Project Zomboid

The alpha of Project Zomboid, a zombie survival RPG, was recently released. RPS has a preview of the game, which looks favourable.

The game, on the surface, seems to have a similar feel to Dead State, but made by a smaller team and using more scaled back art (aka "retro" graphics).

The devs have had some financial trouble with Google and Paypal in recent weeks since they were selling a product that hadn't been released. Not sure if they got their money from Google, but they've worked around the pre-order stuff by selling some of their existing games and giving away Project Zomboid as a bonus.

Anyway, looks interesting. Here are the planned features:

  • Retro-isometric style with plenty of zombie insides thrown in for good measure.
  • A massive city and the surrounding areas to traverse, explore and loot.
  • Open-ended sandbox world – survival is your only goal, and we’re sorry to tell you… you WILL die eventually.
  • Get infected. How will you spend your final days? Will you have a heroic moment of self-sacrifice, or end up chewing your best friend’s throat out?
  • Meet other survivors who you can join forces with, trade with, undertake missions for, or fight with for resources.
  • Loot, salvage, and build what you need to survive the apocalypse, from food and medical supplies, to weapons, even just booze to help get you through the nights.
  • Advanced item crafting allows you to use looted items to build weapons, traps, defenses, and many other things to help you survive.
  • Character progression. Learn skills and perks to help your character face the challenges of survival.
  • Starvation, illness, loneliness, depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, suicide, insanity, trust issues. There’s more to zombie survival than shooting zombie heads off.
  • Join your friends and survive the apocalypse together in co-op multiplayer.
  • The world changes the longer you survive; power plants fail, plunging the city into darkness and making batteries and tinned food prized commodities. The army rolls into the streets to perform ‘clean up operations’ and other gamechanging events occur the longer you survive.
  • Play in your browser, or stand-alone, on PC, Mac and Linux.

I read the preview at RPS, and some of the happenings were really chilling. I might just have to grab this, as I love me some Zombies.

The Indie Games blog has a glowing preview:

Though the developers have had a catastrophic run with everything from PayPal right down the opportunistic pirates at 4chan, it doesn't look like the quality of Project Zomboid has suffered at all. In a word? It's glorious. Project Zomboid is, in a nutshell, almost if not everything we've ever wanted in a sandbox RPG set within the bleak reality of a zombie apocalypse. Sure, we've only seen an alpha tech demo but that's what makes it so ridiculously amazing. People are talking about the pirating the demo itself. It's that good.

I got the notice that I could log in from my pre-order/donation, but I haven't had a chance to take it for a spin yet. Looks pretty awesome, though.

RPS is giving this game a lot of air time: Dev Interview.

I can't seem to access their website.

Isometric

Sold.

As someone who is officially sick of zombies this looks pretty cool.

It looks like they will release a tech demo to the public soon, check out http://projectzomboid.com/blog/index...

For now though, it looks only testers with a username and password are allowed to try it.

I am going to have to try this at some point.

hannibals wrote:

It looks like they will release a tech demo to the public soon, check out http://projectzomboid.com/blog/index...

Good, since they haven't even released video it's hard for me to support them, or even understand what the project is for that matter.

Just some super quick impressions:

1) Time goes too fast -- like the Sims. It shouldn't take two hours in game time to go from one floor to the next of a house.
2) Things like hunger and exhaustion (moods) affect your character's abilities.
3) I find characters appearing or disappearing based on line of sight in isometric games a little weird (since I can see everything) , but I never really played the older games that were like that.
4) Game is currently played in browser - no saving that I could tell.
5) It's going to be a dark game (in tone).

Left4Dead characters mod (language NSFW):

I tried the public "tech demo". I really like the concept, but the implementation is clunky at best. As ebarstad mentioned, time goes by WAY too fast, and your character moves WAY too slowly, even when running. Using the keyboard to navigate in the isometric space is annoying, especially when you have to face a certain direction or use a weapon.

