The last few months for DayZ has included a lot of review meetings. Both technical and gameplay design related - and now it's come that time where we have some solid information to share with you all on the upcoming 0.63 Experimental and Stable updates. Where we are with it, what we're looking at it being - and in short to offer some clear transparency to you all looking at it forward.
Some of this information might be frustrating to read, and some of it might get your own internal hype train running. The important thing from the information we will be laying out today is that you all understand where we are with the move away from legacy DayZ, and why we've made the decisions we have.
That said, I'll let Eugen take it away and guide you all through what we're looking at.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Hello everyone. Being candid is the core of the relationship we have as a studio with you, our community. That includes openly talking about things that we know will cause a lot of disappointment and negative feelings. I'll start right of the bat with one such thing: unfortunately, there will be no other major release this year (that means we won't be releasing 0.63 on neither Experimental and Stable branches).
PLANS FOR THE REST OF 2017 & 0.63 EXPERIMENTAL GOALS
I'm going to be very straightforward: along with releasing 0.62 Stable, it has been our main internal goal to get 0.63 Experimental out this year (as mentioned in Status Report on April 18) - we have put pretty much all our resources on that task, but as of now, we already know that the scope we will be able to achieve by the end of 2017 does not represent a full DayZ experience, and therefore blocks the 0.63 Experimental release..
Large chunks of the core gameplay loop are just now getting more settled, but there are still core features that are heavily work in progress, or not implemented - for example vaulting, swimming, and vehicles - and unfortunately that means that despite all the progress we've made on the other parts of the game, this is still not enough for a potential Experimental release.
We do understand that all you guys want is to play 0.63 - and while it would be possible to have some Experimental 0.63 release this year that would be relatively stable and enjoyable for a short period of time, just releasing something is not a viable approach this time around. Both 0.63 Experimental and 0.63 Stable (= BETA) are key releases for us, as they are the last steps before we leave Early Access.
And since it's so important, we have a set of so called epic goals that are implemented into everything we're making for the game in the new engine. These goals are:
We want to avoid any issues from lack of oversight in development or project architecture - for example we just want to make sure that our infected numbers and player numbers per server are as high as possible, and both DayZ client and server apps maintaining good, reliable up-time.
To get a better understanding of what still needs to be done on our end before we can push the first 0.63 Experimental, read through this bullet point overview of our focus areas.
EXPERIMENTAL RELEASE TO-DO
All of these work in progress features are in different stages of development, and have a team or person dedicated to its completion. This is the functionality we want to see finalised before Experimental release. Any existing 0.62 features not listed here or down below in future goals are either done now in 0.63, or in the phase of polishing and bug fixing.
- Ladder climbing
- Player Dynamics
- Player inertia
- Player turns
The features above have all data ready, but need bugfixing or smaller technology changes to make them playable and polished for Experimental. We're mostly talking visual glitches here.
- Prone combat
- 360 degree aiming
- Combo attacks
Combat and stances are mostly done, but there are issues with full aiming space in prone - either in working with camera, or visual glitches. Evades and blocks are being tweaked to be a fun gameplay element.
- Camera collisions
There are still issues with player camera when it comes to collisions indoors and we want to make sure to eliminate any edge cases that can be used to gain advantage.
- Character Representation
- Stats (Health, Energy, Water, Blood, Shock)
- Hit reactions
- Enviromental exposure
The list of character modifiers above is implemented, but needs heavy tweaking and configuration changes to be an actual survival element. The systems are there, but need time to settle down.
- General gameplay
- Item Driven Actions
- Enviroment Actions
When it comes to interacting with your fellow players or crafting, content and data is available in the internal build, but needs a lot of testing, and probably control scheme changes. It needs to be a fluid part of your DayZ experience.
- Player Audio
As you may have seen in previous reports, there is a large focus on implementing player audio, adding lots of different cues about your state. Since the system is event based and tied in with animation data, we can realistically be adding these only when things get reasonably finalised.
- Weapon systems
When it comes to weapon systems, we have them available in-game, except for scopes and jamming being affected by ammo quality, but all of them need tweaking and a lot of bugfixing.
- Weapon visuals
- Particle effects
The system is available, we just need to create the content for all BETA weapons that are going to be released for Experimental
- Advanced combat
- Expanded behaviour
- Improved movement
A whole lot of the issues with the infected are based on AI and its implementation, which needs to be expanded. Data has already been prepared, and we will start looking into making the gameplay fun starting next year.
