I’ve mentioned being sick of zombie games, but in the same article I did say they had potential if handled correctly. As is becoming standard in gaming lately, it’s the indie developers who come up with interesting ways to approach familiar concepts, like Minecraft’s sandbox utopia or Braid’s platform-puzzling. A pair of developers nicknamed ‘Lemmy’ and ‘Binky’ are doing just that with zombies, and offering what could be the most interesting zombie-related piece of entertainment since ‘Shaun of the Dead’ parodied the genre wonderfully.
The premise is simple, a randomly generated world in which you must survive an apocalyptic scenario in which zombies run rampant through the streets, nothing new really. What makes this interesting is that the characters and encounters are not only random, but according to the description offered on the creator’s blog, rather unpredictable. The idea that your companions can seek solace in alcohol, only to find them depressed or dangerous, is incredibly intriguing.
The game is essentially an RPG, but like Minecraft, would appear to have few immediate goals beyond survival. This approach made Mincraft a haven for gamers with imagination and creativity, and this concept applied to a more immediate survival-based gameplay has huge potential. The game may look simple, but the ideas are big, and Lemmy suggests the game will take some time to perfect. Like Minecraft though, this will be based on players having access to early edition of the game, offering input and advice to its creators.
The community aspect of indie games, which creates a dialogue between creator and player, is a fantastic model. It’s great to see developers who understand the importance of player input. In a game with massive ambitions, it makes sense to let players direct, to some degree, what the game becomes, as this allows the developers to focus on the elements which most appeal to players.
The only problem for the creators of ‘Project Zomboid’ is that they are brimming with ideas. RPG elements which allow the player to become better at various aspects of survival, crafting of items and weapons, a progressing wider story which allows events in the game’s wider world to affect the smaller world inhabited by the player and zombies which react to sound and lighting are just some of the ambitious features of the project. There are just so many features that some may have to be cut to get the game out in the wild. They do say they’ll spend the time getting this right, and Mineraft has shown that a game doesn’t need to be finished to be fun.
It sounds fantastic, and is exactly what many gamers have been looking for from a zombie experience. With none of the fanfare or, thankfully, melodrama of Dead Island, this is likely to fly under many people’s radars, but it really deserves more attention – and for more than just the promise of the game. The developers were keeping this project a secret up till now, and have only revealed the project in the hope of getting donations from gamers who are interested. Hopefully there are many gamers willing to offer a little to this extremely exciting project.
You can find more information about the game, and donate to its development (rewards for this are offered) here.