Welcome to the second ‘Ask Project Zomboid Developers The Indie Stone Anything!', or APZDTISA II - as the cool kids are all calling it.
First off though - West Point news. The map is in our internal build, testers have reported nice things and Mash has fixed up the bugs and inconsistencies that they found - in that way it's all ready to go. Only problem is that we're waiting on some save fixes and Steam build optimisation before we can pump it out to you. So, super sorry for keeping you hanging, but it's increasingly seeming like it'll be worth the wait. Here's the menu selection blurb we've written so you know a little of what to expect.
"Whether you're strolling through the town square, chowing down on one of our pies or just chatting with friendly locals - West Point is the true Small Town USA."
"Don't let sleepy streets, affordable housing and acres of rolling farmland fool you - this is the Knox Country administrative hub. If our mayor isn't busy rubber-stamping public ordinances in the town hall, you might just find him in the famous Twiggy's Bar! No matter how long your stay: a West Point welcome is guaranteed!"
Enough of that though, on to APZDTISA II!
Have you planned on what will be your next larger endeavour after NPCs and the 3D stuff is in? Or in other words, do you have somewhat a linear plan on what you will be doing in the more distant future, or is it a scramble? (Suomiboi)
TIS: We've obviously got a lot of plans to add new items, weapons, map additions and gameplay mechanics as we go, and we do not tend to plan for these but rather tackle things as seems an appropriate time, or if the community repeatedly requests them. The next major milestones in the game after NPCs and the new 3D engine are in, however, run as follows.
(Probably in order, and nothing set in stone).
- Sneak mechanics - Hugging walls, crouching and other stealth manoeuvres to make traversing zombie populated areas without being spotted a deep and rich experience.
- Wilderness 2.0 - Proper trees, with canopies, river banks, hills and sloped terrain. As we add more survivalist features to the game we want to make the wilderness truly interesting and diverse.
- Hunting. Allowing support for wild animals, probably starting with rats. This may include feral dogs.
- Vehicles - The implementation of vehicles depends somewhat on when the size of the map justifies the feature, however with the 3D changes we're planning vehicles become a lot more feasible a lot sooner.
- Military quarantine and clean up operations - Making the quarantine an actual physical thing, with NPC soldiers. Having meta events triggering soldier patrols through town. Putting snipers on helicopters. Things like that.
- Online Co-op Multiplayer - Though work on this may begin before this point, we'll at this point start working on multiplayer in earnest
- Online persistent server multiplayer.
Mash: How did the run go? And also what's the next map project you'll be working on, now that's West Point is done? (Suomiboi)
Mash: The run went very well! I ran the half-marathon in 2:15:22, which was a very good personal time for me! Thanks to all who supported my run, whether through donations to the Arthritis Research Foundation ($795 was raised!) or sending well-wishes. Every bit helped!
Now that West Point is generally in the bag, I've been working on little random areas around the map. We have ideas for which major areas would be next, but as described in the next question's answer below, map development is heavily influenced by our community. For example, we didn't originally plan on making West Point the next major area away from Muldraugh. However, when the new Muldraugh map was released, there was quite a lot of feedback that people missed having the heavily dense areas, with lots of zombies and lots of loot, that were in the old map. This was a big consideration to us during map planning, and West Point was pushed ahead to recreate that sense of variety.
Have you guys considered some form of "roadmap" to show the community what your goals are and the order you'd like to achieve them?" (Tazyload)
TIS: Apart from the major bullet pointed features we describe above and the overall 'planned features' we've listed since we announced the game, we're not keen on the idea of detailing the entire game in a overly detailed roadmap. There are numerous reasons for this, but primarily the developmental focus and direction of the game is fluid, driven not only by ideas we have during development, moments of inspiration that may not earlier be anticipated, but also our focuses are heavily influenced by the community.To have a rigid development plan that encompassed the entire game would stifle creativity within the team, may lead to focus on areas of development that is not in the best interest of the majority of our community, and furthermore having arbitrary 'progress' on said items would just pressure us to pull % numbers out of our backsides.
We also don't want to promise anything we cannot deliver by discovering that some vague planned feature turns out to be incompatible or not fun, and then either have to redact parts of the roadmap, or worse try to crowbar features in against the best interests of the game and community just to avoid complaints.
