This is how Sweep died. Repeatedly.

I was pretty upset hearing about the myriad of complications that plagued Project Zomboid. Conceptually, it's the game that I always wanted - a zombie survival game with emphasis on long term survival. Project Zomboid is in many ways a much better thought out and feasible simulation of zompocalyptic Darwinism than the obvious alternatives. I'm not saying Left 4 Dead would have been a better game if Zoey was required to pop anti-depressants, but long term planning is something that the genre has taken great pains to avoid. The closest example of the mechanics which drive Project Zomboid are those of the Dead Rising franchise, where a series of countdown timers must be carefully managed. Hunting Zombrex was a frustration to many, though in terms of a gameplay mechanic it was hugely beneficial in creating a structured narrative - another welcome consideration, though a hefty inconvenience to those of us who just wanted to fuck shit up with a paddlesaw.

Which is why I was pretty stoked when the Project Zomboid Alpha was released last week.

Project Zomboid is in many ways a game of trial and error, though each error is delightfully instructive. The first time I started the game I found myself in a bedroom with my wife, who was bleeding profusely on the bed. I was instructed to search the house for painkillers and bedsheets, which I then crafted into bandages using a simple combine-to-craft interface. In the bedroom cupboard I also found a pillow. Placing all these items in my inventory, I carried them over to my wife and administered them. I wrapped her leg in the bandages, gave her some painkillers, then selected the pillow with the intention of making her more comfortable on the bed. But when I clicked on my wife, she suddenly begins pleading with me, then sobbing and apologising for "slowing me down". The realisation hit me: Instead of making her more comfortable I had unwittingly smothered her to death with the pillow.

Weirdly enough, this is not the first time that has happened to me.

My second playthrough was slightly better.

Instead of immediately killing my betrothed, I explored the rest of the house, as she requested, and looted some wooden planks, nails, and a hammer out of the shed - which I then used to barricade myself and my wife inside the house. As I was outside in the rain a small icon popped up. "Damp", it said: Your speed is slightly reduced. Remaining out in the rain turned the icon further red, until it said "Soaking". This made me more susceptible to illness, as well as reducing my vision and speed. "Oh" I thought absent-mindedly, "It's that sort of game". By "That sort of game" I mean "Fucking intense". There are meters for hunger, tiredness, exhaustion, fear and general health, as well as a breakdown of individual injuries on different areas of the body, all of which must be routinely checked and maintained. During my explorations I encountered many types pills including Beta-blockers and Anti-depressants, which implies a stupidly deep level of health and psychological management, too. There are dozens of items, many of which appear useless but no doubt have some use within the crafting subtext, an area of the game I have barely begun to explore. This isn't minecraft, though; This crafting involves combining a pot, a can opener and a can of soup to get: a pot full of soup. Which you then have to put in the oven to cook. This is exactly what I did on my second playthrough, only 5 minutes into the game. Suddenly my wife calls me from upstairs - she has got the radio working! I dash up to her bedroom to listen to the static-ridden broadcast, but no sooner than it finishes my wife mumbles "Do you smell something burning?" and I panic, rushing back down the stairs. The kitchen is on fire. I left the soup in the oven and now the kitchen is on fire. I freeze, wondering what tools are at my disposal to deal with this problem. But it's too late, the fire is spreading - along the walls, the cabinets, the ceiling. I rush back upstairs to my wife, but I wasn't fast enough. She's on fire. Soon enough, so am I. We both die, engulfed in pixellated flames.

Back to square one.

The thing I love most about this game are the stories. During one playthough I was spotted through the window by a stranger with a shotgun. He ordered me to open the door or he would open fire. I told him to leave us alone, but he just laughed. When I ducked out of sight he yelled "I'm going to kill you, motherfucker!" before blundering off into the darkness. I never saw him again, though I could hear shotgun blasts echoing off the nearby buildings.

Another time I had ventured further out into town, turned a corner into a horde of zombies, and was forced to retreat and barricade myself into a hardware store. This was loaded with hammers, nails, saws and other practical tools, though lacked the one thing I really needed, which was food. I huddled against the far wall, baseball bat raised, watching the health of the door gradually drop as the zombies on the other side slowly battered it down.

