Project Zomboid Update Promises Reanimation Animation

By Jim Rossignol on May 2nd, 2012 at 7:00 pm.


Here’s the first sentence: Project Zomboid is great. The sandbox zombie survival game is one of the most intelligent and interesting indie projects out there, and reports like this one from John should make you pay attention. More importantly: “This is how you died” should tell you what you need to know about the mood of this somber excellence. If you’ve not had a look at this game yet – and you can get access to it from the site right here – then you owe it to yourself to take a look. Anyway, to news, and this update, which explains how the animation system is being overhauled for the new build. Techie stuff, and not that interesting to everyone, I suspect. But the treat is at the end. Indie Stone say this: “The next build, R, should (fingers crossed) be released in around two days time – Lemmy is currently fixing the wheelie bin issue and a few save bugs that have cropped up with the changes. The new animation system will be present in the R build, as well as a tweaked approach to combat.” A video details the animation changes below, while Zomboid fans just have to sit back and wait for a fresh build.

And I think we’ll probably write a little something more on the new build when we get our hands on it.

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67 Comments »

  1. Flukie says:

    Lets hope they remember to back up the source code this time.

    (Can’t get over that sorry.)

    • xSeQueL says:

      Man…that was so long ago.

    • Squirrelfanatic says:

      Yeah, let it die already.

      • pistolhamster says:

        Wots it to you if it lives or not?

        • Unaco says:

          He just wants it to die so it’ll come back to (un)life, he can shoot it in the head and be done with it.

    • Ninja Foodstuff says:

      Well I think that was more indicative of viewing the development as a pet project, and not a business venture (which as I pointed out before, is OK if you’re not taking money from people). Anyway, hopefully they are taking the business side more seriously now, and this will end up being something great.

      • zeekthegeek says:

        It was actually a lot simpler than that: they had just moved and were having trouble getting their internet up and running to the remote repository, and so they had a few weeks of work that wasn’t updated tohat. Pretty understandable really.

        • Kaira- says:

          Few weeks? If I remember correctly, they stated they lost about 3-4 MONTHS of work. They had a backup… but it was at the same location as their computers, which means it wasn’t really a backup. Hell, Github offers you a private repo at price of 7$/month, and BitBucket offers private repo for free.

          They obviously had bad luck, but the effects of the robbery could have been easily negated with a bit of foresight. Well, if there’s something good to come out of this, I think they now know what they must do.

      • DickSocrates says:

        Why does it matter if they take money for it or not? They didn’t cut and run, it’s still going hence this latest update. They are saying. ‘here is a thing we are making. We want this much money for it’, and people are saying in return ‘yes, that seems fair.’ Where’s the dilema?

        • Ninja Foodstuff says:

          It’s irresponsible. This wasn’t a kickstarter, it was an order of goods (yeah services). Doesn’t matter what industry it is or how good-natured they were (“well you know, we placed a grocery order, but megacorp didn’t think they needed refrigerators so now there’s going to be a delay on our food, and no I’m not happy about it”)

    • mckertis says:

      I’d rather they didnt, so it all gets lost in a fire, and they restart it in something decent, not the f-n java.

      • Nim says:

        Incidentally, one of the worst things you can do with code is to start over completely. See for example Duke Nukem Forever or Netscape.

        • Kaira- says:

          Yeah. Starting a complete rewrite usually means that you have f’d up somewhere really bad, and the rewrite is usually the sound of deathbells. And besides, Java, even though being somewhat slower than native code, is rather good choice seeing how they’ve done things already.

        • mckertis says:

          “one of the worst things you can do with code is to start over completely.”

          That makes sense, until i start to think that 98% of game developers still write their own engines for every new project. The amount of wasted time and effort is staggering, on the planetary scale. Surely one little project can afford to waffle around a bit, everyone is doing it after all.

          • Ninja Foodstuff says:

            I think that’s more a case of developers like making tools. See also “dreaming in code”.

          • arcadius says:

            Dreaming in Code is a fantastic example of even a fairly simple project gone… awry I guess? I had completely forgotten about that book until now.

          • Nim says:

            The thing about all those engines is that they probably reuse a lot of code from previous products. What we may perceive as a new engine may in fact be a slightly modified one to better handle a specific game’s needs. It just sounds cooler saying we build a new engine from scratch.

          • spelvin spugg says:

            Most indie devs also have no frigging clue what they’re doing. If you know anything about programming, go read the “advice” they give sometime, it’s a laugh and a half.

