Geoff Keene here. (You know, project lead on The Dead Linger, and design director of Sandswept Studios, and that guy who does the dev vlogs and whatnot.)
It seems in the industry right now there’s a lot of super-scary news and general worry going around about “Kickstarter crashes” and “Early Access failures.” Due to the rug being pulled out from under various other projects that were Kickstarted and/or are available on Early Access (Spacebase DF-9 being the most recent example here,) everyone is just about losing their minds and remarking things like: “Gee, I hope The Dead Linger doesn’t do what some unrelated title did!”
Well, yeah, I suppose any car is capable of crashing, but we’re not the driving that car. In fact, in most of these examples, we’re not even in a country driving on the same side of the road.
More to the point.
Apparently the thing to do as an indie developer is to write a blog post reminding everyone that we here at Sandswept are doing great and will not be running off to Hawaii with your hard earned cash, or burning down our studio (as virtual as it may be) for insurance money. Besides, if I were to do that, I would go live in the mountains. With a bear.
Anyway, so that’s what this blog post is. A reminder that we’re not going anywhere, much to the chagrin of our most dedicated trolls. (Sorry!) We’re not dead. Not even close. Most of us are working 6 to 7 days a week to get the next build ready. We just grew by 4 staff in the last couple months. In fact, we’re doing pretty damn well indeed. We hit our peak player count with the release of 14, and expect to hit something similar or greater with Build 15.
Not releasing an update for 2 or 3 months doesn’t mean we’re dead, or going to cancel the project. Not even close. This past couple of weeks there has been a definite spur of “I hope this game doesn’t die” posts, and I’m telling you right now that’s just not happening. Stop posting silly stuff like that. It’s silly. We’ve been keeping everyone in the loop daily on Twitter, Facebook, and the forums (yes, even the horrific monstrosity that is the Steam forums.)
If you weren’t worried before, keep it up. The support and feedback helps us build a better world for you to survive within.
If you were worried, stop. Seriously, it’s giving me a hernia.
Sandswept is gonna kick so much ass before this year is out, and we’re gonna keep kicking ass well through 2015. You’ll see.
Now group hug!
Survivor Q & A
Okay. Now that the super serious Zag-note is out of the way and we’re inching closer to the release of Build 15. We’ve decided to make this Weekly Dead about YOU guys! Our lovely, humble community.
We know you have questions and we have answers. A lot of them:
Q: New animations? Climbing in window animation? Because new zombies? – @Greenhunni
A: The new zombie models are receiving a whole slew of new animations, including more walk cycles and sometimes raising their arms when they get close. We’ve retooled all the climb-up and climb-over animations to work better in more situations. We still have some AI work to do on when and where zombies climb, but all of that looks better, more realistic, and more varied than before.
Q: When will we see zombie drops (if that’s planned) I’d love to rip a hand gun off of a dead zombie police officer. – @SecretMountainT
A: In your current version, zombies have a small chance to drop an item. As for dropping gear they’re wearing, we’re still refining how that system will work. We don’t have any plans for “loot containers” as you might see in certain other RPG-type games, so we’d like all lootable items on zombies to show up on the zombie. (i.e. if a zombie drops a rifle, it will have a rifle slung on its back from its previous life as a survivor, or a riot helmet might pop off when you kill the zombie and that can be worn.) Things of that nature are in the works.
Q: When will there be a completable objective added?
Right now the guns in FP look small and offset compared to other FPS. Is this purposeful or due for change? – @xkCALBx
A: We have some game types planned, specifically for PvP, but The Dead Linger has never been about completing an objective. There is no “Find the Cure” mission. The Dead Linger is about surviving, adventuring, and thriving in the ultimate zombie apocalypse. The goal in The Dead Linger is to survive. There are many, many sub-goals within that, such as finding food, collecting wood, getting to the next town, looting a house, or building something. The combination of that alone creates dozens upon dozens of goals. We have a lot more features coming to add to this, and before you know it, you will have thousands of possible things to see, do, and explore in the world.
