This week, you'll hear from our Creative Director Brian Hicks and our Lead Producer Eugen Harton - as the department leads are fully focused on catching up on their tasks after a short Easter holiday, both Brian and Eugen are doing their best to report for them. Both also explain why some of the long-announced content isn''t in the game yet, and what needs to be done to have it available during BETA.
Mind you, while our today's Status Report is a bit of a long read, it's also full of vital development information on the upcoming 0.62 and BETA updates, so get comfy, pour yourself a drink of your preference and reserve some time for reading - it's worth it! Also, Baty has some nice eye-candy bonus at the very end, so those who make it all the way through will surely be rewarded :)
Contents This Week
I watch a good deal of DayZ Twitch streams and YouTube videos in my free time - and over the last week or so, I saw something that concerned me: hearing conversation in regards to gameplay mechanics or systems currently implemented in the most basic form, and if they are intended (by developers) to ever change.
Between the new user actions and rewrite to Enforce script, and the decision for designers to stop writing new systems in SQF and focus entirely on creating new gameplay systems in the new tech - it can easily seem (to those who don't closely follow development) that we just don't care about the issues currently on the Steam build, or don't ever intend to address them. That couldn't be farther from the case.
For example, Peter and I have been going over functional issues with the central economy we want to see addressed for BETA and beyond - these aren't things that are being ignored. Far from it, but as always, the goal for the team is getting to the final product as quickly and efficiently as possible.
While the economy functions at a playable level and much of the technology required for the final product is there, the priority for the programmers responsible for the Central Economy of DayZ moves on to the next piece of the puzzle - in this particular case, support for public access to server files and required software, modding, and off-line mode.
When those critical technology tasks (that are being worked on by those specific programmers) are implemented into the internal version of the game, that's where we can shift our focus on iterating upon some of the functional issues of the Central Economy.
What kind of functional issues with the economy? Well - just to list a few:
Dynamic Event spawning behavior
Dynamic Event item spawn quantity control
Zone/Area restricted items bunching up in specific towns after extended persistence uptime
Repeated spawns of the same item types in a structure
Consistent availability of early game basic supplies
Also take a look at Peter's contribution to the last SR[dayz.com] - it's a good example of how the current state of things is not final, how our features and systems will be iterated upon and improved.
To be honest, there isn't much of anything in the Alpha phase of DayZ that is functionally (from a design perspective) "complete". Nearly every gameplay system or mechanic the player touches is at a basic functional level, meaning the tech/script/animations are present and it operates in one way or another. Fleshing it out, addressing functional and gameplay issues - that isn't something we should be wasting time and resources on, especially when so much of it is being replaced.
"What about all that cool stuff you guys have shown for years but never ended up in the game?" You might ask - "What happened to that?!" - While I know both Eugen and myself have discussed this before, I can't fault anyone for missing it - it certainly is not easy trying to search or go back through Status Reports on http://dayz.com/ at the very least.
Nearly everything that has been discussed since we stopped prototyping gameplay mechanics in SQF, stopped creating animations for new items on the old animation system, and so on is, and has been worked on. I know it can seem like cool things like base building, soft skills, or player facial hair growth has disappeared because we haven't publicly associated it with a specific release.
The reality of the situation is, with pretty much everything on that proverbial list being dependent upon the new player, and the focus for BETA being on getting the game stable and playable on the new engine modules - we're playing our cards close to the chest.
While we may end up with a BETA candidate build that has a huge chunk of the content and gameplay systems backlog functional in it - it's just as possible that we'll end up with a smaller chunk of the backlog content and systems in that first BETA build, and the rest of the list will follow up as quick as possible (which should be at a much quicker pace, having shed a good chunk of our nasty tech debt and overhead from supporting legacy and new tech).
We're in that situation because it is the technology - the foundation of everything inside DayZ that you guys experience - that is setting the pace and progress towards our goals right now.
As we get closer to these core components of DayZ's underlying technology being functional and usable in a multiplayer state, we can better gauge what the gameplay and content ingredients of the BETA milestone are.
I know for some of you, a good deal of this is information is something you all already know, as Eugen and I both have spoken on it several times before (and I couldn't have put it better than Eugen's contribution to the last SR), but for as many of you that may follow development closely and know all this already - there are just as many that might have missed some of this down the pipe.
You know what they say: now they know... and knowing is half the battle.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Hi there survivors, since some of you appreciated my last Status Report contribution[dayz.com], I'm going to try and keep them as regular as possible. While knowing that my wall of text is not going to be an easy read for everyone, I do believe it's necessary to try and write stuff in technical detail in order to have an provide an honest coverage of what's happening in the DayZ Dev Team offices.
There will be a lot of stuff happening over the coming months, and I want to guide you through it with as much information as possible. At this point, there are two large releases scheduled for this year. and we're fully focused on those. The development is divided into strike teams - a smaller strike team is working on the 0.62 update, which we internally like to call a "Visual Upgrade". It contains tweaks to lighting and new forests, as well as general world fidelity improvements (we have more to come in that department for follow-up/future updates as well).
As far as what that means in a bit more detail, the Visual Upgrade coming with the 0.62 update will feature:
New tree models
New clutter (grass, small plants)
New surface textures (roads, plains and such)
Improved wind behavior
New shader for the wind, affecting trees and grass
Tweaked and changed lighting for the world (for a more apocalyptic feel, yay!)
