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Items of Note

April 13, 2015

Good Mondoid one and all. A fairly decent offering this week, spotlighting work that’s taking place on both the current and next build of the ongoing Project Zomboid saga.

BUILD 32 INVENTORY PROLIFERATION

Let’s go over to our French correspondent, Romain Dron, for an update on some of the new in-game items that will play a part in Build 32’s massive crafting update.

“Well, today has been an exciting day in which I come across all the different new items that Mash has been giving life to. There’s over 70 new items right now, and some will be useful (as traps, for example), while others will just be there to give a little more life to the game’s environment.”

“So to name a few: perfume bottle, dog leash, crayons, comic book, pinecone (can be used to light a fire), Washing Up Liquid, Mop (blood cleaning!) and alarm clock.” Look! Some balls!

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“I’ve currently created 30+ recipes that use these and existing items – so you’ll be able to take apart a CD player to salvage components, and likewise house alarms, that’ll let you include parts of these devices in your crafted triggers/bombs.”

“A lot of this crafting will be exclusive to professions, so you shouldn’t expect to be able to craft a motion sensor if you’re not an electrician by trade, but that said we will look into realistic in-game ways to garner the more basic skills. You’d never be able to learn everything that a real electrician could though, in the same way that in Build 32 only engineers and repairmen will be able to fix up generators to the same high levels.”

SPIFFOSPACE SERVER

A quick nod to EnigmaGrey’s new SpiffoSpace Server, which is an official TIS server that we’re hosting for two very important reasons. Firstly we thought that we needed a friendly official server that new players could hang out on and learn the ropes. Secondly, it means that we can monitor what the game’s doing first-hand while EP is streamlining MP code and (as mentioned last week) we look for a MP coding genius who can ensure that we are a fully armed and operational battle station when we hit 1.0 later this year. Full details here on SpiffoSpace here! 

WATCH AND LEARN

Whoever said watching TV was a waste of time? As discussed previously, Build 32 will give the opening days of the apocalypse radio and television broadcasts to tune into so you can listen live to the downfall of humanity. That doesn’t mean that the usual schedules will be entirely interrupted however, and as such there’ll be cookery shows, home improvement shows and the like that will provide players with examples of the stuff that can be crafted in PZ and – thanks to TurboTuTone’s recent work – give you XP boosts as well. As such, profession-specific recipes will be made available to all avid TV-watchers no matter what their role in life.

This system is also being built with moodle lifts and lows in mind. So repeated viewings give markedly less and less XP – and also impact on boredom moodles. Quite how we’ll balance these with the current skill books is the next challenge we’ll face, but also on the menu is letting you record shows onto blank videos – and to have pre-recorded videos of both informative and entertainment shows lootable in homes and stores on the map.

Here’s a WIP video, BUT two things to note: XP gain is currently waaaay OP, and lines are currently too long in the show-content proper. It would usually be a much longer broadcast.

In other Turbo news, the clever chap has also coded us up a profanity filter that you can choose to drape over our narrative content if needs be. This was always a hotly requested feature back in the K&B days, and we thought it a necessary part of the game as rude words start to reappear once more.

EASYPICKINS’ IWBUMS MP ADVENTURES

Build 31 is still with us and currently has version 31.16 being tested in the IWBUMS beta channel. Why? Well, only due to a gargantuan battle between EasyPickins and what many call The Terrifying MP Map Corruption Bug of Ultimate Doom.

WARNING: Mondoid gets techier than usual from this point.

It all began when renowned server-hoster Zeek get in touch on March 21st with an issue that saw the map getting corrupted seemingly at random – with either all-black chunks or chunks from another part of the map being placed where they didn’t belong. For the longest time it just couldn’t be replicated, so EP was stabbing in the dark with fixes – errors about truncated maps, fears of non-flushed data and countless checksums were all thrown into the mix.

“I got onto Zeek’s server to see first-hand how bad it was, and it was nuts.” Explained EasyPickins, shortly after the battle was won. “Chunks where nothing was loaded plus parts of the map placed where they didn’t belong.  And very often the errors in the log files pointed to completely different parts of the map than the ones we could see were messed up. The logs would say chunk X,Y was corrupt but then we’d go there and find a different chunk (or two or three) was messed up that wasn’t even in the error logs. It was so random that last Sunday I thought I had found the problem and his server ran the patch for 10 hours with zero errors.  Problem solved!  But no, the next day the logs were filling up with errors again.  And people on other servers reported they had no problems at all!”

At the end of a demoralizing final week, our champ was beaten – lolling on the ropes and hoping beyond hope that it could just be his Zeek’s personal RAM playing tricks. A software switch and a few hours of corruption-free play lulled them into a false sense of security, but then it came back. Back for the boss battle, like Kathy Bates in Misery.

“By that point we’d had enough people willing to run around on Zeek’s server trying constantly-changing test builds that I was able to get enough clues about what the problem was – and of course the other server admins trying the fixes I put out also, so my thanks goes to them as well.”

“The actual cause of the bug turned out to be a freakin’ variable related to saving zombie corpses. One part of the game was adding corpses to this list variable while at the very same time another part of the game was adding corpses from a different chunk to the self-same list.  Even chunks that had no corpses were being affected by chunks that did have corpses due to this shared list variable.”

And so, after 22 days of frustration the beast is slain at the hands of EasyPickins and friends, never to return again. Isn’t game development fun? Thanks to Zeek and everyone else who joined the battle!

OH, AND THIS TOO:

While we’re on the topic of EasyPickins and his victorious IWBUMS activity, running concurrent to his head/wall slams was quite a significant change to how PZ servers streams the map to clients. Again, it’s a smidge techie but… it’s highly likely that you’re a smidge more intelligent than the person that usually writes the Mondoid.

Back to EP: “The server has always created ZIP files containing parts of the map that are newer than the client has. A big performance problem with this has been that while creating these ZIP files, the server isn’t updating the game world or processing network messages. The more clients that needed map updates, the more time the server would be spend creating these ZIP files. As such creating ZIP files is now handled in a separate thread (actually, one thread per client).  So the server is no longer affected nearly as much when streaming the map out to clients.”

Got all that? Huzzah! Now to do the usual Mondoid sign-off stuff. See you next week!

Today’s featured image is of our least noticed in-game reference. Can you spot it? As taken by Olaf the Merchant. Would you like to receive babble like this in email form? Well who wouldn’t? Click here!

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