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IWBUMS AWAY!

July 25, 2016

Build 35 IWBUMs has begun! To the uninitiated, the ‘I Will Back Up My Save’ is the PZ beta branch and details on how to access it can be found here.

You can also find a changelist here with the main additions to the build.

Whilst we’ve got some really cool stuff to release in today’s IWBUMs; the new welding system, multi-stage wall construction, dismantling furniture and other world tiles for materials, a new sleeping system, and realistic big trees in the wilderness being the headliners — this is not the complete feature set planned for build 35. Instead of holding it back until everything was in, we wanted to get some new stuff out there for people to play with, as we’re mindful that it’s been a while since our last build–however there is still plenty more to come, which will drop into the build in the subsequent bug fix builds, before it is promoted to the main branch and released to all.

The main big feature that will drop into the IWBUMs further along the way is obviously the animation and clothing overhaul, and while there are still a few things to finish off, we’ll likely hold back the IWBUMs until that is ready to drop into it. As such you should expect this particular IWBUMs to go on for some time, as the animation system will likely yield a whole bunch of bugs and compatibility issues that need to be resolved once it lands, and it will also likely play havoc with the game balance, which is something we certainly need our community to help us fix up.

ANIMATION TODO

Pretty much all the tech and anims are now in the game and we’re getting really close, but as mentioned above, there are still a few things that need to be completed before we could possibly release it in IWBUMs. Notable things are:

  • Females – We’re still in the process of running the ladies through the same model and texture revamp that allowed for the new clothing and overlay system you’ve seen in previous Mondoids. They are close but not quite done yet. Right now it’s a bit of a sausage fest and that will not do.
  • Dead bodies – at the moment, the dead bodies of zombies seen in previous videos are actually still 3D models lying stationary on the ground with collision disabled. Anyone who’s played PZ will know quite how many bodies can accumulate, and that this is not a great long term situation for zombie carcasses and frame rates playing nice together. We will need to adapt the current build 34 system (effectively taking a photo snap of the 3D dead body and using that texture in future to represent the body from that point on), however due to the optimizations and improvements made and changes in the method of isometric drawing of 3D models there are a few hurdles we have to overcome to get this working with the animation build.
  • We need to make sure the entire game is playable with the new anims – Some things like climbing through windows, climbing over high fences, and a few other things need fixing up since they were broken by the bag system, model and texture revamp. They won’t take long to fix, but we need to do a pass over the game and make sure there are no others that have cropped up that escaped our notice, and that all interactions the player can do work properly with the new animation system.
  • Balancing of the new combat, along with tying a few things into the existing zomboid damage and weapon / player stats system, tying the new sprint animations into sprint speed and a few other things of this ilk. A chunk of this may be something we can do during IWBUMs however, we’ll see how it goes but we want to make sure the first version plays okay.

The above tasks each shouldn’t take too long when taken in isolation, but still it’s not advisable anyone start pinning hopes on ‘tomorrow’ or ‘friday’, as issues could arise in the interim that delay a few days here and there, and it’s never certain what the future holds when trying to tie everything together into a complete system–especially when they are so fundamental and game changing as the new animation system, with so many cogs from many people all need to work in unison. As usual our ‘when it’s done’ philosophy reigns supreme, but rest assured we obviously want it out there ASAP, and are close enough to the finishing line to feel confident about it dropping into this IWBUMs.

Until the animation stuff drops in, we’re also going to refrain from producing and showing videos of the animation build, because there comes a point in the final stages of development where working toward getting a cool video out there for Mondoid detracts from work required to get the system finished off and releasable, and we’ve reached that point now where we need to just knuckle down and get the remaining stuff fixed and out there, a lot of it not very exciting but very necessary. Hopefully there won’t be many Mondoids between now and then anyway, likely one, but it’s too early to know for sure either way.

WHERE NEXT?

To those that may be frustrated about certain specific features not getting talked about, we’ve got a very detailed plan underway behind the scenes that we simply don’t want to talk about too much until the build that lays the foundation for what comes next (the animation build) is out there in player’s hands. We’ve learned a lesson about talking about stuff too early in the past, and feel very strongly that the best time to open up about them is when the animation stuff is out there and ticked off. Regardless we’ve been making a lot of internal plans how to approach all this stuff, and feel it a good idea to gingerly point at them even though we’re not ready to start talking freely about the specifics.

Once this build has finally been released to everyone, we will be a lot more forthcoming with our future schedule that will see pretty much all the so far promised yet unreleased features begin to drop into subsequent builds. We have a 5 step road-map that will hopefully cover 5 consecutive builds all containing very exciting stuff (yes, this includes THAT feature too), and have had plenty of work being carried out on numerous of the big features going on in the background, that we’re holding close to our chests until the right time to start talking about it.

Each step of the 5 stage road-map, of which the animation build is the first fundamental stage, provides big and meaningful features while simultaneously laying the foundation for the next stage. Also each stage crucially allows us to release–in pieces that are easier to manage, test, bug fix and polish–the huge pile of stuff we’ve been constructing in the shadows behind the scenes for a long time, yet have had some trouble connecting all the wires and circuit boards together into a working and releasable whole.

That’s as forthcoming we’re comfortable with right now, as we don’t want any hype trains leaving the station too long before their departure time–but to those who have been frustrated by the radio silence on certain things mentioned on our store page’s ‘planned features’, we want you know that we do have some very specific tracks laid out, and we’re really excited to start seeing this stuff fall into place.

VOIPing

In other news, we had an update from the awesome peoples at General Arcade the other day, letting us know that the first big step in the development of Zomboid Voice over IP system has been completed. They have managed to transmit voice communication over the zomboid server connection, with a good latency and quality reported. At the moment they are being transmitted to the server and mixed together into a single stream to be broadcast back, so going forward the work will be to allow for independent streams back and forth between clients, as well as work on further improving the voice quality, and ultimately in tying the voice communication into player proximity.

We’re super excited for the VOIP features, that will not only ease the requirement of coming to a complete stand-still amidst a horde of bitey undead to frantically type ‘HELP ME’, but we hope will also usher in a new age of online role-playing servers and open up more scope for multiplayer encounters.

This week’s featured image by Gilga Mesch out in the provinces of Gabenland. The Centralized Block of Italicised Text would like to direct your attention to the PZ Wiki should you feel like editing or amending something, and the PZ Mailing List that can send blogs like this and patch notes direct to your mailbox. We also live on Twitter right here! Okay thanks bye!

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