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I'm coming to get you, Barbara

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Finished watching NotLD. Much fun. It's given me some things to think about (such as, what if zombies only took damage from shots to the head?, and, human players may well construct plans that depend on every one of them playing their part perfectly, and if they don't...), as well as a great soundbite, the guy at the beginning "I'm coming to get you, Barbara." Superb. Remind me to put that in as an easter egg somewhere.

Ali and Fed watched it with me, with Paddy (our new head of house, and one of my closest friends) popping in and out (he was "on duty," though, seeing as how it's the last Saturday night of term. Plus he wasn't feeling well, poor chap). Many silly comments were made, and Ali was surprised at how gory it was. It is really quite a gory film, especially for black-and-white (because brought up as I was on color films, gore really needs red to be effective); some very nice clips of zombies wrestling with lengths of intestine, or squeezing kidneys to get all the juice out. Lovely stuff.

It's also given me a few more ideas about how the dynamics of the human players will work. I'd kinda just assumed that if you throw a load of human players into a room together with the zombies outside, they'll all work together to defend the place - but it occurs to me that such a thing is not necessarily the case. When you consider that the human players are the most "hardcore" of all the players in the world (they survived longest), it's less likely that they'll be willing to cooperate and follow orders. Of course, if they're hardcore players, they'll know how best to play the game and how best to defend, and so may well follow orders simply because that's how they'd do things if they were in charge.

Lack of attachment to other characters may be a problem - "every man for himself" could cause the dynamics to break down a bit. Mr Cooper, in the film, was acting partly out of cowardice, but partly out of a wish to protect the others members of his family. Without unwell daughters to defend, I'm not sure if the conflict factor will be strong enough.

I'm also wondering about the ongoing nature of the game. Is it really workable to have a constant, ongoing scenario, in which both sides struggle but neither win? It'd be hell to balance. So instead, I'm wondering if the game would work better in "simulation cycles."

Here's how it works. We get rid of our single, huge, connected world (awww...), and replace it with a large number of smaller ones. Only five to ten of these are actually running at any given time, but the content exists for, say, 20. Every few days, one of the worlds is ended - once all the action's died down, sort of thing - and it restarted, either with the same content set, or a new one.

It's kinda like the cinema. "The next screening of 'Deserted Town' will be in 3 days on server #8." That way, the simulation can go either way - perhaps some final assessment of a "winning side" could be employed, though I'm not sure about that - and then stop+start all over again.

That might screw with the save/load system, though. Dammit, why can't people just play games 24/7? That'd make my life so much easier. [grin]

People would need to be in some kind of "entry hall" before the simulation starts; when it actually does start, they're in it, and nobody else can join. That limits the numbers, it ensures that the simulation can't go on for ever. Perhaps save/loading can be that anyone who is out of the game for more than 24 hours is auto-killed? That way you just run the simulation until (a) everyone's dead, or (b) most people are dead and everyone else has reached a stalemate. Then you restart.

It's quite possible that both systems could be in use at the same time. Have one "constant simulation," which is a single huge world, and alongside you have many "periodic simulations", like I've described.

I'm also wondering about the 'flowing' aspect of the game world. Emerson Best once showed me something he thought was crap about Medal of Honor - at the edge of the game world, there's a small wall which you can't step up on. The fact that you can't go any further isn't a problem - sad though it may be, a game such as Medal of Honor does need to have limits to its game world.

What was crap was that you, this hardcore elite soldier, couldn't climb up this little step.

Game limits can be done in a number of ways, and each one breaks immersion to a different degree. A pure and simple invisible wall breaks immersion. A pathetic little unclimbable ledge not only breaks immersion, but is out of character, too. In Sniper, the general method was to use things like barricades as impassable barriers (oh the irony); it seemed somewhat artificial, but was still in character for the game world. In some Sniper levels, the barricades weren't even necessary - there simply wasn't an exit from the area. That's the best kind of approach.

But it's not always practical. If you've got things like roads and rivers in your level, it can be quite hard to have them just... stop. So I'm wondering about stealing a technique from some of the older games. I'm wondering about having my game worlds wrap.

What's wrapping? For those who have never encountered it, wrapping is basically where you walk off one side of the map, and come back on the other. And suddenly, all problems are resolved - no world barriers. Roads reach the edge of the map and mysteriously meet up with... themselves! It might not be great from a usefulness-of-the-road point of view, but hey.

