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Published: September 21, 2015

Alpha 13, Recap!

It's been almost 7 weeks since my first (ever!) blog, it's been almost 7 weeks since i looked at my first XML file too...

They say time flies when your having fun and time for me has not stood still for a while now, from taking my first baby steps at making a 'bigger' city hub, chatting with BigC and the guys about some new ideas,  raiding the official forums  for as much information as my burger flipping brain could handle, playing around with the city blocks and giving birth to the sewer system.

We've tried to be quite open about our plans for the server and I've always championed the idea of giving people a chance to have a say/criticize and generally get involved as much as possible.  To those of you who took a tour of the test server and dropped us a line or two, a big thank you.  The test server is still running and has been modified several times based on feedback and performance as well as updates to the mixer and the re-introduction of some of the larger prefabs (we once again have the walking dead prison by laz man).  We still extend an open invitation to you and your friends to come and try the map out and tell us what you think.

As things have moved along quite a bit and another alpha 13 blog has been released by the pimps I decided now would be a good time to do a recap on the 'vision' and start talking about the server rules in general and grab some feedback on that.

The Vision

  • One city to rule them all
  • Sustainability for upto 48 players in and around our central play area
  • A more dense, urban environment within the main cityhub
  • A focus on making players want to live near and scavenge the same places within our central play area

Early on in our talks about a new custom map for A13 we were pretty decided on one thing mainly: stop people being able to run of 14k blocks into the unknown to never be seen again.  At its core multiplayer is not just about PvP, there are many interactions with other players that can take place from trading and selling information, chatting (aka flaming each other and cussing till bans are threatened!) and sharing tips or ideas to offering help, teaming up to build a base or even a mutual ceasefire to share the loot in a hub or particular spot.  Throughout all of these tasks is one constant, people interacting with each other.

Now there are the 'omg 7 days s designed to be a small PVE/coop experience' and that may be true, you guys will probably be the first to leave,if you ever join in the first place, the door is that way >>>>.  The point is, dedicated server owners are in a unique position to provide an extremely customized experience with a specific rule set and theme in mind and that is exactly what we are going to do here.

Our first idea was to enforce a world border, the radius was dependent on the content we would provide.  This was quickly burned for a few reasons:

  • We don't want to 'enforce' our play style or theme onto you, we want you to adapt of your own free will
  • a fixed world border would greatly restrict exploring, the need for minibikes or other vehicles
  • The radius of the play area would be greatly affected by how many regular players we were intending to have, we get more than that amount it gets too cramped, we get less and the map is like most multi player games atm.... empty.

Now not long after this chat I was just starting to play around with the idea of a 'bigger' city hub and we started to think along the lines of, "what if people did not want to live miles away" and how could we achieve that without strictly enforcing the adherence to our theme.You've seen the pictures and what the city hub actually turned into, and with it, the start of our master plan was born.

The Map, cityhub, custom hubs and points of interest.

As far as we are concerned, the world as we know it is fucked, they said Navezgane was the last paradise on earth... well 'they' are probably zombies now or a stain on the road.

The Map, is, our world border without a border!  The cityhub will be the living beating heart of our world providing sustenance to the survivors and zombies alike.  We opted for a more realistic setting where players would be given an area roughly twice the size of Navezgane (approx 5000m radius from the center of cityhub) where we would pour all or efforts into spicing it up and generally making it a place you don't necessarily want to live in (if your a little girl!) but at the very least live near.   There will be no more cities on our map, with the exception of some of the custom hubs surrounding cityhub, in-fact the more you move out and rely more on the random gen dropping something nice to loot in front of you the more disappointed you will become.  Deep exploration of the wilderness is a task for the mini bikers as there will always be a slim chance for a hub spawning a few rarer prefabs, but you will not find anything as remotely bountiful as our central play area.  

