I've just hit another milestone in my quest to finally get a full-fledged gameplay loop in order. Quarantine gates and doors are now working, consuming a key from the player's inventory and providing a way to move on from their current quarantine zone to the next. The zone generation system I covered in a previous devlog - now implemented in actual gameplay - has added a lot of fun to my dev sessions in that I am can now take short breaks from the work and do a quick playthrough. With these new additions in place, the only part left to close this loop is to expand on my zombie spawner so that more undead can be spawned efficiently in these new zones as the gates/doors are unlocked.
The mechanic itself is pretty straightforward: find a key, use the key, key goes bye-bye, door unlocks. The next quarantine zone loads asynchronously in the background, skipping the need for a loading screen altogether. Occlusion culling is working as expected for the newly loaded zones, and each structure loads a random interior layout, complete with pickup items for the player to loot.
I am bouncing back and forth between rebuilding my zombie spawning system from ground up versus simply pushing forward with what is in place for the sake of reaching my goal of having a playable demo ready to share. The former would provide performance improvements and also allow me to implement a few new ideas that weren't scoped for at the time; the latter has the benefit of getting to a full-fledged gameplay loop much sooner. I'll likely end up rebuilding everything, but either way, once the zombie spawning system is updated to work with level generation, the finish line will be much, much closer.