Alpha 1.10 - Quality of Life Update #2 (Tutorial Improvement | Swimming | Chat Overhaul | Polish++)

Thursday September 22nd,


Hello everyone, we’ll be releasing our 1.10 branch directly to stable today. We have done a good deal of improving and fixing here. A lot has gone into 1.10 and we want to get it tested by as many people as possible right off the bat so here you have it. The focus for this and coming builds has been early game and polish. A task which isn’t always exciting for people interested in our development. It’s also not always a quick process, sometimes the last 10% of a feature can take just as long as the first 90%.


We’ve made major changes to our quick guide and game introduction. We’ve added the ability to swim (finally), we totally reworked the in game chat system. We’ve added a hardcore/normal gameplay setting allowing those who wish to play a bit more casual and spawn at home. The game is starting to really shape up, we’ve relied greatly on your feedback and thank you for continuing to provide it. Have a good play through here with 1.10 and get back to us as soon as you can with feedback.


Swimming


Terribly sorry, that’s the best way to start after having tested the swimming implementation. Wow, was that needed! It really brings the world to life not having to constantly worry about death when you’re near a body of water. Andre spent the week adding all the finishing touches to the swimming mechanic. Proxy animations have been added so you don’t look like Jason Voorhees walking across Crystal Lake anymore. Stamina now affects how far you can swim before you start sinking so don’t go thinking you can swim right off the map. Players will be able to freely dive for quite a few seconds before taking damage to drowning (underwater caches, perhaps?!). You’ll receive ‘warning gulp’s’ before drowning to alert you to make your way to the surface. Now it’s time to start thinking about boats and fishing!



Chat Improvements


As you know the in game text chat can be at times useless. There are a good amount of issues with the current system, enough in fact to require a total rework. The chat in the game now is dark, the text is hard to read and there is a good deal of console information cluttering it up. The system doesn’t match the inspect style and just doesn’t provide a good experience.


We’ve introduced a new chat and think it will work for us much better. We’ve introduced a gradient style background matching that of our inspect menu and the coming help system. They system will be sleeker while at the same time being clearer to use. We’ll be removing the console clutter as well. Information like “Jayty has joined the server” will now display in the small notification area on the top left side of the screen.


Setting Home (game modes)


For a very long time now, many of you have requested a home feature. Coming in v1.10, this will be possible. The game foundation is changing slightly. With much consideration, we’ve decided to try and provide a game mode for all players. We will be introducing two gameplay modes standard and hardcore.



Standard and Hardcore Game mode

Those that want a more casual experience will find that standard mode's ability to ‘set home’ dramatically changes the gameplay. In a lot of ways, Survive the Nights was always meant to be a hardcore survival game. On the other side of that coin, setting a spawn point inside a structure allows you and your friends to jump right back into the action.



The player will now be able to walk into any structure in the game, find themselves some cloth, craft a sleeping bag and place it on the ground inside the structure. Doing this will provide a notification in the top left corner informing the player that a home has been set. Your friends will also be able to set homes in the same structure. In many ways, this is the start of a group system that we’ll flesh out in the future.




Home set and home removed notifications



This changes the gameplay for sure, allowing for rapid respawns and getting right back to killing that night's horde or onslaught. This, in many ways, is what we originally wanted for STN. A good chunk of the game is based on our experience with Call of Duty's World at War’s Nazi zombie map. We were completely addicted to the action and the idea of ‘holding down’ a structure. There are quite a few more changes to both modes we’ve listed below.


Hardcore mode will provide harder zombie hordes, no ability to set home and reflects what we have running on our current official servers. Hardcore mode will allow for more zombies to be ‘alive’ at the same time. This is something that wasn’t possible before.


A lot more has gone into this and James will cover it nicely in the upcoming devlog. We hope to have an experimental build out in the near future and there will be a good deal of testing needed here.


Other Changes and Fixes


  • Hordes will now start around an hour later than before.

  • Lower difficulty hordes no longer start later than more difficult hordes. This makes playing with friends easier when you have mixed horde levels.

  • Homes will now show up on the map and via the inspect menus compass.

  • Horde arrival window reduced from 0-4 hours to 0-3. Hordes will arrive later but arriving hordes won’t take as long to get to you.

