Hello survivors! Where the last couple of Status Reports felt a bit dry and lacking on exciting content, we're doing our best to improve our track record this week! Starting off with Brian, and his excitement which clearly shows that we've had a good couple of rough, but good weeks, through Eugen, who's offering a closer look at the contents of the upcoming Gamescom DEMO, and then over to Peter, who details the changes made to melee and firearms behaviour in 0.63, it's a joyride of teasing new and exciting content. Adam continues by sharing his bits on new decals updates, our Brand Manager Martin assures everyone that the Gamescom news will make its way to everybody, and Baty invites you to Gamescom AND to our upcoming community event next week that goes together with a pre-gamescom developer live stream. Oh hey, and there's also GIFs showing some new stuff (because yes - it is a long read again). Ready? Go!
Contents This Week
- Dev Update/Brian
- Dev Update/Eugen
- Dev Update/Peter
- Dev Update/Adam
- Dev Update/Martin
- Community Spotlight
As we approach Gamescom I can't help but reflect back on all the work, stress, and dedication that has preceded where we are now. Back in the end of 2013 when we were trying to prepare a build for Steam, we couldn't have imagined the opportunities all the time that has been spent on technology, and the foundation of the project would afford us. Looking at the Early Access release of one of my personal favourite pure survival titles, The Long Dark I can't help but remember what that experience was like when it first hit Steam, compared to how amazing it is now.
The team has been working tirelessly for quite some time, and the focus over the last month or so on preparing a functional vertical slice build for Gamescom, which should raise spirits a great deal internally. One of the most frustrating professional experiences for me has been working on adapting the design and experience of DayZ over the years, but knowing that you the consumers couldn't see these changes and get hands on with them until the underlying tech was ready to support it. Gamescom is just over the horizon, and I know everyone here on the team is really focused on trying to get an outstanding snapshot of the new DayZ experience for you all.
Not losing focus on the fact that the development teams' core goals have been aimed specifically at setting the foundation of DayZ for the years to come is a difficult order. The technology that we hit Steam with fundamentally just can't do justice to the experience we want to bring, and fortunately leadership inside the company has understood that and supported our drive forward. BETA by no means is the end all be all milestone for DayZ - we have plenty of amazing things beyond it and before leaving Early Access - but this is fundamentally the biggest impact on how you the users interact with the world, and establishes the technology baseline that enables us to do all the things we've talked with you about over the years.
It's been a hell of a journey, but I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.
- Brian Hicks / Creative Director
Hey guys! I'm going to get into detail in regards to what the Gamescom DEMO is and what is the plan going forward with it. As the Gamescom is getting closer, things are being set in stone.
When we decided to go forward with the idea (which was about three months ago), we were nowhere near the expected result. However, deadlines and these goals make sure you are able to focus on what is actually important and as such help you eliminate the noise that gets in the way of development. Sometimes it's feature creep, other times you just follow an overly complicated solution to a problem that’s much simpler to solve. The renewed target helped us follow through.
Everything starts with how you control a game, it needs to feel just right. When the game is making it hard to do what you actually want to accomplish through arbitrary complexity or inconsistency, it quickly becomes tedious. As this DEMO features the new player controller, animation system, physics and much more, it will feel different at first glance. Interacting with players, AI or environment should feel much smoother. We will have the new controls printed out for players coming in for an easy reference point.
As this is quite a complex rework of the game, and we want people to test specific things, it will have its own "map" built around Staroye. The map includes new roads, rocks, and more reworked old assets as we are gradually improving visual fidelity, and leaving the old stuff behind. Only subset of player usable items will be spawning for the purpose of quick access, as we expect the turnover to be quite large. The density is also much higher to make sure you can try more things in a short span of time. Besides the map, you can also expect new particle effects implemented with Enfusion technology, new character faces and much more.
It will feature the new inventory implementation, which again should feel much smoother and faster as we have invested quite a lot of time to do this properly. And one large change that we expect to have significant impact on how people play: you won't be able to move with inventory open. A lot of the things that people have used inventory to solve, like finding small items or interacting with their weapon to avoid delayed quick bar, will be long gone. Items will show their icons in the world, as well as all action being moved to contextual methods. And quick bar will become a core part of your setup as you explore the world of DayZ. You will get more slots as you get higher tier items, which in translation will increase the amount of stuff you can get done quickly in the world.
There are tons of new animations coming in to show different states of character, exhaustion for example. And many detailed systems trying to avoid using text and use of heavy UI, so that living your life in Chernarus is all about your character. New gestures that will spice up the interaction between player, hopefully causing a laugh or two. Or making sure you can understand each other over a long distance.
