Let’s see some DayZ video! A quiet start for us with a video blog, we’re only detailing a few areas of progress in this weeks update. We show a peek at the new UI, some detail on the new clothing functions available in the engine, and take a tour round a few of the many new areas inside the updated Chernarus map.
We’ve edited out our use of the Inventory system, which we’re keeping under wraps for the moment (covered out with hilarious images photoshopped by forum members on the official DayZ forums at dayzmod.com!)
So where are we at?
Development is continuing to progress in extremely positive ways for us. The architectural decisions we have taken are providing continued dividends with the development of our disease mechanics, and in the ability to create notes in the world.
Inventory is fully synchronizing with the central database, including inventory inside clothing items. Essentially your clothing is like many little backpacks.
We’re getting plenty of bugs coming in from our closed internal testing, and we haven’t moved to our closed external testing just yet. There is still no timeframe for when this will happen, but we’re committed to continuing with these development updates and blog posts.
What is next?
We’re working very hard on the inventory system even more, and it looks like the crafting system is close in next in our development. It would be fair to say that inventory and crafting are the key development objective currently, second only to the client/server architecture (makes DayZ more like an MMO), and new zombie AI mechanics (an ongoing task).
We look forward to giving even more information, new exciting areas, features, functions, and updates in the coming blogs! We’re all confident it won’t be too long before you’ll be able to join in the development yourself.
This is the first update when I have sat down and thought “where do I start?” There has been so much going on with the development this month that it is hard to fit it all in a post here. Through the month we have steadily moved from working on our architectural changes, through to preparing for our first public test. The risks and gambles we took last year, are now beginning to pay serious dividends for us.
I’ll be covering the following in this update:
- Lighting and material improvements
- Volumetric Cloud system
- New Server Architecture
- Clothing/Inventory status
- Closed Test Status
- Art/World updates
- Customizing your character
- Customizing your weapon
Lighting and material improvements
One of our Lead Artists, Mario Kurty, has been working with some of the ArmA3 artists to ensure that DayZ Standalone has the best visuals possible. The result is pretty striking when combined with some of the other improvements we have made in the engine. These improvements make the world really come to life, improving the visuals overall. A comparison screenshot is included and demonstrates the effect of this.
Volumetric Cloud system
This has now been fully configured for use within DayZ, used to great effect in Bohemia’s previous product Take on Helicopters (and coming in ArmA3 also). There are several pictures of this included in the screenshots for this blog update. Running around the world taking pictures, it was hard to resist really. It adds a real sense of realism when compared with the previous result.
New Server Architecture
Our lead programmer, Ondřej Španěl, continues his work on redeveloping our server architecture. Contrary to some who say DayZ will be releasing with no anti-hack mechanisms, one of the key things we are doing with development is entirely redeveloping how the engine works. I can’t stress enough just how fundamental this change is. DayZ’s game servers will function like servers in other MMO style games, that is the server will control the behavior and the sending of updates. No longer will your machine receive all the updates allowing their analysis by various cheats.
We are exploring spawning all zombies and loot at the start of server initialization, again a huge departure from the previous mechanism. This solves many design and technical issues with the spawning and respawning of equipment, such as being able to metagame by telling whether players are in a village by seeing zombie’s have spawned.
This has now been completed to a basic level, you can put on and drop various items of clothing. These items can have diseases on them, and they have durability and other attributes. We need to make some models that represent the clothes when they are on the ground (currently they look as they are when on the ground!) Once this is done, we will be releasing some video outlining what it looks like to change your clothes.
Closed Test Status
We have begun our internal closed testing (yes!) and have been working with closed with Valve to ensure our new server browser system is working (we utilize Steam for this purpose rather than Gamespy as for ArmA2). The Server/Client architecture needs to be fully implemented before we will begin our public testing.
We have not initiated our closed test that includes external people yet (such as streamers).
A huge quantity of changes are flowing into the world. New areas, a mass of new objects (such as wrecked vehicles, buses, etc…) that are all designed with DayZ in mind - such as having good areas for loot to spawn. It is really impossible to list all the changes here, from bug fixing to redesigning of buildings such as the general store, and onto entirely new buildings and areas. One of our texture artists has been going through existing work and making them look more damaged and used.
Customizing your Character
The design has now really ramped up. This is really the entire focus of our efforts for the next few months, prior to starting on vehicle customization and finally on base building at the end of the year. The obvious starting point for us is to allow players to select the gender and race of their character. Beyond this, allowing ways for your character to become your own are key for us; from getting tattoo’s to finding unique clothing items, trying to deal with your own health aliments, etc…
This is an area of very active development, we’re exploring all sorts of ways to make your character change in the world as you play. When you first create your character, the options will be simple. As you go along in the world, your character will change as a result of their interactions with the environment and the decisions you make, through items such as clothing choices.
