Good Tuesday Survivors,
While all the players' attention is now turned to E3 in Los Angeles, we are at the office working hard on further updates. Brian will outline our decisions about the distribution of servers for the future, Mirek will show you how close-range combat and camera collision look in 0.63, and Victor is talking about gun animations. Let's have a look!
Contents This Week
- Dev Update/Hicks
- Dev Update/Eugen
- Dev Update/Peter
- Dev Update/Mirek
- Dev Update/Viktor
- Dev Update/Adam
- Community Spotlight
I thought this Status Report would be a perfect time to clarify some things with the hive, and the server browser for those that may have missed me speaking about it in 2016. I'm sure some of you may have noticed that the production team recently made the move to separate the Official DayZ servers into their own section of the hive, independent from the community hosted public servers. (Albeit with some difficulty on the game server provider side of properly configuring those community rented publics). One of the things Peter and I sat down and talked about when we looked at how we wanted the server browser to look moving into Beta and beyond, was making it crystal clear for new and existing users what servers were official, and what were user run (as well as modded, of course). Tied into this was a need to divide progression made on user hosted servers from progression on the official DayZ experience. Allowing folks to rent servers introduced a good deal of potential methods to exploit how localized server storage operates, which in turn can flood the public hive with ill-gotten gear. Trying to tackle this by limiting what can be done on the hosting side in the end just limits more and more what those server operators can do, and puts an unneeded responsibility on the limited support resources that are available.
For me (and I think I can safely say for Peter as well) we needed to be certain what the initial experience a new user to DayZ would be experiencing. From a design perspective, it is very hard to be certain exactly what new users are encountering if we aren't clearly presenting them with a straight path to an official experience the first time they play the game. Sure, naming conventions for official servers worked okay for a bit - but at a certain point it just turns into tribal knowledge. The users who have been around for a while, or those who came from the mod understand, but new users can find it daunting. This is why when putting together the first mockups of the new server browser we made sure to earmark a few things:
- Separating Official, Community, and Modded servers into their own tabs
- Splitting the Official Servers off from the rest of the public hive to be certain the experience in them comes from them alone
- Maintaining the public hive on rented servers to continue that tradition of a shared character across many DayZ servers
When the new server browser finally gets to the point in which these tabs are in and functional, the whole layout will make much more sense to existing and new users. The first thing they (new users) should experience is DayZ exactly as the developers had intended it. Obviously, if said new user has friends on a community or modded server he/she can navigate there easily. I know it seems like a small thing in the grand scheme of the whole project, and probably fairly trivial given the massive undertaking that beta is with the animation system, new user actions, and so on - but the devil is in the details and as far as I'm concerned, we as a development team needed to take steps to make it easier to understand, and get into the official Bohemia Interactive run experience. Allow folks to easily know what servers they can be certain persistence isn't reset on, and so forth.
The rest of the team will have more interesting and exciting things to talk about this week I'm sure - but I wanted to make sure I took time to address these in progress changes to the organization of the hive, and its intent.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
0.62 has hit stable and we tried to livestream after a longer period of time to start practicing for what lies ahead. Hope you liked it! The strike team for this patch will join rest of our efforts here and march on with BETA tasks forward. That said, for 0.62 you can expect a bit more fixes to the most crucial issues that we can reasonably look into, rolling them to experimental and stable over time. Some of the changes I`ve seen today to coloring of the map and vegetation are amazing. I`m very happy with the visuals that guys have been able to produce. Were also looking into server crashes from storage (persistance) corruption, vehicle tweaks and server browser separation as mentioned by Brian. But there are limits to what we can offer in reasonable time for the old client.
The track for BETA has moved forward and keeps its focus on weapons and gunplay. So discussions on handling particles, state machines and weapon manipulation are always happening around the office with all people handling their parts of the game in all the features that are on their way for BETA.
Since there is not that much to report in terms of scope or change of focus. I'll share some interesting stories or problems we have been dealing with in the past two weeks. One of the bigger issues that is bothering us right now is tied to animation of weapons. As the technology changes you have details that can only be built when rest of the modules are in place and testable. Looking at the internal build of the game there are some funny bugs all around the new stuff that one might get a good laugh from but there is no way they can make it live.
While player is animating properly and even uses inverse kinematics in the new modules, configs are getting set up, player turns are tweaked. There are elements on weapons that need to be animated as well. It's one of the older parts of the engine originally and if any of the modders remember. Animating proxies on weapons have been done through configuration files and in text. We're moving away from that, but because how tied it is to some of the not refactored parts we are encountering some interesting things from parts of weapons flying around to being invisible at times. There apparently is still something left that has not been identified properly and we need to solve it as soon as possible. Refactoring something as large as RV engine certainly has its challenges and these things are hard to predict with codebase that old.
