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Taking aim

February 6, 2020

First up, yesterday we released IWBUMS beta patch 41.29 – the changelist for which you can find here.

This means that our ‘zoom’ beta’s sharper models and improved compatibility is now part of the main test beta – alongside some helpful fixes and some improvements to car-destroying trees, shrubs and saplings.

The next step for the new zoom system is to clean up the last few remaining issues that a few of our players are reporting. Primarily, at the moment tiles look a bit blurred at close range.

In the old system once you were at closest zoom possible, it would use ‘nearest pixel’ filtering so everything would look nice and crisp. However, the way the new system works means that we really need to leverage the filtering effect to avoid jagged and warped pixels at 75% (the second zoom level out) as well as when zoomed out – to avoid absolutely ugly and awful flickering of pixels and severe warping of the pixels as the character moves about.

At the moment filtering is turned on across the board, causing the close-range blur, so we’ll be looking to experiment with switching on ‘nearest neighbour’ when you hit max zoom-in instead. This may have a slight visual pop, but should be preferable to the tiles looking blurry compared to the characters.

MP WHEN

It seems that questions about when 41 IWBUMS beta multiplayer will appear have been increasing exponentially over the past month or so, and we’ve still not been able to give an accurate estimate. (Characteristically, as some/many might say.)

We’re currently laying the foundations for getting the new multiplayer system working, but there is still a fair bit of work ahead of us. You can read the top-line here.

It’s not just a case of getting the old MP working with the new anims, but as we’ve discussed in the above link it’ll be an effort to vastly improve the multiplayer experience and server stability across the board. The way the animation system has been built allows aspects of it to be hooked up relatively smoothly to MP systems – but it also comes with many associated challenges.

More fundamentally though, but the bar we are setting for ourselves requires some rather clever specialist code that will be undertaken by Zac and Mark at TEA.

Seeing as it was a vital compatibility thing we needed done before 41’s release (to get lower-spec players a build that actually worked)  Zac has primarily been absorbed in getting the kinks worked out of the Zoom branch until recently. It hasn’t been his exclusive role, but Zoom did prove trickier than expected and for numerous reasons could never be put to one side. Meanwhile, Mark’s workload elsewhere with TEA meant that he hasn’t available to work in conjunction with us/Zac until very recently also.

Now Mark is available and Zac’s necessary Zoom work is complete, there will be an uptick in progress, which we hope to be able to discuss with you over the coming Thursdoids, before arranging server ‘mega-test’ events to load test a single server once the tech is operational.

We’re probably talking a month or two, here, or more if things don’t go smoothly. It’s not something that’s going to be magically dropped into the IWBUMS beta without a lot of shouting, build-up and hooplah.

To those eager for it to appear – unfortunately this is just the reality of the situation BUT it will lead to a much improved multiplayer experience FOREVER once we do finally nail it.

We don’t want to hack something in that results in the same flakey multiplayer we’ve had for years.

We’ve had, and have, a great MP community when it comes to Project Zomboid – but anyone that’s ever spent time on our servers are aware of our previous online shortcomings. The lag waves, the invisible zombies etc etc. It’s a job we need done properly, done well and by the best people we can find (and have found) to do it.

This is especially important because going from the overall reaction to the release of our version 41 beta, there’s a very real chance that there’ll be a big spike of interest in MP as soon as it’s unlocked in the IWBUMS beta.

If it’s an over-populated lag festival based on our previous MP architecture, that interest will be short-lived – and not much fun for either our existing players or us on the development side.

As such it’s vitally important to the game’s future, and everyone who desires a high multiplayer population in the long term, that we take our time and nail this one – even if it has been, and will continue to be, a painful wait for it to be reintroduced.

This really is the route we need to take to make sure Build 41 MP hits hard out of the gate, and is in the best possible place for you when we consider it cooked and ready for consumption.

In the meantime too, clearly, other members of the team will still be updating the IWBUMS beta with more general SP content, new animations, polish, Yuri’s fire system and much more besides.

Looking further on into builds beyond 41 we have three mappers working on two separate vast locations, one Louisville and the other not, and an artist and a coder that have gone great guns recently with SP gameplay content for Build 42 that we can’t wait to share with you once our work on Build 41 is coming to a close.

We’re quietly optimistic that it’s going to be a really good, and very busy, year. So thanks for your patience so far, and for coming along on this journey with us.

Today’s featured image from the actual real Rick Grimes . 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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