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phil bottle

7 Days to Die - Alpha 18 Stable

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Was not expecting an update but it seems a patch dropped this week. 

 

I'll copy some of the notes below but the rest is on the following link:

 

 

Alpha 18 Official Release Notes

XP Earning & Balance

We had a lot of feedback from Alpha 17 on how XP was was mostly earned by Zombie Kills, making play styles other than ‘Killers’ invalid as you could only level up by killing zombies. In Alpha 18 we streamlined and balanced the ways players earn XP to support multiple play styles and supporting rolls. These include XP for Killing Zombies, Completing Quests, Harvesting Resources, Mining, Upgrading Blocks, and more.

There are many ways to play the game, but we believe players primarily play as one or more play-style archetypes that we have identified as The Killer/Looter, The Quest/Builder, The Builder/Gatherer, and/or The Miner.

The testing team painstakingly played build after build purposely playing as these archetypes and collecting XP earning data, recording and analyzing the results, and working with the game designers to re-balance. We believe the game now supports all the current play-styles. We plan to collect telemetry data in the future to help us further improve this aspect of the game.

Stamina Balance

TFP also heard a lot of A17 feedback about how starting player stamina was too low, and player stamina drain made actions like harvesting, mining, and running a grind and a chore.

We’ve reduced stone axe stamina costs, so a new player can get started harvesting resources and not be interrupted with low stamina alerts. Many other primary attack stamina costs have been reduced. Power attacks still have a hefty cost, but also a reward. Armor perks and mods now reduce stamina and movement penalties as well. There are perk books in loot that reward stamina for kills.

We changed encumbrance so players start with a larger backpack in new games so the penalty is less when your inventory fills up. We also added deep pocket mods to allow you to carry more without being encumbered, which doesn’t require you to perk into pack mule.

Optimizations

We had a lot of feedback from Alpha 17 on how performance was lower than Alpha 16. We have made many changes to improve performance including:

  • Occlusion System – We engineered a proprietary new occlusion system that stops the rendering of chunks, block entities or trees that are onscreen, but not visible to the player. This will often greatly increase your FPS, especially in indoor areas. The new system does add some minor popping artifacts, where occluded objects may take a moment to appear. Occlusion can be disabled in the video options if desired.
  • Incremental Garbage Collection – We updated to Unity 2019.1, taking advantage of their new incremental garbage collection mode, which means the old hitching we all noticed has been greatly if not fully reduced for most users.
  • Collision Mesh Optimizations – We went through a lot of the models that had complex collision meshes and simplified them which reduces physics calculations and improves performance.
  • POI detail reduction – We engineered a proprietary tool in the level editor that shows vertices and triangle counts. With this we we’re able to optimize POIs in the game reducing unneeded and sometimes abusive details by as much as 40% in some locations.
  • Entity Ticking – Players, animals and zombies now update over multiple frames, which reduces the CPU load during any single frame, which reduces frame rate spikes.
  • AI – Has a new character controller that uses a bit less CPU.

With our changes the game runs a lot better for most users. However we do recommend learning how to use the game’s video options to lower detail, resolution, reflections and other options to get the best performance for your hardware. Keep in mind 7 Days is a fully dynamic game where you can add to, change or destroy everything in a huge open world, so it cannot be compared to games using smaller static level worlds with pre-baked lighting and visibility. This means that just because your hardware can run the latest Call of Duty at 4k, doesn’t mean you can run 7 Days at 4k with the same hardware.

Zombie Balance

We heard many comments about zombie amounts in POIs and biomes in Alpha 17, and we also heard about the lack of smaller POIs that were simple to explore with few or no zombies.

To resolve this we grouped POIs into questing Tiers and set their spawns to reasonable max counts/numbers for those Tiers and balanced enemy counts in every POI quest-able or not.

We also lowered biome spawning some so players could have a little more breathing room when just exploring the world.

On top of this, we created nearly 30 new, smaller POIs we call remnants much like the abandoned house in a variety of themes. These remnants are smaller, less populated and have a chance for 0-2 zombies giving players many less threatening explore-able spaces especially when they are starting a new game or when limited on how much daylight is left.

