This week we’ll be checking in with three of the main four pillars of Build 42 – work on the fourth, the server-side player inventories and general MP improvement, has been fairly ‘business as usual’ the past month or so and there’s not much to talk about that’d be juicy for enough for public consumption.
Steady your loins, then, as first of all we jump into…
RJ has been taking a holiday (American translation: vacation) from his work on domestic animals and husbandry, and has taken to the woodland and forests of the Knox Event.
Wild animals will be important to B42 for both reasons of ambiance and necessity – it will make your experience feel no end more engaging to see deer skittering through the treeline, but also will make hunting a viable survival technique – and one required for some of our advanced crafting recipes when society is long-gone.
What RJ has been working on, in particular, this week is the movement of animals over the map – their migration if you will. So if you could all also have a looksee at the following video too, then we can run into it in some more depth afterwards.
Also clearly: USUAL WIP CAVEATS APPLY. Things can and will change through development and testing.
So what are we seeing here?
Well basically throughout the day our deer will follow paths that our designers (and modders) can map out in our WorldEd tool – and in the vid you can see a virtual animal following a path.
Right now, one virtual animal is a group of animals that’s been defined in a lua file. Our current group, for example, consists of one buck, several doe and some fawns. Though clearly once they are fully implemented the variation will be greater, and also dependent on stuff like the time of year.
Once players get close to this coded ‘virtual animal’ these deer will then spawn into the world as real animals – and once you retreat away they’ll revert to their virtual status so the game can take over their movement and activities once more. If the group has become separated meanwhile, they’ll team back up again when their paths next cross.
In their virtual form the animals will move over the map, doing potential set activities at set different places. They are timetabled to have several ‘sleeping’ and ‘eating’ periods – currently sleeping for a period of half an hour at some point between 12pm and 4pm, eating at some point between 5am and 7am, and eating again for an hour at some point before 4pm and 6pm.
(Clearly, all this is easily changed at the dev-end – and can also be adjusted for whatever different animals we choose to add in future)
To aid players who want to be hunters, deer will leave evidence and tracks of where they’ve been and what they’re doing. So there’ll be footprints (with a direction suggested), poop, and broken twigs and undergrowth – while flattened plants will indicate a sleeping spot, and grazed areas an eating spot.
The way in which we represent these visibly in-game is currently being worked out, but for now (and perhaps later on too) we will be providing for it in a dual use for eris’ super foraging mode that was introduced in B41.
A goal for the player, then, might be to follow tracks and work out the deer’s possible sleep or eating spot, mark them on their map, and then wait near those spots at the correct hours and hope that animals will stop by.
We’re also working out on ways for a Tracking skill to be integrated into this, though seeing as the design is still under discussion we’ll probably talk about that at a later date. Something else that we’re aware should be factored in is human smell and wind direction potentially spooking animals, as it would in real life, but we plan to add that layer in a bit further down the line.
RJ would also like to give out a call of Special Thanks to Inrictus for the time he’s spent teaching him how to be a proper huntsman!
Finally, here’s another quick video of a survivor setting up camp with our new tents and whatnot (no deer this time) to give a little flavour of what the surrounding gameplay will feel like too.
Operation Optimization is going very well, easily obtaining several hundred FPS on our dev hardware when zoomed out.
However at the moment we still need to look into optimizations for how our current fog and puddles work – both of these are intensive graphical operations that need updating frame by frame. Thus, at the moment, they invalidate our cached chunks and diminish some of the gains from the optimizations.
As such at a later date – either before a first public release, or very possibly in a follow up build to it – we in particular plan to revisit these systems to optimize them for our new rendering system. Particularly the fog system, in fact, since having a depth map will now provide opportunities to make our visual effects look much better since we will have a solid representation of surfaces and depth to allow us to much improve how it interacts with objects in the scene.
Now the crafting systems are all in place, we’re starting to fill out the tech tree of recipes and wanted to show what’s currently being implemented.
As a reminder to those who perhaps aren’t as interested in the long term crafting and survival systems we are implementing, these will be completely optional as to whether you want to engage with it.
If you’re more interested in evading zombie hordes in the centre of towns and cities then you’ll still be able to do that.
However, to address our game’s weaker late game, provide many roleplay opportunities, and provide depth of gameplay outside interactions with zombies – we’re going all out on making the crafting possibilities as exhaustive as possible. Likewise, we are building new and more powerful crafting systems that modders will really be able to get their teeth into.
Remember, our benchmark is that a group of players should be able to build a functioning village even if spawning on a wilderness map with no signs of civilization. We want to make sure every aspect of crafting is covered to give multiplayer communities the opportunity to build and thrive, and provide modders with the tools required to make cool as hell expansive tech mods as seen on Minecraft, allowing Zomboid to become a more diverse survival, crafting and automation game modding platform in future.
An example of this would be working with clay. Clay can be dug up near rivers, and will be used to make bricks, tiles, roofing, pottery, and a whole host of other items and tiles to place in the world.
Those living on a barren map wanting to build a secure home will be overjoyed to be able to use bricks and tiles to make a proper dwelling that’s sturdy enough to stop zombies from breaking in. Likewise even on a smaller-scale basis, this craft will prove vital when survivors don’t have access to modern cutlery or liquid storage.
So here’s a quick video (very WIP still, we have a lot of balance, UI and polish to apply yet) that will show off some of the crafting systems when working with clay.
In future Thursdoids we’ll try to demo different diverse parts of the tech tree and their related professions as they implemented, as well as UI and quality of life improvements as we make them
The Indie Stone would like to extend an excited hello to two new fine folks this week – Egor who will be joining the MP team as they move ahead with their upgrades, and community fan favourite DaddyDirkieDirk.
Dirk has joined our art team to pump out ever more delectable tiles to give our map more life, and its deepest parts some more intriguing objects to perceive in the darkness – and if you are interested in his fantastic work as a modder then we ran a Mod Spotlight on him only last week.
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. Experienced games industry gameplay coder and want to join Team Awesome? Jobs page here.