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The Weekly Dead 23

Hello Survivors!

I had been debating on whether or not I should post a blog today, but that might send you all into a craze thinking Build 15 will be releasing today if I didn’t.

I know, I know…/cry

It’s been an incredibly busy last couple of weeks for all of us here at Sandswept. We’re fully submerged in this build and we’re not coming up for air until everything is fully ready! (Deep Blue Sea is playing in the background as I type this.) Now while I can’t promise exact dates, we’re aiming to release Build 15 by Halloween, no ifs or buts! We’re also predicting two major hot fixes post build at the very least. So that means Build 15 will be in your hands first and the hotfixes shortly following after.

Here’s a bit of a peek at our internal timeline of things to come:
Hopefully Zag doesn’t feed me to the zombies for this.

Steam Uploader Tool (This thing is looking awesome!)
Build 15: New Blood
Hotfix15a: High Priority
Hotfix15b: Medium/Low Priority
3D Watertower Tool. (Yes, I said 3D!)

That’s all I can say for now. I need to get back to making you guys an awesome build page!

And just in case you missed our Build 15 Sneak Peek stream:

Linger on, Survivors!

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Build 15 “New Blood” Sneak-Peek

Hey Survivors!

Just a quick blog post to bring you Geoff’s Build 15 sneak peek stream! We’ve uploaded it to YouTube this time, so no need to panic!

Big thanks to those who joined us in chat and kept us company with questions and silliness!

Linger on, Survivors!

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The Weekly Dead 22

Hello Survivors!

Here’s a rundown of what’s going on this week:

Ryan is creating new physics meshes for objects and buildings. These allow for improved collision detection and will greatly improve in-game physics performance.

You know what that means? DESTRUCTION AND CHAOS! Oh.. where was I?….Right.

Chaoss is currently in the process of optimizing new props and repopulating loot in all the buildings. That means filing cabinets, desks, chairs, tables, the works! The Farmhouse, LeLand’s, and Swerts will be the first to receive props and loot changes. This is a mere drop in the oncoming flood of indoor furnishing content.

Hey, is that cabinet door open?

Spooky.

Chaoss is also working on a new system to allow all of the ‘smaller’ world props to be stashed or stored in your inventory. This means transporting items (even “junk” items) will be easier than ever!

Richard is working on Build 15 cleanup, as well as tweaking dynamic lighting and zombie ambient occlusion lighting. Pretty much all the remaining bugs, fixes, and polish for Build 15 falls on his shoulders.

Dec is working on the new TDL Workshop Uploader tool, which will herald the release of Steam Workshop for The Dead Linger. Again, if you are interested in creating content for TDL and want to get started in advance, you can read our TDL Workshop Guide here!

Jeff is finishing up that lovely pixelated car you all may have seen us tease on Twitter. We’ll show the final result once it’s fully done! And it won’t be pixelated!

Watertower is fully functional for our internal purposes in Build 15. Geoff is off creating scenes and zones. The possibilities are going to be endless! Michael is starting some work on the 3D aspect of Watertower, so that we can get it ready and releasable, and dropped into the tender hands of the community (you!) as soon as possible. We’re looking forward to a future where thousands of zone layouts are added to the game, crafted by survivors themselves. Pick up a pencil and paper (or tool of your choice) and start planning future zones! We’ll let you know when Watertower gets closer to a public release.

Geoff is also working on a new inventory layout. We have hidden some elements that will remain secret until they are announced in full, hence some of the blank space. We welcome feedback on this design and will be reading any suggestions regarding this new layout. Before or alongside this design will be inventory Item Weight, and a few other handy changes.

You’ll notice the stat icons are planned to be radials for easier readability in tight situations, and a bit more room for the additional stats we’re adding. Geoff is currently contemplating nerfing backpack sizes (from 40×10 to 20×10) and adding an additional “Huge” Backpack size for 4 slots instead of 3. You should also take a glance at the pockets area, which will feature extra clothing-granted pockets of various sizes. We have no plans to allow clothing to create large pockets (i.e. where you can fit a large melee weapon.) And with this, there’s some other changes to the layout of the equipment slots. Drop your feedback for Geoff on the forums so we can narrow our scope on the best inventory design for everyone.

