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The survival game 7 Days to Die has a huge new experimental release out

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A day some of our readers have been eagerly awaiting, 7 Days to Die has a big Alpha 18 experimental build available to try. It's an absolutely massive release as usual, as they leave it a long time before updates.

Performance has been a bit of a focus for this release. Thankfully. A new Occlusion System made it in, so that a lot of things that are on-screen but not visible to you don't actually render to improve FPS. However, they said it adds "some minor popping artifacts, where occluded objects may take a moment to appear" and so it's a setting you can turn off. The Unity game engine was updated to Unity 2019.1 as well, which should prevent a lot of the hitching seen before with better "Garbage Collection". There's plenty more performance work that went in, which all sounds pretty great. While the gameplay in 7 Days to Die has been fun for a long time, performance has been a serious weak point for it.

The item schematic system is back in the game. Meaning on your travels you can now find them and permanently unlock how to craft certain items and entire groups of items. The early game should be a bit more forgiving on encumbrance, as they've removed a whole row and there's pocket mods to craft for clothing to reduce encumbrance early on. HD icons were added for all blocks and items, a new terrain shader, improved reflections, a coyote and mountain lion were added, Zombies can ragdoll when they fall and the list just keeps going on.

Melee also got some improvements. Something I'm very happy to see as it was probably one of the weakest parts of the combat, it was often too easy to miss a Zombie. They've now added a "swing arc to detect hits along the path of the weapon", so if you miss you will still hit enemies across the arc of the weapon swing for less damage. They also adjusted the melee sounds to give more of an impact.

There's also a new dynamic audio system, one that sounds quite fun. It procedurally generates a full set of music from interchangeable loops. The developer said right now there's over 750 unique combinations. Their aim with this system is to make 7 Days to Die more "immersive" while you're exploring the world but it will be expanded to generate audio for other situations in future too for combat, traders and so on.

Great to see the developer, The Fun Pimps, continue supporting Linux even in the earliest builds like this.

Be sure to check out the full release notes, they're…long. There are some known issues of course, since this is not a stable build. For Linux especially, you're going to want lots of RAM as it will eat it especially on RWG (randomly generated) worlds. It actually took me three attempts to get in, as it sucked away all my 16GB ram the first two times but now it's running nicely.

You can pick up a copy from Humble Store and Steam. Our streamer, Sin, is also currently live on Twitch so you can see it in action.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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29 comments
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Ehvis 8 October 2019 at 10:49 pm UTC
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Swiftpaw
Ehvis
Swiftpaw
Ehvis
SwiftpawHoly crap! Vulkan works perfectly (on NVIDIA at least, will soon test with AMD) and I'm getting an over 40% FPS improvement!!!!

May I ask what GPU/driver? My lock up was on NVIDIA as well.

I'm using 430.26 w/ a GTX 1070. You?

430.50, 2080 Ti. Will try some more when I'm tired of playing.

Well yeah you probably don't care about getting that performance improvement since you're probably hitting your monitor's max framerate anyway, but I'm still curious as to what the issue is w/ Vulkan.

On the contrary. Outside I'm only hitting about 40-45 fps with little change with settings, so it must be entirely CPU bound. This is actually worse than A17, so it must be due to the new terrain rendering. Inside fps went up. So having Vulkan work would make the experience much better.
Swiftpaw 8 October 2019 at 11:25 pm UTC
Ehvis
Swiftpaw
Ehvis
Swiftpaw
Ehvis
SwiftpawHoly crap! Vulkan works perfectly (on NVIDIA at least, will soon test with AMD) and I'm getting an over 40% FPS improvement!!!!

May I ask what GPU/driver? My lock up was on NVIDIA as well.

I'm using 430.26 w/ a GTX 1070. You?

430.50, 2080 Ti. Will try some more when I'm tired of playing.

Well yeah you probably don't care about getting that performance improvement since you're probably hitting your monitor's max framerate anyway, but I'm still curious as to what the issue is w/ Vulkan.