In future builds we plan to add more of these for every zone type.

Attribute Balance

We heard many comments in A17 about how we forced players to choose Strength and Intellect attributes as they had many must have perks under them. Making the playing of different player skill builds nearly impossible. To resolve this we made a number of changes.

First and foremost each attribute has been balanced and given melee and ranged weapons they govern so every build has a new unique feeling to it with specialized weapons they use. Secondly we removed level requirements , so a player can specialize very early game now and unlock any perk in the game once they meet the attribute requirements.

We have slowed leveling because a level 40 character is now very powerful if you specialize mostly under one attribute. This doesn’t mean you can’t grab a few perks from every attribute and we encourage people to experiment and make the right build that matches their play style and is the most fun. We have also lowered a lot of requirements for some perks, so you can get three ranks of quite a few perks with a fairly low attribute, making players adequate at say mining with just three ranks. The top rank attributes cost less, too, meaning less points needed to reach rank 10. We’ve also added schematics that unlock nearly every craftable item in the game, so players no longer need intellect to craft most items.

You gain 1 HP/Stamina per player level instead of increasing this value with attributes.

Gameplay Changes

  • Item changes – All item crafting is now governed by the perk tree its affected by. So rather than intellect controlling the quality of a shotgun you crafted, its governed by the Boomstick perk. Players can craft up to blue quality. Faulty and poor quality items have one mod slot, fair and good quality items have two mod slots, great quality items have three mod slots, and fine quality items have four mod slots. Items scrap to parts like shotgun parts, light armor parts, etc and are crafted from them. Higher quality items require more parts and materials to craft. For example a crude shotgun only requires 3 shotgun parts but a great shotgun requires 15 parts. Primitive items like stone and wood items do not require special parts and are crafted from common ingredients. Items’ quality now influences damage and armor ratings. All weapons and armor have random stats and a brown club can be better than an orange club, so check the stats. Mods still increase damage when installed but not as much since item quality influences damage.
  • Schematics – We’ve added classic item schematics back to the game that permanently teach the player how to craft specific items and sometimes an entire group of items. There are hundreds of schematics to find so if you don’t want to spend perks on intellect you can find schematics to unlock nearly everything in the game. There are even recipe cards for nearly every food item in the game as well. We have removed the perk books and ingredient based schematics from the game.
  • Armor Changes – Armor rating does not change based on perks. Armors offer great protection early game, even cloth and scrap armor is worth using. Cloth armor does not slow the player or cost any stamina to wear. Armor significantly reduces chance for bleeding and stun. Heavy armor is the best but has the heaviest penalties. Perks and mods can remove nearly all penalties from light armor and most from heavy armor.
  • Encumbrance – We’ve removed a whole row of encumbrance so early game is more forgiving. There are also pocket mods you craft for clothing to reduce encumbrance very early game. It is possible to have zero encumbrance with no pack mule perks now, you just have to get the right gear.

Death Loop Improvements

Many players complained about getting into death loops or cheap deaths in the game at times when they were not taking risks. Here are some of the things we have done to improve this.

  • The death debuff has been changed from lowering attributes health and stamina to losing XP resulting in less cheap back to back deaths.
  • After a player dies during a blood moon, zombies will no longer know where you are and normal stealth rules apply. If you re-engage an enemy, blood moon behaviors recommence.
  • We lowered the default difficulty from Nomad to Adventurer since A18 is a little harder with the new zombie rage speed boosting behavior.
  • We changed AI noise detection to play sense sounds and lowered hostile animals’ noise and sight detection ranges. Some animals now have a chance to flee when damaged in combat.
  • Bleeding does less damage per second and armor reduces the chance to bleed dramatically.

Melee hit Detection and Glancing Blows

Some folks gave us feedback about how you would swing and miss zombies too often. Melee was too binary, hit or miss. To remedy this, as well as make melee feel more impactful, we added a swing arc to detect hits along the path of the weapon. If you miss with the crosshairs, you will still hit enemies along the arc of the weapon swing, just for less damage. This allows melee users to do splash damage to crowds while primarily attacking one target. We will be improving on this new system as time goes on.

