This week, we're looking back at the release of 0.62 on Experimental, outlining some of the issues that we'd like to see resolved before going to Stable (both visual and audio oriented). Peter and Eugen are sharing some of the work being currently done for BETA, and Baty is sharing her top picks of all the amazing content you created since 0.62 released last week.
Contents This Week
- Dev Update/Hicks
- Dev Update/Eugen
- Dev Update/Adam
- Dev Update/Peter
- Dev Update/Andrej
- Community Spotlight
This Status Report, I don't have a whole ton for you. Obviously, 95% of the team is focused on 0.63 and getting it to a point in which we can begin testing on Experimental branch for that build. As some of you may not be aware, 0.62 recently hit Experimental, and the team has pulled a lot of good and actionable bug data from that build, as well as some strong feedback in regards to the first iteration of the new ambient audio.
You'll all be pleased to know that every bit of feedback regarding said new ambient audio is being investigated, and the audio team will be able to iterate upon some of that feedback. Any up to date progress we make will always be posted by Baty in the Experimental Patch Discussion section of the forums.
The team is currently tracking feedback in regards to the following on 0.62 Experimental:
- Misc feedback in regards to audio volume, general audio system behavior
- Behavior of some trees in the wind
There are also some attempted fixes included in today's Experimental update regarding:
- Collisions with some tree models
- Ironsights sometimes backing off after a few seconds
- Issues binding some mouse keys
I'm sure Eugen will have some more meat on the bone when it comes to the progress on 0.63 itself. I for one am really, really anticipating being able to share the functionality of 0.63.
Stay safe out there!
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
So 0.62 Experimental happened and I can't thank you enough for the amazing content that you created with the new visuals for forests. There are many improvements that will still be coming to visuals over time - like reworking old low-quality assets and adding new features to the map as mentioned in Adam's Q&A video. It is a good showcase of the quality we aim for in both the visuals and gameplay for the 0.63/BETA release.
I mentioned a couple of things here previously that have now come in motion, full force. We have progressed and started working on smaller feature sets that will define gameplay of the BETA. One of the largest topics of discussion in the offices have been weapons and their handling for the new player. To understand what that means I have to sadly hit you with a large wall of text.
When you look at the live game, and what is happening on stable/experimental, you still see (for the most part) a content that is running on old technology. Since for BETA release, we have expanded the gunplay beyond what was possible previously, it means many things will be changing, and many have been mentioned here. However, to give you a sense of scale.
The work on the new animation system and all of its features took almost a year and a half of work. Animations for all of your weapons, with variations from continuous reloading, chambering, magazine manipulation, jamming, and more, took probably over a year in itself. All that culminating with implementation of aiming model that will support better implementation of recoil, sway, player turns, and even heavily improved manipulation of weapons in different stances.
A whole lot of our content is starting to get implemented - as I said before, we're finally making a game, instead of fully focusing on the technology. In the list below, I mention FNX and IZH18 - two weapons that are the first to be handled using these new systems. And I can't wait to have a shootout here with the guys once these are fully working internally.
For all these things:
- User actions that enable player to interact with items and objects, weapons included
- Synchronization setup that is largely inspired by what Overwatch did for their networking
- Animation system that will make your avatar a living breathing human
- Damage system that is easily tweakable and supports all sorts of hitzones, impact animations
- New particle effects and sounds
- New character representation with all the things actually creating a survival experience
It's not that we don't expect bugs from their first iterations, but the reality for us is, that we have been working for 4 years now on things that you couldn't get your hands on in-game as of yet. And as the list of features above shows, all these systems can't really work without each other.
Even the new network synchronization is optimized for the new player and new physics. It makes me sad that it couldn't happen sooner, but I believe we will have a great game for you with 0.63/BETA.
