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Shadow 04-30-2014 03:15 PM

Game 5
We've started initial work on game 5 now. For our first few games we kept things quiet until we were ready to officially announce things, but that was a pain and not very fun, so we are going to start talking about the game now. Don't take anything we say as a guarantee though. It is still very early, so anything could change.

Here's my very current, rough blurb:

In the DoP/DC world, the zombie infection has mutated and is out of control. Now anything bitten or even scratched by a zombie might be infected. With the easy spread of the zombie infection, the undead are overrunning most of the world. Civilization has been destroyed. There are still pockets of resistance here and there; many of these are not human though.

Your job is to ensure you and your followers survive the zombie apocalypse. While zombies are the most immediate threat, it's not the only one. Critical supplies like food are extremely limited and must be provided or people will starve. Your followers can be infected. Having someone turn inside of your stronghold is bad. Other groups are struggling to survive also. When they run low on supplies, will they trade or attack? Other groups, monsters, and zombies can all attack your stronghold. And finally you have to make sure your followers don't cause problems or kill each other.

While not usually life threatening, you must deal with your followers. Their moods, personalities, actions, and skills will affect everyone else in your stronghold. Someone that is upset might drag down everyone's mood or might even start a rebellion. People with opposite personalities might get into fights and cause a schism within your stronghold. Someone saving another follower from a zombie might make them a friend though. Having followers with key skills will be important. You might need someone with the blacksmith skill to repair weapons. Having a butcher might increase how much food you can scavenger from a killed animal.

This is a game of survival. When a follower dies, they are dead. The world supply chain is gone. Food is a critical resource that must be obtained. Vendors are rare and have limited supplies. There isn't a town blacksmith that can repair all of your weapons or a town vendor to buy an infinite amount of food from. Survival isn't easy.

End of very rough blurb

Just to be clear, this is a zombie survival game set in the DoP/DC universe. It is in a fantasy setting and will use an isometric viewpoint. While it's not really a true sequel, it will have lots of elements from DoP, DC, and even Drox.

I know there's probably too many zombie games, movies, TV shows, and books out right now, but I like zombies. :) If you haven't noticed, every game we've done has had zombies in it, even Drox.

Anyways, as usual we would love your feedback. Questions, ideas, and criticisms are all welcome.

ScrObot 04-30-2014 04:19 PM

Exciting news! I'm not sure exactly how this will play, but it sounds interesting. (Will there be city building aspects for your stronghold? Is this still kind of an ARPG at heart? Will you be controlling just one character directly? Are your followers like pets/summons in other games, where you can equip them and perhaps specify their upgrades and stances, but not directly control their actions? How is this different than, say, Dead State?)

I had a few immediate thoughts when reading this.

1. Graphics. Drox is the prettiest Soldak game thus far, and yet I still see some people bitching about it. If this game looks like DC when it comes out, there's going to be a lot of (unfounded) hate on the look. Nobody is (reasonably) expecting AAA motion-captured HD insanity, but (as lame as it sounds) making sure it looks (and FEELS) great is going to help gain traction, in my opinion. Gameplay is still #1, but I think this would really help take it to the next level in sales and visibility.

2. Randomness and pre-set scenarios. Replayability is huge, and keeping things from getting stale is important. Pure randomness isn't always great (see: Drox quests that can be impossible -- "make Dryad [who has one planet and are about to be killed off] the most powerful race [in a sector where everyone else has 20 planets] or lose the sector"). However, I envision lots of pre-set scenarios, locations, etc that can randomly happen in the world. Perhaps you can come across an established settlement that has a number of different starting situations -- what state the settlement is in, what kind of government/leadership they have, whether or not they have farms or other resources, their attitude towards you, etc.

Other things could be different types of buildings or locations that you come across which would have different starting states as well. I want to be surprised at what I find, and I want to have to think about my actions, rather than seeing Building Type #7 and automatically knowing "well this is going to be an abandoned warehouse with a pack of zombies in the back" because I've seen it four times before. Perhaps somewhat random branching quest lines, so when you get the "hey help me rescue my friend who fell down this hole" quest, it doesn't always play out the same way.

3. Living world and emergent situations. Some of the coolest parts of DoP/DC/DO are how things happen around you without your intervention. In DoP, other covenants run around and complete quests. In Drox, other races will kill boss monsters and send diplomatic ships without involving you. This goes a long way towards replayability and feeling like a small part of a larger world, rather than a god-like character that everything else waits for your actions and presence to do anything.