There was another time when I drank a bottle of whiskey, passed out, only to wake up and find the building completely full of zombies - another when I got lost in the woods, surrounded by zack, and collapsed from exhaustion. I have been playing in small doses, each game rarely lasting more than about 20 minutes, but I'm finding each adventure desperately unique and dynamic. I think one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game was reading about the adventures of other players using the #projectzomboid hashtag on twitter.

But it's not all good.

Now, I should probably mention that this game is buggy as hell. There were times when the framerate would inexplicably plummet, others when the graphics would glitch out, and on several times the game just straight up imploded. It's an alpha, and it's very openly unfinished. It's also only available through Desura, which is what I like to think of as "Indie Steam". I don't mind having the client installed, but it's a bit of a pain having Steam and Desura and Origins all running at once. Seems slightly excessive. My most heavy beef with the game is that there is no save functionality - which means you must restart your survival attempt from the beginning each time you play. I don't mind so much, because it's kinda nice having a fresh story - but it's a pain having to abandon a game halfway through when you are doing really well and have a house fully stocked with food and weapons.

I think the real reason I enjoy Project Zomboid so much is because it's fucking hardcore. It will kill you, end your game on a whim, leave you stranded with no tutorials and no instructions as to what you are doing. The game expects you to figure a ridiculous amount of shit out for yourself. From the very start of the game you have complete freedom to all it's features, all it's mechanics, all areas of the map. It's brutal, and it expects you to fail. When the game begins you are introduced with the title screen:

THIS IS HOW YOU DIED...

Which is entirely appropriate, because you will die. A lot.

If that sounds like the sort of thing you would enjoy I urge you to check it out. One last thing to add before I end this blog, though; Project Zomboid has seen fucked-up levels of piracy and it's not even out of the alpha stage yet. If you in any way interested in playing this game for yourself then I know they would love and appreciate your support.

There. That was my good deed for the day. Now I'm going to go lock some innocent threads.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

38 Comments
39 Comments
Edited by Sweep

I was pretty upset hearing about the myriad of complications that plagued Project Zomboid. Conceptually, it's the game that I always wanted - a zombie survival game with emphasis on long term survival. Project Zomboid is in many ways a much better thought out and feasible simulation of zompocalyptic Darwinism than the obvious alternatives. I'm not saying Left 4 Dead would have been a better game if Zoey was required to pop anti-depressants, but long term planning is something that the genre has taken great pains to avoid. The closest example of the mechanics which drive Project Zomboid are those of the Dead Rising franchise, where a series of countdown timers must be carefully managed. Hunting Zombrex was a frustration to many, though in terms of a gameplay mechanic it was hugely beneficial in creating a structured narrative - another welcome consideration, though a hefty inconvenience to those of us who just wanted to fuck shit up with a paddlesaw.

Which is why I was pretty stoked when the Project Zomboid Alpha was released last week.

Project Zomboid is in many ways a game of trial and error, though each error is delightfully instructive. The first time I started the game I found myself in a bedroom with my wife, who was bleeding profusely on the bed. I was instructed to search the house for painkillers and bedsheets, which I then crafted into bandages using a simple combine-to-craft interface. In the bedroom cupboard I also found a pillow. Placing all these items in my inventory, I carried them over to my wife and administered them. I wrapped her leg in the bandages, gave her some painkillers, then selected the pillow with the intention of making her more comfortable on the bed. But when I clicked on my wife, she suddenly begins pleading with me, then sobbing and apologising for "slowing me down". The realisation hit me: Instead of making her more comfortable I had unwittingly smothered her to death with the pillow.

Weirdly enough, this is not the first time that has happened to me.

My second playthrough was slightly better.