Small improvements to satellite textures
Rain affected by wind and refinement of its behavior in general
Many reworked locations on Chernarus
Reworked ghillie (to be consistent with new tech
Small bugfixes to some issues from 0.61
The 0.62 update will NOT introduce:
Any changes to gameplay
Any changes to buildings and structures (in terms of model graphical fidelity)
Any changes to player model fidelity
Any changes to animation fidelity
Any of the gameplay changes, or new content that we've been occasionally mentioning in Status Reports (those are all scheduled for BETA/0.63)
After this milestone, the strike team for 0.62 will merge with the current 0.63 strike team, and join their efforts to reach BETA on our Steam branches as soon as possible. BETA/0.63 will be a major change for the game as a whole. That is the update that you guys have all been waiting for, and we have been working hard to reach that goal for the past few years. What does that mean in more concrete terms though?
All the new engine technology we have developed for DayZ, along with the content of the current game - all merged in and improved, as it has been refactored from functionality point, design-wise, and in terms of fidelity as well. Moreover, additional content and features that we couldn't properly implement on the legacy tech.
Besides all the refined features, content and overall improvements to the DayZ experience, we also aim to release a handy toolset very near to (or along with) the initial BETA/0.63 update. This toolset will contain the much-requested server files.
I know you are all asking: But when?!?! As much as I would love to tell you now, we want to be able to deliver a seamless core gameplay loop without bugs breaking it at first. Our main goal now is to get the melee combat and ranged combat work on the new technology, and in a real game environment, not only in a debug mode.
A lot of work has been done already (like new synchronization, damage system, player representation, and more), so this means mostly adding support in synchronization, and adding content for new features in the animation system are ahead of us, but it's still a lot to handle.
So just so you get the idea of what work is being done at the moment (from the perspective of disciplines):
Refactor of hard coded world interactions to script. There were still a couple left (opening doors for example). Creation of core synchronization model for these
Moving VOIP to server authoritative completely
New weapons API for weapon script implementation
Inventory conditions implementation for item states and more
Optimizations of item spawning for server performance
AI script API for behavior modification
New player spawn definition
New item spawn definition
Vehicle behavior in new technology
Backend toolset (srvlet) for central manipulation of economy, and server management (community version)
User actions manager for the new synchronization model
Player representation refactor and debug functionality for new player (visualization and toggles for testing and manipulation)
New hierarchy of item configurations (includes new technology like damage system, procedural coloring and such)
Data re-structuralization to suit the new setup (file structures at the moment)
Inventory refactor and optimization according to internal version
Integration of soft skills to actions in game
Electricity and its implementation
Placing of items in world and its implementation
Implementation of animation player turns
Polishing new weapon animations (unjamming)
Implementation of hit reactions to melee combat in the new system
Work on inverse kinematics and item poses
Tweaking player graph
Implementation of detailed user actions animations
New inverse kinematics implementation
New physics representation for non-player entities
New shaders for trees and grass
Hit reactions in animation system
Synchronization of new animation system
-New models (sorry, don't want to spoil stuff! )
As you can see, there is a lot of work ongoing, in order to implement all the new technology and content. Most of the tasks are now aiming to get things working together as seamlessly as possible, and a lot of them are playable in different debug environments.
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
Hello Survivors, before we look at the community content for the last two weeks, I would like to tell you about a 0.61 crash we are looking for that we are not able to reproduce internally. Your game can crash when connecting to the server after waiting in a queue, and when that happens, that is what we are looking for.
Should this happen to you, we would appreciate if you could send the crash dump files from folder Users\YourPCName\AppData\Local\DayZ to our Feedback Tracker[feedback.bistudio.com].
We are discussing this issue further on our official forums - come join us:
Overall, we welcome reports of any crashes that you will be able to reproduce - please send them together with the dump files using the Feedback Tracker[feedback.bistudio.com]. Every report will massively contribute to speeding up the fixing process of those issues.
If the wallpaper from the last Status Report was not enough for you, we have another one here, that landed on our Twitter account and that could suit your desktop well. Gaming Roach edited his screenshot into an amazing wallpaper with infected as the main theme. You can find his original screenshot here[imgur.com]. You have some talent, man!
Today, I would like to dedicate some space to one of the role-play communities. I am a big fan of role-playing myself, and I really enjoy watching entertaining videos from post-apocalyptic Chernarus. One of them is this video from an RPevent on the whitelisted AftermathRP server that is being organized every 2-3 months. It is about the evacuation of civilians by NATO group from Staroye to Chernogorsk's docklands, while a group of Russian rebels tries to stop them. Here is a part of the official event description from their pages:
"When news first broke out about the virus, many assumed it was just the flu - horrible to have, but with treatment, something you can overcome. This was not because the survivors did not understand what the infected were, it was because of what they were told. Information was withheld to prevent widespread panic, to make evacuations easier and more importantly, to ensure that no one knew what was happening inside of the country, should they ever get out or be able to call home.
NATO started with their evacuation of civilians. They went into towns and camps, large in numbers and ‘rounded up’ those were staying there. If any questions were asked, NATO would simply point to one of the many flu warning posters they had put up around the country and inform people that it is a perfectly normal procedure, and they were just going to check people for symptoms, treat the ill and take the healthy to a safe location."
If you are interested in role-play or if you want to be a participant in the next event here is more information[aftermathdayzrp.com].
Good evening survivors! This week, Viktor shares the second part of his animation Q&A video, Eugen is expanding upon his recent talk on a game dev conference here in Prague, Peter provides an example of the new car damage visualization for BETA and we've talked Adam into making some new comparison images of the new forests!
Additionally, we have Mirek talking about another important milestone we';ve currently reached with our technology and Baty (among other things!) looks back at a pretty cool April Fools joke from one of our community members.
Contents This Week
I don't usually contribute to Status Reports, but since Brian is out of office this week, I'd like to change that and touch upon a topic of DayZ development and Early Access development in general. Brace yourselves, as this will be a bit of a long read (but there's also a video embedded below).