I also found the presentation kind of disorienting. The isometric walls have a translucent effect when your character is "behind" them, but I still occasionally lost track of where my avatar was. I also found it confusing when you're behind several layers of walls. The layout of a building is not easily discerned.

I really hope they can clean things up and make it easier to move around and see stuff. There are not many "slow zombie" games out there, and very few that concentrate on the practical matters of survival instead of blasting everything in sight.

I just tried the tech demo out too. I really like the concept and mood, but I hope they iron out the interface a little. The transparent walls were a little annoying as was being asked if I want to go to sleep any time I clicked near a bed or chair by mistake.

Also, has anyone found a way to extinguish yourself or other objects after catching fire? I've found it's quite easy to stay alive so long as you don't start a fire. I'm not sure how to get out of the house safely after that though. Maybe I used the wrong door last time.

I think it would be a better game if they either go full 3D (with rotating camera, kind of like Neverwinter nights) or used a more overhead perspective. As it stands, it's an interesting game trapped in a terrible interface.

Version 015 is out for purchasers. It has classes and a new sandbox mode. I've noticed NPCs running about (one tried to hit me with a hammer) and you can change clothes and appearance. There also appears to be a quest log, but I haven't seen any quests. You still can't save your progress, as far as I can tell.

Apparently two laptops that held months worth of work were stolen. There was a bit of an explosion over Twitter about it.

http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/ldkwg/the_indie_stone_project_zomboid_has_been_struck/

Caddrel wrote:

Apparently two laptops that held months worth of work were stolen. There was a bit of an explosion over Twitter about it.

http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/ldkwg/the_indie_stone_project_zomboid_has_been_struck/

So let me get this straight. My porn collection is backed up on more external hard drives than all of Project Zomboid.

That be funny if I didn't feel so bad for the devs. But the guy has a point.

Also one of the developers had a bit of public meltdown. Though he won't really be leaving, just removing himself as a public presence.

All in all, I'm glad I didn't put down any money here. It's harsh, but some of the problems they had earlier made me leery. Some of the community paints them as the unluckiest development team in a world, but more than one of the problems they hit could have been avoided with some forethought. I'm interested, and I'll buy the game when I think there is a solid chance that there will be a finished release at the end. For now I'm going to hold back.

The whole thing is a reminder of how toxic and hateful the gamer community is just below the surface.

Just been robbed? - I don't care, where's my £5 game you scam artists?!?

Indie stone weren't perfect, but it really leaves a sour taste in the mouth reading reddit some times.

Scratched wrote:

The whole thing is a reminder of how toxic and hateful the gamer community is just below the surface.

Just been robbed? - I don't care, where's my £5 game you scam artists?!?

Indie stone weren't perfect, but it really leaves a sour taste in the mouth reading reddit some times.

I felt the same. They deserved to be criticised for not backing up the data regularly and other mistakes they've made, especially from the people who have actually given them money, but some of the really personal attacks and insults just make me sick.

I don't think this is just related to the gaming community though, it's just to do with everything being online and anonymous, go any any comments section of a news website and you see the same sort of thing. I went to see a comedian (Dave Gorman) last night and he mentioned that after one brief TV appearance he made after putting on a bit of weight the next day he had hundreds of comments/e-mails directed at him from people about it. You'd never get this many people saying something like that to your face.

One thing I hope comes out of this is a bit more realism concerning the pre-order/early access thing, which occasionally comes up. It can work out fine like M&B or Minecraft (Although MC still has a bunch of people thinking Notch is their bitch, which brings this to mind), but people have to see exactly what they're getting, consider what is available at the time they're handing money over, and if they're not comfortable with it to wait for the finished product. On the other side, a developer needs to be honest with themselves and their potential customers about what they can and can't do. What's that little word? Respect?

Scratched wrote:

Indie stone weren't perfect, but it really leaves a sour taste in the mouth reading reddit some times.

So don't read reddit then. I've heard reddit described as a whole community of youtube commentators. Its pretty accurate.

