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The Weekly Dead 28

Hello Survivors!

Wondering where 15c is? Here’s a blog post from Geoff on the current status of 15c!
Be sure to read that first! It’s super important and stuff.

This week’s blog is a bit concept-y. Parker has been knocking out a pretty big list of concepts for useful objects in game.

We’re looking at the various ways we’re going to allow survivors to supply power to nearby objects. For the environmentally conscious, here’s a make-shift deployable solar panel setup.

For the gas guzzler in us all, a trustworthy portable generator.

Some good old fashioned pen and paper maps. Which one do you like better?

Sorry, but there’s no Google Maps in the apocalypse! We have a few more map types coming as well, so you can explore and survive with the detail and type of navigation you prefer.

And for all your welding needs: the blowtorch! Just be careful where you point that thing…

You may have caught a glimpse of the Broken variant. Well, a few cups of coffee and Silent Hill soundtracks later…. Yeah. This thing’s gross. This is just one type of this variant, anyway.

Oh, and there’s some new grass! It’s way better on performance, has a much more realistic patterning/splat method, and you can see it further away. We have a lot more plans coming to grass, but we’re going to knock out some more important stuff before we get full-fledged into those.

Remember that far terrain we talked about in the last blog? Looks pretty freaking cool. Out to about 8 kilometers, in this picture. The forest out there is accurate down to the exact tree, but uses way less memory and processing. It’s hard to show in a picture, but you’ll feel the results when you play 15c.

Ryan is currently working on some Emergency Flare sticks for some new ways to light up the world. We’ll show those off when they’re further along.

Dane just finished playing with his dolls, and he’ll be back to wrapping up military gear. A military ballistics helmet is currently in the pipeline. You’ll start to see all that gear resurface as The Storm arrives, right after Build 16 is out the door.

Everything else going on is of the top secret secretness. More on those secrets later!

Steam Holiday Sale

Give the gift of the zombie apocalypse this holiday season! The Dead Linger is on sale for 25% off ($14.99) until January 2nd!

That’s all for this week! Be sure to follow us on Twitter to stay up to date on the latest happenings! Again, if you didn’t check out the blog about 15c’s current status, be sure to give it a read!

Linger on, Survivors!

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The Status of 15c

Hello Survivors!
Geoff here, just touching base with you on where we’re at with Hotfix 15c. It’s no secret that it’s more of a cold fix at this point. (Wait, did we use this joke already?)

Here’s a couple things I want to go over, just to let all the survivors out there know what’s coming and be very clear on our plans here.

Don’t call it a hotfix!

We are going to continue calling intermittent patches “Hotfixes” because it directly differentiates the content builds from the fix-and-improvement builds. 15c does not add new content (more or less) – it refines the existing content. Besides all that, the only thing that matters is the number-letter indicator: 15c

The 15 means it’s still Build 15, the c means it’s the third hotfix or patch to 15. You could also view it as “15.3″. I think the furthest we’ve ever gone on hotfixes is up to the letter J so far.

As long as you know what versions are coming, whatever we put before them (Build, Hotfix, etc.) shouldn’t matter too much, but this is the naming convention we’re sticking with for the time being.

What’s changing in this hot/cold/patch/fix 15c?

Quite a few things, actually! We expanded scope on 15c just a bit when we realized we needed just a bit more time to get the game stable and where we need it to start slamming in a massive backlog of at least 250 days worth of content the art team has been creating. Yes, since this time last year, we have art content that has yet to see the light of day in the game, primarily because it takes time away from programming architectural background systems to put in content and new features.

Imagine we’ve been filling the magazine of our development gun for the last year, and we’re about to flip that switch from “semi” to “full-auto.” Big stuff sitting in the barrel of our loaded gun. When I look at the amount of art content that we have done and not in the game, it makes me giddy, but also impatient. But we’re taking the time we need to make sure we’re ready for that onslaught of artwork, and 15c is a very important step in getting there.

