Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
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News & Dev
March 28, 2024

Zaumby Thursday

Hey all, here again for the March Thursdoid. Lots of stuff from lots of different areas of the game this time, we do hope you enjoy.


We’ve mentioned the fact that Build 42 will have a variety of readable materials that you can loot and inspect, but we hadn’t shown them off in-game as quite frankly they didn’t look great. They were crammed inside our existing Survival Guide UI, and it really wasn’t going to bat for us.

We didn’t really want to create a load of individual images that wouldn’t be readily translatable into other languages either, and become a massive timesink for our art department who are already pumping out loads of vital stuff elsewhere. So, clever Aiteron got onto the case…

So what is this?

Well, it’s a secondary UI API system – and with it both ourselves and modders can create readable text UIs in easier and more flexible ways, and what’s more reuse templates for them too.

Techie bit: currently, 4 Java elements have been added: Base, Text, Texture, TextEntry, and then based on these we’ve built a more complex UI in lua that’s easily manipulated by us and modders to play around with position, rotation angle, scale, color, animations, text settings, etc.

Alongside this a new RichText system has been added, meaning the media templates can be changed completely in translation files (including size, position of elements and other settings) so we can make great media for our whole international audience.

Video for modders who might be interested here.

How are we using it?

For Build 42 we are using this to create two flavours of lootable reading material, although not all of it will be available in the game we moment we go into unstable beta.

  • Newspapers and Community News pamphlets, to help with world-building and to fully flesh out the timeline of the Knox Event.
  • Local business flyers, house listing advertisements, restaurant menus and the like. These will all be locations that will be useful to your survival story – and reading the flyer will automatically reveal their location on the player map. In this way we will direct new players to helpful looting areas, and some of the community’s favourite safehouse locations.

What’s making it extra cool?

This has been cooking for a while, but we were increasingly unhappy with aspects of the way things looked. We were using in-game isometric screenshots, and they didn’t feel quite right for our in-game newspapers as such.

We’re delighted to say, then, that community heroes unconid and Welias have agreed to come on board and help us out with this.

Both have been entertaining PZ players with their brilliantly made posed still images and videos using PZ models and imagery, and they seemed amazingly well suited to bringing life to the characters of the Knox Event in readable media.

Likewise, we will also easily be able to do fun stuff with, say Nolan of Nolan’s Used Cars, by easily placing his cowboy hat zombie at the location of the car lot that the flyer has revealed on your map.


Something in PZ that’s needed improvement for the absolute longest time, is one of the things that you see the most.

We’ve been unhappy with the way that grass looks for a long while, and it became more unsightly with the advent of Build 41’s 3D models.

Build 42 is now blessed with a depth buffer. This means that we can reduce the player’s clipping with the scenery, we can show doors swinging open and closed, and (during our unstable beta) we will also be able to show seated characters on furniture in all four directions so players won’t have to use mods to access the sedentary animations for the directions that don’t clip.

It’s also great for grass and general undergrowth too, so alongside updating the existing grass sprites to feel more detailed and natural – we’ve also added support for depth maps so large blades and clumps of grass will intersect your character as you walk, crouch, etc as if they were 3D geometry.

As you can see, this makes the character feel much more grounded. It also has various impacts on the gameplay: crawling zombies are slightly harder to detect, falling objects get a little more lost in the grass etc.

With the increased wilderness gameplay that 42 will bring for many players, in terms of hunting and settlement building, players will be surrounded by grass and wilderness a lot more – so we’re really pleased to have got this in, and looking so good.

In the world beyond Build 42 we also intend to build on this, tying our grass and scrubland to our seasonal and erosion systems – helping you to get a better sense of the months and years as they pass.

In the meantime here’s another nice Before and After of the general grass sprite improvements:


Now that 42 is delving underground, and indeed much higher into the sky, we need some improved soundscapes to deal with it.

Recently the team at Formosa have been working on what happens with your speakers once you start delving underground. As such they’ve kindly supplied two videos showing their work: the March Ridge bunker we saw last time, and a new spooky Ekron industrial lower floor.

What can you hear that’s different here?

Ground level and outdoor sounds gradually dip away the lower you go, and once you’re in an underground area various appropriate one-shot noises can be found – like distant mice, cans falling and rolling in somewhere in the gloom etc.

As far as the roomtones go there’s also water dripping layers to give it more of an abandoned feel too, where appropriate, and likewise gunshot noises and the like have been played with to sound more appropriate in an enclosed underground space.


A key part of zombie fiction that Project Zomboid hasn’t catered for yet are attracted hordes trapped up against long wire fences – as seen with the fences that surround the prison in The Walking Dead.

Previously our pathfinding hasn’t catered for this, and players have felt a sense of security while behind our sturdy wire fences.

Now, things will change a bit.

BUT FIRST: some traditional caveats.

This feature will be a sandbox option, and it will also only come into play with large hordes – and over a long period of time.

This video is WIP, and the effect is sped up, and we can work on the crowding/banging visuals too.

The point of this is that we want a gradual build up of a huge horde, so players get the feeling that they are safe – for now. The fence will only hold for so long up against so many zombies, and eventually it might give way.

