header image

Zafehouse 2’s shiny new combat window (and mechanics)

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally done enough work on Zafehouse 2’s second combat prototype to post a couple of screenshots.

As I mentioned in a previous update, the original combat implementation was ground into a fine, code-tasting dust and packed away, replaced by an infinitely deeper (and juicier) solution that uses firing arcs.

Entering into combat hasn’t changed – you still click on the event in the event window – and the representation of the room is similar too. The difference is that zombies are no longer shown as one large group, they’re now broken up into individual flesh-eating nasties. Weapons have also evolved, the far/close/melee profiles exchanged for variable firing arcs and shot modes. For example, the shotgun has a wide firing arc and shoots pellets in a spread, but it can only fire once per turn and has a short range. A submachine gun on the other hand has a medium firing arc and range, but you can shoot up to six bullets at one or multiple targets. Keep in mind that each bullet fired in the same turn reduces the accuracy of the shot that follows it.

Hit the jump for an additional screenshot which show projectiles in flight. Yes, I said projectiles.

~ by Logan on February 28, 2010.

15 Responses to “Zafehouse 2’s shiny new combat window (and mechanics)”

  1. It looks great, does it really work?
    Couple questions:
    1. How works the placement of survivors?
    2. What distance can the zombies move in one turn?
    3.When zombies are attacking the house theirs icons starting outside, break in through baricades and attacking the survivors?
    4.Firing arc just represents the weapon spread or the weapons range? (Seams too arcadish that uzi wouldn´t shoot at the oposite wall of a room.)

  2. @kulik242: It sure does. I’d put a video up but I moved house recently and I’m still unpacking.

    1. Survivor placement is based on a new mechanic, called “Reactions”. Reactions reflect the hectic nature of a zombie incursion into a room by allowing only very coarse placement of survivors.

    For example, if you only have civilians, the only Reaction available will be “Scatter”, which means survivors are placed randomly in the room. This makes it hard to get a clear shot as everyone is all over the place.

    If there’s a cop in the group however, you might have the “Centre” Reaction, which places everyone in a group in the middle of the room. This means it’s easier to get a clean shot off without hitting a friendly.

    Reactions are still being implemented, but the idea is that they’ll allow for more than just placement. A special Reaction might let all survivors get a random shot off before actual combat begins, say.

    2. During combat, zombies will move their size per turn, if that makes sense. Outside of combat, rooms are split into segments – Top, Left, Right, Bottom. It takes a zombie one turn to move between any one of these segments to another. So it would take a zombie three turns to move into a room, cross it, and exit into different room.

    3. That’s correct.

    4. Weapon spread and *effective* range. Yes, an Uzi could easily cover the length or width of an average room (and it will), but it’ll have more punch if closer to the target. Range also increases the chance of an overhead shot – that is a shot going over the top of a target.

    I’ll have more info soon!

  3. Ok, thanks for answers, it all sounds great and it makes sense, but there is one essential thing: Can survivors move during combat?

  4. @kulik242: Nope, but that’s the fun (or intense) part. The Reaction mechanic is designed to reflect that you’ve lost control of the situation. Zombies have overrun your position and everyone’s looking out for themselves. Depending on your group’s experience and make-up, they’ll either get into a good position (the centre, to one side or in pairs) or they’ll freak out and spread themselves out.

    When zombies bust in initially, you’ll have a choice of Reaction to position them at no cost. If you decide to shift Reactions while the room is compromised, your guys risk being bitten as they switch from defending themselves to moving into place.

    Losing barricades and having zombies swarm in is bad. You don’t want to be going toe-to-toe with the undead. Getting hit just a couple of times will kill a survivor, and that’s not even considering the infection chance.

    As long as you keep your barricades up, you can choose who fires, when and at what. Once the dead break in… things go south very quickly.

    The big take-away here is that losing control is a bad thing. You want to keep your defenses up and your guys doing the things you want them to. Once you give that control up – be it through bad decisions on barricading or survivor choice, the burden falls on the skills, mental health and personalities of your survivors.

  5. Shit im lost again. :)
    Combat starts:
    Stage one- you position your survivors to your preferably barricaded doors and windows, zombies start outside.
    Despite your efforts the zombies break inside.
    Stage two- you get reaction and your survivors are positioned inside the room. Combat continues.

    1.When zombies break inside, can you still fight zombies outside moving towards the building?
    2.When clearing a room but there are still zombies outside, can you reposition your suvivors back to windows?
    3.Not even the melee survivors can move? …i see a problem with that.

