[Need Feedback] Idea for zombie/sci-fi game


#1

Hi all! I wanted to get some feedback about a potential idea I had/brainstorm some stuff.

For the longest time, I’ve been wanting to do a zombie-oriented game, but I’m fully aware of the pitfalls of doing one, namely that most people would be more than happy to cast the genre entirely to the side. So I wanted to subvert the genre by wrapping it in a sci-fi setting.

The idea is this: the PC is an employee at a simulation software company. Currently, the company is working on a simulation of a zombie outbreak as a means to study and research the potential behaviors that could lead to rapid-fire spread of a zombie virus. The company uses extremely sophisticated programming to create hyper-realistic simulations, utilizing “avatars” to represent people and “entities” to represent zombies. The avatars in the game all record a recollection of the simulated events that occur to them in a “diary” that the PC, as one of thousands of simulation analysts, must read over to find faults with the simulation and track what behaviors lead to the spread of the virus. The diaries are extensive and detailed, and they may also grant access to relevant diary entries from other avatars that are being reviewed by other analysts (which means your avatar’s diary is also available for access by other analysts).

As the PC spends more time with their current simulation of an avatar named Cheryl and her boyfriend Mike, the PC begins to realize something inherently sinister about the simulations and finds a major coding error that could throw the entire simulation system into a frenzy. These revelations lead the PC to believe that the company is ethically unsound and must be brought down from the inside. The PC must use a combination of tactful lying, emotional manipulation, and general trickery to discover the truth about the company and stop them from creating more simulations.

I have some questions that I think will help me in developing the game, but feel free to ignore them if you have more pressing criticisms.

  1. Would you be interested in this game? Why or why not?
  2. Do you think the combination of genres and the setting is interesting? Why or why not?
  3. What elements of the game feel strong? Why?
  4. What elements of the game feel weak? Why?
  5. What do you think would be the most interesting/engaging aspect of this story? Why?
  6. Where do you think the focus should be? Why?
  7. Do you think stats would be necessary? If so, what kinds do you think would be relevant? If not, why?

Thank you all in advance for any potential feedback! :blush:


#2

I think it has real promise. But more to the point, if you think it does than just write it. I guarantee you someone will be interested.


#3

Thank you! I mostly want to make sure that it’s something unique that utilizes the zombie genre that people would find original and refreshing. I love the zombie genre a lot, but I don’t want to write a game that simply rehashes the staples unless I can give it an interesting twist.


#4

The real meat of the game seems to be the discovery that the company is corrupt, then a sort of self-assigned mission impossible to bring it down.

That said, you need to have a reason why it’s about zombies. It can’t just be arbitrary, or else it loses a lot of its punch.

If you can end up making the zombies and avatars represent something more than themselves, then you might have something literary there.

Overall, it sounds promising. Draft it out and see what you come up with.


#5

If I can say without spoiling anything, I can confirm that the avatars and zombies do a actually represent something more than themselves. Don’t want to give away too much, but I think I have it covered.

But yes, I believe I can formulate a reason for why zombie simulations are necessary. That’s a good point, so thank you!


#6

I don’t know if this is just me, but I don’t see how finding a coding error that could break the simulation has anything to do with the discovery of the company’s corruption. Perhaps you could elaborate on this connection?

If the PC is an employee of the company, would they also be testing the simulations? If the PC is not directly in the simulation, the zombies would also seem more like an afterthought or at the very least not directly relevant to the plot.

It’s an interesting idea, certainly. I’ll be looking forward to your writing.


#7

Well if I would be such analyst working for such a company, you can bet I would be the one going behind my boss’s back and screwing up everything just so that I can feed my need to answer the question of what would happen if I change this just a bit? I’m pretty sure Mike and Cherryl would hate for it.


#8

@EclecticEccentric Well, I would preferably like to avoid spoiling the twist that I have in-mind (though it will probably be obvious in hindsight) since the coding error is essentially what sets off the PC’s mission. Essentially, the coding error affects Cheryl’s behavior and her diary entries in a way that drastically goes against what the system is designed to do, which then reveals to the PC what the simulation is doing.

The PC is an analyst who reviews the simulations after they’ve run/while they are finishing up. The zombies are relevant because the company is analyzing the ways human behavior affects the spread of the virus for the benefit of health organizations. (I’ve also just received some feedback via PM that uses the simulation as a parallel for the PC’s real-life situation that is quite fantastic, so I’ll liking stick with the type of simulation.)