Lot of new UI changes that will focus on giving you enough detail if you want, or just immerse into the character in front of you. Tons of new sounds both ambient, character or weapon related.
There is new synchronisation model that is quite different from what we had before, hoping to support the full scale of 100 players and tons of AI. All these things will be stress tested heavily to make sure there are no issues when we go live. Lot of the things are however heavily work in progress, but also for the first time, all of the new tech is in and working with new data. It's exciting as hell.
And last but not least, new melee combat and ranged combat. But I'll let Peter talk about those
There will be issues I'm sure, as something always slips past, or gets broken in the last second. This is a complex game in making, and we can't wait to share our progress with you. We are discussing the possibility of making the DEMO available for a limited time on a separate Steam branch, but we'll yet have to see about that.
- Weapons actions
- Vehicle controller refactor
- Melee combat (programming wise)
- Particles (programming wise)
- Physics and optimisation tweaks
- New zombie controller
- CLE (Central Loot Economy) tweaks
- Bug fixing
- Animals animations
- IK (Inverse Kinematics) poses
- Injured animations
- Weapons animations (loading/unloading)
- Bug fixing
- Melee combat (script wise)
- Particles (script wise)
- Inventory UI refactor
- Advance placing system
- Gamescom demo preparation (spawning, menu, ...)
- Bug fixing
- Sounds for weapons interactions
- Footsteps sounds (surface vs footwear)
- Ambient sounds
- Bug fixing
- Internal client stabilisation
- Gamescom demo features testing
- Bug reporting
- Old assets rework
- New assets preparation (NW Airfield )
- Object layout for western region
- Bug fixing
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
As you may know from previous Status Reports, we scratched old firearms and melee implementations and started from the ground up to allow us fulfil our vision of having more control over firearms and melee fights, resulting in much better, authentic user experience. Both ranged and close combat have crucial role in DayZ, may it be in PvE or PvP encounters. Over the last few weeks, there was quite a lot of progress made in both combats, and now as things starts to look well enough, it's a good time to talk about them and showcase them.
Ranged combat with firearms is defined by their handling and aiming models. So far on handling side, we have loading of firearms with either magazine or chambering directly with ammo from inventory, quick slots and even from the ground. Next is the mechanism manipulation itself, were you can feed ammo from a magazine to chamber in case of manual firearms, or eject ammo in automatic ones. It's also used to un-jam the mechanism once it gets jammed by a casing not being ejected properly. We reintroduced zeroing and fire modes, as well as iron sights, though optics are not working now due to some issues we're battling down the line (specifically switching to camera point on optic attachment, to be honest we have ran into some problems with attachments in general lately, as they are not in hierarchical order, so it will require some rewrite).
Aiming model of firearms is where the real fun begins. Currently, we have a new sway mechanic (yay, finally!) - it mimics breathing with constant vertical movement as well as corrections of hands direction with subtle random horizontal movement. It's very effective and robust design solution which allows us to modify output by plenty of factors, like firearm attachments configuration, especially hand-guard and butt-stock, and its weight, character stance and movement, amount of stamina, overall character state with all that unpleasant things like low body temperature or diseases, and of course also the hold breath feature (yes, I'm not kidding).
Recoil is another functional part of the aiming model now. While projectile is fired, we've introduced movement to firearms in all three dimensions. We are experimenting with pre-animated recoils, which are procedurally modified to produce nice looking visuals with ability to differentiate between firearms. Similarly to sway, it can be modified, this time it could depend on calibre, barrel length, overall firearm weight and its attachments, especially muzzle devices like brakes or compensators, and we are also considering impact from stamina. What's still missing is some sights misalignment in the aiming model, same goes to lifting firearms next to obstacles, however we will get there as both are a must have for proper aiming model.
Quick update regarding new melee combat - in current state, it's already way ahead when compared to the old system. Apart from full body attack animations, which can now be chained into combos and opponents reacts to hits with proper strength and directions of impacts, there is also a dashed attack from sprint implemented now. I would like to highlight the current melee targeting implementation which is taking length of a melee weapon into account, as well as distance direction and vertical angle to opponent.
Combined with rotating and dragging character towards selected targets during attack animations, it produces great looking, fluid and addictive melee combat. It's quite hard to miss your opponent now, gone are the days of grotesque melee fights where everybody ran in circles trying to play game of chance to deal some hit.
