As we look forward to Q2 of 2015, we'll take a look at the goals and objectives internally for the first quarter of this year. From initial implementation of new A.I. for Infected and Animals, to the Central Economy and more. Q1 had the first appearance of some very important work on the road to 1.0 for DayZ.
Central economy (advanced loot distribution)
New Zombie AI
Basic stealth system (zombies, animals, ...)
Improved Cooking & Horticulture
Advanced Anti-Cheat (Dynamic BattlEye)
Basic Vehicles: Praga V3S & Vehicle Simulation
With the first implementation coming in very early on in Q1 - iteration followed throughout the rest of the quarter. Starting from scratch with the physical simulation, the engine and gameplay programming teams paired with the design team brought the first of our basic vehicles to stable branch, the Praga V3S. Looking forward into Quarter 2 - further iteration will allow us to expand into more vehicles, introduce vehicle inventories, and required vehicle maintenance/components.
In addition to the creation of the new physical simulation for DayZ's land based vehicles moving towards a "DayZ" specific feel to handling, design and programming work progressed on manual transmission support. From both the technical engine side, and player controls and overall system design this will allow us much greater customization of vehicles, as well as a more in depth and immersive experience than with traditional "push W and go fast" vehicle control models.
Central Economy: Item Quantity
Central Economy. One of the terms most people are still a bit confused by. The Central Economy is DayZ's backend control over the quantity, type, location, and region of the item or "loot" spawning system. Work continued on this throughout the entirety of Q1, and the first implementation was seen later in the Quarter on Experimental branch - pushing towards the 0.55 release at the end of the quarter. Moving into Q2 - this system is also tied into server side persistence, item cleanup, and proper item respawning and will be iterated upon frequently.
As we push this system from experimental branch and on to stable, it will allow us fine control over the in game economy, and thus how the flow from the coast to the north progresses. As well as allow us to push players more towards alternative food gathering resources such as horticulture, cooking, and hunting.
One of the longest duration core engine tasks for Enfusion, the base engine technology being developed in tandem with DayZ - is the seperation of the existing legacy renderer from the engine side simulation, and the creation of a brand new rendering module. Critical for the flexibility and life of the Enfusion engine - this task is arguably one of the most paramount technology upgrades for DayZ moving forward, and was much more of a task than we initially expected (having been pushed beyond its intended experimental branch date several times). As Q1 draws to a close we are within weeks of the completion of the module itself, and the analysis of time required to implement the currently used DirectX 9 tech was undertaken.
Internal review has shown that the additional time spent to hook DirectX 9 into the new rendering module is near identical to the time that would be required to add in DirectX 11 support. As the original intent to support DirectX 9 in tandem with DirectX 12 gave way to increased DirectX 12 support within the industry, the decision was made to ditch DirectX 9 support for the new rendering module and move directly into supporting DirectX 11. As supporting three seperate platforms (DirectX 9, DirectX 11, and DirectX 12) is not feesible, DirectX 11 was the clear winner for the "mainstream" platform target.
What does this mean for you, the average survivor?
We'll be moving forward with initial support for DirectX 11 only, with DirectX 12 support following eventually.
Windows XP will no longer be possible, as it is not capable of DirectX 11 support.
Windows XP has always been below minimum requirements for DayZ.
With a time estimate of approximately 2 months to complete the last required changes for the new rendering module, and support DirectX 11.
The initial goal is a 1:1 visual parity with the original simulation tied renderer.
Once implemented, the design team will have access to more robust and complex particle effects
Systems such as bleeding, fires, flares, etc will receive the proper visual attention they require
Volumetric fog will be possible within the world of Chernarus
Estimated completion date of support for DirectX 11 is mid to late May 2015.
New A.I. & Stealth (Infected & Animal)
Fairly early on in DayZ development it was fairly apparent that the existing A.I. we had inherited from previous titles using our original tech base was not going to be able to deliver the infected and animal experience we wanted to deliver. As Q1 for 2015 comes to a close, we've been slowly implementing very early versions of entirely new A.I. built specifically for DayZ into experimental branch. With 0.55 we'll begin to see early versions of both enter stable branch. Obviously very core to the DayZ experience is stealth when avoiding or approaching both types of A.I., as well as intelligent behavior and navigation.
It is critical to allow the player to both feel like the hunter, and the hunted. Thus work on the A.I. side of the engine during Q1 focused heavily on begining to allow the player to feel as if they could escape the infected using only their wits, rather than brute force - and use that same stealth tactic to hunt and kill wild animals when exploring the vast fields and forests of Chernarus. As 2015 continues and we enter Q2, the existing systems will be iterated upon and expanded to offer an even more immersive and complex DayZ experience.
Be it person to person contact, consuming contaminated water sources, or the cost of a comprimised immune system exposed to the harsh conditions of Chernarus weather - the risk and costs of maintaining player characters health has been something long anticipated. Hitting experimental branch late in Q1, the initial implementation of communicable diseases made its arrival with cholera.
As development continues this initial implementation will of course expand into a more complex system. Fully integrating with the medical and health mechanics currently in game, and expanding into more complex diseases such as influenza, typhoid fever, and many more. Wrapping up Q1, stable branch will see the bodies of water across Chernarus carrying a chance of the presence of cholera. Survivor immune systems, as well as water purification tablets will be crucial to surviving as you trek across the map.
Improved Cooking & Horticulture
Living off the land has been an evolving goal (functionality wise) and Q1 saw the expansion of both the horticulture options, and the hunting and cooking mechanisms. The long awaited expansion on the original early cooking implementation finally made an appearance - with a more complex and in depth expansion of campfires, cooking tripods, and furnaces.
The more complex cooking allowed the heating (and in some cases - side effects) of the heating of most items, including the popping off of firearm ammunition, and compressed containers such as the spray paint cans. This also expands into the progression of raw/cooking/cooked/burnt and so on states for most all vegetables, fruits, and meats.
As the Central Economy implementation evolves, we'll begin to see player farms, and cooking stations such as the fireplace and furnace be tied into the server side persistence on a full time basis.
Working closely with BattlEye over the quarter, the programming and production teams have implemented a more proactive BattlEye to DayZ on Steam. In addition to preventing all traditional external forms of cheating - Over 4,000 cheaters have been banned from DayZ since the begining of February. Obviously this is one in a series of steps in an ongoing battle. No title is without its vulnerabilities, and developing DayZ and its engine platform in the public eye opens us up to a number of security issues. However, the initiatives with BattlEye paired with upcoming additions of a more robust VAC support look to provide an ever evolving aggressive stance against cheating in DayZ.
For Q2 and beyond, in addition to the steps mentioned above the gameplay programming team has and will continue to investigate and address legacy vulnerbilities in the engine powering DayZ. Throughout the remainder of DayZ's Early Access you will see an ever evolving movement against any and all cheating. It is core to the gameplay experience of a title as inherently competetive and persistent as DayZ that the users be provided as "fair" a playing field as possible.