Instead of immediately killing my betrothed, I explored the rest of the house, as she requested, and looted some wooden planks, nails, and a hammer out of the shed - which I then used to barricade myself and my wife inside the house. As I was outside in the rain a small icon popped up. "Damp", it said: Your speed is slightly reduced. Remaining out in the rain turned the icon further red, until it said "Soaking". This made me more susceptible to illness, as well as reducing my vision and speed. "Oh" I thought absent-mindedly, "It's that sort of game". By "That sort of game" I mean "Fucking intense". There are meters for hunger, tiredness, exhaustion, fear and general health, as well as a breakdown of individual injuries on different areas of the body, all of which must be routinely checked and maintained. During my explorations I encountered many types pills including Beta-blockers and Anti-depressants, which implies a stupidly deep level of health and psychological management, too. There are dozens of items, many of which appear useless but no doubt have some use within the crafting subtext, an area of the game I have barely begun to explore. This isn't minecraft, though; This crafting involves combining a pot, a can opener and a can of soup to get: a pot full of soup. Which you then have to put in the oven to cook. This is exactly what I did on my second playthrough, only 5 minutes into the game. Suddenly my wife calls me from upstairs - she has got the radio working! I dash up to her bedroom to listen to the static-ridden broadcast, but no sooner than it finishes my wife mumbles "Do you smell something burning?" and I panic, rushing back down the stairs. The kitchen is on fire. I left the soup in the oven and now the kitchen is on fire. I freeze, wondering what tools are at my disposal to deal with this problem. But it's too late, the fire is spreading - along the walls, the cabinets, the ceiling. I rush back upstairs to my wife, but I wasn't fast enough. She's on fire. Soon enough, so am I. We both die, engulfed in pixellated flames.

Back to square one.

The thing I love most about this game are the stories. During one playthough I was spotted through the window by a stranger with a shotgun. He ordered me to open the door or he would open fire. I told him to leave us alone, but he just laughed. When I ducked out of sight he yelled "I'm going to kill you, motherfucker!" before blundering off into the darkness. I never saw him again, though I could hear shotgun blasts echoing off the nearby buildings.

Another time I had ventured further out into town, turned a corner into a horde of zombies, and was forced to retreat and barricade myself into a hardware store. This was loaded with hammers, nails, saws and other practical tools, though lacked the one thing I really needed, which was food. I huddled against the far wall, baseball bat raised, watching the health of the door gradually drop as the zombies on the other side slowly battered it down.

There was another time when I drank a bottle of whiskey, passed out, only to wake up and find the building completely full of zombies - another when I got lost in the woods, surrounded by zack, and collapsed from exhaustion. I have been playing in small doses, each game rarely lasting more than about 20 minutes, but I'm finding each adventure desperately unique and dynamic. I think one of the most enjoyable aspects of this game was reading about the adventures of other players using the #projectzomboid hashtag on twitter.

But it's not all good.

Now, I should probably mention that this game is buggy as hell. There were times when the framerate would inexplicably plummet, others when the graphics would glitch out, and on several times the game just straight up imploded. It's an alpha, and it's very openly unfinished. It's also only available through Desura, which is what I like to think of as "Indie Steam". I don't mind having the client installed, but it's a bit of a pain having Steam and Desura and Origins all running at once. Seems slightly excessive. My most heavy beef with the game is that there is no save functionality - which means you must restart your survival attempt from the beginning each time you play. I don't mind so much, because it's kinda nice having a fresh story - but it's a pain having to abandon a game halfway through when you are doing really well and have a house fully stocked with food and weapons.

I think the real reason I enjoy Project Zomboid so much is because it's fucking hardcore. It will kill you, end your game on a whim, leave you stranded with no tutorials and no instructions as to what you are doing. The game expects you to figure a ridiculous amount of shit out for yourself. From the very start of the game you have complete freedom to all it's features, all it's mechanics, all areas of the map. It's brutal, and it expects you to fail. When the game begins you are introduced with the title screen:

THIS IS HOW YOU DIED...

Which is entirely appropriate, because you will die. A lot.

If that sounds like the sort of thing you would enjoy I urge you to check it out. One last thing to add before I end this blog, though; Project Zomboid has seen fucked-up levels of piracy and it's not even out of the alpha stage yet. If you in any way interested in playing this game for yourself then I know they would love and appreciate your support.

There. That was my good deed for the day. Now I'm going to go lock some innocent threads.

Thanks For Reading

Love Sweep

Moderator
Posted by SMTDante89

I may have heard of this game in passing, but never thought anything about it. After reading this, I think I'm going to go check this game out now. Like, RIGHT NOW.

Posted by wh1terav3n

I've never heard of this game, and I know about most indie stuff. I'm going to take a look, it definitely sounds pretty interesting and right up my alley for college in-class "I'M SO BORED RIGHT NOW" moments.

