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Kest

Zombies

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What would it take to create a real survival horror simulation? When you watch movies, like Night of the Living Dead, Day of the Dead, or Dawn of the Dead, there is almost always the element of walling yourself in. There are other elements, but most we have seen in a trillion other games. So focusing on the walling in element, could this be implimented into a game? Is it possible to give the player the ability to rip the doors down, yank the floor boarding up, and nail it all over the windows or wherever they want? Obviously it's possible, but just the amount of control the player needs and the amount of animation that needs created is enough to throw me off of the trail. If I were building a first person game, this wouldn't be such a big deal. Half Life 2's engine can pull it off very easily. Unfortuntaly, I'm working in 3rd person. This means I need actual animations and inverse kinematics to raise the board an extra inch. Not to mention the complexity of control the player needs to do such things. So it looks liks I won't be having much wood work. I'm looking for other ideas concerning zombies. Interesting playing experiences. Preferably activities that can be repeated at will by the player throughout the game, but also just simply any one-time situations that come to mind. I need zombie ideas [disturbed] Thanks for any opinions :)

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Walling in is usually more a plot point than an act of skill. It explains why the house is walled in. So I would think cutscenes would be more than adequate for conveying that.

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Original post by Sneftel
Walling in is usually more a plot point than an act of skill. It explains why the house is walled in. So I would think cutscenes would be more than adequate for conveying that.

Right, traditionally. I'm considering the idea that your character should become tired of running, hungry for food, thirsty for water, and even eventually sleepy. Maybe the characters can even become freaked out and start accidently shooting each other after so much stress builds up. These are pretty good reasons to wall yourself in. By choice, rather than the game forcing it to happen.

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This is a lot in-line with the project I'm currently working on. My zombie game isn't going to be, start at point A, travel through the game, all the way to point B where you win. I want to start the player, set a general idea of (You want to ESCAPE, how you do so is up to you), then encourage the player to simply survive. I think this kind of open-ended concept is a little like an FPS/RPG mix (in my case), because I want to leave it up to the player to take the precautions to survive himself. For example the player has to maintain his hideout (with adequate barriers, ammo, supplies, food, water, etc.), so the player runs out of wood to build barriers. Well, he can go tear up some wood flooring in his hideout, to gain 20 wood, then go to a barrier point and choose "construct barrier" (or something). Then it would play a little animation of him nailing some boards to the wall, and voila your barrier appears. This way it isn't about the ACTUAL construction of the barrier, it's more about the resource management involved in making sure you can maintain your barriers. Expand this idea even further to things like weapon care, food and water, and EVEN exhaustion (the player has to return to his hideout every once and a while to maintain his energy). I think this really breaks the mold for present day first/third-person shooters. I hope I haven't given too much of my ideas away :)

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I just don't think the automatic barrier system is what I'm looking for.

I had a lot of fun trying to prevent the combine in Half Life 2 from getting into certain areas. Man, I built the craziest traps you can imagine. I created structures that should have made opening doors impossible.

Unfortunately, and little did I know, the combine is allowed to just tear through anything in their way, as with all other HL2 AI. Physics just shoot to hell and stuff goes flying everywhere. Still, I did manage to trap them in a room once. Just by pushing a huge shelf into a doorway, then lining many other objects from the shelf to the opposite wall - so there was no where for the shelf to go.

Maybe I just have too much time on my hands!

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Ok, I definitely see what you're saying. Coming from a physics/AI/programming standpoint, though, that is a tough thing to achieve. In HL2, characters and AI controller objects are pretty much infinite-mass objects, so nothing can stop them, and everything is pushed out of the way. In order to have effective physics-based barriers like you want I see 2 choices:
1. all characters' physical objects must *not* be infinite-mass. This means shooting a character in the arm, for example, would influence the final result of an animation. This way, the physics system actually could stop a monster trying to open a blocked door, because the monster can't generate enough force to move the objects. However, there are lots and lots of problems with this, though... mainly you lose a lot control over animation of the character, because the physics has taken over. This is the easier solution.

2. Keep the infinite-mass character approach so all the animations look fine. Engineer the AI so that it can realize that there is a barrier blocking his way, if this happens react accordingly (look confused, try and break through realistically, etc). No small task though...

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Yep, it would be very complicated, and it's most likely more than I want to chew at the moment.

So I'm looking for other zombie features. Other entertaining things that could be implimented with zombies that start out dumb, but very slowly learn to deal with your strategies.

Oh yeah, and not all HL2 characters could blast through objects. Actual zombies in HL2 could be blocked from passage. Nearly all non-human creatures could. Zombies even attempt to throw stuff in their way, but aren't smart enough to throw it out of their passage, but rather they only throw stuff when you are close, and only toward you. In other words, Half Life could have allowed walling yourself in if they wanted to. Heck, with their physics engine and control setup, they could have allowed you to nail boards to walls in specific locations. The only problem I ever had was orienting things, but that could be achieved by dropping one end onto something else and grabbing it before it hits the ground :D

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I think a Zombie game in a GTA like city would be nice. With the story and setting like the one in The Omega Man and the enemys from Day of the Dead.

The players character arrive to the city with a high level goal like finding a virus that kills all zombies or something like that. Like GTA he will find himself moving around in the town and doing submissions on the path to the main mission. The zombies are much more active at nighttime and in daytime it is somewhat safe to move around in the town as long as you stay in the light. There are still risks in the day as you often have to go indoors to complete missions and other human gangs exist that kill you for a bottle of water.