For the start, I understand that a lot of you have concerns about DayZ development. I also do believe there have been some inherent issues with what is, and what is not viable for Early Access development phase, as this is something that was not tried a lot before, and most of it is pioneered (process-wise) as things evolve.
Early Access is a dynamic environment that is quite different from the traditional closed door development. I’m gonna get quite technical, so for those who do not feel like reading a wall of text, I had a presentation at White Nights Prague conference that takes on the subject of this Status Report contribution with less detail:
That said, I do stand by the development decisions we made as a team, but also see major flaws in how one can present changes in games’ underlying technology, where most of these changes are actually the base building blocks which, in time, will be able to provide a significant change of the overall player experience.
All these engine changes are, in the case of DayZ, developed with the aim to keep the game moddable at all levels, with expanded scope. The engine changes for DayZ include
Server-Client architecture (in most systems!)
All gameplay systems written inscript (to a certain degree)
We need to work on all that while we create data and iterate, while we’re slowly trickling some systems into the live game (the public Experimental/Stable branches of DayZ) to test them. That creates a certain lack of visible progress as things are in motion and need time to settle down. These days, many of the base systems are in-game internally, and we are spending a significant amount of time removing a lot of old systems, while interconnecting the new ones.
Let's compare that vision we have for DayZ with the live game that’s out there right now, just so that you have an idea of what it all means in practice.
Live game runs old physics system, where collisions are a giant hog on server performance. To replace that, you basically need to replace everything else, as many of these old systems were hard-coded to a large degree. You need to make an originally monolithic application into a modular one, where all these old systems are interconnected. You almost, almost start from scratch. And as small as it sounds, server performance can break anything. Most of the systems above have not been part of live game because of this dependencies in old structure.
Every issue in DayZ has a reason. Most of those issues that trouble you are known to us, and have a solution somewhere in all this work that we have done, and want to bring to you. Like the stairs killing you, which is a combination of many, many factors: Issues with data binarization, physics, collisions, server-client architecture and even script and player itself.
To fix a “simple” issue like that takes years of work because we really can’t take on any more technical debt and “hack” these fixes into the game to save the day. We play for the long haul, not for the short term gain. And as such, there lies the inherent issue of how to approach early access. Things take time, and you can’t buy patience with a wall of text. You just can’t. And I get that now, when we have to face the truth here, as all these things that we worked for are not in a state to make for a fun game. Yet. That point (where we will present a fun to play game) is BETA for us.
Yes, we could probably, eventually set up a deployment to show each different technology change part by part (like we did with the renderer), but unless you have base the game loop present in a game,it’s just a tech demo. Even if we have all the parts ready, these details (bug fixing, connecting pieces together…) matter a lot.
I’m going to use a simplified story of a decision making that happened around one simple upgrade. How player sounds should work in the future:
Sound in games has a lot more to it than one would imagine at first. Besides the sound data itself (which has to be prepared in context of the technology, as in supporting its data structure, and also allows further data modifications by the underlying game technology that plays the final sound for the player) there is also the important part of letting the game know when it should play a sound. Let's call that an event.
You also need to edit all this in some way, to put events in gameplay that plays the sounds, and edit the sounds themselves, and don’t forget the pipeline for building the game that puts all this in some structure. Events have to be called from script, animations, items, environment... There has to be some logic to it. You need tools to visualize the data, a script to play it, have logic that decides how and why…
Many of these systems were originally hard-coded - hard to tweak, hard to change. So the goal was (and is) to bring them in line with the rest of the DayZ vision, and to make the game modular, editable (visually, if possible) and expandable in the future. So we’re talking about tons of disciplines that are affected, and you can’t do one part of it and think the whole thing will still function.
As you prepare the new technology to be compatible with rest of the new stuff, it is often impossible to keep things compatible. And more than often, you just need to move on and focus only on the new technology.
For example with player sounds, we’re now in process of writing the sound event manager, and then we will need to connect the sounds into data structure, and define events that launch them for new animations of player moving. Meanwhile, we’re also reworking all the textures to prepare the game to recognize surfaces better, or to recognize when a sound is played in interior/exterior. At the same time, we’re implementing a way to edit the data in animation editor, in order to be able to set up these events visually, not just by playing a loop like in the old system. At the end of all this, there will be sounds playing when the foot of the player touches the ground.
It might sound silly at first, but all these things and changes can expand the scope heavily for us and the modders alike. Its not going to be easy, but as I said, we're not going anywhere.
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
Our focus in the animation department is still mostly on melee combat and animations for new user actions. We are still iterating and adjusting animations and the game design to make the combat feel good. However, there is the second part of the animations Q&A video that got finished just minutes ago! In the first part, we were filming at our Motion Capture and studio talking about animations in DayZ in general.
This time, I am trying to explain our upcoming animation system and how it helps us improve the game. You can watch both parts right here:
After the new inventory was publicly released, we were continuously adding and implementing features to it which are directly connected to our ambitious revamp of how systems works with user actions, crafting, attachments and inventory management (you can check Status Reports from 1 March 2016[www.dayz.com] and 29 March 2016[www.dayz.com] to find out more about this effort to unify and simplify different behaviors).
As we were integrating all that stuff, current inventory implementation of scripted UI got bloated and finally became unsustainable. Currently, it's being rewritten from scratch, which may seems scary at first, but it's the right step for a better, cleaner, more functional and most importantly faster inventory UI.
System of gestures was implemented in Enforce script and it's not a hard-coded part of the engine anymore, which offers more possibilities. Powered by the new animation system, it brings smooth controls and seamless transitions from ending part of gesture animations directly to character movement. As over time number of gestures exceeds available function keys, we started the work on a new radial menu UI for gestures picking (binding gestures to function keys is still possible though).