 Cityhub (which I've threatened to call Slaanhatten if some better name ideas dont come in thick and fast) is almost finished, for those of you who have played in it on the test server, the good news is I have almost copied over all of the prefabs used into a separate pack, modified to fit in with the theme set by the custom city blocks.  I will release this for download with relevant code to add it to the rwg.mixer so it can be used side by side with magoli's compo pack without any issues.  There are new prefabs coming out all the time and there will more than likely be last minute adjustments to make sure all the ones I want to use are in there.  But with most of the heavy work done, lights have been removed, shower glass replaced all thats left to do is get the city POI groups within the mixer split up a bit better to ensure we get a good spread of all the prefabs across the whole city.

From a game play perspective, cityhub (Slaanhatten! you have been warned twice now) is shaping up to be quite an experiment.  As the only city we had to make it big, but the compo pack has really helped to spice it up to the point where it looks more like a real city than the bare bones vanilla crap (sorry pimps, community builds left your vanilla fabs in the dust months ago) people are used to.  It is actually possible to be across the street from someone but still be a couple hundred blocks of walking distance away from them.  I've took every pain possible to ensure even if we get 48 people shacking up in the city there will be plenty room to be stealthy and sneak around.  We have the custom city blocks to fill in the gaps between the prefabs, we have the sewer system as a subterranean travel route now too.

For the first time in a long time (probably before they were introduced) I'm starting to think about how I'd go about a hidden base in the city without using claim blocks as they are going to be a dead giveaway with so many people travelling back and forth, but the advantages of having a pad hooked up there should be obvious.

There is an eerie feeling, it's easy to get lost when you can't open your map for fear of someone else hearing you and sound travels far in this city... so far its possible to hear everything in almost every part of the city when you stand bang in the middle of it.  There is a greater feeling of not wanting to be discovered and I think the super forts people are used to living in will be a thing for the wilderness... or the patient and lucky people who wanna try.

Custom Hubs, PoI's

we have our first iteration of the loot doughnut surrounding our cityhub, it currently consists of:

  • My custom coronado based farm hub to the North
  • The walking dead prison to the South
  • Large towns to the east and West
  • Waste citys/towns occupy three of the corners
  • Shopping center to the North West

These are the secondary loot stations,  areas which have good looting potential but will not support a large number of players regularly farming them.  They will also act as our exploration sites, many people have yet to see Laz man's prison (it is an awesome and a very accurate depiction of the one in the series), the shopping center, the custom hospitals.  There are many reasons and things to go out and explore, getting them in as fixed points of interest was a learning experience (which is still not over!), but they break up the normal flow of small city > rural with two shops and a house > small town.

There are many prefabs within the compo pack you will only discover if you go out and look for them, which brings us back to the reason to have minibikes in the first place as with our current rwg.mixer these hidden loot pinatas could be miles out into the wilderness, they could be closer than you think... you won't know until you go looking.

Still with me?

Ok, so this is really a big wall of text but I hope people will start to take on board the implications of this kind of map on the way you play the game, on top of the upcoming scavenge system being implemented (will the city survive more than a few weeks!?) and the body heat survival mechanics things could be upside down for quite a while, we won't really know the full extent until we start playing.

The server rules (uh-oh)

These are yet to be finalized, but my gut feeling atm is we will go back to dropping everything on death.  For too long have we had the luxury of filling our bags with spare crossbows and a couple stacks of arrows and a few sleeping bags, then raiding to our hearts content, losing only what we choose to on death and making the defenders job, especially when outnumbered an absolute fucking nightmare (ask matty and pogomonkey).  There is no reward for killing people who only lose what they choose to sacrifice, and while I would ask people not to just shoot on sight and think out of the box a little (we have VOIP in game if you want people to sing for the luxury of you letting them live!), we wont punish banditry outside of the regular anti-excessive griefing rules we have in place already.  Its a proven fact in all zombie stories/films/lore/series the human element is what makes people dead more often than not and who are we to take that away.

Claim blocks, (aka keystones).  We currently have a 15 x 15 claim zone which i think is ideal for the wilderness castle, however, we didn't call this urban survival so people could have it easy building fort knox.  I want to tempt people into having more of a focus on a hidden base as opposed to the super forts.  I'm thinking along the lines of 7 x 7 again, enough to protect a reinforced stash room hidden away in hill or cave within a days run of the city or other PoI, small enough so you have to really think and commit to where you place it.  Also a 15 x 15 plot can really cripple the looting in the city if enough people drop them down there.

