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. :)