Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
Follow us


News & Dev
April 25, 2024

D'ya Like Them GrappleZ

Welcome all, to Knox Event proceedings on this fair spring morning. What’s up first?


Something that, clearly, was fundamental to Build 41 was the new animations system – and thus far for Build 42 we haven’t mentioned any improvements to this.

Importantly, it should be underlined that his work isn’t in the internal test build yet (and is certainly unconfirmed as a part of 42 when it first enters an Unstable beta) but we’re far enough along now with work done in this area that we’re comfortable to talk about ‘Zac’s GrappleTech’.

Right now in Build 41 all the animations work perfectly fine in their ‘solo’ states. This is when one player character, or one zombie, is doing its thing individually and not interacting with others around it.

Where problems can arise, however, is when that human/zed interacts with another human/zed. Bites, pulldowns and shoves happen ‘to the air’ around their target rather than the character model itself.

This generally works fine enough but can also lead to feelings of graphical non-interaction, game events not being explained to the player efficiently enough, and the whiff of stun-lock.

How to remedy this then?  

An extension to 41’s anims system, GrappleTech allows us to join two characters in a more personal and combined state.

Essentially on a code level, in vaguely technical terms, we have a ‘Grappler’ and the ‘Grappled’ that combine and synchronize their animations together until the grapple is broken.

What’s more, because this is an extension of the Animation system the Grappled state isn’t just a single, fixed animation, nor just a non-interactive cutscene. Rather, all the interactivity inherent in the Animation State system remains.

In short: the ‘Grappler’ character initiates a grapple – perhaps with an attack or pull-down of some sort –  and the ‘Grappled’ code decides whether the Grapple is to be accepted or rejected.

The grapple system also takes into account whatever variables we desire when making that decision: tiredness, clumsiness, or injuries on either side that could cause the grapple to fail.

As a prototype, and most its likely first application in B42 once the Unstable beta is underway, we made the player able to pick up and drag a corpse.

As you can see here, Zac has leveraged the logic in the Animation State system, and has been able to wire up Martin’s animation variants for picking up a body from the front and back, and then dragging it.

This is fairly rudimentary currently (clearly it would look better with some physics-bobble on the zombie legs as they are dragged around, and we don’t have SFX yet) but what we do have running to prove out the system are a raft of player effects: an impact on player stamina, the exhaustion from dragging the heavy corpse, and the trail of blood that’ll sometimes drag out behind also.

Super-importantly this whole system also lets Animator Martin, and of course modders, animate two characters interacting in their animation software – and then to see that interaction replicated directly in-game. Formerly ‘interlinking’ character actions would have to be animated separately, which was trickier to say the least.

An instance of this can be seen below – which also serves as an example of how we can also tie the Grapple state to other useful gameplay activities: like dumping the corpse out of windows all in one animation sweep. Every stage of the Grappled state is as interactive as any regular state.

We don’t usually show animations that aren’t in-game yet (this is in Zac’s test build, but very rough around the edges still) but again, this is a great example of how both character models can now be worked on at once for both Martin and our modding community inside their animation software.

Ultimately, the possibilities are exciting and open-ended for this.

While perhaps not for 42, in which we mainly plan to use GrappleTech during the beta period to polish existing rough spots of character interaction in the current game, this is the gateway to all sorts of potential gameplay.

The key word here is ‘potential’ (potential!) but this does mean that one day we’ll be able to consider stuff like zombies grabbing players and dragging them through windows, dragged zeds being dumped into pits and graves, animal attacks and tramples, or even (maybe? who knows) mountable steeds one day.

It would certainly be extremely helpful for that thing that hilarious meme reviews always demand too, but that aint gonna happen 😉


In the current Build 41 there are 161 weapons or items that can be used as weapons, and as of right now in our Build 42 build there are 345 with still a few more to feed in.

The vast majority of these extra weapons are player-crafted, but this number also covers tools that can be used offensively and weapons that have broken but can still cause damage. Things like baseball bat handles, guitar necks and snapped blades. 

Although we always planned a thorough, procedural system for weapon crafting we didn’t originally realise how easy it would be to keep on feeding them through the art pipeline.

In many cases, such as producing interesting variations of the same base item, we could pump through a lot of high quality content in fairly short order. What’s more, as we worked our way through the different approaches to constructing a weapon, we could also find lots of fun and easy ways that we could expand.