When do we get to see the Modding Tools (Map editor and Sprite/Character editor)? (RoboMat)
Lemmy: As soon as West Point is out there (we did hope it would be before this Mondoid, but sadly there are still some issues with saves and performance we're eager to sort out first.) we will release the modding tools to create maps. However, it should be noted that once we're on Steam, and we implement the 3D system, it may require some work from modders to make their maps compatible. Due to the incredible awesomeness of Mr. Pickins, this will hopefully not be a massive job.
Has working on Project Zomboid been more stressful than you expected and has it been worth it? (Insanehuman)
TIS: More stressful than it's possible to describe in words. But good times and bad, it's been worth every second!
Is there a bunch of secret features that you arent going to tell us about and make us find them ourselves? (Insanehuman)
Lemmy: That would be telling! Generally, apart from West Point, and likely similarly major map locations (such as the city, once we get there), we don't tend to tell people about any map additions we make. Then again, down to the pesky but amazing blindcoder and his wonderful yet cursed mapping project Pzmap.crash-override.net our map secrets are not likely to stay secret for long in future!
What do you plan the pricetag to be for Zomboid once it hits Early Access on Steam? (LeoIvanov)
TIS: £9.99 or equivalent - no more, no less. We'll raise this again at a later date once we feel the additional content and features justify it, perhaps at the stage multiplayer is introduced, but have no solid plans on how to price the game going forward. However, we'll always ensure that, even in sales, we never drop the price below or equal to what the early adopters have paid for it until long long in the future.
Looking WAY in the future, I know you're keen to implement vehicles of some variety, and I think that's going to be increasingly important given the sheer size of the map & distance to West Point. What pitfalls/hurdles can you foresee with implementing vehicles, what will be very difficult to do, or even impossible to do? And if you've thought about it yet - which kinds of vehicles do you think you'll implement, and why? (BladedSmoke)
TIS: As we said above, we will consider if the distance to West Point justifies, or demands, the existence of vehicles, and that will define our timeline with regard to them - although in the short-term, the idea that the trek to West Point is a long one appeals to us. Travelling there should not be a decision made lightly, and once there the same goes for leaving again.
Most of the pitfalls we anticipated related to having rendered sprites with only 8 directions making for pretty crappy driving mechanics, but in a 3D engine we could go the whole hog and have low poly 3D vehicles with proper physics for the steering and collision and whatnot.What kind of vehicles? well, ultimately, any vehicle you'd expect to find in Muldraugh. With the 3D it makes it a lot easier to add more variety.
Let's look to the future again. After the new engine stuff has been done, and this build has been polished and put up on Steam, and work on the NPCs resumes... What little feature is each individual member of the Indie Stone most looking forward to working on? I'm hoping for a more specific answer than just ‘the NPCs' if possible! (BladedSmoke)
Binky: While the NPCs are obviously tremendously exciting, it's all the other things which come along with them which makes me do a little squee. All the little touches of flavour, things to discover, clues about what's going on outside of Muldraugh, events and stories which can turn your survival strategy on its head in an instant - an example of which, albeit in a very crude form, is when the water or electricity shuts off. Stuff like that which you might be in the right (or wrong) place to see, or may only hear about. Basically all the stuff which cements Muldraugh as "a place in the world struggling to contain the apocalypse" as opposed to an isolated map, outside of which is just void.
We have a fixed map - which means people can offer advice directly transposable to someone else's game - "this place is a good safehouse", "this place is located in a good area", etc. But it also means we can introduce events and stories which make sense both in time and geographically. We intend to take full advantage of this.
Lemmy: Well I'm very excited about a lot, But one thing in particular that we've chatted about a lot yet said relatively little about publicly is the electronic / trap system we have planned, which is a natural extension of the current crafting system. We've talked a lot about creating a kinda UI circuit board system, where you could drag and drop components from your inventory, and connect them together with wires. Inventory items could be de-constructed into base objects that could be used on these boards.
