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nasKo

Far from the Zedding Crowd

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After last week’s big vid bonanza it’s something of a ‘techie’ behind the curtain blog today, but hopefully there’s enough to keep your proverbial up.

CROWD RENDERING

With the animated rotation tech front largely under control, we are now working on the next big ticket item we’ve been wanting to get in pre-IWBUMS.

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Any good apocalypse needs a good healthy horde of ravenous undead. That said, please ignore the fact that all the above ones are bald. Call it a comeback I guess, or more likely a bug.

Zac’s current challenge is to be able to draw large quantities of articulated, walking, shambling, crawling, eating, and swarming zeds at a reasonable frame rate. Right now it’s okay-ish on a decent system, but wouldn’t stand up to a huge amount of zombie horde herding – which we know is a favourite pastime of PZ players.

Crowd Rendering is a collective term that involves a number of techniques that take advantage of the large numbers of crowds to make the process much more efficient.

To know where to aim, however, it’s a big help to have intimate knowledge of just how the PZ engine is performing, and where the hot-spots are. Toward this end, we are adding a Performance Analyzer module to AnimZed.

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Instead of a general list of hot-spots from a broad sampling of the running game, this will allow us to see a sequence of frames and the story of each rendered frame from start to finish.

We will know what happens in the RenderThread and the UpdateThread, from start to finish, and will be able to measure the cost of each step, and validate the benefits of any optimization technique on a step-by-step basis.

Or, at least that is the hypothesis. The initial implementation is the bare bones required to get us some useful data. If it proves useful, it will be allowed to stay and get improved as we go along through the builds of the future – not to mention help us optimize in other areas of the game.

COMBAT IMPROVEMENT

A big aspect in build 41 has been the combat balancing. We wanted to make the one on one combat feel a lot easier, where fighting with groups would be much much more deadly.

This however has been too successful if anything, and we ended up with groups being SO deadly it was actually near impossible to survive a few fights with small groups, which ended up way too punishing even for ours, the most masochistic of gaming communities. (Sorry)

As such, due to the new animation system’s ability to allow animations to play only on the top half of the body, RJ has made a change that allows you to strafe while shoving and swinging your weapon.

The upshot now is this has added a whole new element to combat, instead of being rooted to the spot for the duration of the swing, the player has more tactical options for positioning. It still needs some further bug fixing and balance (we may consider applying some malus to damage when moving during a strike if it’s necessary) but overall it’s working really well.

OTHER STUFF

  • We’ve clearly got a lot of internal testing going on at the moment – and it’s spotlit a few issues we need to clear up. (Although they’re arguably not IWBUMS-delaying at the minute, so don’t worry about that aspect of it). A prominent one is looting not playing nicely with rotationals, and causing a ‘Robocop turn’ at the end of player pathfinding to cupboards, lockers etc. Elsewhere we’re polishing a lot of the changes between movement states and bickering about keypresses, toggles and other aspects of player input. All the fun of the fair.
  • Yuri is back on his work on improved fire visuals. This won’t be a part of the initial IWBUMS release, but we probably will want to be integrating it during the IWBUMS beta process – as it’s the last graphical overhang from the earliest days of PZ and currently looks ugly as sin on the new models.
  • Internal testing of the extremely WIP (many builds far distant) Louisville map went really well, with a good variety of buildings being felt and general city size seeming expansive. It has, however, also been fruitful in showing us that to ‘feel’ built-up then things have to be tighter on-screen – so we will be removing a lot of the parking lots we previously had in downtown areas, so it all feels more compressed. Radio silence, bar the very occasional screenshot, on our version of Louisville shall now recommence!

This week’s boardroom meeting from VOVKA. A general list of stuff added to PZ, and vids of features being worked on, is kept here – so you don’t have to plough through endless dev blogs for info. The Centralized Block of Italicised Text would like to direct your attention to the PZ Wiki should you feel like editing or amending something, and the PZ Mailing List that can send blogs like this and patch notes direct to your mailbox. We also live on Twitter right hereOur Discord is open for chat and hijinks too!

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I’ve been keeping up with every Thursdoid since cars was still in ibwums and I love the progress on the animations! I know you probably get asked all the time, but if I may inquire if there’s a certain time window as to a SP or a full Ibwums release?

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2 hours ago, Luckey said:

I’ve been keeping up with every Thursdoid since cars was still in ibwums and I love the progress on the animations! I know you probably get asked all the time, but if I may inquire if there’s a certain time window as to a SP or a full Ibwums release?

No, but we're hoping for a couple weeks tops.