Last but not least, we also introduced some changes to controls of the new character. What really stands out is changing of stances which is using one key now instead of three previously. With programmers and animators, we are discussing missing moves of new character, like leaning, jumping or climbing, as we would like to push on these and make them more interesting for gameplay.
Apart from Gamescom 2017... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
Much like in the last Status Report, let's begin with a showcase of some additional improvements to the visual fidelity of Chernarus. This time, let's talk about decals.
On Chernarus, decals are primarily used to make specific areas (such as concrete surfaces and roads) look more damaged / abandoned. We cant simply add local damage to the concrete / roads texture itself as it would look too repetitive in the end. And so these decals are a great way to add a local damage exactly where we want.
While decal textures were trying really hard to show that there are holes in the road, they ultimately failed alone because they were missing visual depth in-game. Luckily, this was changed with the recent implementation of parallax mapping for decals. And since we have got new textures for roads for quite some time, we have also decided to re-do textures for all road damage decals so the visuals of decals match together with the new road textures (visual inconsistency between old decals and new roads is one of the reasons we decided to postpone the release of new road textures, originally planned for update 0.62). Here are some examples of how medium and small-sized decals look after these changes:
These changes (along with the new road textures that you can also notice on pictures) will be available with the update 0.63.
And as usual - a short report on what has happened on western border of Chernarus since the last Status Report. Details were added around the Myshkino dam (including the HV power-line connection to Zelenogorsk), new recreational facility of TES company near the shore of Myshkino dam and probably the biggest lumber mill we currently have on Chernarus has been added north of Myshkino military site. These locations will hopefully make encounters in the Myshkino tents valley a bit more interesting and offer additional looting options for the players who prefer to roam the western region of Chernarus.
As always, please remember that all pictures show work-in-progress content.
- Adam Franců / Senior Map Designer
As we started outlining our Gamescom DEMO over the last two Status Reports, I've noticed a raising concern in the community about us presenting a build of the game on a gaming convention rather than delivering it directly to the core players on our Experimental and Stable Steam branches. As our community of existing players is what we truly care about the most, I'd like to address these concerns and add further context to Eugen's text above.
First of all, thanks to Brian and his great relationships with guys over at Astro Gaming or Twitch, DayZ's been present at many public events in the past, and I'm sure it's always been fun for everyone to meet and greet while occasionally streaming or presenting some of the upcoming features. Usually, most of the news from these events also made it out to the general public - either by being directly shared by the DayZ team over social media, or organically by someone from the community posting on the forums or Reddit.
This worked quite well, and considering that those activities were not a part of any sophisticated marketing/promotional plan (there hasn't been anything like that for DayZ, and this won't change until BETA drops on Stable), it's also been quite effective.
Gamescom is a little bit of a step up from these events, as we'll be part of a bigger Bohemia Interactive booth. That means that our presence needs to be a bit more official, that we need to present something meaningful, and ideally also playable. That's where the Gamescom DEMO comes in - as a publicly playable content, it also conveniently solves three problems for us:
a) it helps the development team to deliver a package even before the first BETA build is done internally, or ready for public branches - hopefully helping everybody have a feeling of accomplishment (which Brian nicely described in his part)
b) it allows us to do very early focus tests in a controlled environment where we're standing right next to the person playing
c) it helps us make a point to the general public that we are being serious about our intentions to bring DayZ to a stable 1.0 release, and support it for years to come (which some people still refuse to believe in)
As Eugen already pointed out, we may (or may not), at some point, and in one way or another, make this DEMO available to all of you who won't be able to try it at Gamescom. While it's not fully representative of DayZ as the hardcore survival game it should be (and technically only works in a "LAN" mode as well), we understand that everybody just wants to get their hands on the new player controller!
More importantly though, we have plans for extensive online coverage of all the things we're about to show at Gamescom. Just to pick a few that will happen right during the Gamescom week: we'll be live on the Twitch Gamescom stage for about 15 minutes, talking about the DEMO and DayZ BETA in detail, including some gameplay. We'll have a couple of media appointments that will hopefully produce some cool articles, and we'll also be producing our own photos or possibly even some basic video content directly from the show floor.
Now, creating (audio)visual content of any upcoming game changes is always a struggle. With the way our community-driven development works (the moment we have a "legit" build in our hands that we need your feedback on, we drop it to Experimental), it is sometimes literally impossible to even play the internal branch of DayZ for several minutes straight, and prepare content in advance.