Even from a knowhow standpoint it's not about the skills of the programmer himself, but rather the lack of documentation or knowledge how the previous system has been setup, and why. And as such the debugging of these issues takes time and going forward we want to eliminate as much of the smaller details that are still set up the old way. Its hours of research and digging from unknown code. And some of you might have a experience doing that.
On the other hand were also battling the stability of the application itself. As all of you have been plagued by memory crashes, which are very hard to diagnose properly and fix. I have stories of similar issues even taking a year to debug from different projects I had pleasure working with. However were very much focusing on it with internal build as even the development environment gets very frustrating when you can`t iterate without crash sneaking up on you at random times.
Funny thing is when you look at callstacks from these crashes, they usually just end up in memory sensitive parts of the engine, but the actual issue might have happened minutes before. And tracking it down is an enormous undertaking. We're not taking these issues lightly as for BETA none of these hard stoppers should be present.
To give a glance at the currently open development items in our teams:
• UI Inputs bugfixes
• Communication systems optimization
• Weapon handling and aiming
• Vehicle physics refactor
• Vehicle controller refactor
• 3rd person camera collision changes
• FNX basic state machine and script class tweaking
• IZH18 basic state machine and script class tweaking
• Animation events for player
• Physics collision system refactor and optimization
• Melee damage types
• Different damage levels in selections
• Attachments refactor
• Animals spawning
• AI hierarchy refactor
• Tons of crash fixing
• Tons of bug fixes
• Throwing animations
• Two handed hit reactions
• Player turns for pistols
• Rifle hit reactions
• IZH18 animation tweaks
• Combat player graph
• Fireplace new particle system implementation
• Traps with grenades
• Drag and drop for final inventory design
• Player action targeting and floating cursor
• Communication systems
• Quantity refactor
• Advanced placing system tweaks
• Construction watchtower
• Animation events for player
• New zombie models
• New player models
• Animation events for player
• Server browser separation
• Area damage
• Crafting framework
• Vehicle tweaks
• Positional environment audio tweaks
• Infected audio recording preparation
• Player and weapon animation events setup
• Playtesting the 0.62 update
• 0.62 feature testing
• Internal client stabilization
• Old assets rework
• Buildings optimization
• Doors unification
• Weapon tweaks for new gunplay
• Car wrecks
• New rock formations
• Color tweaks for Chernarus
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
As we want to accent official DayZ experience vs community one in long run, we separated shards for official and community servers with release of the 0.62 version. Now with upcoming update for 0.62 you will see this change reflected in server browser too. Instead of one 'Internet' tab there are now two tabs to make it clear. First 'Official' tab with all servers operated directly by Bohemia Interactive, while second 'Community' tab pools all servers rented by users.
Further work is being made on crafting system. Now, with item in hands, it's possible to initiate crafting and choose between recipes directly looking at another item in the world, or from the quick bar by holding a slot where said item is assigned. Such possibilities for crafting will help to minimize inventory use. On the other side of core features spectrum, we are working hard in close cooperation with animators and programmers on ranged and melee combat. Focus is currently mostly on the aiming model for firearms (weapon handling part is being worked on in parallel of course), which is combination of hands IK, character turns, it ensures that weapon is always pointing what you are looking at, that model also handles sights misalignment, sway which could be modified by character state from modifiers to stamina and hold breath, and recoil modified by weapon's attachments. Light and heavy hit impacts are now connected to hit events and are played character being hit from both types of combat. We would like to add one more hit impact to the mix which is a knockdown to the ground at the end of combo. You can read more about upcoming new melee combat in one of past Status Reports. I will get back to firearms in more detail in some upcoming Status Reports.
Do you remember that injured animation shown in our official DayZ Early Access launch trailer from the end of 2013? We finally plugged in the injured set of animations to the new character and it directly reflects your health state. Additionally, we also added exhausted idle animation which is connected to the stamina system. With these changes, we are getting closer to our ideal state where it should be easy to observe other character to see what they are actually doing and to judge their overall condition.
Believe what you see... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
First of all, I would like to write about the 0.62 branch state. We have received some important data about client and server crashes, which should help us to stabilize the build present on the stable branch, so hopefully there will be stability improvements soon. We have also merged the fix candidate for floating vehicles and very important physics optimization. Currently, physics is consuming most of the CPU resources (at least on servers), so we hope this optimization will significantly improve server performance. These merges will be available on experimental branch today or tomorrow and we will be very happy if there will be enough players, so we will be able to confirm that this optimization is working well.