On the contrary. Outside I'm only hitting about 40-45 fps with little change with settings, so it must be entirely CPU bound. This is actually worse than A17, so it must be due to the new terrain rendering. Inside fps went up. So having Vulkan work would make the experience much better.

Hope you can get it running in Vulkan then! Sounds like you might want to turn off some of the performance-hitting graphics settings though like AA and others, I'd definitely play with those. Always do full textures though otherwise things look ugly. On a 1070 outside I was getting 40 FPS with some effects disabled and 50 FPS with vsync disabled in OpenGL mode.
theghost 9 October 2019 at 4:54 am UTC
Yes finally. Played Alpha 17.2 longer than any Alpha before.
Guess starting a new game is a must here?

I will wait the first hotfix round and then it's time to return to my good old DIY-store roof in Navezgane.
Swiftpaw 9 October 2019 at 5:07 am UTC
theghostYes finally. Played Alpha 17.2 longer than any Alpha before.
Guess starting a new game is a must here?

I will wait the first hotfix round and then it's time to return to my good old DIY-store roof in Navezgane.

There are also three additional prefab worlds besides Navezgane now in A18. We've been playing on PREGEN01 and it's pretty cool, I like the mesas in the desert. Not sure if you get that in RWG yet.

Well, technically five pre-gen worlds, but I assume "Playtesting" and "Empty" aren't very fun, lol.
Alloc 9 October 2019 at 11:52 am UTC
SwiftpawWow, that's all over the place lol, not GPU-specific, driver-specific, or OS-specific. Sounds like Unity3D just is, or was with the version that A18 is using currently, kind of bad at doing Vulkan correctly. Hopefully things have improved and there will be another 7DtD Unity3D upgrade at some point (that hopefully won't be as painful and slow as the last upgrade!).
Could just as well be us ;)
Seeing though that it runs perfectly fine for some people and does not for others, even within the same GPU brand and almost the same driver version (though not sure about the OS versions) sounds to me like it's something between Unity and the GPU driver.

Anyway, updating to a newer Unity version was never much of an issue. I suppose you're referring to A17, but the Unity update was really just minor things. Of course there's almost always some changes that have to be done but that's like change a method here, a different enum value name there ... nothing big and rarely any real issues.
Alloc 9 October 2019 at 12:02 pm UTC
SwiftpawThere are also three additional prefab worlds besides Navezgane now in A18. We've been playing on PREGEN01 and it's pretty cool, I like the mesas in the desert. Not sure if you get that in RWG yet.
Well, those PREGEN worlds are just regular RWG worlds, the same that you could get when using RWG, so if those have e.g. mesas then maps created by RWG on your end should be able to get them too
Swiftpaw 9 October 2019 at 3:33 pm UTC
Alloc
SwiftpawThere are also three additional prefab worlds besides Navezgane now in A18. We've been playing on PREGEN01 and it's pretty cool, I like the mesas in the desert. Not sure if you get that in RWG yet.
Well, those PREGEN worlds are just regular RWG worlds, the same that you could get when using RWG, so if those have e.g. mesas then maps created by RWG on your end should be able to get them too

YAY! The mesas are definitely a nice improvement. I like the combination of mountainous rocky areas plus hilly areas plus plains areas.

Alloc
SwiftpawWow, that's all over the place lol, not GPU-specific, driver-specific, or OS-specific. Sounds like Unity3D just is, or was with the version that A18 is using currently, kind of bad at doing Vulkan correctly. Hopefully things have improved and there will be another 7DtD Unity3D upgrade at some point (that hopefully won't be as painful and slow as the last upgrade!).
Could just as well be us ;)
Seeing though that it runs perfectly fine for some people and does not for others, even within the same GPU brand and almost the same driver version (though not sure about the OS versions) sounds to me like it's something between Unity and the GPU driver.

Anyway, updating to a newer Unity version was never much of an issue. I suppose you're referring to A17, but the Unity update was really just minor things. Of course there's almost always some changes that have to be done but that's like change a method here, a different enum value name there ... nothing big and rarely any real issues.

Cool that Unity3D upgrades aren't as much of an issue at least at this point. Hopefully there will not be any big shader rejiggering needed again.

