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APZDTISA #3: This time with LIVE MULTIPLAYER!

February 17, 2014

That’s right kids, it’s APZDTISA time again! Better known within more informal circles as ‘Ask Project Zomboid Developers The Indie Stone – Anything! First though, we have exciting developments afoot. So…

Multiplayer!

In case you didn’t spot it, over the weekend, we’ve finally put out the first ever online version of Project Zomboid out to the public! We snuck it out to get the worst of the issues resolved before the Mondoid, and early indications are really promising! There’s people running Roleplay servers, PVP servers, public and private. Mostly everything is functional, from farming to carpentry (though there are likely bugs still) and people are having a great time!

In the short term until we add trapping, hunting and some other late game features (that are on their way!) it can become a little difficult when joining a server that’s already had 100 people in the past 2 days stripping Muldraugh clean, so server ops may be tempted to reset the world fairly regularly until then. There’s plenty of balancing and bugfixing still to do but what’s there feels pretty complete!

The multiplayer version is currently in its own Steam branch, so if you want a try then you’ll need to follow the instructions here!

Remember you will need to have access to a server, which you can either set up yourself, or look around in the Servers forum for public ones you can join, or private ones you can apply for a user/pass for.

Build 23 Released!

We also released Build 23 proper this weekend to the stable Steam branch! This update is immense and fixes a ton of issues, as well as providing a significant FPS boost. You can read details on the build here.

And so onto, APZDTISA 3!

Q. Are mods supported in multiplayer? (vesainen)

A. Not currently, but they will be. We need to work out a good system for syncing clients / servers mods and it is currently still up in the air as to the best way to do this. It’s certainly a must have feature though so we’ll make sure it gets there sooner rather than later. (Lemmy)

Q. Hello! My question is: why LWJGL? I am an aspiring game developer, and I love java! Are their any reasons I should devote some of my time to learning how to use the library? (DuhbleB)

A. We wanted to make the game in java to increase its portability, and LWJGL seemed like the best choice. We are very impressed with it and for all Lemmy’s java misgivings not one of them have been LWJGL related. Highly recommended!  (Lemmy)

Q. Have you tossed around the idea of some real survival tools recently? It’d be nice to see a machete, hatchet, and a combat knife/pocket knife since those are really the true basis of wilderness survival and still found commonly in or around the home. Curious to know if we’ll see anything like that soon. (Rathlord)

Expanding the range of weapons/tools is definitely high up on the task list, if for no other reason than to make certain ‘essential’ survival items a bit less ludicrously scarce, particularly now we have MP servers where everything good gets immediately looted! In other words, having multiple objects which have the same function although with differing levels of effectiveness and endurance will not only open up gameplay, but will also provide variety. A hacksaw should not be your only method of turning a log into a plank, for example. (Andy)

The survivalist stuff is something we’re planning on massively expanding going forward, especially due to the situation with food scarcity on multiplayer servers. First on the list is trapping. (Lemmy)

As Lemmy say, more survival stuff is on our list, first the trapping. In a next update Trapping will be added, I already started to code it, but we have to focus on bugs ! So, how it’ll work ? You’ll have a new skill, trapping, you have to create different traps, using different skills (trapping and wood work), then place the trap somewhere, the zone is very important, you won’t catch a lot of rabbit in town zone, try to put your trap in forest, and then find the correct bait. Oh, and don’t forget to check every day if you caught something ! Also the bait won’t be fresh forever!

On a note, we can’t add Raccoon as animal… Really, who want to kill a Spiffo ?! (Romain)

Q) Romain, when will your fishing mod be incorporated into the game? (EnigmaGrey)

We already talked about this with the team, and Mash already made some of the fishes and fishing equipement icons, so I need to re-code it to fit with this version, also add the multiplayer sync on top of it. But we probably need new animation for this, don’t expect it right now (trapping should be out sooner!). (Romain)

Q. Are there any current gameplay mechanics/features that you intend to overhaul or modify significantly to make them different to how they are now? (Pintlasher)

A. One that springs to mind is the health system. At the moment people are either scratched or bitten on a body part. We need to add stuff like infected wounds, broken bones, bullet wounds and other types of injury that behave differently. There’s a whole lot of depth we would like to add to the health system to make medical skills much more relevant to the game. (Lemmy)

Q. Are NPC survivors in a nice-ish enough state that we could see some action of them? If they are, could we see it sometime soon? (Footmuffin)

A. NPC work is always going on in the background, and we are gearing up with it all the time. But now these builds have gone out, we’ll be able to look into more focused development and get it out as soon as we can. Not going to lie though, it’s still not imminent. A big reason for this multiplayer push is ironically multiplayer has become a stop gap while the much more involved NPCs are implemented, despite us once thinking multiplayer would be the steepest hill to climb.

