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  • Results from Game Design Challenge: Literary Inspirations

    - staff

  •  Evan Glover, Student, Ohio University

    Zombies recently underwent a change in popular culture. They went from being a slow, creeping, horde of moaning doom to being a tireless, sprinting, nigh-unstoppable, adrenaline-powered brain-eating machine. In the event of the second type of outbreak, humanity is utterly doomed. In the event of the first, however, humanity has hope in Max Brooks and his book, The Zombie Survival Guide. Sadly, though, younger people rarely pick up books as a form of entertainment. The world needs The Zombie Survival Guide: Outbreak Simulator.

    TZSG:OS is a real-time simulation game which places players in command of a group of survivors at the beginning of a zombie outbreak with one concrete objective: survive. The player holds a managerial role in the group, and organizes everything from guard shifts to traveling across the country. The player is also unrepresented by any particular survivor, ensuring that the player will be able to remain in command down to the last survivor.

    Several pieces of The Zombie Survival Guide are repeated over and over in its pages due to their incredible importance: terrain and climate, classes of outbreaks, sustainability, and group size. Sustainability is absolutely critical for any length of time surviving, group size and terrain are critical in determining how the group moves and the mental stability of individuals, and the class of outbreak is the sheer number of zombies and the loss of civilization.

    In TZSG:OS Players are able to tailor their simulated outbreak before they begin by looking through locations in the world and receiving ratings from one to ten of its ease of defense, offense, and travel. In addition, players will receive lists of its guaranteed natural resources, potential natural resources, surrounding terrain types, current climate, population density, and distances to important nearby locations. In order to adjust challenge, players will also be able to adjust their beginning supplies and shelter, the class of the outbreak, and the number of survivors in their group.

    At the outset of the game, players have to direct their survivors to find shelter if they selected to start without a guaranteed building of some sort or, alternatively, immediately leave their location for another area. Should a player decide to survive entirely on the move, they will have little to do other than manage their survivors while moving, but this is near impossible, and it is far more likely that the player will establish some sort of base. When the player does decide to fortify their position, they can order their survivors use trees, rocks, urban rubble, vehicles, and many other objects to construct a suitable barrier between themselves and the shambling undeath.

    Survivors, however, may not take kindly to the player's suggestions. Just like real people, a survivor will have to eat, drink, sleep, use the bathroom, and even socialize (primarily to take their mind off the moans of ghouls,) or their mental and physical well-being will suffer. And once a person becomes paranoid or weak, happiness and morale in the group start to suffer. There is hope, though: survivors will be able to learn and become more adept at tasks they perform regularly, leading to less physical and psychological exhaustion. In addition, all survivors will begin with several Perks and Quirks. Perks are innately helpful, and will give the survivors bonuses, such as increased mental stability or further proficiency with firearms. Quirks, on the other hand, are innately harmful, and will give survivors detriments, such as a greater tendency toward insanity or abandoning their fellow survivors during combat.

    There are ways to win against a mob of ravenous walking corpses. Eradicating an entire Class 1 or Class 2 outbreak is entirely possible alone, as they only consist of around one hundred zombies spread across a relatively small area. A Class 3 outbreak would be impossible for survivors to clear by themselves, and would require severe, well coordinated military intervention. A Class 4, or "Doomsday" outbreak, can only be waited out. It can take decades for the last of the undead to rot away.

    In any case, it's a good idea to be prepared.


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