With upcoming changes to vehicle physics and simulations, we are also enhancing visuals for different damage states of vehicles, as well as how to make new abandoned and wrecked ones from all these driveable models we already have. Large attachments like doors, hoods and wheels will be removable from these abandoned and wrecked vehicles, which can be combined with different color and damage states. The fact I like the most is the possibility to interchange all of these per attachment, or on different parts of body, depending on the direction of impact.
For more variation... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
Last week, another major milestone has been met - we've moved animals and infected to the new animation system, which means the internal build of the game is only using one animation system now. This is great, because we can now focus only on one type of implementation, and can remove a lot of the legacy code, which will make our lives a lot easier.
Now we just need to connect existing game features to the new implementations of player and AI entities, and solve issues like AI pushing players etc.
Interaction system with game environment is heavily modified, too. In current 0.61 (and future 0.62) updates, the client side is asking the server side for possible interactions and the server returns a list of these actions. In 0.63, we've decided to get an action list on the client side, so there won't be any latency lag and there will be less network traffic between the client and server.
Also, there is going to be a client side prediction for each performed action, which means that you will see direct response when you press interaction button and server will be able to interrupt these actions in case of faulty prediction (e.g. two players are picking up some item at the same time) or in case of cheating.
Another major change in our internal version was the Voice over Network communication. It's now using client/server architecture as well. This allowed us to optimize voice data traffic, and more importantly, there will no longer be any peer to peer connections between players.
Together with these changes, our scripters should be able to begin with the Enforce Script implementation of new advanced communication features (like public address system or static transmitters).
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer
We've made serious progress on an important milestone task for the release of the 0.62 update - color tweaks for all the new vegetation assets. This task is focused on making sure that all new assets blend together and look just right. In addition to that, we are also utilizing colorization feature[i.imgur.com] that brings much needed local color variety between individual assets.
Please consider content of all pictures in this status report as work in progress. They do not represent final state yet as we are still working on additional color tweaks and other things such as configuration of clutter (grass) and surface mask. Following two pictures show how the color tweaks affected the overall feel of the new Chernarus.
In first picture, you also have the option to compare it with current (0.61) version of Chernarus:
We've also added younger conifer forests to the layout of the new Chernarus forests. In our previous iterations, only older conifer forests were used for all conifer generation shapes. We have prepared a layout and included these younger parts everywhere we thought they would fit.
That not only includes denser spruce, larch and pine forest parts, but also clearings with really young trees. This change should give you an idea that many of the conifer forests on Chernarus were actively harvested for wood, and thus many resemble un-natural shapes.
Following pictures provides an example of young conifer forest parts near Devils Castle (which is one of the more harvested areas on new Chernarus). Again, you have the option to compare following pictures with current (0.61) version of Chernarus.
You may remember that I mentioned a western expansion in earlier status reports. This task is still very much active and just last week, we have replaced all prototype forest on the western part by the generation output. This basically means that the western border now has properly generated forests, same like pretty much the rest of the new Chernarus.
With this, I can happily say that you will be able to enjoy the whole new look of the whole western part of Chernarus in 0.62 update (time to say good bye to the empty lands with few trees!). That being said, this is just the firstiteration, expect many changes with future updates.
This picture is meant as a small teaseer of what you can expect on the western border. Direct comparison to the old Chernarus does not make sense in this case, as the terrain is now vastly different:
- Adam Franců / Map Designer
Dev Update/Community Spotlight
Server Pipsi is preparing an interesting PVP event themed “Australia vs. New Zealand[www.pipsi.net]”. Player slots are filling up quickly, but New Zealand still has couple of available ones, so if you are from Dean Hall’s home country, be sure to sign up!
This amazing teddy bear from streamers and big DayZ fans Queennie and MrBlue, who've been supporting DayZ for several years, arrived to our office. Many thanks for the beautiful and kind letter that warmed our hearts.
When we are on the topic of gifts, DukeTales was showing off a birthday gift from his girlfriend on Reddit[https]. The clock is hand-made and its face is decorated with cans you can recognize from the game. Happy birthday DukeTales!
Next, we would like to show you the absolutely brilliant artwork with DayZ theme by IqfishLP, which he published on Reddit. He even recorded the process of creating it. He managed to transform a common screenshot into this artwork worthy of being your new wallpaper. Great job!
To finish things off, let’s go back to one April Fools’ Day joke which spread through the community a couple of years ago and was initiated by Duro Bulo. I was not yet part of the DayZ team back then and I did fall for it. Duro Bulo started a hoax about a possible malaria infection being carried by the vicious mosquitos of Chernarus. He even made up a way to protect yourself from this dangerous insect – a bug repellent spray. Duro certainly does not lack creativity. But don’t forget, it is only a joke!
Tweet us if you encountered any DayZ April Fools’ joke this year. Did you get fooled? If you have any community content or event which you would like to share with us, the easiest way is to tweet to our official Twitter.
Hello Survivors! This week, we're sharing progress on new melee combat animations from Victor, our Lead Sound Designer Andrej is teasing audio updates in 0.62 and 0.63 and our Community Manager Baty is sharing her experience from a community event that happaned on DayZ Underground this weekend. We also want to inform you about planned website improvements and recent changes on our forums.
Contents This Week
DayZ Forums News
For this Status Report we're going to take a look through the current tasks and immediate goals for .61 Hotfixes, .62 Development, and the march towards Beta. I'd also like to list out the top 3 issues the QA department is looking for more data on from you all over on the Feedback Tracker.
.61 Stable Branch:
QA Team is currently investigating reports of unlootable corpses. Repro steps being investigated before gameplay programming team can attempt to address.
