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Shuffling along: Bohemia are developing a new pathfinding system for DayZ’s zombies


Whilst DayZ is certainly one of gaming’s most ambitious projects, there’s always been one thing that keeps it weighed down: the zombies. In the world of Chernarus, zombies walk like phasing spectres, darting around and hobbling through walls as if they weren’t there; it was one of our biggest gripes in our DayZ review.

Considering zombies should be at the heart of DayZ’s apocalypse, they’re the game’s most hateful element right now. Thankfully the team at Bohemia know the pathfinding AI on zombies is awful, and they’re working hard to fix it. 

You may never have considered how difficult it actually is to fix these zombies, but a quick read of the DayZ dev blog will soon enlighten you to the massive challenge it has been. The engine just isn’t suited to small interior spaces, making those wall-clipping zeds a tough problem to crack. Then there’s the size of the world; much bigger than many other open-worlds, but full of small environments. “Our problem was not unique, but our situation was: our world is very big yet it requires the same precision as a small one,” explained DayZ’s creator Dean Hall on the blog.

The solution has been to create navigation meshes in small chunks that act as maps for the AI. “A small program was developed to read through the world, load all the objects, and then work its way through tracing billions of lines to calculate the ability to move. This then works out not only where outside you can walk, but inside as well,” said Hall. The system also unifies the AI pathfinding, which previously was split into two systems: one for outside and another for inside environments.

The new system uses a substantial 600mb more memory at its heaviest load, but as DayZ moves over to 64-bit servers, Hall assures us there won’t be any issues with memory.

Along with the updates on pathfinding, the dev blog also adds that the clunky action system, which is activated by mouse wheel scrolls, will be scrapped sometime soon. A redevloped system will be implimented, which should make more logical sense. For example, when cutting down trees, you will be able to simply hit trees with an axe to gain wood, rather than select the action from the scroll wheel menu.