NPCs have been tough, but one of the reasons people are looking forward to them so much is we’re trying to do something we’ve not seen done to this level so far, and it’s going to be a challenge until we get there. That said, people have seen the videos, and we know we’ll get it finished off. The problem with showing more videos of them in action is they get people hyped up, and unless they are around the corner (like MP was, once we finally came clean and announced it) just end up frustrating people when it is delayed. We’d rather try and keep the hype down until they are really close. (Lemmy)

Q. Will there be new craftable items appearing soon? For example, traps, electric/electronic gadgets,wiring, carpentry items, and the like. (Rorschach)

A. It’s not imminent, but we have big plans for all these. We want to ultimately end up with a circuit board like advanced crafting that you could connect different items with wire, making noise makers, security systems and so on. (Lemmy)

Q. What wildlife can we eventually expect to encounter in the forests? Will we ever see birds and will they be huntable? (Viceroy)

We’ve got a bunny being prepped for the game right now – the plan is to have as much of the wildlife you’d expect to see in the rural woods of Kentucky present in Zomboid. My cursory Google investigations in this area result in things like, the American Black Bear (woo!) and Red Bear, deer (multiple types), squirrel (roasted), elk, stuff like that. Birds are (slightly) problematic in-so-far as they fly, and sky isn’t something you tend to see in a top-down isometric game.  That said, you could feasibly show ground shadows from overhead birds and birds have to land from time to time, so there are plenty of ways they could be added too. (Andy)

Q. I know there are no vehicles, but why are there no garages?  Where I’m from, every house has a garage. Is Kentucky different? (Mightylsis)

A. To be entirely realistic, yes there should probably be more garages in Muldraugh (West Point has loads).  However, due to the size of tiles, having a garage built into the house makes the houses look quite large, which didn’t fit the Muldraugh look we wanted and would also create less of a visual difference from other areas of the map. (Mash)

Q. Are there any current mods that are being looked at to be brought into the game? (sfy)

A. We have no immediate plans, these things just sometimes happen in certain circumstances, if its right for the game and right for the modder. It is something we’ve done before and would be open to it in the right circumstances. The erosion mod has certainly caught our eye! But it’s nice to have a mod scene and not just swallow up mods, so at the same time we don’t want to trample over other people’s pieces of Zomboid. (Lemmy)

Q. The map tools for modders are amazing.  It sounds like the upcoming NPC and metagame behavior will be somewhat map dependent (for example designating rooms in buildings, storylines, etc).  Will there be map independent features of NPCs like AI behavior, canned dialogue, relationship status, etc.?  Has Indie Stone considered releasing NPC tools for modders to create original NPCs or will these all function within the map tools? (Jatta Pake)

Q. Also how complicated will it be for modders to add in custom npc content once their system is in place? 

 A. Anything (apart from source code, decompiling aside) The Indie Stone have at their disposal, we would like for the modders to have! As far as NPCs there is only really one addition people will need to make to their maps (assuming the rooms etc in buildings are correct and the modders use tbx files, not tmx, for their buildings) and that is to ‘zone off’ parts of the map into ‘group of houses’ or ‘road’ segments, to give NPCs and zombie behaviours the concept of areas to allow for more intelligent AI and realistic zombie migrations.

When the time comes though, it was only an hour or two work to do the entire of West Point. Muldraugh not yet done but we expect not much longer. EasyPickins has also created an NPC scripting editor that ties into the meta-game, so once NPCs are released people will have all the tools at their disposal to do their own NPC meta-game events, scenes, or entire stories that happen on their own map. (Lemmy)

Q. Are there any plans to incorporate freezers into the game as a way to preserve food? This would pave the way for several other items, such as ice, ice trays, and coolers. Plus, we would have a way to keep our ice cream from melting!

Yes certainly. We figure that most fridges are fridge-freezer these days, so will probably make fridges preservation of food 100% until the power goes out at some point.

