Evening all, small-ish Wednesday night MP test last night, with a max population of 17 people – and it went pretty well.
This week the Multiplayer Strike Force have been concentrating primarily on server stability, profiling and improving our fake clients – giving us ever more handy data that can tell us where crashes and snarl-ups occur, and why.
This has already borne fruit today by revealing the cause of a server hang that threw all our players into the void at the end of the test session – and which Yuri has now fixed.
Tomorrow we intend to populate the build with the biggest number of players we’ve had so far, 32, and again use all the code spelunking tools we’ve built-in to track whatever goes wrong, why, and when.
It’s this sort of stress test that forces issues out into the open, which may well also impact on smaller co-op games too – especially after long periods of play. So if you’re a player who just wants to play with one or two buddies then please don’t assume we’re being frivolous with this kinda thing.
That said, clearly we do want to slick on all levels. The current thinking is once we know that the server doesn’t shit the bed at 32 players, we can concentrate on fixing up the game-breaking and life-stealing issues we’ve seen in getting to that point. Primary among these, although now reduced from earlier test builds, are instances of zed teleportation. (A stable server will also make fixing these far easier than it would have been a few weeks ago.)
Our aim would then be to gear up for a release with those 32 players as a hard cap. After that, we will go back and look into extending this to 64 players once the new MP build is already out in the wild. Trying to do all this upfront may delay things, and also it’ll be easier to conduct community Megatests in this way too.
Other issues of note we need to fix at the moment, to give you a gauge on what’s going on:
Here’s a quick highlights vid:
(Dev note: these testimonials are on a slightly lower population server to normal. Tomorrow’s wider internal test will put the build through its paces more than last night’s did.)
“First let me start by saying that I purposely played alone to “imitate” being in a public server… and because we’re not exactly organized. I’m pleased to see that the experience has become more stable, especially when it comes to combat with small groups of players and in some cases the driving.”
“This is not to say that there weren’t any major issues though, as these usually appear the longer the server stays on – though this time I did have less of them. Things are getting better, but there’s still a lot of work to do.”
“The latest MP testing was an overall pleasure. It went way smoother than expected, felt polished and played as smooth as single player 98 percent of the time. It still had a few bugs, but with each week of testing the devs keep improving the overall playability.”
“At one point I was watching Pink Gator’s back while he was disassembling the police station door. It. Was. Awesome. The scope of what you can do through collaboration is so much bigger than anything you could do in single player and I love it.”
“For me it still plays a bit like the other tests, my only gripe with this test now is that not only are the zombies teleporting but they’re instantly respawning right after you kill them while downed, you can farm loot this way but it’s inconsistent and extremely risky as they spawn right behind you.“
“I’m still rather impressed how multiplayer, despite having 200+ almost 300 ping, plays like singleplayer. It’s extremely responsive, apart from those damned teleporting zombies and respawning zombies.”
Simultaneous and parallel to the MP work (and not stepping on its toes, as explained last week) the Noiseworks team continue with their total revamp of PZ’s soundscape. This week they’re finishing objects and Items, designing and implementing some of the weapons, designing female zed noises and making plans for the music.
Here’s a quick example of what they’ve done with the shotgun. (Please forgive the animation bug!)
TIS friend Baph has been doing some interesting experimentation with loot spawn and distribution – which we are mentioning now as a ‘heads up’ to modders as if testers smile upon it it’ll likely be going into the game. (We will endeavour to provide any new templates etc to modders prior to release so mods can be suitable adjusted if required.)
“I’ve taken the procedural container system used for places like Giga-Mart and residential kitchens and started applying it to the rest of the map.” explains Baph, when prodded. “Locations that previously spawned random grab-bags of loot (like Spiffo’s) should have their contents sorted into relevant lists. If you’re looking for a bladed weapon or some fresh-cut chops, try looking around the kitchen of any place that sells meat (i.e, not a bakery) for the meat-cutting station. If it’s baking supplies you need, look for where the sacks of flour are stored– they’ll probably be next to a rolling pin.”
“Convenience stores, corner stores, and gas stations have had their shelves’ contents sorted so loose cigarettes no longer mix with the lollipops. Players who visit the pharmacy already have an idea of how the shelves are laid out: Some have snacks, some have drinks. You’re less likely to find medicine in a gas station but it’s not unheard of– ditto car supplies in a Zippee’s. If you want the most of a particular kind of item, it’s best to stick to the relevant business. Gas station tylenol is a ripoff anyway.”
“Medical locations now sort their contents into tools, medicine, and doctor-related stuff like gloves, masks, and scrubs. Bars, beauty salons, butcher shops, cafes, and liquor stores all take the same approach. Giant ‘catch all’ loot lists should eventually be replaced with tailored selections of items that are relevant to the location they’re spawned in.”
A big Spiffo ‘Hello!’ to all our new Brazilian players this week, who seem to have been attracted to us by the hijinks of the mega-streamer Alanzoka.
PZ has seen a ma-hoosive bump in streaming this week and we’d like to thank all the guys and gals on Twitch, Youtube and various other video portals who’ve supported us over the years to get to this point.
This week’s sinister mannequin friends from Dan the Man. 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!