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News & Dev
June 9, 2022

BaZil Brush

Hey all, here’s a quick update on what we are all up to.

Our initial plan was to release our next 41.72 patch to the Unstable beta today, but annoyingly last night’s internal playtest had too many niggles with vehicle gameplay for us to comfortably let you loose on it.

This is slightly annoying in terms of today’s blog, but probably not quite as annoying as you happily downloading the new version only for MP passengers to be stuck revving on the tarmac while their drivers whizz off towards Louisville.

Still, once the MP Strike Force have checked everything out and we’ve had another (more successful) test then this is some of the stuff that will be punted out for you to try out:

  • As mentioned last time, the opt-in ability to see fellow MP players in your faction or safehouse on your in-game map.
  • A huge range of new and improved admin powers that should breathe a little more life into online play. First and foremost of these is a brush tool that will allow admins to create tiles, walls, fire, smoke, water etc. in-game.

    There’s also the ability to easily trigger thunder, a more synced health panel, improved spawning of vehicles and trailers and the ability to change player weights. Also, also are more zombie-attracting options, improved zed spawns and some powers over whether doors are locked or not.

    Here’s a quick video Aiteron has made to show it all off:
  • Another more minor, but quite pleasant all the same, addition from Aiteron is the possibility of adding icons to the context menu. As seen here.
  • New loot maps. Previously we didn’t have any loot maps for Louisville, but Tim has now integrated a bunch from the hand of Pat_Bren into the loot table. There are nine different maps in all, which means that as well as the usual ‘treasure map’ aspects you will be able to reveal a ninth of the Louisville map upon reading them.
  • Also of note in .72 is an improvement to the way in which mod errors are reported. We have added a list of mods to the pause menu, and if one of them is causing errors and ‘the red box of doom’ then the culprit will be highlighted within the list.
  • Perhaps of greater import to mod authors and our tech support team, however, is the improved lua error log that goes with the above: this will show if any files reported in call stacks are overridden by mods. We hope that this will allow modders, players and our own community liaison peeps to easier find mod conflicts and other issues.

SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF

While it’s not exactly excitement dynamite, we know, this week we hit a point at which our internal tasklist board got a bit… silly. When you have been making a game for as long as we have there is a tendency for minor tasks, small bug fixes and ‘easy win’ suggestions to stack up, and up, and up…

The boards were just clogged, and it was hard to see the wood for the trees – and as such we pulled some coders from their features to blitz through and give our testing and production staff some temporary relief. Not sexy: we know, but also necessary for the sanity of some of our team.

This sort of stuff:

Having made a sizable dent in this sort of bug, everyone is now back at their usual post – but ‘Enforced Small Task Clearance Week’ also culminated in an event that will hopefully mean that we don’t have to have one of these mandated periods again in future.

Prolific modder Blair Algol has joined the team, and his role will be clearing out as many of the remaining hundreds (!) of these minor (but sometimes time-consuming) issues as he can.

Blair’s many mods touch so many different areas of the game that it seemed like a very natural fit for such a duty, while he also, of course, comes packaged with many ideas of how to make modding life easier for others in the community too.  

Once the boards have been cleared, and Blair has a firmer grip on the codebase, it’s also our hope that he will be able to bring some of his own ideas and ingenuity into the game proper.

SOUND PHASE III

Much like the Marvel movies, our soundscape improvement operations have worked in phases – and we recently had the meeting that kicked off Phase 3. The following are Noiseworks/Formosa’s next primary missions:

  • Improvements to how the sound system deals with multiplayer characters and sound priorities. Primary work here is to try and solve the issues where sounds drop out due to clashes in sound priorities and limits when multiple players are around.
  • Expand the reactive music beyond action moments. The ultimate goal is to allow the other non-action tracks to evolve and change: triggered by walking into buildings, looting a container, or any other little action that may trigger a change in the track that’s playing. Likewise making sure that they all also blend more organically between each other.
  • Gameplay related sound effects, like modelling the realistic effects of using firearms in enclosed spaces without ear protectors. Also: improved noises for large crowds of zeds, sprinters and bullet world impacts if the coding team can provide their support for implementation.

OTHER STUFF

We are currently debating whether to release the map team’s current work (fixes, polish, improved farm buildings and agricultural areas, more defined Louisville upper class suburbs) in a 41 patch, or whether to outright say that the next export will be for 42 later down the line – alongside some sizable planned expansion into other towns and conurbations that would be beyond the edges of our current area. More on that, and where we are taking the Knox Event location-wise, in future blogs.

As we mentioned last time, we’re coming off the back of Turbo’s serious illness currently – so it’s been something of a month of consolidation rather than massive exciting strides ahead.

That said, sometimes strides ahead come in the form of things that will pay off in the far-flung future. Ever since the success of the 41 release we have had a lot more resources at our command, and have been able to invest it in both middleware that could bring PZ to new heights – and the talent to integrate it with our codebase.

As we all know, one of the weakest things about PZ is the UI. We all get on with it fine, but let’s face it: it aint a looker, and it can be a bit clunky, fiddly and slow. We’ve always said we’d give it an overhaul, but it’s always been a daunting prospect.

Since March, alongside our friends at General Arcade, we have been experimenting with some super fancy AAA high-end UI tech middleware that will make this process easier, and will make the end result better.

For the past few months we’ve been making sure that it’s compatible with the game, doesn’t negatively impact performance and will still allow for lua UI for our modders – and it has been this week that we feel comfortable enough to say out loud to each other that it’s going to work, and is safe to proceed.

So next time you see someone moaning that the PZ UI isn’t exactly glamorous – just tell them ‘they know, and it’ll take a while – but they’re working on it’. It’ll be some considerable time till we talk about this again, but we just wanted to let you know that this is another iron that we have in the fire.

Today’s pile-up campfire from Mr.Crab763. A changelist of all our pre-release and post-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. Want to work with us? Details here.

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Stable Build: 41.73 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.76 | Version history | Wiki
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