Q. Will we ever be able to craft basic tools/weapons from wood or bone? (Warp)

This is something we’ve all talked about a lot, especially now multiplayer is a thing. The potential for tools to be completely used up or gone should not completely preclude using certain features. So some kind of craftable tools are a must. We need to keep it as plausible as possible though. (Lemmy)

Q. How is the quarantine going to work when the military is in the game? Are you going to be able to move to West Point at the start of the game? Or Muldraugh and West Point are going to be the main quarantine zones? If both are under quarantine, is there going to be a perimeter of outposts in the area?  A gigantic wall perhaps? Outposts? (Blasted Taco)

Both Muldraugh and West Point will be inside the quarantine zone, and the PZ canon will have it that in the earliest days of the infection the rest of the world is as yet unaffected. Quite how we’re going to physically represent this in-game (outside of radio broadcasts, dialogue and meta-events) is as yet undecided and something we’ll need to nail down – this said, it’s also something that we can’t really cover until we have military camps in-game – and maybe the military themselves. So watch this space, basically. (Will)

Q. How is farming going to work in multiplayer in terms of water levels when you log off? (Seabass82)

Right now, we have a server option “PauseEmpty”, which mean the server will continue to live even if no players are on it, you disable it so if no one is around, your plants won’t die alone, they’ll wait you, patiently. (Romain)

Q. Any plans to re-balance gun/shooting mechanics? (Seabass82)

A. Yes, certainly! At the moment even a level 0 in firearms will one shot any zombie, obviously this isn’t as designed, and we’ll be looking to rebalance shooting to coincide with hunting! (Lemmy)

Q. I love PZ and the idea of emergent storytelling from intrinsic game play. What have you learned from creating the meta-verse events, and do you think this could be applied to other types of games? I’m mainly thinking “god” games, Sim City, Black and White, but is there scope for this kind of storytelling in FPS as well?

A. I think that the thing we’ll be able to do with the metagame and the NPCs (and what big AAA games generally can’t because it’d end up with a gigantic pricetag in terms of animations and ultimately an outright desire to put everything possible directly in front of the player throughout the entire game) is create dialogue that covers even the most unlikely of scenarios. When something amazing happens we want to have something in there that says ‘Hey, we know this can happen too – mental isn’t it?’ and in turn make the player feel special, as what they’re experiencing could potentially only ever have happened to a handful of people. It’ll be a lot of work, but ultimately all we need is dialogue to cover all the potential boxes that could be ticked. (Will)

Q. Can I hug you all individually at rezzed or would time be better spent in a group hug, like a giant developer/tooks sandwich?

A. We’d prefer one big group hug, but we can’t tell you how long it will last because it’s our policy to never give ETAs. (TIS)

Q. When NPC’s are inserted, will they be able to tell what loot is valuable if that loot is part of a mod? (sfy)

Mostly. They will score the items based on their stats, though mods may have to add some additional modifier or something to more specialist and uncategorised items. If a mod were to add a remote control that called an airstrike, an NPC would not inherently value that item, but a different type of gun/food/ammo would be easy. We’ll provide modders a way of influencing this anyway.

Q. How are Mash’s guinea pigs doing?

Sadly, Lola passed away late last year. She is greatly missed, but as it’s not good for guinea pigs to be alone for too long, Hugo now has a new lady in his life: the brawny Heidi who had, until she was paired up with Hugo, refused to share her living space with another guinea pig. She couldn’t resist his chubby charms!  If you’re in the Southern Ontario region and are considering having guinea pigs as pets, please check out Piggles Guinea Pig Rescue http://pigglesrescue.com

Q. Has there been any progress on Kate and Baldspot and their tutorial? (Armaretta)

A. From a scripting angle, not recently. We’ve been working on an NPC scripting editor that will make it easier to develop and mod the NPC behaviours, and the tutorial needs transplanting into the new system. Once that’s in we should be able to fly through the tutorial to get it to where it was. As NPC dev dials back up this is pretty much top of the list. (Chris)

As before, the conclusion of the opening K&B story is in the can, apart from changes that’ll have to be made for tutorial reasons given that the game has changed so, so much since the first tech demo. Away from that we’ve got plans for what they’ll do and where they’ll go next, but the particulars of exactly what they’ll be doing will very much be dependent on what we need as a tutorial at the stage of the game when they’re created. You could certainly expect one that covers survivalist/hunting stuff if it’s in the game at that point, for example. (Will)

Q. What are some of the major bugs holding you back from releasing the 3d sprites? (Armaretta)

Well from a code perspective its that they aren’t showing weapons, a few anim bugs, that overall detract from the models enough that it’s better to go without it for now. But more notably it causes crashes on some people’s machines randomly during play and this certainly needs to be resolved before it goes out..

There’s also a few clipping issues to resolve which weren’t an issue with the current models-processed-into-sprites technique since we could extremely tightly control the way they were rendered without worrying about the effect on performance. It’s not an insurmountable problem by any means, it just means things have to be modelled a little more carefully. Of course, the benefit in terms of animation scope is so huge that it’s worth this additional cost. (Andy)

Q. If TIS were a band who would play which instrument? and what would you sound like? (Egg Bandage Boy)

A Robert Johnson tribute band ! Mmh, I may have to talk with the team though… (Romain)

 

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