I too am working on some TDL things! A Build 15 page perhaps? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Unfortunately most of our work this past week is not visual since we’re all crazy busy and Build 15 is only a short distance away!

I hate when we’re so close to release and there’s not much to say since, well, we’re close to release.

Back to playing The Evil Within! I mean… working on build page things!

Till next time.

Linger on, Survivors!

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The Weekly Dead 21

Hello Survivors!

Geoff has a bunch of things to talk about this week, so I’m handing the keyboard over to him.

Here’s what’s coming up;

1) Watertower is basically done. We’re taking today to get some bugs tidied up and then it’s pretty good for me to use and create a bunch of new zones (mainly farms) for Build 15. You will see a lot more zone variety in Build 15.

Where do we plan to go with Watertower? Everywhere!

Well, more specifically — Steam Workshop. While Watertower is ready enough for me to use on Build 15, it’s a little bit harsh at times and you have no way to test your scenes you create without our internal tools. One of our goals over the next few months (taking a side-seat to furthering build development and the like) is to get Watertower working better and more user-friendly, getting a 3D view available for it so you can fly around your scene as you build it, and finally, get it so we can upload scenes to Steam Workshop from within the tool. Once we have that ready, we want to throw it at you.

We took someone (resident 3D artist Chaoss) who had never used the Watertower tool before and he created a zone. This is the result. This took him exactly 60 seconds to create in Watertower.

WOW.

2) Steam Workshop support is just about ready.

Dec has begun creating a Steam Workshop Uploader tool for all of your juicy content. It’s mostly a fancy file and file manager uploader that will allow you to create, edit, and update your Workshop creations. This will all be available completey for free once Steam Workshop is released. While Workshop is not officially up, you can start to familiarize yourself with the plan by visiting the TDL Workshop Guide I have spent a few days getting ready. This is a WORK IN PROGRESS and is not final. If you want to get started on creating content, you are more than welcome to. Just keep in mind that Steam Workshop is not actually active yet, so this page is kind of coming at you from the future! Oooooh! Spooky! Because Halloween.

3) Build 15 is kicking my eyeballs in their collective butts.

Chaoss has spent a huge amount of time getting all of our buildings re-processed buildings ready for both Towns in Build 15 and Cities in Build 16. Buildings can now appear in Towns with 3 to 8 floors, and in Build 16, a whole lot more. The new look of office buildings makes them look… Well, like office buildings!

Along with some new HDR effects, some ‘frame interpolation’ (a fancy word for a very subtle motion blur) and a lot more furniture and props inside houses, we’re quite excited to bring you Build 15 in all its glory.

4) Props, Props, Props!

Since I hate paying people to make tiny props like toasters, microwaves, radios, televisions, and all those other “real world props” that you see in every realistic game, we’ve picked up some very large asset packs that we’re processing into the game over time. (We have about ~1000 “boring world stuff” 3D meshes sitting in the queue for processing right now to get dirty and ensure they match the style.) I’d like to take a moment to let 3D artists know that if they plan to create items for The Dead Linger — please create cool stuff. This came up on the forum the other day in a discussion.

If you really want to make a basic couch or a toaster, I won’t stop you, but we’re looking for content that breaks the mold and pushes the gameplay forward. Unique melee weapons, cool guns, fun vehicles, awesome buildings, and sweet clothing! If any 3D artists want to get content into The Dead Linger, please create awesome stuff! We’ll handle the boring ‘filler’ content with our highly efficient systems we have in place.

We are really looking forward to opening the door on Steam Workshop. We have seen some really great survivor creations already, and we’re hoping to provide you with some tools to really get them in front of us and allow others to vote and comment on them in the Workshop. Coming soon!

5) Speaking of coming soon… When is Build 15 coming out? What’s after that?

Build 15 is a very long build. It has been months. Many months. It’s a lot of content, and a lot of preparation. We are setting up every system, every content-creation pipeline, and every performance aspect of The Dead Linger for very rapid build releases. This is taking up the majority of our time. It’s like pressing all the startup buttons and switches for taking off in a helicopter. Gryo-stabilizers, check. Fuel pump, check. Helmet strapped on properly, check. Rotaty things rotating properly, check.