I would like to abolish the crafting recipe for them all together, leaving regular voters as the only people who may acquire more outside of stealing them!  I would also like to increase the offline protection but re-introduce the decaying.  Attacking someones base at any time of the day will still be an option however there would be a drastic reduction in claim strength while people are online, people who do not log in or re-set their claim blocks will gradually loose the protection they will provide over time.  I used to worry that higher offline protection would encourage teams to force the guy who placed them to log off during an attack, and I suppose it is still a genuine concern, but I don't want solo players punished as much as they are now for working alone....who trusts anyone they met in this game anyway lol.

Plenty food for thought this episode, please leave a comment on your own opinions on the topics covered, and don't worry I promise more pics and maybe a video in the next blog!

3 comments on “Alpha 13, Recap!”

  1. holy toilet reading Batman, I only came here to see some sexy screenshots, not this massive braindump!

    Some thoughts after reading this:

    Slaanhatton - I quite like this actually, though you do know that you would need to make a "welcome to slanhatton" giant billboard sign prefab or something like that to go into the city mixer 😛

    Vendor / initial start spawn position? i think these should be at opposite ends to the city, so if we were to be spawning at the south of the city (below the south prefab) we'd want to possibly move the farm to another cell and have the vendors to the north, encouraging people to explore that far up?

    claim size although i definitely agree 15 is too big for a city this dense, i think 7 is a bit too small. perhaps we could settle on something like 11, and also drastically shrink the distance between allowed claims so they can be placed closer together by non-friends than normal

    drop all on death - I think this is the way forward tbh. From what we can see from mademoles blog entries so far showing the hot/cold system, it seems there is an absolute need for you to be wearing clothes. The combination of drop all on death means if you are unfortunate to be killed in battle, you will be searching everywhere to get pants/weapons etc together so you can go get your stuff back. Not just that, but if you are good enough to kill an opponent, then it means you win the privilege of stealing everything from crossbow to their cowboy hat. The hot/cold system is going to emphasise scavenging even more, and will make players actively decide on wearing all their best stuff as to not freeze to death, while running the risk of losing it via a death in batte. It will also make players not just think about what theyre wearing, but also keeping spares incase they are killed. I'll put it like this, if you DONT drop your stuff on death and still have it all to hand when you respawn, where is the need to go scavenging? It's tough love, but this is gonna be urban zombie scavenging at its best.

    I think you should add a couple of your fag packed pictures of what the city hub is shaping up like layout wise, and a couple of screenies to appeal to my inner child. Although I know what the plan is for the A13 layout, it may be helpful for some to see a poorly represented picture made in MS Paint 😀

  2. I withheld a beautifully handcrafted MS paint style hub diagram mainly because it has not changed much since the last one and If the hub layout code that's being thrown around the forums can actually be made to work there will be several changes to the custom hub cells, maybe a pre-launch blog, or new front page for the site will describe all of the features we want to show off, maybe with some story narrative. My jotters are full of scribbles in that regard.

    Until I see set in stone methods for making custom spawns, I will be working towards defaults, one thing that will most certainly happen is the central play area shifting a cell to the south. As we are effectively making a giant Navesgane with random gen surrounding it instead of rad zone, maybe dotting the spawns around the outside of the central play area could be a better way to approach the situation.

    Vendors, however you choose to do them can be placed pretty much anywhere you want, as a prefab in the city, as a hub on its own, even stealing a region file to copy to SP game for manual placement. If the vendors are going to be similar to our current iteration on the live server then maybe manually building a few spots around the city, or just outside of it, as well as maybe in the corner hubs, so people can make the choice which ones they wanna risk using.

    I know there is not as much of a rush to implement mods from day one, but it could be a wise choice to see how the new systems will play out before we consider what to modify. I imagine the usual quality of life recipes will be popular, but again a lot of things look like they will change quite drastically.

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