at first, I would like to thank you for the amazing participation during the weekend Stress Test. It has helped us to identify a number of new issues that we are investigating as I write this. Let's take a closer look at some of those issues.
Crashes and general game stability issues
There have been about 200 crashes altogether over the period of two days with a couple of different causes. Some of them are new, but most are known. Hopefully, the amount of data generated will identify the pattern to replicating these issues internally and getting them fixed.
Character locked in database
Besides the stability issues, we are still tracking situations where a player character gets locked in a database. Although happening less often than previously, this is still a major problem that is most likely tied to a server/client crash/freeze not closing the connection gracefully, and not unlocking the character as intended. We have a possible fix for these outlier issues and crashes in our internal main Development Branch of the game and should roll these out in next few Stress Tests.
Basic Central Economy Balance
There is an investigation ongoing into Central Economy loot distribution. Specifically, we're looking at cases where the intended gameplay loop is not properly supported by items presented/spawned to players exploring even the most remote corners of Chernarus.
DayZ Central Economy
The Central Economy is a complex system that controls the distribution of loot across Chernarus. It's supposed to sustain a barrage of ongoing player interaction on a given server (player picking up and dropping loot, taking it across different servers...), with the goal to keep the core gameplay loop during a gameplay session challenging, encouraging players to learn, and eventually master the survival in DayZ. At the same time though, it needs to be a fun gameplay mechanic.
It's important to note that the Stress Tests are our first real opportunity to really see how the Central Economy behaves in 0.63, as we're just not able to internally reproduce the behavior of large amount of players in the game. That ultimately puts us at the very beginning of all the balancing. During Stress Tests, we are extracting economy states over periods of time to understand the players movement and their interactions. This in turn helps us understand where our priorities should be within the spawning system.
The second part of our loot/basic survival mechanic problem is the character representation itself - meaning how healthy/hungry/thirsty your character is. That sets the pace to this core gameplay loop of keeping your character fed and alive. Any potential tweaking of character representation values depends on the findings of our loot distribution tests. We will have to cover a lot of possible border cases that happen to players.
Additionally, we will (as previously suggested) also play around with the overall player numbers per server, and we will need to see how to scale the Central Economy with the player numbers going up, possibly all the way to a 100 players per server.
How do we prepare the Stress Test release packages
Since I've mentioned our internal Development Branch earlier, I also wanted to explain the process behind the scenes that goes into releasing a Stress Test itself. Internally, we have created a new branch of DayZ for data and changes that we specifically need to run public Stress Tests.
Branching, in revision control and software configuration management, is the duplication of an object under revision control (such as a source code file or a directory tree) so that modifications can happen in parallel along both branches. More in a related Wikipedia article.
We've been merging various fixes and surgical tweaks to the game on that branch, while the regular development has been ongoing on our main Development Branch. With Stress Tests, we are trying to gather data on specific problems that require a high-stress environment with tons of players coming in and out of the server, pushing all gameplay systems to their limits. That is specifically the case with loot distribution and all player interactions tied to it.
Stabilizing these interactions and making them somewhat consistent with a decent amount of variety is our primary goal. We want you to experience that feeling of discovery when you find what you need at a certain moment. Especially if it's a rare item. Looting is a big part of the DayZ gameplay, we know how much this can affect the enjoyment from fighting for your life in Chernarus, so with each Stress Test, we set a goal and a particular combination of data that we want to gather within a specific gameplay element or system. Then, we add extra logging to these interactions, helping us to decide on the next action we should be taking.
It's only a small part of the development though. The Development Branch has seen a lot of additional optimizations already, even including fixes to several different issues that you have been experiencing, so our goal now is to leave the Stress Test branch to keep the development pace going forward. Our Development Branch is where the progress towards experimental goals happens, so it's about time we make sure this branch is viable for live playtests. To ensure we really are ready to do that switch, we will release a short Stress Test based on the code/data of that branch before we go on for another longer Stress Test.
Once again, I want to say a BIG thank you for the feedback coming in, it's what makes this community special. All of us want a great game, no doubts about it!
- Eugen Harton / Lead Producer
In the last Status Report I was commenting on the community feedback regarding firearms in our DayZ Stress Tests. Today I will continue with different elements which are related to them.
Weapon Switching Animations
As is pretty obvious, the animations for swapping items from the inventory to the hand slot are missing. Especially with weapons, this creates a gameplay problem, as a lack of visual communication turns a harmless disarmed character into a threat in a split second.
Currently we are implementing these item switch animations and, along with them, we are changing one important thing - shoulder slots will be no longer be dedicated. That means you will be able to carry two long firearms or two melee weapons as needed. As we progress with 0.63, a slot for a belt will also be added, opening possibilities for an additional pistol holster, knife sheet, or quiver. A slot for the bow is considered as well, but there needs to be a bow implemented first to see how it will work with non-dedicated shoulders.
Another part missing is animation feedback of a target being hit with a projectile, as we turned that specific feature off for the Stress Test. We ran into a problem where even additive impact affected the aim of a firearm. Such an authentic affair quickly becomes a very unpleasant mechanic, preventing a reaction by putting you in a disadvantage after being hit - the only chance was that the shooter will miss or have to reload so your aim can recover in the meantime. We will have to address this issue as we would like to have animated feedback following a projectile hit.
On a different issue, bleeding and its treatment are basic DayZ mechanics. Unfortunately, without the new parent-child hierarchy, which is being implemented as we speak, we cannot pin particle emitters to the character properly and animate them with it. We've decided to postpone the visual representation of bleeding particles as well. Admittedly, this is a bad timing, as in 0.63 you have to treat every bleeding source individually. With slightly unresponsive progress arrows of the blood stat icon (more about indicators later) and no way to tell if there are some bleeding wounds left, it’s hard to say how many times you should bandage.
Apart from that, please be aware that many elements you see in the game right now have not been not through a basic balance pass just yet. From digestion, regeneration speeds and stamina, through damages of melee and projectiles to the weight of items, their sizes, and cargo spaces... it’s safe to say that basically everything will be adjusted more or less and it is connected to some degree with the lack of features, mechanics, and content, which will be added down the road during the 0.63 Experimental phase.
Oh, and it will be a ride... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
The animation team is now focused on several parts of the player character. We are now in the phase of improving and finalizing the prone system. Animations for crawling in prone on the back, which have been missing until now, are being added. The cameras and some poses are not final yet as well. And of course, after the animations are finished, we will have to do a couple of rounds of bugfixing for prone on the back before we tick it off as done.
Another important part that is in progress, is overcoming obstacles. We now have a working prototype for jumping, but we are still in the process of adding missing animations. Meanwhile, there has been some work done on climbing over higher obstacles. These are divided into multiple levels, and different animations will be played depending on the height of the obstacle.
Close combat will see some changes as well. As we want to have more variation to the combat, we are adding new animations for the baseball bat. These should better reflect the item. In the future, we want to continue with this and add more item specific attack animations.
Last but not least, there is ongoing work on firearms, vehicles, user actions, infected and also tons of general bugfixing. All of these areas are a longer term task, but you should see constant improvements in the game with everything related during Experimental. But for now, let's check out some gifs! Cheers!
- Viktor Kostík / Lead Animator
I just wanted to give a shout out to the NDC colony for fighting the good fight every night on US-1. Even though it's been a rough go on US-1 for the last several weeks, NDC are dedicated to the DayZ Colony experience and we would like to thank them for what they do. Thanks guys!