Dear Survivors. As promised, it's time to address the upcoming BETA update. This will be a longer text, so take a deep breath, we're going to get back all the way to the last year.
In the 2017 - Year In Review video published last December, we shared our goals to deliver the BETA and 1.0 updates of DayZ in 2018. Over the course of this year, we've made significant progress towards completing those goals (2 major experimental releases, and 50+ Stress Tests), and while there's less time left in 2018 than we'd all like to have (some 60 days left before the holiday season starts), we're still well on our way to releasing these important updates.
In this blog post, we'd like to better define the PC BETA update - what our goals with it are and what your expectations towards it should be.
What does reaching BETA mean for DayZ?
Before we dive into the specifics of the DayZ BETA update, let's set the terms straight first. In software or game development, BETA is widely regarded as a product that's feature complete. For the DayZ PC BETA, this is true in a sense that the BETA will have all the features required for its core gameplay loop to work, but within the overall scope of the DayZ project, it's certainly not what we would consider a totally feature complete game.
Then, the BETA stage of development is a point from which the focus of development shifts to bugfixing and polishing, instead of implementing new features and technology. This will be especially important for DayZ, as one of the the main goals of the BETA update is to start making the game into a stable platform that's ready for further development.
The other main goal of the update is to make the vanilla game an enjoyable experience - after years spent on core technology development, we finally have a game in our hands - not a game concept. The game has a given set of features and content, and that will allow us to make the necessary balancing and polishing together with our community.
Most of this will be happening throughout the rest of 2018, culminating in a 1.0 release where we leave Early Access - but even after this milestone is achieved (meaning we finally close the core development of the game), we're going to keep improving the platform before new things start making their way into the game again.
So to summarize, the PC BETA update is going to be a version of the game that has all the basic fun elements of DayZ available, and it's also the start of the journey towards a balanced, stable platform that's ready to support further development and modding.
With that out of the way, let's take a look at the particular features and content that will be available in the BETA update.
BETA Features & Content
In August, we've gone through a feature freeze - an important internal milestone where we've evaluated the overall state of the game and marked any item from our Feature & Content Goals that did not reach a certain level of implementation as post 1.0 development.
While we are ultimately the masters of our own development time, there is one universal truth in game development: you can always try to squeeze more stuff into a release, so eventually, a line needs to be drawn and goals need to be established in order to achieve results.
The goal we've set was clear: making sure that we proceed towards stabilizing the DayZ gameplay and platform in 2018, as this stabilization will be necessary for further development of the game, and will benefit DayZ in the long run. Additionally, after working on a project for 5 years, it also became apparent that the team needs to have a sense of an end goal in mind.
Making decisions like this is painful for every developer - nobody likes to see "their" feature being cut, or postponed to some future update - but having a balanced and polished core of basic gameplay is more important than having dozens of flavor, supporting and exotic features.
Everyone who was ever involved in the full development cycle of any game knows that at the finish line, there's always less stuff than was originally planned. Since DayZ's development has been very open from day one, you get to experience this side of game development with us, first hand.
So, at the end, this is where we've arrived at for the DayZ BETA features and content - ultimately meaning that this will also be our 1.0 release after the polishing phase:
Please note: the overview is not extensive and does not cover every single small feature or item in the game - DayZ is a pretty complex game after all. This mostly describes things that the BETA has in addition to the 0.63 Experimental release. If you have a question about a specific feature, feel free to ask us about it in this forums thread!
Critical New BETA Features (not available in legacy versions of DayZ)
- Base Building
- Related crafting, items, and their economy setup
- Precise placement of objects
- Electricity system
- Locking other players from accessing your base
- New implementation of vehicles
- Improved controls, physics, and network synchronization
- Improved damage system
- Improvements in vehicle interactions, management, and maintenance
- Modding support
- Implementation of the Steam Workshop
- Game launcher
- Specific modding tools
- Server files for hosting community servers
- New player character features
- Visualization of bleeding source
- Character lifespan (growing beards, learning soft skills)
- Character restrain
- Hit reactions
Smaller new BETA features and improvements (not available in 0.62)
- Major improvements of the sound design
- Hidden loot stashes
- Not losing your weapon double carry (when switching from hand slot to shoulders)
- Improved in-game map implementation
- Dynamic spawning of loot (fruits, stones, mushrooms and other items)
- Sspecific animations for carrying/using most items
- Melee attacks with guns
- Server browser improvements
- Central Economy improvements
and more :)
Features & Improvements Planned for BETA/1.0 (Originally in 0.62, Now Moved Post 1.0)
We've arrived at the decision that base building implementation will provide enough of an end goal for players, so helicopters can be added later on
Climbing Over Obstacles
This feature required additional programming and animation support that we've decided to invest more effectively into other parts of the game
throwing requires a lot of additional specialist work on physics and network synchronization, and we'd rather invest that into vehicles and other features
this includes throwable weapons like grenades or smoke grenades
The implementation of bows means an introduction of a completely new weapon type on 0.63 and was always a risky goal, in the end unfortunately not achievable in 2018; we've invested the programming time into gun play, melee combat, vehicles and other core features that were more important
Character and Infected Ragdoll
Unfortunately, there are many network synchronization cases that we need to resolve and implementing ragdolls in combination with death animations will require more time and resources
While a huge quality of life improvement, changing the doors to two way opening will require additional rework of some of the assets, and is not achievable in 2018
Fishing, Fish Traps, Decaying Bodies, Carrying Characters, Contaminated Areas, Item Coloring, Etc.