      • Mctittles says:

        I wouldn’t think you’d have to start over much to use a faster language. The graphics routines for OpenGL should stay about the same. C++ supports classes and stuff; logic should be very similar.

        • Nim says:

          Depends on what languages you are switching to. Java is not a slow language anymore, at one time it was and the reputation kind of stuck. Nowadays Java code can run up to 70-80% the speed of native code which is optimized for a specific processor. Switching languages bring with them hazards as well as C/C++ lets you go down a layer closer to the machine. Suddenly memory allocation becomes much more of deal as do pointers and concurrency which could lead to nasty bugs cropping up which takes time to fix. You’d need to start including code for specific machines and when your customers start complaining about bugs you need to take into account their specific computers and operating systems. These you get for free in Java at the loss of a bit of performance. And let me tell you this: Bad Java code will most likely run bad in C/C++ as well. Converting bad code from one related language to another does not make it good code all of a sudden.

          Fixing algorithms, optimizing often run subroutines and refactoring can give you much more of a performance boost than switching languages in the middle of development.

          • spelvin spugg says:

            “Java code can run up to 70-80% the speed of native code which is optimized for a specific processor. ”

            1) “can run” and “does run” are two very different things.

            2) If you can’t handle memory allocation, you shouldn’t be programming games. Garbage collectors suck for any sort of realtime application.

            Anyone who recommends java or any interpreted language for game programming is smoking something.

            On the other hand, this game is not going to be processor intensive so it probably doesn’t matter.

            “And let me tell you this: Bad Java code will most likely run bad in C/C++ as well.”

            Let me tell you this: There are far, far more bad java programmers than bad C programmers. Java programmers have been a laughingstock for 15 years now.

            Let me tell you something else: The guys who are working on this are not just bad programmers. They are TERRIBLE programmers. How do I know this? Because they made arguably the worst possible programming mistake, something which isn’t just a question of programming but shows that they are neophytes at even basic computer usage.

            Java may be a wonderful crutch but games, terrible programmers and Java are a recipe for disaster.

          • Nim says:

            Are we going to have forum wars about programming languages now? Java’s good enough for a game like Project Zomboid. You seem to be on some sort of anti-java crusade, had some run-ins with bad programmers lately?

      • zaphod42 says:

        Enough with the java bashing, you clearly don’t know crap about what you’re talking about, you’re just repeating some hearsay you heard in a forum once. java is slow and crap, right? thats a thing?

        Uh, no. Ever hear of HotSpot? Zomboid is running about 90% as fast as it would on C++.

        However, if it was C++, then they would ONLY have a 32-bit build for Windows, NO linux or Mac support, no 64 bit support, and fuck you if your computer doesn’t like it.

        Each programming language has advantages and disadvantages, but the similarities between them are even greater. Switching WOULD NOT make that much of a difference. I promise.

        They ported Quake 2 from C (not C++, C. Thats as close to the metal as you can get.) to Managed-C, which is run like Java, not C, and then they wrote C# .NET extensions, which are JUST like Java.

        http://www.codeproject.com/Articles/4538/Quake-II-NET

        Guess what? IT RAN PRETTY MUCH THE EXACT SAME IN .NET AS IN C.
        “Running Quake II.NET in the timedemo test indicates the managed version performs about 85% as fast as the native version.”
        And it made development about 10,000x easier, so you could work faster.

        So for all your bitching, you’d get 15% more FPS. WHOOOOOOOO. Is your computer really that slow running project zomboid? I can run it at very smooth framerate, even though its ‘In java’, just fine.

        On the other hand, for an indie project, java lets them develop faster, and deploy to ALL OSes at the same time, without testing individual builds for different machines.

        So maybe you don’t know what the hell java means.

        • spelvin spugg says:

          “So for all your bitching, you’d get 15% more FPS. WHOOOOOOOO.”

          If you had any idea of how much time game developers spend trying to scrape up even ONE percent, you wouldn’t be talking. Not that anyone cares about the opinions of butthurt java fanboys.

    • spelvin spugg says:

      I hope their dog doesn’t eat their homework again.

      This is getting column inches why? There are other devs out here who can’t pay the rent and you are wasting time on these irresponsible, rude jokers?

      • DickSocrates says:

        Because they are making a game that looks interesting, while you and your cabal of unknown hyper-programmers are making games no one cares bout?

        Who cares how fast java is? It’s 2012, if your computer can’t run a game as simple as PZ then you probably have to wait 5 minutes for a browser to start up and the icons on your desktop flicker after you quit out of Doom.