In terms of pathfinding, with lone or few zombies, the change to zombie senses also leads to more Romero-like zombies, with some not being intelligent enough to go around and obstacle, and choose to slam into a fence in their efforts to get to a player instead.


Fenris’ extensive upgrades to PZ’s guns continue, this month with changes of note like the following:

  • Wind, fog and rain, as well as general lighting conditions now have an effect on hit and critical chances. Some of these can be offset by traits or skill levels.
  • Ranged shots at targets hidden by dense fog or darkness can be challenging or impossible.
  • Maximum firing range has been increased and is no longer affected by skill level (chances of hitting targets at range still is).
  • Distance to target has a greater effect on penalties caused by panic, drunkenness, player movement, weather, etc.
  • Most penalties are significantly reduced at close ranges.
  • Sound radius is increased overall, but with a sandbox option to modify higher or lower. Sound range is reduced when firing indoors.
  • Sighting systems have an ideal range they were designed for: a minimum effective range, and a maximum. Outside of this range they are less effective. If the target is close enough that just pointing without aiming would give a higher chance then the sights are ignored (eg a x8 scope on a target 2 tiles away).
  • Panic previously didn’t actually affect hit chances (just critical and damage). This has been corrected. Remain calm, don’t panic, you’ll be fine.
  • Hit chances and critical chances are now calculated in the same way (with exceptions): if something (like panic) effects hit chance, it also effects critical.
  • Hit chances are generally increased allowing lower levels to make a successful shot under the right situation. However, avoiding negative conditions is vital, especially panic.
  • Ammo weights have been corrected and rebalanced. Mounted flashlights are functional and highly advised for low-light shooting.

The above video shows Fenris’ experimentation and how he’s polishing guns – the graph shows the hit and critical chances across the various tile distances, updated in realtime, and overlays range circles showing the point blank, optimal targeting ranges (for the given sights), and maximum firing ranges. The chances of a hit can be seen rising and falling with movement, and after each shot


This month we’ve also had focus on improving our late-game B42 armour system. As with the weapon crafting, the intent was to make something that wasn’t referential to zombie media or other games, but instead something that seemed natural for the time and circumstances.

We don’t want crafted armour to look too anachronistic or “knightly” – looking like they should be part of a renaissance fair. We don’t want to be too goofy, although there are a few more ‘fun’ options in there, and we don’t want anything that doesn’t look like it belongs in the Zomboid setting. Importantly armour should work like real armour, and operate within the bounds of PZ logic itself.

As such a few categories that will come as part of B42 are:


While avoiding overt medievalisms, clearly 42’s crafting update and blacksmith skills necessitate metal armour: plates, leather, straps, buckles and all.

Inspirations here include Ned Kelly and his gang, while (although we always say we won’t take inspiration from other games) the way Rust implements its metal armours is very much along our line of thinking – though clearly we’ll make our own way with it.

Please note: there won’t be any historical armour and weapon museums in b42, or suits of armour on display in mansions. With this sort of high-end crafted stuff, we wants players to have to go out into the world and engage with the new crafting system – and not beeline for a spot on the map to enjoy them.

Apocalyptic Vibe

We had to ensure that the armour was believable and feasible, while keeping a procedural approach – like our approach of the “lego weapons” in which existing items are adapted and melded.

Then, for a more distinct look, we thought of tinges of punk rock and heavy metal imagery, with apocalyptic media such as Escape From New York serving as inspiration. From this we now have armour that can, for example, be crafted out of tyres.

Natural Ingredients

One important aspect of the new armour content was that it had to support the new crafting system, as well as survival gameplay on a forest map free of civilization.

Although we deliberately didn’t make it too odious to progress from dirt and sticks to solving the riddle of steel, there’s still a lot of middle ground between the two.

Leather is an obvious candidate, and is something we have already made some pieces for. However throughout history people have used all sorts of other materials for armor as well, and we are exploring some interesting ideas based on real world examples. We don’t want to go out on a ‘limb’ and ‘branch far’ with this, but knock on ‘wood’ it will work out okay.

A Sporting Chance

Given that the game is set in 1993 Kentucky, there’s all sorts of armour already available in the form of lootable Sportsball Gear!

All sorts of pads, guards, and paddings, including two items that should make players very happy: The Athletic Cup and the Ice Hockey Neck Guards.

As well, some of those items of Sports gear, like the weapons crafting, can be modified to make badass, cool, post apocalyptic armor, which brings us to….


And you and the zombies can be spiky too now.


Finally, we’re also in the process of testing Skyscrapers for playability and performance. Turns out 32 floors of zombies, all spawning at the same rate of zombies creates a LOT of zombies. So we need to get to balancing things out a bit.

Thanks all. Sadly not too much from the new crafting in motion this time. Please be assured, though, that there’s a lot of work going on there, but some aspects aren’t ready for show, and others are waiting for a core code update to hook things into and as such aren’t filmable.

There’s a bit of a logjam building of stuff that can be pumped out, so we hope it’ll be a flood of cool stuff next time round. This is such a core aspect of gameplay, which could bring huge improvements across the board, so it’s also needing the most consideration and care to not get wrong.

A full round-up of everything confirmed for Build 42 can be found here. 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



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News & Dev | 25 April 2024
Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
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