Roll up, roll up and welcome one and all to one of those conversational blog posts we sometimes do. This week we discuss test build machinations, windows and all manner of control malarky. So hold those horses, as chit-chat commences between Chris ‘Lemmy’ Simpson and Andy ‘Binky’ Hodgetts.

Posted by lemmy101 on Mar 19th, 2013

C: Hello Andy
A: So, what are we going to talk about?
C: Hang on, I’ll tip the Mondoid update mail-sack upside down and see what falls out.

Release Plans
A: Oh no! What’s that doing in there?
C: Yep, work continues on getting the game ready for testing. We’re tantalisingly close at this stage, but not quite there. We did, in fact, think that we’d be announcing the closed testing period on this Mondoid - but events conspired against us, mainly some zombie pathfinding building interior issues that made recording the video we’ve linked below so nightmarish. I know we’ve said this time and time again, but if this were Return of the Jedi we’d be at the point at which the Millennium Falcon is preparing to shoot the core of the revamped Death Star - with only the thrilling escape to follow.
We also have some plans on how to reduce the wait a little, which we’ll announce on the day the build goes into closed testing (so keep tabs on our @theindiestone twitter). It’s not what we’d want to do in an ideal world, but we owe it to those who already have the game and are in vital need of some stable build love. We’ll leave it at that for now, as we’ll have a lot firmer stuff to tell you once the build is ready for testing. In short though, we’re not talking super-imminent - but we are saying that we should be getting the update out to people at least a month earlier than we previously anticipated, perhaps even more than that..
A: How annoyingly mysterious. It’s also worth reminding people that the sooner we get the build out, the quicker our intended new development strategies can chime in. Development will be back in front of the curtain, as it were, and the waiting between updates will be far less painful and ice-agey.
C: There is something else brewing that’ll be of note for PZ players, but we’ve got to wait until there’s been a big announcement elsewhere before we can discuss it. So, watch this space I guess. We heard the announcement was today, so we’ll see.

A: Windows? Is that a question? Ooh, right. Well. In my opinion, one big feature of the 0.2.0 builds was windows finally factoring into the game-play, the player and zombies alike being able to climb through them. Well, we say “climb”, but we really mean “walk through them a bit slower than normal”.
C: You’ve just stolen my line, you sod! I was then going to go on to say that apart from looking a bit naff, this had some worrying effects on the gameplay. Zombies being able to get through windows is great for ramping up the difficulty. But having ten potential escape routes from a building undermined a lot of the most terrifying moments in 0.1.5d where a horde was breaking down the one exit/entry point of the building. Players would instead, generally, just slip quickly out of a window to safety. Zombies at the windows didn’t provide enough additional danger to offset this - and wouldn’t unless we started cheating and spawning additional Z’s at every window.
However, as well as making the experience much more aesthetically pleasing, our new animations also bring back this terror in new ways.
A: Curse you. I should have stolen more from this not at all pre-arranged block of text written not over the weekend. But yes, it’s one of the more exciting things about our new-fangled ‘enshrinkulated 3D models turned into spritey whatsits’ we’re using now. It’s a lot quicker and simpler to add new animations, so we can add anims which add a lot of flavour to the scene and ramp up the drama which we otherwise may not have been able to justify given the time requirements. I’d like you to picture a scene, if you will...Zombies have broken into your safehouse blocking your exit to the door! You run to the nearest window, your character visibly struggling to lift it open. It’s sticking in the frame and your panic levels are compounding the situation. The zombies stumble closer, almost within grabbing range, you panic and quickly throw yourself at the window smashing it, slashing open your arm in the process, before hoisting yourself onto the windowsill as zombies lunge at your back. You’re in pain but safe, and the arm which will now require bandaging is a small price to pay for avoiding being chewed on by the undead.
C: Yes, Andy. That all sounds very exciting. If only there was a better way to describe that scene for those who have difficulty visualising such things in their head, like HAVING A VIDEO

C: Yes, I have the goods, I don’t need stupid letters and words to paint a scene! I win. Though I should apologise for the short length of the video. I’ve learnt an important lesson which is ‘Don’t work with children or animals... or zombies.’ That video must have taken literally about 100 takes and I was very close to a murderous rage by the time it was ‘in the can’. The zombies were being right awkward buggers. The amount of times I got to a window and there was a bloody zombie at the other side, or I’d notice a backdoor immediately next to me rendering the daring window smashing escape rather ridiculous. The various glitches and pathfinding issues I need to clamp down on for the closed test build limited the length of the video, sadly.
We should talk a little about some of the new design philosophies that feed into this system, particularly when it comes to the controls of the game. Hang on I think I had a title header lying around somewhere.