        Who cares what kind of programmers they are? Only you, and you seem determined to miss the point that the attention is on the good game they are making and not on their leet skillz. Fetishising the behind the scenes tech is hilarious. They made a mistake, to err is human. That’s what humans do. I hope when you mess up in life (and you will, not least because of your attitude, but because we all do, repeatedly) people are more understanding than your frankly bizarre lack of tolerance for a MISTAKE. You act like they tricked someone, they were the victims.

  2. pistolhamster says:

    I’ve tried a few of the 2.0 test builds (last one was q, before the animation changes). Its a fab game as it is, really. I am checking their twitter feed constantly for the 0.2.0 release. If there are people sat on the fence on this one, try to get off it on the right side now. The low alpha price through Desura compared to the many hours of entertainment I’ve had is worth it.

    • El_MUERkO says:

      I’ve not gone back to it in a long while, think I may have to, now where’s that pillow?

      • methodology says:

        I’ve never felt bad doing anything in a game before that.

        Mass murdering innocents in an airport – check
        killing innocent exploring heroes – check
        griefing tf2 players – check
        corpse camping hapless mmo players – check

        putting pixels out of their simulated misery? sob

  3. Lambchops says:

    I played the first tech demo thing but haven’t had a go at it for a while, shall probably have a shot of this build.

  4. TomSmizzle says:

    I haven’t played it in a while, I think I’m gonna wait until it’s complete, but the tech behind the new animation system is really exciting. It’s a really smart solution to the problems they were having. Very cool indeed.

  5. Syra says:

    I so want this game to be released. Or I did about a year ago when I was super excited. It’s getting away from me now, many new little games to satisfy this craving, which look a little flashier. I’m deeply superficial in that regard.

  6. killias2 says:

    I care less about animation and more about content. Same with Xenonauts.

    • scut says:

      The new animation system will make adding content much easier. That said, I’ll miss the original hand-drawn pixel art sprites.

      I really hope they spin off this engine into some RPG or tactical games in the future. It looks so flexible.

      • Muffalopadus says:

        Me too. I can appreciate the huge amount of effort this new system will save, but I will always be a sucker for pixel and cel animations.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      You do realize they need to finish the engine before it’s worthwhile to grind away on content, right? That said, separate developers on the team are mostly the ones in charge of the art and map design, this post is entirely from the programmers side. Amazing I know, different people doing different jobs on a game.

      • killias2 says:

        “You do realize they need to finish the engine before it’s worthwhile to grind away on content, right?”

        “That said, separate developers on the team are mostly the ones in charge of the art and map design”

        These seem like contradictory statements. In fact, I think you -knew- the first was silly when you said it.

        In any case, I wasn’t calling them out for not doing content. I just see a lot more art updates from PZ and Xenonauts than content updates, and I’m just getting bored by them. I understand that art progress is easier to show, but I just would find content updates more meaningful and interesting.

        • zeekthegeek says:

          I merely mean the content team is different guys from the ones making tweaks to the engine and content, and while that stuff continues behind the scenes (I understand there are a couple new maps just waiting for them to reimplement map transitioning) the bulk of the present work is on making the mechanics feel right.

        • JFS says:

          Xenonauts is coming along quite nicely, actually. In fact, there will be a public release build (a “demo” if you will) in a few days… and when they say “few days” they really mean it.

  7. piratmonkey says:

    I think I like the current animation style a smidgen more but the utility offered by the new system more than makes up for it :)

  8. Salt says:

    I’ve got to wonder why they don’t just render the characters in real time.

    Originally the game used hand-drawn sprites, and I seem to remember it was given some praise for the old school PC game aesthetic this produced. But it sounds like they found that makes producing content too slow due to the combinatorial explosion of mixing multiple things that influence how a character looks with many animations.
    So now they’ve made 3d models and textures for the characters to faster produce 2d assets. Unless they’re doing significant hand-editing of the 2d assets after rendering (which it doesn’t look like from the video) they’re needlessly losing all the advantages of realtime 3d rendering: Far easier customisation of character appearance, easier variation in the appearance of zombies. With not too much more effort could have the zombies rag-doll on death so you don’t have a stack of 7 identical corpses, or at least allow rotation of the death pose. Freely rotating the characters as they transition between movement directions would be simple too (although might want to restrict that to keep with an aesthetic choice).

    There wouldn’t be any need to turn the whole world into 3d, and it could be done to produce literally identical results to their current method. Ho hum.

    • wodin says:

      I think we will see all of that before release or a mod will do it afterwards.

