Food and its Importance in Safe Zone

August 13th, 2015

This week we’re talking more about the consumable items in the game, specifically about Food. Naturally, an important part of survival is finding Food to keep you alive. Fortunately, a sudden surge in the canned bean market means that there is plenty of long lasting food sources available. Food serves three major purposes in Safe Zone.

Food: Progression, Defense, and Morale

Food-BeansThe first is as a requirement for progression; moving your caravan to new locations on the map requires both Fuel and Food depending on how many people are traveling with you. Although a larger caravan will require more Food, your caravan members will be able to forage for Food on their own if you’ve assigned them to do so.

Food is also an integral part of your Defenses. Simply put, fending off a horde of zombies is hungry work. Every time you’re attacked, you’ll lose some of your Health and your Defense. If a character runs out of health, well, that’s game over for him or her. As your Defense gets lower, you run a higher risk of being bitten and infected. Medkits will recover health, but Defense will recover over time as long as you eat Food regularly. Defense will recover up to its max, which will lower as a character becomes hungrier. Taking a break to snack on something will help recover your defensive potential.

Finally, Food has an integral part in the moral system. While enthusiasm for the same canned beans will dwindle over time, spicing up an NPC’s diet with a rare Food that they like is guaranteed to improve their morale. The base Food in the game is Canned Beans, and you’ll be finding a lot of them. There are other types of food as well, but they are more rare. Every NPC has a preferred Food Type, and feeding them their preferred type will ensure that their morale will increase. At the same time, these rare Foods will recover more hunger if eaten by the player. Do you save the special treats for your allies? Or do you only allow bean lovers in your caravan so that you can hoard everything else?

Here’s an article we like that covers some of the ins and outs of eating during a zombie apocalypse.

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Weapons and Their Stats in Safe Zone

August 6th, 2015

Weapons for Safe Zone - Benelli M3This week John has been working on fine tuning the weapons your character will be using in the upcoming alpha. This is what he has to say about it!

Right now, the ranged weapons you will have access to are the pistol, the shotgun, the rifle, and the baseball bat. Guns in Safe Zone have a number of stats that determine how effective they are.

Accuracy is the gun’s base chance of hitting a target; rifles tend to be more accurate than pistols, for example.

Weapons for Close Combat

Melee weapons work off of a different system than guns. Melee weapons have a much higher base accuracy and chance to headshot. Additionally, certain weapons will have either a dismemberment or knockback chance, allowing you to tip the fight in your favor. Melee weapons also don’t have accuracy; instead, they have durability. Durability represents a chance for your weapon to break on a swing, which grows larger the more it is used. Although melee weapons may seem more reliable than guns, they require constant maintenance to keep them in shape.

Equipping yourself with the best weapons is often the best way to stay alive, but do be careful with what weapons you equip your fellow survivors with. They may not be so keen on giving them back, and they may not have your survival as their top priority.

As avid zombie media fans ourselves, the team has always had strong opinions about which weapons would be best for a zombie apocalypse and which would be the worst. The general theme is that the louder something is, the more zombies it will inevitably attract, which is bad news for anyone who finds the chainsaw in our game. But if you have an interest in why some weapons are less enticing than others, here’s an article that neatly sums up some of our thought process.

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Sprite Sheet Design and Combinations

July 28th, 2015

Zombie-Bite-SpriteSprite sheets are a key part of any 2D game, and Safe Zone is no exception. Lately we have been finalizing some sprite sheet decisions based on Unity’s capabilities and on our own sprite needs.

Sprite customizability is very important to us. We want a wide variety of heads, shirts, and pants to be available for the player to choose from when they design their character, and we also want the game itself to be able to combine these different sprite elements randomly to ensure that all NPCs and zombie sprites are fairly unique. This requires a lot of complex layering of pieces to create the final sprite. With Justin on our team, we can spare the bandwidth to really tackle our sprite sheets and make sure they will work for the alpha as well as the final game as more features are added.

The sprite animations are coming along very nicely. In a 3D game, each character animation would be designed and then skins could be easily swapped out to add variety and customizability, and there wouldn’t even be any sprites. But working in a 2D space, every animation must have a separate sprite series drawn for each possible article of clothing in Safe Zone. Because we are going with a mostly realistic art style for our sprites, and are not using pixel art, it’s pretty important to pay attention to the little details in layer placement. All of this takes time and resources, but we think it will be worth it!

Sprites: Do It Yourself

If you are interested in creating some 2D sprites, we would recommend reading through this blog post by Anjin Anhut. It’s a great overview of 2D art and a fun read. He is always posting good stuff on his blog – Check it out!

