Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Zombie Games

I've always been a fan of zombie media. Games, movies, comics, books, I've consumed something zombie related in all these forms. Zombie movies commonly evoke a feeling on anxiety in the watcher, often showing a desolated world with a few survivors just trying to survive. Zombie books show people surviving, some rebuilding and defeating. Games always have the user survive a particularly grueling campaign, and that is it. Games so far have been the most disappointing appendage of the zombie franchise.

That doesn't mean I don't like zombie games. I like what they accomplish in their short campaigns. Survival horror, action horror, whatever, you just kill a lot of zombies and its over. No persistence, no long lasting threats, no real reward. What I would love to see is a zombie mmorpg with a persistent world.

Think... Well, Diablo 2 Hardcore Mode meets Sims meets a vanilla gritty FPS.

I want the survivors to be so into surviving they cry when they die. Leader boards that show survival times outside of the safezones. Mansions barricaded so thoroughly that when I lead a horde of 500 shamblers to the door they fall apart before the mansion does.

Lets expand on that shall we. Feel free to download this mindmap. You can view it with Freemind. You don't REALLY need it, but it helps.

Lets start with some zombie information. Personally I don't like these fast zombies you see everywhere. I like the traditional shambling zombie, the kind that forms large groups that move inexorably forward to devour you.

But who wants to play that character? You want to be a loser zombie, just part of the crowd, all you can do is slowly walk towards the humans? No. That's stupid. That's boring. Who'd waste their time. So these zombies are mobs. Environment.

I called them zimboes in my mind map. Common names are zed's, commons, walkers, whatever. They are everywhere. If they see you, smell you, hear you, they will swarm you. They will moan as loud as they can, attracting their brethren. As long as you are along, they will keep coming. Each sense will have a different detection threshold, and there are things you can do to counter.

These guys are also the classic "pet" for our pet class zombies. Maybe humans can train them too. Its not like this is a concrete coded up game yet. The swarming mechanism is the most important thing to keep in mind with these guys.

So those are the NPC zombies. A player can never be a zimbo. I haven't thought of a mechanism for turning players into classed zombies, but the classes are pretty straight forward.
Also, your original player model is carried over to your zombie personality. You just start to deteriorate, getting grosser looking as your playtime increases. Convenient and intuitive way to gauge a character's age. You know that guy with no skin left on his frame is old. Probably smelly too.

First we have the Howler. These guys are loud. The sound attracts zimboes to his location. From there he can keep howling, leading the swarm around. Since there is really no direct damage in this approach you get a powerful melee attack as well.

Second we have the Mezzer. The mezzer freezes human players, like a basilisk. The more people in the mezzer's line of sight, the more who get stunned. Pretty simple crowd control class.

Third we have an unnamed ranged character, he spits or something.
The brute is a big dude who bashes on people.

The last is also unnamed, but my favorite. She excretes pheromones that contain instructions to the zimboes, kind of programming their minds. With her scent packets she leads zimboes in range around in a very controlled fashion. Maybe some kind of "defense spray" that forces the zombies to target certain humans until they bathe.

All zombies come with Autonomic Reflexes, when you get close enough to a human they go for the bite. Prevents people from hanging out with their dead friends, and prevents the easy capture of zombie players. This is important later on.

Last point, Zombies are fragile. You have to use tactics to get the kill. That or massive amounts of zimboes.

That's it for now. Next post we discuss Humans.

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