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4 hours ago, nasKo said:

As such, due to the new animation system’s ability to allow animations to play only on the top half of the body, RJ has made a change that allows you to strafe while shoving and swinging your weapon. 

Does this only relate to melee weapons, or can you shoot while strafing as well?

All is looking great so far! Getting more and more excited each week. :D

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Ooh, I dont much like that strafe thing you guys just did.

 

I feel thats going to significantly dumb down the combat where I can just hold a direction and mash click the attack button and the horde will never get me and I will eventually chew through their health. A lot of the danger seems like itll be gone if this change is implemented and I feel you guys should immediately check this and make sure this isnt an issue. One of the things ive always liked about the combat is how you really have to commit to a swing, hordes cant be kited as easily because your swing stops your movement, with that gone I feel the games combat difficulty is going to decrease by a lot and I feel that guns are going to be even weaker as a result because now I dont even need a gun for big engagements (which only brings more enemies to me in the first place and has always been hard to justify) since I can just infinitely kite enemies so long as my melee weapon isnt broken. 

 

Please dont make this mistake, assuming it is one. I hope you guys test it because I already saw glimpses of it in the video.

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13 hours ago, Ziggylata said:

Ooh, I dont much like that strafe thing you guys just did.

 

I feel thats going to significantly dumb down the combat where I can just hold a direction and mash click the attack button and the horde will never get me and I will eventually chew through their health. A lot of the danger seems like itll be gone if this change is implemented and I feel you guys should immediately check this and make sure this isnt an issue. One of the things ive always liked about the combat is how you really have to commit to a swing, hordes cant be kited as easily because your swing stops your movement, with that gone I feel the games combat difficulty is going to decrease by a lot and I feel that guns are going to be even weaker as a result because now I dont even need a gun for big engagements (which only brings more enemies to me in the first place and has always been hard to justify) since I can just infinitely kite enemies so long as my melee weapon isnt broken. 

 

Please dont make this mistake, assuming it is one. I hope you guys test it because I already saw glimpses of it in the video.

 

I’m mixed on it. Unexpectedly, I think this will fix the bland melee PvP, as you won’t be able to run away so fast with the sprint transitions (a feature which I believe should be lengthened to further mitigate this) Being able to move in melee combat allows you to effectively dodge hits from other players as well, making timing and positioning crucial, and not allowing people to just sprint away mid-fight without risking being hit.

 

I do want zombies to be a big threat though. I don’t want a case where someone slowly walks backwards as the zombies arrange themselves into a nice orderly single file line to be killed. They should definitely look more into this. Getting non glitchy sprinters into multiplayer soon would be great too, as zombies would screw you over regardless, making it much more brutal, while still retaining the functionality of this new PvP system.

 

 

Edited by MrBlue
((Editted because I was kinda drowsy and typing with autocorrect on which made the post incoherent in certain parts, thank you for bearing with me))

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3 hours ago, Ziggylata said:

I feel you guys should immediately check this and make sure this isnt an issue.

 

Maybe wait until you've actually played the new build before you start calling for immediate action to problems that might not even exist. People just can't help themselves when they see these WIP videos.

 

Keep doing what you're doing TIS. Can't wait to play this once it's ready.

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We'll make sure it's balanced so kiting isn't something that keeps you safe. If by dumbing down you mean 'allow someone to survive more than a day' I'd agree with that :P no one here has any idea how unbelievably difficult the game is compared to 40 with the rebalanced combat. Thanks for your concern and we'll definitely bear this in mind.

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I don't mean to egg on the point of concern regarding this new strafing combat tweak, but realizing it's potential in making melee PvP a lot more tactical and less of a mindless run-spam fest, perhaps you guys might consider making injuries (given by other players) add some kind of 15-30 second speed debuff? The way I see, it there is a problem in how you can just sprint out of combat when the other guy has a bat, and its not like you can grab or tackle someone to slow them down like you could in real life, so there should be a way to make some game mechanic-wise equivalent to it feasible. Maybe adding in some stun animation from damage, kind of like how when someone gets crippled in Fallout New Vegas they can't fight for a second, could also help this.

 

 

Edited by MrBlue

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I'm also not keen on the combat changes or strafing. Maybe if it's implemented in a way that tires the player out faster I think it could work, but otherwise zombie combat (zombat?) is already too easy. Zombies, alone or in groups, need to be more of a threat, not less, IMO. I miss the old days where even one zombie could end you if you were careless. That doesn't happen anymore, not unless you're using Sprinters.

Edited by Zapp Brannigan

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7 hours ago, Zapp Brannigan said:

but otherwise zombie combat (zombat?) is already too easy. 

