Chasing realism in Undead Labs’ State of Decay

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6 Responses

  1. Alexander B. says:

    It’s a pretty fun zombie survival game. I like the managing your home base. Due to the permadeath it keeps me always cautious and second guessing my choices, like it should. lol So far I’ve only lost one of my characters, due to my own stupidity, took on to many zombies at once.

  2. Alisha K. says:

    I am typically pretty cautious when I play, but this game has me totally paranoid.

  3. Bart Stewart says:

    As an aside, there may be a simple explanation for why we’re seeing so many zombie-shooter games being made lately: zombies aren’t people.

    In other words, we’re seeing so many of these not primarily because zombies are popular (though that might be a lower-priority justification), but because shooting human beings in a computer game is politically touchy these days. It’s just safer to go with robots, aliens, zombies or otherwise mutated former humans, or — in a pinch — Nazis or Confederate-era racists.

    I’m sure this isn’t the main reason for all zombie-shooters. Some probably do go after zombies as a flavor of the month target. But my suspicion is pretty strong that avoiding bad PR explains why there are so many of them currently.

    To the actual point about emergent mechanics enabling more intellectually and emotionally engaging gameplay than static encounters pre-scripted by some developer somewhere: yes.

    I personally don’t enjoy playing “game over” designs; to me that’s stressful, not fun. But I do see how it works for apocalyptic horror.

    Having said that, I’d really like to see the basic idea here used in other games that are slightly less stressful than lurking death that can kill anyone, anytime. A game world built on dynamically interacting systems will be one that’s more worth exploring for more hours than a scripted, linear, “play it once and you’ve seen everything worth seeing” game. (I can’t get past the interface, but a lot of people say that Dwarf Fortress is such s game. Crazy stuff happens, and awesome stories emerge.)

    What’s sad is that this model was where gaming appeared to be headed in the ’90s on the PC. Studios like Looking Glass were making “dungeon simulators” like Ultima Underworld and multi-solution game environments like System Shock and Thief. Since then it feels like dynamism has gone backwards. You can see it all too well in the BioShocks — with each iteration they offer less player agency, less active worlds, than the original System Shock… released in 1994, nearly 20 years ago now. BioShock: Infinite designer Tynan Sylvester has even written to try to dismiss what he called the “simulation dream.”

    This blog post does a great job of showing the alternative to non-simulationist games that, for all their glitz, are little more than interactive cutscenes. Games like State of Decay are one answer to the current belief that absolute developer control over every aspect of the player experience is required. It demonstrates how designing for emergent effects allows satisfying content to surprise and inspire and terrify and delight us.

    For my money, this is the real future of computer games. They can and should be something different/more than just interactive novels.

  4. Alisha K. says:

    I really like that idea — that it’s more acceptable to blow the hell out of zombies than it is people. Makes sense to me. In fact, I agree with everything you’re saying here. I definitely find I often want more agency in games. I want the option that isn’t listed, the logical option that’s often missing. If I want to read a book, I read. If I want to watch a movie, I watch a movie. Gaming is, and has been, somewhat in flux, still trying to figure out just what kind of experience to offer, and the result is often muddled.

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