With Brian missing this week (no worries, he will be back at full force next time!), Eugen and Peter reflect upon the new features and content presented at Gamescom. Eugen is finally sharing our full 0.63 Dev Log video with 16 minutes of Gamescom DEMO gameplay in Full HD, Peter is reacting to some of the community feedback regarding the missing naked eye zoom and new key binds for firearms, and Martin and Baty share some of the good vibes from our community (both the one at EGX, where they travelled last week, and online!). Let's do some reading and watching folks, it's a juicy Status Report once again!
Contents This Week
The last two weeks had us focused on different issues in the base and core features of DayZ. As previously mentioned, these are tackled through smaller scrum teams that are dedicated to these topics. Currently, we are running ranged combat team with focus on weapons and another one focused on melee combat. More are expected to be set up from vehicles to Central Economy or the infected. These should enable much faster iteration that can deliver on their goals as the technology requires less changes under the hood.
This means that we are no longer tied to larger technology changes and can focus on the stuff that’s important to us and players alike: things that tackle immediate concerns that have troubled the game for a very long time. The approach we chose is based around priorities that carry through to other features, so we spend less time going back and redoing stuff over and over.
Current priorities started with base movement of the character, which defines a lot of the work that is going to happen in both melee and ranged combat. Once we nail down the details, we can quickly implement and iterate things like player speed changing with rotation or rotation limits in order to cut on the erratic movement that is usually described as "zig-zagging".
There are tons of things like these that community cares very deeply about. We take this feedback very seriously. Lot of these things have driven community interaction over these years. Bugs that we didn’t fix, features that didn’t have consistency or detail or were missing entirely. There is a reason behind everything. We spend a lot of time on figuring these out and once we are happy with our solutions we are going to get the discussion going. The process, however, requires you to test them in-game and that is where we go from prototype to full fledged feature.
The thing is you try, and go for functionality first before the visuals get polished. It usually does not matter if it looks good if you’re developing the game. But it’s also the reason we don’t show many of these things that are in their early implementation. because they are just functional enough for us to iterate, but not polished enough to present ourselves with. That brings me to the next important thing.
Imagine all these great things created with placeholders or skeletons of functionality that we look into and keep iterating on.
Ideas are just ideas and they usually change for the better as development moves forward. What seems fun and good on paper though sometimes does not translate well in-game. If the technology used is layered enough to let designers test their ideas, we know we can differentiate the bad from the good. I don’t believe that we always come up with best solutions on the first iteration, and so that's why we listen to your feedback.
Even when I look at our 0.63 Dev Log video below, I know (and see) tons of issues that just irritate me. But I’m not alone and this team is the best I had the chance to work with, and I have no doubt we can solve the issues. BETA can not come soon enough!
That said, we would like to focus on covering these hot topics and how we solved them in the current iteration, because we bleed passion for what DayZ should be.
Thanks for reading and enjoy the video!
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
After DEMO showcase at Gamescom, many of you expressed concerns about missing zoom with naked eye as well as toggling to aim down the sights.
First off all, I want to underline that absence of naked eye zoom was intentional as we run into technical problems due interference with switching to iron sights, witch was key-binded to middle mouse button. Time was running out and instead of fixing the old camera behaviour, we decided to cut it completely, so that we can start implementing a new camera from scratch to allow us to have more control over it (which is being worked on right now).
Anyway, now when that dynamic zoom is currently missing, we can start asking questions: is it really needed? How does it contribute to gameplay? What are the pros and cons? Eye zoom is kind of a long-term trademark of Bohemia Interactive games, the same way as the free look being independent on character movement. Simulation of mid to long range engagement wouldn’t be possible without such feature, as fluid, on demand changing of field of view from wide to correct perspective is needed there, typically for observing your surroundings and during gunfights. Without it, characters are just small group of pixels in distance, and probably no-one enjoys pixel hunting.
On the other hand, we know that in the case we gave the player character some supernatural abilities, we would lower the importance of items which should be used in such situations, like binoculars or scopes (which can be used even while not mounted on a weapon). Currently, these have very limited use among players, as naked eye zoom (or focus if you want to call it like that) is enough for them to observe environment.
Also, there is a bit of a problem with continuous switching of object LODs and textures, which puts additional pressure on the CPU/GPU. While this would still be the case with binos and scopes as well, these changes to FOV are instant and not continuous. Missing eye zoom will lead to bringing player engagements to much closer distances - and that’s the most important thing in DayZ - player interactions.
Final decision hasn't been made yet - personally, I’m inclined to keeping this feature in the game, but even in the worse case scenario, aiming down sights will maintain correct perspective (with a bit of added zoom while holding breath to simulate focus), to avoid aforementioned pixel hunting during gunfights.
I mentioned aiming down sights and we are aware that current keybind (middle mouse button click while raised) is far from ideal as it feels clunky - exactly opposite to real life, where aiming down sights is as simple as just moving your head and aligning the eye with sights. What is really important to me is the fact that there shouldn’t be any toggle into the aimed stance (raised nor iron sights/scopes). Which means character should go ideally to an idle pose when all controls are released. Toggle-able aggressive stance can unintentionally fiddle with character’s body language, which disrupts gameplay and the experience players have during their interactions.
