We have Brian and Mirek on this week, mostly covering the recent improvements in server performance and our final push to have 0.61 out on Stable before Christmas. Additionally, Brian provides a bit of an insight on the intended DayZ survival experience, we have some exciting news regarding vehicles on Experimental branch and share several forums threads that we think you'll find interesting!
Contents This Week
As many of you may know, we're in an Exp/Unstable branch iteration phase - on the road to moving 0.61 to Stable branch. So, this Status Report I'm going to break my part into two. First part covering where we are with 0.61, and what our current critical issues for moving to Stable branch are. For the second part, I'll talk briefly about my opinion on 0.61 as a build and our goals with it as an experience.
Now that all of our milestone goals for 0.61 have been implemented, we're currently in a rapid iteration phase. For those testing on Exp/Unstable branch this means a lot of things can change quickly, not to mention break.
Over the last few builds, we've been focused on both improving server performance and trying to tackle issues that were caused as a byproduct of work on optimizing client network traffic. While that may be frustrating for those of you excited to try out 0.61, it is absolutely critical for the development process that we are able to iterate, and test these changes under a larger load than internal QA resources allow.
Additionally, a good deal of the critical issues we've been seeing on the Exp/Unstable branch servers simply do not reproduce internally. Thus, us being able to test through the Unstable branch, and provide the team with the critical crashdumps, debug logs, and profiler data is is absolutely required for 0.61 to get to Stable branch on Steam as soon as possible.
So, the next time you run across a server crash, frustrating bug, or gamebreaking issue while testing on Exp/Unstable - do your best not to get frustrated, head over to the feedback tracker and give as much data as you are able to. Every ticket and comment on the feedback tracker helps, even if you might not feel like it does!
For Stable blocking issues, we're currently tracking:
- Characters twitching/stuttering when crossing rubble/bodies
- Client Crash(es)
- Some structures not having proper shadows
- Items stuck in hands
- Server crash(es)
- VOIP Too Loud
- Infected Vocalizations too loud
- Naked Characters / Silent Gunshots
Mirek has some fascinating insight into some of the issues we've discussed above, as well as where we are with improving the vehicle simulation - I encourage you to scroll down and read what he has to say, the information is critical to understanding what is going on with the gameplay programming team (which has a large impact on how DayZ plays!)
For the second part of my text this week, I'd like to comment on the swing towards survival with 0.61.
It is no secret that DayZ set out to be a punishing survival title from the start of the project. Much of the mechanics that would drive this type of experience have been in prototyped phase, with the full functionality of them dependant upon technology from the engine, optimization to make them a threat, and so on - because of that, for the majority of our development period they have had little impact on gameplay unless you intentionally sought them out (or a bug related to them caused larger issues, such as the hyperthermia issue on 0.60).
With this side of the game being present in such a state, most of DayZ's gameplay throughout the Early Access phase has centered around social interaction, and gunplay. With little incentive, or push for anything else to occur. As bugfixing, feature implementation, and optimization has allowed us to bring some of these mechanics more to the forefront of gameplay, I fully expect the large portion of the Early Access playerbase that might not keep up to date on development to be surprised, and even push back on these changes once they hit stable branch.
I'm fully aware many of you love DayZ for the action you experience when you get into a gunfight, or the interesting (and often hillarious) social situations that player interaction creates. I do not want you to feel ignored. Everything in DayZ should come with a cost, be it struggling to survive, choosing to make a beeline for the closest military base looking to pick a fight, or creating a farming commune on the coast.
The closer we move to Beta, and Early Access release this will become more apparent, and we will of course ensure that all styles of gameplay are as viable as possible, assuming you make the correct decisions to overcome the environment that seeks to kill you. Be it through starvation, infection, murder, the cold, or being eaten alive by wolves.
Excited as we are by the slow but inevitable progression to that unforgiving survival experience we set out to create back in 2013, we're all very aware (as you all should be) - that this is a development build. Many critical pieces to the final puzzle are still missing, and there will be bugs, but we hope that you find these changes compelling, and enjoy your experience inside Chernarus even more.
I've rambled on enough for this Status Report. I'm sure you all wanted to see more fancy screenshots or gifs - but these things slow down as the team wraps up what is in 0.61, and starts to focus on bugfixing in order to get to stable branch. Once we get past 0.61 and can start talking about 0.62, I'm sure we'll have more eye candy for you.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Last week, we were mostly focused on server performance improvements. We rewrote the updating strategy of network objects and the results are pretty good. This part is now about five times faster. On the other hand, it reintroduced the "naked characters" bug.
Things like these can happen quite often, because this mechanism is very complex. As server performance is one of the major blockers of stable release, we had to release it into Experimental branch as soon as possible, so there wasn't much time to test it internally. I hope you won't get angry when things like these happen on Experimental branch.
Another bug we found is that Central Economy (CE) limits for infected count didn't work properly, so too many infected were spawned over the entire map. This slows down server performance too much and it's the source of incorrectly updated character modifiers, or the "persistent unconsciousness".
We also decreased the simulation rate of distant AI units, so this should help the server performance a lot, and it should also lead to a general decrease in network traffic. All of these fixes are scheduled for merge into Experimental branch this week (it's possible that some of them are already merged by the time you're reading this).
Now about vehicles. In the last status report, I wrote about two blocking issues. The broken simulation of more players in a vehicle is now resolved, but because the server is now authoritative over player's position and movement, new small issue appeared. You won't be able to see some animations (like head movement) of remote players sitting in the vehicle. We're not planning to fix this this in 0.61 - we will be taking another look at this issue when the new player controller is merged in, because we want to avoid doing things twice.