As always, thanks for keeping up with our blog posts, and we’ll see you next week!

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Caravan: Its Role In Safe Zone

July 22nd, 2015

Caravan MemberKeeping Your Caravan Motivated and Mobile

Today we would like to talk about the Caravan, a key element of the game that we’ve not talked about much in our recent posts. The Caravan is made up of the Player Character and any survivors that have joined the party. It will serve as the main base of operations within each area the Player is scavenging. Players can set Caravan roles for their party members such as Scout, Guard, and even Cook. This will help to determine the overall level of safety, efficiency, and morale of the Caravan while the Player is out exploring. This will also help to determine how long the player can safely foray before his or her leadership is needed among the group, as well as many other hidden values.

NPC interactions will play a large role in the operation of your Caravan. Though it may make sense to take both of the Doctors you recruited (who hate one another)and tell them to work together to help the wounded, it may be more efficient to pair them up with other NPCs that they like more. This is most apparent when the Caravan is under attack, as NPCs who hate each other are more prone to… accidents. Naturally as the Player Character and Caravan leader you will have some agency in preventing this, but only if you are around when it happens. Managing your time between scavenging essential resources, keeping your Caravan’s Morale high, and ensuring that group cohesion does not break down completely will be the difference between a successful trek to the Safe Zone and another unfortunate, but hopefully hilarious, roadblock.

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking and a lot of reading up on group dynamics in disaster-level situations, and found this blog post to be particularly interesting. Check it out if you want to read more about the subject!

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Wound Decals – Sneak Peek

June 28th, 2015

Here’s a quick gif of some wound decals on a zombie’s head





















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Items – Part 1

June 24th, 2015

Continuing with the weekly updates, today we’re talking about the consumable items the alpha release that have finished art assets.














Gas Cans are the most important, as you’ll need a minimum amount of gas as well as food in order to leave an area. Unlike food, gas cans may be used in the field to start a fire making them perfect for stopping a swarm of zombies. Even the smartest zombie doesn’t understand the concept of pain and will march right through a fire in order to reach you.

In general, gas will be hard to acquire and you’ll be limited to how much you can hold at a time. With a certain item you might be able to siphon gasoline out of abandoned cars (assuming they weren’t abandoned for a lack of fuel), but this won’t be available to the player right away. Using a gas can is a two step process. First the character will create the gas spill, and their next interaction will be lighting it. These two actions don’t have to be sequential, you could opt to create a few spills, lure a large group of zombies, and then only spring the trap when they are close to it.

Grenades are a less effective zombie deterrent unless you have several of them bunched up. Furthermore, grenades are very noisy and are likely to attract unwanted attention. But for dealing with an immediate problem, grenades are a great asset. Grenades will tend to be found in groups when looted from containers, but occasionally you’ll find a single one in a zombie’s inventory from before they turned. Additionally, Grenades can be used while running and won’t impact your mobility.

Medkits are essential for patching up wounds, cuts, and bruises from extended fights. It’s important to keep a character patched up to ensure that their Defense recovers, or else they will be too weak to fend off a zombie’s (eventually) fatal bite. However, Medkits take a long time to apply and cannot be used while moving. It’s generally best to use them only in safe or secure locations. Certain medkits will have additional effects thanks to a wider range of available medicine, ranging from temporarily increased health, improved performance, greater restoration, and more. However, without a trained Doctor your character might not know how to use the medkit’s medicine to it’s fullest effect…

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Zombie AI: Alpha

June 9th, 2015

Here’s an overview of the zombie types that you will run into in the Alpha:

There are three types of Zombies currently in the game which differ depending on their age. The oldest zombies are slow and straight forward; once they notice the player, they will move directly towards him or her with no concern for obstacles in the way. These zombies are the most common and the easiest to escape from as they do not know how to navigate the environment very well.

The second tier of zombies are faster and smarter, capable of determining an open path to the Player. If you close a door to a house and they can’t attack that door to get to you, probably because there are other zombies in the way, they’ll check to see if there are any other ways into the house. Perhaps a side door you haven’t explored yet?

The third tier of zombies are the most dangerous because they can open doors on their own and create new paths. They’re also much rarer, normally only showing up as the result of someone recently succumbing to the virus. Which is a problem on it’s own; it’s bad enough Billy just became a zombie, but then he opened up all the doors to let other zombies in. Quite the troublemaker, that Billy.

Naturally these are subject to change during development, and we hope to include even more dangerous enemies as the game progresses (just not in the Alpha).

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