Currently, we are experimenting with different approaches of switching to iron sights while raised. Key-bind on keyboard can work, but I’m not a fan of it as it destroys the basic firearm controls between mouse and keyboard.
On standard mouse, there is only two buttons which come as possible candidates to use - middle mouse button, and right mouse button. Scrolling up with the mouse wheel to aim down sights is much better than precisely clicking the wheel, also it’s meant for switching between iron sights and scope in case the given firearm allows it (think AKs and other guns from the eastern block, or additional sights mounted on RIS from the side of a weapon) and for cycling through scope zoom levels (for example hunting scope).
Personally, I prefer a simple double click and holding right mouse button (basically double click without releasing the button after the second click of button) as a shortcut to switch directly from lowered arms to iron sights. To switch back from aiming down sights (ADS), just release the right button, click and hold it again (same for toggling from raise to ADS). These two methods are far better and we will most likely keep both.
Last but not least, we've recently implemented turns to the movement itself (until now in 0.63, turns was only in idle) which is a game changer. It simply prevents zigzagging (which is used for dodging bullets) by limiting character rotation speed and adding rotation radius to turns while the player is moving. It’s scaled with character speed - the faster the movement, the bigger the radius is. There are still some issues that we are know need to be ironed out (in reality, nobody can see their back while doing 180 degree turns) and there is a bunch of missing features which will make it better and more visually pleasing (like tilting the character while making turns).
This solution differs from full-fledged inertia system, which can lead to players feeling like they are driving a tank with all that acceleration, deceleration and stopping after sharp turns. We want to thoroughly test it now, to feel how it plays and if it’s capable enough to achieve our goal of having smooth navigation through environment - as we definitely would like to maintain the hardly earned responsiveness and smoothness of the new character.
Without zigzagging... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespešný / Lead Designer
Survivors! After a vicious editing battle that took waaaay longer than we all had planned, we were finally able to deliver the 0.63 Dev Log today. It's taking a quick (well, relatively quick, it's some 16 minutes of gameplay!) look at the key things that we presented at Gamescom last month.
Let me just quickly give credits to Baty and our QA Engineer Dan Fialka for their tireless work on the actual gameplay capture - as I have said in the previous Status Report, it's not always an easy work tinkering with the internal build. I hope you'll all appreciate the early look at 0.63 at least in this format - it's certainly not the same as experiencing the new animation system and player controller first hand, but it's the best we can do now.
Suffice to say, this Dev Log was a good learning experience and it made us rethink the way we produce video content for DayZ. Going forward, we want to streamline the creative process behind making development videos, and hopefully find a good, effective workflow for gameplay capture in 0.63.
Last week, me and Baty also visited EGX in Birmingham, and boy: did we meet a lot of awesome people! Originally, our visit was really planned as a last-minute trip, as we just wanted to meet a couple of DayZ content creators at EGX - there was no booth involved like at Gamescom, and we only packed a bunch of DayZ lanyards just in case.
Somehow, we ended up meeting with some 30 fellow survivors at once, occupying half of the EGX business lounge and demoing 0.63 to everybody (thanks to Matthew and the rest of the EGX organisers for not kicking us out!).
Blue and Queenie, M1ndr, SepticFalcon and Dzoana all had their mods and friends there, we've also finally met the Twitter super-spammer Spaggie (and his friend @EssexRockerz!)... well I would like to name everybody we met, but it would make for a really long list. Thanks everyone for coming and chatting with us (and thanks Baty for talking me into the trip!), you all make the best, most dedicated community out there.
We'll definitely be back to EGX next year, hopefully with a more official presence and a proper booth! Here's a couple of photos (credits to N-Reid!) from the event:
- Martin Čulák / Brand & PR Manager
I hope you had amazing two weeks. As Martin mentioned, we were at EXG and it was epic, thanks everyone for coming. It was nice to meet you all!
Let's start with the Real Chernarus by BrenUno, who‘s been there and took some amazing pictures for the community. Can you recognize all these places?
Streamer DeadlySlob did an amazing and very funny role-play video, where he acts as a drug addicted person. Other players were really surprised by his behaviour. We love it!
Let's check out some art. I chose three guys from community today, who are amazing artists and did nice job on their artworks. They have really similar style and we really like this.
The first one is Will. He did two artworks inspired by Chernarus.
And the second one is by Squad_Crow, who did his view of Novodmitrovsk and Lopatino Castle.
AFX was on Rose City Comic Con in Portland as a survivor from DayZ. She had everything that the true survivor needs - duck tape, military boots and a long stick with an apple! I don't know if she killed any infected on her trip but she is definitely ready for it!
French server Team Onu is preparing an event again. It is called Manhunt - Dark Walk and it will be tomorrow and you can see more info after you log in to their web pages. Here is a little teaser for it.
If you prepare any event for your community, just let me know on my Twitter and someone from our team can be there too.
And I have a riddle for you today. Can you recognize this place? Tweet it to the official DayZ Twitter, I want to know how many players we have, who know the map very well!
I know it is easy for hardcore players, but I will do a harder one next time.
I am so happy to see all your content guys, no kidding. I try to watch all your videos, pictures and everything you post to our social networks or Reddit. Thank you for that and for your support, because we need it. We really appreciate to know that YOU CARE about DayZ. Because DayZ is love, DayZ is life for us.
- Baty Alqawen / Community Manager
Header image by Sahindi.