This week’s blog is pretty meaty. We hope you’re hungry!
Richard has officially finished coding the Siren. He’s now working with the artists to get our new zombie models in, complete with randomized clothing.
They’re creating a massive new system for zombie variety, clothing customization, and crowd variation in general. We’re talking new animations, new LOD meshes, new animated LOD meshes, you name it! Our current zombie model is pretty bare-bones and, well, the same. That’s changing, and it’s changing hard.
The Wardrobe System
One of the many things Richard is currently working on is a clothing setup system for NPCs of any kind, be they zombies in Build 15, or other NPCs, such as soldiers, later on. We call this system “The Wardrobe” (patent pending.) This system uses XML format to set up the clothing on a given NPC, either picking a specific piece of gear, or a huge list of gear. For the majority of zombies, they will pick one of dozens of shirts, pants, shoes, and more to create massive variety.
Here’s an example showing some soldier NPCs.
No two zombies will be identical – at least not very often, and less and less often as we add more clothing content to the game. This allows us to set up specific types of zombies as well (i.e. “Riot Zombie” wearing full riot gear) with as much (or as little) variation as we please. Randomization is the name of the game here, and this isn’t even accounting for some systems we have planned later, such as randomizing blood spatter and limb damage.
But let’s get down to the fun part; pictures! Grant has been busy getting all the current clothing rigged up to the human model, which includes male zombies and the male survivor.
The survivor model update will probably be pushed back slightly, meaning new zombies will definitely come in Build 15, while the more intensive Survivor model and new survivor animations still require some extensive work for both third and first person viewing.
As for the zombies, we’ll definitely have much more to show you regarding zombie variety next we meet.
Michael is currently working on a “Scene Editor” that allows us to create dozens (or even hundreds) of variations for any given zone or sub-zone. That means any one on the team can go in and easily set up 30 different farms you can come across in game, including unique loot spawns, zombie spawn points, Siren positions, and a whole bunch more. As we add to this system, we will have total control of what an area looks like without our programmers having to lift a finger. In the picture below, the blue and purple squares on the right and left represent the corn fields’ shape and size.
When this system is fully done, you should see huge amounts of additional variety in all the zones you encounter. The best thing you can do in game development is give as many tools as possible to the designers and artists, so the programmers can work on the code in peace and designers and artists don’t have to bother the programmers in their bubble of fancy math stuffs. Hence, the Scene Editor, and as shown earlier, The Wardrobe.
Warehouse Progression and Modular Systems
The warehouse went through a few awesome changes. Chaoss replaced the brick texture for a MUCH better and more realistic one.
The side sections of the warehouse are completely modular; it can be changed, flipped or stacked to create a ridiculously huge warehouse out of different sections. With a modular system, one type of building can yield in dozens of variation and potential encounters.
We’ll be doing this same modular system with the current suburban houses, farmhouses, construction houses, office building, and pretty much ALL THE BUILDINGS in the future. Some of the current buildings are already set up for it while some of them are not. In the not-so-distant future, we’ll be redoing some of the older buildings, such as the Suburban Homes and Swerts to better match our current standards for artistic quality and modular design layouts. Of course, that’s not to say there aren’t new things coming as well. Chaoss is steadily working through a list of “street props” as well as some new and revamped food items both for better readability, and to give you more options to satiate your hunger in the apocalypse.
Ambient Occlusion Rework
Chaoss has created a better global preset that will eliminate bright or dark seams, noise, compression artifacts, and lighting calculation errors. Currently each AO (Ambient Occlusion) map has settings which can break the lighting on dynamic objects, making them too bright or too dark in different buildings.
No more of those strange squares or incorrect light bouncing off of objects! This also means zombies shouldn’t have strange lighting in dark places from time to time.
Dane has a doe variant for us, as well as finished up the boar. He’ll be handing those over to Grant for rigging. Keep in mind, these are currently shown here *without* the fur shader Chaoss has planned.
Some more of Dane and Grant’s work. Our latest zombie model: Screamer. You’ll learn more about her later.
Jeff’s car is beginning to shape up nicely.
Last week we recovered a journal with some pretty strange stuff, the last entry was titled “The Meatwagons.”
Geoff sheds some light on his thought process for the latest lore journal.
Hyst: I appreciate the time taken to produce lore like this, but of course I have one key complaint I’d like to share :).
I don’t think referring to real world locations ties in well with the game, because in the game world they make no sense, especially in a generated world. In fact, even referring to fake locations often won’t work due to the fact that everyone’s world will be different.
I’d like to see it more generalized, just talk about highways and maybe geographical features, but don’t name them. It would be OK to add in references to things that are or will be common to all worlds, like names of stores and such, or entire towns if they are going to be dropped into our games whole, basically anything that will be universal. Still you’d need to be careful, not go into too much detail. Focus more on the other stuff, not locations and routes and such.
Zag: I’ve actually spent a really long time debating this. You’ll notice some people (FrayinDaCloudz posting just above you, for example) really enjoy the real world references and locations. The problem with doing vague locations is that we can’t bring the idea into the real world. It will always be stuck in your mind as these vague, fictional locations. Much to my chagrin, we already have a bit of a reality-disconnect with our current zone names and places you come across (though that will improve as our world generation becomes more detailed.)
If we mention a store in a journal, for example, we might mention a Leland’s Grocery Store in a place that doesn’t actually have the fictional chain. If we mention a road (Let’s say Van Dyke) then people local to the area know it’s a road there — one that spans about 34 miles north to south. If that’s too specific for you, I’m not sure you’ll ever be satisfied with any amount of vague description.
Obviously these are fictional events and fictional people, and any relation to real-world locations or events are coincidence. If someone is offended if we say their entire town was wiped out by the zombie apocalypse, I’d be really surprised as well.
I think it’s safe to say journals will continue to reference both real and fictional locations. (Original Post)
We wanted to spoil you guys with a bit more soldier radio chatter. We’re up to about 800 unique lines of solider chatter with 9 different voice actors.
You won’t see or hear the soldiers in 15, but we have more voice actors and radio chatter to tease in the near future, and we’ll reveal more about the soldiers themselves as they approach in the coming Storm.
That’s everything this week! Oh, and this…
Linger on, Survivors!