Gamifying the Controls
A: Don’t worry Chris, I’ve added it. One thing we’re conscious of when we’re designing is that it’s all too easy to bloat the control scheme. In the initial version of the game we relied on right-click popup menus for everything and, while we’re bringing that back so that the game can be played using just a mouse, we also want keyboard equivalents for these actions. What we don’t want, however, is a bazillion keys - so it’s important to streamline these controls and have context-sensitive actions. Not only will this make gameplay more fun and accessible without sacrificing any of the depth, but it will also lead the way to Steam Big Picture mode and more easily implementable joypad support.
C: Yep, it occurred to me when recording the video showing off your pretty shaders how much of a clart-on it was to equip the flashlight. Of course our game has a ton of inventory items, and it would be ridiculous to have a key for each one. But how do you use a flashlight in EVERY SINGLE GAME EVER MADE WITH A FLASHLIGHT? You press F. Of course you press F.
A: Imagine we implement maps in future. You have a map in your inventory. How will you get the map up? Our bets are on the M key. And so on. C: Yep. We chatted away and as well as adding more common ‘FPS’ style keybindings that would do sensible oft used things quickly, we came up with the ‘SUPER CONTEXT BUTTON’ idea, which even though I do say so myself I think is bloody brilliant.
A: It’s also worth noting that while ‘F’ will equip a flashlight, that means *anything* which serves as a flashlight, prioritising the most sensible option first. So if your only means of illumination is a candle, that’s what will be equipped on pressing ‘F’. (Not that candles lights are implemented at this time)
C: Yep, Romain is currently working on a weapon selection system which we’ve been somewhat inspired by (ripped off) Half Life, involving categorizing weapons and using say 1 for all swinging weapons, 2 for all stabbing weapons, 3 for all firearms. But yes, let’s talk about the ‘SUPER CONTEXT BUTTON’.

Super Context Button
C: So yeah, basically we have the lovely ‘interact’ button that’s used in pretty much every FPS game ever, and is usually bound to E. Of course, Zomboid has a lot of ways to interact with the environment, so this only takes us so far and the mouse and context menus will always have its place, but for things like opening doors and other common actions you want to do quickly, it’s ideal. We also came up with a way to get maximum mileage from that one key (read: one day, a joypad button too). Pressing it quickly will do one action, and holding it will do another. In the case of a window, for example, pressing the key will open or close the window. Holding it, will also climb through that window once it’s opened. Every action can still be done using the mouse, and the context menu (no more curtain/window woes!) But it doesn’t stop there as our interact key has another interesting function...
A: Indeed! Let’s remember that video we have all just watched. You ran to the window, pressed ‘E’ to open it but what happened? It wouldn’t open - it was jammed or locked. As a player you’re starting to panic just like the character and so you start frantically hammering the ‘E’ key (which is, as all elevators know, code for, “HURRY UP!”). Zomboid recognises this and promptly activates the “open this blasted window NOW using any means necessary” action. This will trigger smashing the window with a weapon or, if you have no suitable weapon, your own body.
C: Exactly, and even though there are no anims for it yet, you can imagine the same philosophy applied to locked doors (which will be making a return with a vengeance at some point post RC3) and a myriad other things as we further develop the game.. So we’ve basically got three distinct actions possible from a single key and we’re rather excited about how that will make Zomboid play much more immersive and exciting.
A: Well, I’m excited. Is there anything else we’ve forgotten to mention?

Other things
C: Well, this page is nice isn’t it? *cough*
A: Also, we could make people look at how nice this is looking:

Post comment Comments
Kuznetsovsky Mar 19 2013, 10:21am says:

at the beginning I thought he was breaking the window's glass with his head! Now seriously, cool addition. It will really feel great to escape from a building with loads of zombies on your back!

I have a question though, will the players be able to jump out of a window on the, say, second floor?

