Thursday, September 22, 2011

In Lighter News: Zombies

I stumbled on Project Zomboid one day, and something about it caught my interest. It's still early in development, and they have a deal like Minecraft where people who sign up in Alpha will continue to get updates and help contribute to the creative process. What makes this different from other zombie games I've played (Most often with my brother who's a fan of zombies. A very big fan.) is part of the premise: "This is how you died."

It reminded me of an article I read a long time ago about some old school games, especially shooters, "It's man versus machine. You know the machine's going to win, but the question is how long can you last?" Project Zomboid has no win conditions, and fittingly, it has a "sandbox mode" right now.

For the zombies themselves, the creators look towards Romero for inspiration. An individual zombie slow, stupid, and easy to splatter with a baseball bat, but you can't last forever against a horde. They're attracted to light and noise, so carrying a flashlight and firing your shotgun are generally unsafe actions. Once, while I was hiding in my safehouse, I ran instead of walked and ended up making a small thump which attracted a zombie to bang on my door, which subsequently attracted the nearby mob. I had to abandon that safehouse and run for another shelter.

Right now, the game is very solitary, but the creators plan to create more interactive NPCs. Once they have that going, the real danger may very well be your fellow humans. Got scratched by a zombie? The gun nut might prefer to shoot you now, rather than waste food on a potential zombie in the making. Hyperactive kid making lots of noise? You've got a decision to make about whether or not he lives.

Aside from keeping your belly full in the current version, there are psychological mechanics in the works. Staying indoors for days at a time causes boredom, making it worthwhile to grab newspapers and magazines along with other supplies. Psychological effects will build up into dangerous things like hallucinations and other insanity.

As I was typing this post, news on a big update comes through my brother. Things are going to get a bit more interesting. I should probably keep my food closer to my bedroom if NPCs are going to actually going to 'play the game' now.

...I hope they fix it so that I can get wood from barricades back when I take them down.


djfav said...


I don't think boredom and depression have been implemented yet. But things like that are really going mess with my strategy.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah. At least with multiple map sections, you'll have an excuse to head outside, since there'll be more food to loot, and heading outside is one other way to counteract boredom. Nothing gets your mind off another week of the potato chip diet like a close encounter with a zombie mob in the rain.

And, of course, there's the prospect of finding a new mansion to hole up in.


One thing I'm hoping for that wasn't mentioned: More professions and traits.

Something else I'd like, to make things scarier: Windows that aren't just for lookin'. Something's wrong when it's mechanically better to just use curtains and bedsheets instead of wooden boards.

djfav said...

We need to be able to climb out the windows, too. In case there's only one door and the zombies are trying to beat it down.

I noticed the windows have 0.5 health.

djfav said...

And now...

The Death of Danny Johnson

Bronze Dog said...

Ian M. Fallon had a comment that showed up in my email, but not on the post for some reason. Here's what he said:

"I’ve had a thought. It seems to me that the best safe house during a zombie apocalypse is a boat. One could sail it far enough away from land that the zombies couldn’t reach it, but close enough to land that one could simply weigh anchor and return to shore now and again for provisions. Plus if one were to commandeer ((“It’s a nautical term.”)) a really nice boat one could have electricity to run personal electronics. That would help reduce that boredom factor.
There would be some drawbacks. Fuel for one. But I suppose fuel requirements could be reduced by utilize one boat as the shelter and using a dingy; like an inflatable rubber rowboat; for transportation. Another I can see is that if one were to set up shop on a fresh body of water then when winter comes the water could freeze over, giving the zombies a path to one’s safe house."

Sounds like solid reasoning to me, Ian. One thing that'd probably be even better is if you can find a small island. Any zombies there would be limited in number, since there wouldn't be other neighborhoods worth of people to replenish their numbers.

Of course, for Project Zomboid, the practice depends on how much water is present in Knox County, and when they get around to implementing vehicles.