  • Spawn at home or near death options added on death

Death Screen on Standard Mode (spawn at home or near death)


Compass Improvements


Currently in the game you have two compass options. A DIY compass you can craft with a few bits and a found compass. The only difference between the two currently is the speed at which your position is displayed. The DIY compass is far slower than the one you can find in the world. When the player opens the maps, the compass takes time to calibrate. The time it takes is the difference between the two. This system works and it’s pretty unique but it’s not very intuitive and for the most part, takes far too much time and effort.


We’ve decided to implement a new compass system. Once the player finds a compass in the world or crafts one, they’ll be able to see their position on the inspection menu. Currently the inspection menu is defaulted to ‘F’ . It's the menu that comes up when you want to inspect anything on your person or your stats. You’ll be able to see the direction, your home and approaching hordes.



Map Improvements


Map improvements have also been made. Andre has improved the visuals and mechanics. Below is a snippet from our Changelog and a good chunk of the changes made here.

  • Player position is now a blue arrow which matches rotation of player.

  • Player position ping animation improved.

  • Player position increases in size when zooming out so it’s easier to see when zoomed out.

  • Zooming should now go where cursor is pointing.

  • Movement is smoothed out when zooming in and out.

  • Removed need to scroll 8+ times to fully zoom in, should now be 2-3 times.

  • Panning now more responsive, removed extremely long elastic movement effect.

  • Updated look of map border to match look of new UI.

  • Fonts changed to American Typewriter.

  • Improved resolutions of text.

  • Added stationary directional symbol to show where north is


Animation Improvements


Part of the quality of life improvements and general game improvements we’ll be focusing on in the coming updates is fluidity. Weapon animation speeds were something that needed addressing. John has spent the week tweaking and changing animations and animation speeds. He's made reloading animations around 1.5x faster than they’ve been in the past across the board. You’ll also notice a new last round and partial clip reload animation.


There have been a load of animation improvements in 1.10 and we’ll continue to improve them across the board as we move through further development.


New mid clip reload

357 Old Jamming

357 New Jamming around a second quicker and more fluid

Bateman Old Jamming


Bateman new jamming around 4 seconds faster


Along with reload animation tweaks and speed tweaks we’ve adjusted cleaning speeds on all weapons.


Clean Lengths


ARG 15 - Old: 14.6 | New: 9.1

Clintchester - Old: 11.3 | New: 6.9

Double Barrel - Old: 9.8 | New: 6.0

Double Barrel Sawn Off - Old: 9.8 | New: 6.0

FRKS - Old: 9.9 | New: 6.0

Pump Action Shotgun - Old: 9.6 | New: 6.0

R-6804 - Old: 8.0 | New: 4.8

357 Magnum - Old: 5.2 | New: 3.0

Bateman - Old: 5.9 | New: 3.4

Lola And Garry's Iron - Old: 8.0 | New: 4.8

Rauser Rig - Old: 7.8 | New: 4.8


Zombie Fixes


Looking through player created tickets we’ve noticed and have personally run into stuck zombie issues. This occurs a lot around intersections and complicated world areas. The majority of the issue was due to an AI vision check being reversed. That has been sorted and it seems to have fixed the issue during internal testing. Below is an example of of the current issue or a variation of it at least. If you have any further issues like this when version 1.10 is released, please share with the team as soon as possible.


Player Relevancy


Some of you have surely experienced player relevancy issues. As an example, you and a friend are playing and you can’t see your friend but they can see you, etc.. This issue has persisted in builds for some time and has been a nightmare to pin down. James spent some time this week altering the scope of our network backend while hopefully fixing potential culling issues. This we feel should greatly improve the stability of player position relevancy and hopefully sort the majority of our issues there.


Survive the Nights is a beast of a project for a small team like ours especially when it’s your first. Unity is a fantastic engine and has allowed us to bring our vision to light. It is however not a total answer. When we started development Unity didn’t have a network solution. We obviously needed one as we were making a multiplayer game. Our choice at the time was a rather popular asset called uLink. uLink allowed us to network the game and get the ball rolling when it comes to extended multiplayer development. The team behind uLink has since moved on and we now have access to the source code. This has allowed us to expand on the asset and make tweaks specifically tailored to Survive the Nights.


As mentioned above, we’re hoping that recent tweaks made to the source will fix player relevancy issues. At the very least, the tweaks made for v1.10 will allow us to move forward with greater confidence that the issue lies higher up in our code rather than an issue with uLink.


