Tom Schenck, technical director on the game, takes a little time off from overseeing the coding teams to let us know that the studio's currently in a "pre-alpha" state of development. It's a busy time, with new items, features and abilities added to the game world every day.
On our most recent livestream, we showed off combat and crafting, and in particular, player crafting of a new weapon, the bow (and arrows). The team has put in some cool bits we can all be proud of, and the full systems are almost all in place. Bows and arrows can be crafted from found materials and can be used to take down zombies with nice headshots, as well as hunt deer by shooting them in the eye for example.
It's not just ranged combat that's getting looked at, either: Melee interactions are being fine-tuned, and group behaviour's being polished. The team's busily tuning Emergent AI systems (somewhat inevitably, for a game that's overrun with the undead), as the AI team works on regulating the interactions for every single NPC character in the game. That's not just zombies - NPCs in this instance also refers to wildlife, like deer and wolves.
In addition, performance is crucial for a massive open world game and we’ve been trying to test the limits by enabling hordes of zombies to run around in huge packs. In collaboration with our Emergent AI systems, this can make for some pretty precarious life-or-death situations. Needless to say, it’s provided some entertainment and some ... well, MANY deaths.
As well as all that, there's the usual bug-squishin' going on, fixing things that are broken, and making sure that everything is polished and perfect.
Schenck explains that there's actually a good reason why we haven't heard (or seen) much from H1Z1 for a little while - it's the studio's own perfectionism getting in the way. The team doesn't want to show things off until they are "solid and polished" - so they've been hard at work behind the scenes rather than flaunting what they've got.
...that said, as we draw closer to the game's release, that level of polish is only going to increase, so - while we don't know a date yet - by the time H1Z1's in your hands, it should be a thing of (undead, rotting) beauty. Mmm.
Jimmy the Geek