Gameplay Programming team currently working on addressing physics issues with .61 Exp/Unstable build that result in animals sometimes moving below terrain
QA Team is verifying adjustments to vehicle physics on Exp/Unstable branch that should address vehicles slipping below terrain
Gameplay Programming team is working on addressing some legacy security issues found on .61 Stable
QA Team is verifying changes to vehicle persistence and the handling of destroyed vehicles on Exp/Unstable branch that should address problems on stable with destroyed vehicles sticking around.
Over on the .62 Front, Adam and his team continue pushing along - and for those that missed PAX East we will include the cut of slow pan through WIP Broadleaf Forest, and pan through grass with the WIP new grass shader.
.62 Current Tasks:
Young Conifer Distribution
Additional Color Adjustments to Tree & Bush Colors
On the Beta side of the fence, there is a large amount of work ahead of us. I know we've made comparisons before about the extensive changes being compared to a spinal transfusion for DayZ, and that cannot be stated enough. This is a massive undertaking, and it is and will take time. That said, lets take a look at what the team is currently focusing on for their immediate tasks.
Beta Current Goals:
Rework of User Action System
Iterating Melee Combat Mechanics
Internal Testing of Knife/Axe Prototype Combat
Soft Skills Prototype
Introducing Animations for User Actions that previously used generic
Creating support for vehicles to functionally have more than 4 wheels (V3S for example)
Electricity System Prototyping
Unjamming Anims for New Player
Lastly, I'd like to list the top 3 issues the QA team needs more feedback on from our official Feedback Tracker - If you have any data, repro steps, etc on these issues please feel free to update them with what you have!
Today, I would like to talk about our progress on melee combat. At this point, we have implemented animations for unarmed combat, axe, pipe and knife combat. These animations are still work-in-progress but allow us to test basic behavior in-game.
This is very useful: we can now iterate with programmers and designers and adjust every animation accordingly so that it blends better, for instance if you perform continuous attacks. Our plan is to have unique attack animations for fist fight, axe, knife and items like fire extinguisher, pith fork, baseball bat, pipe and many other items in order to achieve a unique look and feel when fighting.
Creating attack animations for this new system is bit more time consuming though. In the old combat, there was one attack animation per item. In the new melee combat, we now have a series of 6 animations per item. These animations blend together, so you can either perform attack and go to idle or you can continue with another attack without interruption.
In upcoming weeks, we are planning to add damage to the player and hit reactions, as well as continue on balancing the entire melee combat system.
- Viktor Kostik / Lead Animator
Ahoy survivors! The audio department is operating at full power, working on both 0.62 and 0.63 updates.
For 0.62, we are preparing a full revamp of ambient sounds. New atmospheres andenvironment sounds in general, but also spatial vegetation or structure sounds. We are utilizing the potential of our new sound system, so it's not just new samples, but a true, complete overhaul: new ambient sounds for forests, coast side, fields but also cities and villages are all in the making.
The infamous, annoying random sounds of fence screeching are gone, and audio will also follow weather dynamically and in more detail, ultimately meaning new wind, thunder and rain sound effects will be added to DayZ. In general, roaming the countryside of Chernarus will be a much more pleasant experience to your ears.
At the same time, part of our audio team is working on the 0.63 update, where we will introduce new user actions sounds, weapon reload sounds and basically all audio connected to the player character. 0.63 will also bring new vehicle sounds through our redesigned audio system, so driving will sound more natural and responsive to engine behavior.
That's all from audio department now, we will share some more before the update drops!
- Andrej Sinkevic / Lead Sound Designer
DayZ Forums News
During the past week, the DayZ forums have gone under a short (but long overdue) maintenance. The new software update to the forums, deployed by our Web Team on Wednesday introduced some neat improvements to the design template, but more importantly, it significantly increased the loading times of the forums and their overall security.
We've also re-introduced the "give beans" feature that all veteran forum users surely remember from past - much to everyone's delight, too, as from what we've seen, the flow of beans has been pretty steady on the forums since the update happened!
We'd like to continue with general improvements to the forums, and eventually also start looking at improvements to the DayZ.com website design and usability. While we're well aware of some critical issues that make the DayZ website less intuitive (and outdated), we'd definitely love to hear what you think would make you interact with our website more often - please share your thoughts with us in the topic linked below!
Over the last weekend, me and Creative Director Brian Hicks were participating on an event called "The Hunting Season" organized by DayZ Underground server team. It was a large hunting event and to win you had to be the group with the most pieces of steak and hide. Groups could hunt each other during the event, but human meat did not count towards the victory. You could have met Survivors from all around the world as well as well-known streamers likeM1NDR[www.twitch.tv], MarkstromTV[www.twitch.tv] or Moondye7[www.twitch.tv]. The entire event was very exciting and hunters wiped out almost every deer in Chernarus. I have never seen more steaks at one place. Brian Hicks and MarkstromTV were the winners, congratulations! There were more competitions at the end - bow shooting and the best dressed participant of the event. We sat by the fire playing musical instruments and roasted meat. Do you know any better way to spend a Saturday night?
If you are organizing community events on servers, do not be afraid to let us know! We love community events!
Tourettesmexchanic and his friends were showing off their DayZ inspired weapons collection on Reddit. And it is a truly fabulous one! It has almost everything, including camouflaged Mosin, Repeater and accessories like Tactical Bacon or protector case. These Survivors are ready for an apocalypse and nothing will surprise them!
This week, Brian and Mirek are explaining our decision to push vehicles to Stable branch early, Peter is teasing bits and pieces about our recent effort to improve the melee weapons combat, and Viktor reports on the progress his team made on animations used with that new melee combat system.
Contents This Week
Development Board Spotlight
Development Board Spotlight
We appreciate everyone's patience with this Status Report coming out a day later than normal as our Brand Team works on recording the next of our Dev Spotlight videos for Viktor Kostik, our Animation Lead (Baty shares more on that in the Community Spotlight).