That doesn't happen anymore
Zombies, alone or in groups, need to be 
more of a threat, not less, IMO.

 

"

A big aspect in build 41 has been the combat balancing. We wanted to make the one on one combat feel a lot easier, where fighting with groups would be much much more deadly.

This however has been too successful if anything, and we ended up with groups being SO deadly it was actually near impossible to survive a few fights with small groups, which ended up way too punishing even for ours, the most masochistic of gaming communities. (Sorry)"

 

To reiterate, you haven't played build 41. You're comparing it to 40, but as we've stated repeatedly, the entire combat system has been 100% replaced, rewritten from scratch, from what you're playing already, so we're balancing based on that, not what you're currently playing. Where you can get grabbed and bitten at a moment's notice. Where if at any point three zombies get close to you they will right there and then drag you to the ground and kill you instantly? Where any zombie that sneaks up behind you is almost guaranteed to take a chunk out of your neck? Where basically ANY 1v2 fight are not only difficult but ends 99% with you getting a bite the moment you swing at one of them, are unable to move, and the other gets into range during your swing?

 

Without the strafe moving, build 41 was literally about 10x harder than build 40 that you're playing, and everyone including extremely seasoned players in closed testing agreed it was way too punishing and would piss everyone off, and every one of them to a man/woman were celebrating the strafing combat as 'that's the last piece of the puzzle, and exactly what was needed', and you're making judgement calls on balance we're doing to build 41 based on 'it already being too easy' in build 40 - its kinda frustrating as I said above we're considering the ramifications of strafe moving on kiting etc to make sure it doesn't break the difficulty, just provides more scope for players to avoid certain death within their first few encounters.

 

We already stated we're going to ensure that difficulty is not compromised by kiting, we're balancing hit damage, zombie reactions, chance of knockdowns, speed of backward strafing, all manner of things to make sure strafing is not OP. But the game being IMPOSSIBLE to survive for a decent playlength was not good balance either. Our end goal for the balance is it will be deadly to try and fight against 3+ zombies with a start character. But taking on a couple of zombies at once you'll have a chance of getting away alive, and killing a single zombie on its own will be not too bad providing it doesn't get the jump on you. We have a very specific plan for balance and the goal is that groups will be much scarier than they are in build 40, but if we go too far (how it was prior to this addition) it will turn off all but the most skilled players and even those may get extremely frustrated before long.

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8 hours ago, lemmy101 said:

To reiterate, you haven't played build 41. You're comparing it to 40, but as we've stated repeatedly, the entire combat system has been 100% replaced, rewritten from scratch, from what you're playing already, so we're balancing based on that, not what you're currently playing. Where you can get grabbed and bitten at a moment's notice. Where if at any point three zombies get close to you they will right there and then drag you to the ground and kill you instantly? Where any zombie that sneaks up behind you is almost guaranteed to take a chunk out of your neck? Where basically ANY 1v2 fight are not only difficult but ends 99% with you getting a bite the moment you swing at one of them, are unable to move, and the other gets into range during your swing?

 

Thank you for your response. I apologize, I was unaware of what the balancing was based on. My misconception was you guys were making it easier based on the current build, not what's upcoming. It's more clear to me now and I really do appreciate that.

Edited by Zapp Brannigan

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On 9/13/2019 at 1:06 AM, Ziggylata said:

Ooh, I dont much like that strafe thing you guys just did.

 

I feel thats going to significantly dumb down the combat where I can just hold a direction and mash click the attack button and the horde will never get me and I will eventually chew through their health. A lot of the danger seems like itll be gone if this change is implemented and I feel you guys should immediately check this and make sure this isnt an issue. One of the things ive always liked about the combat is how you really have to commit to a swing, hordes cant be kited as easily because your swing stops your movement, with that gone I feel the games combat difficulty is going to decrease by a lot and I feel that guns are going to be even weaker as a result because now I dont even need a gun for big engagements (which only brings more enemies to me in the first place and has always been hard to justify) since I can just infinitely kite enemies so long as my melee weapon isnt broken. 

 

Please dont make this mistake, assuming it is one. I hope you guys test it because I already saw glimpses of it in the video.

 

I like anything that resembles realism, and think that's why most of us keep coming back to this game... That said, shooting on the move is a thing... Tactically speaking, you're putting rounds down range while not being a static "target" for anyone shooting back at you... Or simply being able to do two things you need to do simultaneously... those being "Get somewhere" and "Fight"...

 

So I applaud the incorporation of this feature in the Animations update, and hope that it's balanced realistically. I trust since the original combat system so far as gun-play is involved, already calculates severe movement penalties, they already have an idea how to take that a step further to make hit percentages a realistic representation of skill level, movement speed, weapon type, etc... maybe even degree of rotation of the torso...