@AidenCzar Could you elaborate on this? Are you saying you would prefer the PC to be able to directly change the coding of the simulation to produce different effects?


#9

To be fair, isn’t the “zombies” genre technically already a subgenre of sci-fi?

Anyways, I think stats should definitely be included for 2 main purposes:

  1. The appeal: A lot of people like to min-max their stats (eg. me) and just having a good stats system that adds to the gameplay experience is definitely a huge bonus. Also, stats also generate a sense of development and permanence with your choices which is extremely gratifying in my opinion

  2. The practicality: I don’t know how long you intend to make the story but stats serve as an indirect way to reflect you previous choices. Instead of writing a check mark for every single possible important decision, you can just make decisions increase/decrease certain stats and do stats-check every now and then which is arguably less time-consuming and complex


#10

It seems interesting mind me saying


#11

@kyros Yeah, uh, I’m pretty familiar with what stats are and their purpose haha. I’m mostly more concerned with what types of stats would be beneficial to the game. :slight_smile:

@Harley_Robin_Evans Thanks! Do you mind elaborating further?


#12

-cracks knuckles-

  1. Yes, I would be very interested, because there must always be more zombie media… more zombie media…
  2. I do rather like the setting and genres as presented, I think having this appear as something more or less benign and become slowly, more readily horrific is a good take as opposed to the “everything is automatically screwed by zombies” vibe you usually get.
  3. I LOVE a good framing device and this idea of reading diaries is not only interesting, it introduces a certain parity of experience between PC and player that you don’t get in most interactive fiction. Reading and creating the story of someone reading a story might be kind of old hat but I can’t say I’ve seen it applied to this form or within the context of a character’s work. More often it’s a musty old diary in a loft or something, which is rather rote, but this is better.
  4. That having been said, you’ll have to be exceedingly careful that it doesn’t interfere with the development or flow of the narrative.
  5. Yeah, I know I’ve spent three questions on this xD I think there’s a great deal of scope to play with this idea though. Off the top of my head, create a cliff hanger in the secondary protagonists’ story by having the PC log out/clock off at the end of the day, but then have them all anxious, unable to settle, maybe even lying awake at night when they’ve become sufficiently attached or involved with their “case.” Use one story to control the other, don’t just have them run parallel.
  6. To that end I feel that, as in many two sided narratives of this kind, the focus should very much be on the growing investment of the observer in the continuing narrative of their subject. In doing so you risk making the observer a hollow story telling device, so it’s good they already have their own stuff going on.
  7. I dunno about stats. I’m bad at stats… more zombie media…?

I feel like I’ve said and thought “narrative” too many times now it’s started to sound odd. Narrative. Narrative… narrative.


#13

What else do you need?

I suppose if you need meticulous descriptions then I’ll indulge:

Since it’s a zombie survival shell then I guess you may have some stats related to that (eg. strength, dexterity,…) You can take a few pointers from Zombie Exodus

And since it’s a simulation in a sci-fi world I suppose some stats having to do with that would be nice as well( eg. intelligence, technology expertise,…)

Also I would suggest making it a percentage scale instead of just adding numbers because min-max-ing stats is much more comprehensive with percentage sliders


#14

Anything a coder or analyst would use to perform their job and anything that would affect their appearance to their peers or higher-ups (ie, improv vs planning, empathy vs apathy, pragmatic vs idealist) would be stats that we’d need.

Also, why the Zombie virus? I understand it’s to track the spread of disease among the human population and how human behavior can affect that, but you have so many other diseases to choose from. Why Zombies?


#15

@Johnny101 Thank you for the detailed feedback! Your suggestions will definitely help me!

@Kelsie_Grobben Those stats sound interesting. I’ll definitely see how I can integrate them. As for why the zombie virus, it’s because 1.) I want to write a zombie game, 2.) it wouldn’t be as fun (to me) to write about a regular disease because then it’d be a hospital drama and I’m awful at those, 3.) the twist hinges on this setting for reasons I can’t explain for fear of spoiling it :stuck_out_tongue:


#16

This looks to be a very promising concept. I don’t really know how to add on much to the features you already proposed, other than one suggestion from my own; perhaps there might be a way for you to add in some interesting problems that can be solved by way of programming? That will be a very fun feature to see.

And as for the stats menu, I think it’s probably best to just focus on crafting the narrative first and see where it goes.


#17

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