Posted by TheDudeOfGaming

Sweep NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!1 Oh, wait.
Anyway, this was awesome, I've been looking for a zombie game like this for a long time.

Posted by Virago

That. Sounds. Epic. I love that they have anti-depressants, that would be most necessary in my RL zombie-survival kit. I haven't gotten into the zombie video game craze, but this could totally get me there. Even though I hate dying. So do you start from the same place every time, or do you have a choice what kind of a scenario you play out: house defense, city survival, wilderness...?

Posted by Sweep

@Virago said:

That. Sounds. Epic. I love that they have anti-depressants, that would be most necessary in my RL zombie-survival kit. I haven't gotten into the zombie video game craze, but this could totally get me there. Even though I hate dying. So do you start from the same place every time, or do you have a choice what kind of a scenario you play out: house defense, city survival, wilderness...?

At the moment there is just the one campaign, which is centered around protecting your wife and staying alive. You always start in the same building, though the stuff you find is random so that will change every time you play. The only other mode is "Sandbox mode" which I haven't tested yet - I imagine that would be more of a random "See how long you can survive!" type deal. They also have a "Demonstration mod campaign" in the menu, which suggests they want to build some kind of map creation tool so people can build their own stuff, which would be nice.

Moderator
Edited by Mikemcn

Yay Sweep! Someone with actual clout has brought attention to a fantastic indie game!

I've really enjoyed my time with PZ, i find it hilarious that you killed your wife by accident though, and its good that the fire killed you because the smoke alarm goes off too, attracting an insane amount of zombies that inevitably tear your to pieces.

Also, the devs plan on making it auto update through steam, although you won't be able to buy it there anytime soon.

Edited by KarlPilkington

@Sweep You said on twitter that you had made a video for youtube, did that ever happen?

Posted by AdzPearson

Awesome read. I'll definitely check out the game myself at some point. Anything to do with zombies has my attention.

Posted by Ub3rSlug

@Sweep said:

At the moment there is just the one campaign, which is centered around protecting your wife and staying alive. You always start in the same building, though the stuff you find is random so that will change every time you play.

I played a bit of Project Zomboid when they released the public pre-alpha for people to try out. Maybe this has been added since I played it, but I remember your wife dying in the start of the game. Was she actually still alive? First thing I did was grab everything I could from the house and leave. I'm a horrible person, oh gosh.

But seriously, Project Zomboid is a really cool game. It needs work, but that's to be expected from an alpha build. It helps that the developers have proven themselves dedicated to the project, after overcoming hardships with funding and piracy. I found the controls to be a bit confusing at first and the multiple status bars you have to keep track of didn't help this initial confusion. Once you get going and start figuring out the little details of the game (such as getting wet when you go into rain, and the affects this has on your character) it's pretty great.

Posted by Sweep

@KarlPilkington: The sound quality of the video I made was terrible, namely because I was using a really shitty mic, but I intend to redo it when I get that sorted out. So yeah, but probably not for a while.

@Ub3rSlug: Yeah, you literally start in a room talking to her. You can also play sandbox mode, where you just start in a random location with no female. That's better for exploring, as you aren't tied down to a single location. Also, if the wife dies you don't actually have to stop playing, but I appreciate the challenge of trying to keep her alive.

Moderator
Posted by Hizang

Project Zomboid looks awesome!

Posted by Gargantuan

Sounds like a fun game. Hope they release it on Steam.

Posted by Tordah

Never heard of this game before. Sounds promising. I hope it comes to Steam when it's done.

Posted by Afroman269

This game sounds fucking crazy. How much is it?

Posted by McGhee

Looks cool. I might check it out.

Edited by eroticfishcake
@Afroman269: It's five dollars (or six euro) at the moment. Which is great for what it is. Not a bad time to get it since they're going to raise the price when things are beginning to spruce up. Considering the massive amount of bad luck they've been getting I think they're the one studio worth supporting by concept alone. Also, there's a demo that you can try if you're not entirely sold. 
 
Speaking of Project Zomboid, I think smothering the wife with a pillow is perhaps the darkest (yet most effective method in the context) gameplay mechanic of skipping the tutorial. Bravo lads.
Posted by TwilitEnd656

Yes. This is exactly the kind of zombie game I was looking for. I'm just going to wait patiently for development to progress a bit further... Or until I finally say "fuck it" and buy the damn thing as it is.