For 15c specifically, here’s what we’ve been doing:

  • Proper Dedicated Severs: The dedicated server software we’ve had available was something we tossed together to get it out there. Then we found out no one uses it, because, well, it sucks. We’ve completely torn apart the netcode in TDL, separated all of the server stuff from the client into its own process (TDLDedicatedServer.exe) which will allow your PC to use its RAM more efficiently, but it’s also allowed us to debug and test networking way better than ever before. You’ll be able to run your own servers and set them up exactly like you want (and we’ll be running some too!) We’re adding admin and moderator access to servers, so clans and groups can manage who can control the server. I believe we’ll have the server software available to run on Mac and Linux servers as well, but don’t quote me on that just yet. This is a BIG change.
  • New Terrain: Oh, but that’s not the only big change. One of the biggest performance hits in The Dead Linger was our terrain. We were using a custom terrain that had some very weak spots in it, mainly in terms of general polycount, framerate, and data storage. The new terrain is extremely fast, and four times as detailed.
  • New Far Landscapes: Chaoss has taken the new terrain as an opportunity to vastly improve and re-improve view distance on the far terrain, and efficiency of it. We now use a data map to show where far off trees are, meaning that even the smallest cluster of trees can be seen from up to 8 kilometers away. That means you can spot a specific tree and walk to it, 8 kilometers away. And then cut it down. Or whizz on it.
  • New Grass: While the grass was not the main reason your performance has been low, it was definitely a more obvious issue once the bigger stuff got out of the way. We’ve totally redone terrain textures, and that include the grass system sticking up from the terrain. It should look a bit different, a bit better and more natural, and run a whole lot more efficiently. There will also be a console command to just turn off grass as well, but you probably won’t need it anymore.
  • Bye Bye World Refresh: The old terrain was the number one cause of the long, annoying “World Refresh” that rolls in with fog and whatnot. That will be entirely gone in 15c. The new world refresh takes mere seconds, and is at most, a hiccup in your experience. We’ll be refining it more and more as we progress, if you even notice it at all in 15c.
  • Sound Overhaul: I was going to save the sound overhaul for 16, but I decided it really can’t wait. The sound changes we started to make in 15 never got completed, and it left the mood and atmosphere sorely lacking. I’ve also been gathering and modifying the sounds to fit the exact mood we’re going for. You should hear about 300 new sounds in 15c, including the return of footsteps and proper sound variations. We are now moving the sound environment of TDL where we’ve been wanting it for about a year now. It’s going to sounds magnificent.
  • New Music: Along with the sound overhaul, we’re also adding some new musical tracks from the community and other artists, and bringing back some of the older tracks that were forgotten for some time.
  • 64-Bit: TDL is switching, by default, to a 64-bit build. The short version is that if your operating system (i.e. Windows) is 64-bit, instead of 32-bit, you can use a lot more RAM your PC has available. We will still be providing a way to switch to 32-bit if you still run on a 32-bit OS, and I can also provide you some dinosaur hunting tips if you need them.
  • Less RAM Useage: We found some very wasteful spots as far as RAM goes. We cut off at least 300 MB of RAM while TDL is running, so that’s awesome! Minimum System Requirements still remains at “6 GB” though, as a safety net.
  • Ho Ho Ho: Uh, let me get to that in a second…
  • 15c = 15christmas?

    While we do not have a specific date for you, we were planning to call this one “15christmas” and turn on some Christmas-related stuff in the game until 16 ships. If you were around here last year, you probably know what that entails (with some improvements!) but we make no promises. We are seriously trying to get it out before Christmas, but we’re not going to rush it just to make a holiday – we’ve made that mistake quite recently and will not be making it again.

    Build 16 will probably not be seen in 2014.

    Systems are fickle. Sometimes they tear apart and you can put in a new one easily. Sometimes it just takes a lot more time to rebuild a complex system, debug your changes, or in general, craft something new and complex that will support the long term goals and scope of content. It is extremely difficult to calculate how long code will take. Art, the discipline that takes less science and a different kind of creativity, is actually much easier to calculate and estimate than code.

    If you want to see what’s coming in Build 16, Sirens of the City, check the roadmap for some indication of the builds various features are planned for.

    Build 16 is still planned in the same form as before (cities, sirens, etc.), but we don’t have a timeframe yet. It all depends on how much longer 15c takes, but we’re narrowing in and we can feel it getting very close. Hell, Richard’s already turned off his targeting computer.

    Linger on, Survivors!

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The Weekly Dead 27

Hello Survivors!

We’ve got some really cool things in the works this week! Let’s linger right to it.

Hoe and Behold!

Farming is coming to The Dead Linger in a near update. We don’t have a specific build number quite yet, but when we do, it will be available to view on our Development Roadmap. Here’s a picture of a hoe, lovingly crafted by Ryan this week.

