Topic: General Gaming /
Rebuild 2 is coming out soon.
I watched the trailer, and it looked to me like each person you get will have several different stats—one stat for building, a stat for fighting, research, scavenging food, and being a leader. If so, that makes me very happy, because that’s something I wanted from the original. Hopefully putting someone into a new job assignment will start to increase their respective stat, so they get better at that job.
And it also looks like you’ll be able to scavenge other items besides food, such as wrenches for your builders or rifles for your soldiers, and then trade them for different goods if you like.
Here are some things I’d like to see:
One of the most important things I think is that tasks should generally take a lot less time—hours instead of days in many cases, so it’s much more like The Last Stand 2.
Someone who scouts a building can also accomplish some “easy” tasks there: kill a couple zombies in plain view, pick up a few cans of food in plain view, or shout out to a survivor in plain view, “We’ve started to rebuild a community near here and
are pushing back the zombies, and we could use more help. Will you come help us?” Who may then promptly reply “Absolutely!” and follow your scout back to the settlement. Leaders would only really be necessary to recruit some of the people out and about that are being more difficult, such as someone who has lost their family and is still too shell-shocked with grief to worry about what’s happening with the rest of the world. Or maybe some who think they’ll be safer on their own, looking out for themselves, rather than joining a community. The larger your community gets though, the more likely most people would be to want to join you.
Personalities: A few characters could have loner mentalities and would actually prefer to join your community while it’s smaller, and as it expands would have greater and greater desire to leave it, or not join it at all if they haven’t yet. I can think of two pretty good examples of someone like this: Father Grigori from Half Life 2. He’d rather be among his zombified “flock,” killing them off, than in the more civilized areas. And Rambo. I don’t think he ever got along too well in large groups of people, but someone like that left pretty much on his own could probably massacre an entire horde of zombies. This could open up some interesting gameplay possibilities. If a loner just wants to remain in his current dwelling and not join you, he could run his own zombie-killing operation far distant from your settlement. These kinds of people tend to become a little too self-reliant at times though and don’t always like to ask for help even when they need it, but you could opt to occasionally supply them with a little food and ammunition from time to time, to make sure they don’t overextend themselves too much and end up turning into zombies or starving to death.
Survivors outside your settlement should have a chance of dying over time, depending on their skills, the amount of food they have, the zombies that surround them, etc. I don’t think that was ever the case in Rebuild. This could give the player an incentive to clear the zombies out of distant buildings that have survivors in them, if for whatever reason those survivors are unwilling or unable to join you right now. These sorts of people would probably not be so much the Rambo types, but rather those who have become too psychologically broken by loss or something and as a result are unable to leave the home they’ve lived in for years or something. Perhaps the player could even have the option of forcing them to return to the settlement, or allowing them to come to terms with the grief on their own while supporting by killing nearby zombies, supplying some food, and maybe having a leader try to talk them through it.
Expeditions changes: I also think that you should be able to send out expeditions that have multiple purposes. You could send an expedition with a leader, two or three soldiers, a scavenger, and a builder to a distant location, where they could kill several zombies, gather up all the food, recruit some survivors, and build a few defenses there that would be able to better protect one survivor who still wants to remain behind.
Defenses could be built anywhere, assuming you can get people out there to build something. However, there could be four or five possible types of defenses you could build, each type of defenses would have varying degrees of protectiveness and varying costs, and certain areas would be better for some types of defenses than others, allowing for a lot of different options.
Groups that you send out, whether it’s a single scout or ten soldiers, perform actions along the journey. They should be able to kill zombies, scavenge, and pick up new recruits along their journey, at least to some extent. You’d have basic search orders like “Opportunistic Scavenging,” or recruiting, or zombie killing in each square that the game would give your expeditions by default. You could then change the orders along a gradient, to suit the particular purpose you want for that expedition, probably going something like Meticulous, Thorough, Opportunistic, Hasty, and Rushing Along.
Meticulous: your people would search out every nook and cranny of a square, even going so far as to pull up the very floorboards and tearing up the mattresses to see if someone had hidden something there. It would probably take two or three people 8 hours to do a Meticulous search on a small home.
Thorough would probably only take just an hour for two or three people, and in all probability you’d locate over 95% of everything useful in the place (unless there happens to be a secret passage or some such thing in the place that you don’t know about) and put it in a pile, and then carry some of it with your people. Most of the time if you want to completely search out a building the setting you’d use would be Thorough; because Meticulous takes so long you’d probably only use it if you had reason to suspect that something important was hidden there, and then probably only after you’ve used Thorough to clear out basically everything already.
Opportunistic would take two or three people about 20 minutes, your people would locate and group together anywhere from 20-80% of the useful items (leaving bigger things like machinery where they found them), and then take with them just a few of the lighter and more useful items. This is probably the setting you’d want to use if you’re sending out a large expedition to do something important a ways away from your settlement, maybe along a path that you haven’t actually scouted out yet, and you want to spend a bit of time to do a little opportunistic searching along the way. It might also be a good idea if your people carry much more than they already are and so there’s not really much reason to do a thorough search.