Melee Impact Audio Polish

To improve upon the existing melee sounds, we have gone through our melee weapons and added new crunchier impacts. We also added sounds for glancing blows and player power attacks sounds which makes melee feel much more immersive.

Animation Polish

We expanded our animation team and they have been kick-ass on polishing and making all first person animations more fluid, snappy and satisfying.

With this also came new item hide/show code which allows thrown or placed items to be hidden and shown on the right frames to make things like grenades, c4 and rocks look great.

Dynamic Music System

TFP has teamed up with Native Darkness Productions to bring a fully dynamic music system to Alpha 18. The system procedurally generates a complete musical arrangement from a set of interchangeable loops. As of now there, are over 750 unique combinations.

Our hope is that this feature will make Alpha 18 that much more immersive. We have set a default cap on the music, which will allow it to play for 30% of a given day, but you are in control of how much music you can hear through the ‘Daily Time Allotted’ property in the audio options menu. (Note that setting this property to 100% will not give you constant music, as that percentage is a daily cap and not a guarantee.)

At the moment, our system is designed to provide music while the player is exploring the world. We do however intend to broaden the system in the next Alpha with not only more content but to include suspense, combat, and trader music. That being said, for the time being, we hope you enjoy this new addition to the 7 Days soundscape.

New Infection, Dysentery, and Stun Changes

New infection system – Infection is easier to contract when you have low health than high health. 1% is barely infected, at 100% infection you die. Stage 1 lasts one (real time) hour and up to 14% and has no side effects. Stage 2 lasts 3 hours (up to 57%) and has -25% stamina recovery. Stage 3 lasts 3 hours and is -35% stamina recovery and -1 to all attributes. Getting hit by zombies can increase infection level. Take antibiotics to slowly cure infection, such as honey, herbal antibiotics or pharmacy grade antibiotics. Antibiotics lessen stamina recovery penalty by half while curing. Make sure to have a larger cure amount than your infection amount or you will get sick again when the cure buff runs out.

Dysentery and food poisoning – Dysentery and food poisoning are non-lethal but easier to contract. All foods except canned now have a chance to contract food poisoning. Food poisoning causes you to throw up and you lose most of the food you have consumed. Recover by eating. Dysentery causes diarrhea which will drain your water causing dehydration. Drink goldenrod tea to recover faster from dysentery. Boiled water still has a chance to contract dysentery so drink teas, coffee or the new mineral water to be exempt from dysentery. The perk slow metabolism has been renamed to Iron Gut which reduces chance for dysentery and food poisoning with each rank.

Stun System – Armor greatly reduces chances for being stunned.

HD Icons

We overhauled the icon Atlas to support power of 2 images and created new HD icons for all blocks and items. They are now much sharper and higher resolution.

New Books and Schematics

We have added 16 book sets to the game the game with 112 total unique books. Reading these books unlocks unique perks and skills and completing a set unlocks a book series perk. Book sets are:

  • The Fireman’s Almanac – gain perks based around fire fighting, heat resistance, harvest more coal from burnt embers and more.
  • The Great Heist – Gain perks that help you become a master thief. Gain new stealth abilities, craft timed charges to open safes quickly and more, damage land claimed areas 20% faster and more.
  • Lucky Looter – Each volume helps you find more specific items in loot.
  • Needle & Thread – Become a tailor and learn to craft clothing, coats, hats and even pocket mods for your clothing to reduce encumbrance without strength perks.
  • The Night Stalker – Become the ultimate assassin and gain stealth and combat bonuses at night.
  • Magnum Enforcer – Maximize the capabilities of the .44 Magnum.
  • Batter Up! – Learn to craft baseball bats and hit zombie heads out of the park!
  • Wasteland Treasures – Learn to to harvest new materials from various objects to become the ultimate junk collector of the apocalypse.
  • The Hunters Journal – Do more damage against different types of animals with each volume.
  • The Art of Mining – Enhance your life as a miner with new craftable equipment and mining tricks to one-shot ore!
  • Rangers Guide to Archery – Become the ultimate archer with this set of books. You can even craft exploding arrows.
  • Pistol Pete – Master the use of 9mm weapons with this set of books.
  • Shotgun Messiah – Become the action hero you always dreamed of with this complimentary set of books
  • Sniper – If exploding heads is your thing, look no further. Craft special ammunition, ghillie suits and more!
  • The automatic weapons handbook – Learn every trick in the book about machine guns.
  • Urban Combat – Become the ultimate commando with Urban combat and look like a sexual tyrannosaurus.

