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News & Dev
August 4, 2022

Slapdashdoid

Hello all! Afraid this will be a more hastily put together than usual Thursdoid, usual Thursdoid writer is away this week, and we originally planned to do a stable release today.

Last minute, however, literally a couple of hours ago in fact, we concluded that this would be a bad idea not only in the middle of the Steam Survival Sale, but also a big week long and rather huge Spanish streamer event (go check it out!) that heralded some of our biggest Twitch numbers ever (thanks again to Silithur for organizing it!).

Stable releases are always nerve-wracking, but doubled up with the zombie respawn issues that we’ve been struggling with on unstable it just felt like a bad time to throw any dice. We believe those issues are fixed, and have done significant internal testing, however throwing it in front of a huge number of players on stable we can’t be absolutely sure it won’t still cause problems–particularly with mods–so doing a release today under these circumstances seemed a risky endeavour with so many new people being exposed to the game.

As such, we will likely wait until the coming Monday to flip the switch. This gives us a few more days to see if the zombie spawning reports on the unstable branch start to disappear after the fix went live and is probably the safer option, as eager as we are to see the update out and free up the team for bigger commits toward the next update.

41.73

So for those who haven’t dipped their toe into unstable, here’s a few highlights of what to expect:

  • Optionally see other players from your safehouse / faction on the map. 
  • Lots of extra security and anti-cheat to MP
  • Lots of improvements to recipes, new foodstuffs, improved containers, expanded recipes.
  • Improved error reporting for diagnosing mod errors or conflicts.
  • Lots of map polish, bug fixes, improvements.
  • Improved MP Admin tools.
  • About ten gazillion bug fixes.

ADAPTIVE MUSIC

Since Formosa UK (formerly Noiseworks) added the adaptive, reactive action music it went down really well. Making the music react to what’s happening on-screen makes a big difference to immersing yourself into what’s going on.

The next stage of this plan is being put into place now, which will involve creating reactive versions of all the other tracks in the game. Not just action ones, but also all the various tracks and ambiences that currently exist.

The idea is to allow for the non-action music to change in intensity from background ambient, to how it currently is now, to a more intense version, depending on what the player is doing. Do they leave their house after being in their house for some time? Maybe the ambient music bumps up a notch. Get into your car in the morning to go out on a looting run? Enter a house to loot? Find a rare item? There are countless little game moments we can tie into a music change, that will just help to make the music feel like its telling part of the story and provide much more variety in the music tracks through play.

B42 CRAFTING

We’ve got a couple of sexy flowcharts from lead crafting crafter Turbo detailing some of the new post-apocalyptic professions that readers can pour over to get an idea of what’s coming in B42. We intended to save this stuff until you could see it in-game, but it doesn’t hurt to have a sneak peak.

As shown with the liquid system a few weeks back, actual code-side work on the crafting is still mostly foundational. Getting and expanding systems in there to cater for different ingredients used for the new crafting and make them expandable and more in-depth, adding new properties and new systems to items to allow them to track more detail than just ‘condition’, but also quality and other parameters that will impact how they are used and what the results of their usage is.

Allowing more nuance in spawning items so for example bottles of beer in a convenience store will likely be full, where a bottle in a house may be half empty, empty, or even contain another liquid entirely. Items in general will have more nuanced conditions and qualities, the crafting system being able to operate on nearby crafting stations which affect the results and also what recipes are available to the player.

Also allowing for multi-tile ‘machines’ that will operate as single objects, and allowing for tiles to be connected to cooperate with each other.

A ton of foundational stuff that needs to be in place before the trees that have been designed are implemented, and progress has been good however there is still more to do, which limits what can be shown in videos at this point.

At the moment we have about ten post-apocalypse professions, each with their own crafting tree, various multi tile workstations that are upgradable, and each with many produce that often includes ingredients from other professions, or can feed into other professions.

This image does not expand for spoiler purposes, but is just to give an idea of how in-depth the crafting design is at this point — these trees are only part of the full picture, and we’re still far from done with it:

If we look at, for example, the stone working profession you will see the level of detail we are going into with the new crafting. (please note these are early designs, and will likely be incomplete, and also we still need to balance and figure out the ‘right level of detail’ from playtesting, as we want crafting to be in-depth, cooperative, but not drawn out and too grindy to be enjoyable)

Below is an overview of the stonecutting profession.

As stated before, the goal with the crafting is to be able to produce anything that it would be realistically feasible for characters with those skills to produce, to dip our toe a bit more into the ‘rebuild society’ than we previously did, for the sake of providing a better long-term MP (and SP with NPCs) experience for those who don’t die screaming within the first week.

Players will not be building computers or nuclear reactors, but any of the more primitive to medieval technology that makes sense we hope to be an option. It should be possible to spawn on a blank map with just wilderness and natural resources and have an engaging crafting and community building game, and adding the towns, cities and zombies to the mix will only make that more interesting.

Here’s another example, the bowyer:

As you can see, the goal is that each profession will be involved enough, with enough variety, and also enough interaction with other professions, to make it an interesting experience that a player can focus on within a community. We need to find the right balance between ‘involved’ and ‘not too drawn out’, and also provide mechanisms for SP players to be able to use sandbox to allow them to dabble in professions alone, prior to NPCs, without running into a wall of specialisation limit meaning they can’t function in all the professions required to create any items. And also not make the process of crafting an item so drawn out as to be discouraging players from taking part.

We’ll go into more detail on the professions when they are starting to be implemented, and we’re more sure on the designs working out within the game.

It’s a hard balance to find, and we’ll know more once these recipes and crafting trees get into the game once the systems are in place to accommodate them, and once these go out to the community we can get further feedback to balance the satisfaction vs grind balance of the depth of them.

FUTURE MP WORK

Checking in with the multiplayer team, they have been working on a big refactor of the MP codebase in their ongoing work for moving player inventories to the server. This will pretty much eliminate all inventory cheating.

In addition, they have been working on character creation being moved to the server too, which will forbid clients from cheating with character inventory, skills and perks before the character is added to the server’s database.

We’re also going to be looking into a real anti cheat solution that should reduce the occurrences of cheaters significantly. While anti-cheat can be circumnavigated and its unlikely to get rid of any cheating completely, as we are not a competitive FPS, we hope that there won’t be quite the market for selling cheats for the cheat developers to be as willing to fight in the arms race required, and it will push cheat development above the skill level of most casual cheat makers.

The MP team have also been making further improvements to vehicle syncing in MP, improving collisions and avoiding vehicles clipping into each other.

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