Thursday, March 19, 2009

Plague 3.20

  • separated survivors from your start position so others cannot “steal” your guns. 
  • Added line and chevron formations (and renamed the old line formation to column) 
  • Fixed an ammo bug where ammo would not be created and crash the game 
  • Removed an intermittent bug where guns dont update their images. 
  • Rebalanced weapons a bit (made them a little weaker). 
  • Changed spacing in formations so you are less crowded 
  • (hopefully) fixed ammo bug where survivors try to get ammo that they dont pick up.


SanityImpaired said...

I've been fiddling around with a few things, trying to give Plague a more frantic pace without changing the core engine. Right now I'm playing with what I think of as Smash TV mode, and I'm really enjoying it.

I removed all AI survivors, set max grenades to 1, and set weapons and pickups to five each. I also modified the weapon table to give 50% pistols, 25% shotguns, 20% SMGs, and 5% assault rifles.

This completely changes how the game is played. Give it a try and see what you think.

There are a few ideas this has given me, but they're each long enough that I'll post them separately.

sanityimpaired said...

Idea #1 - Hard Choices:

I find that in Plague grenades are my solution to big zombies and hives. Which makes sense, but I've got enough of them that I can afford to waste them.

By bringing the maximum number of grenades down to 1, how I use them is suddenly very important. Consider the following example:

I have a grenade and an SMG. I can see a hive and a big zombie, which are far enough apart that I can't get both with a single grenade.

Which one do I grenade? If I hit the hive, I'm stuck dealing with a big zombie I might not be able to take with the SMG. If I grenade the big zombie, the hive might spawn another one before I've destroyed it with the SMG.

I really like the urgency these kind of decisions give the game. The question is how do we get them in there.

sanityimpaired said...

Idea #2 - Movement:

One of the things that drives me nuts about the AI survivors is that they're slow. I usually run on ahead of them on my own rather than waiting for them to catch up.

My solution to this is to make survivors run unless they're firing. However, some of them will choose to stand and fight, so I end up having to decide between running and writing them off or standing and risking losing everybody. I like this as per Idea #1. :)

This also leads to simplifying controls a little. We could set survivors (including the player) to run by default, and slow down only when firing a weapon. I think it's a more elegant solution than holding a key to run, but it falls apart if you plan on implementing endurance.

sanityimpaired said...

Idea #3 - Swarms:

Right now, it's relatively easy for the survivors to pick off zombies one at a time. The majority will keep milling around in the background while you pick apart the one or two who have noticed you.

When the player is alone, it's a lot harder since two or three zombies at a time can simply overwhelm you. Which is awesome.

A way to apply this to squad-based combat is to have zombies call for help when they spot a survivor. When a zombie notices the squad, he yells and every zombie within x metres also notices them. This leads to large packs of zombies attacking the survivors at once, which should lead to the same risk of being overwhelmed.

You probably want to limit the number of zombies called in this manner. Having the entire map turn on you the second the first one sees you would be a little unfair. :)

sanityimpaired said...

I've actually got a few more ideas, but I think I've spammed your blog enough for one day.

I also don't want to give the impression that these are demands or something. I'm just brainstorming out loud, and I'll be happy whether you take 'em or leave 'em.

Benedict Carter said...



Sounds like you want to "design" Plague, which is great since I dont spend nearly enough time doing that (most of my time is spent on programming/debugging). Balancing is a huge job, and I'm (more than) happy to share it. I will put your changes in tonight and playtest, but more is better (so keep on spamming the blog!). Have a look in and have a play with things like acceleration curves as well as that has a HUGE impact on gameplay.

You sound like you've modified code to do what you want in post 1, can you please pastebin the snippets ( in the future? (Your changes here are small and well explained so its not necessary in this instance, but going forward I imagine there will be more substantial revisions). I should get an online bza repository so that file/patches can be uploaded directly as well...

1 grenade idea: I like it. I spam grenades all the time (I hardly shoot in fact) so this is a good idea to stop me from doing that. A little history: early versions had 500 grenades (so much fun), so 5 was already a decrease :P

Slow survivor sims also annoy me (not enough to do anything though). Stamina has been implemented (and I want to keep it), but I can allow them to sprint as well (just havent gotten around to it). I'll add some code to the AI for this (I have been meaning to for ages). It'll be a wekeend job as it wont be quick to properly integrate.

Zombie swarms: I have the same vision for hordes of zombies communicating and attacking you and I've built the code to allow leaders to issue "target orders" to their squads, but I havent implemented it yet (for humans or zombies) as I've been debugging "movement command" stuff lately (one thing at a time). They way its built, only the zombies in a squad will be affectd (so you wont get the entire map chasing you). One downside of this is that because I dont have a pathfinding algorithm like A*, zombies will run into walls (straight line to target). Not good. Of course you wont see this as they wil be behind the wall, so theres no real reason not to kludge it in now. That'll also be a weekend job. The I'll have to add some code to let squads alert leaders to enemies...

Awww man, I havent started on the city building algorithm yet, and I think my weekend is already full...

Benedict Carter said...

Hey wow,

Its Friday night and I got all that stuff done. You greatly motivated me SanityImpaired, thanks. Bring on the rest of the suggestions!