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Author Topic: Zombie Missions  (Read 6737 times)
impact36inc

"...The sweet piano writing down my life..."

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« on: November 01, 2013, 11:13:25 AM »

Hi All,
My Zombies were getting frustrated during our first game that they didn't have enough to do and several were dropping from the game because of it. I'm working on a couple of Zombie-specific missions but I could use some suggestions. Thanks!
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Herbert West

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« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2013, 03:25:57 PM »

I'm assuming that by zombie-specific missions, you mean zombie-centered missions - a mission with no humans allowed wouldn't be HvZ and probably wouldn't be fun.

The main problem that I see with making zombie-centered missions is that we need humans present to create conflict, so there would have to be an incentive for the humans to go and risk their lives. At my last university, missions alternated between human missions (where the humans knew of the mission and their goal in advance, and the zombies weren't supposed to know that there was a mission until they noticed the humans suddenly all showing up) and zombie missions (where the humans didn't know about it until they noticed the zombies doing something strange). Zombies tend to maintain a much greater presence on campus, because it is tactically advantageous for a zombie to seek encounters and for a human to avoid them. As a result of this, zombies noticed and interfered with the human missions far more than the humans noticed and interfered with the zombie missions, leading the zombie missions to be kinda boring.

So, my advice is to be careful to avoid this problem. Everyone likes to be the protagonist once in a while, and setting up a situation where the zombies can be villian protagonists is a very good idea - but make sure that the human hero antagonists also know about it and have a reason not to simply leave them be.

With that being said, almost any human-centered mission could be made into a zombie-centered mission simply by reversing the roles of the two sides, then making adjustments as appropriate.

Sending the zombies on a scavenger hunt works just as well as sending the humans on a scavenger hunt, except that you don't need to motivate the zombies to hunt the humans while they search for treasure, while you do need to motivate the humans to be on campus while the zombies search for treasure. Perhaps the humans should also have a scavenger hunt at the same time - and, just to make things interesting, some of the pieces of treasure are being sought by both sides.

Having the horde defend a point could work as well as having the humans defend a point if you give the zombies an advantage (such as instant respawn points which the humans have to guard to disable).

A zombie escort mission would require some major modifications to the premise (otherwise the humans could just blowgun the slow-moving zombie convoy to death). Perhaps the zombies have to sneak an item from point A to point B, and the humans don't know where point B is so they can't simply concentrate their forces there, and the zombies could send many decoy teams in addition to the one real team . . . things could get interesting.

There are a few well-written guides to constructing human missions out there; you can search them for inspiration. Just remember that simply swapping the roles of the sides won't suffice and that some adjustments will be needed.

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Quote from: Agatha Heterodyne
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impact36inc

"...The sweet piano writing down my life..."

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« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2013, 02:40:17 PM »

Thanks for your input!
I like the scavenger hunts idea a lot and I may end up using that.
I think the problem from our first game was that it was our first game and our Zeds were run very ragged. Our Head Mod for that game also put hardly any effort into his game, sooooo yeah  Tongue
Thanks again!
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« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2013, 08:24:33 PM »

A good practice, especially early in the game when humans are very strong, is to split up the human force. If you spread the humans thin, they aren't able to lock down the zombies as effectively and will actually be given a run for their money. A lot of the advice that can be given do you depends on a lot of things though: the number of players at your school, how long your game lasts, how previous years worked, etc.
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Epochalyptik
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« Reply #4 on: November 14, 2013, 04:13:24 PM »

I've done a couple things to solve this problem.

First, mission design should take into account the size of each faction: humans and zombies. If the split is something like 5:1 in the humans' favor, consider designing the mission to split the humans into smaller groups and spread them out over a wider area. It makes them more vulnerable and challenges them to communicate and multitask as a force.