    My opinion:
    Firing arcs are great, the reaction system is also great and its a interesting tactical factor. But i think that it should affect only starting position of survivors. Not that any dramatic repositioning will be possible when zombies are in the room, you want your men to killing zombies and not dance around after all, but moving your axe wielding fireman between the reloading officer and the zombie creates more drama than survivors glued to the floor.

  6. @kulik242: Heh, that’s okay. It’s a pretty significant change to how combat was originally supposed to work, and lightyears in a different direction to the original game.

    Replace stages with turns, and yes, that’s basically how it goes. So:

    Turn one – position survivors to defend doors/windows. Despite best efforts, they break down the barricades.
    Turn two – you have a chance to leave your guys defending the now un-barricaded entries and act as meat shields, or hold back and allow the zombies to enter the room. If you take the first option, then you can still attack zombies outside the room, but the guys acting as meat barricades will (most likely) get hammered. If you take option two, then you’ll have to select a Reaction.

    Questions 1 & 2 seem to be asking the same thing (unless I’ve missed something). The basic answer is yes, as long as they’re not surrounded. If a zombie is too close to the survivor you’d like to use, they’ll have to take care of it first.

    3. I want to drill the point home that having zombies overrun your position means you lose a lot of control, and part of that includes the fine-grained positioning you mention with the axe-wielder and the officer.

    However, I see your point and it’s a good one. I think it’d be great to further increases the potency of a hero survivor, such as the cop, by allowing meta-Reactions e.g. ordering a melee survivor to protect someone (including the cop itself). Expanding on this, as a survivor increases in experience, the options available to them in combat should increase also. So a Level 1 survivor might not be able to move at all during combat, apart from the initial Reaction, but a Level 2 survivor could be ordered to protect a particular survivor, or at least, attempt to move closer. A Level 3 might be able to protect someone or go on the defensive, lowering their attack abilities but decreasing their chances of being bitten.

    How does this sound?

  7. Just wanted to make sure that when zombies break trough one door you still can shoot zombies moving to the house from other directions, thanks. :)

    To be honest i would rather stick to reality. The reaction system feels real because if you don´t have someone leader-like to shout on you “Bunch up and stick together.” you really may get scattered all over the room. The concept of “loosing control is bad” is a bit tricky because players hate to loose control (they feel like something unfair is happening), so the idea is to making them loose control without them noticing it, it can be generally done by leaving them the control over their assets but worsen the circumstances and/or the odds. Make them loose control over the situation not their assets. …practically you accomplished this by implementing the reaction system, by throwing them all over the room worsens their situation and lowering theirs odds. Now give them the control to fight back. On top of that i believe that zombies breaking through barricades will be pretty common occurrence in the game so i would not punish players too hard for it.

    I find the meta-reactions solution bit chess-like and still too restrictive. If you want it to be restrictive ok, but you have to camouflage it so the players don´t notice it. How? Tell them everyone can move, now:
    Nurse Agnes (lvl 1) holding shovel moves towards a zombie/roll-fail= freezes in terror and din´t moved (or critical fail=moved backwards).
    Cab driver Oliver (lvl 2) holding crowbar moves towards a zombie/roll-partial success= is scared and moves only slowly (half the distance).
    Soldier Mike (lvl 3) holding a combat knife standing behind Agnes takes a sidestep moves towards zombie/roll-success= moves.
    Now in this way (or similar, this was just a example) you gave the player the possibility to control their assets but you narrowed the odds so its still restrictive but they won´t notice.
    There is still huge place to build upon i see perks like fearless, berserk or faith believer having impact when moving same as the level itself.
    lvl 1-can´t move same as pawn cannot move diagonally feels as i said chess-like.

    I have a bad conscience because im sounding like im denouncing your ideas so take my words only as a opinion. Its your game after all. :)

  8. No, it’s perfectly okay. Working in isolation is never a good thing, and I’d rather get useful feedback on developing ideas than just charge ahead.

    I have the time to prototype a few approaches, and actually playing them is the best way to see what feels good.

    I will say that I don’t want to make a zombie RTS. Whenever I want to remember what the feel of the game should be, I go straight to Night of the Living Dead. There’s no one person leading the others, there’s just one guy *trying*. Everyone wants to do their own thing. When the zombies are outside and everyone’s relatively safe, there’s time to talk and be somewhat rational. As soon as the barricades start falling though, any semblance of control vanishes. Obviously, someone with authority can overrule this to a degree (such as a doctor, priest or cop), but Z2 survivors are mostly civilians, and normal people have a hard time acting rationally when flesh-eating monsters are shambling towards them. Those who have survived for a length of time will have developed a tolerance and stronger will to deal with incursions in a better way.

