JANUARY 2021 UPDATE

Alright folks, I think it might be a good time to sit down and talk about the current situation, and what's going on with the new update for Dead Matter.

As quite a few have noticed, this update is taking a while. This was to be expected due to a number of important changes taking place, like the jump to Unreal Engine 4.26, which had brought us a ton of useful new features that'll greatly aid the overall development of Dead Matter. It also brought us some major recurring bugs to iron out before we were able to consider an ETA -- good news is, that's looking to be within the next two weeks.

Let's take a look at what's been cooking.

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We've been working on a number of critical additions and fixes to the game for 0.6.0. The highlight reel includes Kyle's new infected, which should be a substantial change to the way Dead Matter works and plays. Prior to the launch of the CA, our plans had been to have infected that spawned in two ways - those that existed naturally in the world, providing an ongoing presence for players to contend with as they explored, and infected that spawned when players undertook actions that created a lot of noise or drew a lot of attention.

In the leadup to CA, this system - while hardly perfect - was at least functional at a core level. However, under the hood, there were issues that were laying dormant. As work continued on the game, these issues began to rise to the surface - by the time the CA was going out to the public, our barebones but functional AI solution was broken more often than not. Infected weren't spawning out in the world properly, and when they would they'd suffer from frequent issues with navigating the environment, and due to the lack of infected already out in the world, massive hordes would spawn in response to player actions like firing weapons creating a cycle that just wasn't fun to play. In short - our infected were broken, and they sucked.

Focus shifted to re-examining these systems. Taking the lead on that, Kyle has been rebuilding our infected in a manner that would address the bugs and flaws inherent to the old systems.

The new system makes fundamental changes to how infected exist in the world, and to how they respond to stimulus. First, infected will no longer spawn in response to noise cues. To make up for this, infected now exist in the world in greater numbers, and do their own thing until disturbed by players or another cue that grabs their attention. Infected will now naturally wander over to investigate,

in numbers organic to the magnitude of the event that's drawn them - a grenade will pull a lot more attention than a suppressed weapon, for instance.

Poor pathfinding has also been addressed with a far more robust system to ensure that strange situations where AI navigation might be hampered are backed by failsafes to prevent things from breaking entirely. Given that Dead Matter is an open-world game with an emphasis on player building, the number of situations where somebody might build something complex that causes our AI to panic is a bit higher than other games, so this will help a lot with the infected behaving intelligently. Ultimately, this approach also lets us better compartmentalize AI components for re-use in other AI systems, so iteration on other kinds of NPCs will be much more rapid, and will also ensure that our AI's performance impact is significantly less than what was in the game before.

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For 0.6.0, the first iteration of these infected will be out for our CA backers to test - while there's still work to be done, they should be significantly more interesting to interact with, and less broken than before.

While that's been underway, our survival mechanics and underlying systems have been seeing crucial work. Systems such as those used for managing hunger, thirst, stamina, blood, and overall character health have all been iterated on because it was clear that the systems in place weren't very engaging to interact with and that the player just wasn't getting the information they needed. Elements of the survival stat systems now provide information to the player more clearly, you'll be able to tell just what it is your character needs at a given time, and you'll be given a more reasonable window of time to address those needs while still receiving debuffs when conditions are critical.

We've also been working on the nuances of these systems, such as stamina - stamina regeneration is now impacted by a number of stats such as your hydration & hunger, whether or not you've been injured, and we've laid the groundwork for food or clothing running on this system to impact stamina regeneration as well. We've also added a new form of stamina - Combat Stamina. This is basically an abstraction of the adrenaline burst you'd get in a dangerous situation, and is meant to allow you more wiggle room to act when you're in a fight. This secondary bar of stamina will allow you to briefly run faster, swing a weapon more than you might otherwise, and if you need to engage in a stamina-draining activity (such as aiming a rifle with a broken arm,) you'll have more room to do so before you need to stop and rest.

All of this allows for a more interesting gameplay sandbox as far as player actions go. Work on these systems has also given us a chance to address another part of the character ecosystem - character creation itself.

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As it stands, the options for perks in the current release don't do too much for the game - be it an occupational perk, or a selected perk - many simply aren't useful or conducive to interesting gameplay. As such, we've went through and revisited many of our perks, cutting those that didn't fit with the gameplay we want to encourage, and adding a number of new ones that give players more options for character specialization such as making a player character more resistant to pain (a system used to determine whether or not a character may pass out from a serious injury.) We've also taken the time to revisit the occupations in the game, reworking the names and perks available to them, and temporarily removing a few until gameplay systems have matured enough to make them viable choices for players - once the systems they rely on have been added, they'll be restored to the game.

As part of these changes, our character art team has also been giving a pass to the occupational starting outfits - and to aid with getting our character artwork out the door at a solid pace, we've brought on a new character artist - Toby has taken on reworking our firefighter outfit to better fit in with the game's setting and the look & feel that we're aiming for with Dead Matter. While it won't be in for 0.6.0, it's coming down the line, and should make for a fantastic addition for players. We've also added a new RCMP outfit to the game, and this one will be in 0.6.0.

New retro-reflective shading model, planned for a future update.

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We've also been working on revamping our website, and with that we've taken on new hands to aid in supporting our players and backers more efficiently. If you're having any issues with key redemption, the game itself or you'd like to request a refund then please reach out to support@qisoftware.ca Our support hours are 10AM - 6PM MST, Monday - Friday.

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Alright, that wraps up this post. Thank you all for your continued support, all of the feedback we've been receiving from our backers and those testing the Closed Alpha means the world to us.

Want to chat with the community and the team about the post or the game in general? Join us on our Official Community Discord Server!

Until next time.