- Herding Behaviour
Data for animal features is prepared and going through final polish. However, we want to expand their behaviour beyond what is available in the internal client now.
- Character Status
- Action widget
- Main Menu
- Character selection
- Options screen
All of the UI systems in-game are reworked using the new technology, there are tons of bugs to cover, but we also want to spend time looking into visuals of these elements, and make sure they work for players and are not an obstacle to their progress.
I know the tone may be a bit grim, but from my personal experience as a gamer with DayZ, it's very hard to go back to 0.62 once you play even the broken internal version. There is a promise of many good things to come. Lots of things to look forward to for the first experimental release. Even if you look at the missing pieces above, that will be there. There is just so much to explore.
- new crafting
- new central economy
- new zombies
- new animals
- completely revamped ranged combat
- with much more manual control
- completely revamped melee combat
- with combos and evading mecahnics
- lot more strategy
- new and quite significant map changes
- diseases that mix things up
- injuries that change your movement
- new movement and stealth
- redefined spawns
- new damage system and hitzones
- for both players and animals
- new visuals for particles or blood
- amazing new animation system that makes everything so frickin smooth
- remade buildings
- more players per server
- more zombies per server
- MUCH less network issues
- and SO. MUCH. MORE.
During the time between the release of 0.63 Experimental to the release of 0.63 Stable (PC BETA), we will add a couple more features that are missing from the list above. Namely vehicles, helicopters and base-building. We'll also keep adding weapons to get to our 0.62 standards
There are specific gameplay elements that we have talked about previously, for example melee with ranged weapons, or climbing over obstacles that are quite complicated, and are generally part of the overall vision, so we might be experimenting with those during the time between the first Experimental and BETA.
Although we are no longer waiting for any large technology implementation, there is still a lot of polish that we want to go through before we get it out. Realistically looking at the status of our internal build, and having about three weeks left in 2017, that is obviously not enough time to tackle all the things above. Because of that, our goal is to have the 0.63 Experimental out as soon in 2018 as possible, so that we can start gathering feedback, pushing further Experimental updates, and focus on the next major goal ahead: releasing the PC BETA build (= 0.63 Stable).
FEATURE & CONTENT GOALS FOR PC BETA
Let's just state the obvious: the PC BETA is not coming before the end of 2017. We tried to get it done sooner, but it's going to be 2018 folks. Both the BETA update and any further 0.63 updates, up to 1.0, will happen in 2018, which is shaping up to be one of the most important years for DayZ. That is as much as we are sure of yet. I'll be honest, it has been a long wait already - even for us - but that's all we got now.
DayZ BETA is not meant to be a feature complete game from our point of view. It's a start of a platform that will be extended by us, and can be extended by the modding community. When we kick-started DayZ, one of the most challenging projects at Bohemia, the aim was to bring both the game AND a new engine out to you - a complete game platform. Almost all company resources were focused there. It’s a giant undertaking that bit us in the ass, but we kept our focus on delivering that envisioned platform.
By saying platform, I mean an ecosystem where we are able to keep adding things and building the DayZ community from PC BETA onward. We have talked about a number of features over the years that we intend to deliver, but our strongest focus has been put on the core loop of the game. There, we need to get things right, otherwise it would be a giant waste of time. For all of us, and for all of you. So after the PC BETA of DayZ gets out, we will focus on polishing the core gameplay loop, and adding content - but until we reach 1.0, we want to stay away from expanding the scope of the game further by additional features.
Just to be clear: features mean large gameplay loops on their own, for example persistence, or the infected. By content, I mean particular weapon, car, or environment asset models. In short, content is anything that provides more options within given features, or provides more of general visual appeal.
For the PC BETA (again, that's the first 0.63 Stable update, and any 0.63 patches between that and 1.0 - there's no 0.64 or 0.65 planned), we've set a pretty clear feature and content goals. We're ready to share them now, let's start with features.
DAYZ BETA FEATURES
With regards to features, anything that's already in 0.62 legacy build will be present in BETA. Features listed below are either completly new, or improved significantly over the legacy implementation.
This major, fundamental feature set ultimately influences everything you as players do in the game - from basic movements to combat. It's an area where DayZ BETA most noticeably improves over the legacy DayZ builds.