For this Status Report I'd like to lead off briefly talking about vehicles on the Steam stable branch, then take a quick look at the critical tracked issues on 0.61 and hand off to Peter, Viktor, and Mirek for the rest of this report.
As many of you may have noticed, we went ahead and re-enabled the spawning of vehicles on the Stable branch servers. We've gone through a good deal of iteration on these over the last few months on experimental branch. While we've been able to tackle a great deal of the issues discovered in testing on the Exp/Unstable branch, there are still obviously critical issues with the existing implementation.
Vehicles are a pillar of the DayZ experience, and one that we're far from being happy with in their current state. Their push to Stable was a measured decision based upon the limited number of active players on Experimental/Unstable branch (to be fair, the draw to participate in Exp/Unstable is obviously lower on hotfix builds compared to full updates) and the data we received through the feedback tracker, and repro steps provided.
Not an easy decision to be sure, but given the option of leaving them on Exp/Unstable only and not getting the larger pool of users getting hands on with it - the call was made. Mirek will elaborate upon some of the technical points below, but I want all of you who are concerned about the operation and systems behind vehicles to rest assured.
Where we are now, and where we want to be are two separate points and vehicles -will- get the attention such a core pillar of DayZ deserves. Like many things right now, all that is required is patience - as the push to Beta is a massive undertaking for us, and every in game mechanic and gameplay system is impacted by it in one way or another.
As far as 0.61 work goes - we've continued to push builds through the Exp/Unstable branch over the last few weeks - and today we should be pushing another update to Stable branch from Exp/Unstable. For today's Stable update we're looking at changes that should hopefully address:
Characters/Infected not dying under certain conditions (Eg: Unconscious players & headshots)
Disappearing bodies of unconscious players when disconnecting
In addition to these, we are still investigating several issues related to the reintroduction of vehicles onto stable branch - such as but not limited to:
Server Performance Degradation (potentially related to vehicles)
Reports of invisible players
It's critical to understand that poor server performance can be the root cause of a significant amount of issues that you as players encounter. While this may seem concerning, as we are approaching the limit of what we can do with 0.61 and the legacy technology - the Beta milestone, and introduction of new technology on the Enfusion side opens up a lot more opportunities for us. Not to mention being able to move the server away from having to track two physics systems, which in and of itself is very resource intensive.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Since new player character got on stage, we started to prototype a new melee combat with animators and programmers. Through the time, whatever we did with the melee, it still ended being just unsatisfying.
In past, we bet everything on tracing actual swings and finding their collisions with geometry. While this system has its own positive aspects as it simulates real trajectories, it just doesn't behave well in such broad multiplayer environment that DayZ offers, where you need to fight server-client synchronization foremost. Even if that side of things worked flawlessly, there are other issues connected with such system. Most notably it's very difficult to predict where hit lands, or even if it reached its target, which results in uncertain behavior and ends up as frustrating for players.
With all that in mind, we decided to look at it from a different perspective and build a new melee combat from scratch. Instead of simulating trajectories, we'll experiment with evaluation of successful hit, right after attack is initiated, based on variables such as distance and direction to target, speed and others. Everything in that system is reevaluated throughout the action to avoid possible misinterpretation (e.g. opponent being hit and thus receiving damage, even when he fell down from cliff before action was finished).
This approach should ensure fair hit detections, and also when combined with new full body animations of melee attacks, where character is moving forward during attack, it will allow us to utilize slight rotations and drags of attacker towards his opponent, which should results in proper visual contacts of hits.
What remains the same is the rule 'every item is a melee weapon' with some exceptions applied. Especially heavy items as vehicle wheels or barrels with their separate set of movement animations will be omitted from that rule for logical reasons. It's also still valid that there will be possibility for melee attacks with ranged weapons like pistol whips, buttstock hits and bayonet stabs.
More attack animation with same melee weapon were added, resulting in more visual variety and combos, however we don't plan to take advantage of combos from the gameplay perspective yet. On the other side, we want to add dashed attacks from sprint. We are considering to add charged attacks and eventually a push move in case it will be doable (do not confuse with current issue of infected pushing player characters around, which is caused by interaction of two independent physics simulations), to deepen melee combat mechanics. New animation system also allow us to play proper impact animations when character being hit.
New damage system has already been deployed and it's used exclusively with the new character, providing straightforward configuration and clear damage outcome from hits per weapon, properly affected by clothing. I bet new melee combat will prove to be worth the wait and it will yield satisfying results for you, players, and together with other systems which are being worked will create best possible overall experience.
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
New player character is progressing well. We are now testing and iterating the new melee combat system in game. This includes cooperation between animation, design and code departments - designers are giving us their thoughts on how the combat should look like, we are adjusting attacks to that, and programmers are taking care of controls and giving us features we ask for. We are still testing on a basic set of attacks for bare hands and two handed item though, so we are still rather prototyping, but once we are satisfied with the results we will add more variations to attacks as well as unique animations for some items. Of course a lot of polishing is also expected.
As the player actions are now working in a new system with new scripts, we are changing some of the old "one time" animations to looping ones. We have also started to work on more unique animations for interesting actions. To name few, we have recently created stitching, animal skinning, starting fire, washing hands and other animations to improve overall experience when interacting in the world.
- Viktor Kostik / Lead Animator
Today, I won't have anything new about 0.63, we're still working on tasks which I mentioned two weeks ago, but because we enabled vehicles last week on 0.61, I would like to clarify and describe issues which they have and how we will solve them.
First, I would like to describe how vehicles are different than vehicles in Arma 2 / DayZ mod. There are two major changes:
DayZ Standalone is using Bullet Physics Engine, which allows us to create better vehicle physics behavior, but on the other hand, simulation is much more complicated. We're still working on better vehicle simulation which we would like to introduce in 0.63. But the worst issue about vehicles in 0.61 is collision detection of dynamic physical objects and terrain (you can also observe this issue when you throw some item to ground) and engine programmers are currently investigating this issue.