You can have bonus objectives for the zombies as well. Killing humans should remain a primary objective for the zombies, but you can introduce "find the VIP" kinds of objectives. This works well for multiple reasons:
  • You can split a number of the humans off to race zombies to the objective. This makes it easier for zombies to get kills on missions that are inherently in the humans' favor (i.e. point defense).
  • The zombies actually earn a reward as a team and have the option of doing something else for a change.
  • It's very easy to integrate neutral VIPs into storylines.
You can also opt for a unique kind of secondary objective. Say the humans have a point defense mission. They also have several markers in the area that they must occasionally activate (e.g. "go turn on those generators," or "go plant those beacons"). This splits the humans up a bit and draws a small force out. Zombies don't have to kill them, but there's incentive for going after these smaller forces. You could also allow the zombies an option to intercept a reinforcement or resupply team.

Because my game is divided into day and night play, we often create seek-and-find objectives for daytime play. The success or failure of each faction in regards to these daytime mini-missions influences what specials, resources, or objectives those factions get at night.
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Human role: heavy/sharpshooter
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« Reply #5 on: November 15, 2013, 02:42:55 AM »

Not sure if this is a source of the frustration or not, but make sure zombies have rewards to play for besides "You stopped the humans". Whether they get an hour of socks-only the following day, a respawn point somewhere on campus or some other reward, it helps them to have a reason to play (and making it story-related is just gravy).
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Jesse Abram
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« Reply #6 on: November 18, 2013, 12:28:57 PM »

Suggested rewards for zombies:

An extra spawn point.

A super zombie of some sort.

A few "res bombs" that revives all the zombies at once.

Humans get less time to accomplish their mission.

Humans have to accomplish an extra objective.

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Herbert West

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« Reply #7 on: November 18, 2013, 03:18:52 PM »

A few words of advice if you plan on giving the horde super zombies as an award:

First, there should be some very clear system for determining which zombie gets the super powers, which won't create accusations of favoritism. For example, if the zombies successfully complete a stealth escort mission, every zombie cooperated to achieve this goal, so it would be unfair to arbitrarily assign powers to only some zombies (and the zombies may not be able to come to a consensus amongst themselves with regards to the issue of who gets the powers, if you let them decide). On the other hand, if the zombies find items in a scavenger hunt, it is very easy to determine who should get the powers: the zombie who found the power-granting token gets the power (and probably should have the option to transfer it to another zombie, if they'd like).

Second, special zombies that are powerful enough to have an interesting effect on a mission are, in my opinion, overpowered for between-classes play. If you want to give the zombies really cool special abilities, I recommend that you make these abilities only usable during missions.
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Jesse Abram
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« Reply #8 on: November 19, 2013, 11:08:08 AM »

The Super Zombies I've seen were played by Mods.  A Super Zombie with Rock'm-Sock'm hands that could block darts and socks.  A zombie with Hulk Hands that could only be stopped with socks, and had a 10 second stun timer.  Walking Respawn Point Zombie.

And yes, limiting them to Missions is a good idea.
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« Reply #9 on: November 19, 2013, 01:58:16 PM »

Last game down here had the storyline of a voodoo shaman mind-controlling humans.(Yep. Voodoo zombies. I love south Louisiana.) He was immune to everything but socks, and could block socks by throwing his stovepipe hat. Unfortunately, he was OP the entire game(His respawn time was 5 minutes to everyone else's 15) and had about 30 kills in the first day alone. He got toned down by day 3, but it was too late. The human resistance fell apart and only about 15(out of 180 starting humans) made it to the final mission, which lasted about 4 minutes.
Moral of the story: Don't OP early in the game. Give it as a reward only when needed.
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Herbert West

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« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2013, 12:36:17 AM »

I agree that OPing early in the game is a very bad idea, because you will have to correct (or balance) it later, and this will inevitably cause some dissatisfaction. Think about how much griping occurs whenever CoD gets patched; it would be much better if things could be balanced from the start. This is especially bad if the OP comes from special zombies. IMHO special zombies should be like spice to the meat of the horde; they should add variety and depth but should not overwhelm the flavor of standing against an ever-growing ravenous revenant tide.

