Monday, August 20, 2012

The Summer of Indie: Project Zomboid

Zombie mania appears to be the current flavor of the month, or perhaps the flavor of the year. There are a ton of zombie apocalypse survival games afoot including the now-infamous Arma II mod Day Z (soon to be a stand-alone release), a very similar MMO version (coming late this year) called War Z, and The Walking Dead Series, among many, many others. It's getting to be a crowded market to be sure which makes me happy. I've been hooked on zombies since I first saw George Romero's Dawn of the Dead or maybe I'm simply hooked on looting shopping malls!

I've avoided playing Day Z, but I am following it through SideStrafe's video series. It appears to be, at this point in time, a simple grief-fest with player killing, and robbing being the dominant activity. The fact that zombies are afoot is a merely a formality. I've got nothing against griefing, or ganking, but there's something about the nature of it in this game that I just don't like. It seems, somehow, more personal, a bit sinister and 'un-gamelike'. It's people being mean for fun regardless of the goals and/or setting of the game. I listened to a few encounters (there is in-game voice communications) and some of them sound like real-life robberies. Sidestrafe pointed out that the developer made this mod as a social experiment to see how people would behave in a game with no goals other than survival. Being an eternal pessimist, the answer (kill everyone and take their stuff) doesn't come as a shock. I saw one video where a player was ganked by a group and then a few of them were playing around with his body which I found slightly disturbing. We all know that people who abuse animals, for fun, can often go on to commit crimes against people. What about virtual worlds and abuse of people within them?
Hmmm, I seem to be rambling....perhaps the topic of a future post, but in any case, enough of what I don't like and on to something I do like.

Project Zomboid is a top-down (isometric I think it's called), zombie-survival game with retro-graphics that assumes, from the start, that you will die. When, and how is up to you, but you will die. It's a zombie apocalypse and they will only increase in numbers. The power will fail, food will spoil, medicine will run out. You will get bored, depressed, anxious, frightened, and even lonely. And then you will die. Sound's pretty cheery!

The opening screen lets you know from the start....'s not going to turn out good for you.

The version of this game that I played didn't even have a save feature so they are pretty serious about the whole 'you won't live forever' thing. I believe the current build does have one, but I'm not 100% sure. A fed mods have already come out to allow you to farm and live outside town so you can continue on but not so in the vanilla game. You start off in town and spend your time rummaging through houses looking for food and supplies while trying not to get eaten.Your character will not only get hungry and thirsty, but will also have various emotions such as fear, panic, loneliness, and boredom. Items such as anti-depressants, pain killers, sleeping tablets, and books are scattered about to help you cope. Other survivors are running about as well for you to interact with.

There is a crafting element which includes building barricades, making bandages and fire-bombs, and cooking your food (it will spoil fast if you don't but once the power is lost your in trouble). You will have plenty of slow-moving zombies to bash with bats, hammers, and until the ammo runs out, shotguns. The game sort of revolves around the question of 'how long can you survive?' I saw a You Tube video of someone who lasted one game year and by then they had eaten all the food that was available on the map and then, of course, starved to death. I'm no where near that with my record being around 5 days.

It's only a matter of time.

 If you want to see what the game is about I recommend watching Hannah's Let's Play which I'll post here. All her videos are pretty good (I'm watching the Max Payne series one at the moment, and she is also doing a Walking Dead as each chapter comes out) and this one will give you a good idea if the game is for you. It is currently priced at $12 which gets you the game on release and access to all development builds. I played a pretty old build and even then it was very, very playable. The UI is a bit boorish, but it is something they are working on for the eventual Steam release under Project Greenlight. Updates are regular and the community is very involved with forum discussions, podcasts, and mods which you can access from their website.


  1. I really do enjoy this game as every time you reload feels kind of different.
    ooh and here's the patch for 2.0
    It has the save feature but it also updates a lot of the art assets and gives a lot more crafting options. If you figure out how to cook anything more robust than a can of soup though I would love to know, soo many vegies in my cupboard.. and how not to burn a T.V dinner

    Lots of mods already for it, new areas and such as well as a farming mod so you can theoretically live forever.

  2. Hey, thanks for the link.

    I do enjoy that you never re-spawn in the same place. Keeps you wondering....will it be the hardware store, or the apartment, or that house on the edge of town :)

    All I know about cooking is that you have to use the oven to cook raw meat. Haven't concocted anything other than that.