    • GHudston says:

      I was thinking exactly this. It struck me as odd to make the change to 3D characters and then severely limit themselves to preserve the existing aesthetic. I love pixel art as much as the next guy but, if the characters are 3D models, I’d at least like for them to make some use of them.

    • Mctittles says:

      I’m just glad to see an indie dev get a clue and use 3d to make things easier for once. It blows my mind how many people hand draw every frame of animation and somehow think it’s an easier thing to do.

    • MashPotato says:

      Hello! The main reason for the lack of real-time 3D is due to performance requirements. Drawing all those zombies in 3D wouldn’t allow people with lower spec PCs to play at all, and PZ is already deceptively memory-intensive due to pathfinding, etc. In addition, real-time 3D wouldn’t have the benefit of post-processing to fit the style of the game.

  9. Smashbox says:

    Interesting game, certainly, but I’ve seen the ‘few days time’ claim from them many times. Rarely with a release.

    • zeekthegeek says:

      They’ve actually put out releases pretty frequently over the last version, check their forums.

    • DickSocrates says:

      I know that when I promise a due date for anything, it means double that and add 1.

  10. Maldomel says:

    I sure hope they can go on with their game. Truly an interesting take on zombies.

    • DodgyG33za says:

      “Interesting take”

      I must be missing something. They look exactly like the mindless shuffling hordes of every zombie game / film I have seen. Minus the fast and exploding ones of LFD (unless they have added them in PZ recently – last time I looked was a few month ago).

      I am looking forwards to this one myself – but will wait until it is a bit more polished before taking another look.

  11. Baresark says:

    Fantastic game. Can’t wait till it gets closer to completion. This is a boon for zombie lovers. The only zombie project I may like better is The Dead Linger, which is this game from first person, in a procedurally generated world that like 8000 Killometers. But, I already played this one and it’s amazing, I’m hoping that The Dead Linger is at least as fraction as good as this one.

    • Snakejuice says:

      Wow that seems AMAZING, would have backed it but seems kickstarter is over and went really really well!

    • IckyThump says:

      That looks very, very, interesting. It’s the zombie game that should have been made long time ago.

  12. wodin says:

    I’m waiting for a full release so I come to it new and fresh. I love the gameplay in the very first release which was the last time I gave it ago.

    Also those changes will mean the game will have legs due to the modding community now it’s so easy to mod without having to deal with thousands of sprites.

  13. sinister agent says:

    Good to see they’ve not let their misfortunes stop them. I do like me some pretty animations. They can do wonders for a game’s character.

    Might have to grit my teeth and put aside my zombie fatigue when this one comes out.

  14. paulsoaresjr says:

    The success of The Walking Dead on AMC could be a nice boon for PZ. The genre has really blossomed as is evidenced by the sheer volume of new zombie novels popping up on Amazon (was browsing Amazon last night, incidentially, for something new)

    • methodology says:

      Clearly you were looking for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

  15. Sic says:

    I bought a lifetime licence ages ago, but I never quite understood what I get out of it, though.

    Are there currently versions for people who paid for the game, or are everyone playing the same version?

    By the way, am I the only one who hates the new 3D models and animation?

    I hope it’s worth while, and that a lot of new items and actions are added because of it.

  16. MashPotato says:

    People who have paid have access to 0.1.5d (the current “official” build) as well as the 0.2.0 test builds (only available on our forum currently, as they’re not official). The free demo is an older build.

    As for the new 3D, believe me, it will make adding new items and actions MUCH easier :)

    EDIT: Gah, reply fail. This was in response to Sic.

    • Sic says:

      Hey! Thanks for the reply.

      Yeah, I actually found the build just after I posted. I guess I was just lazy when I last tried to find it. Or I didn’t understand that I had to log in after I downloaded it.

      About the 3D. I really liked the 2D style, so I just hope you’ll figure out some nice filtering, edge enhancement, cell shading or something. I’m sure the move to 3D makes a lot of sense. After all, making it easier to add things is the more important aspect.

      This is easily my favourite indie project right now. It has such immense potential! So, thanks for doing it!

      Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to bed. To read The Walking Dead.

  17. Maelig says:

    I don’t want to sound like a complaining bitch because I already love the game as it is, but I’m wondering whether there are still intentions (and plans) to make this playable in multiplayer. It would really be amazing.

  18. Danny252 says:

    “Characters now have skins, like Minecraft”

    I never knew that skins were a defining feature of MC, and I have the strangest feeling that skinned models were around slightly before then…

    • nasKo says:

      That sentence was probably to point out that it would be comparably easy to add custom skins.