Hey all, before we get to the meat of this week’s blog a quick word on the 41.56 patch.
We had intended to release 41.56 last week but have been wrestling with some sound bugs that make noises cut out in ‘busy’ areas with a lot of zeds, rain, puddles, cars etc. It feels like we’re getting somewhere with it now, so fingers crossed we’ll push it out early next week.
Also in this somewhat intermediate build:
Here’s a quick vid showcasing some of the new sounds, if you are an axe aficionado or a liker of planks. Or indeed a fan of our NEW RUDE PANTS and a few Louisville scenes. Please bear in mind that some of the audio might still require a balance pass – they are fresh in.
In more general ‘our version of’ Louisville news: testing, fixing, zoning and new zed outfitting continues. This week we also added in the ‘zed heat map’ that governs spawns in the new area, so it’s getting closer and closer to a properly playable area at this point.
Something else we haven’t mentioned before that’ll be released simultaneous to LV, meanwhile, is…
Just to underline before we begin: plenty of people enjoy playing PZ without the following new feature, and as such it will be OPTIONAL with a range of different settings for it (more than shown today) available in your Sandbox options.
With that said right now every month Blindcoder’s (spoilerific) online PZ map gets half a million visits, while Eris’ minimap has quarter of a million known users.
It’s been clear to us for a long time that a fair proportion of PZ players would benefit from some form of in-game mapping system that’s been built to a) retain the hardcore nature of the game, and b) be configurable enough to suit both PZ vets and PZ noobs.
As such, for quite a long time, we have been experimenting with various different tech-side approaches to this behind the scenes.
Our plans for the future of PZ (in terms of game systems, objectives, being sent to different locations on the game map, creating more and more cool ‘events’ to seek out etc) – will also benefit hugely from a system that we as developers can drop markers on, and where players can make their own markings and records. (Read on for a few given examples of this)
Finally, clearly, we’re about to drop our biggest and most complex game location yet into PZ – and to get the best of it (and to share discoveries between our players) the release of our version of Louisville seemed the best time for a new mapping system to make its grand appearance.
And so, without further ado, here’s a video of our new (optional) mapping system – built to be completely mod-friendly, and easily adaptable to suit community mappers.
In essence: the map ‘draws itself’ as you explore. You check it as a ‘timed action’, meaning you physically see the player taking out the map – rather than it be on an instant on/off toggle.
You can zoom out to see the entirety of the huge uncovered game map, and you can zoom back in to check out the parts of the map that your exploration has exposed.
You can then mark up items of interest, your safehouse, an area you’d like to come back to later etc. etc. using a system not dissimilar to the way you can currently leave markings on our current looted maps.
AS EVER PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS A WORK IN PROGRESS SYSTEM – IT WILL BE CHANGED AND IMPROVED FURTHER BEFORE RELEASE
A video showing the map functioning after a small amount of exploration, and some initial mark-up:
Another vid showing the same map after some exploration along a nearby road, and subsequent player mark-up:
A final vid showing you going for a drive on the same map. (NOTE: the map stores the last zoom level you used on it – it doesn’t always open on it being fully pulled back)
So, beyond the basic exploration that’s evident in these videos – what else will this system provide in future? Well: a shitload of cool stuff essentially, but let’s start with something that’s easy to imagine from the way the game currently plays.
[PLEASE NOTE: FOLLOWING CONCEPTS ARE GIVEN AS AN EXAMPLE, THEY AREN’T IN THE BUILD YET AND MIGHT NOT BE PRESENT IN INITIAL VERSIONS]
Currently in the game we have ‘metasounds’ that we use to move zombies around – you will know these as gunshots, distant screams etc. Using the new map system we will be able to have these as actual physical events on the map rather than virtual ones: we can put a ‘?’ in the general area of where your character heard a woman screaming from, and where the zombies are swarming towards, and should you explore that vicinity later on you might find zombies feeding on a female survivor with cool loot and a decent weapon for example.
We can also expand this to a variety of rare large-scale, and as yet not in-game, events that we can play in the new PZ soundscape for your character to hear – and then drop in a ‘?’ exploration marker for an area that you might like to explore. Your traits could also potentially help or hinder the accuracy of the area approximated on the map. (Hear a helicopter crash in the distance? Maybe head to the circled area on the map that’s temporarily showing the basic area where you heard it come down?)
Again, the above is an example of where we want to take this – but right now behind the scenes we are also revamping the looted ‘Annotated Survivor maps’ to work better with the new system (and Louisville, and modded maps) and having the ability to mark up potential areas of interest from this will be massive for creating variety in gameplay as we go on.
On top of this we (and modders) could potentially create objectives and map markers from messages heard over the radio system – or notes discovered in buildings etc etc. The list of potential applications is huge, and will finally create new reasons to fully explore all corners of the vast map (and vast new map) that our mappers have been building for so, so long.
The system, meanwhile, also allows for areas, certain sorts of buildings, or certain roads to be made visible should you loot a particular map. We’re not sure how specific we’d go with this just yet (or what game modes would allow for it) but the system also enables you to – for example – pick up a Spiffo’s Restaurant leaflet with a small map on it and then for this small area centred on a Spiffo’s restaurant to appear on your overall map.
With this in mind we might be able to encourage exploration to some of the more far-flung areas of the Knox Event that a lot of players never venture out towards. (Hell, a lot of players don’t even realise that our locations are all on the same vast map!)
It’s a hugely versatile system, and will open up many, many doors for the modding and mapping community also. Essentially with the release of Louisville (and the mapping system) we will also release a new version of WorldEd for PZ mappers – within this there will be commands for users to automatically add forests, water and buildings for an in-game map. However, right now folks will have to draw in roads manually. (Alternatively, a CartoZed image can also be used for the least amount of work.)
After so long without a mapping system we recognise that many will have grown used to playing without one, which is why you won’t have to use it if you don’t want to.
This said, we will certainly be building in new systems that use it – there will likely be MP applications to come, while our plans for both an objective-built story mode and wider systems featuring future NPCs will use aspects of the tech.
If you want to continue to experience the current map-free exploration game style, however, then we are 100% making certain that the option to turn it off is there. Likewise we are making sure that what the map can provide is as configurable as possible across both sandbox options and the game modes they’re tied to.
Our more sceptical internal testers have generally found it very engaging once they’ve got their hands on it, and we suspect that it will be hugely beneficial to most players’ survival experiences come its release.
This week’s collector of objects from Noah. 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!