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RunningInt

ZOMBIES!!!!

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The zombie is an enemy common to many first person shooters. A single zombie (the original dawn of the dead type) is generally slow and stupid and can be dispatched with even moderate firepower in the blink of an eye. But it is a scientific fact that zombies are lethal in numbers. Imagine this senario: You are standing in a sunlit street armed with a powerful chaingun and equipt with thousands of bullets. If you were in most commercial FPS games you might feel safe from zombies. Afterall the high graphics restrict the number you will face at once. Perhaps at most you can expect maybe 12 zombies to come round the corner. No problem. But what if you faced hundreds, or even thousands of zombies? You would be able to blast the front line with bullets, shredding the rotting flesh to pieces. But the dead mass of the front line of zombies would partially shield the zombies behind them thus wasting most of your firepower. So even though hundreds of zombies fall before your onslaught the zombie hoard is getting closer and closer to you. As slow as the zombies move, they are moving faster than the rate at which you can slaughter them. You would be forced to run. But where? And how do you get more ammo? Was it really worth spending the ammo against the zombies? Next time you encounter a hoard of zombies you might decide to just run immediately. No need to waste bullets on something you cannot wipe out anyway. So you survive by running from place to place. Unfortunately chance dictates that eventually you will get unlucky and find yourself cornered. If so you might find yourself subjected to a slow and painful death... ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- This type of senario is an inspiration for a game. A world overrun with zombies in which ammo and weapons are hard to come by and you can expect to meet hundreds of zombies at once. I decided to use sprites for the zombies. This allows the most number of zombies to be drawn at once. Lots of people might think "urrgh sprites" and believe any FPS that represents monsters as sprites in this day and age cannot be satisfying to play. I disagree. I think satisfaction from shooting monsters in FPS has nothing to do with the graphics, but is all to do with the reaction of the monsters to being hit. For example imagine a game in which monsters were amazingly high detailed models, but when they were shot there was no blood or gore, no wounds left behind, and no recoil, they make no sound, and to top it off they just disapear when they die. I argue that this would not be satifying at all. You might as well be clicking desktop items. Now imagine a game in which monsters are sprites and when they are shot there is blood, permament wounds, a good gut scream, they recoil from the blast and there is a good death animation. IMO the satisfaction from blasting these monsters to pieces would be immensely greater than the first case. Wasn't original doom fun when you faced 30 imps represented as sprites? As far as AI goes zombies zombies don't plan (much), or run from grenades or massive firepower. They just plod inevitably towards their doom. So very little AI needed, which of course is just as well if you have to manage thousands of enemies at once. This is a screenshot of the current test I am running: 500 zombies run smoothly: As an experiment I made it possible to shoot out chunks of zombie flesh: Probably remove this though, as it means storing a seperate texture in both main and video memory for each zombie.

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Oooh, I'm liking this. As you mention, zombies are at their most potent - in terms of both danger and exctitement - when in massive numbers. Other than Dead Rising (due for XBoxTreeDiddy), I can't recall any game that attempts some accurate numbers when it comes to a zombie horde. However, I like the idea and as an indie project it has an obvious charm. As long as the overall style compliments the use of sprites, keeping geometry fairly rudimentary, I could really see something fun coming out of it.

In fact, gets me wondering if there would be any scope for randomly generating the city too. If this were co-op, it could make for some manic games. As long as the sprites have a dozen or so random types and they're taken from some nice 3d renders they could be quite effective.


As a side note, you might want to look at modding capabilities of the Serious Sam games. They threw around a surprising number of enemies and it still looked ace.

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It reminds me of some fun mini-games from TimeSplitters 2, only with way, way more zombies. I hope that they moan and groan in the appropriate living dead fashion. I also hope that you're planning to add some different zombie sprites by the way [wink]

I wanna shoot the zombies!

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Quote:
Original post by Ted_Striker
I strongly recommend reading the Zombie Survival Guide. When they come you'll be ready.


I can only second that. If you want to do something with zombies without the hassle of building your own "Zombie Ruleset", "The Zombie Survival Guide" should give you something to work with, including a description of credible environments, tactics and more or less effective weapons.

Be aware though that the zombie described in that book is quite different from a lot of standard zombies. (edit: your AI matches that book perfectly already...)

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Quote:
Original post by RunningInt
But what if you faced hundreds, or even thousands of zombies?

... snip ...

500 zombies run smoothly:


Boy have I got a link for you: Indie Game Jam 0. From the main page: "It was pretty clear that 100,000 visible sprite guys was possible at a reasonable framerate on a <1Ghz machine with a GF2." Basically, a bunch of game designer/developers got together for a weekend to see what sort of games they could make. The code they were provided could render terrain and hundreds of thousands of sprites. And this was 3 years ago. Check out The Duelling Machine at the bottom, my favorite.

So, what if you faced not hundreds or thousands, but hundreds of thousands of zombies?

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I've thought about writing a HL2 mod to implement an 3D Alien shooter type experience.

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Wasn't that the basic idea behind Serious Sam? Make enemies lower poly count, but push more of them towards the player.

On modern machines, 500 visible zombies, each of which is about 200 vertices (i e, somewhat coarse, but textured and animated), using vertex blend animation (Quake 2 style), would run just fine. Add LOD to render the nearest 50 in full detail, and you're golden.

Now, if you want them all to cast shadows, you're in more trouble, but it could probably be done with depth shadow buffer. Stencil shadows would be too much fill rate ;-)

However, the bigger question might be physics simulation. If the dead carcasses of the first 200 zombies are building a wall and absorbing bullets, then might the collision testing start becoming a real CPU issue?

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