Client side correction still doesn't work well and I'm not sure how long it will take to fix this.
Also, because we would like to release Stable build before Christmas, we will release it without vehicles. We will, however, continue releasing Experimental builds with vehicles included, when they get ready.
We've also made other vehicle simulation improvements, which will hit Experimental. Here's the short list of changes:
- dashboards now reacts to switching vehicle lights
- player can use zoom when sitting in the passenger seat
- engine animation now correctly reacts to all user actions, damage etc.
- cars can be drown in any water, not only in the sea
- working particles from wheels
- updated suspension physics and collisions
- cars can now drive over small obstacles based on wheel's radius
- suspension along with wheels now correctly reacts to land surface
The second part of my status report will be dedicated to infected. We are working closely with designers to tweak them a little bit for 0.61, mainly improving their movement and attacking. Pushing won't be solved, as there is still the issue with AI units having a new physical controller built on bullet physics, while players use the legacy Arma collision detection.
In this case, what happens is that infected penetrates into the player (because it's unable to find a collision), but player detects that he's in collision with something and moves away from the collision. We won't be able to resolve this without the new player controller, so we're trying to at least improve it by tweaking some movement parameters.
This is all for now from me.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer
Handpicked: DayZ Forums News
Our official DayZ community forums provide the easiest way to discuss all things DayZ. The discussion there is free of the usual constraints of other channels, like the 140 character limit on Twitter or the occasionally questionable voting mechanism on Reddit. The forums have a solid user base and are also the place where developers have been staying in touch with survivors basically ever since the early DayZ Mod days.
For these reasons, we'd love to drive most of the discussions there - both those where members of the dev team engage with you, the DayZ community, and those where you simply talk to fellow survivors.
Supporting the effort to keep the forums a busy place, we'll do our best to handpick some of the new content from the forums for each new Status Report, and highlight interesting posts or threads created in the past two weeks as a recommended reading material. Occasionally, we will also open a discussion on a topic we want to hear you opinions on.
Mind you, there will likely be exceptions to the schedule: Status Reports often turn into truly massive behemoths already, and development updates should always be the main focus here. Then, sometimes, people simply get too passionate about one or two particular threads and just won't let go of them - and so we usually don't need to drive additional traffic to such threads.
But now, let's get to it, here's what's been happening on the official DayZ community forums lately.
Friday Experimental Build Thread
As you probably know, the 0.61 build we deployed on Friday suffered from some serious server crashing, and the discussion that unfolds on the first 5 or 6 pages in the related thread is a nice practical example of the nature of the Experimental/Unstable branch of DayZ. Often, even if you can't really play the game properly, you may have actually helped the development team (and we appreciate that a lot!):
While in this particular case, we've already gathered enough data about the crashes and our Deployment Engineer David sacrificed a bit of his weekend to revert the Experimental branch to previous build, it should be expected that Experimental builds may stay all over the place like that for some time. If that happens, we'd like to kindly ask for your patience, ask you to read this post over here to understand the nature of the Experimental branch, and ultimately ask you to switch over to Stable if you just want to play DayZ.
0.61 Stable Loot Thread
Loot has always been a massive discussion topic in the community, and even internally. cs_wolf has started a thread where he's expressing his own hopes for the vanilla loot distribution of 0.61 on Stable, and while our design team is getting a clearer idea of where the vanilla experience is going themselves, feel free to fantasize about your own ideal setup with your fellow survivors:
Best DayZ Weapon Combo Thread
When you've managed to get the basics to survive, it's the best time to get properly armed. kataro posted what he believes is the most efficient weapon combo in DayZ, and is asking you to share your own deadly combos. Even our Community Manager Baty, a truly experienced survivor, is sharing her personal favorite, so hit the image to read the thread and see what her best weapon combo consists of:
BETA Content: CR 550 Rifle Thread
The last entry in our handpicked section of the Status Report is actually a start of what will hopefully become a series of sneak peeks on some of the BETA milestone content and features. This week, Brian is keeping it simple, teasing the already announced CR 550 and asking what your personal expectations and hopes are for this new piece of weaponry:
The news for update 0.61, which is on Experimental branch right now, are new dynamic shadows. Shadows look great, and the way you all are using them to take screenshots is really amazing.
Besides facing the Infected, you also have to deal with an additional level of paranoia because dynamic shadows create a new dynamic, all happening in real time.
Player XRW64 utilizes the new shadows and backlighting to create an interesting visual experience with a friend.
It's like open world DayZ shadow puppet theater!
Say hello to yourself! Test the new dynamic shadows and send us more rad images. Like JoeBandit.
Wanna get really creeped out? Imagine a silent infected hiding somewhere in this room.
Bibix is a very successful streamer from France, and he has a great talent for capturing unique moment. We love his screenshots. For more pics click HERE. All of these screenshots are great examples of how creatively Bibix uses the flares. It really sets a frightening mood.
I don't know about you, but I definitely don't want to find someone (or something) dangerous inside, much less an evil clown. This is what can happen in the world of Chernarus.
If you play on Experimental/Unstable servers, don't forget to use our Feedback Tracker to submit bugs, and for the newest info or a place to share your screenshots, follow the official DayZ Development Team Twitter account.
Header image by: BIBIXHD
- Baty / Community Manager