So some notes on where we’re currently headed with the gameplay and balance:

  • Blacksmithed weapons will generally be the most durable and high quality, but also require the most infrastructure and skill to produce.
  • Weapons fabricated in a welding shop will be cruder and lower quality, but still durable.
  • Weapons made out of different kinds of sticks and broken pieces of metal or bones, will generally have a much shorter lifespan.
  • In terms of more improvised/compound post-apocalyptic weapons, like adding a modification to a baseball bat, for most cases you’ll be making a trade-off between durability and the ability to inflict more short-term damage.
  • For the most part in each “family” of crafted weapons there will be options for all the different sorts of weapon that PZ provides: blunt, small blunt, axes, spears and short blade. That said: long blade is an exception. We’re trying to keep swords special, high-tier and high-value – partly because they arguably fit the post-apocalypse less neatly and need to feel different, and partly because we’ve already seen the success of this approach with the katana.
  • Spears have been rethought, and many of the spears that you may be used to in B41 have been removed. However, there are also many new spears – and many different ways to make a spear compared to what’s out there currently.

With this wide variety of weapons to craft in the game, it’s our hope that the player will be able to cobble together offensive weapons using the materials they find as they explore the world and to “make up weapons as they go along”. This said, clearly the selection and quality of them will vary widely according to skill.


In general with the Build 42 items we tried to have more cool, fun and collectible items. It’s an easy way to get more personality into the game, to keep your looting more varied, and to give you a better feeling of the deceased.

One example of this is that we are updating and adding more ‘recipe magazines’ so that they feel more individual, and less like they all belong to some perfect collection that everyone within the Knox Event seems to possess. We want things to feel more funky and chaotic, like real-life.

This is also, clearly, a way we can make sure we can have rare high-value loot that doesn’t cause players to feel bottlenecked in the way that sledgehammers and generator manuals do in 41.

Although we’ve mainly been talking weapons this month, as you can see there’s also recipe magazines for armour and hollow books that’ll let you hide things inside them. Our artists, meanwhile, have made them all interesting to look at and (you’d imagine) to read and collect.

Also seen here are some examples of recipe clippings and schematics; these will have an appropriate-by-context random recipe on them when your player finds them.

One of the ways we’re trying to make the random survivalist safehouses you may encounter in the world more exciting, for example, is by having the possibility for some of the weapon or other gear schematics to spawn alongside the usual loot you’d find.


Last time we mentioned the fluid rework was for hair dyes, at which point it was only those products that had had been converted as they provided a useful and visible test case for mixing and swirling together.

Just a brief update, here, then to say that we have them all converted now and working through the gameplay details of each. The system now caters for: water, gasoline, bleach, alcohol, beverages and milk from the new animals. Here you can see different coloured liquids, in separate bowls.

This week we mixed in the effects of drinking alcoholic beverages and poisons, so characters can get drunk, sick or die. Drunkenness also now comes with visual effects, and delays on character controls depending on the amount of laughing juice you’ve imbibed.

In more boring matters, we’ve also added in systems like rain filling open items left outside, and made rain barrels work with B42 systems also.


Let’s take a quick tour around what RJ’s cooking for animal crafting.

On the right you see the butcher hook: here you slaughter the animal, remove leather/feather, blood, organs, meat and bones. Every animal will have a weight of meat, blood, bones, feathers and the like that depends on the its size and weight at the moment of its unfortunate demise.

Here too you can see the beginnings of the leathering process. On the left of this screen there’s a softening beam, where you can remove excess flesh from a hide – and also get to choose whether you scrape off the fur too. (You can keep the fancy holstein pattern on your leather if you fancy it.)

After that, nearby, is the tanning bucket where you soak the leather in a brain tan or bark tan. After that, the leather goes off to the drying rack you can see on the top of the screen. Leave the leather here for a nice long time, and then you’re good.

Also visible: a churning bucket, to create delicious butter from milk and a calf skeleton, just for fun.


Granular and non-sexy item, this one, but we hope you’ll agree still one that’ll have a big impact on looting and safehouse storage. We have two longstanding issues to deal with here: messy item hoarding in player bases, and extremely long lists of recipes.

So for the first issue, there’s a simple solution: we now allow players to pack items into boxes that are more efficient to store, both for players and for save files.

The second requires something a little more complicated: the recipe system allowing for dynamic result items so that a single recipe can handle packing or unpacking for several different item types. In 41 each recipe could only have a fixed item as the result: for example when opening canned food we needed one recipe for each canned food type. With the changes we’re making we can have a single “open canned food” recipe for everything, and the recipe will create the proper result item.


  • The map team’s quest to polish up Louisville, and beyond, continues with an emphasis on rooftops and higher floors.
  • In general, we’re trying to add more variety to existing items in the world – as well as adding new ones. A good example is that you’ll be able to find different kinds of generators, all with different characteristics. This has been set up to be as easy as possible for modders to also add new varieties of generators, requiring only simple item scripts, a tile and some modder ingenuity for whatever cool new features they dream up.

This week’s walk in the dark from Stomno. 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

Stable Build: 41.78.16 | IWBUMS Beta: 41.78.16 | Version history | Wiki
Follow us