How do all, let’s get on into it.
This week we were excited to welcome a new MP Strike Force team member into the ranks from General Arcade. Aleksandr comes to us with a lot of experience in Java projects, and will be working alongside Yuri and Andrei for the foreseeable future.
Whereas before our own team of testers and volunteers were putting the MP build through its paces, now the TIS team are working on mainline SP releases we have also separated testing duties – and GA have their own branch and testing channel populated by two other bright, shiny new faces – Oleg and Mikhail.
This allows us to concentrate on the more imminent 41 releases (Noiseworks, 3D items etc) while allowing General Arcade to come to us with cleaner builds for wider internal testing when the time is right – as opposed to our previous weekly TIS-side sessions.
Recent work has concentrated on combat between zombies and groups of players, though the guys have also hooked up a few things like thrown objects etc that had been left untouched thus far. As in the current build the latter still looks like the jankest thing in the game currently, but will do for now until we have time to input throwables that at least look like they obey the laws of physics.
“Last month we implemented a system in which zombies would visibly react to hits from their target player, but attacks from other players present would only create splashes of blood and drops in health” explains Yuri. “Unfortunately, this didn’t look good at all. You never felt that you’d hit the zombie if you weren’t its target, as it wouldn’t play a reaction animation.”
“As such, we allowed the zombie animated reactions to all players – but made it so that the super-close zombies within 5 in-game metres of their target would be far less likely to be distracted by other players. To add some texture to this, however, zombies also now have an aggro level – meaning that if attacked sufficiently within a short time interval a zed closing in on its target will change its target. The server now calculates aggro level for each zombie and sends a ZombieControl packet to change the owner.”
“We also put a lot of work into our syncing of zombies falling to the ground – which when allowed to happen out of time can lead to increased desync. Our first implementation was working fine for solo players, but when multiple players were attacking zeds the fall position was being rewritten and there was confusion between all the different clients. We believe we now have a solution for this by concentrating on the attacks of the target player, which the team are now testing.”
“We have also been fixing bugs discovered by our QA team, like players not being able to kill each other, debugged issues of corpse teleport, worked on various aspects of throwables that were not already implemented and many other issues.”
We don’t want to mix in too much more to the upcoming 41.54 version of the IWBUMS public beta feature-wise, as it’s already pretty packed. Likewise we also need to make sure that everything going into the 3D items behaves visually and performance-wise, so it’s going to be at least two weeks away most likely.
This said we are SUPER jazzed by how the 3D items are looking in-game, and look forward to being able to provide more varied in-game starting / zed story scenes to bring more variety to the map.
Please check out the entirety of this vid showing a player-decorated safehouse, and also note that since this was taken RJ has added in first iteration of a system that allows you to drag an item from your inventory and place it more accurately on the floor, and to rotate the item using the R key.
WIP NOTICE: You may notice when the camera is panned the 3D objects don’t match the 2D tile positions perfectly. This has been a longstanding issue with vehicles and zombies, but has never really been this noticeable as there’s been less of it to see on-screen. We’re setting Zac and his magical maths abilities on this fix tomorrow, and will also be looking to match the lighting of the 3D objects closer match the 2D tiles before release. Despite all this, we hope you’ll agree that it looks awesome.
Oh, also clearly there’s Noiseworks sounds in here now too – we’ve covered the revamped PZ soundscape enough in the past now, but everything the NW team have done up to this point is now in the internal test build.
Phase two of their work is starting next week, alongside fixes and required changes brought up by our internal testers and agreed by the core team. Here’s a quick ‘latest’ vid on that front. (There’s some debate internally on the shotgun ‘bang’ noise – so please treat that aspect as WIP for now.)
Other smaller fun/necessary stuff going into 41.54 will be:
On top of this there’ll also be Turbo and Pat_Bren/Will’s VHS and CD entertainment system – which we’ve covered in previous blogs and is also now in testing.
Pat and Will (but mainly Pat, in all truth) have provided 3900 new lines for the new system, which should keep the translators busy.
As we’ve mentioned before, our PZ version of Louisville is now certainly on the horizon – so we thought it might be a good idea to check in with our map team to provide you with a clearer idea of what to expect when it does arrive.
Q. To what extent is Louisville based on reality?
“Initially Binky made the general layout follow reality for the most part, but from that base I took some liberties- some larger than others. For gameplay reasons I wanted to have our (necessarily smaller scale) LV to encompass the types of neighbourhoods you might encounter in any city: the “bad neighbourhood”, the “business district”, the “rich area”.”
“As such, the locations of these are not at all based on the real Louisville. For one thing, the city on our map is much smaller (though still relatively huge), so we couldn’t really adhere to reality. The main goal was to make map exploration more fun and engaging, and having varied neighbourhoods that might not be totally realistic but makes organic sense within the map is part of that.”
“I think there won’t be much recognition of Louisville and it feeling just like the real world one when you are exploring it on the ground, but that said you will see some recognizable buildings here and there, such as City Hall.”
“We are also taking some inspiration from real world districts when we are designing some of our own, for example I know that Xeonyx has loosely based our version of NE Louisville (home of our new Grand Ohio Mall) on the St. Matthews district east of real world LV, and his old town district around Fossoil Field is based off the real world’s Smoketown and Phoenix Hill.”
“As I said previously however, in terms of being close to reality it’s better to think of our version of Louisville to be closer to our more recent additions to the map, rather than having the veracity of places like Muldraugh and West Point”
Q. How does it differ when you’re designing a city, as compared to when you created PZ’s smaller towns?
“The size of the city and the new map makes things exponentially more complicated, which led us to choosing to knuckle down on identifiable themed neighbourhoods which would benefit a game like PZ more clearly. From this we then had to make sure it transitioned from one area to another in a way that made some sort of sense. The smaller towns are, for the most part, fairly uniform in feel within each individual location.”
Q. Clearly with PZ you are limited to seven storeys and a rooftop – is it frustrating not being able to go higher?
“I think things are pretty relative, and since buildings are only 1-3 storeys in other locations, the 7 storey buildings of our Louisville give a good sense of size and, I think, allow for pretty identical gameplay as if the game had even taller buildings.”
“To me, being limited to 7 stories isn’t really a problem. It doesn’t negatively affect gameplay, and the buildings offer a nice mix of high risk/high reward while still retaining the feeling of a large city.”
Q. What are your favourite new buildings and locations?
“Some of my favourite buildings I want to leave as a surprise, but one of my favourite areas is the university area.”
“The scale and design of Louisville offers many new playstyles and challenges to experience, but if I were to pick a favorite new location, it’d be a tie between the gritty industrial district, and the South Louisville district which was designed to be similar to the real life Auburndale district.”
Some areas that we are very aware that PZ needs some improvement in are those related to accessibility – some stuff we’re okay at, some stuff needs a lot of love.
For this reason we just wanted to take a second to highlight Nolan’s new mod – which will be of massive help to those who are hard of hearing.
Likewise it’ll probably be handy for those who like to PZ while doing another activity, watching TV or similar, where you’re not always glued to your speakers for audio cues and clues.
So, all in all, if this is something that you need improved in PZ, then for now please please check out the Sound Direction Indicator. Thanks Modding Hero Nolan!
Thanks everyone next week we’ll have a Mod Spotlight on that beautiful creature Filibuster Rhymes, and in the dev blog following that there’ll be lots more goodies including a first full look at TIS newbie Eris’ awesome improved foraging system.
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!