The best example would be, for example, grabbing an automatic security light and dismantling it to get some wires, a battery, a light and a movement sensor. You could then dismantle a fire alarm to get wires, a battery and a alarm speaker. You could then connect these components up to create a movement based alarm system. With the existing base crafting we would like to allow for wires to be placed along walls, and connected to various systems, to allow for players to create all manner of traps and gizmos to help secure their safehouse. Or imagine just getting a fire alarm, getting rid of the fire sensor and replacing it with a radio receiver, to make a remote noise maker you could trigger with a walkie talkie to help lead zombies away from your safehouse. Once this system is in place we could build and build upon it, adding more and more components to allow for a lot of creativity.
This would be Zomboid's redstone, and we don't need to tell anyone how many exciting doors this kinda thing opens up to players.
Mash: non-NPC-related and gameplay-wise, and a bit strangely, I do look forward to seeing rats in the game. I've always liked that one of our goals is to be a zombie survival game that's fun even if you never see a zombie, and adding rats/vermin that could ruin your crops, contaminate your food, be used as a depressing food source, etc. is another step toward that goal. They've been the enemies of mankind far longer than zombies have, after all!
In terms of the map, I'm looking forward to making some larger buildings as we get into more more population-dense areas, such as malls and hospitals.
RJ: I would like to create a pet system, not with tiny cute dragons (mmh well... maybe a little one) more a dog thing. You'd find dogs that had gone slightly feral, each with its own personality, strength, characteristics, and then you'd have to tame them so they could follow you/attack and whatnot.
I think it'll add some great experience, and make the player more "connected" with his character. A dog with a backpack on him would be awesome, eh ?
And now with West Point is pretty much here, and has the river, I need to get back to work on the fishing. I started a mod for fishing before tied up by TIS to work for them (:D), we had like 7 different fishes based on real Muldraugh/West Point river fish. I was even in touch with some fisherman to help me doing this! The weight/size of the fish was randomized (again based on real weight/size of fish), which gave you more or less hunger reduction/boredom reduction, etc. So eventually we could even have some kind of fishing competition!
We still need animations for it, and I need to rewrite the code a bit, but the idea is there.
Any plans for feral dogs/ escaped zoo animals, Clowns, or other non-human, non-zombie enemy types? (Dr.Gigglestein)
Lemmy: Very much so. Probably not zoo animals, but wildlife and feral dogs are definitely something we want to add. And as for those dead rats people find about the place? One day a dead rat will need to be earned. No zombie animals though.
Binky: I can't deny that the prospect of drawing a bunch of realistic animal sprites by hand, with a sufficient number of animation frames to not look utterly ridiculous... did not appeal to me! Thankfully with the new system of transmogrifying animated meshes into sprites, this has turned into a task much more within my comfort zone. Well, at least I don't wake up in a cold sweat at 4 in the morning about it any more.
What's the prio on split-screen multiplayer? Not saying it needs work, I'm just throwing questions out there. The more information the better I think. (Pezi)
Lemmy: Yeah, about that. Due to all the recent changes that have been required to get the game up to scratch for Steam, things in the split-screen department may have gotten a little broken. We'll look to fix that as soon as possible, but at the moment getting onto Steam is of utmost importance and while Big Picture Mode is going to be a big part of the game going forward, it may be split-screen needs to wait until Steam to get the love it deserves. Fear not though, it's our intent to get split-screen working perfectly and are convinced that, despite being keyboard and mouse fans through and through, Zomboid is much nicer to play on joypad and while we'll always make sure keyboard and mouse controls and UI always get the love they deserve, that joypad is in no way lacking.
Without giving too much away, do you have any idea of how many professions do you definitely want in the game? No need to name them. We like surprises. (Sir.Twiggy)
TIS: We haven't got any solid ideas on numbers of professions, but we're aware that professions are due some love and see no reason why we can't ultimately have quite a large range of professions in the game. We do have plans to introduce 'hobbies', which would be additional 'mini-professions' that can be picked in multiple alongside main professions to further specialize your characters, but have not decided how this would tie into the existing points system, or whether they would have points of their own.
I ask this all the time so its probably already anticipated but... How is progression going in balancing the dragons? Will they be solo-able? (Tooks)
TIS: Unfortunately we regret to inform you that a couple of weeks ago we received a letter from the lawyers of hit HBO show Game of Thones, claiming our dragons were too similar to the dragons that appear in their show. As such, we're currently in the process of remodeling our dragons with moustaches and fedoras before we will be able to implement them in the game.