On 0.63 - we're cooperating closely with designers and animators. The most of work goes into weapon manipulation now. This basically means we're creating new finite states machines for handling the weapon logic and connecting all weapon manipulation animations into these state machines. If everything goes right, we will show you how firing, reloading, chambering, unjamming and other mechanics look in the next status report.
Another big part of the game - close range fight - is in progress. You saw some animations before, today I would like to show you how first hit animations are looking.
3rd person camera collisions have received some tweaks last two weeks. We are trying to add some dynamics, when camera is obstructed - so here you can see some work in progress stuff.
Please keep in mind we're showing work in progress state, things can change during development and it's very likely that all these features will be tweaked also in the beta stage of development.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer
Today I would like to share with you an update from the animations department. In past weeks, we have been focused mainly on player character and weapons. The latest additions to the player are improved turns when standing still. For animations, this means improving and redoing turn animations for all items. We are iterating this now in cooperation with our animation programmer to find the best result that looks and feels good.
Weapons have received some love as well. We have finished all unjamming animations, and we are focusing on implementation. First guns are now animated in the game. We are adding the missing animations like recoil and dry fire for each weapon. At the same time the logic for these firearms is being made so each weapon knows what the character can do with it. Basically, we need to cover all the states the weapon can have and provide animations for it.
We have started implementing hit reactions for the player character. There will be light and heavy animation for each direction, each item and each stance. That is some decent amount of animation data, but we already have a working prototype in the game.
Last but not least, there was small mocap session last week. We have captured some new gestures. Some of them are already implemented and some will be in the upcoming weeks. The gestures menu will now include new signals like Come, Watch, Down, Move, some new taunts and others that were requested by the community.
- Viktor Kostik / Lead Animator
As I have mentioned on the live-stream last week, we plan to include additional tweaks to the color of clutter (grass and other miscellaneous objects in forests) for the version 0.62 in the nearest stable update window. I'm glad to announce our environment designer Mark has prepared the first iteration of these changes and it is available on the experimental branch for you to check out. For the full list of changes made please visit the appropriate experimental thread on the official forums HERE.
- Adam Franců / Senior map designer
So many things happened last week and we are glad everything turned out as planned, because we really made a lot of work on it.
First, we organized an event for content creators and their friends on the new castle the West. It was a PVP event in which one side defended the castle and the other attacked it with the equipment they brought with them. 51 people joined the server, unfortunately not everyone managed to get to the castle, because some of them were killed by wolves or by infected, which are simply the risks of the game. We had 14 members of the dev team there, including the lead designer Peter Nespesny and Sumrak, who is taking care of the Chernarus map and created the castle in which the event took place. The battle was really bloody and the defenders used all their strength to keep the attackers in front of the gates, but eventually succumbed and the attackers took the castle for themselves. I would like to congratulate the winners who earned their victory. How the event looked through the eyes of the attackers can be seen in a video by Jakon72:
Some of the participants in a group photo before start of the battle.
Photo of the winners who conquered the castle by Redseven.
Thanks so much to all who attended and we are looking forward to seeing you again on another event.
We were running live stream in our office at the same time as the event. We announced the switch of 0.62 update from the Experimental branch to the Stable branch. Lead producer Eugen Harton, lead designer Peter Nespesny, senior map designer Adam Francu and brand manager Martin Čulák jointly discussed what you can expect from the update 0.62 and other interesting topics. In case you missed it, you can find the video on our YouTube channel.
We also released a video that shows the main features of the new update. If you have not seen it, you should definitely watch it because it is very good and it does not take you more than two minutes.
I would also like to address my colleagues' request from the Feedback Tracker. We need to get as much information as possible about the crashes that happen to you on the Stable and Experimental branches. Therefore, I am asking you to contact our Feedback Tracker in case of crash and upload files from the C:\Users\YourPCName\AppData\Local\DayZ folder to help to solve the crash problems.
We would like to thank for the reports about leather not getting tanned in barrels. Over the weekend you came up with an incredible number of tickets for this issue and we are just looking into it now. And of course, if you encounter any other bugs, we will be happy if you report it to our Feedback Tracker.
Channel Pitstop Head made a two-part talk about DayZ with our creative director Brian Hicks, which is really interesting and can give you answers to some of the questions bothering you.
And the last piece of community content I'd like to share with you is an amazing artwork by Dominik Figlhuber, who has been able to turn an ordinary DayZ screenshot into amazing art. Simply beautiful, thank you for sharing it with us!
Waiting at daytime. Alternative edit.
And one last thing, I would like to show you a photo I secretly photographed in the office when the designers were discussing weapons for the update 0.63. It's not of a good quality, but I thought you might be interested. And shhh, don't tell them, they do not like taking pictures.
Thank you for your content survivors and see you in two weeks!
Header image by Harold Palmer.
- Baty / Community Manager