The survivor model (both in first person and third) has some issues currently and will be undergoing a complete overhaul very soon. We started out trying to do something different with the guns (essentially simulate ‘hip-firing’, whereas most FPS games have the gun right up in your face constantly.) This didn’t quite turn out how we’d hoped, so we’re going to definitely retract a little towards more standard FPS appearances, while keeping our own personal touch on that. All of the work done in Build 15 with the zombies and zombie variations translates directly to the new survivor model and survivor customization as well. We’ve also designed the new survivor model to show your body and legs while in first person. You will see this come in on Build 17, according to the current plan.
Q: Will certain zombies be “special” as in is there a way to decrease the amount of bio-hazard zombies? I feel like there should be less of them and more of the standard citizens? – Connor Moran
A: The current screenshots you’ve seen are a first pass at “variety balance.” Some of the screenshots had a lot more biohazard suit zombies per citizen mainly because we’re just testing the system. We plan to do a final tweak to spawn rates before 15 goes live, and we may hotfix some tweaks after the fact as well. This also applies to any type of “unique” zombie, such as the riot gear zombies.
Q: When will we be seeing female zombies? – Adrian Adams
A: Female zombies are due alongside female survivors. The art is currently in the works, and we’re currently undergoing some testing to figure out the best method for rigging clothing to her. (The biggest issue is that we can’t necessarily use the same skeleton as the male zombies and survivor, so we’re trying some things out before we commit all the way.) Either way, she’s in the pipeline and will be arriving in the somewhat near future.
Q: Will the zombies get different face wear in this build? Or was it just placeholder for screenshots? – @CynnnicalScout
A:If I’m understanding this question, you’re asking if zombies will be wearing different face items? Yes, sometimes, and certain face items will also prevent that zombie from ever biting. Zombies can be found wearing all sorts of items — whatever you might imagine a survivor or victim would be wearing when they turned.
Q: What build do you plan to add water? Besides the new zombies, what else is coming in build 15? – @SoldadoMiosso
A:Water is currently planned for Build 19, which, given our new build schedule coming up, should be pretty soon.
Quite a bit! An entirely new main menu system, better performance, leaning, and a bunch of other cool things! Keep in mind that much of the work we’ve been doing is now distributed across two builds, so 16 will be coming soon after 15, and contain many new features as well. We’ll talk about that more after 15 is out the door.
Q: Will there be new guns? – @thehacker200034
A:We have some new guns in the works, yes. Keep in mind, as with all kinds of items, our plan is to add more variety to the game for years to come.
Q: Will certain zombies be found in certain areas like farmer zombies? – @viper131
A:Yes, in the future. Our system we just made for zombie variation is completely set up for it, but specifics like this probably won’t be in 15 just yet since we have quite a few other things to do before that.
Q: Any plans for fat lumbering zombies? – @tonysathre
A:The new zombies do support different weights, but there is also a “fat” variant in the game currently, which does double damage to barricades. You may have seen this postal worker (more variants coming soon) during your travels.
Q: When is Build 15 coming out? (Asked by everyone)
A:When it’s finished. Which should be within about 6 days.
Art Stuff and Things
Chaoss improved our window shader a bit. Here’s a quick GIF of it in action.
Dane’s cow is… Well, it’s a cow. There’s not a lot to say about it. Moo.
Michael is spending a good bit of time getting our zone creation tool ready for mass deployment, the results of which will be seen in Build 15, or 16, depending on what’s done before we launch 15. This is going to be a really big change to the game that won’t quite make sense until it arrives. The game’s environment variety is about to get a massive upheaval, in a very, very good way.
Tons of polish and improvements going to the zombies, and a lot of optimization. We’ve managed to get about 200 zombies on screen while maintaining above 30 FPS, thanks to some physics computation and zombie LOD tricks. We’re spending quite a bit of extra time on ensuring the frame rate stays up and the game runs smoothly for you. That and multiplayer are some upcoming focuses we’re going to be hitting pretty hard over the course of the next few builds.
That’s everything for this week!
Build 15: VERY SOON!
Linger on, Survivors!