It does present technical problems, for the renderer at least. If you could climb a tall tower and look straight ahead towards the edge of the world, you could in theory see all the way in until you're looking at the tower you're standing in. And it doesn't stop there - you see the map repeated infinite times.

Well, I guess I'll be avoiding tall towers in the world designs, and ensuring some kind of visibility-limiting factor like fog or the far clip plane [wink]

So, we get these small(ish) maps that just loop, being replayed over and over. There's something deep and poetic in that, but I'm not sure what.

It might frustrate some players - particularly human ones - who try and survive by escaping the area. That could just be par for the course, though - weigh up the number of people frustrated when they're pinned against the edge of the world, against the number of people frustrated when they can't drive away from the zombie-infested city, and I think I can guess which is the smaller number. It'd just mean that the game can never be won by simply running away - you've got to stay and fight, to make a stand - which is more interesting anyway. Ensure plenty of defensible positions, a decent amount of weaponry, and you're set.

As the sister enters the house near the beginning of the film, I made some comments about how she'd moved into a more defensible position, and was securing the house. I then realised that some day, I might be watching my game through an observation camera, making comments on the play technique of some female human player as she seeks shelter somewhere. That was kinda cool. :)
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Sounds interesting. The game balance could work on some sort of negative feedback loop, where the success of one side leads to an increase in power for the other side, keeping the balance swinging like a pendulum (hopefully). That might get boring after a while though. The wrappable world could be interesting too, although from my experience it makes AI a little odd. :)

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You know what has always bothered me? There are lots of movies about people fighting against zombie, and plenty of games where the player fights zombies.

Poor zombies, nobody ever empathizes with them. Never any pro-zombie movies or games. The zombies have a side, too, and the story should be told from their point of view.

I mean, one minute, you're driving your car. The next minute, you plow into a semi and are instantly killed. They do all sorts of horrible things to your corpse, and put you into the ground. Later, as a result of cosmic radiation or perhaps an top secret army experiment, you come back to life, or sort of. For one thing, your breath won't smell very good, you are severely in need of a shower, all of your bodily fluids have been exchanged with motor oil, and your brain is so swiss cheesy that the only thing you can think of is "eat brains."

I mean SHEESH! Cut the zombies some slack. It's not like they ASKED to be reanimated.

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It's occured to me that people may not know what I'm talking about.

It's an MMO game where you get to be a zombie. (After a while you turn human - i.e. switch sides - but that's not really the core focus of the game).

Kylotan, yes, like it - the next time the simulation gets rerun, the losing side is given a little more power. It'd require a fair amount of flexibility in the way the content is stored, but it'd be doable. Whee, auto-balancing game, I can go home now [grin]

TANSTAAFL: Very true. I'm not sure if my game is really pro-zombie... not like the player's really encouraged to empathise with their zombie or anything. But it would at least help them to gain an understanding of how tough undeath as a zombie can be.

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I think Ernie's referring either to this game or this game. In any case, I didn't realize there were so many expansions. I had the first expansion, but I didn't realize that they went as far as expansion four (where you need to undo the spell that caused the zombies).

My only complaint with the game is the the "blood" chits and the "bullet" chits look almost exactly the same from more than about five inches away. I eventually ended up getting a sharpie and coloring the blood chits so they were easier to tell apart.

Oh, and be sure to get the glow-in-the-dark zombies to go with it.

And I'm not sure I'm too wild about being able to un-zombiefy the zombies. One fun part of stuff like DotD and DotD (Dawn, Day) was that the human race was 102% doomed by the zombie radiation, and the only object was to just stay comfy as long as possible.

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Yeah, the heart tokens and bullet tokens are way too difficult to tell apart, especially if you simply throw them into the box without separating them like i do. if they had at least made them different sizes or something...

also, you definitely need some extra zombies. typically, when i'm playing, we have to use some sort of placeholder token/chit to represent 5 or 10 zombies after someone has killed that many, as the box runs out and there are lots of zombies on the board, and it just doesn't do to stare at two quarters and a few zombies. I want to have a pile of 12 zombies, dammit!

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Oh, and another piece of trivia. Due to some extreme boneheaditude on the part of the producers of the film, the original Night of the Living Dead was never properly copyrighted and is in the public domain.

That means if you feel the need to use some movie footage or movie references in your game, go for it :)

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Looks like you're right; that's very cool. I'm told I should sample the "They're coming to get you, Barbara..." and hide it in the game somewhere [grin]

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