Crafting and Nutrition Changes


As you know, we’re working through quality of life issues. We’ve set out to dedicate a good chunk of our coming updates to improving our core mechanics. This includes early game improvements.


Crafting and nutrition is something we will be having a good look over. We’ve started adjusting workbench requirements, adjusting hydration levels to canned goods along with adding and removing some recipes. We’ve removed the workbench requirements for fortification materials. We feel this really impeded the flow of crafting. You no longer need to find a workbench to craft the materials needed for a fortification, only the fortification itself. This will allow the player to be ready to craft fortifications when benches are found rather than first having to craft all the materials for it.


Removed workbench requirements on

  • Plywood

  • Plywood reinforced

  • Metal Planks

  • Sheet Metal

Crafting Changes

We’ve also altered the scrap requirement to craft steel pipes from 5 to 3 scrap metal. We’ve made some drop changes with these tweaks and in preparation for the coming compass and home improvements.


Compass:

We’ve moved away from the dual compass setup. You’ll no longer find a DIY Compass recipe in the crafting list. This has been replaced with a recipe for a standard compass. This just simplifies things and removes confusion.


Sleeping Bag:

We’ll be fleshing out and discussing the new “Home” system in the next devblog. James will also go over it with the 1.10 devlog. We have re-added the ability to craft a sleeping bag in 1.10 as this will be the item you place to set your home and be exactly where you respawn.


If you have any crafting change suggestions, feel free to share them with the team via the suggestion ticket (F1) in game.


Nutrition Changes:

We’ve decreased the hydration rate of all canned goods to make water harvesting more realistic. Some of our canned goods were giving players more that 50% of their daily requirements for hydration. This is no longer the case. Most cans will now provide 2-3% of the daily requirement. This is just enough to save you from taking damage should you need a can in an emergency.


In Summary

These changes are just some in a long line of planned early game changes. The core of our project is rather impressive. We’ve got a solid foundation to work on and small tweaks and improvements are going to be what sets STN apart from others in the genre. Our goal is to focus our efforts on early game improvements for the time being, improving before adding. That doesn't mean we don't have grand schemes and plans for the project. There's still quite a bit to add and a lot of what we're adding and tweaking now will allow for that.


Item Highlighting


Andre has added a quick and easy change to our highlighting system. This little tweak really shines in the project making harvesting just a little bit clearer, especially for new players. Searching harvestable items shows a blue icon, info icons are now red, locks are orange and containers remain white.


Last Chance System


Adjustments have also been made to player damage. James has added a 'last chance' based system. What this translates to in game is the damage being clamped down to 1. If you take a hit with 10 health left, you won't die. You'll be taken down to 1 health allowing for another second to fight or flee.


In testing it feels right. We've found ourselves feeling 'lucky,' taking out a zed with 1 health left and making it out of sticky situations. Of course this doesn't always guarantee your safety. Let's face it, you're not going to last long with just 1 health but a wise survivor always carries a few bandages.


We'll continue to work on improving early game mechanics and fixing all the bugs you guys have found over the last few builds. Thanks again for the continued support and issue reporting.


Changelog Version 1.10


Guide Overhaul

  • Removed trailblazer guide step.

  • Reordered the quick guide.

  • Changed the quick guide to be per object based rather than 2 set pages of tasks.

  • Added support to quick guide to show the amount of items required and the amount currently in the inventory.

  • Adjusted guide to be more specific and detail oriented to help guide new players.

  • Fixed issue where quantity of item in crafting recipes would incorrectly display less than was in the inventory.

Swimming

  • Added swimming system with ability to dive under water.

Home / Base Setting

  • Added functionality for choosing where you respawn after death. Player can now choose to spawn at home or near their death location.

  • Added home setting functionality via the sleeping bag. Crafting and placing a sleeping bag in a structure now claims the building. Upon death the player can choose to respawn at home or near their death. Loot and AI also no longer spawn in a claimed structure.

  • Claimed structures now show on the map as a little home icon.

  • Last placed locks no longer show on the map. This has been replaced for the home base functionality.

Chat Overhaul

  • Complete chat UI overhaul to simplify design and make the system clearer and easier to use.

Overall Health

  • Overall health can now be raised within a window of time rather than exactly at sunrise. This gives the player time to address their stats.