    Still, normal people don’t charge into combat with the undead. They either stand their ground until its untenable, or retreat. Only heroes and idiots go on the offensive (I’m ignoring the Dawn of the Dead remake, obviously). I think that’s where a lot of zombie games that are similar to Zafehouse go wrong – it’s never been about killing hundreds of undead with shotguns and jumping around like a commando. It’s about surviving, both physically and mentally, against the end of the world and civilisation, and that’s what I want to (and must) capture with Z2. Zombies are deadly. People are deadly. And barricades falling is a really big deal.

  9. I agree, best thing to do will be probably play it out and see what works, feels good and deepens the gameplay. (Night of the dead is also my favorite zombie movie, because its so survival oriented there is actually very little zombie killing.)

    Btw i had a idea not combat related. Im not sure but right now the chance and strength of zombie attack depends entirely on time of the day, the later in the game the more attacks and zombies.
    I thought it could be affected by the activity the survivors are making, six persons searching the house and barricading the doors will make hell of a noise. The best thing to do right now is everyone let search the house and barricade the doors (may get boring), i think it would add another tactical layer if you had to be more carefull how many zombies you attract. So maybe let only some people to do this things to be more stealthy or even better have a option to do these things normal or silently (with lowered finding chances and slower barricading tempo).
    In context with this i thought that maybe it would be possible to have areas more swarmed with zombies than others. First i thought of modeling zombie movement but that would be hard to code and unpractical. So maybe only have one icon representing the level of infestation around house the survivors are in, changing from time to time. So your best bet would be to stay silent when lots of zombies are near by and search and barricade when they moved somewhere else.
    I didnt go throug details, but the easiest way to do this could be like this:
    3 levels of infestation.
    lvl 1-low- every turn 66% chance to raise to lvl 2 33% to stay
    lvl 2-medium- every turn 33% chance to raise, stay and grop
    lvl 3-heavy- every turn 66% chance to drop to lvl 2 33% to stay
    …just an example.
    Still the difficulty should rise over the cause of the game as the city gets overrun, so maybe make it coefficient like, or make more infestation levels…im not sure.
    What do you think?

  10. hold up, hold up, i dont really understand all this complcated stuff (is it really that complicated?) so will there be a “ZH2 guide for dummies” in ZH2 like how there is a help screen in ZH1?

  11. @murray: ZH2 will include a tutorial scenario to show you how the game works. It’ll be a lot more useful than a help screen, though full documentation will be there too.

    @kulik242: There’s already a system in place for increasing the amount of zombies in town and I have plans to implement awareness code, so zombies will be attracted to buildings where action is occurring (movement, combat, barricading, etc). Each zombie is stored individually, and there is a small variance in their strength and chance to hit. I’m not sure about increasing their strength significantly as the game goes on, but their numbers do go up and I’m not against increasing their… hunger… as it approaches night-time.

    The big fact is communicating information like this to the player, and making sure the influences aren’t too subtle. Obviously, limiting the amount of noise you make is the biggest factor, but the player should have some ability to determine just how much attention they’re drawing. But there a lot of ways to do that…

  12. I didnt mean change the strengt of zombies but just strenght of attack (number of zombies). Good to see you are steps ahead. :)

  13. @logan: thanks, cause im sure that i wouldnt be able to remember all the things that you have said about ZH2

    hmm… are we the only 3 that post now? btw ill say to people on this forum about the game and try to get more people to get involved in suggestions, etc.

    i just realised, us 3 are like a person, logan is the hands, he codes the game, kulik242 is the brain, where most of the suggestions come from and I… I am the stupidity, i test things that are too complicated for dumb people (aka me) cant understand… completly random i know.

  14. The game is still only half-complete, so I haven’t really gone to a lot of effort to publicise the game. Once it’s playable from start to finish, I’ll put the word out and I’m sure you’ll see a lot more people hanging around. For now, it’s to the game’s benefit not to have a hundred people crying out for a release date. :)

  15. Hi kulik242 has a point with the infestation levels and the noise but can do the ZOMBIES have different traits\characteristics\etc like some can hear better some are faste,r some can scale up to the higher levels of the ,building,mabey a few can die with some pistols so randomly fire off shots Potentially causing a injury to a survivor (very minimal chance of it happening because zombies are only known for their mindless onslaughts)or alerting more zombies as always hopefully sugestions are appreciated