New Weapons

This is by far the biggest weapon update we’re ever had which includes 20 new weapons to play with.

  • Spears – Spears have great range and can be thrown. From stone, iron and steel, there is a spear for you. Steel spears are loot or schematic craft only. They can be modified and are governed by the new perception perk “Javelin Master”. Primary attack jabs and secondary attack performs a power attack that charges up the spear and releasing throws it. Press E to reclaim your spear.
  • Junk Turret – Junk turrets are governed by the new intellect perk “Turrets Syndrome”. They are a hand held weapon that is fired with primary attack and reloaded like a normal weapon. Secondary attack deploys it in the world and it will target zombies and animals as long as the player is close enough to it. Turrets deactivate when the player is too far away and will stop making noise and the barrel will aim at the floor when they run out of ammo or are out of range.
  • Stun Baton – A new melee weapon governed by the new intellect perk “The Electrocutioner” gives intellect players a shock baton that charges with each attack. Each rank of Electrocutioner reduces the number of swings needed to achieve a charge.
  • Baseball Bat – The baseball bat is a top tier club that is loot or schematic craft only. Clubs and bats are governed by Pummel Pete under Strength.
  • New Sledgehammers – Want to be a sledgehammer guy early game? Craft a stone sledgehammer right away from basic ingredients like stone, wood and plant fibers. Later game you can find steel sledgehammers or craft them with a schematic. Sledgehammers are governed by Skull Crusher under Strength.
  • M60 – The M60 is a top tier machine gun class weapon that is loot or schematic craft only. It is governed by the Machine Gunner perk under Fortitude as well as the Ak47.
  • Knuckle Wraps, Brass Knuckles, Spiked Knuckles – Ever wanted to just punch a zombies head off but the old vanilla fists were just too weak? Well now you can perk into “The Brawler” under Fortitude and use leather knuckle wraps, Brass Knuckles and Spiked knuckles to punch their face into a pulp. “But won’t I get infected being so close to zombies?” you might ask? Fear not because they come with a special built in perk that removes a zombies ability to infect you by punching out their teeth (punch to head instantly neutralizes zombies infection ability).
  • Double Barrel Shotgun – Fires two shots, but you can double tap and basically shoot both at once. Shotguns are governed by the perk Boomstick which is under Strength.
  • New Explosives- Grenades and timed charges have been introduced to alpha 18. There are normal grenades that bounce and contact grenades which explode on contact. Timed Charges deal massive damage to safes and doors and are great for raids. They are governed by Demolitions expert under Perception.
  • New bows – The normal bow people are used to has been turned into a primitive bow so it will probably feel worse to experienced players. We’ve added a new wooden bow which behaves similar to the old bow, and the compound bow is still the top tier bow. We’ve added a new compound crossbow which is a top tier crossbow that is loot or schematic craft only. Both bows and crossbows alike, can use flaming and exploding ammunition. Bows are governed by Agility now.
  • New ammunition – All firearms can use regular ammo, HP ammo which does more damage, and AP ammo which pierces through enemies and low hit point structures like wood and glass. Shotguns have breaching ammo for wrecking safes and doors, bows have exploding arrows. Advanced ammunition requires a schematic to craft. Steel ammunition has been removed from the game, but there are many new ways to acquire brass including smelting dukes.

Thrown Items

In multiplayer games, thrown items were moved by the server, which means if your computer was not the server you would see a delay when you threw an item and see lag in its position updates and collisions with the world. In A18 we added a Physics Master system that lets the player’s computer that threw the item spawn and run the item’s physics, so you get the same lag free throwing as a single player game and they will accurately hit other players.