You can tell I’ve never actually flown a helicopter, but The Dead Linger is about to take off. Here’s some new stuff we have tightly scheduled into the next few builds. We aren’t kidding about the preparation we’re doing, and we are very confident in it. Likely all of this will happen before 2015 arrives.

  • New zombies, of course! (Coming in 15)
  • New Survivor player models, completely overhauled first person movement, hands/weapons, and camera system
  • Openable cabinets and drawers to find loot in
  • Improvements all around, especially to framerate and multiplayer.
  • Steam Workshop Support with some tutorials on item-creation and proper tools to upload and manage your creations
  • Watertower tool released to the public for free, so you can create zones in TDL! (or at least very close to ready)
  • A bunch more wildlife (Rabbits coming in 15, Boars and other things coming soon!)
  • Adding a HUD-based Visibility system, along with Zombie AI improvements to make it easier to be sneaky when you rightfully should
  • A big sound overhaul — meatier sounding firearms, more sounds on things that should have them, stamina-based sounds
  • Some new musical tracks
  • Hostile NPCs, both vehicular (Sirens) and on-foot
  • City zones with massive office buildings. Currently working with a modular floor system that will allow buildings to be any height. The ones in 16 will probably be about 30 floors, brimming with the undead and fully furnished interiors.
  • Rain and storm weather
  • New buildings and tons of world stuff, like sheds in yards and more stuff to do in forests
  • Massive overhaul to the way the world is laid out. “Meta-Zones” wil lbe implemented to make populated areas or wilderness areas feel 100 times more realistic. Also a way better implementation of the road system to make sure you can travel the world via roads, like you can in real life.
  • Road signs and town names
  • Weight system for inventory items
  • More weapons!
  • PvP FFA mode (separate and optional from the Coop Survival mode)
  • Quarantine walls (World Borders that the host can set to contain the action in a smaller area, if they so choose)
  • Water & Boats
  • Some secret stuff we don’t want to talk about yet!

You should see the first car added at the very start of 2015. Prepare yourselves.

Artwork time!

Art Stuff

We’re just going to leave Dane’s spooky sniper here.

That about covers everything this week.

Linger on, Survivors!

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The Weekly Dead 20

Hello Survivors!

Build 15 is taking longer than expected. That’s pretty expected, of course.

One of the main reasons is due to major efforts we’re undertaking right now in getting our “Scene Creator Tool” (also known as Watertower) ready for rapid development.

What is Watertower?

Watertower is The Dead Linger’s scene creator tool. This tool is built in Unity, and allows us (and eventually, you) to create zone layouts for The Dead Linger from a top-down perspective, very quickly and with very little hassle. The way The Dead Linger’s world is laid out is that when zones are generated, the zones pick a layout of that zone type to place inside that zone. This layout determines where props are, where fields are, where the main road is, where zombie spawns are, where player spawns are, and so on. As you may have noticed, the farm zones have exactly 1 layout in Build 14. It’s kinda lame, and it really hurts that feeling of exploration and variety. That is changing very soon, and that is why Build 15 is taking a bit longer. This will be worth the wait.

Why is it called Watertower? Does it only place water towers?
Some of our long-term survivors already know exactly why, but for everyone else; the water tower has always been a very iconic structure in The Dead Linger. It was one of our first every added to the game as we tested size, scale, and view distance in the early alpha builds. It’s also been a bit of a running joke – an older world generation bug caused towns to sometimes spawn with 2, maybe even 3 water towers inside them. Oops.

So what’s it really do?
Watertower quite literally allows us to place every object into the world the exterior of buildings. We want this tool complete enough to mass produce a ton more layouts so you encounter new environments and a whole new world of variety. This will result in a massive change to the way The Dead Linger’s world looks and feels as you travel through it.

Will it be a top-down 2D editor forever?
Nope! The reason we’re creating this tool within Unity is that we can actually tie it to The Dead Linger and import all of the models and meshes for 3D editing of scenes. The tool will start in its current 2D form, and we will add a 3D view option later on to allow you to view and edit your scene in real time as you create it.

Here’s a tiny sneak peek of Watertower!