The Vulkan version is definitely still buggier:

1) The game takes a long time to exit if in Vulkan mode.

2) Upon certain rare in-game events including death, the screen would freeze even though the game and menus were active behind the frozen image. Really weird. Turned off the Steam overlay, too.

Otherwise, omg, their Vulkan renderer is so much better. Is it that fast due to missing a few graphics effects? I haven't tried doing a deep comparison of graphics effects in OGL vs. VLK yet, so it's possible, but I wouldn't be surprised if the Unity3D devs were putting their all into the Vulkan renderer. I don't think they ever did the more difficult paralleling optimizations to OGL that they could have while Vulkan does better parallel processing by default.
Ehvis 11 October 2019 at 8:32 pm UTC
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Alloc
SwiftpawWow, that's all over the place lol, not GPU-specific, driver-specific, or OS-specific. Sounds like Unity3D just is, or was with the version that A18 is using currently, kind of bad at doing Vulkan correctly. Hopefully things have improved and there will be another 7DtD Unity3D upgrade at some point (that hopefully won't be as painful and slow as the last upgrade!).
Could just as well be us ;)
Seeing though that it runs perfectly fine for some people and does not for others, even within the same GPU brand and almost the same driver version (though not sure about the OS versions) sounds to me like it's something between Unity and the GPU driver.

Gave it another try. This time it managed to run for about a minute before it blew up. Visually everything seemed fine and FPS was much better. However there was terrible mouse lag that made the game unplayable.

Checked the syslog and there was only one error:

NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 31, pid=1162, Ch 00000036, intr 00000000. MMU Fault: ENGINE GRAPHICS GPCCLIENT_GCC faulted @ 0x1_6d401000. Fault is of type FAULT_PTE ACCESS_TYPE_VIRT_READ

Did some searching and found that there was a bug that could cause this error when VRAM was full. This was fixed in the 435.19.03 Vulkan Beta driver, but hasn't been included in the long or short term support releases. However, if this is the case, then 7dtd managed to eat through my 11 GB of VRAM in a minute, which also suggests there may be other issues with either the game or Unity itself. Will keep an eye on the driver release notes.
Swiftpaw 11 October 2019 at 8:49 pm UTC
Ehvis
Alloc
SwiftpawWow, that's all over the place lol, not GPU-specific, driver-specific, or OS-specific. Sounds like Unity3D just is, or was with the version that A18 is using currently, kind of bad at doing Vulkan correctly. Hopefully things have improved and there will be another 7DtD Unity3D upgrade at some point (that hopefully won't be as painful and slow as the last upgrade!).
Could just as well be us ;)
Seeing though that it runs perfectly fine for some people and does not for others, even within the same GPU brand and almost the same driver version (though not sure about the OS versions) sounds to me like it's something between Unity and the GPU driver.

Gave it another try. This time it managed to run for about a minute before it blew up. Visually everything seemed fine and FPS was much better. However there was terrible mouse lag that made the game unplayable.

Checked the syslog and there was only one error:

NVRM: Xid (PCI:0000:01:00): 31, pid=1162, Ch 00000036, intr 00000000. MMU Fault: ENGINE GRAPHICS GPCCLIENT_GCC faulted @ 0x1_6d401000. Fault is of type FAULT_PTE ACCESS_TYPE_VIRT_READ

Did some searching and found that there was a bug that could cause this error when VRAM was full. This was fixed in the 435.19.03 Vulkan Beta driver, but hasn't been included in the long or short term support releases. However, if this is the case, then 7dtd managed to eat through my 11 GB of VRAM in a minute, which also suggests there may be other issues with either the game or Unity itself. Will keep an eye on the driver release notes.

My card has 8GB VRAM and it runs everything "okay" up until something happens like me dying, and then the game stops on one frame, and continues showing that frame even though the game is active behind the frame. I also had it happen once randomly while running around, so maybe it is somehow actually the same problem, just manifesting in a different way. I'm back on driver version 430.26 though so maybe that is the difference.
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