Yip yip, hello. Let’s dive in.
Another exciting addition to the build 42 tech upgrade branch has just dropped.
The tech upgrade branch is what contains our optimizations, improved view cone, basement/skyscraper technology and now… an immersive improvement that we’ve wanted for a long time, that could potentially lead to many cool additional gameplay opportunities that weren’t possible before.
That’s right, kids, doors have now entered the third dimension.
Where before doors would just flip instantly on the tile the moment they are opened or closed, now they are animated and use the tech branch’s depth buffer.
This is obviously a huge improvement for immersion, but could potentially lead to cool new mechanics in future (note, certainly not b42’s initial release) like opening doors at different speeds, doors being left slightly open, peeking, bashing open, one-way fire doors and such.
While easy to overlook, our doors are pretty much unchanged since the 0.1.5d days yet also one of the most fundamental things about PZ gameplay – so getting some visual niceness, and some future gameplay opportunities, feels like a win.
So let’s have a quick noisy vid in which doors open and slam shut in unison.
(In future we clearly also already have the tech to have doors and visibly opening and closing on vehicles too, it’s already in the code and used by many mods, however in the main game it’s always been the plan to couple this to in-car character animations, visible interiors and such.)
We’re operating in various different areas with crafting, but the one that’s becoming most interesting and fleshed out with recipes and new items is definitely blacksmithing which has come a long way in the last month.
So let’s head over to Blair to have a chat about the ways in which you’ll be getting to grips with the creation of some of these beauties.
“For blacksmithing in build b42 we have the tiers, workstations, and materials worked out; now most of the crafting recipes have been made as well, and it’s a case where content is being added almost daily as the art assets are completed.”
“Most items that one could reasonably expect to be blacksmithed can be blacksmithed, and in most cases the resultant item is a more rugged, crafted version than the default version of the item that you may be used to.”
“In many cases there are multiple tiers of items, requiring better skills, stations and materials to produce, where it serves the game. Weapons are an example of where this extra attention is being put into the system, where there are distinct tiers of the basic types, that differ in both appearance and performance.”
“A lot of work still needs to be done with balancing, as well as getting the fun stuff like animations of the character performing the actions, with fire and smoke. Our artists are hard at work making the assets for all the new items needed for this, but otherwise blacksmithing could be considered ‘mostly done’; you could say that all of the design hurdles have been crossed, and we have solved the ‘Riddle of Steel’.”
“One conceit of b42 crafting is that you should be able to start on a theoretical all forest map; this isn’t a concrete thing that we’re testing yet, but we’re providing foundation for it. Steel production from nothing being one of them.”
“Although iron ore outcroppings are more commonplace in games than in real life Kentucky, we have tiles of them, for use for our own forest maps, and maps of modders.“
(ALERT ALERT: we are aware this is quite game-y, and may well refine in future. For now, however, it works for our purposes.)
“Once you have smashed them into iron ore, you can dig a charcoal pit, and build a primitive forge and furnace, and use the charcoal to extract an iron bloom from iron ore.“
“With a stone hammer and some crude wooden tongs (which won’t survive the process) workable iron is beaten out of the iron bloom, and that iron can be used to produce simple iron implements such as tongs, smithing hammers, nails, and basic masonry tools.”
“Eventually you can work your way up to building a proper come kiln, for both making charcoal, and also coke out of the charcoal for steel production, as well as a smelting furnace, and then an intermediary forge and a grindstone. With this you can produce medium-quality iron implements, that benefit from proper hardening and quenching, as well as higher carbon content.”
“From there one would work there way up to a blast furnace, for producing steel, and then, with the steel, cast and harden a proper blacksmithing anvil and make an advanced forge, and eventually a metalworking bench for making high quality, precision tools and items.”
Elsewhere, meanwhile, we have been going through the game and converting existing systems to the new fluid mechanics that come as a part of the crafting system.
A good example of this, as it clearly shows in the end product, are our hair dyes – even if they are relatively cosmetic as far as the game-proper goes.
In the following video, then, you see the dyes being transferred to (and used from) any fluid container – whether bottles, cans or buckets. Here too you can see them being mixed, and the resulting new colour being applied to the character’s hair. (Elements of this still WIP)
We’ve given you more sandbox power over how much gasoline is stored beneath Knox gas stations, as previous work in the area didn’t go far enough. You’ll have options to select whether gas pumps are infinite, what their minimum and maximum potential amounts of stored gasoline is, and indeed what the chances are of it spawning completely empty (see image below).
We have also made these a little more user-friendly with better right click feedback on power, required containers, admin info on fuel remaining etc. We’ve also added a more visible fuel caps on our car models, and indeed a fuel-side indicator icon on your vehicle’s dashboard.
After the successful integration of the body noises, “hey!”s and “psst!”s of a real actor and a real actress – we made the call to widen the net a little and get a variety of different people to record specific voice/noise sets for the game.
There will now be four male and four female voices that you can choose at character creation stage, which will also mean that in MP those around you will likely have slightly different puffs, pants and combat exertions.
Likewise having a more particular sound to your voice and character will likely be good for your own personal RP reasons.
(Please note here, again, that exertion noise frequency hasn’t been 100% balanced yet.)
