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Slay Bells Ring

December 21, 2017

Merry Christmas survivors, joy to the world and all that business. With opening sentence festiveness over then, let’s see where we’re at with a few things.

VEHICLES BUILD 31

Vehicles Build 31 is out now, and is primarily one of bug-fixing – with corrections, balancing and optimizations being the primary focus as work towards pushing vehicles toward stability and their public release.

We’ve still got some work to do with remaining MP sync issues, which Yuri is currently addressing, and there’s an annoying rooftop rendering regression bug to address still – but general issues covered in this latest public test build include: disappearing skill books, lock syncs, giganto cars on 1x tiles, everlasting street lights and various issues related to vehicle loot.

In Build 30 zombies were also given the ability to set off house alarms when swarming a house and breaking windows – but we’ve turned this off until we’ve looked ‘zombie awareness’ optimization in the new year. People did seem to be enjoying the added chaos to the first few hours of the game, however, so it’s been made available as a sandbox option.

ZED OPTIMIZATION

The combination of BitBaboon Steve’s map streaming smoothening and ChrisW’s work with the non-rendering unseen tiles has resulted in a far more playable games when it comes to the vehicle build – with the biggest strain on performance now being the zombies themselves.

In towns and densely populated scenarios the combination of players covering large distances more quickly and their vehicles having wide radius of zombie attraction means that more zombies are being stirred up than ever before.

Yuri, then, has been investigating the best ways to optimize their heightened enervation – to give us some wiggle room when it comes to difficulty and zed population without sacrificing FPS. He’s even done some graphs like this or that seen below:

Right now zombies will ‘walk towards’ sounds they hear in a straight line, until they hit a fence, wall or building. At this point they enter a more costly ‘PathFindState’ that will direct them towards the player, which in all honesty isn’t very zombie-like in any case. As the above graph shows, with hundreds of zombies responding to car sounds at long range this is causing major lag in areas like West Point.

To improve this over Christmas Yuri will be creating a ‘WalkAroundBuildingState’ which will be used for any zombies outside of close range of the player (off-screen to a SP player). This will be a simplified version of the traditional zed pathfinding that funnels them along a building’s wall in a direction that brings them closest to the player, going back into ‘walk toward’ when they have circled the building.

As such zombies will be able to navigate past buildings without dragging processor power, while still displaying suitable dumb zombie behaviours to MP onlookers, or the player themselves if they are watching a horde following a distraction or a house alarm.

ANIMS

As of the public release of the vehicles build we’ll have the full animation system lying dormant in the released code, waiting to be turned on bit-by-bit in the test versions that follow.

Right now it’s all behaving better than expected – but has a sweep of bug-fixes required that’ve either appeared during the grand unification process and the introduction of Bitbaboon Mark’s tool-based ‘AnimZed’ editing and implementation.

As you can see in this vid, for example, for some reason vehicles (despite being drivable and tinkerable) aren’t visible – and elsewhere the player character turns into a squiggly nightmare when climbing through windows, and can often snap a full 360 which looks decidedly strange.

Once these kinks are ironed out Mark will be moving onto optimizing these processes (the focus has been on getting stuff working, with the tightening of loose nuts and bolts to come later) while Martin can concentrate on improving visuals – and maybe have a model for a trouser-wearing male that doesn’t look quite so… tight-fit and 1980s.

A full sanity data pass of the entire data set will also be required soon, so Mark will no doubt be calling on his Technical Director management skill-set to get a full export/validate system going with Martin to get it done quickly and easily.

Today’s supermarket sweep from persol. A general list of stuff added to PZ, and vids of features being worked on, is kept here – so you don’t have to plough through endless dev blogs for info. 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 hereOur Discord is open for chat and hijinks too.

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