Many thrown items have been resized and had their colliders adjusted, so they are easier to use. Molotovs have a smaller radius and a more forgiving distance check to players, so it is harder to set yourself on fire.
Rocks and snowballs can be thrown much further now which is useful to lure zombies away from your backpack or a POI you want to sneak into.

New Terrain Blending, New Unity Distant Terrain & PBR Terrain Textures

We have integrated a new terrain shader that blends the terrain textures in a much more natural way. With it we can do interesting things like base the texture weight on slope angles (e.g. grass grows on relatively flat terrain only and steeper surfaces have eroded stone etc).

Along with this we have converted our old distant terrain to use Unity’s distant terrain giving us much more fidelity in the distance as you can now see details like erosion and higher resolution mountains and plateaus.

If that wasn’t enough we have overhauled all the terrain textures not only in a higher resolution but also to support the new PBR art pipeline.

New Random World Gen

Random World Generation has been overhauled to use a new custom in-house solution. This new system uses a combination of artist driven graph networks, and improved programmatic algorithms to distribute custom artist created height map stamps for the terrain geometry and unique biomes, along with smart systems that control placement of roads, bridges, towns, and designer built POIs. With each new seed generation, a new and exciting world is created for the player to explore.

The game now includes 3 8k generated worlds.

POI Locations

We’ve re-imagined dozens of older locations with a complete art and game-play overhaul converting them to beautiful and quest-able dungeon experiences. We optimized and re balanced all existing quest-able locations and re-balanced all locations in the game.

We have also created many brand-new locations. These locations are all setup to support a variety of quests of 5 Tier difficulties. All locations are working in Navezgane and Random Gen worlds. Over 101 new locations and counting. Some of the new or re-imagined locations include:

  • Modern houses
  • Burnt businesses
  • Burnt houses
  • Burnt remnant/abandoned
  • Old west businesses and business strips
  • Old west remnants/abandoned
  • More house remnants/abandoned
  • New lodge
  • Updated auto parts store
  • Trailer park
  • Trailers
  • Army camps
  • Army barracks
  • Fire Station
  • Funeral home
  • Diners
  • Fast food
  • Garages
  • Water towers

Reflections

Reflections are shown using reflection probes. We added a new reflection manager that tracks multiple probes and blends between them to reduce hard transitions. Probes now update based on player movement or changes to the world, instead of all the time, which can give an increase in FPS.

AI, Animals and Zombies

We have made a variety of improvements to the game’s AI including:

  • A coyote and mountain lion were added. The mountain lion uses the new animal leap ability.
  • The demolition zombie was added. Beware his explosive charge!
  • Zombies have a new rage mode. There is a chance when damaging zombies, based on the game difficulty, that they will move faster for a short amount of time. This add more variety to combat.
  • Sense sounds have returned to the game. They are played when hostile AI investigates a noise.
  • Hostile AI no longer investigates player noise at the exact position of the player, but rather picks a spot somewhere on the player’s breadcrumb trail based on how well the AI can hear.
  • Some types of hostile animals may flee when injured.
  • Zombies will now fight bears or wolves that attack them.
  • Zombies can ragdoll when they fall.
  • Sleeper volume triggering was improved.

Vehicles

Vehicles have had several improvements done to them:

  • Steering, tire rotation, bicycle pedaling and the gyro rotor can now been seen moving when looking at other player’s vehicles.
  • Vehicles fall more accurately and riders can take falling damage.
  • Damage when colliding with the world is more accurately calculated and less land claim damage is done.
  • Using the hop action on two wheeled vehicles lifts the front tire more, so it is easier to drive over obstacles.
  • Vehicle UI, locking and passcode interaction was improved.

Mining Overhaul

Mining has been overhauled and made much easier to find the ore you need. Now there are brand new 3d surface boulders of each ore type identifying where matching ore can be found below. What you see is what you get. See Lead, mine it and below the boulder will be a new lead textured underground ore that matches the surface boulder. Each boulder has a unique look so they are easy to identify at a distance what type of ore it is. These boulders are uncommon so there are still many deposits close to the surface that can only be found by digging.

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