The hoe will allow you to till the earth for planting seeds. And speaking of seeds…

And lastly for farming, here’s a picture Parker drew of a potential — ahem — Shit Bomb.

We agree, the name stinks. Fertilizer will help you increase the speed of farming crops, but it will also be craftable into something rather explodey, as the name might imply. We’ll have more on the exact recipe and give you the proper items to craft it when farming season hits TDL.

Inventory Changes & Pockets

This week Geoff spent some time visually laying out the new inventory system using Unity 4.6′s new UI system. It’s so simple, even he can use it!

Here’s a list from Geoff that details the changes we’re making to the inventory:

1) Backpack sizes are being halved and we are adding a 4th backpack size.

We currently have Small, Medium, and Large, each level adding a 10×4 area of grid space. This is proving to be way too much room. While the inventory weight system will add some balance here, we want to take it a step further to make sure you’re only carrying what you really need, and some extra tiny stuff just for fun.

The new backpack sizes will be Small, Medium, Large, and Huge, each one instead representing a 5×4 area. Some backpacks that are currently Medium will become Large, or vice versa. We will be adding some Huge packs around the same time this change goes in. (Kickstarter backpack will be Huge size, for those wondering.)

Overall, these backpack size changes equal a 50% nerf in backpack sizes. That said, we’re also giving inventory a bit of a buff, both for realism and gameplay’s sake. This brings us to our second change.

2) We’re removing the small 3×4 “pockets” grid when you don’t have a backpack. In lieu of this, we’re adding a pockets system. If you don’t have a backpack, you will have to rely entirely on your equip slots and clothing pockets for room.

Various clothing and gear will give either small (1×2) or large (2×2) pocket space, up to a maximum number of pockets. Your starter pants, for example, will give you a few pockets worth of space. A vest could give you one or two pockets. Maybe even some backpacks would provide additional side pockets.

3) We will be changing some item sizes and adding stacking to a few items. For example, logs will probably become a tiny bit smaller in the grid-space, or even become stackable to a point. We’ll play this one by ear as these changes develop.

4) If you didn’t hear it earlier from us, we are removing the Tertiary Slot (currently unavailable) but preserving the concept behind it. There will be a new belt hotbar which, based on the belt you are wearing, will give you a varying number of quick-use slots for food, seeds, molotovs, or other quick-use items. Having to open your backpack every time to eat some food real quick can be time consuming or downright annoying, but we couldn’t just limit it to one slot.

5) The Weight System, as mentioned earlier, is on the way. This will basically determine how fast your character fatigues and how fast your character can move. If you are overburdened with heavy gear, you’re going to need to drop some of your heavier things. Gone will be the days of holding 4 ballistic shields in your inventory.

6) And the final inventory change we’re going to go over in this blog; stats are getting a lot more clear. Those little ‘stat bars’ with hunger and all that are a bit confusing, not always accurate, and really just difficult to read. We’re switching them over to a fancy colored radial system that will make it very clear when something is wrong, neutral, or great condition. We’re also splitting the “Hunger” system into “Sustenance”, which will require both food (Hunger) and drink (Thirst) to maintain your survivor’s well-being at an appropriate level.

Some other small changes we’ll get into detail on later:
- Trinket slot
- 3D view of your survivor
- Better magazine management and information

That pretty much sums up the balance change we’re making to ensure backpacks are a little less overpowered, a little easier to use, and still allow us to make inventory space items a little more common without worrying about survivors running around with enough gear to supply an army.

These changes do not yet have an estimated release time frame.

Crafting Screen Improvements

We can’t really overhaul the inventory without touching the crafting screen, so that’s exactly what Geoff did. He touched it.

The crafting screen will be receiving a visual upgrade, but we’re also going to give it some functionality along with form. There will be a new “Known Recipes” scroll section that keeps track of recipes you’ve created (or learned through some reading material) and allow you to search for specific recipes on the fly. If you have the proper materials, they will be immediately brought into the crafting area for speedy crafting. We will probably enhance this as we go along.

Along with those changes to crafting, we’re also looking at blueprinting. Blueprinting is basically where you would take a campfire, or a wall, or a trap, and walk around with a ghostly “blueprint” in order to place it properly where you would like. We’ll keep it simple; craft the item, it will automatically close your backpack, and then you can walk around with the blueprint. Left click to place it, right click to cancel the crafting process.