DayZ Standalone is using a client-server architecture instead of peer to peer and since 0.61 there is full server authority over player/vehicle transformation, which is preventing against cheating (teleportation/flying/speedhacking).
In DayZ mod, vehicle is simulated on player's client and results (position, orientation, etc.) are sent to other clients, but in standalone version, player/vehicle is simulated on both (player's client and server) and server sends results to other clients and to player's client as well for correction.
When simulation result are different, player's vehicle is corrected and that is the stuttering you are observing. This can happen when some vehicle state between player's client and server is desynchronized (f.e. gearbox state) or when server performance is too low. We're looking for state desynchronization now and as I wrote in past status reports, server performance optimizations are a long term process (we already have some improvements ready for 0.62). Anyway, we will implement better smoothing algorithm, so the correction wouldn't be so aggressive.
Now, you can see that vehicles in Standalone are completely different than in Arma / DayZ mod, so a lot of issues can arise. Vehicles hit experimental on December 23rd, several days after 0.61 hit stable. We thought that vehicles would be the reason to stay on experimental branch for a larger number of players, but the result was that experimental servers were almost empty.
That means we didn't have enough data of how they behave on full servers or in different situations. We've fixed some issues which players had found on experimental servers (server crashes and some bad behavior of remote vehicles) and then we needed more data, so we enabled them in central loot economy (we can always disable them again without any update) and are now gathering more data to fix / improve the vehicle simulation.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer
This status report was postponed by one day due to filming of a Q&A video with Lead Animator Viktor Kostik. We have decided to use this opportunity and record it in an environment that is very close to animations – the Bohemia Interactive motion capture studio where work was in full swing. The video is being processed right now and we cannot wait to show it to you, because we believe it is very interesting and you will enjoy it!
New players may be surprised to find out that Chernarus is based on a real place. It is modeled after a region in Czech Republic around the town of Usti nad Labem, bordered by the river Labe. Many hard-core fans have already traveled there. They wanted to see the real Chernarus and to browse the land they already know like their own backyard, because they spent hundreds and thousands of hours running around it.
Streamer TopeRec[www.twitch.tv] is one of those guys. He was planning to come to Czech Republic for a long time and his dream was to see the template for Chernarus. First he went to Gorka, followed by Stary Sobor to see the famous red metal shed. And as he said for himself, he knew exactly where to go and did not even need a GPS, because the surroundings were so well known to him from the game.
If you are interested in knowing what the Chernarus landscape looks like for real, Ivan Stroganov created a map of Chernarus over the real map of Czech Republic, so you can examine everything in detail. Check it HERE.
And if that is not enough, you can check out some pictures from bufkin[imgur.com], who saw real Chernarus with his own eyes. Just click HERE[imgur.com].
Should you have any experience with the real Chernarus, we will be glad if you share it with us on our official Twitter. And if you have any interesting content from DayZ universe, don't be afraid to send it to us.
Creative Director Brian Hicks will share the latest info on where we are at in the development process, Mirek and Peter are talking about removing SQF and Adam wants to share with you our progress with trees - biggest change Chernarus has received for the past years.
Contents This Week
I don't have too much for you this Status Report, fortunately Adam from the Environment team, as well as Peter (Lead Designer) and Mirek (Lead Gameplay Programmer) are joining us this time around - so there should be plenty of new info for everyone to dig into. Recently I sat down over on our forums to discuss some of the questions or confusion we get around addressing issues on the Steam branch while development moves forward internally on upcoming builds. I encourage everyone to take a look at it - as it might serve to relieve some confusion around what gets fixed, when, and so on. In addition, our Producer Eugen wrote up a forum post covering the internal milestone we recently reached towards Beta, eliminating support and dependency on the old SQF scripting language that so much of the DayZ Alpha had throughout it. This was a huge step for us internally, and something many of us have been talking about and looking forward to for years. I'll make sure to link both forum posts at the bottom of my portion of the Status Report.
We're continuing to push new builds through Experimental/Unstable branch and on to Stable branch as we try and address the remaining critical issues with .61. Since the last Status Report we've been able to address several issues with memory management on the client, pushed several improvements to server performance, resolved a few known server crashes, resolved several of the performance issues tied to light sources, and we are continuing to address:
Additional Client Crash issues
Server Memory Consumption (Which can sometimes cause issues with player stuttering, battleye time-outs, and so on)
Server crashes tied to vehicles and/or AI
We're hoping to be able to show some teaser video content at PAX East over at the Astro Booth showing off some of the progress on the visual overhaul of wild Chernarus for .62, rest assured this will also be shared through our standard channels if we're able to have this available in time. As I mentioned earlier, both myself and Eugen made two forum posts that are very helpful reading to understand what our priorities are internally, as well as the impact the internal milestone of finally being able to move away from SQF has on development. Check out these posts here (you do not need to make an account to view them, don't worry :) ):
We know the road to the next few major builds hitting Steam might seem long, but the work going into reaching Beta is extensive - and a major change for DayZ as a whole. I know I personally (and I'm certain the whole team as well) appreciate everyone's patience, and feedback as we move towards it. I'll see you all in Chernarus - and remember, gunshots attract attention ;)
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Last week we reached one of our internal milestones, specifically the removal of SQF, high level scripting language which was introduced back in days with Operation Flashpoint. When we started to work on standalone DayZ we heavily relied on SQF with its rich API of commands built over years of usage across Arma series. Original plan was to prototype and implement systems and mechanics we wanted to have in DayZ in it, then hardcode them to Real Virtuality engine directly to gain performance back. This changed once decision to build new Enfusion engine, based on previous RV and Enforce engines was made. Latter one used powerful and fast low level object oriented scripting language with its own IDE and therefore it was logical step to carry it over and improve it.