Posted by Vexxan

Sounds like an awesome game but I based on what you've said I think I'd go crazy within minutes. Shit really does sound intense.

Edited by Mikemcn

@Vegsen said:

Sounds like an awesome game but I based on what you've said I think I'd go crazy within minutes. Shit really does sound intense.

Its not complicated, it just has realistic mechanics, which makes it fun.

Posted by Synaptic

Have you made significant progress while having your wife stay alive? I'd prefer to play it through like that, and I'd hate it if the game forced a death on you.

Posted by Origina1Penguin

I will revisit Project Zomboid when they improve the melee.

Edited by wolf_blitzer85
@Sweep said:


@Ub3rSlug: Yeah, you literally start in a room talking to her. You can also play sandbox mode, where you just start in a random location with no female. That's better for exploring, as you aren't tied down to a single location. Also, if the wife dies you don't actually have to stop playing, but I appreciate the challenge of trying to keep her alive.

You can also skip the tutorial (which is basically what your wife is) if you're monstrous enough. Use the pillow on her to get right down to business unless you want to go through the same motions every single time you start up a new game. Although, I've never actually tried keeping her alive past the tutorial stuff as I would just dip out and start exploring around, maybe I'll give that a shot next time I try a new game. 
Posted by ESREVER

Kikoskia did a fantastic role play of his character's survival story. Made me highly interested in this game.

Posted by eroticfishcake
@ESREVER: Ooooh! I missed that. Can't beat a good Kiko LP. Thanks for bringing that up.
Posted by ZombiePie

How much blood is there?

Moderator
Posted by Sweep

@ZombiePie said:

How much blood is there?

I hate you so much, ZombiePie >:(

Moderator
Posted by ZombiePie

@Sweep said:

@ZombiePie said:

How much blood is there?

I hate you so much, ZombiePie >:(

That's not what you told me last night.

Moderator
Posted by rmanthorp

OH this looks nifty!

Moderator
Posted by Sweep

@ZombiePie: Hey, I thought we had an agreement! What happens in the sauna stays in the sauna!

Moderator
Edited by Mikemcn

@Origina1Penguin said:

I will revisit Project Zomboid when they improve the melee.

Melees fine, its risky but functions as well as you would want it to.

@Synaptic said:

Have you made significant progress while having your wife stay alive? I'd prefer to play it through like that, and I'd hate it if the game forced a death on you.

You can play for as long as you want with yout wife alive, she just stays in the house once the tutorial is over, I think you can carry her with your somehow.

Posted by EVO

That was a really enjoyable read. And that was hilarious @ESREVER.

Posted by Heimdal

I have never heard of this game before. But it sounds completely rad. Combine the combat of Dead Island with this kind of long term management and you have the zombie game to end all zombie games.

Posted by Mmmslash

Are you against Roguelikes? Because the only quality, "true" zombie survival game I know of is a Roguelike. 

Posted by Bollard

Thanks for the heads up Sweep, seems like a really cool game!

Edited by ectoplasma

Thanks a lot for reporting dude. Sounds awesome, but also incredibly sheisty. The game intentionally tried to trick you to set your house on fire - thats just devious! I also like that part: "The game expects you to figure a ridiculous amount of shit out for yourself". LIke in the olden days. I keep thinking about how part of the fun of the old games was the gratification which you gained when you actually did somethring right. In todays big titles you dont really have to anticipate choices by relying on your sense of the game - you usually know what the right thing is with 100% certainty, its more about skill of exection if you do well or not.

Also Im interested: Do I have to stay with the wife or can I just let her die :D?

Posted by Shikon

sweep made me die... a lot...

Posted by Kazona

Knowing myself I will probably quit playing after dying and starting from scratch a few times, but I do really like the ideas this game has. So maybe I'll give it a try.

One thing though. Can you really actually pirate something that isn't for sale yet?

Posted by Kazona
@Kazona
Knowing myself I will probably quit playing after dying and starting from scratch a few times, but I do really like the ideas this game has. So maybe I'll give it a try.

One thing though. Can you really actually pirate something that isn't for sale yet?
Forget that last bit in my post lol. Should have read the article.