Hasty would just be showing up, taking a quick look in the rooms to note what’s there, killing any zombies and taking any small and important items in plain view, quickly asking anyone you see if they’d like to join you, and moving on—probably two to four minutes work for a small home. This is probably what you’d want to use if you’re just scouting out a new location.
Rushing Along would just have your people get in and out as fast as possible, taking only items and killing only zombies directly on their path and ignoring any rooms on the sides. One minute for a small house, maybe 5 or 10 minutes for a big mall, and most useful for a retreat or to rescue someone that you know is in trouble.
Before you send off an expedition you should be able to lay out a path with particular locations for it to go to, and specify how hard to search in each location, how to act toward the zombies (probably something like Blazing Guns, Aggressive, Opportunistic, Stealthy, and Ninja), how long to try to spend recruiting those who might not really want to go with you, and what to build and how much time and effort to put into it. If after sending out an expedition you wanted to change its orders you’d have to send out a new expedition after the first one, probably having them Rushing Along. Alternatively, if you have radios you could send out messages much more quickly without having to send a second group after the first group.
Forward Bases: I think it would also be nice to be able to operate forward bases and such things. For instance, if you find a distant mall that is packed with food and survivors, you could just send an expedition out to reclaim it, wall it off, and build defenses, and later on you could start expanding from it to other nearby areas. And even if there aren’t really many places nearby that would be useful to reclaim, a mall still ought to be a very great place to kill lots of zombies, so it could actually be worth it to occasionally send out some men to supply the mall with food. Also on that note, I don’t think there should be any penalty for reclaiming and walling off a square without first scavenging or recruiting from it.
Other Behaviors: It would also be nice to see other ways to give the survivors different general orders depending on other resources you have. You should be able to set a level of rationing out food portions, much like in Oregon Trail. Smaller portions would let you save more food and give you a better chance at keeping everyone alive, but would also make your people less happy and they’d have less energy available. You could also decide how hard you want to push your people to work, but the harder they work the more energy it would cost and the less happy they’d be. And one other resource that I sometimes had trouble with: living space. You should be able to recruit more survivors than you have space to support normally, and use settings to decide just how packed you’re prepared to allow conditions to get. Setting more packed conditions would, like setting smaller food portions or setting people to work harder, cause your survivors to be less happy and would also increase the propagation of different illnesses throughout your community, but on the other hand you wouldn’t have to worry about annoying messages telling you that you don’t have any more space to support survivors; instead you’d just get a message telling you about the negative consequences of the more packed environment.
Some other things:
Rule of Two: Something important I learned from probably 200 hours of Left 4 Dead 2 is that you should almost never be alone. If you’re going to backtrack for something more than a very short distance, you should definitely bring at least one person with you, and if you see someone heading off alone, you should probably accompany them. Even the best players shouldn’t go out alone if possible. I think the same principle should apply in Rebuild. If you’re going to scout a location out, unless it’s really close to your base or there are almost no zombies about, you should send at least two people to go. Sending out one person alone one square away to scout—presumably at a “Hasty” pace—should should give about a 5% chance that they will die on the way, since they can be covered by your other survivors in the base; for two squares or more, probably a 60% chance that they won’t come back. But send out two survivors set on Hasty, and the chance should drop to probably somewhere between 1 and 10%, perhaps more if they go to far or if you know there are too many zombies about. That’s synergy at work, like the game currently has but much more pronounced.
Real time: I’d love to see this game become an actual real time strategy game, as opposed to so many faux-RTS’s out there. A game I’ve played from time to time called Endgame: Singularity handled this very well in my opinion by letting you decide how quickly you want time to pass. One day could pass by in the game for every second that passes by in real time, or maybe an hour per second, or whatever setting desired, with the game slowing to real time anytime an important event happens.
Stats: It looked like characters in Rebuild 2 are already going to have skills in five different areas, but I’d also like to see some additional stats. Characters could also have skill as farmers, doctors, and scouts, in addition to the five other areas. Besides this they would have some other more basic stats that would influence several of the different occupations, such as the more common strength, intelligence, endurance, dexterity, and accuracy. But there could also be a couple more such as awareness, which would be good for scavengers and scouts discovering items, and also for soldiers for spotting zombies, and maybe something like tolerance or people skills, which would be useful for a leader, but also anyone working with others, and especially at times when there’s not much housing available and conditions are more crowded.
Bigger: Finally, I just think the game should be bigger. The size of the map in Rebuild just made the game seem like it was taking place in a very small town, even though there were typically multiple police stations, malls, and schools. If the game is changed so that scouting and expeditions and such take a much smaller amount of time, then distances could be increased at the same time as well, to make a map perhaps 10, 20, even 100 times larger than presently. This might also require some big improvements to the AI though to make it very tenable, such as adding patrols and more autonomous behaviors.