These are considered flavor features and for now, work on core gameplay features was prioritized instead
In recap, there are no major feature cuts or postponements - anything that makes DayZ the game unique and original among the other survival games is still there. Some of the biggest trade-offs are probably bows, throwing, ragdolls, and some of the flavor features that you were already used to seeing in legacy versions of DayZ. These trade-offs are usually allowing us to spend more time on the core features, and that, again, is certainly more beneficial for the future of DayZ.
In addition to those features, we've had to done some trimmings to the content. Specifically, we're only going to have two types of vehicles available in BETA - the V3S truck and the Lada 4x4. As for weapons, compared to our original goals for BETA, we're not going to be able to implement the following content in time:
- Red 9
- IZH 43 shotgun
- CR 527
- Winchester 70
Any other firearm currently available in 0.62, but not on the 0.63 Stress Test branch
In general, we've done our best to have each firearm type from 0.62 represented in the game, and additional variety in firearms will be provided with content updates after 1.0, where we should have more animation resources available at hand.
Road to the 1.0 Release
In general, polishing the package of content and features as described above will be our goal for 1.0, and for the weeks immediately after 1.0. This will include:
- General balancing of every part of the game (central economy, weapon damage...)
- Amassive amount of bug fixing
- Polishing and improving the general feeling you as players have when playing DayZ
Just to assure everyone again, both the BETA and 1.0 releases will happen this year. All of that will be done together with our community, and we will be expecting to hear a lot of feedback on various things. When the BETA update gets released, we'll be providing more details on how we will be collecting and evaluating feedback.
As the cherry on top, there's of course the planned modding toolset release - and we'll also get back to that later on, when the BETA update is in your hands. It deserves its own blog post, and after all, this has already been a very long wall of text anyway! :)
- Martin Čulák / Brand Manager
Even after some of you had the chance to try out the construction feature to some degree with the recent release of the Stress Test, base building is still considered to be a kind of a mysterious part of DayZ. To recap, the construction feature allows you to build two main elements (portable mesh barriers aside): fence and a watchtower.
The process of building these objects is identical and starts with a construction kit, which is placed to outline the position and layout of objects. From there, you are able to add building materials such as logs, planks, nails or metal sheets, and by using the proper tool and a user action, you turn them into actual parts of the fences or watchtowers. Similarly to the watchtower with its multiple floors, the fence includes an optional platform. Upgrades for both are available in terms of camouflage and passive defense.
Moreover, a fence can be turned into a gate as there has to be some way how to get in or out, The opening is wide enough for a truck as well. The gate can be kept closed from unwanted visitors by utilizing a multi-dial combination lock with easily shareable custom codes. Of course the code can be cracked by brute force and as everything in DayZ it can be broken with a proper tool, although you should consider the time needed for such actions. That goes for dismantling actions as well.
Currently we are in the process of solving unpleasant issues with the lifetime of constructed objects and intentional server hopping into the base. Especially the second one is tricky as I don’t want to introduce some unnecessary artificial counter measures or out of place actions which could potentially harm the unique DayZ experience.
Base building as a whole is a broad set of activities. Throw horticulture, food preparation, obtaining water, stationary crafting, storage, building a shelter, engineering an electricity grid and others into a mix and you get your very own base. All of that was designed to blend in well with the environment, and I have to say that I’m excited to see the wide variations of bases you will come up with, and how they will add to the persistent world of DayZ.
It’s hammer time... see you in Chernarus folks!
- Peter Nespesny / Lead Designer
If you have played DayZ since the version 0.60, it is certainly possible that you never had an opportunity to see how the in-game item of Chernarus' map looks and works. The revival of this feature was definitely one of the more important points for the upcoming BETA release and I am glad to announce that this was a success, and in addition to its re-introduction, we have been able to bring a number of improvements to it.
So, how does it work? You find the Chernarus map and take it into your hands. After that, you can open it with a user action. Your character will unpack the map and you will have an access to the map interface, where you can use pan and zoom in or out. A nice extra about this is, that anyone else in the world will actually see you having the map open too.
So what you can find on the map of Chernarus? While we would like to bring a number of different types of maps, we have decided that it would be best to start with a tourist map. This map features the whole in-game world in great detail (excluding the military areas of course). It shows all the pubs, stores, local offices (PAS panel), medical centres, police and fire departments. I should also not forget about the newly added tourist trails - you can see all the color tracks on the map too. Adding features like the trails is one of the improvements compared to the previous version of the map (versions 0.59 and older). It also allowed us to add all important lakes, streams, rivers and swamps. The location names on the map also received a necessary pass and we have got more types of them now. All the names are up-to-date with the map changes that happened for the past few years, and their names are in Cyrillic, so you can easily connect them with the names you see on tourist trails, settlement or traffic signs. The engine team has also looked at the performance of the map and has brought a number of improvements to it.
The map feature, at its core, works the same way as it did in Arma, which means any community map (that is packed using the upcoming DayZ tools) is also supported and only minor additions in the config and script have to be done. And to those wondering - yes, you will be able to add notes (markers) to individual map items. Peter will explain this in more detail in a future Status Report.
- Adam Franců / Map Designer
If you have played on the Stress Test branch over the last weekend, you might have heard a number of new and updated sounds. Our work in this area continues with:
- Sounds for evade prone animations
- Updated animals footsteps sound
- Dynamic attenuation of ambient and engine sounds, when character is inside vehicle.
- The sound changes according how many doors are open.
- Sounds for rifle swap animation
- Filip Čenžák / Sound Designer