First off, our apologies for the delay to the 41.66 patch. There’s a fair amount of new checks and balances being added under the PZ hood, and a few of them have been throwing up errors and unwarranted user kicks.
There’s been a lot of testing, and back-and-forth between coders and QA folk, but it feels like the patch is increasingly settled now.
We are planning a wider internal user test tonight, the results of which will direct us either to a release, or further into next week if anything unexpected crops up.
Here’s a link to the latest changelist for those interested.
The crafting update team have been working hard on designing the huge tech tree of crafting that will go into B42. As such, we thought we’d share a few more details on the direction it’s heading in.
If you want to hear about some of the more technical aspects of where we will be taking Build 42 then please check out the blog from two weeks ago.
Before we dip in, however, please also be reminded that B42 is our next ‘major’ build – and that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more incremental B41 patches coming in from our MP coders in particular. Likewise, in these patches we will clearly be balancing and polishing the existing game.
Our goal with crafting in B42 is to be able to fill out the tech tree to such an extent that a group of players could, in theory, spawn on a map with nothing but wilderness and (with a lot of perseverance and time) build up to a late medieval community without looting a single building.
This will involve multiple tiers of crafting stations for numerous crafting disciplines, and an interwoven web of recipes required to progress to higher tech stations and items that require the use of multiple crafting professions.
If you’ve played any of the primitive tech, hardcore Minecraft modpacks that revolve around slowly climbing a tech tree of interdependent recipes then you’ll know what to expect – although obviously with our trademark PZ realism angle.
Everything detailed here is WIP, and could change, but the long and short of it is that each profession will have workstations that are required to make item/subparts. These stations can then be upgraded to gain access to more and/or better items.
The professions we are planning are also dependent on each other. For example, to make a piece of leather armour:
On top of this lies the fact that this is a game set in the modern age. So, on top of that tech tree, we will sprinkle all the modern items that can be used to enhance on that late medieval tech, provide shortcuts or improvements, and provide for a mixture of modern and more primitive tech together.
Realistically, in practice, a lot of the early ‘teching up’ may be skipped if players have access to workstations or materials they have looted, but the option to go fully from scratch will be there for those who want to. Crafted materials will be there to keep things spinning once old equipment has started to rust and break, or to those who’ve come to a long-lived server where that sort of loot is no longer spawning or available.
On top of this, we will start to add diminishing returns on a lot of the technology found in the world. Generators will only repair so many times, their maximum condition slowly creeping down, and once we have alternatives available (unlikely in b42), we can look at how gasoline might start to go bad after many years.
The mechanics will slowly play a game of attrition with the loot on the map over time, but instead of this being a problem, the new crafting options will allow long-term server players to embrace the fall and start looking to more primitive solutions to their ongoing survival.
Our intention here is to allow you to play through the full fall of society, as seen in various long-running comics and TV shows. Clearly the different settings It’ll be tricky to pull off, but we are very excited about putting it into action.
We’ve had a ‘Many Years Later’ map sitting in Xeonyx’s ‘cool challenge map for a rainy day’ library that we’ll be using for testing once the crafting update leaves the design phase and starts being integrated too. It will likely be available as a playable Challenge map when the time comes.
Okay, so a diversion from what we said originally.
While designing the new crafting update it became frustratingly clear that while trying to create a comprehensive crafting tree with all the options a low tech community would have open to them… there’s one thing that kept coming up.
Animals are used a fkin lot.
By pushing animals into (or beyond) the B43 NPC update, we were basically removing all animal produce from any crafting design. To omit them and still go ahead with the work would be setting it off on creaky foundations. Leather alone is used so much, it’d be a huge mistake not to have it feature in the overhaul’s DNA.
So we’ve flip flopped on this: that’s just how it goes sometimes.
We still cannot release our NPC code with the B42 update (for the reasons discussed in our 2022 and Beyond blogpost) however its clear that we’ll need to get animal husbandry and elements of hunting in there in some form for our crafting update to have its full potential realized.
So we’ve hit upon a compromise, we’ll have hunting and animal husbandry in B42. However, we’ll be doing some makeshift AI and behaviours that’ll likely not have the same capabilities that will be possible with the NPC behaviour code.
Our plan is to release with a more basic behaviour set (which, lets be honest, won’t hurt the realism of a cow’s portrayal much) and to replace said behaviours with the full NPC build in B43.
Here are some in-game bovine entities, coded by RJ and modelled by Martin, from one of our early design tests.
Hunting mechanics may also be cut down severely from what we ultimately envisioned, we’re viewing this primarily as a ‘minimum viable product’ to be able to introduce a supply of the crafting materials required for our tech tree and not to be considered our final promised system.