To me, this seemed like their sloppiness finally caught up with them. These guys were not amateur developers. They had source control and off-site backups in place but the fact that they were weeks behind shows they were careless. I can understand the issues with Paypal and server hosting because they didn't have the experience in properly setting that up. And wasn't there a potential user data breach on their forums earlier this year as well?

It sucks and I feel really, really bad to see this burn out like this, but at the same time if you are going to collect funding and build a product then you absolutely have to make safeguards to protect it. They didn't.

One thing I hope comes out of this is a bit more realism concerning the pre-order/early access thing

Last week I got an email from the group making Diaspora saying they had made a ton of progress and that I would be receiving an invite to the service shortly. Oh, and could I possibly click this link and donate $25 so they can continue building their awesome, revolutionary product?

What happened to the hundreds of thousands of dollars they earned via Kickstarter!? They asked for a fraction of that money originally and even with all of those resources & opportunities have failed to deliver a final product.

So yeah, we're going to start seeing more and more of these pre-order models fall flat on their faces.

The thing is, I probably got my $7 out of PZ and anything they deliver from this point on is icing on the cake. Look at some of the people on their forums -- how many hours have they spent playing the Alpha? What more do they want?

[rant]I don't get the entitlement generation -- it's seven f*cking dollars! I bought a milkshake the other day that cost me $6. If you spent your last $7 on the promise of what Project Zomboid will become, then you're an idiot. Suck it up and move on with your life.[/rant]

I do agree that Indie Stone have been careless and have brought a lot of their bad luck on themselves. At the same time, we've all done stupid things; that's what being human is -- you're stupid, then you die. So I think they deserve some sympathy and to not be ragged on when their apartment gets robbed.

I also think these pre-order models need to be more honest about what they're actually selling. They need to say that you're buying the software as it is now and also that there may not be any updates going forward. "If you're ok with that, please support us. If not, thanks anyway." So many of these game devs (Indie Stone included) sell us on the potential of their games instead of the games themselves and that seems to be where so much of the angst and entitlement come from.

In the end, I hope they can overcome this setback and learn from it. It would be a shame for them not to finish the game.

ebarstad wrote:

I also think these pre-order models need to be more honest about what they're actually selling. They need to say that you're buying the software as it is now and also that there may not be any updates going forward. "If you're ok with that, please support us. If not, thanks anyway." So many of these game devs (Indie Stone included) sell us on the potential of their games instead of the games themselves and that seems to be where so much of the angst and entitlement come from.

To me, this is just common sense; any money you put down on a pre-order or alpha or kickstarter is a gamble. It's that simple, and the house usually wins.

I don't blame the devs for "up selling", but perhaps they are wrong to take money for something they can't deliver on. Then again, there seems to be quite a market out there for digital panhandling...

Still, I have no sympathy for the people who paid for it. If they really wanted a finished product for their money, then they should have waited for it to be finished.

I dunno, maybe I'm just a scrooge.

I also hope they finish the game. When the time comes, I'll play the demo and gladly give them money if the product is worthy.

Something I'd like to see is Gabe Newell's comments on the situation, seeing as in the past he advocated this type of player investment to see games made that they want, rather than the big publisher clone factory. What I think would be a nice step is for an independent development assistant/inspector (for want of a better term), that helps indie devs get a little bit of infrastructure and planning in place, and makes sure they're a reasonable project for people to put their money into.

Indie devs don't go around calling it a bet, you buy into it expecting them to deliver on their word. You wouldn't go to a horse race and see a horse entered that no one has seen before with no history.

Chicken arise. Arise, chicken, arise!

So I put in a bet last night. I saw a RPS article earlier this month, then happened across the site again. I am really interested to see what, if anything, they can make of this game. Worst case, I'm out $8, hardly the most money I've wasted on a terrible game. Best case, this turns out to be the biggest indie game since Minecraft.

New animation system:

So, basically, they made it easier to mod, yes?