Hey all, a bit of a general ‘where we’re at’ this time, so please excuse the lack of ‘new stuff’.
This past week it became clear that our MP work and our polishing and fixing work on our huge map expansion, player map drawing system and new search/forage mode were looking like being ready at roughly the same time. Also, the separate new game systems in the SP branch weren’t getting enough testing love when compared to our internal MP builds. As such, we decided to cross the streams – meaning that we now have an MP build in which our version of Louisville is fully explorable.
In terms of the IWBUMS release of MP proper, we’re still very much aiming for December. HOWEVER, as stated in the last MP update blog, there is still a lot to do – and if the build drags into December too far due to any additional work we’ll be getting dangerously close to the holiday period. If that were the case then, out of safety and sanity, it would be moved back to after both the Western and Russian Christmas / New Year.
We don’t want to screw it up by reaching mid-December and putting something out there, and having no one around to hotfix any big issues that crop up. After all this time spent making sure we had something good to put out, that would be a silly mistake on our part to undermine it for the sake of a couple of weeks, as much as it’d be lovely for a nice Xmas present for everyone.
So where are we at at the moment?
Well, following the addition of our map expansion this week there have been a few new bugs introduced, mainly involving location themed zombie costumes bugging out. This resulted in a lot of santa zombies wandering about which, while increasingly seasonal, we should probably get fixed.
A couple of other issues became clear once we started multiplayering in Louisville, where it became clear way too many zombies were being spawned and this caused a catastrophic drop in client FPS. This was a big brown trousers moment, but the reason for it was quickly discovered and we are now well on the way to a full resolution. (This is the sort of issue that can always crop up unexpectedly in the run-up to our internal release milestone, which is why we mention it by way of example – though in this case the remedy currently appears fairly simple).
We still need to do a few more expanded full server tests too – but excluding the specifics of some of the more technical issues to resolve (all accounted for in our current plans) here are three of the bigger items on the list that need to be ticked off before release:
Vehicle physics bugs
At present, lag related effects on the vehicle physics can lead to some very deadly moments for passengers. A bump between two vehicles amidst a moment of lag could lead to immense forces being generated that can instantly kill. There are also rarer cases of a car ending up floating in the air with the occupants eternally trapped.
Making sure vehicles are about as safe for travel as in SP is a must to fix prior to a launch, as while cars are a bazillion times better than they were six months ago there are still a few kinks to work out.
Rare low ping lag
We’ve had some isolated cases of players experiencing more lag despite a low ping. We’re investigating if this is something to do with their particular set-ups, and it may be this issue may have been already partially or completely resolved by the zombie count bug discussed above. Either way we’re collecting data on this, but it only seems to affect a very small minority of the testers, and then only intermittently.
Currently the in-game voip system seems to be bugging out a bit, applying high levels of reverb, has some compression issues, and other issues which prevent it from being clear and easy to understand. Since there will be a lot of multiplayer encounters where everyone isn’t in the same Discord call together, we really feel it important to make sure inter-player communication is solid before we release
Other items on the agenda, meanwhile, involve rare moments of ‘black boxing’ for some players where the map grid ahead of the player fails to load (though this is likely the same issue as the low ping lag), further improvements to close-up zombie combat between players and a bunch of smaller but still important to fix bugs due to the Louisville merge, for example as mentioned above, the zombie costumes going haywire.
It’s also worth pointing out at this point that PVP, while functional and playable, could use some big improvement both in terms of balancing weapon damage and syncing of player positions. It’s playable but not ideal, and a few fixes are on their way that may improve it further, but we’re feeling inclined to maybe address this fundamentally post release as it wouldn’t get in the way of the PVE gameplay that a lot of people will likely take part in, and it feels like delaying the entire of MP until PVP can be improved further would be unfair.
This leads us to the other item that we will be firmly underlining upon release. While it will be possible to create public servers, our strong recommendation for the initial MP release will be to play on co-op or on whitelisted servers, as until we can look into some anti-cheat measures, we anticipate public servers being vulnerable to those sorts of people who spoil everyone’s fun.
Our priority has been very much on making sure the game is playable as much as possible (like single player with high zombie loads, avoiding zombie lag and desync) and this goal has been at odds with making the game as anti-cheat as possible.
We think this is the right choice for how most people will choose to play, but will in the period post-release likely mean that public servers will not be the most secure places to be for avoiding griefers, trolls or cheaters.
As is now traditional, here’s a quick video of some testers making the journey into our version of Louisville. [Insert usual: ‘it’s not a 1-to-1 recreation, but still cool and huge by PZ standards’ disclaimer here].
Also here’s a few new weapon sound effects that have been dropped in by the Noiseworks crew, including the much desired bespoke frying pan sound the game has long needed. As usual the levels may continue to be balanced and tweaked prior to release!
This week’s featured image is Pat_Bren in a toilet. 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!