This will result in some work that’s wasted between the two builds, however its the only way we can see forward without designing a tech tree that’s much more limited and doesn’t reflect our game’s realistic angle players have grown to love.
Needless to say though, animals will likely be pretty dumb even by animal standards. They just need to be in there moving about in some fashion and respond somewhat appropriately, though we’ll do as much as we can without spending too much time on work that’ll ultimately have to be redone.
So you’re a burger flipper, yeah? There aren’t too many open Spiffo restaurants around any more.
We’ll be redesigning the professions systems to have ‘expiry dates’ and ‘introduction dates’ to accommodate for servers that may progress years beyond a single lifetime since the apocalypse occurred.
If someone is born 10 years after society fell, they aren’t going to be categorized by pre-apocalypse professions, it ceases to make sense any more.
We’ll be introducing many new professions that are specific to more low tech societies that will unlock as the apocalypse progresses and those professions become more likely to be a character’s background. We’ll also be locking off pre-apocalypse professions based on the likely age of someone holding that profession at the point of the apocalypse.
Sandbox solo players will be able to crank up the years since the apocalypse to take advantage of these themselves from game start, if they should desire.
There will be crossover (a butcher, carpenter or a farmer fit into both) but old world concepts will cease to make sense going into the future, where a leatherworker or blacksmith profession will come back into fashion. Likewise, instead of being a fireman or veteran: you’re a scavenger or some form of ‘safe zone militia’.
Current planned professions related to the crafting overhaul include butchers, leatherworkers, herbalists, brewers, stoneworkers, potters, carpenters, tinkerers, blacksmiths, tailors, farmers, fishers and hunters.
To encourage team work and to avoid players getting through stuff too quickly (though, this will clearly be alterable in SP sandbox settings so as not to exclude solo players from playing with the new crafting) we will be introducing affinities. This may be in addition to, or replace, the current skill XP bonuses offered by professions and traits.
A profession or trait may grant affinity with various other skills tangentially related to the profession chosen. There may be an option to choose one more additional affinities within character creation.
Affinities represent all the general knowledge and skills related to a profession, or just a general cognitive aptitude, that make that character generally better at learning tangentially related skills and crafts.
It will only apply to crafting related skills (anyone can get better at using an axe, sneaking or fitness level), however learning something that’s not the character’s affinity (‘what they are naturally, or due to lots of experience, better at learning) will suffer a severe XP gain debuff.
It will just be ‘not the sort of thing they are good at’, and while they can get better over time and reach some functional level of usefulness it’ll be a long, long haul they are unlikely to master before they are eaten by a zombie. As such they’d be best off focusing on what they are, themselves, good at.
This will mean that, while a player may be able to perform several jobs within a community, no one person will be able to skill up to be 10 at everything. There will be skills they already start at a decent level on, and others they will be able to skill up relatively quickly.
There’ll be others that are just not in their wheelhouse, and are best left to someone else. This will encourage diversification within a community, and discourage the ‘meta’ pushing players toward a small subset of professions.
It also reduces the likelihood (on default settings, at least) that a small community will be able to produce everything required to thrive. This will encourage trade between communities, and if you’re able to offer something others can’t, it may keep you safe from any more hostile presences on the map.
All of the above, apart from early work on our basic animals, remains in the design phase. Build 42 is not imminent, and we expect there to be many patches to B41 between then and now.
We are going into detail a) to redress our earlier accidental misdirection on animals, and b) to hear the thoughts of the community on where we’re going.
There’s also many (many) other things going on elsewhere in the game – not least some new hires!
TIS would like to formerly welcome General Arcade’s Denis Trofiman to the PZ coding team, who will be looking at the integration of various cool middleware packages into the Knox Event codebase. Likewise our beloved Yana (aka Spiffo on the forums) is now a full-time QA alongside Sasha.
We have also made another recruitment grab from the community, and are absolutely delighted to have Aiteron on-board as a full-time coder on the game.
Aiteron, who you might know for his excellent work as co-dev on the Autotsar Yacht Club mod, and his own creations of lockpicking, better towing and helicopter mod, will generally be helping overhaul some of our existing (and some quite threadbare) features. The first of which being…fishing.
PLEASE NOTE: THIS IS A WIP VIDEO. BETTER CHARACTER ANIMATIONS, WHICH WILL BE A VITAL PART OF IT, ARE NOT CURRENTLY INTEGRATED.
This is all WIP and will need playtesting and polish (we really want a visible, correctly-sized, fish to be shown when caught too) but we wanted to show you the exciting fruits of Aiteron’s efforts.
This is only the first of the many different PZ systems we want to set him loose on!
This week’s stick-up from DdBrey. A changelist of all our pre-release patches since the 41 beta began can be found here. 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!