It’s relatively easy to slot in new animals to RJ’s system, the modding scene will likely be fairly extravagant, so while fixing bugs with our chickens, cows, sheep and pigs – he’s also slipped in some raccoons and wild turkeys to roam alongside the deer.
Fox’s up-rezzing (and slight tidy-up) of all the game’s many windows, icons, menus and general game furniture continues. In fact, we’re now at a point in which many aspects of the game can be played at 4k without the need for squinting and a magnifying glass.
Folk with higher-res screens have long-suffered with Zomboid, so we’re excited to finally put this issue to bed – as can be seen in the following 4K video.
Please note, however, that some windows here still feel a little crowded – we probably need to loosen up the crafting window that could use a bit more padding, the tabs feel a little close together etc.
The map expansion, and elevation/lowering, continues apace. Something else we are bringing to your exploration is a little more colour and character to the places you are surviving within – as such there’ll be more variety of things left on whiteboards and chalkboards in schools, universities and laboratories for example.
Meanwhile, there’s clearly elements of signage Americana we can use for our game too. Case in point, being a wide range of different signs outside our churches.
We’ve also got an, as yet unnamed, Wild West tourist attraction going into the game – which could also potentially be a good place to find some of the crafting gear that’ll be new to 42. Maybe a couple of cowboy actor zeds shambling about as well, for good measure.
We generally don’t populate the map with Mad Max lookin’ zeds, but people certainly seem to like having a little more freedom in terms of the threads you choose to go a hunting and a’ looting in.
As a side project from his crafting duties, then, Blair has worked with animator Martin to improve the clipping issues folk often come up against with certain combinations of clothing. This issue was becoming more and more apparent with the crafted straps and metal shin guards being developed in the blacksmithing aspect of 42, so needed nipping in the bud.
Essentially, now clothing items and body locations can have set definitions – which then instruct the game to use alternate clothing models in particular circumstances. So a different arm guard model, for example, will be automatically used if the character is wearing a bulky jacket. We feel that this will have massive potential for modding.
On top of this we have also made it so accoutrements like limb armour (shin pads, for example) can go on either limb; you can wear just one, or a pair, or a mismatched pair. This said, so it’s not too annoying, they’ll appear as matched pairs in loot or on zeds.
Finally, while not entirely linked to this endeavour but still in the same ballpark, helmets/headgear/masks all now affect your vision cone and your hearing (modestly) which we’ve added as a balancing measure for when crafted helmets are in the game.
Oh, and the above also means we can have (American) Football Shoulder Pads in-game too, so expect some varsity jock zombies wearing those around campus also.
Here’s a somewhat silly, but fun, screenie showing a little bit more of what this system can create – including a bunch of the new items that will be craftable with the new blacksmith/forge systems.
We’ve expanded a lot over the past year, and we had called time on anyone else for fear of things running away with themselves.
Clearly Soul Filcher joined recently, and unmentioned in this blog we’ve got Fenris in the guts of our Discord integration, Patrick with his (very encouraging) experimentation with ragdolls, and there’s a hugely experienced guy called Matt who we haven’t announced before who’s putting in foundations for future engine improvements. After all this we mentally shut the door on likely changes and additions, until…
Zac, the coding maestro behind 41’s animation systems, made his return to work after a long period away this month – and is now working the kinks out of issues we’ve had since he was last with us with character rotation and movement.
Here’s a link to show his WIP improvement – though it might not be super-perceptible in vid-form. When this is all sorted the in-game character should feel more responsive, and also give us more flexibility when improving on the general animation suite.
He also brings alongside him a lovely guy from Tea Games called Ash, who’s helping integrate the video play middleware Bink into the game which will (among other things) help us mix some improvements into our title screen, and to provide combat video examples in our tutorial windows and such.
The other guy, meanwhile, who’s burst onto or internal development scene is someone we know as ‘The Prof’.
Thomas ‘ProfMobius’ Guimbretiere comes to us by way of Minecraft, and some players might already be familiar with his mods and work over in block-land. He started modding Minecraft something like 13/14 years ago and co-produced MCP, the predecessor of Forge, before later authoring important mods like Waila, Jabba and Opis.
He was then hired by Mojang themselves for work on Minecraft Java (ooh, Java) and went on to work on oceans, corals, new villager AI, village construction and a full rework of the game’s world generation. All of which is, clearly, hugely relevant to our interests.
Since his Mojang days, he’s been working on the backend of Razzleberries (https://razzleberri.es/) but now he’s in the iron grip of Spiffo. To begin, to we’ll be easing him in on something he’s familiar with that we’ll probably cover next time. There’s plenty of fun stuff planned beyond that too though.
For all you Americans, Amz has made you a Thanksgiving vid. It’s got some WIP raccoons in it and everything.
Though, thinking about it, maybe we should have gone with the turkeys. Anyway…
Many thanks also to everyone kindly voting for us in the Steam Awards. We really appreciate your support and associated reviews, but also if you are in two minds about whether or not to click for us – please consider the likes of No Man’s Sky or Deep Rock Galactic which are both amazing. It’ll still be a while till 42 is in public beta, and we’d be more comfortable with the nomination-love once it’s out, all-singing and all-dancing.
This week’s misty mess from CAPSens Crim. 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.