Really good stuff coming on that. I’ll leave you with this:

Splat!

Chaoss has been working closely with Richard to make the new terrain more beautiful than before. While we don’t have any new terrain formations to show just yet, here’s a quick glimpse at the texture and appearance of the new terrain – work in progress, of course.

Worth noting that the new world refresh is super fast. The new terrain allows the world refresh to no longer require fog. Instead of a 15 to 30+ second process, it should be, at most, a few seconds.

We’d show off Chaoss’ houses this week, but the terrain kinda got in his way. We’ll have some more to show on the new super modular suburban homes — perhaps next week. In the meantime, here’s some new sky stuff as well.

What the…

Channeling his inner psychopath, Parker has been working on the concepts for our latest zombie variants coming along through the pipeline.

We’ll have more on these later.

Last of the Harbinger Gear

Dane is just about wrapping up the Harbinger gear, at least this phase of it, with the final backpack, a black beanie, some combat goggles, and a light ballistic collar. We’ll divulge some more information on Harbingers after Build 16.

Build 16

Speaking of Build 16, let’s talk about that. Build 15c is in development. Currently it’s planned to be the “15christmas” hotfix, adding in the new terrain, a 64-bit .exe as the default (with optional 32-bit), way better memory useage, the awesome new dedicated server program you can run (which is coming along great, by the way!) and some Christmas cheer. Or Christmas zombie death murder.

Yeah. Definitely that.

Geoff also wants to tell you guys that he is working something lore related for Build 16. Not sure what’s going on there, but I bet it involves the Sirens, and it’s probably a video of some sort.

Steam Workshop Reminder!

We’ve already seen some amazing stuff from the community gathering like a hungry zombie mob on our Steam Workshop page! If you want to help contribute, check out our Steam Workshop guide!

We’ll probably start highlighting really cool submissions as we begin adding the best of them into the game. Stay tuned for that.

Trinketttssseeesssss

I don’t know what this is, but I want one.

That’s all for this week!

Remember; you can follow development on our twitter @thedeadlinger and you can follow overall progress of a given feature on the Development Roadmap.

Linger on, Survivors!

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The Weekly Dead 26

Hello Survivors!

We’re back in the Sandswept Cave after a few days of delicious Thanksgiving noms. A lot of internal stuff going on this week. We’re smack in the middle of replacing our old terrain system for a brand new custom one. Crazy.

New Terrain

The new custom terrain system (briefly mentioned in The Weekly Dead 24) is in place. Even in its most basic form it has already improved ‘World Refresh’ significantly, bringing it down to about 4 seconds. Richard and Chaoss are working to have it stabilized within the next few days. Here’s some of the new terrain texture blending and a look at the new high-detail terrain deformation we are now capable of doing, and the very same terrain you’ll be able to paint and manipulate in Watertower.

Kickstarter Rewards

Some of you have mentioned concern over special items, such as your Kickstarter rewards. Those special items are still very much happening with our treasured item delivery system. You can view additional info on that and other features on our (relatively) new roadmap!

Steam Workshop!

This week we launched our official Steam Workshop! We love the Survivor Forums and we’d like you guys to continue making cool things AND incorporate them into the game. There’s nearly 30 creations up already since launch and they’re all pretty awesome! So have at it. Go make cool things!

Leave some room for me though. I want to make some cool things too.

And now I hand over the keyboard to our lovely Bug Sniper lady, Kate!

Bug of The Week

Welcome back, Survivors! It’s been a while.

I’ve missed you. sniff

I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving! Anyone still in a food coma?

This week’s bug is something out of our internal build. We’ve been putting in the brand new terrain (and that includes reworking the physics). This is one of the amusing bugs we’ve encountered along the way. Enjoy!

Discover a chuckle-worthy bug? Catch it on video or screenshot and submit them to the usual Support and Bug Reports forum and yours may be featured in next week’s blog post!

Linger on, Survivors!

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Steam Workshop Now Available!

Hello Survivors!
We have opened up Steam Workshop support for The Dead Linger!

Want to have a chance to have your survivor creations released as official content in The Dead Linger? That door has just been opened.

Click the image link below for more information on how to get started!

Be sure to watch our latest Design of the Dead, included in the workshop page!

Related Links:
TDL Workshop Guide (if you hate clicking on images)
TDL Steam Workshop
Survivor Creations Forum
Steam Workshop Discussion Forum
What is Steam Workshop?

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