September Development Update

September Update.pngHello Survivors,

I hope you are doing well this September. It's been about one month since we released Update 0.9 and your feedback, bug, and crash reports have been outstanding. We're ecstatic that many of you enjoyed the update and supported our new developers. 0.9 was the first update we started on and finished as a newly rebuilt team, so it was encouraging to see that our work is moving the game in the right direction.

With that said, I understand that many community members are curious to learn about what we are working on right now. So I thought it would be a good idea to have some of our devs talk about the projects they're working on for future updates. These features are gameplay components that we are actively testing internally. We will shed more light on these features in the future, but we wanted to give a glimpse into development.

Some Things We’ve Been Working On…​

New Infected Spawning System​

Hi there, I'm the recently hired AI dev at QI Games. I wanted to share a bit more info regarding the new spawning system that I've been working on to help bring some more life into the ambient infected the player sees while exploring Alberta and hopefully improve some of the immersion-breaking Infected spawnings. Instead of having it feel like the Infected happen to spawn randomly around wherever the player is, I wanted to have the player feel like the Infected in this world have at least some baseline of pack intelligence.

The new spawn system should take advantage of a system in which alerted Infected will alert other nearby idle Infected. So, the new system creates roaming hordes of various sizes that you'll run into while exploring the urban and wild environments around Dead Man's Flats.

These roaming hordes provide the player with a more defined gameplay loop of infected combat. Additionally, this new spawn system also offers players trackable groups of infected for them to strategize playstyles around, whether you stealthily avoid them, reduce the group over time by killing stragglers, or decide to rush them head-on.

I'm excited to hear your feedback once the next update is released.

New Scope of the World Map for Early Access​

Hey, this is the Environmental Art Lead at QI Games. This month the environment art team has been hard at work on Dead Man’s Flats and its surrounding areas, polishing up existing locations and creating brand-new ones that we are excited to share with you in the future.

We’ve also implemented a new workflow that has us working even closer with our level design team to create locations that are both interesting and fun to explore as you loot and fight your way through them.

For Early Access, we are focusing our open world on the Dead Man’s Flats region; this scope allows us to allocate our time efficiently and deliver a tighter gameplay experience. While there will be tons of unique locations to explore in this region, this narrowed scope means we can more definitively address any issues in the area and take our refined tools and processes into future updates and the expanded map after Early Access..

We cannot wait for you to see the new (and improved) locations we have been working on, so keep an eye out for updates as we head towards Early Access!

Location Preview​

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New locations design philosophy​

Hey everyone, this is the level design team at QI Games. We co-wrote this section to give a little bit of insight into the level of design work we have done this month.

During this last month, we have been working hard on incorporating new locations into the map that provide both variance and uniqueness regarding gameplay, the latter being a major point of emphasis.

We are constantly asking ourselves how gameplay should flow through our environments. For instance, how much cover should each space provide? Conversely, how much visibility should the player have in said cover (lines-of-sight)? And most importantly, how do we manage the ability for Infected to have the appropriate room to access areas and chase the player no matter where they decide to trek.

We have also been focusing on giving the player more ability and choice around navigation. These design choices include implementing additional routes to locations, hidden passages, and adding unique spots in each location that accommodate different playstyles like sniping. Essentially, putting more power into the hands of the players.

Looting Initiative​

Loot Initiative Member #1​

Hello! I'm a junior programmer at QIS, and I've been working on revamping loot as part of our looting initiative this month.
Looting is a huge part of Dead Matter, and it's vital that it feels as realistic and balanced as possible. This design standard is why we decided to change the relationship between containers players find and the loot spawned within. But we had to document everything first: how the looting system works, the different types of containers, where these containers appear in the open world, and how many loot tables the game uses.
After we figured out exactly what we were working with, we started observing other games' loot systems to define what we liked and didn't like. Something that came up pretty early was having loot based on where you are, whether it's a house, a gas station, a creepy barn, or whatever. So, I proposed a system where you tell the container its location, and the game decides which items to spawn based on that information.

After a series of discussions, improvements, and what-ifs, we had a fully fleshed-out idea ready for prototyping! Our gameplay designer working on the loot initiative took on the task of sorting all the items into different loot tables, and things are looking good so far. We are aiming to have some of our improvements in the next update, so stay tuned. I hope you like it!

Loot Initiative Member #2​

Hi! I'm one of the gameplay designers at QI Games, and I've been working with some of the programming team for our loot initiative. My focus this month has been implementing the medical system and the new progression system through looting.

For the medical system, we figured out that we needed two different types of inhibitors and treatments to be able to answer every situation in the game. Inhibitors allow players to inhibit effects (like bleeding), while treatments heal injuries (like a wound) quicker.

We need to ensure that the game's logic understands the difference between using a bandage and taking a painkiller. Painkillers should fight every effect that can be countered by painkillers, whereas bandages applied to a limb should only counter a wound on the specific limb they are applied to. We needed to design General and Targeted items for inhibitors and treatments to manage what's happening to new maluses when inhibitors or treatments are still in use.

For the looting system, I had to list every item we had in the game and define the tier of loot they belong to. This tier system represents the value of each item you can find in the world. So a standard bandage would be a tier one item, while a medical kit would be a tier 3 item. The reason we want to categorise these items is that we want players to have a more progression-oriented experience, where you will have to explore different areas of the map to find better gear.

We also want loot to be tied to the location you are in, so you should be able to find more medical stuff if you are in a hospital. With our new looting system, you should be able to have different types of loot depending on the level of challenge of the area you are in, but also depending on the type of building.

Loot Initiative Member #3​

I am the Automation, Infrastructure, and Tools developer at QI Games. I have also been putting some time into quality assurance efforts, such as creating bug reporting standards and getting down and dirty with filing many bugs myself.
Alongside working on our improved user feedback system (Yes, we're listening to your feedback! Thank you very much for submitting it) and delivering automation tools, I am also excited to be part of the loot revamp initiative.

In addition to what my colleagues have mentioned, I want to highlight that our tier system for loot should ensure the players find loot that is appropriate to the amount of time spent in-game, which means that you should not spawn in an area with higher tier loot. So it is unlikely that you will find a fully decked-out assault rifle within the first 30 seconds of gameplay. This design introduces a new challenge, the locations on our map to feature different levels (tiers) of loot.
One of the ideas I contributed was breaking down the map into landmark areas using volumes. For those unfamiliar with volumes, they are invisible boxes we can place in the game editor to apply different effects to environments. For instance, a volume on the top of the mountain, if you enter it, a strong wind will play along with snow animation. You leave and it will stop.

The volumes we're using in Dead Matter are broken down into sub-volumes, which allow us to handpick which type of loot goes into a specific area. This process isn't anything new, but we are revamping it. Using volumes will allow us to have dynamic containers in the game world, which means that the loot can be altered with a simple value change across the whole map. This process will allow for much faster loot balance iterations as well as being able to get much more specific.

For example, we may want a hunting cabin dresser to have different equipment than a residential house dresser, and how about a dresser in the laundry room as opposed to one in the living room?

The new system will allow us to dynamically modify said containers without altering each container class; instead, we can adjust their loot by moving the container into a different volume.

My personal goal is to keep making our pipeline processes, tools, and tests as efficient as possible so we can keep all of our focus on delivery. We're going with a player experience-first mentality in our looting initiative, and I can't wait to hear your feedback.


So that’s our little preview into the work our team has been doing over the past month! We’ve still got some other things we’re excited to show off, but you’ll have to wait just a bit longer to find out those details.

Thanks for checking out this month’s blog.

Keep the bacon crispy,