+9 votes     reply to comment
timmybus Mar 19 2013, 10:38am replied:

I hope so, damaged legs+1! I've learned that the final game is not actually a real thing, but more of an idea, like santa. So I'm not expecting a release date anymore.

+7 votes     reply to comment
MikeyDoom Mar 19 2013, 10:11pm replied:

Well if you think about it Minecraft was just an idea at the beginning. And now look at it.

+2 votes     reply to comment
Roh Mar 19 2013, 11:48am says:

Can you jump out of a second story window? Is it auto death? Or is there a chance to land safely or only take injury? Does it take surface you are landing on into account? Nice soft grass might not be so bad.

+4 votes     reply to comment
dave_5430 Mar 19 2013, 1:19pm replied:

Take it from me, jumping off the roof of a 3 story building sounds like a breeze but once you hit the ground, you hit the ground hard.

You could be passed out for hours, if you don't get roughly awoken by a zomboid.

Jumping from a two story building at window level however, well, I live in a two story flat and that's usually how I get to work in the morning! (By ambulance!)

No but seriously, unless you land horribly on your neck or knee or ankle or basically do a surprisingly well perform cartwheel that breaks your wrists up till your shoulders, I'm pretty sure you should be able to survive that with ease, even with concrete like here. Just need to know how to land.

Hell, what if you throw a matress out the window? That's what I would do. Then again I have really broad windows.

+10 votes     reply to comment
niallb10 Mar 19 2013, 1:54pm says:

Looks great! I'm sure when this update comes out the wait will be worth it, because this game has a lot of potential and I can't wait until multiplayer will be implimented.

+2 votes     reply to comment
frenchiveruti Mar 19 2013, 2:29pm says:

Well, i'm glad that finally there are some clarificatios about the releases, and when we are going to see a final RC3 version to be played.
I love the new function for opening windows, just to say, that depending on the initial selection of class, like a firemen, it will get so hard to open a stuc window? Because, c'mon, he's a firemen, and they do that usually al the time.
Also, if you have specific class of clothing, let's say a big jacket, the glass usually couldn't hurt you in the arms, maybe when you go trough you hurt a leg of something else.
Just some ideas, but FOR RC4 please! :P

+2 votes     reply to comment
d2theRizzle Mar 19 2013, 4:42pm says:

Real nice update!

+1 vote     reply to comment
Jac.Solar Mar 19 2013, 8:21pm says:

" Zomboid recognises this and promptly activates the “open this blasted window NOW using any means necessary” action. This will trigger smashing the window with a weapon or, if you have no suitable weapon, your own body."

Can you choose either one of those actions from the context menu, as opposed to using the E button and the game deciding which action to take if you have a weapon handy?

Great update, by the way. I also just saw the new shader/lighting/animation/models/sprites system for the first time, and it looks incredible -- seriously, wow!

The animations look really good, and the game itself/graphics is/are gorgeous.

+1 vote     reply to comment
myxale Mar 20 2013, 8:56am says:

A quite dramatic escape. Nice. Keep up the mojo.

+1 vote     reply to comment
Discorded Mar 20 2013, 6:14pm says:

Once multiplayer comes out project zomboid will be in top 10 of multiplayer games o.o

+1 vote     reply to comment
Agrargorn Mar 20 2013, 7:07pm says:

release a month earlier than wich month?

+1 vote     reply to comment
kash8891 Mar 25 2013, 6:06pm replied:

thats the same question i asked apparently itll be sumer next year earleist before the full release and we will be lucky if the rc3 is released this year, it looks fun tho maybe those sick of waiting should play dayz which is a arma2 mod you can download free from steam untill this is finished, The requirments for dayz and project zomboid are simular but dayz has far better graphics and has more of the help me theres a zombie apocalapse feeling, plus dayz has no nasty bugs or glitches,

0 votes     reply to comment
Discorded Apr 17 2013, 8:47pm replied:

DayZ has major bugs, i dont know where you got your information but, thats false.

+1 vote     reply to comment
DinoKid Mar 22 2013, 1:21pm says:

i hope my computer can handle the next update.

how much ram will the next update take.
(i'v got only 1gb ram)

+1 vote     reply to comment
kash8891 Mar 31 2013, 8:56pm replied:

1gb sucks go ebay buys 2gb fo r5pounds

+1 vote     reply to comment
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