Visiting a location, then coming back later and seeing it in a much different state would be very interesting. (That factory you explored earlier? A separate group of survivors have taken it over and set up defenses, and they're not too happy with you snooping around.) Finding bits of lore that directly relate to actions that are happening in the current game would be cool -- signs hastily put up by NPCs directing you to a settlement or warning you of a specific danger, newspapers or other text that give a relevant piece of backstory to a building or area -- these types of things could all be generated and not just be static pre-written text. Little pieces of flavor can go a long way.

4. Mods. These are always great for the community and the lifespan of the game, and I have no doubt that support will be included. Perhaps some more of the systems could be exposed to make larger mods possible, such as more control over UI elements. Since you're very early in the project, this may be something that could be done before the codebase gets huge. Maybe even an overhaul of the current way that the plain text data files have traditionally been handled to support tagging, scripting or something along those lines.

I look forward to hearing more about the game! You already have a great track record on the above points, hopefully they can all be expanded and polished to really hit it out of the park!

Shadow 04-30-2014 04:39 PM

It will still be an action RPG. There might be some building on your stronghold. You will only control your character directly. You will be able to equip your followers (probably similar to DoP). You won't have direct control over your followers and their behaviors will be controlled by their personality, skills, morale, etc.

It's definitely going to have some things in common with Dead State. The biggest differences are real-time instead of turn based, fantasy/medieval setting (swords, magic, orcs, etc.) instead of current day, and a very dynamic world instead of a set storyline.

I'm going to start researching some graphics stuff soon, so hopefully they will pan out and this game will be our best looking game yet.

This game should have at least the random elements that show up in DoP, DC, and Drox. At least those that make sense.

The dynamic stuff in our previous games will still be there.

I haven't thought too much about the mod stuff, but it should be at least as moddable as previous games.

Bearro 04-30-2014 04:40 PM

Does it have to be limited to zombies? This idea has been overdone a lot, making people become different types of undead based on their death would be much more interesting. Also what about the protagonist, can he/she be and continue playing as a zombie?

ScrObot 04-30-2014 04:46 PM

In addition to "different types of undead based on their death", perhaps other fantastical creatures could be included in minor roles too -- there could be a werewolf that bites someone and turns them, or a vampire on the loose. There's potential for other interesting creatures and maladies using classic monster types and/or coming up with some new ones.

Shadow 04-30-2014 05:20 PM

I'm pretty sure there will be multiple types of zombies probably based on what type of creature or type of person was infected. At the moment I don't think the player will be able to turn and if he can that will be end of the character.

There will be other monster types in the game. It is the DoP/DC world, so there are Orcs, Torvas, Demons, Dark Elves, Targs, etc in the world. Now which ones actually make an appearance in the game I have no idea yet.

Castruccio 04-30-2014 05:25 PM

The foundational ideas sound great. Solid game mechanics and a nice direction for the gameplay. The biggest worry is that you are entering a market that is already very crowded with very successful zombie games. There are even isometric zombie games (Project Zomboid) that are quite successful. I like the idea that this is a zombie game set in a DoP/DC world, and I would encourage you to play up the fantasy setting as much as possible in the art. Since the market is so crowded, the only way you will be able to set yourself apart is the dynamic world (which you always have) and a compelling setting. Otherwise people might be inclined toward something like Project Zomboid.

Shadow 04-30-2014 05:34 PM


Originally Posted by Castruccio (Post 73060)
The biggest worry is that you are entering a market that is already very crowded with very successful zombie games.

That's actually my biggest worry, but I think in the end it will be fine. While the starting idea might be similar to some things that are out there, I think the final game will be pretty unique.

Hobo elf 04-30-2014 05:42 PM


Originally Posted by Shadow (Post 73053)
This is a game of survival. When a follower dies, they are dead. The world supply chain is gone. Food is a critical resource that must be obtained. Vendors are rare and have limited supplies. There isn't a town blacksmith that can repair all of your weapons or a town vendor to buy an infinite amount of food from. Survival isn't easy.

Are you going for the usual kill monster for XP -> level up system? Or have you ever thought of trying something different? Instead of just grinding away at enemies to increase in power you could tie character progression to the survival aspect of the game. Hard choices and hard losses / gains would hit home even harder since it would feel more personal to the player and their character that they have a connection with. Maybe some people would think it a bit harsh system, but it would help enhance the survival feel of the game.

Castruccio 04-30-2014 05:46 PM


Originally Posted by Shadow (Post 73061)
While the starting idea might be similar to some things that are out there, I think the final game will be pretty unique.

I agree, and you and I and the people that visit this forum already know that. The big challenge is making everyone else aware of it. If you don't know that the Soldak name is synonymous with unique and dynamic worlds, you might just look at the title and think "ugh, another Zombie game." Every effort to should me made to avoid that problem, and even then it might not be a 100% surmountable problem.

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