  • Made overall Health staying the same more lenient.

  • Murders committed in day is no longer considered for overall health changes. Mental state is used instead.

VFX

  • Improved burning club fire particles.

  • Fixes for stretching of fire particles on wooden club.

General Quality of Life

  • Removed hand warming mechanic as it wasn’t very good and interfered with weapons.

  • Work lamps disabled until electrical update.

  • Wooden club strength increased.

  • Removed various hints that were bombarding the player with information.

  • Reworded various hints that were overly complex.

  • Fix for issue where you can’t always place the campfire grill on the campfire

  • Adjusted hydration levels to canned goods.

  • Removed burning to cooking mechanics to reduce confusion.

  • Removed stick/kindling requirements on fires. (wood stove, hearths, barrels and campfires)

  • Fixed the yellow highlighting of harvest machines in the tutorial steps not working on various items

  • Building interiors now load while in the loading screen.

  • Improved entry into game loading times.

  • Improved network culling in relation to player to player visibility. To improve scenarios where other players are not visible.

  • All Gun Cleaning Animations have been sped up by 1.5 times faster.

  • Improved issue where vehicles would lag and glitch when driver experienced lag.

  • Lowered the crafting times on various high frequency items like bandages.

  • Sped up consuming of items across the board by 15-25%.

  • Improved system for allowing interactions to still succeed if animation isn’t quite finished.

  • Picking up items is now slightly quicker.

  • Fix for scope blurring staying on while health is low

  • Fixed collision and grass on police station gardens

  • Increased damage effects for low health

  • Fixed player floating before joining causing the player to fall slightly on every join.

Crafting

  • Removed workbench requirements for fortification parts IE you don’t need a bench to make plywood but you need one to make the plywood fortification.

  • Removed workbench requirement for Plywood.

  • Removed workbench requirement for Reinforced Plywood.

  • Removed workbench requirement for Metal Plank.

  • Removed workbench requirement for Sheetmetal.

  • Reduced Scrap requirement from 5 to 3 on metal pipe.

  • Removed the DIY compass.

  • Added a standard compass recipe.

  • Re-added the sleeping bag recipe and drop.

Hordes

  • Earliest horde start time now 1 hour later than before.

  • Lower difficulty hordes no longer start later than more difficult ones.

  • Horde arrival window reduced from 0-4 hours to 0-3.

AI

  • Fix for zombies stop and are unable to reach the player in certain scenarios

Animations

  • Lowered the animation for inspecting on the M-357 so that it’s not blocking vision.

  • Fix for animations not playing when doing in hand actions like consuming.

  • Lowered the hands slightly in the inspect animation when having nothing equipped.

UI

  • Fix for time saying “-” at midnight.

  • Improved new day UI to make it easier to read.

  • Improved UI ordering for game entry to make it easier to digest.

  • Improved map panning and zooming functionality.

  • New compass UI added which shows when inspecting.

  • Compass UI shows position of set home.

  • Compass UI shows position of current horde.

  • Consumables now default to Place button instead of drop.

  • Improved frame rate while in the inventory screen.

  • Added colors to item hover icons to make it easier to spot the difference.

  • Solo and Host tabs no longer grey after getting disconnected to menu.

  • Drop button now always says drop while in the inventory. Previously the word was changed to ‘cooking’ ‘purify’ etc however the functionality was still drop.

  • Created and applied missing GUI artwork (hammer, scrap metal, fan belt, spark plug, cooking pot, coal)

  • Scroll position is now set to the top when opening the inventory to prevent scenarios where it appears as though the inventory is empty.

  • Clicking the search field in the inventory now scroll to the top of the list so that the top item isn’t hidden.

  • Changed text displayed for current overall health. Now changes between Very Weak, Weak, Average, Strong and Very Strong

  • Mouse clicking outside of the inventory window now closes inventory.

  • Cancelled interactions like consuming now notify the player more clearly.

  • Fix for unarmed or melee notification staying up indefinitely after moving from weapon with low ammo/condition

Pickups

  • Removed water purification tablets as they generally only added confusion.

Environment

  • Tweaks to ambient lighting to make interior lighting more accurate

  • Removed logoff from bus stop

Sounds

  • ARG15 reload sounds now line up correctly.

  • Volume sliders now provide improved control over volume.

  • Fix for music being muted when joining for the first time.