To give a glance at the currently open development items in our teams:
• UI Inputs
• Communication systems (megaphone, static radio, public address system)
• Weapon handling and aiming
• Vehicle physics refactor
• Vehicle controller refactor
• 3rd person camera collision changes
• FNX basic state machine and script class
• IZH18 basic state machine and script class
• Animation events for player
• Performance optimizations for item spawning
• Physics collision system refactor and optimization
• Tons of crash fixing
• Tons of bug fixes
• Weapon mechanics animations polishing (unjamming, reloads)
• Inverse Kinematics poses
• Hit reactions on player
• Ranged combat prototype
• Player turns tweaking
• User actions in multiplayer
• Player representation
• New player and item spawn definition
• Player action targeting and floating cursor
• Communication systems
• Tree collisions fixes
• Advanced placing system
• Construction watchtower
• Diseases refactor for new player representation
• Animation events for player
• New zombie models
• New player models
• Animation events for player
• 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
• User actions for 0.63 testing
• Old assets rework
• Buildings optimization
• Doors unification
These are thousands of hours spent on our side to bring a dream that is yet to be fully realized. Curiosity, Creativity, Community. Three pillars of Bohemia Interactive that we want to uphold.
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
Among plenty of other issues we face, picking items from the world is another one which is far from ideal in its current state. Aiming precisely with cursor on items could be fine, unless you run into some annoyances. Some items are rendered too small on the screen because of their close-to-real-life dimensions, and they are often being obstructed with other objects in world like dense grass, and tend to mimic underlying surface textures.
You know the drill, many times it's difficult to find a pistol, or even a rifle in some cases, and pick it up (I don't even want to mention special cases like ammo piles). At the end, such frustration leads to the use of the vicinity part of inventory screen as the path of the least resistance. Each open of the inventory screen disrupts the immersion of being right there for you as a player, and if I count in movement during opening the inventory (leading to jogging in chaotic patterns to find that damn ammo pile), it's breaking immersion also for all observers who had to look at your misery.
Along with restriction of character movement while in inventory, we added dynamic selection of target, which evaluates conditions such as distance from player, screen center and angle. Selected target is then visually marked by snapping interaction icon to it in screen space. We went beyond items and similarly, we applied this system also to interaction with vehicles and static objects in world like doors or ladders. I like fluid interconnection of a gven item and the action which it brings to the table. It feels natural and adds to the physicality of the world - it even feels closer to hand to use your eyes for coordination, instead of rigorous movement with whole head around. You can see it in action on examples below.
Maybe you are wondering now, why we just simply didn't apply highlighting to items and objects? Apart from highlights being quite artificial and also immersion breaking, they are not solving one of the problems mentioned above - frequent necessity to pixel hunt with your center of the screen. But never say never, maybe there will be some very decent version of highlighting in future to make it more seamless and to pop up items a bit, even when I'm not kinda fan of it.
Dynamic target selection is still in progress and there are some small issues we need to solve, for example icon positioning, or the shaking caused currently by insufficient frequency of UI updates on client side. However, from first tests of its current iteration, it feels really good, and what matters the most - it's very helpful!
They will not hide anymore... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
Almost a week since 0.62 update release on Experimental branch - I hope that you are having a good time exploring the new Chernarus! First, I would like to give you a small insight into what is happening in our department, mainly what are our plans towards the Stable release of update 0.62.
- Additional improvements and fixes to the surface mask - to resolve issues such as forest clutter appearance in the middle of industrial area in Solnichniy
- Satellite texture and ground clutter changes - decreasing overall brightness along with other tweaks (aimed at improving visuals of short and tall grass)
- Lighting config tweaks
- Map improvements and fixes
Now I would like to talk a bit about client performance on the new Chernarus. So far, we have observed quite positive reception from the experimental branch testing - everyone is welcomed there, please report if you encounter any issues on feedback tracker.
As I already mentioned in previous Status Reports, the introduction of Enfusion renderer back in update 0.60 gave us quite a big room for possible landscape improvements in many parts of Chernarus. Goal of update .62 was to use this room (where possible) to improve visual fidelity of Chernarus.