- Player representation
- Internal representation
- Enviromental exposure
- Player controller
- Functional, overhauled physics
- Functional network synchronisation
- User actions overhaul
- Enviromental actions
- Item driven actions
- Doors overhaul
- unified door sizes
- Improved movement
- ladders, swimming, drowning, vaulting, climbing, falling
- unconscious states, death states and animations, captive states
- suicide animations
- item throwing, grenades
- hit reactions
- stamina and item weight
- movement up / down slopes
- movement inertia
- moves and animations related to player/vehicle interaction
- Ranged combat overhaul
- new aiming model
- hold breath
- iron sights aiming behaviour
- scope aiming behaviour
- weapons using the new animation system
- Melee combat overhaul
- better target selection
- simple combos, blocks, evades
- melee weapons using the new animation system
- Prone combat
DayZ shines in player interactions, but as part of the environment, the infected are meant to represent a significant hurdle when scavenging through the towns and villages of Chernarus. Compared to legacy implementation, the goal for BETA is mostly to improve the infected in following areas:
- Better target selection
- Better movement in crowds (improved collisions)
- Zombie hordes
- Advanced combat behaviour
- Multiple melee attacks
- Expanded combat tactics
- Vehicle interaction
- More movement options and variation
- Realistic sensors
Animals in DayZ also play an important role in interaction with the environment. They can be both a source of food, and a dangerous enemy when players meet with a predator. Our goals here for BETA are as following:
- Realistic sensors
- Better behaviour
- Better movement
- More variety
Cars, together with basebuilding a helicopters, represent a pinnacle of player progression in DayZ. They require maintenance and parts, and will be expanded by core technology changes, improving their usability and reliability:
- Significantly improved network synchronisation, physics and simulation
- Damage system
- large improvement to how damage is managed on vehicles
- Vehicle maitenance
- large improvement in vehicle managment, usage and functions
- improved control scheme and options
There are tons of features that support the gameplay and core loop, and even though most are ported over, there are some that have gone through singificant changes and refactoring. Some are completly new:
- Improved performance
- Improved reliability
- Central Economy
- Expanded configuration options
- Improved tools
- Improved precision
- Dynamic events
- Advanced placing
- Watch tower
- Hesco barriers
- large improvement in vehicle managment, usage and functions
A lot of work has gone into making sure that the engine that DayZ BETA is using, even though there is lot more development to be done going forward, expands the capabilties that both we and modders have available:
- New scripting language
- New rendering
- New player controller
- New AI
- Network optimizations
- Synchronization refactor
- New animation system
- New pipelines
- New particle system
- New UI system
- Console support
- New physics
- New tools
Modding has always been a large part of Bohemia DNA, DayZ is no different. Bcause of all the new technology, you should be able to expand upon your ideas and change parts of the game that weren't moddable before:
- New toolset
- New particle editor
- New material editor
- New animation editor
- New script editor
- UI editor
- Zone/Central economy editor
- Server configuration
- Client configuration
- Toolset access
- Mod Publishing
Alongside DayZ BETA, we will release an official dedicated server toolset. Available both on Linux and Windows, it should create (alongside other tools) a core of DayZ community in the future.
- Available free on steam
- Logging and stats
- Expanded options for logging
- Server configuration expanded
- Improved login/logout behaviour
- Local database
- Player database
- Central economy setup
- Server side mission
- Hive backend application
- Full access to our tools to setup a hive and grow communities beyond shards.
If you remember our 2015 roadmap, you probably think some features are missing. Taking a quick look at our goals for 2015 (when we originally wanted to reach BETA), that's correct - in order to not further hinder our plans for a functional core gameplay loop in BETA, we decided that some of those features will be added later in a form of free platform updates after 1.0:
Aerial Transport (Specifically planes)
The only feature we've decided to cut completely from our original 2015 feature list areanimal companions. That plan was simply way too ambitious - we don't have the tech to create that feature to a certain quality degree now, and we don't see having that tech in a near future.
This decision to move some features after 1.0 surely deserves detailed explanation. Let's go point by point.
With vehicles, we are absolutely certain that we want to eventually offer more variety in them, but a system of modifications to vehicles adds additional layer of complexity to the entire vehicles feature, and it would only further limit the amount of vehicles we would be able to release initially with BETA.
Barricading is depended on a large piece of underlying code that we originally intended to have available much sooner, and so in order to progress further, we had to make a decision whether to initially support barricading, or base building - and base building won the "contest" as the more interesting option for BETA
When it comes to aerial transport, we do want to have helicopters in before 1.0, but making planes accessible would mean a lot of extra time in development, slowing down what everybody wants the most, and that is to play DayZ BETA. Planes will be making their way into DayZ, but not with BETA/1.0.
