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Road to Unification

March 3, 2014

Hello peeps! Time for another updatey Mondoid.

Build 25

We’re currently testing a new version of the upcoming build 25, which will see multiplayer and singleplayer unified into a glorious whole and mark the proper release of multiplayer, as well as a ton of new fixes and additions.

There are a few issues left to resolve before we could possibly release. Worst thing we could do now is put out an update which breaks the pretty stable multiplayer so we’re being very careful to make sure the next release is a good ‘un.

We apologise to all the Mac players out there still waiting for a version of MP that works for them, but the only solution is to get 25 out there and if we rush it out to get Mac people playing and bugger up, then we’d risk losing the traction the game has gained with the multiplayer. It’s frustrating but we’re so close that any particular version we upload to the testers could be the one we can put out. We’re still waiting for feedback on the latest update so who knows? It could go either way. But soon.

You can read the full patch notes here.

And read on for more details. Important additions to MP in build 25 are:

Admin Tools

The next release of Zomboid MP will have a bunch of sexy new admin features to help administrate servers. Of note is the ability to have your server open to all, and auto add username/passwords used to get into the server to the whitelist. This will allow server ops to cast a net out and grab as many people as they need to keep the server busy, then close the doors once their numbers are up, at which point they will be able to remove the no-good griefers and cheaters and have a large player base without all the manual time consuming white list editing. Also banning by username / IP features, and all the other features you’d expect from a player run server.

Soft Reset

Server operators are now able to ‘soft reset’ their server. This resets everything in the world, such as zombies, loot, blood, characters. But it leaves any map changes in effect. so zombie fortresses will still be standing, and (now much less likely) kitchen fires will still leave their mark on the world. But water and electric will return, blood stains on the walls, zombie bodies in the street, will all be cleaned up. Zombies will walk the streets again as they would in a totally fresh game.

This will hopefully allow for servers to evolve and change over time, yet for people to be able to play the early Zomboid game more often without total resets.

In future it is our hope that, along with mods, for example RingoD’s in-progress Bedford Falls

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…the game world on most servers, will before too long be so gargantuan that running out of loot or zombies on a server will take a ton more time. That along with migration systems (still in progress) trapping/hunting that are incoming, and plans for fresh spawn random profession related ‘survival kits’ there will be enough late game gameplay to keep servers running unreset indefinitely and still provide fun gameplay.

Safety!

Another key area we’re working on is the ‘safety system’, which is an optional server setting that provides friendly fire protection, as well as a way of discouraging shoot on sight. Or at least to warn of shoot-on-sighters. It’s our spin on the ‘bandit’ system other games have toyed with in one way or another.

Due to the small character sprites, its impossible for us to reflect the subtleties in characters actions to provide someone with sufficient warning that a ‘friendly’ is about to pull their gun on them and shoot them dead. We want to provide a way to simulate this, to provide some level of protection to the non-aggressors in such situations.

Namely a HUD button that defaults to ‘safety on’, and means any attacks will not hit other players. This provides safety against accidental hits when trying to help your buddies in combat. A player can switch their safety off at any time (though there is a short delay before it is disabled) at which point they will get a skull next to their name which any other player looking at them will see. Since the skull appears immediately after clicking, this means anyone looking at your character will see your malicious intent. Your body language, you reaching for your gun. Visible tells impossible to convey on tiny characters. Any character with safety turned off can be hit by a character with it on. Only two mutually ‘safety enabled’ players are safe from each other, so this enforces a moment of vulnerability to the aggressors (unless they just come in safeties off, all guns blazing of course, in which case their intent is clear from the get go and can be avoided or defended against)

Viewers of The Walking Dead should think of the scene in the bar in season 2 (kinda sorta vague spoilers). Just because someone isn’t openly hostile doesn’t mean that you can’t start to feel uneasy and anticipate a hostile move. People hoping to gun down their companions will need to be clever, wait for a moment when the others have their back turned, to give them the second or two it takes to turn safety off, without their skull icon betraying their intent. It gives you a safety net against those you don’t trust. If you never turn your back, or lower your gun, for a second, you’ve got a good chance of putting them down if you’re careful. This in itself gives a slight safety net to players to not have to ‘kill on sight’ just in case.

Server option variants will allow for usernames not to be displayed when your safety is disabled. Like privateer ships sailing skull and crossbones to hide their nationality, this system could be optionally used as a more in-depth PvP system, with players able to travel incognito as raiders without their usernames being known.

It won’t be for everyone, and we fully imagine ‘hardcore servers’ having it disabled, but hope it will provide for a nice mix of PvP and co-op where you’re able to rely on your character’s perception skills to alert you to hostile PvP intent and encourage ‘cold wars’ with two hostile groups inhabiting the same place without necessarily shooting at each other (until the moment it all kicks off).

Only thing we’ve got to work on now is making the feature’s functionality clear to new players. Speaking of which:

Tutorial Incoming!

Kate and Baldspot are not ready to re-enter Muldraugh yet, but even so, the ‘tutorial’ they provide is, out of necessity of keeping the narrative nice and interesting, very vague and high level. We don’t want to interrupt the story with a million pop-ups explaining every aspect of the game. We have however decided that we clearly need to do more, beyond the Survival Guide that no one reads, to guide players through their first game of Zomboid.

As such, we’ve been working on a more solid tutorial which will take place on the Last Stand map, that takes a player hand-by-hand through looting, eating, drinking, climbing through windows, combat (STOP MOUSE SPAMMING!) and other things.

This is still in progress, and may not hit build 25. But it’s not far off.

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That’s All Folks

Not much else to say, apart from to thank everyone for their support, and that the reaction to multiplayer has been phenomenal. To all those who aren’t interested in multiplayer, just know that its addition has clearly opened many doors to the Indie Stone in terms of potentially expanding in the future to bring those single player features you crave a lot faster. The game and development team have never been in a more stable place or better state of mind and there is no doubt that getting MP out was the best move for the future of the game generally.

It’s also becoming clear that levering the system set in place for supporting multiple players is going to be of great benefit to finishing off the NPC system. We’re still light on details about NPCs because we don’t want to create buzz about something that’s still a long while away. But long while away or not, NPCs and meta-game have never been closer than they are right now, and hopefully MP’s swifty addition to the game as well as the build becoming more stable and polished, shows that we’ve managed to pick up pace a lot in the past few months and we intend to do that moreso going forward.

Love you all!

Indie Stone

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