 

That said, IMO.... it's a trade off, being able to move while striking or firing... You *DO* get to continue moving and not be a static target for zombies, or attackers.... But your effectiveness so far as putting rounds on target is far less when compared to firing/striking from an ideal stance...

 

Similar to firing from a moving vehicle... Anyone can do it... and it should be possible since it reflects reality... but the penalties should be extremely severe to create the balance of wasting ammo which is already a commodity...

 

Being that melee weapons do not expend ammunition, one penalty for moving while striking with a melee weapon could be damage penalty... This would make sense to any baseball player, in that without the feet planted firmly and properly, power is lost... So the trade off to doing this is basically :

 

A) You swing while moving to maintain distance, but it takes 2-4 times as many connects to take out the zombie.... vs

B) You just stop for a second and give it a couple good whacks and be done with it...

 

Option (B) may not be an option if you're getting surrounded...  and option (A) may sometimes feel like you're just spinning your wheels not getting any results... Which costs you time... could be considered a commodity as well if you're trying to get out of somewhere before you get surrounded...

 

This all reminds me of putting severe hit chance penalties on Full-Auto fire... I added that to the version of SuperSurvivors I'm using, and Mr. Fenris Wolf added it to the ORGM options menu so it could be reflected upon the player as well...

 

So all in all, this is an exciting feature IMO....  But Yes, Balance is the key!!

 

 

 

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Internal tester's quote that I think should relax a few people in here:

 

"I usually bolt to the hardware store in West Point first thing. Couldn't grab much this time before they knocked the door down and chased me out. Very narrowly avoided getting bitten: Survival margins when fighting 3 at once indoors are near zero now. Even 2 can be tough if they both come at you at once! "

 

Also:

 

 

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Woah! This update looks slicker than shit on a hoe handle! I haven't been followin the game that closely these past few months but what a shocker to come back to and look the sneak peaks of what build 41 will look like! Y'all look like you're doing an amazin job TIS so please keep it up!!!! This has been and will prolly be my favorite game of all time and I'm so ecstatic to see that it continues to get better and better every year. 

Oh! And to everyone out there who thinks the new combat system will be too easy if you're still not convinced by Lemmy's video, (Which by the way R.I.P that poor soul he didn't stand a chance) is combat in the game currently really that difficult? Any dipshit with an axe can grind up their axe levels on small groups of zombies and eventually you get to the point where you can stare down a small horde of 10-20 and just swing, kill one, step back, swing, kill a few more, step back and rinse repeat that cycle. Sure it's time consuming, but combat isn't exactly high skilled at the moment, just incredibly punishing if you fuck up so this combat update is really really exciting!!! I have the upmost confidence that TIS will have build 41 combat balanced. My main interest is how gun combat will be balanced, I'm very keen to see more info on that. 

Edited by DresdenBBQ

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10 hours ago, lemmy101 said:

I usually bolt to the hardware store in West Point first thing. Couldn't grab much this time before they knocked the door down and chased me out.

 

This is my tactic so I'm definitely more excited after that little insight.

 

The video is beautiful! Need to get a new laptop as I don't think my 2012 Macbook will be able to handle the new animations without trying to take off into orbit.

 

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16 hours ago, lemmy101 said:

Internal tester's quote that I think should relax a few people in here:

 

"I usually bolt to the hardware store in West Point first thing. Couldn't grab much this time before they knocked the door down and chased me out. Very narrowly avoided getting bitten: Survival margins when fighting 3 at once indoors are near zero now. Even 2 can be tough if they both come at you at once! "

 

Also: (video)

Well damn, that looks (and sounds) friggin' amazing!

Edited by Zapp Brannigan

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Ah darn it you made me register. I am unreasonably excited for the update! Love the spike in difficulty, animations, the whole shebang! I'm far more excited for this than any other new releases.

 

V41 with ORGM (when its updated for it) is going to consume all my free time!

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58 minutes ago, Burleon said:

20th of September 2018, that's when y'all announced build 41, tomorrow is gonnabe 1 year since build 41! I hope all is well and a release is on its way very very soon.

 

Yup thanks! We're really proud, only a year to rewrite huge portions of the game is way better than we anticipated, and yes we feel very close now.

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15 hours ago, lemmy101 said:

Yup thanks! We're really proud, only a year to rewrite huge portions of the game is way better than we anticipated, and yes we feel very close now.

Don't supposed ya guys will be able to surprise us with an IWBUMS on such important day, would you? :P

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