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April update: Zafehouse 2, 4e Power Toolkit

It’s been over a month since I last posted about either Zafehouse 2 or the 4e Power Toolkit, so I was due. I don’t have a great deal to say, but I’m feeling a little disconnected from you guys and it’s making me sad.

Zafehouse 2: Development has been… slow. At work, we’re getting extremely close to the business end of development and I’m spending a lot of time doing the designer thing. It hasn’t left me with a lot of brain space or time for Zafehouse 2. This has compounded my aforementioned sadness.

Compounding the compounded sadness, I’ve hit a few roadblocks with the game, which I am methodically resolving. The biggest one was enemy/player placement in combat. Originally I was using pixel positioning, which seemed decent on the surface, but caused havoc with movement, path-finding and a bunch of other tiny things that grew into a series of big things with teeth, bad breath and mad, mad eyes. I’ve now switched to a grid system, and much of the pain has faded. I’m now refactoring the drawing code and logic so I can finish combat completely.

I’ve finally added the concept of stamina and I’m happy with the implementation. Stamina “units”, at their most basic level, are action points that carry between turns. When you don’t perform any strenuous activities, you regain half a stamina unit. Activities such as moving for extended periods, fighting and break (but not dismantling) furniture drain stamina. Having low stamina makes you move slower, while having close to no stamina stops you from barricading doors and making barricading supplies. Stimulants prevent stamina loss, but leave you with a stamina “debt” that must be repaid before you can regain it again.

Stamina also allows you to fight additional combat rounds before the zombies can act, giving you a small advantage when turds hit the turbines.

Survivor carry limits have been reduced, making your choice of stronghold even more important. Currently, survivors can carry 2 medicine, 2 alcohol and 5 barricades, down from 4, 4 and 10. On the upside, I realised 25 was a silly maximum for bullets – it’s been upped to 50. You’ll have a choice of one of five perks to increase your carrying capacities – one for each supply type that increases it a moderate amount (probably double), and one that increases them all by a small amount.

I’m still aiming for a July demo – working towards this has provided me with a goal that has helped crystalise the game’s direction. Expect the demo to have just one scenario (likely the tutorial one) and no high score uploading.

4e Power Toolkit: I’ve had plenty of requests for improvements recently, but I’m not sure if the current code can support these extensions. The program is reasonably modular, but only to the limits of the vanilla WotC power format. Various expansions, like the “Power” books and the new PHBs, have morphed the Power format into something that’s becoming harder to support with the current version of the 4ePT.

As such, I’m looking to recode large parts of the program to not only improve the interface (based mainly on user suggestions), but to increase the modularity of the Power format. Currently the 4ePT uses a tag replacement system to format the powers. It works well, but it’s grown harder to maintain as WotC’s powers has evolved. What the 4ePT needs is something component-based, but I’m still nutting out exactly how this would work. I’m also keen to add power “templates”, as the powers of a class often share sources, damage types and implements. Hopefully this will streamline the power creation process, especially for official classes.

I don’t have a timeline for this rewrite as my focus is on Zafehouse 2. I’m also keenly aware that WotC could release its own Power/Class Creator, much like it did for monsters. Obviously, if I hear news of an app like this, it’d effectively kill the 4ePT. Which equals more sad.

~ by Logan on April 6, 2010.

5 Responses to “April update: Zafehouse 2, 4e Power Toolkit”

  1. Its not a problem when things are moving slowly is important they doesnt stop. :)
    The stamina idea is truly awesome i can imagine how those survivors getting tired from repairing barricades and killing of zombies that got through. …it has that zombie survival feel to it.

  2. nice to see you post again logan, i thought you had forgotten about us. as kulik said, nice to see a stamina system and… there’s nothing else to say really apart from keep up the good work :)

  3. this may be a dum question but how good is the Zombie AI gonna be- if it is just go for the weakest point automatically, you can just put really tough barricades on side rooms and a direct route from the fron door to the back of puny barricades. ive used this tactic on other games and thezombies just storm though the empty rooms getting carefully picked off until they hit the last barricade and leave the building. again it may be a stupid question but using this method realy kills survival games

  4. oh and btw your comment about Heroes and idiots on the offensive. Heroes and idiots are the same thing the heroes are just more successful.

  5. @domdabomba: Not a dumb question at all.

    The zombie AI you just described to me is actually smarter than it should be. Zombies shouldn’t really recognise that a barricade is weak, just that there are tasty, tasty humans behind it.

    Zombies in Zafehouse 2 have “lifesense”. This means that, eventually, they can track down living humans no matter where they are. When zombies are in the same building as one or more survivors, they’ll attempt to “clump” before moving via the fastest path to those survivors. If there are barricades in the way, they’ll begin to smash them down.

    Zombies, however, are so desperate for food that once they’ve overcome even one survivor, they’ll flock to the corpse to devour it. Depending on how cruel you are, you can use this to your advantage.

    I should also stress that Zafehouse 2, other than in the preperation phases, never gives you complete control over the survivors. Sure, you can pick which weapons they use, who has what supplies, and where they should move (outside of combat), but once they’re in the thick of it, you’ll have to rely on how well you’ve set them up. The best examples are the Reactions, which instruct survivors to position themselves as best they can based on a formation; and aiming in combat, where all you can do is tell them to shoot in a particular direction – it’s up to the survivor to decide who they should aim at (within the firing arc) and how many shots they should fire. More experienced survivors (and hero survivors) will be better judges of who they should shoot at and how many bullets they should use.

    As I’ve said in a previous comment, I think a lot of zombie games screw it up by empowering the player, and empowerment is not what survival horror is about. The more vulnerable you are, the more intense (and faithful) the experience is.