Then, everybody's favourite: bikes and motorbikes. We've said that before, but sadly, as weird as it may sound to a person not involved in game dev, creating single track vehicles properly takes a massive amount of animation and programming work that we want to invest into other parts of the game for BETA - such as achieving overall polish of features like the character movement, double track vehicles, or user actions.
DAYZ BETA CONTENT
As far as content is concerned, we've had to make some more shuffling around, and the initial BETA release won't maintain a 1 to 1 parity with the content in 0.62 legacy version. That said, content is easier to implement than features or core technology, and the progress there will be quite fast during BETA/post 1.0.
- definitely in BETA
- most likely in BETA, definitely by 1.0
- Civilian Sedan
- Littlebird helicopter
- Red 9
- CZ61 Skorpion
- Izh43 (both variants)
- Assault Rifles
- Mosin (all variants)
- Winchester 70
- Bow & Crosswbow
- possibly later after initial BETA release, but definitely by 1.0
When it comes to content, we again follow a priority list from visual and gameplay standpoint. The process, however, also applies to all the content we have created for legacy builds, as it needs to be re-implemented for the new engine and new scripting language.
It's no small undertaking. We have been working on just this part for a little over two years already. However, we have to be realistic - there is some content that does not impact gameplay heavily, and thus has lower implementation priority.
The items and their variety must support gameplay first and foremost, so some things you love, or got excited about on our Trello board, will come later on. We have set up content teams for weapons already and they are making sure we get to closing the complete list as fast as we can.
Any previously announced content (be it from any official sources like our Twitter account, DayZ.com or the DayZ Trello board) and any content that's now in the 0.62 legacy build will eventually make it to DayZ - either as regular content drops during BETA, or as part of planned free content updates after 1.0.
1.0 GOALS, POST RELEASE PLANS & CONSOLE VERSIONS
We've covered what goes into BETA, and talked about some things that we want to add later on. Most of what'll be left to do after BETA and 1.0 is defined in the list below. Please do not hesitate to ask us (in this forums thread) about any feature/content piece that you feel was announced, but is missing in here. We will do our best to react to your input, as we may have lost track of some smaller things over time.
1.0 / POST RELEASE FEATURE GOALS
As suggested, we want to continue development after 1.0 release, and the list below represents our top priority features to work on after 1.0.
- firing from vehicles
- single track vehicles
- bleeding treatment per limb/wound
- area based occurrence of diseases and pollution
- water streams
- different ammunition types in a magazine
CONTENT FOR RELEASE BEFORE 1.0 / POST 1.0
For the rest, our goal is to get as close to 0.62 content as possible during all BETA updates, but we can not 100% estimate which particular weapons, animals or vehicles will be ready for 1.0. We're putting all the remaining content under one list for that reason.
- 1911 (both variants)
- Glock 19
- Derringer (all variants)
- PMR RAK
- Mini UZI
- MP133 with pistol grip
- Assault Rifles
- FN FAL
- Machine Guns
- Non-lethal weapons
- Recurve Bow
- Skoda 1203
- Skoda 120
- VW Golf
Rest assured, DayZ is not a done deal after BETA and 1.0. As I mentioned above, DayZ is a game AND a platform, and we intend on keeping DayZ alive for as long as it's viable (take a look at our Arma 3 example - splendid 4 years of post-launch development and support!). We also have some fantastic opportunities ready for the modding community.
As soon as the PC BETA is headed in a way we like, we're still committed to bringing DayZ to Xbox, where we have a large community of gamers patiently (very patiently!) waiting for a truly hardcore online survival game. All of that will (and must) happen next year - meaning we're just about to start what could possibly be the most exciting year for DayZ so far. In short: DayZ will be out of Early Access next year, and we'll also finally deliver it to console players in 2018.
Make no mistake: this commitment is done taking all of our previous scheduling mistakes into the account. We're serious about it.
SUMMARY & CONCLUSION
2018 is going to be an important year for us in the studio, as our long term work finally makes its way out there. We sure take our time, but I truly believe that people only remember great games, and not how long it took to make them.
I hope that despite the somewhat disappointing nature of this Status Report (in terms of not having another major release this year), we still managed to hold on to the support from the most dedicated among you. We'd love to follow up with an open Q&A on our forums, where I and our community team will do our best to answer your questions regarding any specific features or content.
Before the end of the year, we'll also provide a video summary of this text, with some further details and footage from 0.63.
Thank you all for staying with us, Survivors. We're almost there - after all the excruciating wait, and all the tests of patience, there are some really good times ahead of us. In BETA we trust!
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
Header picture by MAMAD_NZR