How do all, let’s start with the team coding MP for Build 41 first this week.
This week Yuri and Andrei have been working on improving character movement in high ping scenarios, using a tool to simulate different levels of lag. This tool can simulate ping, lost packets, packets that appear in the wrong order, duplicated packets and throttled packets. Every different sort of errant packet, basically, and mixes of each one besides.
Anyone who has played B40 multiplayer will know quite how laggy, teleport-y and nasty high ping situations could previously get with PZ. As such, tackling this issue has been a very high priority for us – and we’re really glad to have seen some good improvement over the past week of dev.
First, just for reference, in this first video you can see what the situation was in last week’s build.
(In case anyone in our audience has trouble envisioning what a ping represents in real-world geographic terms, 300 ping is about what you’d expect from Australia to Europe.)
Now, here’s a video from this week after many improvements – though please bear in mind that there are still issues to resolve here.
So, known issues: at 3:50 if the ‘climb in window’ packet happens to be lost it can cause the character to get really far behind. There clearly still needs to be some improvements to allow characters to catch up better if they fall behind.
Otherwise though (even with 300 ping with an extremely unreliable connection that’s throttled and losing packets left and right) in our testbed situation the experience is much smoother and much more immersive than we could ever have dreamed of with the current public Build 40. We’re sure it will continue to improve up until release too.
We’ve been playing around with our physics library, off and on, for a while now – primarily multi-wheel support and other differently shaped custom vehicles for future addition: tractors, military stuff, trucks etc.
Now, a little while ago an amazing modder called Aiteron appeared on our forums experimenting with car towing.
This prompted us to realise that (before we got to the military etc) moving some of this background experimentation into expansion of the current car physics system would also be a relatively low risk (yet cool!) thing for our non-MP devs to add into Build 41 while we wait for the completion of the multiplayer rebuild.
In IWBUMS beta patch 41.46, you will be able to attach other cars and trailers (initially one trailer model, with a ‘covered’ and ‘uncovered’ variant) to your own vehicle and tow them around. How well you tow them, however, will be dependent on weight and the power of your vehicle. Likewise you’ll be able to tow other vehicles as well.
(PLEASE NOTE: vids are WIP)
As mentioned previously, this also includes added support for multiple collision shapes on vehicles – primarily to support the trailer hitch extending forwards of the trailer’s body. This should also benefit modding greatly, we hope.
We’re also currently also experimenting with a three segment physics rope, that seems to be working well at the moment – and likewise some other future trailer variants.
Again, absolute mad props to Aiteron for showing us just how cool this function could be in-game. We’ve been talking to him this week, and he seems a really cool guy with some great future mod ideas to boot.
Likewise, in towables, we have great new potential here for both devs and modders alike – as already shown by this amazing companion mod to Aiteron’s own towing mod that appeared a few days ago. This has been created by IBrRus, and features oil trailers and caravans you can live out of nomadically. (Features like these won’t be the sort of thing we’ll be including ourselves, for a long time anyway, so we’ll be sure to help Aiteron and IBrRus get their mod contents adapted over to our own updated game physics systems before we release 41.46 into the IWBUMS beta.)
We didn’t get enough testing done on the current internal build of 41.46 to consider a release this week (and likewise some of this still needs polish/work) but intend to put it out at some point in the next.
As many PZ modders will no doubt be aware, there is currently no clear path available to mod skinned meshes for Build 41 – ie. meshes with animations, limbs, walking etc.
Internally, we use expensive software that’s not really accessible to modders so until now we’ve held off releasing our source models – so people haven’t been able to model their own completely unique characters, clothing (outside texture changes), or create extra animations. (It may be some clever people out there have found a way regardless though.)
Over the past few weeks, then, we’ve been massaging the pipeline of getting a PZ character into Blender and then out into the game with relative ease and lack of fuss. The challenge then: to have characters exported using blender’s export tools, then renderable and animatable within the game itself.
This has been, to put it mildly, a pain in the ass. Blender’s exporters don’t play too friendly with our engine.
As such, Zac has been spending time trying to bash our engine into a state where it can alternately load these blender exported files and play them. There’s been good progress, with each iteration looking vaguely more human and less disturbing, though there is still work to be done until the characters match perfectly or even look like they obey the laws of physics, but its clear we’re getting closer.
Close enough to be able to show you these videos of Zac’s progress anyways. We’re hoping that this will be licked at the start of next week.
This week’s work out and mannequin Spiffo image from Mr Sunshine. A changelist of all IWBUMS patches since the 41 beta was released can be found here. 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 you update notifications once builds get released. We also live on Twitter right here! Our Discord is open for chat and hijinks too!