Many of the existing locations on Chernarus increased in detail drastically and while the new vegetation assets are much better optimized than the old ones, it will still most likely end up with the same or slightly decreased performance. Now I would like to say that nothing is settled at this point.
From the data point of view, we are still using some legacy vegetation assets (such as bushes and few selected solitary trees). This is however just a temporary arrangement, as replacements will be coming in future updates and will of course result in performance increase in almost all areas (old bushes are used around the whole map even in update 0.62).
There are more optimizations on data side planned (mainly related to buildings and the use of textures). For update 0.63, we have changed completely the whole structure for environment assets, which mainly makes loading faster, but it also makes data more readable, and this will ultimately make the lives of future community modders simpler.
On the programming side, there are optimizations on their way (starting with update 0.63), from which both PC and console versions will benefit greatly. Unfortunately, given the current differences between internal and public branches, it is not feasible to merge any complicated code in short time, and while we are already observing a better performance on internal branch, none of those improvements can be merged back into 0.62 branch.
- Adam Franců / Senior Map Designer
We're happy to say our new ambient audio is finally out on experimental. We have rebuilt all ambient sounds and added positional sound effects on the vegetation. We are now testing the mix, repetition cycles and we're listening to feedback from you and the QA department, so expect a lot of tweaks before the stable release. We are also preparing positional SFX for the buildings but that will have to wait till 0.63 because of some subtle changes to building models.
Apart form ambient sounds, we're actively working on BETA preparation where we have thousands of new sounds for the new player and user actions. There is an audio recording session planned for next month where we're gonna record new sounds for players, as well as infected.
We're also working closely with animation department, so you can expect many new SFX for every new animation that will come with the 0.63 update.
- Andrej Sinkević / Sound Designer
We released the update 0.62 to Experimental branch in the night hours last week and we were holding our breath waiting for your first reactions.
When we checked first streams to see your impressions, we were very happy and relieved. You were excited by this new update! New trees, ambient sound, wind - you loved it and you were sharing your experience with us on social networks, which we really appreciate. When you work on something like this for a long time, you are happy when people like your hard work.
We really appreciated your feedback. It is helping us to move closer to the release of the 0.62 to Stable branch. We are still looking for issues, if you find any bugs or if your game crashes, please report it to our Feedback Tracker, our QA guys will take care of you.
If you never tried an Experimental branch and you want to play on unstable servers, we have instructions for you on our official forums.
If you never heard about new 0.62 update and If you want to know what is new, here is the list of the most important things:
- New tree models
- Denser forests
- New clutter (grass, small plants)
- New surface textures - plains and such
- Improved wind behavior
- New shader for the wind, affecting trees and grass
- Tweaked and changed lighting for the world
- 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
- New ambient sounds
We are talking about the new update in depth on our forums, join us and tell us your feedback, positive or negative, it's up to you:
With the arrival of 0.62, a lot of videos started appearing on YouTube, introducing the new update. I admit that so many of them were so good, I was having a hard time choosing the ones to show you today. Finally, I picked a great story by Rene a.k.a. Barely Infected, which contains exploration of new locations in the west, telling of scary stories at dark night as well as creating new friendships. It is a bit longer, but believe me that it is worth it.
Another video I wanted to show you is a snapshot movie from a smaller, but very skilled YouTuber called uncuepagamer, that shows the beauty of the small village Nizhnoye and its surroundings. Those few shots are enough to capture the great looks of the new update.
If you like events, do note that there will be one taking place on the 7th June 2017 on French server Team ONU. You can find more info about it here.
At the end, I would like to remind you about the video from last week which some of you may have missed due to the hustle around the new update release. It is the first part of Q&A video with our senior map designer Adam Franců. Make sure to check it out, you will learn a lot of interesting information and you will find the promised scenes from "real Chernarus" I mentioned in the last Status Report.
That is all from me for today, if you are preparing an event on your server, or if you have any interesting content for the next Status Report, send me a Tweet on our official Twitter and you may find it here the next time.
- Baty / Community Manager