15 out of 180 doesn't sound like a bad survival rate to me, though. I've heard of some schools where a ~10% survival rate is considered good and a total wipeout at the final mission is par for the course. Am I correct in assuming that your game lasted a week? If so, attrition to nothing over a long game doesn't reek of bad balance, it just means that the game is more grim and gritty and (dare I say) a more realistic apocalypse.

Although you say that special zombies should be given "as a reward" and "as needed", I think that in most cases these two criteria contradict. If the zombies need a boost (say, all of the easy prey was eaten in the early game and the remaining zombies are starving), then they won't be in a good position to obtain an award, and if the zombies can obtain an award, they probably don't need the boost.

This is where a bit of subtlety on the behalf of the moderators is useful. Give the zombies awards when they earn them, but make the awards much easier to earn and much better when the zombies need them. That way, game balance (and the desired rate of human attrition) can be maintained without it seeming like the moderators' hands are guiding things either way.

I'm not sure if I like the idea of moderators playing special zombies, as it places the moderator on one side of the game and may (apparently if not actually) impair their objectivity on other matters. Furthermore, it denies zombie players the opportunity to be the special zombie. The possibility of becoming a special for a mission would make being a zombie more attractive - it offers both something to work towards besides a kill count, and some variety (which is otherwise the domain of the human side), which could help greatly with the issue of zombie apathy raised in the OP.

So, in short, I would recommend that if you include special zombies in your game, make them rewards for zombie-oriented missions (because you want to give the zombies something to work for other than just biting and impeding humans), let players be the special zombies (various reasons), use subtlety when deciding how easy it should be to become a special zombie for a mission, and don't make them too powerful (which means, among other things, limiting their special abilities to missions).
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Quote from: Agatha Heterodyne
A dream merely soothes - but our nightmares make us run!
impact36inc

"...The sweet piano writing down my life..."

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« Reply #11 on: November 22, 2013, 11:42:28 AM »

I ended up having a much more out-going, positive, and into-the-game Horde this game and they were understanding of our "second game ever" fumblings. They understood their purpose well and executed it very efficiently!

I ended up giving them a mini-mission before the third day's mission in which they could find and unlock an upgraded Zombie class. One of the top Zombies got it and was able to use a small shield for the rest of the game. (The Humans got a balancing class that allowed a Human to have Zombie-immunity but could only be tagged when a flag was removed from their back.)

We're still working out the kinks and have resolved to have more Mods for each game even though we still have a very small game (43 for Sept. game, 72 for Nov. game). I think we weren't able to put as much content into this last game as we would have liked is because we were in the process of getting our game back, but we're now fully approved for our games for the Spring semester!

Thank you all for your input/ideas!
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« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2013, 12:18:43 AM »

In my games, we often end up using special zombies as perks to the horde to help balance inherent problems the zombies might face. For example, one of the missions every week centers on a specific academic complex on campus. The square is basically a fortress, and it's very hard for zombies to run through the human defenses.

To balance this, we implement a special zombie (usually a tank) that can only walk, but can't be stunned or killed by normal weapons. We also give the humans a special weapon (the Centurion mega blaster) to stun the tank/force it to respawn. The tank can only walk while not respawning, and it can tag as well. The mission mechanics favor the humans, but the special gives the zombies the ability to push the lines and force humans back from the key defense points.

I don't really like the idea of offering special zombies as a reward for zombie performance during night or day missions. As Herbert West brings up, it's very difficult to give the horde that kind of reward and maintain game balance.
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Human role: heavy/sharpshooter
Primary: EAT (AR removal, Stockade stock, dart holder, 18+18 jungle mag) [sharpshooting]
Secondary: Stryfe (mechanical lock removal, foregrip, 18+18 jungle mag) [CQC]
Sidearm: Hammershot, socks, Triad
Utility: Vest
Optional: Rapidstrike (35-dart drum) [support]
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