If you’re a Zomboid player who doesn’t dabble in beta builds, today life just got that little tougher. Build 32 is out officially and with it comes the terrifying new zombie management system, new crafting interface, generators, new traps and explosive recipes, new tutorial and oh goodness… so much more. Find the full changelist through here.
We left one surprise off the list before release though because, once again, Zach is back. Yes, Zach Beever our music composer has returned with improved and remastered versions of all the tracks that have been serenading your brief lives in Project Zomboid. [This said, if you’re not a fan of us George Lucas-ing what you already enjoy then you, of course, have the option of going back to the old versions in the Options menu.]
We’ll have a chat with Zach about his latest offerings after these brief messages.
THE NEXT STEP
Features lining up for inclusion in Build 33 include the radio/TV broadcast system, Turbo’s furniture/item moving and rotation system, a fun new way of tying PZ deep into Steam Workshop, new professions and crafting and a bunch more stuff we haven’t announced yet. Clearly, meanwhile, work on the big stuff [the new animation and combat system, the city map, Mash’s secret mission, NPCs and vehicles] will also carry on throughout and we’ll report progress when the time is right.
There might, however, be a surprise extra feature a lot sooner that you’d expect. The stuff mentioned above will be a part of Build 33, but another iteration of 32 will contain Project Zomboid’s MP Steam Integration. This work has now been completed by our friends at General Arcade, pending any unexpected bugs or bumps in the road. As such, we wouldn’t be surprised if it hit an IWBUMS beta channel near you relatively soon.
Criminy, would you look at what else RJ just coded into the last nuggets of Build 32? You can use that oven with gleeful abandon from now on, as the ability to put out fires is now in-game.
TECHNICAL ONLINE-Y STUFF BIT
This bit of Mondoid isn’t particularly sexy, but is useful if you’re a PZ game server host. If you manage to get to the bottom of this blog every week you’ll know that we try to shill our newsletter on you – and now we’ve got a brand new one! It’s a mail-out that details full update changelogs for both our Stable and IWBUMS branches as and when they hit so you know exactly what’s been fixed and tweaked as each version rolls out. We’ve also set up a JSON formatted webcall with current PZ version numbers here so server hosts and fan sites can always be up to date with showing exactly where we’re at in terms of PZ builds.
Man, that bit was slightly too technical for the guy that writes the Mondoids. Anyway, here’s lovely Zach Beever who’s here to tell you all about the amazing new musical wonderment that’s just been dropped into Project Zomboid.
Hi Zach! It’s been a while since we last spoke to you, so could you introduce yourself to the new folk – then let the old-timers know what you’ve been up to since last we met?
Definitely! I’m an undergraduate currently living in Boston and pursuing a degree in music composition. I started working with the PZ team a few years ago now and, while I’ve been busy with other things since then, PZ holds a special place in my heart as my first large project.
My time over the past few years has been spent studying and practicing. Being a music student is a lot of work – not only do you have a full class-load, but you’ve got rehearsals, homework, four to eight hours a day of writing/practicing, and lots of self-guided study (of music history, theory, and performance practice).
Could you explain what your process was in terms of the remastered tracks?
The majority of my training as a musician has been in acoustic music. Essentially I’m learning how to get a specific sound out of a group of instruments. While this is incredibly helpful in concert music, it only goes so far when working digitally. That’s because you not only have to choose (or create) your sounds, but you have to create a space for them to live. When I first wrote tracks for PZ, I wasn’t aware of this. So I’ve gone back and remixed everything.
This means that I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to each track and asking myself where each instrument goes. Should the guitar be on the left? Should it be far away from the stage? How big of a room is it in? And so on. Ideally you want every instrument to be clear while providing a focus point for the listener.
To be honest, the process is pretty scary because I’m no expert at this. There’s a good chance I’ll listen to these tracks in a year’s time and realize I should’ve mixed them differently, but the only way to get better is to practice. And, regardless of whether or not the tracks will be as perfect as I’d like them to be, the clarity and ‘punch’ of the entire soundtrack is already a lot better than it once was.
What’s your favourite of the tracks? Which do you find most interesting?
It’s hard to choose – my favourite is changing all the time. Right now, I think it’s the first of the two active versions of What Was Lost.
As for what I find most interesting? I’m exploring dynamic, layered music events with Chris and the short tracks I’m creating for these layers are so much fun to write. They’re actually similar to my concert music in a lot of ways.
What’s changed in your production process when it comes to revamping music that’s already familiar to PZ players?
When I first started revamping and remixing the old tracks, I was doing what I described above. (That is, relocating instruments in space.) However, recently I’ve begun changing instruments entirely while adding completely new elements and deleting others.
When you begin to compose you want to hold on to every idea. Why change it if you like it? But as you become more comfortable you realize that changing an idea may provide you with a much better version of it. For example, in ‘Barricading’ I had this melody that just repeated over and over. When remixing it, I found that beefing up the background and providing a break from the melody made the track fit its own mood a lot better.
When we listen to the updated tracks are we also hearing what you’ve learned as a musician since Zomboid began? Are there new disciplines and ways of thinking that are noticeable in terms of your own development?
Absolutely. The newer tracks are definitely more advanced in their form and orchestration.
As for new ways of thinking, this definitely comes through in the previously mentioned ‘dynamic tracks.’ As a composer of concert music, I’m particularly interested in spectralism. In a nutshell, this way of composing seeks to fuse timbre (what makes a sound sound like itself) and harmony (multiple tones at once) by understanding the underlying mathematics of sound.
In the new dynamic tracks you’ll hear groups of instruments playing chords that sound ‘off.’ They shimmer as if they’re simultaneously made up of many notes and one, unstable note.
It’s not something terribly noticeable, and it may not be all that interesting to others, but I love writing and listening to music that creates these sounds.
If you’re a music nerd like me and you’re interested in hearing exactly what I’m talking about, the most famous piece of spectralist music is probably Gerard Grisey’s Partiels. It’s an awesome piece.
What’s next? When will you consider the PZ soundtrack ‘finished’?
Well, the dynamic tracks are definitely the closest ‘next thing’, though a PZ album will also be coming soon.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever consider the soundtrack finished. If the team ever asks me to write a whole new set of tracks I’ll be happy to do so. But, if I had to give a more definite answer, I’d say the soundtrack is more finished than not. The world is there. You can explore it. And if I’m ever asked to map more of it, I’ll happily do so.
This week’s featured image from NikNik64rus over on Steam. If you don’t mind being told about it twice in the same Mondoid, you can find details on the PZ Mondoid, Update and Changelog newsletters right here.