Once it was production ready, we start to rewrite all gameplay and support scripts from old SQF script to newly established Enforce script, which offered us to become largely independent from programmers and to keep game open for modding. This process was quite difficult and tedious, mainly because of missing backwards compatibility, specific design and technical dependencies, limitations found down the road, and all that mixed together with our commitment to release playable version of DayZ in Early Access program. All these led us to maintain and develop basically two versions of game side by side - obsolete one for public to play in meantime and new one for us to make game as best as possible for public to enjoy later.
Recently, new animation system began to be synchronized between server and client, which was long awaited impulse for us to switch exclusively to "all new" mindset to push things forward internally. Now every piece starts to finally fall into place, forming something I like to refer to as DayZ 2.0.
The King is dead, long live The King...
See you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
In the last status report, I mentioned that we started removing the legacy scripting language. We're done with it now, so Enforce Script is the only scripting language which runs on our internal version. We will continue removing other legacy systems: the next stop is the animation system.
Synchronization of the new animation system is done, now we have to apply new synchronization rules to the user action system and to events performed only on server side.
New player controller is now receiving support for melee combat, which will allow our animation team to tweak the combat animations in-game.
Also, it's important to note that our Bratislava team is applying the new animation system to AI units. This will allow us to have much better interactions between players and infected/animals.
Otherwise, we are still working on some major issues for 0.61, which we also need fixed for the 0.62 update, so every important fix is directly merged into the 0.62 internal branch, too.
- Miroslav Maněna / Lead Gameplay Progammer
As many of you already heard, the upcoming 0.62 update will introduce a first set of audio-visual changes to the environment of DayZ. You may remember that we've already shared some progress[dayz.com] on this matter last year. In this status report, I would like to touch on the subject of updating forests in Chernarus a little bit more. This is by far the biggest change Chernarus has received for the past years of its existence within Arma 2 and DayZ. This would be really tedious and unwise thing to do manually (there is a lot of forested areas), so we have internally developed a forest generation tool that will allows us to generate most of the forested areas on Chernarus. While the whole process of getting generated forests on top of anexisting map (that has all kinds of other objects already placed) requires some polishing work of course, we are very satisfied with the results so far.
One of the most important things for new forests was to have enough variety. There are four key features that allowed us to have more varied forests. First, we have got roughly 6 different generation templates for each tree species (you can imagine this simply as young, mixed, older forests and so on). Achieving such variety would not be possible with the old models, so we have got at our disposal a completely new set of vegetation that contains roughly 3 times more models than the old one (and it is still growing). To give you an idea, lets take a look at the standard beech forest case (Fagus sylvatica). Following picture shows an example of available models for beech forest.
This is quite a big change when compared to the old vegetation set (where we had like 3 available models for this specific species) and the picture is not even showing all models (we also do have dead tree variants). I should also mention that this is not just the case of beech trees, we do have similar-sized sets for oaks, pines, birches, larches and spruces. Just imagine combinations that can be done within just one species alone, not to mention what can we do when we combine them. We of course have some other types of species prepared too (for rarer use within forests and of course for solitary ones within fields and settlements).
The third thing (that helps us achieving forest variety) is the tree colorization feature, which we already announced in one of the last years status report[www.dayz.com]. This feature enables us to differentiate individual trees by changing their color ever so slightly to achieve a better autumn feel. And finally, fourth is the addition of 8 forest surface textures. This allows us to greatly increase variety on the ground level, because configuration of randomized miscellaneous objects is done per one surface texture (we can have one with more grass, one with taller ferns, etc.)
Please keep in mind that what you see on this picture is still work in progress and does not represent final look, these two are here to give you an idea how the transformation from old to new forest look on a small patch of forest within Stary Sobor fields.
We are well past of setting up the generation process of the whole map and tweaking the visual feel of individual forest templates (assigned to forest parts on the whole map). Our primary focus now is to make sure we won't introduce any major performance problems. There is no question about the fact that while the new vegetation models were done to be much more performance friendly, we won't just aim for the same density as the old forests were. The introduction of Enfusion renderer with .60 provides us with an opportunity to go further.
We are currently working with roughly doubled object count (that equals roughly 2.6 mil of vegetation objects). Our PCs are running map benchmarks overnight (multiple times on multiple machines if necessary) to get an overview of how does the current version of Chernarus with new forests perform. We can then use this information to make additional changes to the generation (forest density). Following picture shows what kind of results we get from one type of benchmarks that we do.
There is still lot of work ahead of us, but it is awesome to see that things are finally coming together. We cannot wait to share more info about things to come with 0.62 update (yes, there is definitely more to talk about).
- Adam Franců / Lead Map designer
Valentine's day is behind us and some love went to Dayz as well! You sent us some nice and creative love poems on the "Roses are red, violets are blue…" theme and we want to share them with you.
This poem is made by Pedro Silva and it is not romantic at all. But love is not missing here! The love for weapons.
Roses are red
Violets are blue
I love winchester
but i like SVD too
Jordan Strang send a poem where he talks about his love for killing enemies.
"Actually over 2 years ago I found my valentine up in the north in the wilderness of DayZ :3. He was the kindest one I´ve ever met: He made a market with his friends, shared pullovers, apples and even a weapon, when I had absolutely nothing... 2 hours later a guy came and shot the whole group :D. But fortunately I had the same Nickname ingame and in Steam <3."
And finally we have an older love song by the famous Team GEO. It is a survivor singing about his true love. Enjoy if you don't know it, because we love it!