Social aspects are extremely important to us, and we’ve taken a number of idea’s and participated in the discussions on reddit and the forums about what we can do in this area. Expect more on these area’s in the next tumblr update. We want to support the organic development and operation of groups within the game, through the development of their own symbology in game (tattoo’s, markings on the world, on weapons, etc…). We feel that these redeveloped social experiences told through the game will be a compelling part of the standalone.
Customizing your weapon
Weapon attachments are a great bi-product of our entire redesign of every aspect of the inventory system. Nothing is available to show on this yet, currently the only attachment we have fully configured in the game is the magazine. You must load the magazine with ammunition and then it is considered an attachment to the weapon. The quantity and condition of your magazines will be particularly important in the standalone. Look after them!
When is it releasing?
We don’t know. We’re going to take our time. I feel fantastic about the situation, more than ever I feel like we’re doing something really interesting with this development. Now is not the time to rush things, but we do need to ensure our pace is kept up. Our development blog and getting players in and testing as soon as possible will be key in ensuring we succeed in making this a great game.
At no point in development, have I been as excited as I am right now. The risks we took with the direction have paid off. The engine and approach of the game is now entirely DayZ’s own, it is striking out into it’s own territory as a project. This is very exciting for all the team.
I do need to caution though, it is a bad idea to overhype the project. We know that there are many challenges that we will face from deciding to effectively write a new engine tailored to DayZ. But we are now entirely confident, that this decision will prove to have been the best decision we could make. Now we will be able to make the game that we’ve all always wanted.
Where is the Standalone Release?
I suppose I should start with the question everyone wants to know… where is DayZ Standalone? Obviously, it’s not here. At Eurogamer I said that DayZ had to be out before the end of the year and that’s come and gone. I still stand by that comment, to achieve what we had originally wanted, we did have to be out by the end of the year - and we’ve failed to achieve that.
Put simply, DayZ Standalone isn’t here because we had the chance to go from making a game that was just the mod improved slightly, packaged simply, and sold - to actually redeveloping the engine and making the game the way we all dreamed it could be. This blew any initial plans we had dictated to pieces.
The plan going forward
The plan from here is straightforward. We will be releasing a closed test imminently, during which approximately 500-1000 people will assist in ensuring our architecture is correctly functioning. This closed test will be focused purely on architecture, not the game design. Once we have confirmed fixes for issues arising from the closed test, we will then reschedule an internal date for our public release.
What has been done?
One of the most profound and major architectural changes has had its initial implementation completed, this is the overhaul of the inventory system. In fact, the inventory and item management system was completely removed and rewritten from the ground by Jirka, one of the original engine programmers. The work that has been completed on this groundbreaking, and it going to fundamentally change the DayZ experience.
You scavenge for items now, as individual parts, picking up pieces rather than piles, looking for cans on shelves or under beds. The new system opens the door for durability of items, disease tracking (cholera lingering on clothes a player wears…), batteries, addon components, and much more. If you shoot a player in the head to take his night vision, you will damage the night vision. The changes to this inventory system are huge.
An additional area of change has been to make the inventory system more intuitive along with a key focus on providing visceral feedback on your progress through what inventory you have. The use of drag-and-drop, 3D models rather than 2D pictures, and being able to add items/clothing to your character in 3D in the inventory screen - have all come out of months of design work and research. I’m extremely pleased with the results of Jirka and Hladas, two of the programmers who have been working on implementing the design ideas. I believe the changes to this inventory system will fundamentally change the nature of the DayZ experience.
We are not at the point where we can release meaningful videos or screenshots of the system, but we have now confirmed the base architecture is working in game. Likely, the first that will come out about the inventory system will be during the closed test when people are actually using it.
ArmA community legend kju has been part of the DayZ development for some time, and is now one of your key development members. He has been working with our CEO (Marek) and me to develop the DayZ UI. We have been greatly inspired by Minecraft to make the UI simple and effective, rather than flashy and complex. All our art and code efforts are going into the game, the UI is being designed to be straightforward and functional just like in Minecraft.
A huge amount of work is being completed on art. I’m including some more additional pictures taken from around Chernarus. We have some massive plans now that all interiors have been completed, as rather than moving them on to other projects we are now giving them exciting new things to create.
One of the new artists on the team is a texture artist, and has been working on revising the textures for our new building interiors so they look more post-apocalyptic. Some of these changes can be seen in the work-in-progress pictures I have included.
The lead architect of the revised (and original) Chernarus map, Ivan Buchta, is still imprisoned in Greece on charges of espionage - and is a great loss to the team. Luckily, through letters, Ivan is able to provide some input and insight into the development of the map. Regardless, the continued imprisonment of him and Martin Pezlar has a significant impact on our ability to redevelop Chernarus.
Catherine Nelson is a visual artist who uses the digital medium to paint images together into personal and imaginary landscapes. Trained as a painter in Sydney and London and with years of experience in the creation of visual effects for feature films like Moulin Rouge and Harry Potter, she now has dedicated her skills to her own art work combining the techniques from both these worlds into a new contemporary art medium.