Will I be able to use this tool to create my own zone layouts and submit them to you guys?
Yes! As for when, we’re not entirely sure yet, but we will definitely let you know as that approaches. We want to make sure the creation, testing, and submission process is extremely user friendly, or at least friendly enough that the majority of users can create a scene with very little effort. This will likely integrate with Steam Workshop in the future.

How much longer until Build 15 is out?
Hey, that’s not a Watertower question! But to answer that — we don’t know yet. Watertower needs a couple days of work to get where we need it, and Build 15 itself has some stuff we’re still working out as well. We do NOT expect it to run through the middle of October, but such is the way of software development.

Since we overhauled the main enemy in the game (I’m of course referring to the zombies) with a brand new clothing system, brand new rig and animations, an awesome new LOD systems, and a bunch more changes on top of that, it takes awhile to polish up and make sure every change we made didn’t break something else. A very big set of systems has gone into Build 15, and that should be clear by the development time. We are also tying up some loose ends so that when we switch to our more rapid development cycles, all of our internal systems can keep up. A lot of that is ‘under the hood’ and nothing we can show pictures of. (Believe us, if we could show pictures, we totally would. We love pictures!)

Will other builds take this long? I need my fix, man!
We are still very set on having 16 and onward be much quicker builds. We predict 15 will be the last ‘mega-build’ for a very long time.

On to the artwork!

Art Stuff

Dane has made some goggles of the night vision type.

Ryan is putting the finer details on the traffic lights.

Here’s the upcoming Visibility icons for the in-game HUD. We’ll explain those when they’re added (and yes, it will be optional.)

Jeff has the texture of the car coming along and Chaoss has spent loads of time getting buildings ready for randomization in Build 16. We’ll show all of that when it’s ready!

Survivor Q&A

We seriously loved answering all your questions last week. So Survivor Q&A is here to stay in it’s own little section of the Weekly Dead.

Q: Will there be something extremely rare and useful which you can search for? (e.g. diamond-effect in Minecraft) – @Ch3sh4r
A: We have lots of rare items in the game, but we’re leaving most of them for you to discover. There are some weapons and gear out there that are quite coveted, or only found in very specific places. We’ll be adding a lot more of these types of things over time and we’re working out ways to progress and improve your gear with the right tools.

Q: Will wider roads (i.e. 6 or 8 lane highways) be added near the same time as cities? I wanna recreate that classic TWD scene :D – @satchel_kachel
A: We have an entire interstate system in the planning stages right now. These are very long distance, multi-lane roads that will stretch across the entire world, including exits, rest stops, and more. Those will be coming a bit later and aren’t directly part of cities. When we do implement the Interstate system, you should be able to travel from one end of the world to another, simply by following these roads.

Q: So there was talk of being able to submit logos for t-shirts for @thedeadlinger, could you do the same for building graffiti? – @Gruntdonttoot
A: Yes, this is planned. We’ll let you know when all kinds of survivor creations will be open for submission, ranging from t-shirts to graffiti, to models, buildings, and more!

Q: Any ETA on better guns/mechanics? – @CynnicalScout
A: We are reworking the survivor model, including the first person arms, in Build 17 (as is the current plan, subject to change, of course.) This will include some changes to the way guns and aim-down-sights behave. We have more gun changes planned, such as bullet trajectory/bullet drop in the near future.

Q: When will you let us be able to build with other material types other then the ones we have now? – @viper131
A: We have a bunch of barricading objects coming up on The List here. We will be adding some metal barricading objects when welding is added. That will be around the same time cars come in, since we’re dead set on allowing survivors to deck their cars out with “Mad Max” modifications by welding parts to the vehicle.

Q: How soon can we expect to see upgrades to the current barricading system? I look forward to using nails on my barricades. – @KohiSparkleman
A: We want to take some time to heavily improve barricading from it’s current, basic state. This will be happening in the near future as it is one of the core components of crafting and survival in The Dead Linger.

Q: When do you plan for interiors of buildings to look realistic? i.e. better prop placement more props random floors etc – @Alex_J_Wade
A: Really soon. Really, really soon.

That’s everything this week!

Linger on, Survivors!

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