This has been the case with the supporting content we're making for Gamescom, and over the last two weeks, it produced some rather hilarious clips:
While those GIFs may look like a lot of fun, the reality is that any bug like that always breaks the gameplay, not to mention the recorded clip or screenshot. Count in some nasty crashes, network issues or general server degradation we still need to resolve, and you have a good reason for our Status Reports rarely including any relevant visual content at all.
It's also why we're still relatively far from dropping any BETA package to the public Steam branches - while our new player character (and other systems) already work well within the limited scope of the Gamescom DEMO, they are not ready for the full-scale DayZ experience just yet.
Well, that'll do it for today - I hope this helped some of you to get an insight on what's happening around the DayZ office. Baty should have some more details about our upcoming Gamescom coverage!
P.S. - please do let us know if you're coming to Cologne, and come hang out with us!
- Martin Čulák/ Brand Manager
We have two weeks till Gamescom and in our office, as in many other gamedev offices around the world, we're preparing for the game show, and we are starting to panic a bit. There is still so much to be done! I spent the last two weeks working on videos, which should be done before Gamescom, but as Martin wrote above, the game is still not in an ideal shape. Therefore, we tried to make the best of the actual unstable version to be able to show you some of the new features which you will be able to experience at Gamescom. I will not try to hide that it is very challenging to capture scenes without any errors and bugs, be we are close to finish and the video should be ready for Gamescom.
In any case, Gamescom is near and the mood in the Dev Team can be best described as:
But enough of silly things. Let’s take a look at what is waiting for us in the next couple of weeks.
Next Thursday 17th August at 17:30 CEST (GMT/UTC+2) you can look forward to a stream from our Bohemia Interactive office. We would like to share more information about what you can expect in our booth at Gamescom, we will tell you more about a demo we are preparing and also about a community meet-up which will be organized at Gamescom. We will talk in more detail about BETA and answer some questions. And this time, we will have moderators and better sound, so it will surely be better than last time! But the stream will not be only about DayZ. We will talk more about other BI projects, like Mini DAYZ, Ylands and Arma 3. Do not miss this stream; you can learn a lot of new information there!
Simultaneously with the stream, we will host a small event. It will be a battle of the castle again, where we will return to the Middle Ages and play as knights. The event will take place on 17th August at 17:00 CEST (GMT/UTC+2) and you can be part of it if you are interested. You can sing up HERE.
And now back to the Gamescom.
It will be held between 23rd and 26th August at Cologne in Germany. As I said in previous Status Report, we will be there, specifically in hall 10.1., booth A010. Beside DayZ team, we will also have Ylands and Arma teams there. You will be able to play the Gamescom DEMO about which the devs were already talking above.
More information about the demo will be revealed at the stream next week. I want to point out that the DayZ and Arma parts will be separated from public area and will only be accessible for adults 18+. But don’t worry if you are not 18 yet. You can come visit us at the community meet-up in front of our booth, talk with the devs and get some gifts. Community meet-up will take place on 25th August at 13:00 CEST, so don’t hesitate to come, we will be happy to see you. And if you come in DayZ cosplay, you will make us even happier!
For those of you that cannot make it to this year’s Gamescom, let me assure you again: we are preparing reports, videos and photos. Don’t forget to follow our social media channels!
Finally, we will have a look at some of your creations.
First, I would like to present you a member of Spanish community who is playing on role-play server DayZRP and is sharing his adventures on his YouTube channel. His last video is "La masacre" and as the title suggests, it is about a massacre in Lopatino’s church. There are English subtitles for those who do not understand Spanish. I really like the story and what I like even more is the amazing comic that accompanies the video.
Other parts of the comic can be found on his Twitter channel.
And now for the mentioned video:
Further on, I was pleasantly surprised by a community member paulmosin, who is sending his ideas of a real world survivor to our Twitter.
We love him!
On Reddit, I discovered a post by user SpectreRobin. It is a DayZ picture, painted on 3 canvases, which is inspired by a well-known screenshot. It was drawn by his friend, who is a very talented artist. It reminds me of paintings in our office (which I would very much like to take home) and we can be only jealous that he has such a nice decoration on his walls.
Thank you very much for all your content that you share with us on our official social networks, we really appreciate it. We will have to move the next status report to 29th August, because it would be right in the Gamescom week and we will not be able to prepare it while at the convention. But as I wrote above, we will be definitely sharing the photos, experiences and impressions with you the whole week. So make sure to follow us and we are looking forward to seeing you on the stream, and at Gamescom!
Header image by RageBruh.
- Baty / Community Manager