapon animations (unjamming)
- Implementation of hit reactions to melee combat in the new system
- Work on inverse kinematics and item poses
- Tweaking player graph
- Implementation of detailed user actions animations
- Toolset refinement
- New inverse kinematics implementation
- New physics representation for non-player entities
- New shaders for trees and grass
- Hit reactions in animation system
- Synchronization of new animation system
- Player turns
- Aiming model
- New models (sorry, don’t want to spoil stuff! (smile))
As you can see, there is a lot of work ongoing, in order to implement all the new technology and content. Most of the tasks are now aiming to get things working together as seamlessly as possible, and a lot of them are playable in different debug environments.