When night falls you best chance is to take cover somewere and hold out until the next day. That can be done by simple taking over some house or area and set up defensive positions and traps. Some places are better then others and they can be made in to permanent safe houses. That also leds to rescoure mangement were you have to go out and find food, wood, ammo, weapons and other things for you safe house.

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Quote:
Original post by Kest
This means I need actual animations and inverse kinematics to raise the board an extra inch. Not to mention the complexity of control the player needs to do such things. So it looks liks I won't be having much wood work.



Why is it that this has to be shown in great detail? Why can't you have an interface which allows the player to position the wood, have some UI elements that pop up allowing (hands off) adjustment, and then have player's character run over and do a nailing animation?

I think the mania for showing every single niggling detail is causing us to pass up on cool gameplay option. In the end, if the tone and presentation is right and the gameplay satisfying you'll be forgiven the fact that your character doesn't break out a tape measure, drop nails in frantic nervousness, or smash his thumb. IOW, it's a trap to think everything must be actualized.

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I personally haven't played any zombie survival games... but I have heard some things about real zombies that might be interesting to implement in a game.

1. Real zombies are people that have been affected by the zombie elixer. One of the active ingredients is the nerve toxin tetrodotoxin which dirupts the use of sodium in the nervous system, small amounts simply cause affected limbs to go completly limp and numb while larger amounts cause the entire body to go limp and numb... then the brain shuts down and you die. Other components are halucinagens and things that leave the victim in a will-less state.

2. Because of the destructve properties of the tetrodotoxin on the bodys ability to use sodium (which is vital for proper nerve function) zombies can barely think, can't feel pain and have an insatiable craving for salty things.

3. Because of this insatiable craving for salt, they can kill themselves if given free access to salty things (they can eat potatoe chips until they die of dehydration) they also can drown themselves in the sea. Also, they might drink blood or eat another persons skin because of the salt content (they don't really mean to kill you, they just think you're delicious).

4. Because their brains don't work from the sodium deficiency and hallucinagenics, they have next to no will power and can be easily hypnotised. Since even normal people under hypnosis can do pretty weird things (like bend iron bars with their bare hands, walk through flames without getting burns or blisters, withstand heavy attacks without flinching or showing signs of injury, etc.) its safe to assume that zombies can be even more dangerous in the hands of an unscrupulous hypnotist.

===

Anyway, I'm not sure how much of that is real, but it does sound kind of interesting to me.

I suppose gameplay elements derived from this would include that zombies love salt and you could trick them with salty items. It could be tough because some zombies might not be smart enough to know if something is salty unless they actually taste it.

Imagine running through a supermarket and several zombies are chasing you, you grab a bag of potatoe chips and hurl its contents at them. A few of them taste the salt and start eating the chips. Soon, instead of chasing you, they are destroying the salty snacks isle in a feeding frenzy. This gives you time to make an escape or quickly look for something to help you fight them.


Also, since zombies only "naturally" attack things they think are salty, there would have to be a witch-doctor or something to give them commands. So you could have zombies given different states.

Braindead- This person has just been zombified, they can barely think and just stand around, at most they wander around in a daze. They might collide into something because they don't notice it. If they bump into you they just keep going, if they run into a wall they might just keep running into it.
---
Salt Frenzy- If they tast salt, they stop whatever they are doing and try to get more. They will devour anything near them that they think is salty, so stay away and don't sweat too much near them. Other zombies are not salty. Depending on how much they eat their state changes:
A Little- Resume what they were doing
Some- they revert to braindead and are pretty much harmless
A Lot- they become semi-normal

--
Semi-Normal- They regain some of their human personalities, but are by no means normal. If they have something important to say they will say it, otherwise they might weep over their misearble condition or in some circumstances try helping you out. They move like normal people until their body runs out of sodium again, then they go back to Braindead.
They may say things like:

"The last thing I remember was sitting at the theater and feeling a sharp pain in my neck"
"What... Where have I been... What have I been doing?!"
"Man... I am so thirsty"
"Please... kill... me... now..."
"What... this is serious. Here, take the key to the back room. There's some stuff you might need in there."
--

Under Control- When they are hypnotised by a villain (or through a radio or whatever you feel like using) they will carry out a certain task like attack people or steal things or wreck havok. They are very strong and hard to injure in this state.
--

Under Your Control- I suppose if your character learns how to hypnotise, they could give braindead or semi-normal zombies a command to carry out. Something like "bring me more ammo", "Tell me who zombified you", "Protect me", "Bring me salty items, but don't taste them", "Bash down this door", or "Go to the hospital and do as the emergency team tells you", etc.
--

Dead?- Sometimes zombies will enter a death-like state and not move for some time. They heal damage and will suddenly rise up without warning. They will usually resume whatever they were doing before they entered the death-like state. If you kill them for real they won't rise again.
====

Also, maybe have certain witch-doctors or villain who are controlling the zombies for their purposes. The mission could be to take out the people doing the controlling.

Then, instead of trying to kill all the zombies, a mission could be to save as many people as possible. Which would involve saving normal people from berzerk zombies and hopefully controlling the zombies and get them medical attention so they can be cured.

=====

Anyway, this was a pretty long post but there might be something in here you might find interesting. Remember, I never played Doom or Resident Evil so I have pretty much no idea what atmosphere those games have. But I have watched old monster movies (in So Bad its Good Theater) and in those the main evil was the guy doing the controlling and and zombifiying.

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